Nov 25, 2013; Edmonton, Alberta, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith (2), Andrew Shaw (65) and forward Jonathan Toews (19) celebrate a goal by forward Patrick Kane (88) against the Edmonton Oilers at Rexall Place. Mandatory Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports
As the majority of the teams in the NHL reach the quarter mark of the season you can begin to make out what each team has the capability of bringing to the ice each night. The Chicago Blackhawks currently sit at 3rd place in the Central Division with a record of 12-8-1 but there is still room for improvement, just as there is for any other team out there right now. With that being said, I would like to give a progress report on the Chicago Blackhawks forwards up until the quarter mark of the season.
FORWARDS PROGRESS REPORT:
The Chicago Blackhawks forwards have done a better job as of late working together among their lines and have begun to produce more goals. You may credit Coach Q’s juggling act of the lines as the answer when he fine tunes the team each game according to last games result. The Blackhawks continue to lead the league in shots per game with an average of 36.1 which is great. Time and time again it has been stressed that consistency is what gets you wins. When you continue to consistently lead the league in shots on goal things will eventually go your way, especially when you rank near the top in goals against per game.
Recently we have seen a spike in goals as well as the wins. As a result of the high number of shots on goal, the Blackhawks rank among the top 10 with 2.86 goals per game. There is still room for improvement though since the Blackhawks ranked second in the league last season with 3.18 goals per game.
Injuries to forwards among all lines have definitely been part of the lower goals per game statistic. They have set back a few of the forwards but the ones who have come back from injury picked up where they left off and put it all behind them. The list of forwards who have missed games due to injury includes: Dan Carcillo, Patrick Sharp, Andrew Shaw, and Kris Versteeg. The key moving forward is getting Patrick Sharp back healthy and involved in the score sheet once again.
One forward that many are talking about currently is Marian Hossa. Night in and night out Hossa works his butt off on both sides of the puck and does great things for the team. His 12 assists on the year is currently the team high. However, you cannot go without noticing that he has only produced 3 goals. Far less than his input from last year where he scored 30 goals along with 30 assists. We saw a spark in him during the Oilers game the other night so keep an eye on if he goes anywhere with it.
The forward which I would like to give special credit to through the first quarter of the season is Kris Versteeg. We all know he had a lot to prove this season after previously coming back early from a knee injury and not living up to expectations with the team last year. You can clearly see that he was not joking. Hands down he is the most improved forward from last year. In 63 games played last year he had only 10 goals and 19 assists. Playing in under a quarter of the season with 17 games played he already has 7 goals and 7 assists. If he can stay healthy and continue to play the aggressive and fast hockey he has been then he really can help bolster the second line with Brad Richards and Patrick Kane. It only took 18 games for this line to be paired but seems as if we might have a keeper.
Looking back on the progress report, there isn’t too much to complain about a quarter of the way through the season as the Chicago Blackhawks are in the middle of their annual circus trip. The team has been banged up and continues to battle with what they have at depth. It has been a good learning experience for some as they get their first shot in the NHL. Get ready for more hockey ahead!
What grade would you give the forwards so far? Feel free to leave your grade below in the comments!
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