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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).