Analyzing Blackhawks’ team statistics from first half of season

After playing their 41st game Saturday, the Hawks rank 32nd in even-strength offense, 21st in even-strength defense, 19th on the power play and 25th on the penalty kill.

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The Blackhawks’ loss Saturday gave them a 15-19-7 record halfway through the season.

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DENVER — After 41 games that felt more like 410, the Blackhawks finally reached the midpoint of their season Saturday.

It’s a half-season the 15-19-7 Hawks would love to forget but can’t because of the sexual-assault scandal, the fallout and the lessons learned. Never mind what happened on the ice.

It was a struggle there, too, where the coaching change from Jeremy Colliton to Derek King has helped but hasn’t entirely fixed the problems.

Here’s a breakdown of the Hawks’ team statistics at the halfway mark:

Even strength

The Hawks rank 32nd in goals per 60 minutes at 2.04. That’s their ugliest number from the first half. Only five other teams — the Islanders, Canadiens, Canucks, Coyotes and Flyers — are even below 2.30.

They’re not much better at the things that lead to scoring goals, ranking 28th in shot attempts, 30th in shots on goal, 29th in scoring chances and 32nd in expected goals, according to Natural Stat Trick.

Digging deeper, the Hawks’ scoring struggles might stem from their one-dimensional offense. As has been the case for years, they’re dangerous on the rush, ranking 11th in controlled offensive-zone entry rate and 12th in shot attempts in transition (according to data analyst Corey Sznajder’s tracking). But excluding rush situations, they rank 32nd in shot attempts in all other situations — such as cycling and forechecking — combined.

Defensively, the Hawks are a more-respectable but still below-average 21st in goals against per 60 minutes at 2.94. They’re 26th in shot attempts allowed, 21st in shots on goal allowed, 24th in scoring chances allowed and 16th in expected goals allowed.

But they’ve been trending upward steadily in those regards under King. The Hawks rank fifth in the league — behind only the Canucks, Kings, Avalanche and Islanders — in goals against per 60 (2.36) since King took over Nov. 6. They’re also 18th in scoring chances allowed and 14th in expected goals allowed under King.

Comparing their offensive and defensive outputs, their 45.1% scoring-chance ratio ranks 28th — ahead of only the Red Wings, Flyers, Senators and Rangers — but marks a slight improvement from their 30th-ranked 44.7% ratio last season.

Special teams

The Hawks’ power play ranks 19th in the league with an 18.9% conversion rate, down from 21.7% last season.

The PP unit falls roughly in the middle of the pack in shot attempts (20th), shots on goal (17th), scoring chances (18th) and expected goals (15th). Its strategy primarily is based on cross-seam passes. The Hawks have attempted the fifth-most such passes, according to Sznajder.

The penalty kill ranks 25th with a 76.0% kill rate, similar to last year’s 76.8% finish. That unit ranks 23rd in shot attempts allowed, 22nd in shots on goal allowed, 27th in scoring chances allowed and 18th in expected goals allowed.

Adding the PP and PK rates together, the Hawks’ special-teams-effectiveness score comes out to 94.9, which ranks 23rd (100 is average). But they are somewhat balancing that out with a plus-11 differential in power-plays drawn against conceded.

Goaltending

Despite Marc-Andre Fleury’s excellence in recent months, the Hawks’ team goaltending — like everything else — is below average across the board.

Their .903 team save percentage ranks 24th, and their .809 team save percentage against high-danger shots ranks 21st. In terms of goals saved above average, Natural Stat Trick’s all-inclusive evaluator of goaltending performance, the Hawks’ minus-8.4 team total ranks 24th.

Although the Hawks’ defense hasn’t been great, it has helped Hawks goalies face the eighth-fewest rush shots and 14th-fewest rebound shots.

NOTE: The Hawks put backup goalie Kevin Lankinen on injured reserve Sunday with an injured right hand he suffered Saturday. He’s expected to miss a few weeks. Arvid Soderblom was called up to be Marc-Andre Fleury’s backup.

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