Chicago Blackhawks: Blackhawks Stock Watch
February, 7, 2014
Dave Reginek/Getty ImagesMarian Hossa is on pace for his first 30-goal season since 2008-09.RISING
1. Marian Hossa, forward: Hossa may be taking time off the ice for maintenance work on his body, but it doesn't appear to be affecting his play. He's on a five-game points streak and has seven points over that span. He's recorded points in 11 of the last 13 games. His 24 goals put him on pace to have his first 30-goal season since the 2008-09 season. His season-high for the Blackhawks was 29 in the 2011-12 season. He also continues to lead the NHL with 62 takeaways.
2. Corey Crawford, goaltender: Crawford recorded his first shutout of the season in the Blackhawks' 2-0 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday. He made 29 saves, including 11 against the power play, to secure the shutout. He's held opponents to two or fewer goals in seven of his past nine games and lowered his season goals-against average to 2.36 and raised his save percentage to .916. He's also improved his save percentage against the power play to .853. He had a .784 shorthanded save percentage prior to his injury.
3. Penalty kill: The Blackhawks' penalty kill has been trending positively for the past month. The Blackhawks have allowed one power-play goal on their last 33 penalty kills. They were especially impressive against the Ducks on Wednesday when they killed off a 40-second power play and a four-minute one in the 2-0 win. The Blackhawks have elevated their penalty-kill percentage to 80.2, which ranks 23rd in the league.
1. Penalties: The Blackhawks have allowed opponents four or more power plays in each of their past three games. The Blackhawks accumulated 28 penalty minutes in that span. Over the past three games, Andrew Shaw was called for three minor penalties, Niklas Hjalmarsson for two minors, and Patrick Sharp and Michal Rozsival each had a double minor. The Blackhawks average 3.14 minors a game this season.
2. Brandon Pirri, forward: Pirri wasn't able to impress during his nearly two weeks with the Blackhawks. He had zero points in four games and was made a healthy scratch against the Ducks on Wednesday. He was reassigned to the Rockford IceHogs on Thursday. It's unclear whether Pirri will get another chance with the Blackhawks after they traded for forward Peter Regin on Thursday. Regin will likely get a shot at second-line center.
January, 22, 2014
Getty ImagesMarian Hossa has picked up some of the scoring while Patrick Kane slumps.
Marian Hossa, forward: Hossa has been on a tear as of late. He has five goals and two assists over the last five games. His puck possession has been especially noticeable the last two weeks. He’s also been averaging nearly four shots on goal per game in January. He was closer to three per game last month. He may have just turned 35, but he doesn’t appear to be slowing down in any way.
Corey Crawford, goaltender: Crawford may not see it, but he’s been a more consistent goaltender since returning from injury in early January. He was especially sharp in the Blackhawks’ wins over the Anaheim Ducks and Boston Bruins over the weekend. Both went down as quality starts as he held the Ducks to two goals on 21 shots and the Bruins to two goals on 36 shots. His season save percentage is up to .912.
Niklas Hjalmarsson, defenseman: Hjalmarsson continues to get involved in the offense, and it continues to pay off for him. He had three assists in the Blackhawks’ wins over the Ducks and Bruins. He had a previous career-high of 17 points, and he’s already smashed that with 22 points this season. He has four goals and 18 assists this season. He and Johnny Oduya have also often received the assignment of the opponent’s top line. Hjalmarsson has a plus-12 rating this season.
Andrew Shaw, forward: Shaw has benefitted from moving to the second line. He’s had two goals, one assist and a plus-five rating since making the switch. Prior to that, he had zero points and a minus-two rating for the month. He appears to be the solution at second-line center for now.
Patrick Kane, forward: Kane is suffering through the third longest scoring drought of his career. He hasn’t scored a goal in the last 10 games. His last goal came against the St. Louis Blues on Dec. 28. His longest scoreless streak was 13 games during his rookie 2007-08 season, and the second longest was 12 games during his second season. He has three points in nine games in January after compiling 23 points in 14 games in December.
2. Patrick Sharp, forward: Like Kane, Sharp has gone through a bit of a goal slump. He’s gone without a goal in the last seven games and has scored in one game in the last 10 games. It’s his longest drought of the season. He is still producing points. He has nine assists in January. The shots have also been mostly there for Sharp. He had zero on net against the Bruins, but he combined for 20 in the previous three games.
January, 13, 2014
Getty ImagesJonathan Toews has a six-game points streak while Michal Handzus has sunk to a minus-1 rating.
Jonathan Toews, forward: Toews and his line have continued to put up points even as the rest of the team has struggled at times over the last few weeks. Toews is riding a six-game points streak and has 15 points in the last 17 games. He’s back to nearly a point a game and has 47 points in 48 games this season. He’s 10th in the league in points and third on the team.
Duncan Keith, defenseman: Keith has been one of the league’s most consistent defensemen on both ends of the ice this season. He’s first among defensemen with 44 points and 41 assists. He also has the highest plus/minus rating among the Top 25 leaders in ice time with a plus-18 rating. He has five assists and a plus-two rating in six games in January.
Marian Hossa, forward: Hossa turned a year older on Sunday, becoming 35, but his play shows no signs of aging. He leads the league with 52 takeaways and is second with a plus-23 rating. He also has 38 points in 43 games and is coming off a weekend where he had two goals and an assist. The concern with Hossa this season was his back, but he’s been able to remain in the lineup consistently after dealing with a few issues with it early in the season.
Michal Handzus, forward: Handzus is one of two Blackhawks with a negative rating. He dropped to a minus-one rating for the season against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday. He has zero points and a minus-five rating over the last eight games. He’s been on the ice for a goal in five of the team’s last six games. He was limited to 10:19 of ice time on Sunday.
Bryan Bickell, forward: Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has tried a bit of everything to get Bickell back on track, but nothing has seemed to work yet. Bickell has one assist and a minus-six rating over the last nine games. He’s been on the ice for a goal in seven of the last nine games. He was held to 8:47 of ice time on Sunday.
Kris Versteeg, forward: Versteeg has hit a skid in recent weeks. He has one assist and a minus-three rating over the last eight games. Quenneville has tried him on the second and third lines in recent weeks, but he hasn’t been able to find success in either spot. He didn’t have any shots on goals against the Oilers on Sunday and hasn’t had more than two shots on goal in any of the last eight games.
January, 6, 2014
Corey Crawford, goaltender: Crawford has been sharp since he’s returned from his injury. He played well in his first game back and had 31 saves on 34 shots in a 3-2 overtime loss to the New York Islanders. He had arguably one of his best starts of the season in a 3-2 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday. He made a season-high 40 saves on 42 shots for a .952 save percentage.
Patrick Sharp, forward: With Patrick Kane slowing down the past week, Sharp has been the Blackhawks’ hottest player. Sharp had two hat tricks in the span of five games and has nine goals and two assists over the last six games. He’ll find out on Tuesday whether he makes Team Canada for the Olympics. He’s certainly presented his case this season.
Penalty kill: The Blackhawks continue to make strides in their penalty kill. They killed off another penalty against the Sharks on Sunday and have allowed just three power-play goals in 30 attempts over the last 10 games. The Blackhawks have raised their penalty-killing percentage to 76.9. They were at 73.1 percent 10 games ago.
Bryan Bickell, forward: No one expected Bickell to excel right away after returning from his knee injury, but he’s now been back for nine games and he hasn’t been playing to Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville’s standards. Bickell has one goal, one assist and a minus-four rating over those nine games. Quenneville sent Bickell a message Sunday by playing him just nine shifts and a season-low 5:20 of ice time.
Shootouts: Every point may be important to the Blackhawks when it comes to the division title this season. Right now, they’re leaving behind points by losing in shootouts. The Blackhawks are 4-6 in shootouts this season and have lost their last four. Kane has struggled in them this season, but he wasn’t to blame for Sunday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks. Jonathan Toews and Sharp failed to convert in the first two rounds, and Crawford allowed the Sharks to score twice.
Michal Handzus, forward: Handzus hasn’t been giving the Blackhawks much offensively lately. He has zero points over the last five games and has a below-50 Corsi percentage in four of those games. He also had a minus-two rating during the same period. He and Marcus Kruger have been solid on the penalty kill, but the Blackhawks need more from him offensively, especially with him playing between Kane and Brandon Saad on the second line.
December, 26, 2013
Rob Grabowski/USA TODAY SportsWhile Patrick Kane continues to rack up points, he has struggled in shootout situations.
Antti Raanta, goaltender: Raanta has kept the Blackhawks rolling despite losing Corey Crawford to injury. Raanta has started seven consecutive games and has allowed more than two goals in a game just once since Crawford was hurt on Dec. 8. Raanta is 8-1-2 with a 2.20 goals-against average and .916 save percentage on the season.
Patrick Kane, forward: Kane is creating a permanent place on this list. He never had a 12-game points streak prior to this season and now has two of them. He’s currently riding one now and will have a chance to push it to 13 games on Friday. He’s tallied a point in 24 of the last 25 games and has 15 goals and 23 assists over that time. His 49 points this season are second to only Sidney Crosby’s 54 points for the league lead.
Patrick Sharp, forward: Sharp continues to build his case for a spot on Canada’s Olympic team. He’s produced 12 points, including seven goals, over the last eight games. He ranks ninth in the league with 18 goals and 15th with 36 points. He went into the three-day holiday break with a two-goal performance against the New Jersey Devils.
Penalty kill: The Blackhawks’ penalty kill is on one of its better stretches this season. The Blackhawks have allowed one power-play goal over the last 15 chances. They have separated a few percentage points between themselves and the bottom two teams in the league. With a 75.6 penalty-kill percentage, the Blackhawks still have a lot of work to do to even catch the 27th team, the Minnesota Wild, at 78 percent, but they are making progress.
Shootout shooters: The Blackhawks were one of the league’s better teams at converting shootout chances last season. They scored 16 goals on 38 chances and were ranked 11th with a 42.1 percentage. They have struggled in that area this season. They’ve scored nine shootout goals on 38 chances and rank 23rd at 23.7 percent. Patrick Kane is especially been off this season. He’s failed on all eight shootout attempts this season after leading the Blackhawks with six shootout goals last season. The Blackhawks are still 4-4 in shootouts, mostly due to their goaltenders, who are fifth in the league with .765 shootout save percentage.
December, 2, 2013
Getty ImagesYoung Blackhawks Antti Raanta (left) and Brandon Pirri are on opposite trajectories this season.
Duncan Keith, defenseman: Keith is playing some of the best hockey of his career. He accumulated a point in each of the seven games on the road trip and had nine total points during that span. He’s tied for third in the NHL with 23 assists. He was named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week on Monday.
Penalty kill: The Blackhawks had one of their better weeks on the penalty kill. The Blackhawks killed off 9-of-10 power plays and improved their penalty-kill percentage to 74.7 for the season. They also move up a spot and now rank 28th in the league.
Antti Raanta, goaltender: Raanta has given the Blackhawks some stability in their backup goaltender role. He picked up two wins and stopped 52-of-56 shots in his first two NHL starts during the road trip. He had 30 saves on 32 shots in their 5-2 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday.
Patrick Kane, forward: Kane had a month to remember. He had nine goals and 10 assists and recorded points in 13 of 15 games in November. The only better month of his career was when he had 20 points in November of 2009. He’s third in the league with 16 goals and is tied for fifth with 30 points.
Patrick Sharp, forward: Sharp also had one of the best months of his career. He matched a career-best 15 points in November. He’s had four months of 15 points in his career. He had eight goals and seven assists this past November.
Brandon Pirri, forward: Pirri had the worst trip among the Blackhawks. He didn’t record a point over all seven games and saw his minutes decrease every game. He started the road trip playing 15:46 in the first game and ended it playing 7:07 in the final game.
November, 11, 2013
Getty Imagestbd by editor
1. Patrick Sharp, forward: Sharp was recognized for his play last week by being named the NHL’s Third Star of the Week on Monday. He led the league with six assists and seven points in three games. His most productive outing came Saturday when he had four assists against the Dallas Stars. He has also matched his 13-game October total of eight points in just five games in November. He has four goals and 12 assists on the season.
2. Corey Crawford, goaltender: Crawford has been carrying the goaltending load with Nikolai Khabibulin struggling in his recent starts. Crawford has started the team’s last five games and played in their last eight. He’s gone 4-0-1 with a 2.20 goals-against average and .920 save percentage in his last five starts. Of the four goals he allowed against the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday, only one of them came at even strength. He has a .933 save percentage when at even strength this season.
3. Duncan Keith, defenseman: Keith has continued to be his steady self throughout November. He has one goal, four assists and a plus-5 rating in five games this month. Keith has been one of the team’s leading shooters and had some assists to show for it, but not a goal until Sunday, when he got his first of the season. He has 51 shots on goal, 21 shots blocked and 20 missed shots this season.
1. Penalty kill: The Blackhawks’ penalty kill was surging forward, especially after killing off 6-of-6 penalties on Saturday, but then they allowed two power-play goals on two chances to the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday and lost that momentum. The Oilers came into Sunday’s game with a 15.5 power-play percentage. The Blackhawks are no longer last in penalty-kill percentage -- the New York Islanders are there at 72.9 percent -- but the Blackhawks are second to last at 74.5 percent and still have some issues to figure out.
2. Jeremy Morin, forward: Morin has fallen out of Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville’s good graces. Morin was made a healthy scratch in the Blackhawks’ last three games. Not only was Morin scratched, but Quenneville opted to use defenseman Sheldon Brookbank instead of him. Morin hasn’t played since Nov. 3 when he had a minus-1 rating and was given a season-low 7:21 of ice time against the Calgary Flames. He has two assists in five games this season.
October, 28, 2013
Getty ImagesBryan Bickell is thriving on the third line while Nikolai Khabibulin had a shaky last start.
1. Bryan Bickell, forward: Bickell entered the season putting pressure on himself to duplicate his breakout Stanley Cup playoffs’ performance and justify his four-year, $16-million offseason contract. That pressure got to him, and he went the first seven games without a goal. Since being moved from the top line to the third line four games ago, Bickell has relaxed and regained his confidence. He has scored in the past four consecutive games, which was something he’d never accomplished in his career. The Blackhawks probably didn’t plan Bickell to be a third-line forward this season, but it’s ultimately about production and he’s producing right now.
2. Marcus Kruger, forward: Kruger has made strides on taking faceoffs in each of his first three NHL seasons. He had a 45.9 winning percentage (284-of-619) as a rookie in the 2011-12 season. He improved to a 46.2 winning percentage (228-of-493) last season. He looks to have improved again this season. He’s won 62-of-129 faceoffs for a 48.1 winning percentage. He’s still not where the Blackhawks want him to be, but he’s not an extreme liability at the dot, and that’s important for them with him seeing more time on the second line.
3. Patrick Sharp, forward: Sharp appears to be on the verge of putting a lot of pucks into the net. He still has just the one goal on the season, but his shots are mounting, and based on his career, it’s only a matter of time before he begins converting on those chances. In the past three games, he’s had 27 total shots, which included 14 on goal, eight blocked and five missed. He leads the Blackhawks with 45 shots on goal and is last with a 2.2 shooting percentage among players who have scored this season. He has a career 11.8 shooting percentage.
1. Nikolai Khabibulin, goaltender: Khabibulin hasn’t received a lot of work due to the Blackhawks’ schedule early on. He’s played in just two games so far. The first one, a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders on Oct. 11, went well. The second one, a 6-5 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, wasn’t as smooth. Khabibulin stopped 19 of 25 shots for a .760 save percentage in the loss. Not all the goals were his fault and he made a couple incredible saves, but overall he was off his game and allowed two of the team’s softer goals this season. Khabibulin will likely get a game or two to redeem himself this week, but Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is keeping a close eye on him. Antti Raanta is waiting in Rockford for his opportunity.
2. Penalty kill, special teams: The Blackhawks won a lot of games last season because of their penalty kill. They ranked third in the league with an 87.2 penalty-kill percentage, and it was their penalty kill that often made the difference as they put together a 19-3-5 record in one-goal games. A year later, the penalty kill has done a flip. The Blackhawks are ranked last in the NHL with a 72.2 penalty-kill percentage and have allowed 10 goals on 36 power-play opportunities. They have held opponents without a power-play goal in just four of the 11 games. By comparison, the Blackhawks didn’t allow a power-play goal in 34 of the 48 regular-season games last season and gave up a total of 18 goals in 141 chances. It wasn’t until their 25th game they allowed their 10th power-play goal.
3. Michal Rozsival, defenseman: Rozsival was one of the Blackhawks’ defensive rocks during their Stanley Cup run last season. He stepped into the lineup full time in the playoffs and had four assists and a plus-9 rating in 23 games. That consistency has been missing this season. He has two assists, 10 penalty minutes and a minus-2 rating in five games. He stayed out of the penalty box and provided an assist in the Blackhawks’ loss to the Minnesota Wild on Saturday, but he had a minus-2 rating and four penalties in his previous two games combined. The Blackhawks hope he can regain his playoff form because he’ll be on the ice more with Michael Kostka out 4-6 weeks with an injury.