Injuries give Frolik unexpected promotion

March, 24, 2013
3/24/13
8:53
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Michael Frolik's numbers probably don’t suggest he warrants a chance on the team’s top line beside Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad.

[+] EnlargeMichael Frolik
Bill Smith/NHLI/Getty ImagesMichael Frolik ranks seventh on the Blackhawks in shots, but has scored just one goal this season.
Frolik has scored just once this season, and that goal came in the first period in the season opener. He’s been shut out ever since.

But when Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville chose to replace injured forward Marian Hossa with Frolik on the first line during Sunday’s practice, he looked beyond the numbers and focused in on Frolik’s actual play.

“(Frolik) has been playing well,” Quenneville said after Sunday’s practice at the United Center. “The (fourth) line has been effective for us. I think for Fro an opportunity to play up a couple spots … Let’s see how he does.

“I think he’s been good. His play overall has been very consistent. He doesn’t have the production to reflect how well he’s been playing. He’s been effective on our penalty killing, that niche with him and (Marcus Kruger) has been in place. But 5-on-5, that line on the last trip was very efficient in a lot of ways, a lot of offensive zone time.”


What has eluded Frolik has been scoring, though the chances have certainly been there for him all season. He’s tied for seventh on the team with 57 shots on goal.

Frolik admitted there’s been a level of frustration with a 1.7 shooting percentage, but he’s also tried to stay positive.

“I don’t have that much points, but I think my game was kind of there,” Frolik said. “The goals just didn’t go in. I think the team is playing great, and I’m glad I can be part of it. Hopefully, I can have a little bit more chance now and hopefully I can do something there.

“When you’re not scoring, for sure, it’s in your head. It’s a little bit frustration. I think I had some chances, just didn’t go in. You try to stay positive, and I think the last couple of games our line kind of played good. Hopefully, I don’t try to change anything and stick with it and turn it around a little bit.”

Frolik dealt with a similar scoring slump last season when he scored five goals in 63 games. He felt he’s handled the situation better this season.

“Last year, I was pretty hard on myself,” Frolik said. “I think put too much pressure on me. When it doesn’t go in, you kind of think about it, and it’s in your head. I just try to learn from it and don’t do those mistakes again, just try to play the game and don’t worry about the points and goals, try to help the team.”

Quenneville and Frolik are hopeful the results will now come with the move.

“The finish has been the one area where he’d be nice to be a little bit more patient and comfortable in that area,” Quenneville said. “He’s going to get some higher quality opportunities, but don’t force it and don’t change too much. Maybe in the offensive areas cash in.”

Frolik said, “I think it could be a good opportunity for me. It’s a good thing. I just don’t want anything to change. Just play the same the way that I did. Don’t try to make any special plays, play the game and see how it goes.”
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Sharp
PTS GOALS AST +/-
78 34 44 13
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Sharp 34
AssistsD. Keith 55
+/-M. Hossa 28
GAAC. Crawford 2.26