Here is the box score from last night’s Blackhawks 5-3 loss to the last place New Jersey Devils.
OK, so what sticks out? Let’s look at a few things that you can clearly see went wrong last night, and a couple things that were good.
First of all, if the braintrust of GM Stan Bowman and coach Joel Quenneville don’t want their team running out of gas in the middle of the third period, or skating at 80 percent early in the game to conserve energy, you must stop wasting an active roster spot on John Scott and/or Jordan Hendry.
In 13 games this year, Scott has been the biggest ghost in the history of the NHL. His stat line on the year includes an even plus-minus, zero points, only four shots on goal and 11 penalty minutes while averaging a shrinking 7:20 per game on the ice. Despite being brought in as a physical enforcer, he’s only been in one fight (which was mediocre), and has been credited with just 14 hits. To put that into perspective, Jack Skille has 36 hits.
Scott is a waste of space.
Similarly, Hendry wasted a roster spot for six shifts last night as well. He’s been in the doghouse for most of the young season, and his $500k salary could make him expendable once Dave Bolland and Marian Hossa return from injuries. Because of his championship series experience from last year and minimum salary, Hendry might be a nice trade piece for a team at/near the cap.
Another line that sticks out in the box score are those of the two Patricks. Patrick Sharp’s minus-five performance last night was the team’s worse, but plus-minus isn’t what concerns me about Sharp and Kane last night.
If you include missed shots, Sharp and Kane only attempted eight shots in 43 combined minutes last night. While Hossa and Bolland are out, it is imperetive that the scorers on the team (Sharp, Kane) make an effort to get the puck on net as often as possible. Eddie Olczyk isn’t making this up when he tells the fans at home every game that “good things happen when you get the puck to the net.” Last night, not much good happened for the Blackhawks, and nothing was generated by Sharp and Kane.
Finally, Tomas Kopecky confuses me to death. He was among the league leaders in points early in the season, putting up eight points in 10 games while skating next to Hossa. Since Hossa left during the Kings game on Oct. 27, Kopecky has one point and is minus-nine; his plus-minus has been at least minus-two in three of the four games. To date, Kopecky has only 13 hits in 14 games (read: hasn’t been physical enough) and is winning only 36.7 percent of his faceoffs.
What we’ve seen throughout his career is that anyone who skates with Hossa will get better; he’s one of the best all-around players on the planet. If Kopecky is going to be a non-factor when he isn’t with Hossa, it’s time for Quenneville and Bowman to explore alternatives. Clearly a younger player like Viktor Stalberg or Skille, who are filling the box score every time they get more than 10 minutes, are producing without a superstar feeding them layups, could benefit from playing next to an elite forward.
On the positive side, Stalberg, Skille and Fernando Pisani were all effective. Pisani and Brian Campbell finally scored a goal on the new season, and Stalberg posted three points in his biggest minutes of the year.