The Chicago Blackhawks have been here before.
Getting shut out at home in consecutive games hadn’t happened in nearly a decade, but a goal drought isn’t anything the Blackhawks are unfamiliar with from recent seasons.
Something similar happened just last season. The goals dried up for the Blackhawks before and after the Olympic break. The Blackhawks scored two or fewer goals in 11 of 17 games and went 7-7-3 during that span. Their current slump has included scoring two or fewer goals in 9 of 12 games and going 6-5-1.
Analytics pioneer Rob Vollman, author of Hockey Abstract, is confident the Blackhawks will snap out of their funk now, just as they did before.
“The difference between this stretch and that one is they don’t have numbers on the sheet now,” Vollman said by phone on Monday. “When you don’t have numbers on the sheet, people take notice.”
The Blackhawks had proven they could score a lot of goals before they went through that stretch last season. They were averaging a league-best 3.52 goals per games before their slump.
Right now there’s no evidence the Blackhawks can score goals like that again this season. All you can go off is past performance and shooting information.
Using those elements as predictors, the Blackhawks should eventually correct their scoring problems.
For one, the Blackhawks have attempted a league-high 342 shots on net and scored just 15 goals in 5-on-5 situations. Their 4.39 shooting percentage is second worst in the league and a good ways from their 8.3 shooting percentage over the previous five seasons.
Secondly, the Blackhawks are still getting some quality shots. According to the Blackhawks’ shot chart at sportingcharts.com, they’re still creating quality opportunities.
“You can compare where Patrick Kane is getting his shots,” Vollman said. “You can compare whether he’s getting into good position or whether he’s blasting from the corners or not getting up close. You can do this player by player.
“They’re getting up close. They’re taking shots in the slot. They’re taking shots like they did in the past. They’re not taking lower-percentage shots. That’s not the explanation.”
Vollman believed it came down to facing some hot goalies and lacking some luck.
“It’s not always a player that controls whether the shots go in,” Vollman said. “Some nights they go in, some nights they don’t. What the player controls is whether they get the puck, get in position and take a shot. The Blackhawks are doing that and executing that most nights. The Blackhawks are executing the things that are within their control.”