Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Hossa, Crawford Sizzling

By Mario Tirabassi
Jan 17, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) and goalie Corey Crawford (50) celebrate their win against the Montreal Canadiens at the United Center. The Chicago Blackhawks won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 17, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) and goalie Corey Crawford (50) celebrate their win against the Montreal Canadiens at the United Center. The Chicago Blackhawks won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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Nov 11, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Marian Hossa (81) with the puck during the first period against the Washington Capitals at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

Which Chicago Blackhawks are hot right now?

Marian Hossa

It’s different to say that Hossa is surprising anyone or that at the age of 37, going on 38, that he would be able to exceed expectations. But that is exactly what he has done through the first 17 games of the year.

Hossa was a player who was in-flux coming into the season, with many wondering if he was still a top-liner or more of a third-line forward. Being placed in a third-line position early on has helped Hossa find his stride this year, and with coach Joel Quenneville moving the lines around as he usually does, Hossa has found himself on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Richard Panik.

In the month of November, Hossa has tallied eight points, with six goals. Coming into last night’s game against Winnipeg, Hossa had four-game point and goal-scoring streaks. Hopefully he can begin another streak when the Blackhawks play in Calgary against the Flames on Friday.

Corey Crawford

If Chicago’s penalty-killing wasn’t utter garbage to begin the year, Crawford could be giving Carey Price a run for his money as the early favorite for the Vezina Trophy this season.

Crawford has been the backbone of the Blackhawks all year and has, at many times, kept them alive in games or helped steal points.

At 8-4-2 this season, Crawford is tied for third in the NHL for wins, and his .928 save percentage and 2.18 goals-against average rank him ninth and 10th in the league.

What is truly amazing is what Crawford has been able to do in even-strength opportunities. At even-strength, Crawford is third in the NHL with a .958 save percentage, behind Price and Tuukka Rask.

At first that doesn’t seem too impressive, but take into consideration that Crawford has faced 337 shots at even strength. Compare that to Price’s 279 and Rask’s 244, and Crawford’s work in net becomes a little more impressive.

Throw in two shutouts on the year and Crawford is off to another stellar start for Chicago and could (should) be in the running for the Vezina once again when it’s all said and done.

Gustav Forsling

Being one of the surprising additions to Chicago’s roster coming out of training camp, Gustav Forsling has been one of the more surprising contributors to the Blackhawks’ success so far this season.

When you are receiving that kind of recognition from Quenneville, you’re doing something right.

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Forsling had a slow start to the season, which is to be expected for any 20-year-old rookie making his first jump into the NHL.

But his recent form on and off the scoresheet has been pretty considerable. Coming into last night’s game against Winnipeg, Forsling had a three-game point streak going and scored his first NHL goal against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday. Not a bad start to November for the Swedish rookie.

The penalty kill

Now, after starting the season giving up 15 goals on the penalty kill, the Blackhawks really only had one direction to go with their shorthanded unit. But, the way they have played in the month of November so far has been more than impressive for having only one way to go.

Since the start of the month against the Flames and including last night’s game against the Jets, the Blackhawks have gone 18 of 20 on the penalty kill, good enough to be tied for third in the NHL over that time span with a 90-percent kill rate.

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Compare that to going 17 of 32 in the month of October and having a league-worst kill rate of 53.1 percent and the improvement can directly be correlated to the recent streak Chicago has been on.

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