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Blackhawks’ Historically Bad Offense; What Went Wrong & How to Fix

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The Chicago Blackhawks ended its season with its lowest output of goal scoring for an 82-game season. Without Connor Bedard, it’s far worse.

Yes–it was that bad.

The 2003-04 Blackhawks put up 188 goals, followed by the 1997-98 Hawks with 192. This team? 179.

Last season, Chicago scored 202 goals. So for a team that lost Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Max Domi, should it really be that surprising? Of course not. But it doesn’t take away the sting–and it also doubles down on the absolute necessity that next season sees a significant increase in not only talent, but goal scoring.

This version of the Blackhawks Deep Dive looks specifically at the offense, what went wrong, and how they can get better.

Connor Bedard Leads the Charge–But It Wasn’t Close to Enough

If there was a hockey hippocratic oath, the Blackhawks tried as they could to do no harm as they started the final portion of the teardown. With Kane and Toews no longer part of the plan, general manager Kyle Davidson traded for Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno while signing Corey Perry to provide veteran leadership–and offense.

The Hawks kept Kevin Korchinski with the big club and Alex Vlasic turned out to be even better than they thought. But the blue line’s lack of offense would be one culprit among many.

The first twenty games saw Chicago score 55 goals, which would be the high point in terms of output. At that pace, the Hawks should have buried 225 but they couldn’t keep pace. Add in Bedard going down in early January and it was the perfect recipe for a goal scoring drought.

It wasn’t as if they didn’t try to solve the problems. Davidson started by acquiring Anthony Beauvillier after Perry was placed on unconditional waivers, but that wouldn’t pan out as hoped. Beauvillier would be traded to Nashville to recoup a fifth-round pick they surrendered in the deal.

From there it turned into a rock-paper-scissors match of line juggling on head coach Luke Richardson’s part to desperately find something that worked out. Some consistency existed–Bedard and Kurashev. Dickinson centering a line of Joey Anderson and Colin Blackwell. But the ghastly goal scoring never found any kind of routine scoring. Chicago’s best record came in March and not coincidentally, so came its highest goal total. Of those 42 goals, 14 of them came in back-to-back wins against Arizona and Anaheim where they put up seven goals apiece.

But the two months before? A combined 35 goals in 24 games. No wonder Kyle Davidson spent a bit in free agency.

Blackhawks by the Numbers Shows Just How Bad It Was

When presented in visual form, it’s not hard to see how injury decimated the team as it did.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In January, the Blackhawks barely scored a goal per game, averaging out at 1.21/G. February saw an uptick with less games, but March featured multiple games with the Blackhawks scoring five or more goals six times in the month. Sure, there were the aforementioned anomalies with a pair of seven-goal games. But it turned out to be a mirage–as April ended with just one win and closed the season with a six-game losing streak.

Future Plans: Davidson Gets Help in Free Agency

A lot of ink already was spilled on what Davidson did to counter the issue–he even admitted that in 10 years with the Blackhawks, he’d never seen anything like the injuries they sustained. So depth was at the top of the his list when it came to addressing the issue. Address it he did. A look below at who is no longer on the team versus those he’s just added.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 16 goal increase doesn’t even get Chicago to the 200 goals for mark. But conventional wisdom banks on more production from the rest of the roster–and some healthier players who can play longer throughout the season.

But there are question marks for certain. Can Taylor Hall stay healthy to produce more? Will Andreas Athanasiou return to the form in 2022-23 that saw him notch 20 goals? Jason Dickinson had a career year–will he match or exceed? Can Nick Foligno match his 17 goals again? How much will Connor Bedard benefit from a full season with more talent up and down the roster?

Of course, these numbers are representative of where each player was respective of their situation. Once the puck drops on the 2024-25 season, everything resets into its new scenario.

Davidson went out and addressed the needs–the raw numbers produce some positive returns. But there’s more to the picture than just what’s here. The next few Season Post Mortem articles will piece the rest of the puzzle together.

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