On Sunday night, the Chicago Blackhawks finished an unprecedented first quarter of their lockout-shortened season. Through 12 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 quarter of the 2013 season.
12 games, 9 goals, 10 assists, 19 points
Kaner is off to the best start of his career, putting on a show in almost every game to date. He’s among the league leaders in points and goals, but has done much more than those numbers. His defense has improved and his maturity on the ice has been noticeable. If this new-look Kane is around for good, it’s going to be a long decade for the Central Division.
12 games, 6 goals, 6 assists, 12 points
Toews has been magnificent yet again this season, putting together a strong case for Selke consideration while playing a critical role in the Blackhawks offense. He’s winning 60 percent of his faceoffs and is a key member of both the power play and penalty kill (hear that Crosby?).
12 games, 6 goals, 6 assists, 12 points
Hossa’s a beast. Consider, for a moment, that Toews and Hossa have 12 points each on a line with a rookie who’s stuck at one point; fewer than 30 players in the entire NHL have reached 12 points through Sunday. The Hawks are skating four strong lines right now, and the top one has been nothing short of special.
12 games, 2 goals, 9 assists, 11 points
Sharp’s nemesis so far this year has been the goalposts; he seems to have hit one or two in every game so far. In spite of his frustrating struggles getting a puck into the net, he’s done a great job facilitating, especially on the power play; he has four assists while skating with the advantage this year. Based on his history, one has to believe the puck will start missing iron and getting into the net. When it does, the Hawks will be even more scary up front.
11 games, 4 goals, 2 assists, 6 points
Bolland had done a nice job moving up to the second line this year, playing well with the playmaking abilities of Kane and Sharp. Unfortunately, he continues to be bad at the dot; Bolland is winning only 42 percent of his faceoffs this season. He needs to be better at the dot, but the rest of his game has been good to start the year.
12 games, 2 goals, 2 assists, 4 points
Kruger has been arguably the most improved player on the roster this season, clearly benefiting from spending the lockout in Rockford. He has been inserted on the team’s top penalty killing unit with Michael Frolik and has done a great job there; he’s shown flashes of being a top-tier defensive forward. He’s only winning 41 percent of his faceoffs, but nearly 40 percent of his draws have come short-handed.
12 games, 3 goals, 3 assists, 6 points
Stalberg has spent the first quarter of the season shifting on the team’s third line with Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell. His work in every zone has been greatly improved from last year, when he established career-bests in almost every statistical category. The third line has been a productive part of the Hawks’ dominant start, and Stalberg has earned increased power play opportunities.
12 games, 2 goals, 5 assists, 7 points
Bickell’s offensive production has been solid early on, but his physical play has been outstanding. He’s the team leader, averaging more than two hits per game. The frustration with Bickell over the last couple seasons has been the inconsistent use of his 6-4, 235-pond frame. This year, he’s brought it almost every night.
12 games, 2 goals, 3 assists, 5 points
Shaw has assumed the third line center role that was vacated when Bolland was promoted, and has done a really nice job there. He’s second on the team in hits and has been great at the dot; he’s won (barely under) 50 percent of his faceoffs this season. Also worthy of note: Shaw has only been whistled for two penalties (seven total minutes) this season. Quietly, he’s been a wonderful surprise at 3C for the Hawks this season.
12 games, 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points
Frolik hasn’t been an overwhelming part of the Hawks’ offense to date, but his defensive work has been fantastic. Opponents have scored two power play goals while Frolik has been on the ice short-handed this year… in 29:50 total short-handed ice time. His chemistry on the penalty kill with Kruger has been one of the primary factors in the Hawks league-leading penalty kill.
11 games, 1 goal, 0 assists, 1 points
Saad might be having the most impressive 11-game, one-point stretch of hockey in recent memory. As a rookie, he’s stepped onto the Hawks’ top line and is averaging 13:43 on ice per game. He is quickly earning the trust/faith of the coaches, seeing more time on special teams over the course of the road trip. As is the case with Sharp, if/when he starts putting the puck in the net it presents just another dynamic to the already-fantastic Blackhawks offense.
7 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, points
Mayers is one of only three players on the Blackhawks roster without a point to date (Brandon Bollig, Sheldon Brookbank). In less than seven minutes per game of ice time, Mayers has managed to accumulate six hits, one blocked shot and has won 57 percent of his faceoffs. He was the player that stepped up and fought Raffi Torres.
Daniel Carcillo – INCOMPLETE
1 game, o goals, 1 assist, 1 point
Carcillo got hurt less than 11 minutes into the new season. He started the year shifting with Toews and Hossa, but the play of Saad likely pushes him into a battle with Jamal Mayers for ice time on the Hawks’ bottom line when he returns. But, again, when he’s healthy and on the ice, the Blackhawks are just that much more dangerous.
6 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points
He should be in Rockford, and likely will be when Carcillo returns from injury.