The Blackhawks have already played seven games in the young 2010-11 season (only Pittsburgh has played as many), but the strong play in the last three games has launched the Hawks into first place in the Central Division andthe Western Conference. Looking around the roster, though, there are a number of players having strong seasons, and some that are struggling more than expected.
Here are some numbers that raised eyebrows while wandering around the Chicago Blackhawks stats through seven games.
- Nick Boynton has blocked 20 shots in six games. He’s tied with Buffalo’s Steve Montador for the NHL lead in blocked shots, one ahead of Duncan Keith.
- Troy Brouwer has 20 hits through seven games, which currently ranks fourth in the NHL in hits. Bryan Bickell ranks ninth with 17 hits.
- Jonathan Toews has won 59.4 percent of his faceoffs to start the season, which ranks 12th in the league. Toews has battled for 155 puck drops already this year, which is tied with Sidney Crosby for the NHL high. Crosby is winning 58.7 percent of his faceoffs.
- Tomas Kopecky has seven assists, which is tied for third in the NHL and is only one behind the league’s leaders.
- In only three games, Jassen Cullimore has six hits, three blocked shots, two assists and, most importantly, zero penalty minutes. He is plus-two on the young season after starting the year in Rockford.
- Marty Turco has raised his save percentage to .919 on the season. When the Blackhawks are short-handed, Turco’s save percentage jumps to .939 on the campaign; he has allowed only two power play goals on 32 shots to start the season.
- In case you hadn’t heard, Marian Hossa leads the NHL with 11 points and also boasts a league-best seven goals.
- In other news, Patrick Sharp is second on the team (andin the NHL) with six goals andhis eight points are tied with Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Jean-Michael Liles and Tomas Kopecky for fourth in the NHL.
Those are some of the numbers that are eye-popping in a good way. Boynton has successfully replaced Brent Sopel on the blue line for the Hawks, giving coach Joel Quenneville a legitimate fourth option on the blue line in Brian Campbell‘s absence. Meanwhile, Brouwer and Bickell have started to play very good, effectively physical hockey in the past few games. The two of them have been able to efficiently remind opponents that there’s a Blackhawks player on the ice that wants the puck.
After two average games to begin the Blackhawks chapter of his career, Turco has been awesome during the three-game winning streak. The only reason his performances have received more recognition is because Hossa and Sharp are playing as well as anyone in the NHL.
Not everything has been great so far for the Blackhawks, though. Here are some numbers that are troubling.
- Duncan Keith leads the NHL in average time on ice at 30:08, more than two and a half minutes more than Dan Boyle (27:32). His partner on the blue line, Brent Seabrook, is averaging 26:02, which ranks ninth in the league.
- During the Hawks’ three-game winning streak, John Scott has skated 16 shifts and been on the ice for 11:08 – total. Meanwhile, Jack Skille and Viktor Stalberg have been healthy scratches to make room for him as a forward on the active roster in the last two games.
- Dave Bolland has taken 112 of the Hawks’ 400 faceoffs through seven games, 28 percent of the total. However, he’s winning an atrocious 41.1 percent of his opportunities at the dot.
- The Blackhawks have allowed 20 goals so far this year. Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patrick Kane, and, surprisingly, Patrick Sharp have been on the ice for eight of them, tied for the worst on the team. Kane and Hjalmarsson are tied for a team-worst minus-five on the young season.
- Despite heavy minutes from Keith and Seabrook, the Blackhawks are allowing 33.7 shots per game, which ranks 22nd in the NHL. The Hawks led the league in shots against last year at 25.1. The Blackhawks are being outshot by three per game this year after leading the league with a +9 shots differential last year.
Despite the three-game winning streak, there is a lot to be desired from the Blackhawks so far this year. Scott has been awful, andhasn’t warranted the ice time he’s received during the streak. Frankly, he hasn’t been worth a roster spot. Similarly, after receiving an enormous bonus this summer, Hjalmarsson hasn’t been impressive to date. Yes, he isn’t skating with Campbell right now, but for $3.5M per season he needs to be better than minus-five through five games.
For as rough as some of the play has been through seven games, the Blackhawks are in first place and have come back from multi-goal deficits against two of the best goaltenders on the planet in Ryan Miller and Jaroslav Halak.