Chicago Blackhawks: Streaking/Slumping
March, 27, 2012
1. Andrew Shaw, Forward: He’s been on fire lighting up the scoresheet in each of the past five games. He has four goals and four assists over that timeframe and even when most were quiet in a 6-1 loss on Sunday against Nashville, he managed a helper on the lone goal. His best work has simply come standing in front of the net. Pucks have bounced off him or he’s even jumped over them providing screens and producing goals. His 18.6 percent shooting percentage would rank sixth in the league if he qualified for the category. It’s the best on the Hawks. He has 11 goals in 31 games while averaging just 1.9 shots per game.
2. Viktor Stalberg, Forward: OK, he’s not exactly pulling a Shaw and scoring every game but he has two goals and a helper over his past four contests and only the assist came against Columbus, the team he’s scored the most against. Stalberg is getting his chances once again, he had 13 shots on net over those four games and many were good looks. He’s just one score away from his first 20-goal campaign and unless he gets it on the power play all 20 will have come even strength. In fact, his 39 points are the most in the NHL for a player without earning a single point on special teams. That’s impressive.
1. Niklas Hjalmarsson, Defense: Slowed by an injury he has yet to record a point since returning to the lineup while registering just six shots on net in eight games. He was paired with Brent Seabrook for Duncan Keith’s first game under suspension and the duo were each minus-2 in the 6-1 loss to Nashville on Sunday. Overall, Hjalmarsson is minus-3 over his past six games and will need to pick up his play while Keith sits out the rest of his punishment. With the mostly solid play of Johnny Oduya and Nick Leddy, Hjalmarsson could find himself back on the third defensive pair when Keith returns.
2. Jamal Mayers, Forward: Not in the lineup for his point production, Mayers still needs to contribute when he can. He’s gone nine games without a point and more important it’s been 14 games since he’s been a “plus” player. In that time frame he’s been a “minus” five times, including a minus-2 on Sunday against Nashville. Overall, he’s minus-7 in those fourteen games. Of course, the minuses are never one player’s fault but for a mostly fourth line guy minus-7 stands out. He has been steady in the face-off circle where he took some draws for Patrick Kane on the top line last game.
March, 20, 2012
1. Corey Crawford, Goalie: Dubbed the second star of the week in the NHL, Crawford is back as the starter heading down the stretch. He helped the Hawks beat the St. Louis Blues, pitching a shutout for 45 minutes in relief then stopped all three players in the shootout. He followed that up with a near full-game shutout in Dallas, going 99:10 over the two games without giving up a goal. He was solid again against Washington in a 5-2 win and so in this small sample size he’s playing as well as he has all season, though the defense in front of him has been much better.
2. Brent Seabrook, Defense: Johnny Oduya is garnering positive headlines for what’s he’s brought to the team since coming over in a trade, but Seabrook has been a monster on the ice and the scoresheet. He’s being physical, he’s blocking shots and adding points. He has a goal and two assists over the past three games. His highlights include a team-tying best plus-3 against Washington on Sunday, another plus-3 with four shots and three hits on Friday against Dallas and a huge game-tying goal against St. Louis on March 13. He had five shots and six hits in the comeback win, one of Seabrook’s better games of the season. He has truly been doing it all.
1. Jimmy Hayes, Forward: He played a career low 3:01 against St. Louis last week and then two games later he was a healthy scratch in favor of Michael Frolik. Hayes simply hasn’t been as noticeable lately, and that’s not a good thing when you’re 6-foot-6, 221 pounds. Since being recalled on Feb. 18, for a second time this season, Hayes has just a goal and an assist in 14 games. Both points came in the same contest so he’s been shut out in the other 13. He’s not getting the minutes, but he’s not earning them either. Hayes admitted he needed to get back to “doing the things that got me here.” That includes crashing the net and using his big frame and skating ability to cause havoc.
2. Jonathan Toews, Forward: Out of the lineup is about the only way Toews would find his way into the Slumping column. Really, it’s just his recovery that’s Slumping. On the ice for four days and feeling optimistic about his return gave way to a relapse of concussion symptoms which have kept him out of the lineup for 13 games. Fortunately, the Hawks went 8-4-1 in that time frame, but there is no timetable for Toews’ return. He hasn’t skated or practiced with his team since last week though there might be some encouraging signs over the next few days, if his off-ice recovery keeps progressing. Whenever he skates again he’s still probably a week to 10 days away from playing.
March, 14, 2012
1. Patrick Kane, Forward: He’s baaaaack. After a series of quiet nights Kane has woke up since Jonathan Toews went down with an injury 11 games ago. There were some off performances in the four losses over that time but in the other seven games Kane has been the motor. He has three goals and two assists in his last five games and has been flying with the puck. And don’t forget his shootout move to beat St. Louis on Tuesday night. He’s back at center and even summoned his inner Toews, playing a grittier game against the Blues than he normally shows. That’s the Kane that’s needed for the postseason.
2. Marian Hossa, Forward: It’s a not a surprise as Kane goes so does Hossa. Or is it the other way around? Yes, he admitted to a clunker of a performance in St. Louis last week but he’s racking up the helpers, now up to 42 after earning five in the last three games. If he gets really hot he might come close to the 57 assists he earned as a career high in 2006-2007. Kane and Hossa have shown chemistry when together at different times this season. Joel Quenneville will most likely ride that combo until it goes stale. For now, they’ve been the dynamic duo of late.
1. Jimmy Hayes, Forward: Hayes has been quiet since earning a goal and assist against Detroit on Feb. 21. He’s played 10 games since with no production to show for it. His minutes have decreased to a season low 3:01 on Tuesday. Quenneville said it was just the situation since Brandon Bollig was out for a 10-minute misconduct and the Hawks reduced their rotation. But if Hayes was producing he’d be finding the minutes. He hasn’t been crashing the net as he did early on. A return to form in that manner will help put his name on the scoresheet soon enough.
2. Duncan Keith, Defense: His game on offense is to rack up the helpers either via the power play or 5-on-5. He has no points in his last six games and just one in his last 10. Having said that he put 10 shots toward the net on Tuesday against the Blues, six got to the goalie while four missed the net entirely. On defense, he’s minus-2 over his past three games as he was in the middle of both goals scored on the Hawks when they hosted the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday. Still, he’s playing huge minutes and is bound to be in the middle of a lot that goes right and wrong for Chicago. Over the last few games it’s been a few more wrong than right.
March, 6, 2012
Getty ImagesPatrick Sharp and Corey Crawford are heading in opposite directions for the Hawks.
1. Patrick Sharp, Forward: Plenty of accolades go to various Hawks over their three-game win streak, especially the last two on the road, but none of it happens if not for Sharp’s contributions in all four Hawks’ goals scored in Ottawa and Detroit. He had a goal and three assists plus earned a penalty shot chance and totaled 13 shots in just those two games. It all adds up to problems for the opposition which has to keep an eye on Sharp the shooter -- and playmaker -- after his highlight reel little dish to Patrick Kane for the game-winner against the Wings on Sunday. He has 25 goals and 30 assists despite missing almost nine full games and training camp. He’s as solid and consistent as they come for the Hawks.
2. Ray Emery, Goalie: When you earn a star of the week in the NHL you automatically qualify for streaking. Emery has given up just three goals over his last eight periods of hockey and one was meaningless with just seconds left in a win over Toronto. His solid performances in Ottawa and Detroit were key to a team struggling on the road all season and currently playing without it’s captain. More than anything Emery isn’t letting any soft or weak ones in and the defense in front of him is doing its part by limiting the high quality chances. Emery gets the star but the assist goes to the blue-liners in front of him.
Honorable mention: Kane and Marian Hossa.
1. Corey Crawford, Goalie: If the (old) backup netminder is streaking then the starter must be slumping. Crawford came off a string of good performances only to be pulled in his last two starts. He’s played a total of 47 minutes in his past two games, giving up seven goals. He has lost his last three overall with a brutal save percentage of .777 over that span. Not everything has been his fault -- the final two goals against Toronto last week were team breakdowns, but the first one scored in the first minute simply squeaked by him. Too many of those have over the last few months and so now Crawford finds himself behind Emery on the depth chart for the moment.
2. Viktor Stalberg, Forward: Stalberg has turned into a streaky player in his own right. And right now he’s streaking the wrong way. He has no points since -- you guessed it -- the last time the Hawks played Columbus on Feb. 18. That’s a span of eight games (and just one point in 13). He’s done most of his damage against the Blue Jackets this season. He’ll need to pick up his game whether he’s a second or third liner come playoffs as he’ll be the perfect candidate for secondary scoring the Hawks need. But it will have to come against a little better quality of opponent than the Jackets. He’s only been a minus player once in the last eight so he’s holding his own on defense but the speedster needs to create some havoc in the offensive end and subsequently some points.
February, 21, 2012
US PresswireCorey Crawford has won three straight while Brendan Morrison has failed to impress during his short time with the Hawks.
1. Corey Crawford, Goalie: Three straight wins for Crawford after a slump have given his game -- and the team -- some confidence. He's stopped 84 of 88 shots during the streak and gave up less than two goals in back to back games for the first time since late December. He says he is reacting more to situations instead of aggressively anticipating plays which had him losing his net previously. Crawford brought his "A" game on Sunday in the first period when the Hawks were badly outplayed. St. Louis scored just one goal in the opening 20 minutes despite peppering Crawford. The skaters in front responded in the final 40 minutes and Crawford did his part for a rare low-scoring victory.
2. Marian Hossa, Forward: He’s bacccck ... After a post All-Star Game slump, Hossa has found some jump to his step. He's had points in four straight games including three goals and two assists. Hossa is playing with Marcus Kruger and Andrew Brunette so making plays on his own will be needed, but he has to get the puck to do so. During the Hawks' recent losing streak he wasn’t doing that, but now Hossa has some life to his game and opponents are paying the price. He leads the Hawks with 58 points.
1. Brendan Morrison, Forward: If being a healthy scratch is part of a slump then Morrison is in one though he will dress for Tuesday's game against Detroit. Since coming over in a trade at the All-Star break Morrison went from centering the second line to the fourth line to street clothes in a matter of five games. He has sat out the past four. Morrison admittedly doesn't have the burst he'd like, especially when playing with some of the faster Hawks forwards. He has yet to register a point as a Hawk in five games.
2. Andrew Brunette, Forward: Despite power play time and now back among the top 6 forwards, Brunette has been slow to produce points lately. He has just one in his last 12 games and hasn’t scored since Jan. 2. His plodding style has not helped him during five-on-five play, but he can still be a dangerous asset around the net with the man-advantage. Unfortunately, the Hawks power play is 0 for its last 29 and Brunette’s production has dried up with it.
February, 14, 2012
Mike Ridewood/Getty ImagesJonathan Toews is slumping only because he's measured by a much higher bar than others.This week there simply weren't enough candidates in the "Streaking" department. Not with the Chicago Blackhawks on an eight-game losing streak. So here's one "Streaker" and three "Slumpers."
MARCUS KRUGER, Forward
Kruger had two big goals three minutes apart against San Jose, though it was in a losing cause. He went to the net on both occasions and cleaned up on rebounds, something others on the team could learn a lesson from. Kruger led the Hawks with six shots on net against the Sharks which is a change from the norm for him. In fact he's been shooting more lately and that can only mean good things as the Hawks struggle to score goals right now. He was minus-1 over the last four games, but considering how losses have piled up that's not so bad.
MARIAN HOSSA, Forward
Maybe he was due. Hossa went into the All-Star break on a nine-game point streak but came out of it as cold as ice. He has zero points on the road trip so far and is minus-6. His penalty killing has left something to be desired as well. He was in the middle of two early power play goals from San Jose recently and did little to stop the scoring chances. And Hossa is part of a power play unit that doesn't have a goal on the entire road trip so far. Now he's on a line with Marcus Kruger and Andrew Brunette which doesn't exactly scream "breaking out." He says he's best when he "plays with the puck." Hossa needs to go get it.
COREY CRAWFORD and RAY EMERY, Goaltending
Ray Emery and Corey Crawford have exchanged being mediocre in net during the recent portion of the losing skid. The Hawks were tied after two periods in Colorado only for Emery to give up two weak goals. In San Jose, Crawford had his moments as well and couldn't come to the aid of the Hawks poor penalty killing. Then in Phoenix it was Emery's turn again and he gave up a weak first goal which was all the Coyotes needed. Neither has shined recently but Emery has been slightly better, which is why he's getting his third start in four games Tuesday against Nashville. Both are slumping which means if one can steal a win they may get the net for a while.
JONATHAN TOEWS, Forward
For Toews, going four games without a point is a slump. And against San Jose he had zero shots on net. His faceoff percentage has taken a hit as well but that could be due in part to a hand injury he suffered just before the All-Star break. He's just minus-1 during that span but for Toews any minus is a slump. And like Hossa he's been part of an abysmal power play and penalty kill. If you want to go one step further, as captain, he hasn't rallied the troops for an emotional 60-minute game though he's played with enough of it himself. Others haven't. That's only partially on him as he can only do so much as one player and leader.
February, 7, 2012
Getty ImagesThe Hawks are glad to have Patrick Sharp back while Duncan Keith's struggles in western Canada continue.
1. Patrick Sharp, forward: A team on a five-game losing skid doesn’t have many streakers, but Sharp returned from a hand injury in fine fashion, producing two goals in his second game back and has three points in three games since the All-Star break. Sharp shook off some rustiness in his first game back where he missed the net a few times but tallied twice against the Edmonton Oilers in a losing cause. If the Hawks continue to struggle on defense, Sharp’s proficiency on offense will come in handy. Despite missing eight games he’s still well on pace for a 30-goal season.
2. Jamal Mayers, forward: Goals in two of three games since the All-Star break broke an 18-game scoreless drought for Mayers. He opened the scoring in Edmonton with what looked to be a key goal before the Hawks imploded. He scored the Hawks' first goal of the night the game before in Vancouver, but the team ended up losing the game as well. With others struggling to find the net, Mayers provides some offense in limited minutes and deserves some recognition for his steady play this season.
1. Duncan Keith, defenseman: Western Canada has not been kind to Keith this season. In six games there he’s been on the ice for 19 of 28 goals scored against the Hawks including 8 of 14 on the latest trip there last week. Though Keith played well in Vancouver he was still on the ice for all three goals scored by the Canucks. He’s not getting the breaks, and he’s not making them either such as when Jerome Iginla had a breakaway score in Calgary after a puck bounced past Keith near the Hawks blue-line. He wasn’t able to recover, and Ray Emery couldn’t make the save. It’s the way his rollercoaster season has gone.
2. Marian Hossa, forward: It’s rare that he’s slumped at all this year but after a nine-game point streak he’s been held off the scoresheet in the three games since the All-Star break. And he has been a tad suspect on defense going minus-3 in those games, accumulating just five shots total. He and Patrick Kane are the only two Hawks who didn’t have the break to mentally rest because they participated in All-Star weekend, so some fatigue could be catching up. Hossa’s slump is a small one at this point but on a team that needs his offense to win games, it’s noticeable even when he doesn’t produce for just three contests.
January, 18, 2012
Getty ImagesAndrew Shaw has made an immediate impact on the Hawks while Michael Frolik's production has plummeted.
1. Viktor Stalberg, Forward: Just a week ago he was in a mini-slump, having gone six straight games without a point. But that all changed when he earned his first career hat trick against Columbus. He added single tallies in two of his next three games along with a helper for a five-goal, six-point week. In almost every case his speed has been the difference, even beating a man to the puck for his empty net goal against Columbus, putting an exclamation mark on his hat trick. With every goal and assist he continues to set a career high on both categories with plenty of season left.
2. Andrew Shaw, Forward: He has goals in four of his first seven games as an NHL player, including his last three. He’s either made things happen or has been in the right place in the right time. Either way, his hockey IQ is getting noticed around the league. Though he plays with an edge, he hasn’t taken a minor penalty yet and has been a minus player just once in seven games. He’s played both center and wing and has more than held his own at both positions and both ends of the ice.
1. Michael Frolik, Forward: After missing a glorious open net opportunity against Detroit on Saturday it prompted Frolik to say “good goal scorers bury those chances.” Frolik is not and has not been for a long time. His last goal came over a month ago, and he’s on pace for a career low. He has just three helpers since his last tally so the assists have dried up as well. He’s been dropped to the fourth line and his confidence has undoubtedly dropped with it.
2. Duncan Keith, Defenseman: This is mostly based on points as his defense has been decent enough but the goals have been slow to come by for a player who can push the puck and plays on the power play. It’s been 28 games since his last tally, and he has just three assists over his last 13 games. Keith has zero power-play goals on the year and just two overall but his plus/minus has been steady at plus-12.
January, 10, 2012
Getty ImagesJimmy Hayes scored key goals in two straight games while Patrick Kane has been a minus player in four of the past seven games.
1. Jimmy Hayes, Forward: Since being called up on Dec. 29, Hayes has been a force on the ice in limited minutes. He scored key goals in back-to-back games against Edmonton and Philadelphia though the Hawks went on to lose both. But it didn’t diminish his effectiveness. He has 12 shots on net in five games -- not bad for a guy that’s only played double digit minutes in two of them and most of the time it’s been from the fourth line. He’s simply been noticeable in a positive way, especially with the puck. A positive start to his career.
2. Brent Seabrook, Defense: On a slumping team it's hard to find many streakers, but Seabrook scored key goals in two of the past five games. He helped beat the Red Wings with a blast from the middle of the ice on Dec. 30 then tallied a third-period score against Philadelphia before the Hawks gave the game back late. He’s been a minus player just once in his last 13 games and that’s with knowing the Hawks have dropped four in a row. If Seabrook could get his shot off even more he could find himself in the streaking category more often. It's that good.
1. Patrick Kane, Forward: It’s been well documented Kane has just three goals in his past 23 games. He does have 13 assists in that same span and some helped win games, but it's not enough. He’s been a minus player in four of the past seven games and hasn’t had a “plus” next to his name in the box score since Dec. 21. Not scoring and giving up goals on the other end is a recipe for a slump and Kane is in one.
2. Viktor Stalberg, Forward: His slump has been overshadowed by some bigger names (see above) but it's been quiet on the offensive end for Stalberg since before the New Year. He’s gone six straight games without a point though he has been getting shots on net. His issue once again is finishing. He might be better suited on the third or fourth line where he can blow by third defensive pairs, but Stalberg is back with Jonathan Toews and Kane so the chances will come again. He just needs to complete them. Easier said than done for No. 25.
December, 27, 2011
US PresswireViktor Stalberg has seven points over his last four games while a move to the fourth line hasn't helped Michael Frolik.
1. Viktor Stalberg, Forward: He earns easy honors for his torrid play. Seven points over his last four games before and after the Christmas break is his best stretch as a Hawk. He recorded a career-high nine shots on net in a loss in Pittsburgh where he started the game on the fourth line. Twice in recent games, including the Penguins contest, Stalberg was moved to a different line and that line has taken off. Most recently he was inserted on the checking line with Dave Bolland and Bryan Bickell, and the result was a combined eight points for the trio in two contests. Stalberg is playing his best hockey of his young career and deserves power play minutes for it.
2. Corey Crawford, Goalie: It’s a small sample size since his return to the net, but Crawford had to start somewhere and his two wins before and after the holiday break were very good. He was the No. 1 and No. 2 star in each of those games, keeping the Hawks in it while they endured a few lapses against weaker opponents. His post to post paddle save on Max Pacioretty against Montreal was the signature save of his return while his opening 20 minutes against Columbus was his signature period. Crawford has stopped 57 of 59 shots and looks like his old self. As Joel Quenneville would say, he’s trending in the right direction.
1. Michael Frolik, Forward: He’s been a candidate for slumping on nearly a weekly basis and his recent stretch on the fourth line hasn’t changed that notion. Frolik has one goal and point in his last nine games while seeing his minutes decrease. He’s still getting some offensive chances but isn’t finishing them. That’s been a constant problem for Frolik since becoming a Hawk. Other than a short stretch in the playoffs last year he has underwhelmed with his scoring touch.
2. Steve Montador, Defenseman: It’s hard to pick slumpers on a team 9-1-1 in their last 11, but Montador has been quiet on both ends of the ice. Even with power play time he has just one point since Nov. 19, a span of 16 games. He’s been a minus player three times in his last 10 games while the Hawks have given up very little in that stretch. Montador has been less noticeable on the offensive end overall, though that’s not how he’s judged.
December, 20, 2011
Getty ImagesRay Emery has helped the Hawks earn at least a point in his last seven appearances, while Bryan Bickell has gone three games without a point.
1. Patrick Sharp, Forward: A weekly candidate for this category, he’s a slam dunk this time around as he’s on an NHL season-high and personal best nine-game point streak. He’s amassed seven goals and six assists during the streak while his plus/minus rating has skyrocketed (plus-16). Sharp is at the top of his game at both ends of the ice, finishing scoring chances or keeping plays alive, earning both primary and secondary assists along the way. He’s as hot as he’s ever been in his career.
2. Ray Emery, Goalie: There are plenty of other offensive candidates but Emery’s recent run in goal deserves attention. He’s helped the Hawks earn at least a point in his last seven appearances, including winning his last six starts. In fact, the Hawks have only played one game in which Emery has started but the team didn’t come away with something in the standings. During the current five-game win streak he’s stopped 139 of 149 shots good for giving up just an average of two per game.
1. Bryan Bickell, forward: After being a healthy scratch for five straight games, Bickell is still point-less over his last three though his team scored 12 goals. His last point came on Oct. 31. He’s been better since returning to the lineup, but until he hits the score sheet he’s considered in a slump for a squad at the top of the league in scoring. He’s been more noticeable playing the body which should lead to some offensive chances or at least being able to keep play alive for his teammates. A heavy fore-check could be the key to Bickell’s slump ending.
2. Patrick Kane, forward: It’s a slump when Kane only has one point over his last four games and just two goals in over a month. He’s fallen behind three others for the team lead in scoring and admits he has to pick it up. Kane is a point producer, and when he’s under a point per game average he’s simply not playing his best. He’s had the puck less since moving back to wing but that shouldn’t stop him from getting it just as much. He needs to find it and make things happen as he did many times playing center during the first six weeks.
December, 13, 2011
US PresswirePatrick Sharp has 12 points in his last eight games while Nick Leddy has put up only one point in his last seven contests.
1. Patrick Sharp, Forward: He’s been hot recently and is quietly putting together a fantastic season. Sharp’s success has been under the radar due to an MVP-type year from Jonathan Toews and the more flashy production, at times, of Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane. But Sharp’s recent back-to-back overtime winners thrust him back into the spotlight. When Sharp isn’t scoring he’s getting helpers, putting him on pace to match or exceed a career high in assists (41). He has nine goals and three assists in his last eight games and in the middle of it all was a good kind of distraction -- the birth of his first child. This week, the streaking Sharp is a lucky man.
2. Niklas Hjalmarsson, Defenseman: Getting points in three of his last four games constitutes streaking for Hjalmarsson. He’s not expected to be a huge offensive producer but he needs to contribute some on that end of the ice based on the minutes he’s seeing. When he’s shot the puck lately it’s reached the net, creating some offensive chances off rebounds or chaos in front. Look at it this way, Hjalmarsson has five assists already, half of what he had in 80 games last year.
1. Nick Leddy, Defenseman: This is mostly due to point totals because his defense has been decent enough, although he’s minus-2 over his last eight games. That’s mostly due to his production drying up. Leddy did get his 15th assist of the year last game, but that was his first point in seven contests. He hasn’t scored a goal since October, but more important than anything, he hasn’t produced many of his patented rushes with the puck into the offensive zone. He did it routinely in the first 20 games or so. Not as much lately.
2. Ben Smith, Forward: A demotion to the minors is slumping, right? His much anticipated return after last year’s playoff heroics fizzled. He never got a chance to play with the Hawks’ top lines but he didn’t earn it either. Smith just wasn’t as noticeable with or without the puck. He had one point in seven games before being sent to Rockford of the AHL on Monday. He was minus-6, never earning a plus rating in any of the seven games. His slow start could easily be attributed to his preseason concussion. It forced him to play catch-up and he simply didn’t look like the player who was a force in the first round of the playoffs last season.
December, 6, 2011
Getty ImagesDuncan Keith has points in five of the past six games while Corey Crawford has struggled to come up with the big save.
1. Patrick Sharp, Forward: He admitted Monday, in hindsight, missing training camp threw off his scoring touch but he’s starting to find it. A recent hat trick set off a spree of six goals over his last five games entering play Monday night. He’s coming alive on the power play as well which was a constant in his game a season ago. He’s been earning points via assists all year, but Sharp is a sniper at heart, and he’s been doing some sniping of late. He was just two off the team lead in goals until Jonathan Toews exploded against the Coyotes. Sharp earned his 14th assist in the game. If Marcus Kruger can at least be a short-term answer at center Sharp should get some more good looks with Marian Hossa helping on the other side.
2. Duncan Keith, Defense: Yes, he can go from streaking to slumping back to streaking in a matter of games or even within a game -- like he did Monday -- but remember he’s built to help on offense, and he’s doing so. He has points in five of six and is among the league leaders in assists (17) for defensemen. His plus/minus does fluctuate, but he’s a plus-1 over his last seven games, a far cry from his minus-8 through the first five games of the circus trip. In three less games played he has surpassed Nick Leddy for most points among Hawks blue-liners. The only question is, can he keep it up and can he lock down on defense?
1. Corey Crawford, Goalie: Coach Joel Quenneville admitted November wasn’t the best of months for the Hawks' second-year goaltender. In recent play alone he’s given up 18 goals in less than six full games played. Of course the defense in front of him is to blame for some of the issues in the Hawks’ end but the fact remains, after watching replays of all the scores given up in that time frame, Crawford could have made more saves. Once in a while a goalie has to come up with the big one, and Crawford has done it less as of late. That’s not to say he’s missed them all, but one or two more could have made the difference in several games. As is, he ranks near the bottom of the league in save percentage and goals against average. He can be better.
2. Jamal Mayers, Forward: This is strictly being judged in terms of points though he did drop the gloves on Monday for the first time in a while. He continues to do his job providing energy but the fourth line has to contribute some offense, even in limited minutes. Mayers hasn’t produced a point in a month and now that’s he’s moved to center he’ll need to initiate some offense while playing well in his own end. He’s minus-3 over his past 14 games which isn’t awful but fourth-line players want to be even or slightly better.
November, 29, 2011
Getty ImagesPatrick Sharp has racked up the points while Bryan Bickell's drought continues.
1. Patrick Sharp, Forward: He’s been back and forth between the Hawks’ top two lines and continues to pile up points -- as well as shots on goal. His hat trick on Friday in Anaheim came at a crucial time. The Hawks were less than 20 minutes away from a fourth consecutive loss before Sharp and linemate Jonathan Toews exploded in the third period. Sharp's 22 points rank fourth on the team but his plus-11 is tops. So are his 89 shots which places him second in the NHL in that category. He had 13 on net in the final two road games of the Hawks' just completed trip.
2. Jonathan Toews, Forward: His plus/minus has gone in the right direction after a couple of tough games in the middle of the recent road trip. And his monster effort in Anaheim alone gets him a streaking mention. He had five points in the game, four in the third period during a comeback for his team. He followed that game up with the game-winner in Los Angeles after a perfect face-off victory to start the scoring sequence. Toews leads the Hawks in points (25) and isn’t far behind in plus/minus (plus-9).
1. Bryan Bickell, Forward: Now at 12 games and counting without a point, he’s become a whipping boy for fans. In fact he has one point since the fifth game of the season. Dropped from the third line to the fourth, could the press box be far behind? His physical play has dried up with his points and unless Bickell shows some needed energy on the bottom line he’ll undoubtedly be replaced by Ben Smith in the lineup. Joel Quenneville likes size but Bickell isn’t playing big right now.
2. Michael Frolik, Forward: Like Bickell he’s been dropped all the way to the fourth line even after getting a brief stint with Toews and Co. at the top. He’s gone pointless in eight games before and after an injury sidelined him for two contests. Where once he was getting scoring chances now he’s been much less noticeable on the ice. He, Bickell and Dave Bolland were part of a dynamic line in the playoffs last season and were the only trio on the team to start the year together the way they finished it. But that’s long forgotten as both Frolik and Bickell have slumped badly.
November, 22, 2011
US PresswireMarian Hossa remains hot, but Steve Montador had a rough weekend.
1. Marian Hossa: Like everyone else he cooled off some over the weekend but his recent move to the top line has been a boon for him and that trio. He’s taken over the team lead in points (23) and is among the league leaders after earning points in six straight games. He’s had multi-point nights in three of them and continues to make the players around him better. Jonathan Toews and Viktor Stalberg have a combined 15 points in seven games since Hossa was added to their line. Save a poor defensive moment in the third period in Calgary on Friday, he’s been sound on both ends of the ice and on special teams.
2. Nick Leddy: With a quarter of the season complete, Nick Leddy is the surprise leader in points among defensemen with 15. His rushes up the ice with the puck are becoming second nature for the 20 year-old. Several of his 13 assists have been the result of direct plays when he set up teammates. His shot from the point is getting better as well. With seven points in his last six games he hasn’t let up after a hot start.
1. Duncan Keith: Sometimes the box score does tell the whole story. After being on the ice for 11-of-14 goals scored against the Hawks this past weekend, not much more needs to be said. Not all the goals were his fault, of course, but as a main line defenseman, and with his partner Brent Seabrook out of the lineup, Keith needs to do more to stop plays before they become dangerous scoring chances. He went from plus-9 to plus-1 in a matter of 24 hours. It wasn’t long ago he was on a hot streak, but the weekend's struggles negated those positives.
2. Steve Montador: Last week he was streaking but like Keith the weekend derailed his fine play. Minus-6 over the last two games, he didn’t do much to offset the goals scored by the opposition. Overall his offensive numbers are impressive but Joel Quenneville has said many times that Montador is judged first and foremost as a defensive player, not by his offense. He allowed Ales Hemsky to get around him on the Edmonton Oilers' first goal a minute into the game Saturday, which set the tone for a second consecutive bad night in the Hawks’ end. Filling in for the injured Seabrook, Montador hasn’t been the answer defensively.