Question 1: Artem Anisimov comes up first for me. You can say Patrick Sharp, but I wasn’t expecting much out of him. Anisimov, I was hopeful could follow up on a career year in 2016-17 and give the Blackhawks some decent center depth. This hasn’t happened.
Yes, he’s scored in two straight games. That’s great to see. And yes, he’s part of a penalty kill that has been one of the only team positives of late. And, another yes, his faceoff numbers are up. But he’s just been a liability more often than not early in the season.
Anisimov is too slow to keep up with any quicker linemates and has trouble maintaining the puck and generating any offense. He has an abysmal Corsi-for mark of 43.17, worst on the team. A 6-foot-4 center who’s on the right side of 30 and coming off a personal-best season should not be slumping this badly.
Da Windy City
Hopefully the two-goal push over the weekend is a sign of things to come, and not an aberration. Regardless, it’s hard not to be disappointed in Anisimov’s play, especially considering his solid cap hit.
Question 2: Gustav Forsling. Like with Sharp above, you can pick out Brent Seabrook easily here, and I wouldn’t necessarily argue it. But the last couple seasons, we’ve seen Seabrook regressing pretty noticeably in key areas. He’s been rough this year, but not so much more rough than I was expecting.
Forsling, however, was someone I think we were all hopeful could make a jump in his sophomore season. Last year, he was definitely green while handling the puck in his own zone and getting positioned correctly. Unfortunately, he seems to have gotten worse in those areas this year.
Forsling has just brutally struggled with every defensive aspect of being a defenseman. He gets bulled off the puck too easily, doesn’t seem to know where he needs to be when opposing teams are setting up shop and doesn’t really have any intangibles to make up for these shortcomings.
Some of this is stuff that can at least be worked on, and coach Joel Quenneville is clearly giving Forsling every opportunity to do that. But the results thus far have been disappointing.
Question 1: Patrick Sharp. Look, I know he is older, and I wasn’t expecting him to be incredible at all. But he has been incredibly disappointing. Beyond having lost speed since we last saw him in a Blackhawks sweater, he has been failing to create offense, isn’t connecting on passes with his linemates and consistently loses the puck in the offensive and neutral zone.
He has a 45.1 percent Corsi-for, and while the whole team has had bad possession numbers, Sharp is also a negative-5.5 percent relative Corsi.
Question 2: Gustav Forsling. His possession numbers are awful, and it’s not surprising if you have been watching him all year. He has been soft on the puck, turning it over in his own zone, and struggling to stay in the lineup.
I had hoped Forsling would step up and be a reliable young defenseman for the team as the blue line was going to be a weak spot this year. That hope has all but evaporated. Forsling has not only contributed very little, he has been a liability on the ice.