Who’s Hot: Nick Schmaltz
Since his call-up from Rockford, Schmaltz has 19 points in 26 games. For someone who was barely cracking 15 minutes a game before, it’s impressive how great he has played. His emergence as a top-line winger alongside Jonathan Toews is a story of it’s own.
Even though he’s been brutal at the dot, his 200-foot game is what has helped him earn that spot on the first line. Not only is he good offensively, but his defense is remarkable for a rookie who’s just 21 years old. He’s slotted in between Kane and Panarin in place of Artem Anisimov very well.
Da Windy City
Right now, this kid’s confidence is through the roof, and you can tell when he plays. Schmaltz is everywhere at once on the ice. He’s a heck of a player to watch when he’s just being himself, and it’s going to pay off in the long run that the Blackhawks didn’t rent an expensive winger at the deadline this year. Schmaltz is inexpensive and young, which is as good as it gets.
Who’s Still Hot: Richard Panik
Instead of going with the traditional three hots and three nots, let’s go with a lot of hots and fewer nots. There are way too many players on fire right now. To start, Richard Panik has 3 goals in his last 4 games. In last night’s game against the Canucks, Panik scored his 20th goal of the season, a top-shelf beauty.
After going on a 7-game point streak in which he collected 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists), he’s only had 5 points in the 9 games since. Things could be a lot worse. Panik could not be producing at all. But instead he’s just producing slightly offensively and contributing greatly defensively. Which is how it’s supposed to go, anyway.
This season has been outstanding for Panik, who has career-highs in goals (20), assists (19) and points (39). In fact, before this year, he’s never had more than 20 points in a season.
Panik is slotting in nicely with Toews and John Hayden. He couldn’t find a home before he came to Chicago, and it seems like he’s got one now.
Who’s Getting Hot: Ryan Hartman
After going pointless in nine straight games, Hartman has 3 goals in his last 3 games. He scored a powerplay goal, as well as the game-tying goal, last night against the Canucks. If there’s anyone who’s been mightily impressive this season, it’s Hartman.
At 22 years old, Hartman only has 30 points in his NHL career. However, 29 of those 30 points have come this season, which is his first full season in The Show. Hartman has been placed in several different situations: winger on the fourth line, winger on the first line and, most recently, centering Kane and Panarin in the third period last night.
He’s shown grit, but also talent. He’s one of the seven players with the Blackhawks who scored their first NHL goal this season.
Hartman is a standout. Even when he’s not scoring, he’s skating all over the ice and making the best of his shifts throughout the game. It’s amazing how much he’s grown this year. He’s one Blackhawks fans should have a lot of faith in, because he can contribute in so many different ways.
Who’s Hot (and has been for 10 years): Jonathan Toews
After collecting two goals in Sunday’s contest, Toews is the fourth player in Chicago Blackhawks history to score 20 or more goals in each of his first 10 full NHL seasons (via SportsNet stats on Twitter).
On top of that, the ’Hawks have won 35 straight games in which both Toews and Kane score a goal. On top of that, Toews and Kane became just the fifth set of teammates with 20 or more goals in the same season in their first 10 seasons in the NHL. They join dynamic duos such as Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull, Gordy Howe and Norm Ullman, Yvan Cournoyer and Jacques Lemaire, and Mark Messier and Jari Kurri. That’s some darn good company.
Toews has been outstanding since returning from his undisclosed injury that caused him to be sidelined for nine straight games. In other words, he’s back to the captain we all know and love. He’s been gritty and upbeat, and one of the most fun players to watch. Toews has helped the Blackhawks win 14 out of their last 19 games due to his impeccable play. There’s more where that came from.
The Chicago Blackhawks will look to keep the point streak going tomorrow night at home against the Dallas Stars.