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Activating Defensemen Solution to Blackhawks’ Struggles at Even Strength

The Blackhawks’ power play is carrying the load offensively as their production at even strength has yet to find its stride.

Blackhawks Defensemen
Photo: CHASE AGNELLO-DEAN/Getty Images

The Blackhawks’ power play is currently the third-best in the NHL, scoring at a remarkable rate of 36.2%. Their 17 power play goals are the most in the league. Dominik Kubalik has ten points on the power play (tied for second-most in the NHL), while Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat have seven and six, respectively.

It’s a good thing the power play is finding so much success because the Blackhawks are struggling at 5v5.

What the Numbers Say

While the Blackhawks’ power play is one of the best in the league, their production at 5v5 is barely in the middle of the pack. In 15 games, they have scored just 22 goals at 5v5 play for an average of 1.46 goals/game.

When it comes to creating offense at even strength, the Blackhawks average the sixth-fewest shot attempts with 49.57 per 60 minutes. The Carolina Hurricanes currently average the most with 62.49 per 60 minutes.

And it’s not just shot attempts the Blackhawks are struggling to produce. They have found little success getting to prime scoring areas in the offensive zone. Their average of 9.01 high-danger scoring chances per 60 minutes is near the bottom of the league as well.

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The Solution? Activating Defensemen

How can the Blackhawks solve this problem and ultimately score more goals at even strength? Simple. Encourage their defensemen to join the offense.

Before Thursday’s 6-5 loss to Columbus, the Blackhawks had just three goals all season from their defenseman. They nearly doubled that total when Ian Mitchell and Nicolas Beaudin both netted their first career NHL goals.

On both plays, the rookies scored from the slot after joining the play. On Mitchell’s goal, the young defenseman surged out of his own zone to join David Kampf on a rush and tapped in a goal right at the crease.

Just 56 seconds later, Beaudin activated in the offensive zone when he anticipated a ricochet off the back wall from a Nikita Zadorov shot from the point. He showed good instincts and quick hands to beat the Blue Jackets’ goaltender on the blocker side.

After these two goals, hopefully the Blackhawks’ coaching staff is showing these plays as a teaching point. Expect the blueliners to be joining the offense more frequently as the team tries to produce more offense at even strength.

All stats via Natural Stat Trick


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