by Vince Maranto on 04/10/12 at 08:22 PM ET
In the last blog, I dealt with the negatives of the regular season. In a nutshell, goal tending, power play & penalty kill. In this writing, I would like to focus on the positive aspects, mostly individually. It’s pretty amazing, when you think about it, that the Hawks managed to collect 101 point and end up fourth in their division. Tough division, and I still say the the Western Conference Champ will emerge from it. Vancouver was the only other team in the Western Conference with over 100 points. Any way, here we go, the positives…..
The first item would be the Hawks Captain. Toews would be both a good and bad. The good, his performance when he was healthy. In 59 games he had 29 goals, and 28 assists for 57 points. The bad, of course, having to sit out for the remainder of the season with a concussion. Even with missing the last twenty some games, he ranks 4th on the team in points. His face off skills (leading the NHL for most of the time that he was playing) and leadership was truly missed. Hopefully, he will return for the Phoenix series. It was reported that Toews / Kane / Hossa skated today as the first line. That sounds sooo sweet.
Another big plus was the calling up of Andrew Shaw. In his two stints with the Hawks (37 games) he had 12 goals and 11 assists. An over 50 point player if you project it out over an entire season. Considering his size, and the fact that he played a lot of games on the checking line, those are pretty good numbers. He has showed the want to get in front of the net and go into corners to chase pucks, on a regular basis. He also will drop the gloves with any one, no matter how big. I really like his energy.
Nick Leddy started off the season strong, then struggled, and now seems to be getting back on track. He played in all 82 games, the only player on the team to do so, besides Kane. He is second among the Hawks defense men on points, behind Keith. (Keith - 40, Leddy - 37). When he is confident, he plays well. We he isn’t, he starts to think instead of react, not his best feature. He also has some pretty good speed.
Speaking of speed, Viktor Stalberg had his best NHL season so far. He was 5th on the team in points with 43. 22 goals, 21 assists, both career highs. Unfortunately, this guy has a tendency to go on streaks where the puck just can’t seem to find the back of the net when the opportunity arises. He BY FAR leads the team in near misses! Overall, a pretty good steal in the Versteeg deal a couple years back when Chicago was dumping salaries, post Cup.
If you would have told me that Hossa would only miss one game all season, I would never have believed you. Durability is usually not associated with him. Good job staying healthy. (Boy that has JINX written all over it) Hoss lead the team in points, 77, and had 29 goals. My only knock on him is turning over the puck on the “one too many” pass situation, instead of letting one fly.
Patrick Sharp, who missed the beginning of the season (8 games if I recall) after preseason appendectomy surgery, led the team in goals with 33. Add his 36 assists and that was good enough for second on the team in points, with 69. Always a solid player who could play center or either wing. He does a really nice job on both the off wing or blue line on Power Plays.
Now on to Kaner. IIt’s hard to say that his 23 goals & 66 points (3rd on the team) is a disappointment, but I think it is. He was just shy of a point a game player for every season up until this one. This year, 66 points in 82 games. Again, being able to play every game is quite an achievement in the NHL, but the points were down. The one thing this kid possesses is no shyness for the big stage. I look for him to be a factor in the playoffs.
Honorable mentions go to, first off, the acquisition of Johnny Oduya. The defense has certainly looked better with him in. Keith, Seabrook, and Hjalmarsson have been mostly up and occasionally down. Bollig has shown a toughness since being called up. Hayes and Olsen show signs of a future.
Well once again, my positive thoughts were waaaay longer than the negative ones. That’s a good sign.
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