Grades for Every Chicago Blackhawks at the 2014 Winter Olympics so Far
Ten Blackhawks were selected to play for their respective nations in the Olympics, and they have produced varying results. In this piece, we look at how each player has performed and produced while playing in Sochi, heading into the medal games this weekend.
Grades were given based on expectations for individual players. The grading criteria was much more difficult for Patrick Kane, for example, than Michal Rozsival.
Jonathan Toews, Canada
That's called respect, and it's obvious that Toews has it throughout the hockey world.
That being said, Toews has not been at his best throughout the Olympics. Like Crosby, Toews has not lit the lamp heading into the gold-medal game.
He has certainly been working hard and continues to play well in the defensive zone; however, it's reasonable to expect more from him than two assists and a plus-two rating.
Patrick Sharp, Canada
It was a battle for Patrick Sharp to land a spot on the Canadian Olympic team. While he is clearly an elite scorer and one of the Blackhawks' most important players, it took a monstrous performance (28 goals, 30 assists) from Sharp in the first half of the season just to make the team.
Sharp's ability to put the puck in the net is why he was selected, and he has done that just once. He scored the opening goal of the game against Latvia, and that's his only contribution on the score sheet.
Sharp has dressed in four of Canada's five games, and he has been skating well and working hard, but the goals have not been coming. He has one point on seven shots, and he has gotten 47:11 of ice time, which is about 23 minutes less than Canada's top forwards.
Sharp's wicked shot makes him a threat to score at any time, so he should see the ice for the championship game.
Duncan Keith, Canada
Duncan Keith and Shea Weber have been Canada's two most dependable defensemen in the Olympic tournament.
While Weber has impressed with his explosive shot and his solid defensive play, Keith continues to show that there is nothing that he can't handle on the ice. He is superb in his own zone, and he often makes it look easy. He can make one deft maneuver with his stick to break up a play in the offensive zone, or he can throw his body in front of a shot to ruin a good scoring opportunity.
Keith carries the puck like few other defensemen. He has an excellent burst and superb change of direction. His one-timer and his ability to find teammates with crisp passes makes him one of the best offensive defensemen in the league.
Babcock had no doubt about Keith, and he has seen him play at a very high level. Keith has just one assist, but he has fired 12 shots on net. He also has a plus-four rating, which places him in a tie for second on the team in that category.
Keith has seen 106:04 of ice time, which is second on the team behind Weber. He is one of the best and most dependable players on Canada's team.
Patrick Kane, United States
Patrick Kane needed to step up for the United States and score a goal in the semifinal game against Canada.
While it would be wrong to pin the 1-0 loss on Kane's shoulders, the United States needed its most talented offensive players to deliver against its archrival. That meant Kane, Phil Kessel or Zach Parise needed to score.
Of those three, Kane is the most gifted player. He certainly made it happen in last year's Stanley Cup Final, but he could not shake free against Canada.
Kane has not scored a goal in the Olympics. He has four assists, and he has shown his ability to handle the puck and create opportunities, but more was expected from him. He needed to score in the biggest game and he didn't.
Marian Hossa, Slovakia
It was a disappointing Olympic showing for the Slovakian Olympic team, and Marian Hossa has to take some responsibility for that.
While hockey is not an individual sport, Hossa and Zdeno Chara were supposed to lead the Slovaks, and they were considered to have at least a decent chance to become a medal contender.
The Slovaks lost all three games in the preliminary round, including one to lightly regarded Slovenia, and they were ousted by their rivals from the Czech Republic in the elimination game.
Hossa scored two goals and one assist in the tournament, and he seemed to come alive once the Czechs built a big lead in the final game. Hossa nearly led the Slovaks back into an even position in that game, but it was too little, too late.
Overall, he was not impressive.
Michal Handzus, Slovakia
Michal Handzus is not a game-changing player, and if the Slovaks were expecting him to provide a lot of offense, they would have been mistaken.
Handzus seemed best prepared for a defensive role and playing a utility position. Instead, he averaged better than 20 minutes of ice time per game and played even more than Marian Hossa.
Handzus played hard and seemed to be more involved than many of his teammates. Handzus recorded two assists, but he did not score a goal.
He had a fairly solid performance for this disappointing team.
Michal Rozsival, Czech Republic
Michal Rozsival did an unremarkable job on defense for the Czech Republic throughout their five-game run in the Olympic tournament.
The Czechs won a game in the preliminary round, beat the Slovakians in the elimination round and then lost in the quarterfinals to the United States.
Rozsival played 71:07 in the five games as a third-pair defenseman. He did not score a point in the five games, and he had a minus-five rating.
Johnny Oduya, Sweden
Johnny Oduya is one of Sweden's key defensemen, but neither he nor partner Niklas Hjalmarsson are Sweden's elite blueliners.
That's not surprising considering the Swedes have hard-shooting Erik Karlsson on their blue line along with Niklas Kronwall.
However, when it comes to shutting down opponents, Oduya is one of Sweden's best. When the Swedes were in a 5-on-3 shorthanded situation against Finland in the semifinals, Swedish head coach Per Marts put Oduya on the ice with Hjalmarsson to keep the puck out of the net.
They were successful.
Oduya has played 84:22, and he has recorded one assist. He has played the kind of steady defense that the Swedes expected, and he has played a solid role in getting them to the gold-medal game.
Niklas Hjalmarsson, Sweden
Niklas Hjalmarsson does not draw a lot of attention to himself, but he is a solid all-around defenseman in the NHL, and he is doing the same thing for Sweden in the Olympics.
Paired with Johnny Oduya much of the time, Hjalmarsson can break up plays, retrieve the puck and carry it out of harm's way.
Hjalmarsson also knows when to join the rush. He has done that for Sweden, although he has no points to show for it.
Still, Swedish coach Per Marts knows that Hjalmarsson is going to come through at the most important moments. He has 91:57 of ice time, and the only skaters on the Swedish team who have played more are Erik Karlsson and Niklas Kronwall.
Marcus Kruger, Sweden
Marcus Kruger has a role on the powerful Swedish team that has reached the gold-medal game.
His job is to kill penalties and win key faceoffs when he is on the ice. Kruger is not an effective scorer, and that's not a problem for the Swedish coaches.
However, when Sweden had to kill off a 5-on-3 power play in the semifinal game against the Finns, Kruger was on the ice. He was also killing a key penalty later in the game.
Kruger has some offensive skill as he can pass the puck and he has a decent shot, but he has not scored a point in five games. He has played 58:18, and he has a plus-one rating.
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