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Blackhawks Wed Oct 29 2014

Puck Possession Not a Problem for the Blackhawks

Chicago BlackhawksThe Hawks went into Tuesday night's tilt with the Anaheim Ducks as one of the leaders in the NHL in total shots taken. No surprise there, as head coach Joel Quenneville has the pleasure of juggling three deep lines on a nightly basis with a fourth that would suit any other team in the league.

Even after falling 1-0 to the Western-leading Ducks, after another great effort from Lemont native Scott Darling (24 saves on 25 shots), the Hawks still managed to outshoot their opponents by 13. A short-handed goal off of a bad Brent Seabrook turnover notwithstanding, the Hawks continue to out-possess the opposition, which has managed to keep them in each contest thus far at the dawn of the 2014-'15 season.

As previously mentioned, it's a simple matter of keeping the offense moving forward in shooting as many times toward the net as possible. Eventually, the pucks will find a way through. Better positioning for an easy rebound and net-front presence for screens are also key in finishing off in the offensive zone.

As each game finds its way into the books, it's important to look at where the Hawks rank on offense, who's helping them get there and how important each shot appears through 60 minutes of play.

The Hawks are second in the NHL in total shots taken with 342 after nine games played, just behind the San Jose Sharks. The big difference there is that the Sharks have played two more games than the Hawks. The Hawks are 11th in the league with 243 shots taken against them. An even better way to look at this is that the Hawks lead the league in shots taken per game played at an average of 38.0, while ranking 7th in the league in shot attempts against per game at 27.0.

Not a bad ranking on both ends to start the season, despite a 5-3-1 (11 points) record, which is good enough for second place in the Central and 7th in the West. Those offensive numbers equate to a league-leading CORSI-for at 56.3 percent and a 2nd-overall ranking in Fenwick-for at 56.2 percent. Minnesota leads the league in FF% at 57 percent.

As a reminder, CORSI measures shot attempts on goal, shots that miss the goal entirely and shots that were blocked. Fenwick measures just shots and goal and shots that miss the net. Easily the biggest factor in the Hawks' ability to get off more shots than its opponents is the fact that the team leads the league in offensive-zone face-off percentage at 40.8 percent.

That's a huge stat for a team that recently struggled with it, especially during its 2010 playoff run to the Stanley Cup. No shocker that Jonathan Toews leads the team and is 15th in the league with a 57.1 percentage at the dot. Andrew Shaw is second on the team and 72nd in the league at 46.2 percent.

What's surprising is that the Hawks rank dead last in neutral-zone face-off percentage at 32.3 percent. In the defensive zone, the Hawks also rank pretty low, at 22nd with 26.9 percent.

Leading the way for the Hawks in shots taken is Patrick Sharp with 38, which places him 9th in the league. Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane rank 45th and 57th respectively with 28 and 26 shots taken after nine games.

It's only nine games in, but it is fun to look at how the Hawks have gotten where they are, and if the trend continues, they'll be far along in the playoffs. Again, pucks will hit the back of the net -- on some occasions more frequently than the average. Maintaining puck possession is key and if the Hawks can up their face-off percentage anywhere else outside of their offensive zone, they'll dominate even more.

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