Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks’ Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Oh My Darling

By Aaron Goldschmidt
Jan 15, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) is congratulated by defenseman Brent Seabrook (7) after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Blackhawks beat the Maple Leafs 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 15, 2016; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) is congratulated by defenseman Brent Seabrook (7) after defeating the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre. The Blackhawks beat the Maple Leafs 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dec 9, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) makes a save on New York Rangers right wing Michael Grabner (40) during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 9, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) makes a save on New York Rangers right wing Michael Grabner (40) during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /

Scott Darling

Although it’s taken a couple games for him to warm up, Scott Darling has proven to be a solid backup in relief of Corey Crawford. In his first two games as the Blackhawks’ No. 1 goalie, Darling struggled. He went 0-2 allowing five goals with a save percentage of .919.

In the last three games, Darling is 3-0-1, allowing three goals with a save percentage of .976. His overtime loss was in a goalie showdown with the New York Rangers and former Blackhawks goalie Antti Raanta, and he managed to avenge that Tuesday with just one goal allowed.

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So much about playing goalie revolves around focus, and it isn’t easy to get focused when you’re not playing every day. But Darling has done a good job coming in cold, as he did when he relieved Crawford in the 2015 playoffs against the Nashville Predators.

This time there are a lot of new players on the team, so finding chemistry, especially with defensemen, can be challenging at first.

Darling and the Blackhawks will have a tough test coming up this week when they face the Islanders, Blues, and Sharks.

Nov 25, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Ryan Hartman (38) shoots on goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 25, 2016; Anaheim, CA, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Ryan Hartman (38) shoots on goal against the Anaheim Ducks during the third period at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

Ryan Hartman

There were a handful of young players who made the Blackhawks out of camp, but none with more pressure than Ryan Hartman.

The 2013 first-round pick for the Blackhawks was tasked to fill the shoes of fan favorite Andrew Shaw when Shaw was traded over the summer to Montreal. Hartman, like Shaw, has a reputation of being a pest so they were immediately compared.

After not being drafted, Shaw had to earn his stripes by using his energy and physicality to get attention from an NHL team. Hartman, however, has the skill to showcase more than that.

Hartman made his mark this season on the annual Circus Trip when he scored goals in back-to-back games in Calgary and Vancouver. He has auditioned at the first-line winger spot and been successful with Toews and Hossa as his linemates.

In the last six games, Hartman has turned up the volume physically, registering 19 hits with two assists. One stat that stands out to me is that he has four penalty minutes on the year.

Hartman has focused on playing a clean efficient game that will keep him at the pro level.  It also looks like coach Joel Quenneville has been increasing his minutes per game to around 15 minutes, up from 10 minutes earlier in the season.

Dec 11, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) with the puck during the first period against the Dallas Stars at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2016; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks right wing Patrick Kane (88) with the puck during the first period against the Dallas Stars at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports /

Patrick Kane

This guy should be in this article every week. The reigning MVP is picking up right where he left off last year being a point-per-game player.

Typical center Artem Anisimov started the year hot, as did linemate Artemi Panarin. They probably still make up the best line in hockey dating back to last year. With Anisimov’s dirty goals in front of the net and Panarin’s deadly one-timer, Kane is having no problem racking up points playing with these two.

In the last six games, Kane has four assists. With his line taking most of the offensive-zone draws while Toews was out, there had been pressure on Anisimov to win faceoffs, which he isn’t the best at.

Kane’s line seems to be most productive 5-on-5 in transition situations. With Brent Seabrook returned and the defense healthy again, the Blackhawks’ transition game will again thread opposing teams’ defensive corps with stretch passes and cross-crease one-timers.

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