Chicago’s Center(s) Of Attention

On Wednesday morning, Dan Rosen at posted his regular mailbag feature. In it, he answered an array of questions including whether or not he feels Patrick Kane can/will win both the Art Ross and the Hart (he said yes to both).

But his response to the second question leaves Hawks fans wondering if the national media knows there’s more to the Blackhawks’ recent success than Kane.

“What are your thoughts of Evgeny Kuznetsov in Washington this season? Are he and Nicklas Backstrom becoming the top 1-2 combo in the East? In the NHL? — @chris_szimanski”

Rosen’s response began where one might expect… calculating a response. But there’s a glaring hole.

“This question made me go back and take a hard look at the top-two centers for each team in the NHL, or at least the players I deem as being the top-two centers on their team regardless of injury (i.e. Connor McDavid with the Edmonton Oilers and David Krejci with the Boston Bruins). I found six that I would rank with (not ahead of, mind you) of Backstrom and Kuznetsov. My list includes: Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin (Pittsburgh Penguins), Patrice Bergeron and Krejci (Bruins), Anze Kopitar and Jeff Carter (Los Angeles Kings), Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk (Detroit Red Wings), Ryan O’Reilly and Jack Eichel (Buffalo Sabres) and Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza (Dallas Stars).”

His list doesn’t include Jonathan Toews and Artem Anisimov?

While Chicago isn’t new to the “being overlooked by league-wide writers” concept, it does bring up an interesting question: how do Toews and Anisimov stack up against the best 1-2 center tandems in the game?

If we rank Rosen’s list – including Toews and Anisimov – based on points alone:

  1. Washington – Kuznetsov/Backstrom – 92 pts
  2. Dallas – Seguin/Spezza – 89 pts
  3. Pittsburgh – Crosby/Malkin – 81 pts
  4. Boston – Bergeron/Krejci – 74 pts*
  5. Los Angeles – Kopitar/Carter – 73 pts
  6. Buffalo – O’Reilly/Eichel – 68 pts
  7. CHICAGO – Toews/Anisimov – 61 pts
  8. Detroit – Zetterberg/Datsyuk – 52 pts**

* – Krejci has played 35 games
** – Datsyuk has played 30 games

But, with 35 goals between them, Chicago’s combination (Toews – 19, Anisimov – 16) ranks second on the list behind only Dallas (40).

Artem Anisimov

When we consider the faceoff circle, the Hawks’ duo is more impressive.

Toews and Anisimov have combined to take 1,711 faceoffs thru Tuesday night’s game. That total ranks third from the list above, behind only Los Angeles (1,715 combined) and Buffal0 (1.724 combined).┬áBecause Datsyuk has been limited to 30 games, Detroit’s tandem was the lowest total on the list (1,143).

Dallas’ combo has taken a much smaller number of faceoffs; Spezza and Seguin have only been involved in 1,200 faceoffs to date. However, the Stars’ centers have been effective in their smaller sample size, winning 55.25 percent of their opportunities at the dot – the highest combined percentage on the list.

Boston’s Bergeron and Krejci have won 54.50 percent of 1,633 faceoffs to rank second, while Toews and Anisimov rank third by wining 52.89 percent of their draws.

Pittsburgh (48.82%) and Washington (48.24%) were the only two on the list below 51 percent at the dot.

These basic numbers show that the Blackhawks’ top two centers are among the best in the NHL this season. But when we consider the impact Anisimov has had complimenting Patrick Kane this season, it’s easy to see why the Hawks are the hottest team in the league.

21 thoughts on “Chicago’s Center(s) Of Attention

  1. Excellent write up Tab. The amazing thing about 19’s stats this year is that he has been playing between a 37 year old that is not the offensive force of several years ago and a revolving door of left wings, most of whom are not top 6 talents. 15’s contribution does not always show up on the scoresheet. His continued presence in front of the net creates opportunities for 88&72. Plus he is extremely defensively responsible and participates in both the PK and PP. I believe the tandem of 19 and 15 are very underrated.

  2. Mike Babcock, Olympic coach “Our most dangerous line?, whatever line Towes is on”.

    Crosby’s response when asked to be Canada’s captain…..”Have you talked to Johnny?”

    What else do you need to know.

  3. How many cups does each Tandem have? Revisit this column in July and ours should have the most despite being at a disadvantage of this being AA’s first year here.

  4. Toews can hold his own at the #1C, but if you compare Anisimov against the other #2C’s I don’t have a problem with Rosen’s assessment. Would you not take Backstrom, Malkin, Spezza, Krejci, Carter and Datsyuk ahead of Anisimov? I would.

  5. Who cares. Answer is nobody affiliated with the Chicago Blackhawks. I call stuff like this Vancouver Syndrome. People who get wrapped up in regular season accomplishments or individual statistics. It doesn’t fracking matter. Let Toews-Anisimov be ranked lesser. Let Benn or Sequin win the points race. Let Washington win the President”s Trophy. Non of thst crap matters. Gelling and winning in the post season is all that matters. The Hawks have what all of those inflicted with Vancouver Syndrome want, and that is Stanley Cups.

  6. Booman… good point about winning the cup.

    Also, how about a simple +/- for each? Is it always all about offense?

  7. Have to say I agree with rtf. on this one. I believe that all the b.s. that goes with all these reg. season accolades is just that, b.s. I also don’t think it matters that much to our present team. A scoring title for 88 would be very impressive, but that is stat’s only, no opinion involved. I believe the Hawks as a whole have been overlooked by many for years, and I prefer it that way. Just put out the maximum effort and I believe the cups will follow, has worked well for last 8-9 years. Go Hawks.

  8. I,ve been a Hawk fan for 45 years i,m 50 ,.,.Toews reminds me of Mikita,.,.top quality .
    Mikita # 1 Eric Nesterenko 2nd line centre,.,.from the 50,s to 1970.[Ivan Boldirev]heart and soul guys.
    80,s Denis Savard and the one and only Troy Murray,.,.,We have had lots of great center men.Keep on rockin hawks.

  9. I think the most telling stat that Tab mentioned is faceoffs. And right now we’re third, a few behind LA and a dozen or so behind Buffalo. When you control the dot you win games. Not always true during the season, but it becomes a huge issue in the playoffs when the style is tighter and possession is at a premium. Look back at the stats from last year’s final. We crushed the Bolts at the dot, and it had a big impact in all of those 1 goal games we played.
    Of course, we love to see our centers score goals but there’s more to it than that.
    Great post Tab!

  10. Well I DO care about the Art Ross and the Hart Trophys. These are time honoured prestigious awards that celebrate serious outstanding accomplishments and go in the history books and the Hockey Hall of Fame. Who as a kid did not look over lists of who won what with the most points, the most goals, who was MVP, who was the rookie of the year. These things are emblazoned on our memories. Agree that sport writers commenting on top two line centres at the moment do not mean much. Also it is generally agreed that the Presidents trophy curiously means very little and people generally do not recall, even considered somewhat of a jinx. Since we have not won the Hart since 66-67 Stan Mikita, and the Art Ross the following year 67-68 with Stan Mikita again I would say it is rather exciting to follow and see Patrick Kane go after these and bring honour in history to the team. Calder is also historically recognized and we won with Patrick Kane in 2007-08 joining other Blackhawk winners Ed Balfour, Steve Larmer, Tony Esposito, Billy Hay, Eddie Litzenberger, and going waaayy back Cully Dahlstrom in 37-38, and another great goalie Mike Karakas in 35-36. Maybe a new generation doesn’t give a hoot but I sure do. We all can certainly agree that the Stanley Cup is the Big Kuanha, the Holy Grail, and quite probably its touted claim as the hardest championship to capture in all sports may well be correct, but I am not going to dismiss these other historical recognitions as fluff. GO Patrick Kane. Keep dazzling Artemi Panarin, stay focused and stone wall ’em Corey Crawford.

    The Maurice Richard trophy is much newer to the scene but OV has won it three in a row and five altogether and it would be something for Kane to best this guy. Then we beat the Capitals in the Stanley Cup final in fine fashion.

  11. Tony- I don’t know what the criteria for moderation is…I believe Tab stated its an automatic filter…it may have something to do with how much time it takes to post and maybe sometimes it’s just random selection to check and verify the sender. Don’t feel like the Lone Ranger because I had a nice post that is still held up as well. Stay with us though, I don’t want to be left alone with a bunch of teens and 20 somethings that can’t spell, write or have an original thought, (with the exception of maybe a dozen or so regular posters who actually think).

  12. Very interesting Tab. I wouldnt put too much stock into what Rosen said. I don’t think he’s overlooking Toews. Just Anisimov. Anisimov gets put into Kane and Panarins shadow. However, I could argue that all the little things that go unnoticed to most that Anisimov does is what has made the second line so lethal.

    Also, how bout Drouin refusing to play in the AHL? Nothing kills your value more than tagging yourself a petulant little diva. Yzerman wants young for young. has anyone soured on Dano enough to want to trade Drouin for Dano straight up?

  13. Ernie, good question on the Drouin/Dano deeal???
    I really don’t see why they wouldn’t (besides being worried that – if Drouin- works- GM looks like an idiot, sending him to the SC Champs)…

    But- will Drouin even work??? His Jr. stats look great (Kane like)… but thought he was pretty invisible last year PO’s…

    Guessing Q- has studied tapes- and knows if he can make the kid a player…

    Another factor- Maybe GM “Y”… tries to teach the Kid a lesson- and just lets him rot!!! I could see that happening

  14. let’s play Rhetorical Question Wednesday:

    If Jonathan Drouin doesn’t work hard enough for Jon Cooper and Steve Yzerman, what evidence do we have that he’ll suddenly work hard enough to make Joel Quenneville & Stan Bowman happy?

  15. The Hawks centers were the reason we beat the Ducks last year… those faceoffs are critical in the playoffs.

  16. I would take Drouin for Dano in a heartbeat. His offensive potential is off the chart. I think in order to get Drouin we would have to give up Dano and our first round pick. I would also make that trade.


    Not often do I agree with you but I absolutely agree with your last comment. Real hockey gets played in April-June. Maybe in 5-10 yrs when the Hawks are shitty again some random Jan game might excite me but these days it doesn’t sorry.

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