Blackhawks drawing big early-season crowds but struggling on home ice

The Hawks’ 1-5-0 record at the United Center is tied for the worst home start, points-wise, in franchise history. In the stands, however, their average attendance is over 19,000.

The Sabres beat the Blackhawks at the United Center on Sunday.

The Sabres beat the Blackhawks at the United Center on Sunday, dropping the Hawks to 1-5-0 at home this season.

David Banks/AP

The Blackhawks’ attendance through their first six home games has been stellar.

Their on-ice performance in those games, however, hasn’t given those stellar crowds at the United Center much to celebrate.

‘‘From the start, the fans are always going, and you want to give them a good show and put our best effort forward,’’ forward Taylor Raddysh said. ‘‘For us to have one [home] win right now, it’s frustrating.’’

The Hawks’ 3-2 loss Sunday to the Sabres dropped them to 1-5-0 at home, the worst home record in the NHL. Their 4-6-0 road record is significantly more respectable.

Every other team in the league already has won at least three home games, even the Sharks (who have only three victories in 17 games overall) and the Blue Jackets (who will host the Hawks on Wednesday having lost 13 of their last 14 overall).

The Hawks started 1-4-1 at home in 2021-22 but, before that, had won at least two of their first six home games every season since 2000. Going by points, this ties for the worst home start in franchise history, equaling 1-5-0 starts in 1997-98 and 1954-55 and an 0-4-2 start in 1936-37.

‘‘I’ve been on the other side of it, when you come in this building and you’re hoping to get a win some nights,’’ forward Nick Foligno said. ‘‘I want to create that again. The fans deserve that. They sell it out every night to watch us play. It’s a great building when we’re playing the right way, and we haven’t gotten the results we need.’’

Foligno is not exactly right about the sellouts (more on that shortly), but he is right to be exasperated about the poor results.

Granted, the Hawks’ brutal schedule has been most pronounced at home, where three of their first five opponents were top-five teams last regular season (Golden Knights, Bruins and Devils) and the other two were the last two Eastern Conference champions (Panthers and Lightning). The Sabres were the first comparable opponent the Hawks had faced at home, and they outplayed them — albeit fruitlessly.

On the other hand, the Hawks don’t just have the NHL’s worst home record but also its worst home scoring-chance ratio (40.6%) and second-worst home shot-on-goal differential (minus-47) during five-on-five play. On the road, their 42.0% scoring-chance ratio ranks 29th and their minus-37 shot differential ranks 27th.

It’s a small sample, but it’s strange and alarming nonetheless, and things seem unlikely to improve against the explosive Maple Leafs in the Hawks’ annual Black Friday matinee.

Big crowds, however

The stretch after the home opener and before Black Friday is historically the toughest time of the season to sell tickets, making the Hawks’ strong showings at the gate so far especially impressive.

The Hawks’ average attendance is 19,002, the third-highest in the league (behind the Canadiens and Lightning). Excluding the home opener — the only game they’ve sold out — their average attendance is 18,828, representing 95.5% of the United Center’s official hockey capacity of 19,717.

That number is notable because they averaged only 13,622 in home games No. 2 through No. 6 last season (69.1% of capacity).

Attendance surged to 16,658 in the seventh home game and dipped below 15,000 only once the rest of the season, gradually bringing up the average.

This season, however, the Hawks aren’t starting in that kind of hole, and their per-game attendance graph more closely resembles a straight line than a heart-rate monitor.

It was obvious rookie Connor Bedard’s presence would draw bigger crowds, but the degree to which that has been the case has thrilled the Hawks’ business department.

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