The Chicago media, collectively, is reporting that the Blackhawks will sit Jake Dowell for a second consecutive game on Wednesday night when the Hawks host the Dallas Stars.
I know Dowell doesn’t have 30 points and isn’t a top-six forward, but what is unique about him versus Jack Skille and Viktor Stalberg is that he doesn’t waste shots and treat each shift as a tryout for a top-six spot. Dowell knows his role and plays it effectively, which is why sitting him on a struggling team lacking chemistry raises my eyebrows.
Outside of Jonathan Toews and Ryan Johnson (tiny sample size), nobody on the Blackhawks is winning 50 percent of their faceoffs. If coach Joel Quenneville wants to work Patrick Sharp at wing, Dowell is the best option to be at the dot; he’s winning over 48 percent of his draws.
More importantly, Dowell is the only player on the roster other than Toews to take more than 10 short-handed faceoffs and win more than half of them. Dowell has won 15 of 28 faceoffs on the penalty kill unit this year, which is significantly better than Bolland (40 of 90), Kopecky (two of seven) and Sharp (nine of 21). If the penalty kill is a sore spot for the Hawks coaching staff, Dowell should be a more important player.
There is also a very good reason that Dowell has the best plus-minus of all Blackhawks forwards. He hasn’t been part of the do-too-much epidemic that has been killing the Hawks this year; again, playing comfortably within his limits. He knows what he can do and doesn’t try to do more than that, something that other players should consider.
Also consider that, in 58 minutes of short-handed ice time, opponents have scored six power-play goals while Dowell was on the ice (one per 9.7 minutes). By comparison, Bolland is losing more faceoffs and opponents have scored 11 power-play goals in his 78:30 on ice (one per 7.1 minutes).
While rocket science is pretty tricky, numbers don’t lie. It doesn’t take a genius to look at these numbers and realize that Dowell is giving the Blackhawks more effective play, in more critical times, than Bolland or other Blackhawks centers not-name-Toews. He should be on the ice.