Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Streaking/Slumping: Can Keith keep it up?
By Jesse Rogers
Duncan 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.