Chicago Blackhawks: Sheldon Brookbank

Former Hawks report: Leddy fitting in with Islanders

November, 22, 2014
Nov 22
3:13
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Here’s a look at how some former recent Chicago Blackhawks are doing with their different teams:

Nick Leddy, defenseman, New York Islanders, traded October of 2014
The Blackhawks traded Leddy prior to this season because they needed to get under the salary cap. Leddy, 23, has adapted to a new team nicely for the Islanders. He has five goals, four assists, is a plus-7 and has averaged 19:28 of ice time in 19 games this season. He leads the Islanders with a 59.32 Corsi percentage.

Brandon Pirri, forward, Florida Panthers, traded March of 2014
The Blackhawks moved Pirri after he struggled to earn ice time last season. Pirri, 23, hasn’t played for the Panthers since Oct. 30 due to a concussion. He is expected to return soon. He was on a roll before suffering the injury, scoring goals in three consecutive games. He had also been a healthy scratch early in the season. He has three goals and is a plus-2 in four games this season.

Jimmy Hayes, forward, Florida Panthers, traded November of 2013
The Blackhawks traded Hayes after he didn’t fit the bill as a third-line winger early last season. Hayes, 25, was a healthy scratch early this season for the Panthers, but he has had better times as of late. He has scored in three of the last five games and has five points during that span. He has four goals, four assists and is a plus-5 in 11 games this season.

Dylan Olsen, defenseman, Florida Panthers, traded November of 2013
The Blackhawks traded Olsen as part of the deal to obtain Kris Versteeg. Olsen, 23, has found a permanent spot in the Panthers’ defense. He has played in 17 games this season and has averaged 16:01 of ice time. He has four assists and is a plus-1.

Ryan Stanton, defenseman, Vancouver Canucks, waived September of 2013
The Blackhawks were hoping to get Stanton through waivers, but the Canucks picked him up. Stanton, 25, hasn’t had a stellar season. He missed time early in the season with a lower-body injury and was a healthy scratch against the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday. He has one assist, is a minus-1 and averaged 15:11 of ice time in 10 games this season.

(Read full post)

Hawks player reviews: Sheldon Brookbank

June, 10, 2014
Jun 10
10:00
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Sheldon BrookbankJohn Russell/NHLI/Getty ImagesSheldon Brookbank played a utility role in 48 games with the Blackhawks this season.

Sheldon Brookbank, Defenseman

2013-14 cap hit: $1,250,000 | Age: 33 | Season stats: 2 goals, 5 assists, plus-2

Season recap: Brookbank was the ultimate utility player for the Blackhawks. Coach Joel Quenneville used him in a variety of roles as a defenseman and even played him as a forward. Quenneville showed more trust in him this season.

Season highlight: Brookbank was leaned on late in the regular season when Johnny Oduya was injured. Brookbank played 16 or more minutes in five of the Blackhawks' last six regular-season games.

Season lowlight: Brookbank played in seven playoff games this season after playing in just one the previous season, but he was still a healthy scratch for 12 playoff games this season.

Final grade: C+

Inside the numbers: Brookbank was third on the team with 52 penalty minutes despite playing in just 48 regular-season games.

Notes: Brookbank and Mike Kostka were the only Blackhawks defensemen to also see time as a forward this season.

Quotes: "I mean I didn't really know 100 percent what to expect [when I signed with the Blackhawks]," Brookbank said in April. "Obviously I thought I'd be playing more. That's for sure. But like I said, our team is that deep and we won the championship. If that's what I am on a championship team, then I'll take it."

What's next: Brookbank will be an unrestricted free agent and isn't expected to be offered a new contract with the Blackhawks. His lineup spot could go to David Rundblad or a prospect in the organization.

Versteeg out, Brookbank in for Game 6

May, 30, 2014
May 30
8:11
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
LOS ANGELES -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg was a healthy scratch and was replaced by Sheldon Brookbank against the Los Angeles Kings in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals on Friday.

Versteeg had played in Chicago's previous seven games; he was a healthy scratch in two previous games in these playoffs. He sat the final 50 minutes, 4 seconds of Game 5 after being on the ice for a Kings goal in the second period. He has one goal, two assists and is a minus-5 in 14 playoff games this season.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Thursday he expected more out of Versteeg.

“It was a tough night, the one shift in particular," Quenneville said. “You just got to battle through it. It's a competitive game, not a lot of time, not a lot of space. You've got to do whatever you can to advance the puck and contribute.”

Brookbank, whose primary position is defenseman, has two assists and is a plus-4 in six playoff games this season. He last played against the Minnesota Wild on May 13 in the second round.

Leddy scratched for first time this season

May, 6, 2014
May 6
8:20
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
ST. PAUL, Minn. -– Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy was scratched against the Minnesota Wild in Game 3 of their Western Conference second-round series on Tuesday.

Forward Brandon Bollig was reinserted into the Blackhawks’ lineup for Game 3 after being a healthy scratch in Game 2. Bollig replaced Jeremy Morin, and defenseman Sheldon Brookbank replaced Leddy.

Leddy had played in all 82 regular-season games and all eight playoff games this season. He had been limited to 56 seconds of ice time during the third period of Game 2 against the Wild on Sunday.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after Game 3 his decision to scratch Leddy was less about Leddy's play and more about giving Brookbank a chance again. Brookbank had played three games against the St. Louis Blues in the first round.

“[Brookbank] came in St. Louis and deserved to get a chance to play," Quenneville said. "Gives us some presence physically. I thought he played well."

Brookbank had one shot on goal, a zero rating, one blocked shot and one takeaway in Game 3. He played 12:16 and 15 shifts.

Leddy has two assists, a minus-1 rating and averaged 15:26 of ice time in the playoffs this season. He had seven goals, 24 assists and a plus-10 rating in the regular season.

W2W4: Blackhawks vs. Blues (Game 3)

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21
4:28
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues face off for Game 3 of their Western Conference first-round series at the United Center on Monday. The Blues lead the series 2-0. Here's what to watch for:

• The Blues will be without David Backes, who suffered an upper-body injury due to a hit by Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook in Game 2. Backes is the Blues' top-line center and plays in all situations. The Blues will return forward Patrik Berglund to the ice. He's missed the past three games due to an upper-body injury.

• Seabrook was suspended three games for his hit. His absence is also costly for the Blackhawks. He's second on the team in minutes and leads it with four points in the playoffs. Sheldon Brookbank will replace Seabrook in the lineup in Game 3.

• There is some bad blood boiling in this series, but both teams have said it's important to not act on it. Aside from the Seabrook hit, Hitchcock also accused Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell of some questionable hits in Game 2. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has kept most of his opinions to himself in the first two games.

• Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko has made an immediate impact in the series after missing the final 15 games of the regular season. He scored in each of the first two games.

• Games 1 and 2 had a number of similarities. The biggest ones were the Blues rallying from a 3-2 deficit to tie the game late in the third period and winning in overtime. The Blackhawks were less than two minutes away from being up 2-0 in the series.

• Special teams have pretty much cancelled each other out through the two games. The Blues are 1-for-13 on the power play, and the Blackhawks are 1-for-10.

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford accepted blame for his team's Game 2 loss. He said he needed to play better. He's allowed four goals in each game and has a .904 save percentage for the series.

• Five of the six Blackhawks' goals have been scored by their defensemen. Patrick Kane's breakaway goal in Game 1 was the lone one scored by a forward.

Brookbank excited to play in playoffs

April, 21, 2014
Apr 21
3:43
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Sheldon Brookbank had learned from the past he could easily go from being a healthy scratch to being on the ice in the playoffs.

Brookbank experienced that last season when he filled in for Duncan Keith, who was suspended a game in the Western Conference finals. A season later, Brookbank finds himself in a similar position after Brent Seabrook was suspended three games for an illegal hit in Game 2 of the Blackhawks' first-round series with the Blues. Brookbank will play in Game 3 of the series on Monday after being a healthy scratch the first two games.

Brookbank
"Definitely excited," Brookbank said after the team's morning skate on Monday. "Not exactly the circumstances I want to come in under, but I'm looking forward to getting out there and getting up to play. The series looks pretty emotional, pretty intense, so it's going to be a good one.

"This is where you want to be. You want to play in the playoffs. That's what we all play for. I'm just going to make the most of it."

Brookbank is known for his physical style of play, and he hopes that will be a positive for the Blackhawks against a physical Blues team.

"Better believe [it's my type of series]," Brookbank said. "It's going to be tough. Have to try and keep yourself in check and not get too caught up in all the stuff. So far, it's had a lot of bite to it, and I don't expect that to change at all."

Brookbank often was rotated in and out of the lineup with a few other defensemen during the regular season. He had two goals, five assists and a plus-two rating in 48 games this season.

Brookbank had his role increased late in the regular season when Johnny Oduya missed time due to an injury and when the Blackhawks locked up their playoff position. Brookbank played 16 minutes or more in five of the last six regular season games.

Quenneville is confident Brookbank will be able to step in and contribute against the Blues.

"He's a steady guy, simple direct," Quenneville said. "Hard to play against, and he gives us that presence back there as well."

Being inserted into the lineup this time around should be easier for Brookbank than in last season's playoffs. He hadn't played in a game in nearly six weeks when he was asked to replace Keith last season. He last played on April 12 this season.

"It was closer to two months last year, but this is maybe just over a week," Brookbank said. "So hopefully I won't be as rusty and still have the rhythm going from the regular season."

Hawks face challenge without Seabrook

April, 20, 2014
Apr 20
3:12
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks already had an uphill climb ahead of them being down 2-0 to the St. Louis Blues in their first-round playoff series, but the adversity facing them became even greater Sunday.

The Blackhawks found out they'll be without defenseman Brent Seabrook for the next three games after he was suspended by the league for his hit on the Blues’ David Backes in Game 2 on Saturday. Chicago will now have to win at least twice without Seabrook in the lineup to keep its season alive.

[+] EnlargeBrent Seabrook
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastChicago defenseman Brent Seabrook will be out of the lineup for three games after being suspended for his hit on David Backes.
Seabrook's absence leaves a large void for the Blackhawks. He's one of their top-four defensemen and has been a staple in the team's defense for the past nine seasons. He plays key minutes for Chicago at even strength and on both sides of special teams.

Seabrook was second on the team with 22:16 of average ice time during the regular season. He also had seven goals, 34 assists and a plus-23 rating in 82 regular-season games. He leads the team with four points, which includes two goals and two assists, against the Blues in the playoffs.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville spoke to the media Sunday before Seabrook's suspension was revealed. Quenneville wasn't sure what would happen to Seabrook, but he knew Seabrook was important to the team.

"You need his size," Quenneville said. "You need his presence, experience and leadership. He's got the big shot on the point, and he's on our power play as well, kills penalties. So he plays all important minutes, and him and [Duncan Keith] make a real good pair for us. He's been a great pro for us."

Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival was hopeful they wouldn't be without Seabrook, but he thought the team had to be prepared either way.

"He's definitely the guy that the coaches and everybody is counting on in the big, important situations," Rozsival said. "He's a big part of the club, but whatever is going to happen is going to happen. You can't control it right now. You just have to deal with it. At the end of the day, we have to win the hockey game."

(Read full post)

Hawks' Brookbank putting team first

April, 12, 2014
Apr 12
3:26
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Sheldon BrookbankAP Photo/Gene J. PuskarSheldon Brookbank has rotated in and out the Hawks' lineup as the team's sixth defenseman.
Sheldon Brookbank has been the ultimate utility player for the Chicago Blackhawks this season.

He’s rotated in and out the lineup as the team’s sixth defenseman. He’s played a top-4 defenseman role when needed. He’s played forward when Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has wanted to send a message to another forward or didn’t have enough healthy forwards on the roster. Brookbank has been on the ice for as little as 4:33 or as much as 25:27 depending on the game this season.

It’s not exactly what Brookbank imagined he’d being doing for the Blackhawks when he signed a two-year deal with them in July of 2012. It’s not always been easy, especially being a healthy scratch for much of the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run last season, but the 33-year-old Brookbank prides himself on being a team player and that’s what he’s attempted to be.

“It has been a little tough,” Brookbank said recently. “I’ve always tried to think team first. That’s the way I kind of look at it. I obviously want to play top 6 and play every night. That’s what I strive for. We had close to a perfect season last year, so there’s no arguing the recipe didn’t work or whatever.

“I mean I didn’t really know 100 percent what to expect [when I signed with the Blackhawks.] Obviously I thought I’d be playing more. That’s for sure. But like I said, our team is that deep and we won the championship. If that’s what I am on a championship team, then I’ll take it.”

It’s that approach that has earned Brookbank the respect of his teammates.

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Penguins 4, Hawks 1

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30
10:01
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


PITTSBURGH -- The Chicago Blackhawks dropped a 4-1 decision to the Pittsburgh Penguins, losing their third game in a row.

How it happened: Pittsburgh scored two goals in the span of 21 seconds in the first period and never looked back. Brent Seabrook was knocked down at the Penguins blue line, causing an odd-man situation, on which James Neal eventually finished. That was quickly followed by Lee Stempniak’s ability to get behind the defense for another score. The Hawks finally got on the board midway through the second period after some nice passing in the offensive zone. Sheldon Brookbank scored from the point with Andrew Shaw providing a screen. But two Sidney Crosby goals, including an empty-netter in the third period, ended what was a close game to that point.

Toews hurt: Jonathan Toews left the game in the second period after getting hit by defenseman Brooks Orpik. Toews was seen holding his left arm and immediately went to the locker room. But after the game Joel Quenneville said he thought the injury wasn’t serious. There was no call made on the play, which could be interpreted as a high hit.

What it means: It all depends on how long Toews is out. The Hawks already are struggling to score goals and morale would undoubtedly sink even lower if the team’s captain was out of the lineup for an extended period of time. They already are missing Patrick Kane. The Hawks have clinched a playoff berth, so getting healthy might be the most important goal with such a short time remaining in the regular season. They get a break by not playing until Thursday; it gives Toews a chance to be re-evaluated without the pressure of trying to play in a game right away.

What’s next: The Hawks are off until Thursday, when they take on the Minnesota Wild at home still looking to reach 100 points. They’re stuck on 99.

Quenneville, Hawks reflect on first half

December, 28, 2013
12/28/13
6:41
PM CT
By Dave Luecking
Special to ESPNChicago.com
Archive
ST. LOUIS -- The game versus the St. Louis Blues on Saturday represents the end of the first half of the season for the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks -- game No. 41 of 82.

As such, coach Joel Quenneville was asked before the game at Scottrade Center to assess the first half.

"It's amazing how fast it’s gone by," Quenneville said. "We like the way we’ve played. Our start, we’ve very happy and pleased with the way we’ve played. … Right now, I think we’re playing our best hockey of late, so I think if we can finish the first half the way we’ve started the first half, we’d be happy."

The Blackhawks, who have a five-game unbeaten streak at 4-0-1, entered the day first overall with a record of 27-7-6 for 60 points and led the NHL with 152 goals, 24 ahead of the second-place Blues. Forward Patrick Kane is second in the league with 50 points, on 22 goals and 28 assists, and the Hawks have four other players in the top 23 in scoring: Patrick Sharp (ninth, 40 points); Jonathan Toews (tied for 12th, 38); Duncan Keith (tied for 17th, 36); Marian Hossa (tied for 23rd, 33).

But the Blackhawks need to clean up a couple of things.

"We can work on our goals against and our penalty killing; those are two areas that we’d like to improve," Quenneville said.

Chicago is in a three-way tie for 18th with 109 goals against and 28th with a penalty-killing success rate of 76 percent, ahead of only the Florida Panthers and New York Islanders.

"We’ve seen some improvement over this last stretch; that’s why we like the way we’ve been playing." he said.

Quenneville expects the second half to be a dogfight, just like the first. Currently, the top seven teams are within seven points of each other.

"Playing the right way is important for us, as long as we’re consistent with how we play each and every night,” he said. “If we play the right way, we should improve. That’s what we’re looking for in the second."

• Goalie Corey Crawford, who has missed eight games with a dreaded lower-body injury, accompanied the Blackhawks to St. Louis, but it wasn’t to play: just to be with the boys.

"He’ll have a couple of days here, and I don’t foresee him versus [the Los Angeles Kings], either [Monday at United Center] playing in that game," Quenneville said. "We expect him hopefully to be ready on that trip to the Island and New Jersey [for games Thursday and Friday]. That’s what we’re shooting for."

• Quenneville said he would make one lineup change for the game Saturday but was coy about the change and didn’t name names.

"A defenseman will probably come out," said Quenneville, who actually has only 12 forwards on the roster after two D-men -- Michael Kostka and Sheldon Brookbank -- were scratched Friday.

Hawks notes: Back-to-back success story

November, 9, 2013
11/09/13
1:53
PM CT
Wills By Todd Wills
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
DALLAS, Texas -- The schedule-makers have the Chicago Blackhawks playing their third away and then home back-to-back in 13 days with a Saturday night game in Dallas against the Stars followed by Sunday’s game at the United Center against the Edmonton Oilers.

If it has to be one way, winger Patrick Kane said he prefers it this way, even when a trip to the White House -- which the Blackhawks made Monday -- comes after back-to-back games.

“I’d rather play on the road the first game, to be honest with you, then coming home for the second game,” Kane said. “Last week was tougher because after the home game you’re going to the White House and flying to Washington and getting a couple of hours of sleep and we had the big day at the White House. That was a little bit different.

“This team in general has been pretty good in back-to-back situations ever since I’ve been here. I don’t know whether it’s we’re a young team or we roll four lines or we have a lot of depth. Whatever it may be, we never seem to struggle in those situations, so hopefully we can say that now.”

The Blackhawks are 5-0-1 in back-to-back games this season, winning the first game all three times. In these road-home back-to-backs, they’ve won at Minnesota and at Winnipeg.

Crawford in net: Corey Crawford gets the start in goal Saturday night against the Stars. The Blackhawks goaltender for Sunday is undecided between Crawford and Nikolai Khabibulin, Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said.

(Read full post)

Brookbank to make season debut vs. Blues

October, 8, 2013
10/08/13
3:11
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Sheldon Brookbank gets why the team is carrying eight defensemen.

But as nice as being stockpiled with defensemen is for the Blackhawks, that doesn't make it any easier for Brookbank to often not dress for games.

"I totally get why teams want depth on defense," Brookbank said after Tuesday's practice. "It just sometimes sucks when you're one of those guys battling like that. It's part of the gig. I know there's a lot of other guys who would want to trade places with me.

"It's always a challenge. I think everyone is capable of playing full time here. It's just kind of a logjam on D. The guys are just going to have to play his game and it should sort itself out."

Brookbank's first opportunity to display his skills this season will come against the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday. He was a healthy scratch in the first two games.

"We want to get everyone in here," Quenneville said. "It took him a little while to get in. [Ben Smith] getting in last game and allow everyone after Game 3. He's practiced hard. We like to get him involved because he brings something to our team that we like. He's a competitive guy as well."

Brookbank faced a similar situation last season. He often took turns with Michal Rozsival for games during the regular season, and he was a healthy scratch for 22 of the 23 playoff games. He replaced Duncan Keith for a game in the Western Conference finals when Keith was suspended for a game.

Those past experiences with not playing doesn't make it any more enjoyable now for Brookbank, but he does know how to handle it better.

"You just can't really get too down on yourself when you're not playing," said Brookbank, who was signed to a two-year deal prior to the 2012-13 season. "You just want to be positive. You don't want to be walking around the room kind of moping around and stuff like that. You want to try to keep it kind of even keel. If you're riding the highs and lows, it'll make for a long year."

Six Hawks training camp observations

September, 29, 2013
9/29/13
5:10
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Here are six observations from the Chicago Blackhawks' training camp and preseason games:

1. The durability of the Blackhawks’ older players has to be a concern. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has been very cautious with players’ injuries in the preseason. There is no reason to risk anything. Yet, the fact 34-year-old Marian Hossa and 36-year-old Michal Handzus didn’t play in a single preseason game and haven’t been 100 percent healthy in the preseason has to be somewhat alarming. Both players are getting up in age, and both are coming off a season where they suffered severe injuries. With Hossa, there’s a lot at stake for the present, but even more so for the future. Back injuries aren’t anything to mess with, and the Blackhawks are depending on Hossa for years to come. As for Handzus, his injury wouldn’t be as much of an immediate concern if Brandon Saad or Brandon Pirri had worked out at the second-line center. But with Handzus being that option now, the Blackhawks are looking for him to duplicate what he did in the playoffs.

(Read full post)

Top storylines countdown: 10-1

September, 11, 2013
9/11/13
1:04
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Chicago BlackhawksBrian Babineau/NHLI/Getty ImagesIs another Stanley Cup celebration in the cards for the Blackhawks this season?
ESPNChicago.com's Blackhawks reporter Scott Powers is counting down this season's top-50 storylines leading into this week's training camp. Here's the final installment:

10. Defensive stability
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has made it a priority in the past few seasons to have veteran defensemen. He's willing to gamble with young forwards, but he doesn't like to rush young defensemen. That's why one of the Blackhawks' greatest strengths this season should be its defensive depth again. The Blackhawks return all seven defensemen -- Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya, Nick Leddy, Michal Rozsival and Sheldon Brookbank -- from last year's Stanley Cup team, and all of those players except Brookbank are signed through the following season as well. ESPN recently ranked the Blackhawks' defensive group No. 1 in the league.

9. Captain consistent
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is still 25 years old and has room to grow, but the Blackhawks wouldn't complain if he just kept doing on what he has done. He can be expected to produce 70-plus points, be among the league's leaders in faceoffs and takeways, be around a plus-20 rating, contribute on the power play and penalty kill and still be the team leader. The Blackhawks will be banking on similar numbers from Toews again this season.

(Read full post)

Top storylines countdown: 30-21

September, 9, 2013
9/09/13
1:55
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive
Daniel Cleary and Michal RozsivalAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhMichal Rozsival posted one of the best plus/minus ratings for the Blackhawks last season.
ESPNChicago.com’s Blackhawks reporter Scott Powers is counting down this season’s top-50 storylines leading into this week’s training camp. Here’s the third installment:

30. Brookbank, Rozsival splitting time
Good things happened for the Blackhawks last season when defenseman Michal Rozsival was on the ice. He had a plus-18 rating, third on the team, in the regular season and a plus-9 rating, tied for fifth, in the playoffs. During the regular season, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville split ice time between Rozsival and Sheldon Brookbank. Quenneville did that partly because Rozsival was dealing with an injury early in the season, but he also wanted to keep both players fresh. Quenneville eventually opted to use Rozsival throughout the playoffs, but expect Rozsival and Brookbank to be involved in another rotation this season. The Blackhawks hope Brookbank will bounce back from a subpar 2013 season and play as he did in his final season with the Anaheim Ducks, when he had 14 points and a plus-11 rating in 80 games.

29. The third line -- Shaw and who else?
Andrew Shaw is likely to center the third line for another season. It’s just not certain who will be beside him. Shaw, Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg gave the Blackhawks a consistent third line last season. Bickell is now likely to move into a top-6 forward role after receiving a sizeable pay increase in the offseason, and Stalberg signed with the Nashville Predators. If Brandon Saad doesn’t work out as the second-line center, he could be a perfect fit on the third line. Saad would give the line some scoring punch and ease the pressure off him as he plays in his first 82-game NHL season. Jimmy Hayes is another possibility. He got called up from Rockford last season and had four points in 10 games with the Blackhawks. Jeremy Morin, who led the IceHogs with 30 goals last season, Brandon Pirri, who led the IceHogs in points, and Ben Smith could be in the mix as well.

28. Oduya’s continued consistency
Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman hasn’t traded for many players over the last few seasons, but the few players he has acquired have worked out for the Blackhawks. Defenseman Johnny Oduya was dealt for in the 2011-12 season and quickly proved to be a valuable asset. Oduya continued to be a consistent defenseman last season and had a plus-12 regular-season rating and a plus-12 playoff rating. He and Niklas Hjalmarsson have given the Blackhawks a strong second defensive pairing. The Blackhawks will hope for more of the same this season. Not that Oduya is solely responsible, but the Blackhawks are 49-9-9 in the regular season since Oduya was traded for in 2012.

27. The other Swedish defenseman
There were rumors just a season ago that the Blackhawks could deal Niklas Hjalmarsson to free up money. A lot has changed since then. Hjalmarsson helped the Blackhawks to another Stanley Cup last season with a plus-15 regular-season rating and a plus-10 playoff rating, and Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman recently showed how important Hjalmarsson is to the franchise’s future. Bowman made sure Hjalmarsson would continue to be a part of the Blackhawks’ core for many years to come as Hjalmarsson signed a five-year extension which will keep him in Chicago through the 2018-19 season.

26. Bickell-Toews-Kane line
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville toyed with the team’s lines during the playoffs last season until he found something that worked. One of the lines he found to be most the productive was Bryan Bickell, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. The line had success in the Western Conference finals and Stanley Cup finals. It’ll be interesting to see whether Quenneville tries that line again to start the season. Bickell was a regular on the third line last season, but is expected to a be a top-6 forward this season after his new contract. Quenneville often split up Kane and Toews last season to balance the lines. Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa are also expected to be on the first two lines, along with a new second-line center.

25. Need some luck
The Blackhawks possess plenty of skill. No doubt. But to win a Stanley Cup, you also have to possess some luck. In Rob Vollman’s "Hockey Abstract," he breaks down that luck can be accounted for by a team’s shooting and save percentages, special teams index, injuries, post-regulation record and record in one-goal games. After taking into account all those factors, Vollman determined the Blackhawks were the third luckiest team last season behind the Toronto Maple Leafs and Pittsburgh Penguins. He also calculated what the standings would have been last season if there had been 82 games and luck wasn’t a factor, and his luck-neutral standings were the Ottawa Senators would have finished with 104 points, the Detroit Red Wings with 103 points and the Blackhawks with 99 points. Finally, he predicted this season’s standings based on last season’s results, the removal of luck and major roster changes, and he has the Senators and New Jersey Devils finishing with 105 points, and the Blackhawks in 11th place overall with 93 points.

24. A new, but old, backup
The Blackhawks were the league’s best regular-season team last season largely because of the play of two goaltenders. Corey Crawford carried the goaltending load in the playoffs, but Ray Emery was just as important in the regular season, posting a 17-1-0 record, a 1.94 goals-against average and a .922 save percentage. Emery is gone now, and the Blackhawks’ backup responsibilities fall upon Nikolai Khabibulin, who is back with the Blackhawks for a second time. Khabibulin is 40 years old, but the Blackhawks are convinced he can still be a solid backup. He has been that at times the past few seasons, but he’s also had some inconsistencies due to injuries. If Antti Raanta progresses as the Blackhawks hope, he could fill in for Khabibulin if his play declines in the second half of the season.

23. Hitting the road twice
The Blackhawks will face two lengthy road trips this season. They will play seven consecutive road games from Nov. 19-Nov. 30 with games at Colorado, Winnipeg, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Dallas and Phoenix. They’ll also play seven consecutive road games beginning on Jan. 28 and ending on Feb. 27 with the Olympics in between those dates. Prior to the Olympics, the Blackhawks will play at Calgary, Vancouver, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Phoenix. After the Olympics, the Blackhawks open on the road against the New York Rangers. The Blackhawks were 18-4-2 on the road last season and went 4-0-2 on their longest road trip of the season.

22. That power-play issue
No, a team doesn’t need an effective power play to win the Stanley Cup. The Blackhawks proved that again last season. But, yes, it wouldn’t hurt to have one. The Blackhawks’ power play struggled to find consistency for the second consecutive season last year. They ranked 19th with a 16.7 power-play percentage in the regular season. The Blackhawks undoubtedly have talented offensive players, but that hasn’t translated to power-play success. Blackhawks assistant coach Jamie Kompon said at the convention, “Eventually, there comes a time when players try to do too much as opposed to keeping it simple. When you simplify things, that's usually the way the pucks go into the net.” That will be the goal this season.

21. Replacing Frolik
Michael Frolik made himself a valuable piece to the Blackhawks’ Stanley Cup run last season with his play on the penalty kill. Frolik and Marcus Kruger were considered unsung heroes, but everyone knew about their penalty kill contributions by the end of the season. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville recently said Ben Smith could be the guy to replace Frolik. Smith hasn’t stuck in the NHL yet, but he has played in some big games – like Game 3 of the Stanley Cup last season – and seems mature enough to understand the importance of that role.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
32 15 17 8
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 15
AssistsP. Kane 17
+/-K. Versteeg 15
GAAC. Crawford 1.87