Chicago Blackhawks First Half Grades: Forwards

Saad first goal

On Wednesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks finished an unprecedented first half of their lockout-shortened season. Through 24 games, they have yet to lose a game in regulation.

There have been highlights everywhere and some really good individual performances throughout. Here are our grades for the Blackhawks’ first half of the 2013 season.

AJonathan Toews
24 games, 10 goals, 11 assists, 21 points
Toews continues building a Selke-worthy resume. Through Wednesday, Toews has won 59.4 percent of his faceoffs and leads the NHL with 30 takeaways. He’s also plus-12 on the season, and scored his first short-handed goal of the year on Wednesday night. There isn’t much he doesn’t do well… except fighting. Let’s stay away from fighting…

APatrick Kane
24 games, 12 goals, 15 assists, 27 points
Kane is tied for seventh in the NHL in points, and is also plus-10 on the year. But it’s been Kane’s all-around game that’s been the biggest surprise. He is tied for sixth in the NHL with 23 takeaways and has made an impact in every zone so far this year.

AMarian Hossa
23 games, 10 goals, 8 assists, 18 points
Obviously a lot has been said about Hossa in recent days after he reached played in his 1,000th NHL game. He continues to be one of the better two-way forwards in the NHL, ranking fifth in the league with 25 takeaways. He missed his first game of the season on Wednesday.

CPatrick Sharp
24 games, 5 goals, 13 assists, 18 points
At the quarter-season mark, we openly wondered how good the Blackhawks could be offensively if/when Sharp got it together. In 12 games since, he continues to be frustratingly inconsistent. His five goals are tied with Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland for sixth on the team. Hopefully the injury he suffered on Wednesday night isn’t serious.

ABrandon Saad
23 games, 4 goals, 5 assists, 9 points
Saad’s maturation has been fun to watch, and Quenneville has continued to put a lot of faith in the 20-year-old forward. He has finally broken out offensively in the last couple weeks, posting six points (one goal, five assists) in the Hawks’ last five games, and he’s seen significant time on both special teams recently as well.

CDave Bolland
18 games, 5 goals, 4 assists, 9 points
Bolland missed five games recently with an upper-body injury, but his continued struggles at the dot are cause for concern. He’s winning only 44.9 percent of his draws, which must improve. Bolland is still one of the great agitators in the game, though, and will need to step up his offense if Sharp misses extended time.

AMarcus Kruger
24 games, 3 goals, 6 assists, 9 points
Kruger’s gross numbers don’t look like a player who has earned an A; he’s winning only 45.2 percent of his faceoffs and is only plus-three to date. However, his work as a primary penalty killer has been instrumental in the Blackhawks ranking among the league’s best PK units, and he stepped into Bolland’s spot on the second line effectively.

AViktor Stalberg
24 games, 6 goals, 7 assists, 13 points
Stalberg has continued shifting with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell on the team’s third line that has been fantastic so far. He’s plus-nine on the year and has been getting more involved on the powerplay lately. His speed continues to make him a dangerous bottom-six forward, and he’s (financially) motivated to continue a strong season; he’ll be a free agent this summer.

ABryan Bickell
24 games, 5 goals, 7 assists, 12 points
Bickell has shown great touch lately with a few pretty assists from behind the net, and continues to lead Chicago with 56 hits. Like Stalberg, he’s looking to impress before hitting free agency this summer and has certainly done enough to earn a raise. The Hawks will need him to continue providing a physical presence in the second half of the season.

AAndrew Shaw
24 games, 6 goals, 3 assists, 9 points
Third on the team with 41 hits, Shaw has been a strong presence in front of the net in spite of his size. He’s only winning 45 percent of his faceoffs, but has been good in every zone and continues to be an agitator on the third line. Hopefully he’s OK after leaving Wednesday night’s game early.

BMichael Frolik
22 games, 1 goal, 2 assists, 3 points
Frolik’s inability to finish continues to confuse and frustrate, but his effort throughout the season is a major reason the Blackhawks’ penalty kill has improved. He has been credited with 19 takeaways while averaging only 11:42 per night.

Daniel Carcillo – NO GRADE
9 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points
Carcillo missed extended time early in the season because of injury, and his first goal was a game-winner on Wednesday night. He’s averaging just over nine minutes per game, he has 19 hits and (surprisingly) only seven penalty minutes.

Jamal Mayers - NO GRADE
12 games, 0 goals, 2 assists, 2 points
Mayers has been the Hawks’ 13th forward this year and has been a ghost for most of the season. He can still win faceoffs, but hasn’t done much else.

AGROUP GRADE
The Blackhawks have three of the top six players in the NHL in takeaways (Toews, Hossa and Kane) and rank fourth in the NHL in team scoring (3.12 goals per game). Hossa is tied for third in the league with four game-winning goals, a statistic of incredible distinction for Chicago; of the 13 forwards we listed here, 11 have been credited with a game-winning score this year (only Bickell and Mayers don’t have one… yet).

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9 Responses to Chicago Blackhawks First Half Grades: Forwards

  1. McKay says:

    I have two thoughts on Sharp:

    1) C? Wow, harsh grade. We’re upset with him for not scoring enough goals? The Hawks collectively score plenty of goals so what do we care who’s stick it comes off? He still has 18 points (same as Hossa / 3rd on team). He’s still a plus-7. He plays big minutes against big individual opponents. What are you grading him on… as an NHL forward? As a Blackhawks forward? As a $6M player? To himself? Which brings me to my next thought…

    2) He’s 31. He’s past he physical prime. I hate to say it and I LOVE Patrick Sharp and I think he keeps himself in great shape, but we will start to see his point production decline in the next few seasons.

    I totally agree with your assessment of Frolik. Great asset on the kill and he gives guys (like Sharp) a break from those kinds of minutes. But he is Jack Skille with a snaggle tooth. He zips around the ice and falls all the time. I don’t know how the kid scored 20 int his league, twice (good for him though).

  2. Mike says:

    Hard not to give a lot of As for a group like this. The “team” play is tremendous and I hope continues. I to think Sharp deserves at least a B-. Our expectations of him, however, have not been met.

  3. Tab Bamford says:

    McKay – the only comparison between Skille and Frolik that holds any weight is their inability to finish. Skille’s a crash test dummy on skates; Frolik has been an excellent penalty killer.

  4. Scott says:

    McKay – Why will his point production decline? Did that happen to Hossa? Players have droughts every now and then. Sharp may not be putting the puck in the net, but he’s assisting everyone else as you said. He’s hit the posts more than a few times. Just a quarter of an inch and they would have gone in. Let’s not give up on him yet.

  5. Brian says:

    Sharp-C I agree. His role on the team this season, is to score. He seems to have a problem finishing this season. I also disagree with the frolik comparison to skille. He’s gone from a 20 goal scoring top six forward to a dependable defensive penalty killing forechecking force. His inability to finish on one end of the ice is offset by his ability to finish on the other. There’s a positive effect that comes from almost scoring (momentum ) which is exactly what Q is looking for from his 4th line.

  6. NJ Dave says:

    Agree on all except Bickell. I’d give him a B. He has been good recently, but has disappeared physically in several games this year.

  7. Andrew Raven says:

    Agree with your grades. Sharp doesn’t deserve more than a C. As others have pointed out, it’s his job to finish plays, but (for whatever reasons) he doesn’t find the back of the net. Hopefully, his shoulder injury is not too severe! When he’s back, he needs to be better. In my opinion, Kane deserves an A+ and he would have even more impressive numbers if Sharp would have performed up to his potential.

    One more thing: as much as the players deserve our respect for what they have accomplished, we mustn’t leave out Coach Q and his new/old assistent coaches. They have done a wonderful job of turning this Hawks team into a serious Cup contender and they seem to have great chemistry together.
    As impressed as I am with the current point-streak, it’s obviously secondary to our ultimate goal. If the Hawks play as well as during the first half of the season, they have a legitimate shot of winning it all.

  8. McKay says:

    @scott, I’m not the one giving up on Sharp. I’m driving the Sharp bandwagon. Statistically NHL productivity starts to decline when your 25, not 35. Sharp has been a late bloomer as his NHL point production actually kicked off when he was 25-26. Your body wears down with time and games played.

    I’m not about to compare anyone to Hossa or Teemu Selane or the likes. Those guys are physical freaks. In your 30’s, all you can hope for is your productivity to maintain or decline as slowly as possible. If a player’s point statistics are increasing at that age, I would question whether or not that athlete is juicing.

    We traded Skille for Frolik. Yes Frolik is an awesome penalty killer and as I mentioned above, he eats those hard PK minutes for people who would otherwise have to do it. But 5-on-5, he is a crash test dummy on skates.

  9. Windy City ZMan says:

    Wow, That C for Sharp is harsh. I would give him a solid B. He has been all around the puck, getting a bunch of shots on goal, playing big minutes on the 2nd line with Kaner. I think it just shows that we grade people based on expectations, considering that you give Saad an A with the very next grade. Saad was also having a tough time finding the net (or even getting a shot off) in the beginning of the year, but is starting to break out last few games.

    Do’t get me wrong, I absolutely love Saad, I think the Teows line has finally found the elite Power Forward we have been searching for. He is definitely playing at A+ level laat few games, but if we are grading the entire first half (without expectations), I would I’d give both him & Sharp a solid B.

    By the way, we are going great, but with 3 of 4 C’s taking faceoffs at a 45% clip, we are at a huge disadvantage. We must improve, or make some sort of change.

    Could you have Sharp just take faceoffs for the 2nd line, but still have Bolland play C?

    Sharp was top 10 (7th?) in the league for faceoffs when he manned the 2nd line

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