By Adam Hess
The Chicago Blackhawks had a relatively light workload in the month of October, playing just nine games in the season’s first three weeks and never more than three games in a single week. Despite that easier schedule, the Blackhawks still faced some early season struggles due in large part to the lack of productivity they got from some of their key players.
Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa have not quite hit the ground running the way many would’ve hoped, with Toews not finding the back of the net until last Sunday’s 3-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings, barely avoiding a goalless opening month. Patrick Kane is still at a point per game pace so far, with nine points in nine games, but even that is a step back from his production rate of last season, and he’s only found the back of the net himself twice. As cliche as it sounds, in order to be successful, you need your best players on paper to be the best players on the ice, and so far that hasn’t been the case for the Blackhawks.
Despite their early season issues, though, the Blackhawks are still in a good place in terms of the standings, as they currently sit in third place in the Central Division with 11 points. While just nine games is far too early to even begin thinking about the playoff picture, points earned during the early goings of the season can prove to be the difference later on in the year.
So, with the Blackhawks playing four games this week, three of which against Central Division opponents, the upcoming week presents a big opportunity for the Blackhawks to create some valuable distance between themselves and the rest of the Division early on.
With games against the Calgary Flames, Colorado Avalanche, and Dallas Stars (twice) this week, all of which are currently below the Blackhawks in the standings, and arguably are worse than the Blackhawks in terms of skill. It’s not unreasonable to expect the Blackhawks to win at least three of their four games this week.
Earning at least six points this week would be huge for the Blackhawks in terms of the standings, especially if they can pick up at least one point in each of their three games against divisional their divisional opponents.
With Dallas especially considered by many as one of the strongest contenders to win the Stanley Cup this season, the Blackhawks creating that distance between themselves and their division opponents early on in the year could pay dividends later in the year and help them secure a better playoff position.
Again, it’s still too early to begin looking ahead to the playoffs, but it’s not too early to earn points that could be beneficial come that time. This week, the Blackhawks can do that in a big way.
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