After a rough start to the season — like the whole team, in general — Seth Jones has been solid in his first season with the Blackhawks. He's on pace to finish with 54 points, which would be the second-best mark of his NHL career (57), and is averaging a career-high 25:52 of ice time.
Ask anyone in Chicago's locker room and they'd tell you Jones has been everything the Blackhawks dreamed of and more.
"Seth is just an unbelievable player," Patrick Kane said in December. "I knew he was a good player but he’s exceeded my expectations on what he brings, how he moves the puck from the D zone, how he jumps in the play. He’s been incredible."
But something is bothering Jones. Despite being on pace to shatter a career-high in assists with 50 — his previous best is 41 — he has only three goals this season and is currently in a 34-game goal drought. His last tally came on Dec. 2, 2021 against the Washington Capitals.
While he's never been known to be a big-time goal producer, Jones still prides himself on being just as efficient on offense as he is on defense. And he's having a tough time finding the back of the net, for whatever reason.
"My game's not too bad right now," Jones said. "I think I’m playing pretty well, moving the puck well. I just can’t put the puck in the net. It’s just frustrating the hell out of me this entire year."
Puck luck is definitely playing a factor in the low goal total. His expected Goals For is 5.7, according to Money Puck, and his actual Goals For is three. That's a pretty big difference for a defenseman.
In a recent game against his former Columbus Blue Jackets team, most notably, Jones had a goal overturned after he hit the right post and the left post on the same shot that originally looked like it was in. He could've scored multiple goals that game but the hockey gods weren't on his side.
A couple weeks before that, Jones was also robbed at the doorstep by Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot that would've ended his drought:
These are just a few examples, but one way to break out of a slump is by getting the puck on net more and interim head coach Derek King hopes Jones follows through with that.
"He can shoot the puck a lot more, I’d like to see that," King said. "He likes to pass that thing off. Even though he’s not scoring, he brings so much more to the team. ... There’s always pressure when you’re that type of player that you need to score all the time. But it’s like anything, when goal scorers aren’t scoring, they better be doing all the other little things right and this is what he does. Hopefully he’ll start shooting the puck a little more."
The area where Jones can help himself — and the rest of the team — is on the power play. The Blackhawks don't have a single goal from a defenseman with the man advantage, which is hard to believe, but Jones' heavy shot from the point is bound to find the back of the net if he stays consistent with a shooting mentality.
"I’ve been having some chances here and there," Jones said. "Probably need to shoot a little bit more on the power play, get some action there. Be nice to see a couple go in. If that happens, obviously confidence comes from there."