Chicago Blackhawks’ Hot And Not: Murphy, DeBrincat Find Positive Ground

CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 23: Devin Shore
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 23: Devin Shore /

The Chicago Blackhawks take their modest three-game winning streak into the frigid north in Winnipeg tonight. And speaking of frigid, let’s take a look at the hot and cold Blackhawks in Chicagoland.

The Chicago Blackhawks are on a three-game winning streak that will be seriously tested tonight when they visit the Winnipeg Jets. Therefore, the Blackhawks will have to hope their hot players keep rolling, while the ones who are struggling find some traction.

With that in mind, let’s jump into another edition of the weekly Blackhawks’ Hot and Not post.

Hot: Corey Crawford

Once again, it is Corey Crawford who leads the class. Upon returning from a week absence with a lower-body injury, the 32-year-old veteran netminder continued where he left off, leading the ‘Hawks to three successive wins. Crawford’s .933 save percentage is tied for second in the NHL.

Not: Richard Panik

Richard Panik is the latest to visit coach Joel Quenneville‘s doghouse. After being demoted to the third line last week, the snake-bitten winger was a healthy scratch versus Florida Panthers on Tuesday. Hopefully, the time in the press box will serve as a wake-up call for the streaky forward.

Hot: Connor Murphy

“Hot” may be a stretch for any player after Crawford, but the physical defenseman has steadily made progress this season on the ‘Hawks’ blue line. He was recently moved to his off-wing and didn’t miss a beat. Murphy will never dazzle, but his consistency and gritty style are welcome additions to the defense. His ice time has been upped accordingly and has approached 20 minutes a game.

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Not: Patrick Sharp

Not much has changed with Patrick Sharp. The wheels are still there and he has held his own without the puck, but he simply can’t finish. He has had a long leash, but he could be next to the press box if he doesn’t hit the scoreboard soon.

Hot: Alex DeBrincat

The rookie sniper is adapting well to his recent promotion to the first line. It seems just a matter of time before his fine play shows up more often on the scoreboard.

Not: Blackhawks’ powerplay

Perhaps the biggest issue facing the team these days is its dismal powerplay. TV analyst Brian Campbell described the situation well the other night when he said the powerplay must get better. I’d like to see less Duncan Keith and Sharp and more of the likes of Gustav Forsling, DeBrincat and John Hayden.

Hot: Blackhawks’ penalty kill

As has been the case for several years in Chicago: As one specialty team tanks, the other does well. The PK has been a bright spot for most of the season and is currently ranked sixth in the NHL.

Next: Blackhawks' Defense In Odd Spot With Rutta Out

The team has its hands full in the following week with three important games against Central Division rivals. Here’s hoping the baby steps back to respectability continue for the Chicago Blackhawks.