The Blackhawks got off to a better than expected start in 2018 getting points in 9 of 12 games. Lets take a look at some of the positives and negatives throughout the first 12 games.
The Stars- Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have come out of the gates flying. Kane leads the NHL in goals with 11 in 12 games and is 2nd in points. This is the best start that Kane has had in his whole career, and the best by a Blackhawk since Jeremy Roenick in the 1993-94. Jonathan Toews has been great to start the year also with 11 points in 12 games, but thats not all. Toews has come out with a different speed to him this year, something we haven't seen out of him since the 2015 season, so a great start from the stars.
The Goalies- To start the year everybody was concerned of what was going on with the Blackhawks' goalies, then Cam Ward played better than most thought despite the stats. After the Toronto game, Ward came out and played 2 amazing games against the Wild and Blues and proved to be a better backup than most thought beforehand. Then the most important player on the Blackhawks returned, Corey Crawford. Crawford has come back and has played out of his mind. He's come back to form and before a terrible defensive game against St. Louis had a .946 save percentage, and should be the favorite for the Vezina.
Young Stars-Henri Jokiharju, Alex DeBrincat, and Nick Schmaltz have been phenomenal to start off the year. Before camp Jokiharju was a question mark to even make the roster on opening night, now he's working on the top pairing and has been arguably the best defensemen on the team. He's also not been playing against any bums to start his career.
Look at the matchups he's had so far, holding guys like Panarin, McDavid and Getzlaf to 1 or less points a night, Jokiharju has got a bright, bright future at the United Center. Debrincat is another guy off to a huge start for the Hawks scoring 14 points in 12 games. Connor McDavid said the other night that he thinks that DeBrincat can be a real special player in this league and I guess McDavid didn't pay attention to when DeBrincat led the hawks in goals last year and had 3 hattys, but thanks McDavid. Schmaltz isn't off to a great offensive start this year but the thing that I've noticed is how much better he's been defensively, he's got 14 takeaways in 12 games and I feel like that stat is low because every time he's on the ice Schmaltz seems to be striping the puck off someone. If Schmaltz could be more confident with the puck and put it on net more he's gonna be a great player in this league. His skills are world class but he's 10th on the team in shots on net with 19 and I feel like that number needs to rise badly.
Power Play- I really can't understand how a top heavy team like the Blackhawks with so much skill and star power on their top 6 have the 30th ranked power play in the league. I think most of it has to do with the entry into the zone and the units that they send out there. The entry needs to be with speed and it has to start with Schmaltz and Kane. You need guys with speed and skill like that the bring it over the blue line and gain possession. For the Powerplay units I think you just have to stack up the first unit, send Kane, Toews, Schmaltz, Debrincat and Jokiharju. Jokiharju was drafted based on his offensive ability and the possibility of him quarterbacking the power play unit in the future, when he's been arguably the best defensemen I think Q should at least use him for the reason why he was drafted.
Back end defense- Jan Rutta and Brandon Manning have been absolutely god awful to start the year. They have a combined 0 takeaways and have the worst advanced stats out of all the defense on the Blackhawks. Every time they're on the ice it seems like the puck never leaves the zone and it hurts to watch.
Stan Bowman- Bowman is the reason that the Blackhawks are at this point where they need everything to go right to get this team back to the playoffs. Bowman trades players like Hinostroza in the offseason to get cap space but then doesn't even use the cap space that he just traded for. If Stans smart he realizes that this team is one or two players away from being a good team and he uses that cap space to put this team to the next level.