Slumping in the Second: a Trend that Needs to Turn Around
Sustaining “attack mode” will lead to more goals for, fewer scoring chances against, and a better overall aura on the ice and the bench for the Blackhawks.
Though we’re only three games into the 2019-20 Blackhawks season, there’s already a bad trend developing. That trend is the second period in its entirety. The Blackhawks have put together some decent first-period efforts, but the middle frame has been brutal in every game so far. Let’s dive into some of the numbers behind it, provided by NaturalStatTrick.com.
Fine First Periods
Outside of the season opener against the Flyers, the Blackhawks have had the advantage in Corsi-for percentage and scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes.
- 10/4 vs. Philadelphia: 41.38% Corsi-for, 58.62% Corsi-against, six scoring chances for, ten scoring chances against
- 10/10 vs. San Jose: 57.58% Corsi-for, 42.42% Corsi-against, 14 scoring chances for, five scoring chances against
- 10/12 vs. Winnipeg: 57.14% Corsi-for, 42.86% Corsi-against, eight scoring chances for, six scoring chances against
What does this mean? Outside of some first-game rust, the Blackhawks have been putting the pressure on early. Perhaps the greatest example of this came in the home opener against the Sharks, when the Brandon Saad–David Kampf–Dominik Kubalik line looked like they could get away with murder in the San Jose zone. It wasn’t just their line, though. Yes, they were great, but sustained pressure came from elsewhere throughout the lineup, which resulted in those numbers you see above. If you’re going by the eye test, you’d say that “the boys were buzzing.” Usually, starts like that should bode well for a hockey team because they are able to “set the tone” early on. However, the Blackhawks have completely taken their foot off the gas in the second period, essentially negating their efforts in the opening frame. Let’s take a look at those numbers.
Sluggish Second Periods
The second stanza woes have been so blatant for the Hawks, it’s almost hard to believe they potted two goals in the middle 20 minutes against the Sharks. Here’s how they’ve fared after their reasonable starts:
- 10/4 vs. Philadelphia: 29.63% Corsi-for, 70.37% Corsi-against, two scoring chances for, 14 (!!) scoring chances against
- 10/10 vs. San Jose: 26.47% Corsi-for, 73.53% Corsi-against, six scoring chances for, 13 scoring chances against
- 10/12 vs. Winnipeg: 35.71% Corsi-for, 64.29% Corsi-against, two scoring chances for, eight scoring chances against
Not great at all, Bob. Those numbers are alarmingly bad. Simply put, Blackhawks are allowing opponents to pick them apart and drive possession in the second period so far in this young season. No matter how good of a goalie you have in net, this type of trend will lead to goals against more often than not, as it has in every game so far. Beyond the scoreboard, the Hawks letting this happen also allows the other team to have momentum on their side heading into the final frame. Take last night’s game against Winnipeg for example — even though the Hawks still held a 2-1 lead after 40 minutes, the Jets had no doubt in their mind that they could complete the comeback. They scored three unanswered goals, and it all started in the second period then snowballed downhill from there.
With all that being said, what needs to change? Everything — mentality, effort level, and execution. During the first intermission, the Blackhawks coaching staff should be preaching attack, attack, attack to the guys in the locker room. They can’t be complacent, even when holding a lead. The guys in the room then need to receive and internalize that message. They know they’re not a shutdown type of team, so why stray from their strength, which is an offensive game? The final step is to implement that mentality on the ice. That will come when they start to win board battles, support each other in their own zone, manufacture clean breakouts, and make crisp passes in the offensive zone. They’ve been able to do it in the opening period of their past two games, so it’s time to carry that over to the second period. Sustaining “attack mode” will lead to more goals for, fewer scoring chances against, and a better overall aura on the ice and the bench.
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