Blackhawks

Myers: Top line pacing Blackhawks reversal

393962.jpg

Myers: Top line pacing Blackhawks reversal

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011
Posted 5:21 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

ST. LOUIS The numbers have been coming up on the score sheet in bunches lately: Nos. 10 (Patrick Sharp), 19 (Jonathan Toews) and 88 (Patrick Kane) in some combination or another.

Perhaps its just obvious given the talent. Or the natural chemistry. Or maybe its the overriding urgency of the situation.

Its that time of year where theres nothing to save it for, Toews said. Theres no more time to wait.

The Chicago Blackhawks top line is its top line for a reason. Sharp, Toews and Kane are opportunistic goal-scorers and play makers in their individual rights. Throw them together and just watch the fun.

But as good as this group is supposed to be with that No. 1 tag attached to them, theyre flat-out stellar right now. Theyre pacing the Blackhawks, who have now won three of their last four. And for the most part lately, theyve been the bulk, if not all, of the Blackhawks offense.

They know where each other is going to be but their level of intensity has picked up, said acting coach Mike Haviland. They really try to show the lead here in what needs to be done each night. Theyve been around, they know what it takes to win and we need to follow their lead for sure.

Indeed. Sharp scored his 31st goal of the season on Sunday against Pittsburgh. Toews and Kane each hit the 20-goal mark on Monday in St. Louis. They know their role, know everyones looking at them to lead the offensive assault, and theyre obliging.

I guess were just skating well, thats the difference out there. Were moving our feet and coming up with a lot of pucks, said Sharp, who needs five goals to tie his career-high 36 set in 2007-08. Jonathan and Patrick like to hold onto (the puck) and get open to shoot it. Weve gotten a lot of goals. Hopefully there are more to come.

Those three are doing their part, but as Haviland said, they cant be the only ones. The team finally got more across-the-board goals and points on Monday, when they came back to beat the St. Louis Blues 5-3. As the Blackhawks keep clawing back into the Western Conference playoff race, everyone else will have to help with the point production.

Nevertheless, that top line will point the way.

Its a sprint to the finish and were feeling that pressure to go out and score, Toews said. Were getting chances and eventually theyre going to go in. Were just working hard and keeping things simple.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Oliver Wahlstrom

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 205 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Wahlstrom already has an NHL-caliber shot with a quick release and the ability to create space for himself and linemates. He's most known for his goal-scoring ability and elite shot, and can hit a one-timer as good or better than many professional players."

NHL player comparable: Phil Kessel

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would probably prefer to take a defenseman at No. 8, but because four of them might go inside the Top 7, the best available player on the board is likely to be a forward. And there's a decent chance that could be Wahlstrom.

Wahlstrom would immediately become Chicago's top prospect, and a player that has the potential to slide into the top six when he reaches the NHL — whenever that may be.

He's committed to college for the 2018-19 season, so it's doubtful he would join the team until at least 2019-20, but Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said in our draft preview edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast that it wouldn't deter them from picking him. 

And it shouldn't, because you don't want to waste a player of his caliber's entry-level years developing in the minors if he's not ready yet.

"I think the way we would evaluate it is, we project them, we try to get a timeline on when we think they might be NHL ready," Kelley said. "But we're also looking for where they are in their development curve and want their ceiling is. I think in some players, you have to be a little bit more patient for them to reach their ceiling. That doesn't necessarily mean that players can't exceed their development curve, I think we saw that with Alex DeBrincat last year."

NHL Draft Profile: D Rasmus Dahlin

NHL Draft Profile: D Rasmus Dahlin

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Rasmus Dahlin

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 181 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"Is the clear-cut No. 1, pro ready prospect for the 2018 draft. He has the skating, skills and elite hockey sense that can dictate the style of play and the pace of a game, whether it's with or without the puck. He finds ways to contribute and get the job done in all situations."

NHL player comparable: Nicklas Lidstrom

Fit for Blackhawks:

There is zero chance the Blackhawks can snag Dahlin, because it's highly unlikely the Buffalo Sabres would consider moving out of the No. 1 spot, and even if they did it would require a king's ransom. But for the sake of this exercise, what would Dahlin do for the Blackhawks organization?

Well, he's a player who immediately slots into your Top 4 and has the potential to emerge as Chicago's best defenseman in the next year or two. We're seeing it in Boston with Charlie McAvoy, Philadelphia with Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, and Columbus with Zach Werenski and Seth Jones where these young defensemen are changing the directions of their franchise's.

That's what Dahlin would do for the Blackhawks, who are in desperate need of a young, impact blue liner. Now back to reality.