NHL.com is providing in-depth analysis for each of its 31 teams throughout August. Today, three key statistics for the Chicago Blackhawks.
[Blackhawks 31 IN 31: Season preview | 3 Questions | Top prospects | Fantasy breakdown]
1. Crawford's and Lehner's starts
Corey Crawford is 30-27-7 over the past two seasons, when he's dealt with injuries. Prior to that, he had at least 30 wins in six consecutive full NHL seasons. If Crawford is healthy to start the season, he'll likely be the No. 1 and have a capable backup in Robin Lehner, who signed a one-year contract July 1. Lehner had an NHL career-high 25 wins, including six shutouts, for the New York Islanders last season and helped them lead the League in save percentage (.925) and allow the fewest goals (191). The Blackhawks allowed the second-most goals (291), an area of weakness they tried to improve by adding Lehner. If he's able to split starts with Crawford, it could be beneficial for each goalie, but the Blackhawks will need to improve their defensive play if Lehner is to re-create his success from last season.
2. Strome's points, power-play production
Center Dylan Strome made an immediate impact with 51 points (17 goals, 34 assists) in 58 games after being acquired by the Blackhawks on Nov. 25. It's worth noting that despite the offensive success, he had the second-worst shot attempts ratio (minus-117) on Chicago, and the worst among forwards. Although there isn't a direct link in shot attempts leading to offensive production, it's a trend worth tracking. Shot attempts ratio is only counted at even strength, so Strome's impact on the power play can't be overlooked. After he was acquired, the Blackhawks power play went from last in the NHL (12.7 percent) entering Nov. 25 to sixth-best in the League to end the season (23.4 percent; Nov. 26 through April 7).
Video: 31 in 31: Chicago Blackhawks 2019-20 season preview
3. Shot attempts by defensemen
Henri Jokiharju led Blackhawks defensemen with a shot attempts differential (SAT) of plus-101 in 38 games last season but was traded to the Buffalo Sabres on July 9. Jokiharju not only helped Chicago generate more shot attempts (and drive possession), but at 20 years old, he provided youth at the position. Defenseman Duncan Keith, who averaged more than 23 minutes of ice time per game last season, is 36, and defenseman Brent Seabrook, who averaged more than 19 minutes per game, is 34. The Blackhawks acquired defenseman Olli Maatta (who will turn 25 on Aug. 24) in a trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins on June 15, which will infuse youth at the position, but Maatta's minus-118 SAT from last season will not address an area of need for the Blackhawks. Chicago acquired 28-year-old defenseman Calvin de Haan, who had a plus-257 SAT with the Carolina Hurricanes last season and can play a shutdown defensive style that could help Seabrook and Keith make the most of their minutes.
Listen: NHL Fantasy on Ice podcast