Chicago Blackhawks Stat Questions Entering Late-Season Run

While individual stats rarely make an NHL season, it’s always interesting to speculate at how the Chicago Blackhawks might finish in certain areas

Heading into this bye week, the Chicago Blackhawks are sitting in second place in the Central Division, as well as second in the entire Western Conference, with 75 points. They’re five points behind the Minnesota Wild, but the Blackhawks have also won five consecutive games.

There’s all kinds of numbers in those couple sentences, right? Well, hockey is really all about number. Any sport with standings and/or rankings of some kind can say that.

But the NHL is especially interesting because you’re looking at points as the result of how a team fares any given night, as well as things like goal differential and regulation/overtime wins.

So numbers. That’s what we’re dealing with today as we try to pass the time during this bye week. I’m going to take a look at some statistical questions relating to the Blackhawks and try to find an answer.

Which Blackhawk will finish with the most goals?

I would do this for “most points,” but it seems pretty clear this is going to be Patrick Kane. He’s back to being a better than point-per-game athlete at 58 points in 57 games. And if it isn’t Kane, it’s going to be Artemi Panarin (51 points in 57 games).

So let’s go for something a little more up in the air. Currently, Artem Anisimov and Marian Hossa each hold a share of Chicago’s goals lead with 20. Kane and Panarin both check in at 19, while Richard Panik is next closest with 14 and Ryan Hartman has 13.

I’m going to go ahead and say Hossa winds up leading the team in goals at the end of the regular season. He’ll finish with about 30 goals. You might think it’d be easy for Kane or Panarin, or even Anisimov, to surpass that total. But those three leach goals off each other all the time (this is not a bad thing as long as the goals are flowing).

Hossa is playing on the Blackhawks’ third line right now, allowing him to slay bums regularly (though it seems like empty-net tallies are his fancy lately). I think he’ll eventually move back up with Jonathan Toews on the top line, and the captain has been producing offensively of late, which would push Hossa as well.

Who will finish with more points: Richard Panik or Ryan Hartman?

This is an interesting question. Both guys have bounced all over the lineup, but both have had stretches of really impressive offensive play.

Hartman has had this more so recently than Panik, but both seem to be finding a nice role in this lineup. Hartman crushes weak competition with linemates like Tanner Kero and Vincent Hinostroza, while Panik is getting comfortable playing alongside Toews and Nick Schmaltz on the top line.

Panik is currently at 27 points, while Hartman sits at 23. But I think Hartman is going to surpass Panik in points by the end of the regular season.

I think Panik benefits a lot from being on the top line, and I’m not entirely sure how much we’ll see that carry over if (and, I think, when) he gets pushed back down the lineup. We’ve seen him disappear in the bottom six at times this season.

Meanwhile, I think Hartman is really feeling himself and can carry his recent success to any line he gets pushed to. Granted, I don’t know that he’s coming out of the bottom six anytime soon, so stability is just as big a factor as anything in this.

I think Hartman will finish with about 38 points, while Panik will check in at 36 or 37. That may seem like a letdown for Panik given where he is in the lineup now, but I don’t think he’ll hold that spot so much longer that we can expect him to go flying past 40 points.

How many points will Jonathan Toews finish with?

This is another fun one to predict because of how bumpy a season it’s been for Toews. But he seems to have found his stroke of late, jumping to 35 points on the back of seven in his last five games.

I think Toews will ultimately wind up back with Hossa on his right wing, and maybe stick with Schmaltz on the left (though I’m still not putting a trade for a top-line left wing past Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman). Hopefully, that’ll be the last move we see for Toews’ linemates this season.

And in the end, I think he’ll hit 52 points. That may seem high, but I think Toews recent surge portends good things to come, regardless of any line changes going on around him.

How many wins will Corey Crawford wind up with?

Crow currently carries 22 wins, so the first question you have to ask yourself is how many games will he play the rest of the way.

The Blackhawks still have four back-to-backs remaining, with an Edmonton-Buffalo duo right out of this bye and three more after that in a crowded March schedule. So there’s eight games you figure to be split between Crow and Scott Darling.

Beyond that, there are 17 more games to play. I imagine Crow will start 11-12 of those. So let’s just say Crow has 15 starts left in him this regular season.

I’m going to say he walks away with 32 wins. That may seem optimistic, but I think the Blackhawks are finally finding their stroke. While going into a bye week on a five-game winning streak might seem detrimental to keeping the team’s success going, I think the Blackhawks will benefit greatly from this down time and push really hard through the season’s final 25 games.

I also think Crow is going to play better. This break probably didn’t come at a better time for anyone than Crow. He looked good against Minnesota and Winnipeg ahead of the break, and he may finally be rounding back into form following his appendectomy.

How many points behind the Wild will the Blackhawks finish?

I’d be glad to be proven wrong about who wins the Central Division this season, but I fully expect Minnesota to take the title at this point. They just have everything going their way and haven’t struggled playing anywhere over the last few months.

So let’s say the Blackhawks finish behind the Wild. Not the end of the world, considering the Blackhawks haven’t won the division since 2013 and won a Stanley Cup Final in 2015 and could’ve had another in 2014 if not for the Los Angeles Kings.

How far behind the Wild could the Blackhawks finish? I’m going to say it’s something like 10 points. And while that may seem like I’m just giving the Wild every win at their disposal, I don’t think that’s the case.

Let’s just say the Blackhawks finish at 102 points. They’re currently at 75 with 25 games to play, which would mean they’d pick up something like 13 wins and an overtime point down the stretch. That seems entirely reasonable.

That would put the Wild at 112 points, in my projection. They have 27 games to play and 80 points in the bank, which would mean they’d need 32 out of a maximum 54. Given the way they’ve been going, that actually seems like it’d be a really easy task. But a lot of it falls on the back of Devan Dubnyk, as it has throughout the season.

Still, I think it’s fair to say, at this point, the Wild will finish the regular season about 10 points clear of the second-place Blackhawks. Nothing to sweat about, as we all know the slate gets cleaned when the playoffs roll around.

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