Blackhawks top line performance slacking

By Adam Hess

One of the surprise struggles of this regular season for the Blackhawks has been the extreme lack of production from the team’s “top” line of Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, and whichever left wing happens to be Joel Quenneville’s flavor of the day. It’s easy to say that the constant carousel of wingers can be blamed for the duo’s struggles, but they are players that should make their linemates better, not be dragged down by them.

While production isn’t the only valuable facet of either player’s game, the fact that they sit at a combined 19 points in 5-on-5 play through 40 games is nothing short of an extreme disappointment. The duo combined for 98 5-on-5 points last year, and it doesn’t take a genius to do the math and tell you that they’re nowhere near that pace this year.

The cause of these struggles is another mystery. While they struggled a bit in terms of possession earlier in the season, they both still have respectable CorsiFor percentages, as Hossa sits at 53.55 percent and Toews at 52.74 percent, meaning that during their time on the ice, the Blackhawks have controlled that percentage of total shot attempts. So it’s not like they just don’t have the puck.

The biggest issue they’ve run into is, quite frankly, a long streak of very bad luck. Both players’ shooting percentages at 5-on-5 are at career lows, and by a huge margin.

Hossa’s 5-on-5 shooting percentage this season sits at 2.56 percent, which is more than half of his previous career low of 5.95 percent, which he had last season. Typically, though, Hossa’s shooting percentage has hovered around 9 percent, especially during his Blackhawks career.

Toews’s 5-on-5 shooting percentage is 5.97 percent, which is nearly half of his previous career low of 11.02 percent in the 2009-10 season. He has been at or above 12 percent nearly every other year of his career, so sitting below 6 percent is a huge anomaly for the Chicago captain.

The beauty of these numbers is that they are just that: anomalies. History tells us that these players typically shoot at a much, much higher rate than they are currently, so we can trust that a market correction is coming, and in a big way. Toews and Hossa are likely going to start finding the twine much more, and when they do it will be in a big way. As fans, we just have to hope that this happens sooner rather than later.

Statistics courtesy of War on Ice.

Adam Hess is the creator and editor of Feathers in the Hat, and a staff writer at SB Nation’s Follow him on Twitter: @FeathersInDaHat.

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