April 18, 2017
For many seasons the Chicago Blackhawks contended for a Stanley Cup by being a dominant puck possession team. In their three Stanley Cup winning years the Blackhawks were among the elite at Corsi For percentage; first in 2009-10, fourth in 2013 and second in 2014-15. They were 13thin CF% during the 2016-17 regular season at 50.4.
They were able to be a dominant possession team because of their team speed as they were able to stay one step ahead of their opponents by clearing their zone quickly and maintaining offensive zone pressure. Through the first three games of the postseason, the Nashville Predators are doing to the Blackhawks what they have done to other teams in past years.
The Predators are exposing what many have feared but where afraid to admit during a successful regular season, the Blackhawks veteran core has lost a step.
All you have to do is look at is their top defensive pairing and number one center, who are all getting owned by the Predators top line in this series. Jonathan Toews has a career 56.1 CF%, but is just 48.3 versus Nashville.
That sounds great compared to the duo of Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson, who are a 44.4 and 41.8 CF% respectively. When your top defensive pairing and number one center cannot get the puck out of their own end you are in trouble.
It is clear that the Blackhawks are not the dominant puck possession team they were when they were winning Stanley Cups. So either Joel Quenneville needs to adjust his system to the type of roster he has or Stan Bowman needs to give him the roster to play his system. This will be a very interesting offseason……