Tomas Kopecky Proving To Be a Pivotal Player on the Chicago Blackhawks' Top Line

Michael WagnerSenior Analyst IOctober 18, 2010

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 7: Adam Foote #52 of the Colorado Avalanche gets tangled up with Tomas Kopecky #82 of the Chicago Blackhawks during a scrum in front of the net during both team's season openers at the Pepsi Center on October 7, 2010 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Marc Piscotty/Getty Images)
Marc Piscotty/Getty Images

Two weeks ago if you had told me that Tomas Kopecky would be second on the Chicago Blackhawks in points and tied for first in plus minus I would have said that you were crazy but here we stand today with Kopecky proving to be a substantial source of offense on the 'Hawks first line.

As we entered the season I questioned coach Joel Quenneville's choice to keep Kopecky on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa but Kopecky has proven me and many other doubters wrong.

Even after a good playoff performance, Kopecky was still seen by many as a solid third or fourth line forward with limited potential after that but this season Kopecky has not looked out of place with Toews and Hossa.

Kopecky brings a much needed bit of grit to that line and also provides an option to sit in front of the net much like Dustin Byfuglien provided before him.

Now Kopecky might not be as big as or as charismatic as Byfuglien but he understands his role on that line, something that during the regular season Byfuglien seemed to struggle with at times.

The one knock on Kopecky coming out of the gates has been his propensity to take penalties, through the first six games he as already accrued 10 penalty minutes, second only to Niklas Hjalmarsson who got 15 minutes in penalties in one game.

Throughout Kopecky's career he has never been known to take many penalties, only drawing 28 minutes in penalties last season however with the spike in ice time this season it is likely that we will see more penalties taken by him.

Most of the penalties taken by Kopecky this season have been ones that can be easily avoided and with some more discipline during his increased ice time we will likely see his penalties taken decrease.

Now if Kopecky can play a little more disciplined when he is without the puck and continue to be a consistent contributor alongside Toews and Hossa the Blackhawks might have found someone to make up for much of their lost production.