Hawks' big picture depends on perspective

CHICAGO -- With where they stand now and 24 games remaining in the regular season, the Chicago Blackhawks could figuratively be seen as having a glass half-full or a glass half-empty.

Let’s start with the half-full perspective:

-- The Blackhawks have been in every game since Feb. 3 and have picked up points in their last seven games. It’s their second longest points streak of the season. They have gone 4-0-3 in the stretch. Those points have helped them establish a five-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for third place in the Central Division. The Blackhawks also have played one less game than the Jets.

-- Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford is back in form. He hasn’t allowed more than two goals in five of the last six games. He is seventh in the league with a 2.24 goals-against average and tied for the ninth with a .922 save percentage.

-- The Blackhawks’ top two lines are producing. Patrick Kane leads the team with 27 goals and is followed by Brandon Saad (18 goals), Marian Hossa (17 goals) and Jonathan Toews (17 goals). Those four players are accounting for 47.3 percent of the team’s goals.

-- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has tinkered with a variety of defensemen pairings and has been getting more consistency with the current pairings of Johnny Oduya–Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith–Michal Rozsival and Kyle Cumiskey–Brent Seabrook. The Blackhawks haven’t allowed more than two even-strength goals in 10 of the last 13 games.

And for the glass half-empty perspective:

-- The Blackhawks may be stringing together points, but they aren’t doing so with wins. They haven’t enjoyed a winning streak of more than two games since early December. They also were hoping for more on this eight-game homestand, going 2-0-3 through five games.

-- A lot can happen in a few months, but the Nashville Predators don’t look like they’re going to relinquish first place in the Central. They have a nine-point lead on the Blackhawks and a six-point advantage on the Blues. The Blackhawks are behind the Blues by three points. A Blackhawks-Blues series seems likely, and the Blues would have home-ice advantage as of now.

-- The Blackhawks aren’t getting production from their bottom-six forwards. Patrick Sharp has been demoted to the fourth line and hasn’t scored in 10 games. Ben Smith is goalless in the last 24 games. Andrew Shaw hasn’t scored in 10 games. Bryan Bickell has one goal in the last 15 games. Marcus Kruger has one goal in the last 34 games.

-- There are still some inconsistencies with the defensemen, but the main issue is Quenneville still doesn’t seem completely satisfied with his sixth defenseman. He appeared more optimistic about Cumiskey, but Cumiskey only played 6:24 on Wednesday. The Blackhawks have tried Cumiskey, Adam Clendening, Tim Erixon, David Rundblad and Klas Dahlbeck in that sixth spot since Trevor van Riemsdyk was injured. Van Riemsdyk should be back at some point next month.

So the question is, which perspective do you have of the Blackhawks?