The Blackhawks haven’t been good in November. After posting a 4-3-2 record in October, Chicago has cooled off significantly since the calendar flipped; they’ve started the month 2-3-1. While the record might not be enormously different, the production drop off has been noticeable.
Here’s how the Blackhawks’ performance stacks up in October against what they’ve done so far in November:
The good news is the penalty kill has improved. The bad news is, well … everything else.
Chicago ranks dead last in the NHL in scoring per game in November and are second-to-last in power play percentage. Their goals against has actually gone down significantly (thanks, goaltenders) but that’s true of every team in the league; they’ve dropped from 11th in the NHL to 24th despite being better on paper.
The Hawks have scored seven goals in six games this month. Five of the seven have come in their two wins; three were in Anaheim.
And what’s worse, only two players on the roster have scored more than once: Jonathan Toews and Jarred freakin’ Tinordi have two each (and Tinordi’s two came in Anaheim, doubling his career total prior to that game). Chicago has four goals from four forwards this month; Jason Dickinson and Taylor Raddysh have one each.
Why the dropoff? Well, there are two specific individuals who haven’t appeared in a game this month yet: Tyler Johnson and Seth Jones.
When the Blackhawks’ offense was rolling in October, they usually had a productive Tyler Johnson skating with Toews and Raddysh on the top line, which bumped Philipp Kurashev down to a third line with Dickinson and Sam Lafferty.
That third line was arguably the Blackhawks’ best in the first month of the season; they scored eight goals combined in nine games last month (Dickinson appeared in seven). Head coach Luke Richardson has talked a lot this season about getting lines together that work and leaving them alone, and he was able to do that when the offense was rolling in October. But the removal of Tyler Johnson has moved a lot of pieces around as the Blackhawks look for lines that click consistently.
Andreas Athanasiou struggled in October, but had his moments. He’s become a bit of a wanderer around the lineup this month. Kurashev has moved up to skating with Patrick Kane and Max Domi with AA moving onto the wing with Toews and Raddysh recently. That hasn’t worked; the only skater on the Hawks’ top two lines with a goal so far this month is Toews.
And the Blackhawks’ bottom six has had a bit of a revolving door with Dickinson recently missing games because of an illness. MacKenzie Entwisle was solid on the fourth line with Colin Blackwell, Reese Johnson and Jujhar Khaira in the season’s first month. But the return of Boris Katchouk hasn’t added anything to the offense, and has further complicated the roster with Richardson trying to get everyone ice time and players missing because of injuries.
Tyler Johnson appears close to returning to the lineup, which will help — but also add decisions on who’s a healthy scratch. And having both Tyler and Dickinson available will push two skaters out of the lineup that skated the last two games.
The Blackhawks’ offense wasn’t supposed to be good this year. But we saw that they’re capable of scoring and rolling four lines consistently in October. Having too many bodies isn’t a bad thing, but in this case it might complicate Richardson’s job as he tries to keep a competitive team on the ice every night.
Hopefully these things sort themselves out soon, because the Blackhawks we watched in October were fun. So far, November has shaped to be more like…