Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ Ryan Hartman Thriving In Top-Six Role

By George Clifford
Dec 11, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Ryan Hartman (38) steals the puck from Dallas Stars center Cody Eakin (20) during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Ryan Hartman (38) steals the puck from Dallas Stars center Cody Eakin (20) during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /
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Chicago Blackhawks’ winger Ryan Hartman ignited two scoring plays and was named third star in Sunday night’s 3-1 victory over the Dallas Stars

Ryan Hartman sparked two second-period goals as the Chicago Blackhawks came from behind Sunday night to notch their third straight victory over the Dallas Stars and push their season record to 18-8-4.

Creating havoc and chances all over the ice, Hartman had three takeaways and a hit to go along with one assist and four shots on goal. The talented winger has emerged as a dangerous two-way player and legitimate top-six forward as the Blackhawks head into the middle third of the season.

Skill and circumstance

That the 22-year-old former first-round draft choice has a big upside was never in doubt, but with no vacancies in Chicago, Hartman toiled in Rockford the better part of two seasons before landing on the Blackhawks’ 2016 opening night roster.

After bumping around the lineup the first six weeks, he broke out with three goals on the seven-game Circus Trip and scored an extended stay on the second line when Jonathan Toews was sidelined. Since then, he’s been a real impact player with two points, 13 shots and a plus-4 rating over the past five games.     

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Skating with Marian Hossa and Marcus Kruger, Hartman has opened eyes with lightning fast maneuvering and great stickwork on both ends of the ice. He’s shown great play recognition and a knack for finding the dangerous scoring areas.

Against the Stars on Sunday night, his rink-wide laser pass sprung Hossa to tie the game 1-1 and give momentum back to the Blackhawks early in the second period.

The real magic came 10 minutes later when Hartman jumped from the penalty box after serving a two-minute tripping minor. Corralling a loose puck just inside the blue line, he deftly disarmed Stars defender Stephen Johns, then neatly undressed him to get a shot on net that ultimately rebounded off Artem Anisimov’s left shin pad for what would be the game-winning goal.

In an odd twist of hockey logic, the scorer’s table apparently missed everything but the goal itself and robbed Hartman of his rightful assist on the play.

Next: Chicago Blackhawks Morning Links-Revenge on Gothom

In Blackhawk Up’s Monday roundtable discussion last week, I lobbied for Hartman to skate with Toews and Hossa when the captain returns to the lineup. That combination now appears likely, and building on the synergistic chemistry Hartman has developed with Hossa, could make a lot of noise as the Blackhawks head into the heart of the season. Pondering that puts a smile on my face.

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