Who’s Hot: Niklas Hjalmarsson
But what people don’t realize is that Hjammer is one of the most underrated defensemen in the league. Keith and Seabs have both struggled this year, while Hjammer has consistently been getting better, and making more and more of a contribution.
Against Minnesota last Wednesday, Hjalmarsson finished off the night with an assist, a plus-2 rating and five blocked shots. In Winnipeg on Friday, he had a plus-5 rating, six blocked shots and he added another assist for good measure.
John Dietz of the Daily Herald quoted the Blackhawks public relations staff with this statistic on Hjalmarsson: “He is the first ’Hawk to record a plus-5 rating since March 9, 2003, when Steve Sullivan and Eric Daze both accomplished the feat.”
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Known for being the ultimate defensive defenseman, it’s great to see some offensive production from the three-time Stanley Cup-winning Swede. But he hasn’t sacrificed on the defensive side either. He currently leads the league in blocked shots, with 145.
Who’s Not: Michal Kempny
On the other side of the coin, defenseman Michal Kempny has struggled mightily all year. It’s not helpful that Coach Q doesn’t seem to trust him. So even when Kempny puts up respectable numbers, he continues to find himself in the press box.
Kempny was once again scratched in favor of Gustav Forsling on Saturday against Edmonton. He played against Winnipeg and Minnesota the two previous games, but he hadn’t cracked the lineup for three games before that.
It must be hard to find any consistency when you never know if you’re going to play or not. When he does play, Kempny usually lines up on the second defensive pairing with Brent Seabrook. As of late, things just don’t seem to be clicking for this duo. Could Kempny be more serviceable on the third pairing?