Chicago Blackhawks: Can Michael Frolik Ever Score 20 Goals Again?
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Frolik is 24, and possesses talent enough to coerce a three-year, $7 million deal from Chicago last summer. The thinking was that a player like Frolik would benefit from playing with talented linemates and easily return to being the 40-point producer he was with Florida.
That wasn't the case in 2011-12, and it's a bit of an enigma as to why.
Frolik is a hard-working skater who fights hard for the puck and can be a excellent defensive forward. He generates a lot of good scoring opportunities despite a propensity for taking low-percentage shots.
Along with Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland, Frolik was part of a formidable checking line in the early part of last season. From there, the production dropped and Bickell and Frolik took turns as the scratch du jour for Joel Quenneville.
From the All-Star break to mid-March, Frolik was in action in just eight games. I was at the United Center for one of those games, a February 21 tilt with the Red Wings. The 'Hawks won that contest, but what also sticks in my memory is a play that occurred early in the second period.
How many goals will Michael Frolik score for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2012-13?
Down 1-0 and with the 'Hawks down a man, Frolik was on the penalty kill unit when Ian White suffered a blowout. Frolik gained control of the puck and started up the ice with nothing but Jimmy Howard between him and a shorthanded tally.
Frolik had not scored a goal since December 14. He had gone the last ten games without a point. Surely the cover was about to come off the net. We stood as one on the third balcony in anticipation of a possible tie game.
Not only did the 'Hawks remain down a goal, but Frolik was not even credited with a shot. That's the way it went for Frolik in 2012-13.
He did not score for the remainder of the regular season, finishing the campaign with five goals and ten assists. His ice time dropped dramatically down the stretch even when he wasn't in street clothes.
You wouldn't fault Frolik for claiming to be touched with some bad luck. However, his 4.3 percent shooting percentage, by far the worst of any forward with substantial playing time last season, suggests that the snake-bitten label can only explain so much.
Frolik did have a pair of goals in the playoffs, then added two for the Czech Republic at the World Championships. Those performances give one a taste of the potential that led the Blackhawks to re-sign him.
Even without the goals, Frolik can be a productive and useful player for the 'Hawks. It is just difficult to watch a player who found the net at a 13.3 percent success rate in his rookie season become so inept at finding twine.
Will the upcoming season bring a more focused scorer, or will Frolik continue to be a disappointment in the offensive end?
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