A lot has changed in Chicago since the Blackhawks were eliminated in the 2011 Eastern Conference finals.
The team’s record has plummeted from last place to sixth, and it’s still struggling to get out of the first round.
But it’s not like the team has disappeared entirely.
The Blackhawks have been able to get their offense humming in the postseason and remain competitive despite losing key pieces.
Here are five things to know about the team’s Stanley Cup run and where it’s headed.1.
Chicago’s defense is back.
The Blackhawks have lost just one player to injury this postseason, and they are one of the few teams in the NHL that have managed to stay healthy.
With six healthy forwards and six healthy defensemen, the Hawks are the only team to have an even 60-plus points for the entire postseason.2.
No longer just a defense-first teamThe Blackhawks had been one of hockey’s best defense-producing teams in recent years.
They finished with the second-best goals-against average (2.13) in the League and second-highest penalty differential (minus-11.4) and allowed just 20.5 goals per 82 games.
But after the All-Star break, that scoring prowess evaporated.
The offense has regressed, with goals-for-percentage falling from the second highest to the third-worst in the league.
And they’re now allowing just 12.7 goals per 80 games.
That’s not great.3.
No team is playing better defense than Chicago.
The Hawks are one team to never be able to find the back of the net, and that has led to a lot of defensive struggles.
Chicago ranks second in goals-per-game allowed, but they’ve allowed a goal every 29.5 games during the postseason.
The defensive woes have also led to fewer shots on goal (19.5 per cent) than any team in the Western Conference.
That means Chicago has to play better if it hopes to win in the Stanley Cup playoffs.4.
The goaltending is a concern againThe Blackhawks are now 5-3 in the playoffs and are playing their first postseason game since the 2015 Stanley Cup Final.
They’ve been able do it because they’ve been one-dimensional in their defensive zone and can shut down teams when their forwards are on the ice.
But Chicago’s goaltending has been a concern throughout the postseason, especially on the power play.
Chicago has allowed a power play goal in nine of its last 12 games and has scored a goal or fewer on the first three power plays in seven of its seven games this postseason.5.
How the Blackhawks’ offensive impact will impact the playoffsThe Blackhawks’ success on the offensive side of the puck has been vital to their success this postseason and it may be the only factor in determining where the Blackhawks end up in the first-round.
If the Blackhawks can score and score well, they should be able take down the defending champion Colorado Avalanche and win their second Stanley Cup.
But if they struggle offensively and the offense goes the wrong way, Chicago may not be able play at its best this postseason without the offensive firepower it once had.
The latest Around The NHL Podcast previews all the Wild-Wild matchup on Monday.