Some statistics are more telling than others. A team's record in one-goal games is the same whether they win all those games 1-0 or 8-7. Win percentage, especially in this era of inflated point totals, can only tell you part of a story. But these are really just counting stats and don't particularly tell you anything about a team. I like to look for statistics that represent trends. I'm a big fan of things like “record when Star Player X scores” or “record in the second of back to back games,” because they tell you something about the composition of that particular team, and allow you to draw conclusions and make reasonable predictions about future games. Obviously in the world of sports no rule is hard and fast; the old cliched adage “that's why they play the game” wouldn't be so frequently bandied about if it were, but trends do tell a story.
Allow me to introduce the Three Goal Rule (3GR). Simply put, when the Blackhawks score 3 or more goals, they're going to win. The Hawks during the first 55 games of the year have compiled a 32-2-3 record when scoring 3+. The two losses are both to Dallas, and both were aberrant performances, particularly by Cristobal Huet. The three overtime losses all come by way of the dreaded shootout.
32 wins out of 37 games is quite remarkable, but what does it tell us? Is the Hawks D that good that three goals ices the game? Is the offense that powerful that when it rains, it pours? Perhaps it's simply the will to win and not let good offensive output go to waste?
I think it's a combination of factors that I like to summarize in a single sentence: When you play the Chicago Blackhawks, your goaltender had better bring his A game. The puck possession style of play and the relentless attacking of this team basically means that if your goalie isn't water tight for 60 minutes, your team won't get the chance to make up the difference.
The flip side is, if your goalie stands on his head, you have a decent chance to win the game. 32-2-3 when the 3GR is in effect means just 5-12-1 when it isn't. Goaltending battles are not this team's forte. Fortunately for the Hawks, there aren't many goalies out there who can stymie all four lines for three whole periods, and those who can simply can't do it every night.
We'll continue to revisit the 3GR throughout the remainder of the season and see how it reflects on the Hawks' playoff chances.
About the Author
Written by Adam Seidman
Adam can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org