Chicago Blackhawks First Quarter Grades: Forwards

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.

APatrick Kane
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.

AJonathan Toews
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?).

AMarian Hossa
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.

BPatrick Sharp
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.

BDave Bolland
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.

AMarcus Kruger
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.

AViktor Stalberg
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.

ABryan Bickell
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.

AAndrew Shaw
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.

AMichael Frolik
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.

ABrandon Saad
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.

BJamal Mayers
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.

Brandon Bollig
6 games, 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 points
He should be in Rockford, and likely will be when Carcillo returns from injury.

7 thoughts on “Chicago Blackhawks First Quarter Grades: Forwards

  • February 11, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Excellent analysis Tab…thanks.

    Perhaps a bit too generous for Bickell, but overtime Bickell has skated on the Shaw line, he is an “A” player…that 3rd line is playing as well as the first two when you consider whom they are often lined up against…and with Kruger centring Frolik and whomever else on the 4th line, as you said, we are rolling 4 good, responsible lines each and every night…when Carcillo comes back, a 4th line of Kruger/Frolik/Carcillo is going to cause nightmares for the opposition.

    It will be very interesting to see how you grade the D…likely Rozy gets an incomplete, but man he has been good when he has played.

  • February 11, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Brad, couldn’t agree more. Carcillo should be on the 4th line. Keep the speed and skill up top. Hawks 3d and 4th line (with Carcillo) can wear teams down and the 3d line will continue contribute offensively. One caution, I think part of the Hawk’s success has been the ability to stay out of the box most games. That trend has to continue.

  • February 11, 2013 at 7:37 pm

    Fantastic analysis Tab.

    It is scary to think, with as well as this team is playing, that the improved play of 3 players on the top 6 could make this team even better. Saad has been very good and if he gets some points, goals or assists, to show for it look out.

    Also that second line, as good as Sharpie has been you are right he has been snake bit pots or bar he can’t find the net now and if he does that 2nd line is deadly. Plus Bolland is below his typical avg faceoff win %. Normally he is right about 47% and if he picks it up that 5% that only increases production. Kind of scary to think the best team in the NHL can get better.

  • February 11, 2013 at 7:56 pm

    Pretty intense how many former question marks have stepped-up, found roles and are playing as a team. Rock on.

  • February 12, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    While I’m still not sold on Saad on the 1st line, (it’s all about production), but if Q goes with Carcillo on the 4th line, wow. That would be the best 4th line in hockey by light years. Better than most 3rd lines.
    Let’s just say if Saad doesn’t point and Carcillo comes back to the first line, where does Saad go? Only spot would be that 4th line but I don’t know if he fits there……..

  • February 12, 2013 at 3:43 pm

    Saad’s doing a lot of little things really well right now, he just hasn’t put up points yet. I like his development so far and obviously Quenneville does as well. However, you’ll notice that his ice time minutes don’t match Toews & Hossa; Q is still mixing & matching throughout the games. My hope is that he sticks in the top six; Carcillo in a bottom six role just adds to the overall quality of depth on this roster.

  • February 12, 2013 at 4:09 pm

    Finally, re: grades, there were a few factors that played into my grades beyond goals, assists and plus-minus.

    First, the consistency of the play. Looking around the league, there have been A LOT of players that have had ups & downs in quality of play this year (read: the overwhelming majority have played a lot of mediocre hockey)(read: where have you gone, Patrick Marleau?). There have been some off-nights for the Hawks, both as a team and individually, but they’ve found a way to earn at least a point in every game so far.

    Secondly, the players’ performance relative to expectations was considered. Did anyone think Shaw would be 50% at the dot as a 3C replacing Bolland through 12 games? Not many. Did anyone think Bickell would be a consistent hitter? Maybe fewer. And did anyone think the combination of Kruger & Frolik would be a game-changer on PK? I can count them on one hand. If a player exceeded expectations, it helped their grade. That certainly includes 88, but also considered the impact players w/out a huge statistical outburst like Saad & Frolik as well.

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