Chicago Blackhawks’ Hot And Not: Youngsters Turning In Solid Efforts

NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 30: Vinnie Hinostroza
NASHVILLE, TN - JANUARY 30: Vinnie Hinostroza /

This week’s edition of Chicago Blackhawks Hot and Not goes to the youngsters as the Blackhawks prepare for tonight’s tilt with Vancouver

As a writer and fan, I always hope this Chicago Blackhawks Hot and Not series isn’t just about one or two guys each week in the hot category. Patrick Kane and Corey Crawford have occupied those slots so much, even beyond this season, that it could make your head spin.

Well, good news: We’ve got some young guns stirring things up for the Blackhawks — in a good way. Let’s see how that factors in to this week’s Hot and Not as the Blackhawks prepare for a late-night road game against Vancouver.

Hot: Alex DeBrincat

The rookie leads Chicago over the last two games in every key category outside assists. He has three goals, four points, a plus-4 rating and eight shots on goal. He’s also averaging just over 17 minutes of ice time per contest.

That last point is actually pretty important, as it shows that coach Joel Quenneville is giving DeBrincat the necessary rope to succeed. And the youngster is running with it, faring well on a line with Jonathan Toews and Anthony Duclair.

Teams will start to focus more on DeBrincat if he keeps getting top-six minutes, so we’ll see how he adjusts to that. But right now, it’s all systems go.

Not: Brandon Saad

Saad has not fared so well in his jump to the second line, despite being teamed with Nick Schmaltz and Kane. Saad has no points the last two games with just two shots on goal while averaging less than 15 minutes of ice time.

Saad has gone from top-line left wing to invisible, which is not a good sign. The Blackhawks like his two-way game, but it has to be just that: offense and defense. Just check out what The Athletic’s Scott Powers observed:

That’s not going to cut it for a player as important as Saad, no matter what line he’s on.

Hot: Vinnie Hinostroza

Yeah, that call-up might’ve been a bit overdue.

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  • Hinostroza has done nothing but produce since getting called up from the Rockford IceHogs. Over the last two games, he’s netted two goals and three points while tallying six shots on what’s supposed to be the fourth line, with David Kampf and Tomas Jurco.

    Those three have some obvious chemistry, and Hinostroza seems to be the glue. His speed creates a lot of opportunities, and his vision and shooting abilities have improved greatly. He’s also a pretty intelligent player — just look at the little poke check he provided to set up Kampf’s goal Tuesday in Nashville.

    Not: Artem Anisimov

    It’s no secret the big Russian center excels when playing with Kane. Lining up between Ryan Hartman and Tommy Wingels just isn’t doing much for Anisimov, besides allowing him to be destroyed in possession.

    I get it, this line is apparently a checking line. But Marcus Kruger-led checking lines could flip the ice. Anisimov has a 40.43 Corsi-for mark in the last two games at even strength. That’s not flipping the ice.

    I’m not exactly sure what the Blackhawks can expect from Anisimov if he isn’t surrounded by natural playmakers. He doesn’t win enough faceoffs and doesn’t move quickly enough to be what the Blackhawks want him to be.

    Hot: Anthony Duclair

    Close race here, as Kampf and Anton Forsberg were also in the running. But Ducalir has been really solid since the Blackhawks acquired him from Arizona.

    After some quick time in the bottom six, Duclair was pushed up alongside DeBrincat and Toews. He and DeBrincat seem to have a natural chemistry, and Duclair has benefited to the tune of a goal and two helpers in the last two games.

    Duclair’s speed is a welcome sight, and his vision and instincts seem pretty solid. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as the apparent knock on him was he wasn’t a great locker room guy in Arizona. The Coyotes’ loss is the Blackhawks’ gain.

    Not: Tommy Wingels

    I’m not sure why the Blackhawks are suiting up Wingels at this point. He’s the last piece of a three-part series in useless forwards, with Patrick Sharp and Lance Bouma already hitting the press box.

    There has to be someone else the Blackhawks can call up who can do more than Wingels. He fared decently in an energy-line role (though he got skulled in possession most nights). Now, he’s just floating around and still miserable in possession.

    Next: 5 Reasons Blackhawks Can Make The Playoffs

    A 35.56 Corsi-for mark at 5-on-5 over the last two games isn’t going to cut it. The Blackhawks thrive on puck possession, and Wingels is actively hurting that. Some other option needs to be explored (and not putting in Sharp or Bouma).