It honestly felt like only a matter of time before the Chicago Blackhawks started to struggle. Teams across all sports can only hold onto success so long before they too tip back with the other side of the pendulum.
While some of the core pieces may still be there for the Blackhawks, it seems it’s finally the year that the sands of time are slipping quickly through their fingers. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Corey Crawford can only do so much, and the depth that was once Chicago's calling card has yet to show itself.
On Thursday, the Blackhawks lost in Philadelphia once again, this time by a score of 3-1. The Flyers put on a clinic of a first period and jumped out to a 2-0 lead that the Blackhawks would never be able to surmount. Patrick Sharp, whose turnover helped the Flyers take the early first period lead, called the opening frame "embarrassing," though the Blackhawks were able to make a better game of it by the end.
After the loss, the Blackhawks dropped to 7-7-2 on the season with 16 points, good enough to tie the Stars and Avalanche for fourth in the Central Division. Chicago does, however, have more games played so far than either of the Stars or Avalanche.
While some things have gone right for the Blackhawks this year, like the play of Crawford in net, the offense has come in waves. It took more than three games for the Blackhawks to score a goal at five-on-five, though they only got one on Thursday night. As the offense has had its troubles, so has the defense. The underlying numbers outside of Crawford's brilliance are some of the worst in the league, and their goaltending can only get them so far.
Just 16 games into their season, it's hard not to wonder if a shakeup is coming at some point for the Blackhawks this year. Chicago general manager Stan Bowman is known for getting his team out of tight spots and wringing everything out of his players. However, as the season goes on and if the Blackhawks are still middling, we could see his patience put to the test.
- The Matt Duchene trade shows the Colorado Avalanche are still rife with dysfunction.
- "The Stewie Sprint" is one of the NHL's more unusual pregame routines, and it comes from Minnesota's Chris Stewart.
- Sharp-Toews-Kane is not the "nuclear option" for the Blackhawks anymore.
- EA Sports might not release sports games every year, and that’s actually a good thing for us hockey fans.
- The Blue Jackets should just go get Alex Galchenyuk from the Canadiens.
- This year’s Calder Trophy race is going to be a total free-for-all.
- Should the Penguins be concerned with their goal scoring and number of goals allowed?
- Brian Boyle cried after scoring his first goal since returning from cancer treatment on Thursday.
- Mika Zibanejad has answered the Rangers’ questions.