The Chicago Blackhawks, formerly the class of the Western Conference, have been finding it difficult to find that same stroke. The Blackhawks won two Stanley Cups behind Jonathan Toews and Pat Kane in 2010 and 2015. Toews and Kane is still here, but their supporting cast has been severely diminished. Corey Crawford is in net as well, along with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook on the blueline. However, Keith and Seabrook have missed a major step as they get older.
And for Crawford, he’s struggled to stay healthy and saving the day behind an old defence. Keith and Seabrook were a powerful duo in their prime, but they’re well past that time in their career. Keith at 35 years old and Seabrook, 33, are getting passed by younger players on the ice. Figuratively and literally, as their legs are failing to keep pace with younger talent in the league.
Corey Crawford made his return to the ice and was immediately greeted with a 4-1 loss against the Arizona Coyotes. Cam Ward has previously been starting in net for the Blackhawks, but the results were not too attractive. Ward has a horrific 4.06 GAA and 0.879 save percentage. Crawford is the better netminder, but whoever is in net has to deal with a team who isn’t going to give them much support. The Blue Jackets’ offence rolled against the Flyers and has been playing well to start the year, so the Hawks may have their hands full. Head below for our free Blackhawks vs. Blue Jackets pick.
Chicago Blackhawks vs. Columbus Blue Jackets Pick
It was the first start for Crawford in net this season. He got a layup to start the season against one of the worst teams in the NHL, but the Coyotes didn’t have many issues against this Chicago defence. That was the first time all season that the Yotes have scored more than 3 goals in a game. The Blackhawks have allowed 4.17 goals per game through their first six games of the year.
They’re likely to continue to struggle as the season progresses, especially a team who is led by two defenceman who are north of 30 years old. Don’t expect Crawford to have much help like he did in the past. But he will be better than Ward who was getting throttled between the pipes.
The Blue Jackets are tied with the Hurricanes and Jets for the youngest team at the league, with an average age of 25 years old. On the other side, the Blackhawks are tied for third oldest team in the NHL with an average age of 28. The tandem of Keith and Seabrook skews that number up. The Blackhawks have gone to a league-high five overtimes, three wins and two losses. The Coyotes matchup was their first game that finished in regulation.
Columbus are going to give the Blackhawks a lot to handle offensively. Cam Atkinson led the Jackets with 2 goals the other night against the Flyers. Artemi Panarin added a couple more points to his total, as he’s already up to 9 on the year with 3 goals and 6 assists. As a team, the offence has scored 5 or more goals in three of their last four outings. Overall, an average of 3.67 goals per game for the Jackets. I’d take a look at the younger Blue Jackets to get it done against the Hawks on Saturday in Columbus.