- Scott Powers, Reporter
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1. Marian Hossa, forward: Hossa has found his timing after a slow start. He’s produced seven points, including three goals, over the last six games after accumulating just five points over his first nine games. He was especially active offensively against the Calgary Flames on Sunday. He scored a goal and had nine total shots, including four on goal. He also had another takeaway against the Flames, giving him 24, which ranks second in the NHL. Detroit Red Wings forward Pavel Datsyuk leads the league with 25 takeaways. A back injury had kept Hossa from playing in the offseason and led to his early inconsistencies.
2. Power play: The Blackhawks learned to live without a consistent power play last season. They went through spurts where it was successful, but they lacked production more often than not. They appear to have fixed that problem this season. The Blackhawks have tallied a power-play goal in seven of the last eight games and in 11 of their first 15 games. They also have a 27.8 power-play percentage (5-of-18) at home. No one has benefitted more from the Blackhawks’ power-play success than Patrick Kane. He leads the team with seven power-play points. He notched an assist on Hossa’s game-tying power-play goal on Sunday.
3. Marcus Kruger, forward: We noted here last week about Kruger’s improved faceoff percentage. Well, he’s taken it to another level. He was 9-of-13 on faceoffs on Sunday and 11-of-15 on Saturday. His overall faceoff percentage has jumped to 51.5 percent, which ranks 46th in the NHL. In the last two games, he’s gone 3-for-3 in the offensive zone, 9-for-14 in the defensive zone and 8-for-11 in the neutral zone.
1. Nikolai Khabibulin, goaltender: Khabibulin’s playing opportunities could be coming to an end soon. After allowing six goals on 25 shots to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Oct. 24, he gave up four goals on 22 shots and was pulled in the second period against the Ottawa Senators in his next start on Oct. 29. It’s early in the season and Khabibulin has only started three games, but Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville won’t be patient much longer if Khabibulin doesn’t turn his performance around soon.
2. Brandon Pirri, forward: Pirri’s play has leveled off since being recalled. He hasn’t had a point in the last three games and had his ice time was decreased to 10:26 on Sunday. He’s also struggled in faceoffs lately and went 7-for-23 on them over the weekend. His faceoff percentage has dropped to 41.8 for the season.
3. Bryan Bickell, forward: Bickell has cooled off in the last week after breaking out the week before. After going on a four-game goals streak, he followed up by going without a goal or a point in the last four games. His last goal came on Oct. 26. His shots-on-goal totals have also declined. He’s had six shots on goal over the last four games. The Blackhawks aren’t looking for Bickell to score every game, but they would like some consistency out of him. He has four goals and one assist in 15 games.
RISING 1. Marian Hossa, forward: Hossa has found his timing after a slow start. He’s produced seven points, including three goals, over the last six games after accumulating just five points over his first nine games.