Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks Roundtable: Early Surprises, Disappointments

By Colin Likas
Oct 18, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) celebrates his goal against Philadelphia Flyers with right wing Patrick Kane (88) during the third period at the United Center. The Hawks won 7-4. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Artem Anisimov (15) celebrates his goal against Philadelphia Flyers with right wing Patrick Kane (88) during the third period at the United Center. The Hawks won 7-4. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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Question 1: Who is the most disappointing Blackhawk so far this season?

Greg Bradshaw: Jonathan Toews

I’m going to say Toews has been rather disappointing so far. Although he’s played so solidly on faceoffs and continues to work so hard defensively, the offense needs some work. $10.5 million a year means you must contribute in both categories.

George Clifford: Michal Kempny

Twenty-six-year-old defenseman Kempny is a strong, confident skater whose aggressive play has occasionally gotten him and the ‘Hawks into trouble. His minor penalties in three games while trying to make a play along the boards have each led to critical powerplay goals by the opposing team. He’s also been beat for inside position at the crease, giving up goals off rebounds.

A healthy scratch against the Flames, Kempny is also prone to making dangerous clearing passes through center ice. Plus-3 with 11 hits, 7 blocks and a heavy shot, Kempny should still become a major force for the Blackhawks this year.

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Sean Fitzgerald: Marcus Kruger

Many speculated that the Blackhawks’ penalty kill last season was so poor because of Kruger’s absence for most of the year. So when Kruger returned this season, many thought the penalty kill would improve or stay the same as last year. Instead it has taken a total nose dive.

The Blackhawks are the worst team in the NHL at 50 percent, and Kruger has been on the ice for seven of 15 goals allowed. Kruger’s role is a third/fourth-liner and penalty killer. To quote Jim Rome: Kruger, “You need to do your job a lot better.”

Aaron Goldschmidt: Ryan Hartman

I know he’s missed some time this year due to injury, but I’m going to call out Hartman. Hartman is a first-round pick who is supposed to be Andrew Shaw‘s replacement, but he hasn’t even come close to filling those shoes. The ‘Hawks are a team that could really use a jolt in their lineup since losing Bryan Bickell and Shaw. So let’s hope Hartman can pick up where he left off a year ago, when he debuted against New Jersey and absolutely leveled Dainius Zubrus.

Gail Kauchak: Trevor van Riemsdyk

Perhaps I’m being unfair here. After all, the defenseman has only played in two games. TVR suited up for the ‘Hawks’ home-opener against the St. Louis Blues. In 16:06 minutes of ice time, he committed two penalties, was credited with one hit, one block and zero shots, and he finished with a minus-1 rating. Not much to impress here.

He was then a healthy scratch for the next three games. Against the Blue Jackets, van Riemsdyk recorded only one hit and two blocks before leaving the game in the second period with an upper body injury.

TVR had an unimpressive preseason and has looked hesitant and out of position in his limited start to the season. When he does return, he will be competing with Gustav Forsling and Michal Kempny for a place in the lineup. Heck, at this point even Michal Rozsival looks better than TVR. He’s going to have to look a lot better in order to maintain a roster spot.

Colin Likas: Trevor van Riemsdyk

This is such a weird pick because I didn’t expect much of anything from TVR going into this season. Frankly, I was hoping Joel Quenneville/Stan Bowman could find a way to shove him to Rockford. They’ve essentially done so, though an injury is now keeping TVR sidelined.

But he probably wouldn’t be playing much if he was healthy, because the young blueliner has been so, so bad in limited action. For all the shots he blocks and offensive plays he tries to jump in on, he just does way too much wrong with positioning and not knowing when to break off his pursuit of being an offensive hero.

The Blackhawks TV crew started the season by touting this amazing offseason training regiment TVR went through. We then watched him poop his pants against Blues defenseman Colton Parayko, who was falling down while trying to carry the puck to the net and still beat TVR. That was all I needed to see to give TVR this spot.

Keith Schultz: The penalty kill

This is a group of players that should be above average, at worst. They are historically bad right now, which is unacceptable with the talent on the ice.

Mario Tirabassi: Jonathan Toews

Heading into Sunday night’s game against the Kings, it was easier to say that Toews was disappointing this season. A two-point night against the Kings makes Toews’ start to the season not so bad. He does everything for the team, so to strictly be down on him for point totals is really splitting hairs. I’d like more point production from Toews, but it’s hard to be down on him at all.

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