The Chicago Blackhawks won the last six games of their epic seven-game road trip. They regained top standing in our weekly power rankings.
They seemed ready to pile up some more victories after the circus finally vacated United Center. And then they lost three games in a row, including a 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks Friday night.
Here are the contributing factors:
Goaltender Corey Crawford hasn’t relocated last season’s form, when he was 19-5-5 with a 1.94 goals-against average and a .926 save percentage. His ratios this season (2.49, .906) rank in the lower half of NHL starters. Crawford absorbed two of the three losses while allowing eight goals on 41 shots. Those were his sixth and seventh games with four or more goals allowed. Last season he allowed four or more goals just three times in 30 games.
That failure helps explains Chicago’s regression on the penalty kill. Last season they killed off 87.2 percent of their penalties, allowing just 18 goals on 141 chances. This season they have killed off just 71.8 percent of their penalties. That ranks 29th in the league, better than only the hapless New York Islanders.
Although the addition of Kris Versteeg bolstered the team’s supplemental scoring, key forwards Michal Handzus, Marian Hossa and Bryan Bickell have missed notable time with injuries. Most recently Andrew Shaw has been on the shelf. Brandon Pirri showed some promised, but returned to Rockford of the AHL after failing to register a point in seven consecutive games.