Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: How are 'The Replacements' adding up?

313601.jpg

Hawk Talk: How are 'The Replacements' adding up?

Monday, Nov. 15, 2010
6:45 p.m.
By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com
For as busy as the Blackhawks' schedule has been with a season-high 20 games played, last year's schedule had them at the 19-game mark on November 15th, heading into their Circus Trip. Remember it began in Finland, as well, and was condensed for all teams due to the Olympic break. Once they won at Calgary last November 19th, the champs-to-be were 13-5-2, putting them eight points ahead of this season's pace at the approximate quarter-pole.

Since so much has been made of how overall team stats have compared between this Hawks team and the one a year ago at the same stage, I wondered how the Hawks' returnees were faring stastically at the same number of personal games-played this year versus last year. It's not just simply at the 20-game mark, but at the same number of games those players have played at this point this season compared to their same stats at that number of games a year ago. It takes into account the fact Toews, Bolland, Seabrook, and Hossa, among others, missed time during the first 20 a year ago, while others have missed time this season due to injury or suspension. Where these players' stats are now, opposite their production at a comparable number of games in 2009-10:

GP
G
A
Pts.
-
Keith
'10-11:
20
1
12
13
-6
Hjalmarsson

'10-11:
'09-10:
18
18
0
1
0
3
0
4
-9
5
Seabrook
'10-11:
'09-10:
20
20
2
2
8
8
10
10
1
11
Sharp
'10-11:
'09-10:
19
19
10
6
8
10
18
16
-11
5
Toews
'10-11:
'09-10:
20
20
5
6
9
10
14
16
4
11
Brouwer
'10-11:
'09-10:
20
20
1
6
8
4
9
10
0
-1
Bolland
'10-11:
'09-10:
14
14
1
2
2
4
3
6
0
2
Campbell
'10-11:
'09-10:
7
7
1
1
3
6
4
7
2
4
Hossa
'10-11:
'09-10:
15
15
8
6
5
7
13
13
0
4
Kopecky
'10-11:
'09-10:
19
19
2
1
7
1
9
2
-10
-7

Kane
'10-11:
'09-10:
19
19
7
7
10
12
17
19
-7
5

And that brings us to numbers compiled so far from The News Guys (The Replacements?) versus the production of those from last season's roster now gone, and the numbers they put up a year ago at the same amount of games-played for the eventual champs. It's obviously an inexact science, but I tried to line the stats up against their comparable "replacement."

GP
G
A
Pts.
-
Boynton '10-11:
Sopel '09-10:
18
18
0
1
3
1
3
2
-2
-4
Pisani '10-11:
Ladd '09-10:
20
20
2
4
2
5
4
9
-2
6
Stalberg '10-11:
Versteeg '09-10:
19
19
6
6
4
8
10
14
-3
4
Dowell '10-11:
Madden '09-10:
20
20
3
3
3
4
6
7
2
-2
Bickell '10-11:
Byfuglien '09-10:
17
17
3
6
4
2
7
8
1
-4
Skille '10-11:
Eager '09-10:
19
19
2
2
4
1
6
3
1
2

How much did the players' familiarity with each other a year ago factor into these numbers and their success? How has the unfamiliarity this year contribute to where they are, statistically, in addition to being at .500 overall? Different players bring different things to the table and it's not all about the stats above. Make whatever conclusions you'd like.

This team's leadership -- from Joel Quenneville to Jonathan Toews -- spent the three-loss week between victories against Atlanta and Anaheim talking about getting better, progress, and building this team's game back up. The captain echoes the mindset by insisting it's a phase every team goes through during the course of a long season, theirs is coming early, and they'll be better for all this in the long run. We're about to see if these western road trips the Hawks of the last two years seemed to enjoy and thrive on provides more stepping stones, on top of the one they believe Sunday night's victory established.

Chris Boden is the host of Blackhawks Pre and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to Oilers: Connor McDavid adds to highlight reel

10-19_mcdavid_blackhawks_usat.jpg
USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to Oilers: Connor McDavid adds to highlight reel

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night:
 
1. Shake-up on power play doesn't work.

Joel Quenneville spruced up his power play units before Wednesday's game in an effort to snap a dry spell, but the Blackhawks had no luck in that department in the second of a back-to-back.

The Blackhawks went 0-for-5 on the man advantage against an Oilers team that was ranked dead last in penalty kill percentage going into the contest, and failed to capitalize on a 5-on-3 opportunity for 56 seconds in the opening minutes of the season period.

They're getting off a fair amount of shots, but the quality of them isn't there.

2. Ryan Hartman fine after brief exit due to illegal hit.

It was a physical game between the Blackhawks-Oilers, but a line was crossed at the 4:59 mark into the second period when Zack Kassian delivered a huge hit on Hartman, who went face-first into the boards.

Kassian was given a two-minute minor penalty for boarding, a call that didn't sit well with the sold-out United Center crowd of 21,444. Hartman went to the locker room to be checked out after the hit despite getting up quickly and showing no visible signs of distress, but he fortunately returned a few shifts later.

It was a dangerous hit by Kassian, and an avoidable one too. 

Quenneville admitted Hartman getting up quickly perhaps may have "helped" keep it a minor penalty and not a five-minute major, but the Blackhawks coach wasn't focused on that after seeing the result unfold.

"I saw how hard it looked," Quenneville said. "But Hartzy getting up right away, that helped. You don't even measure it anymore after that. That's the one thing you're hopeful for right off the bat."
 
3. Connor McDavid adds another play to highlight reel.

We're only two weeks into the season, but the 20-year-old reigning Hart Trophy winner submitted an early entry for Assist of the Year.

Late in the first period, McDavid flew from his own end into the offensive zone, made a spin-o-rama move on two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith and backhanded a perfect pass to Patrick Maroon, who tapped in a goal at the doorstep.

It looks impossible to defend from anyone watching, and Keith pretty much felt the same way.

"When he gets the speed in the other end there and he's able to skate all the way down, it's tough to stop a guy especially when he's that fast," Keith said. "He's just flying through the middle. I'm just a sitting duck there at the other end of the ice waiting for him to come full speed. It's a hard play to defend against."
 
4. Anton Forsberg sharp again.

It's a small sample size, but the Blackhawks' backup goaltender has looked really sharp in practically every start he's had in a Chicago uniform, including preseason.

He deserved a better fate in his regular season debut last week in Toronto when he stopped 39 of 43 shots in an overtime loss, and the same applied here.

Forsberg tied a career-high with 40 saves, and seemingly got better as the game went on.

"I for sure felt more comfortable, felt like I was more used to the speed," Forsberg said. "It's tough again to lose in overtime, obviously I wanted a win and that's kind of frustrating."

"Excellent games, both games," Quenneville said of his goaltender. "Would've been nice to get him a win tonight."
 
5. Jordan Oesterle keeps it simple in debut.

The Blackhawks' crowded blue line has made it difficult for Quenneville to give all eight defensemen a fair amount of playing time, but Oesterle took advantage of his season debut.

He logged 15:01 of ice time, registered three shot attempts (two on goal), and blocked two shots.

"I liked him," Quenneville said. "Moves the puck."

Said Keith: "I thought he was good. Tough situation for him, he hasn't played all year in a game but I thought he played good. He's got good poise, he's smart back there."

Power play woes continue for Blackhawks in OT loss to Oilers

trahawks.png
USA TODAY

Power play woes continue for Blackhawks in OT loss to Oilers

Mark Letestu raised his arms in celebration, his 4-on-3 power-play goal giving the Edmonton Oilers an overtime victory over the Blackhawks. The home team could only look on in frustration, knowing that if it could have just converted one power play on Thursday it may have been a different result.

Five more power plays, five more opportunities that yielded nothing for the Blackhawks, who are now 6-for-39 (15.4 percent) in that department on the season. The 5-on-4 chances were tough enough but coach Joel Quenneville and several Blackhawks pointed specifically to the 5-on-3 the Blackhawks had for 56 seconds.

“The 5-on-3, we had some great looks around the net,” Quenneville said. “A lot of loose pucks that we just didn’t find the handle [on], we’re not anticipating or sniffing them out around the net. Some close looks but no finish.”

It’s been a recurring theme for the Blackhawks on the power play, and not just this year. Again, in the past the Blackhawks didn’t sweat any power-play issues much; their 5-on-5 scoring was usually strong. This early season, however, things have quieted on that front. On Thursday the Blackhawks cleaned up a lot of the mistakes they made against the St. Louis Blues the previous night. Anton Forsberg was terrific. The Blackhawks’ second line of Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane was looking like it did prior to Schmaltz’s injury. But the power play remained the same.

“Yeah, we had a lot of chances, we made plays to the net. We just didn’t capitalize on the power play which would’ve been the difference,” Ryan Hartman said. “We have a chance on the 5-on-3, which would’ve been nice. Just some chances all around, like [Jonathan] Toews’ shot that just squeaked by. Just some missed opportunities.”

The Blackhawks have looked at ways to get their power play going. They’ve tinkered with personnel – the latest was keeping the top two lines together for their respective power-play shifts. Usually it’s come down to the problems that have hampered them before: not enough movement, not enough shots, not enough hunger around the net for loose pucks. The final issue was especially prevalent on Thursday.

The chances were there on the power play. The home team had the bulk of the opportunities. The visiting one had the finish.

“The 5-on-3 we had some decent looks but that was a chance to get a huge goal for us,” Quenneville said. “The power play late in the second was decent, the third was ordinary, but we’ve been moving personnel around. We have the ingredients to make it work but a lot of loose pucks we didn’t get in our 5-on-5 game comparable around the net on the power play as well. We didn’t smell anything out around there.”