The expectations for the Chicago Blackhawks were extremely high, and likely unfair, this season. The team was coming off a historic and exciting Stanley Cup win. Fans knew some players had to leave, but they still expected a contending team.
They didn't get one.
The Hawks struggled early on, never able to permanently break the .500 cycle. The recent weeks have been favorable to the Hawks, but a 3-0 loss to Vancouver Friday night could only have frustrated the Hawk players.
The reason for the Hawks' woes haven't entirely been because of the loss of players. Sure, you can contribute a good chunk of that to it, but what really hits the nail in the coffin is some players are seriously underachieving and it's costing the team.
Jack Skille made my list because he is a perfect example of an overrated player, who has failed to meet the "potential" he supposedly has.
Skille isn't a terrible player and he is sort of likable, but he has been called up and down from Rockford to Chicago multiple times over the past 2-3 years, never able to stay in the NHL too long.
This season it looks like he is here to stay. He's played 27 games and has accumulated 10 points. Nothing big and mediocre at best.
In a season where the Hawks needed Skille to mature and become a productive player, he hasn't done that at all, staying mediocre all season long.
It might seem as a surprise to see Duncan Keith on this list, but early on he was one of the main causes for the defense struggling. If the Hawks couldn't count on their No.1 defenseman to perform well, who could they rely on?
Keith's plus/minus lingers at a minus-six, very uncharacteristic of him.
His points have risen over the past weeks, leading me to believe Keith is starting to find that groove he had last season. That can only be good news to Hawk fans.
But, still, that early blunder, and the still uncertainty of a comeback, made Keith an easy choice for No. 4 on my list.
I started the season having belief in Marty Turco and even didn't hold all the blame on him when the Hawks began to lose, knowing it was the defense, but now I am starting to question my original stance.
Corey Crawford has been getting a lot of starts recently and, most importantly, he's winning those games.
Remind you of anyone?
As of right now a lot of people are making the connection to last year's goaltending situation.
Crawford's stats are better in almost every category when compared to Turco.
Given that most Hawk fans had a negative feeling to Turco because of their love for Niemi, Turco didn't do anything to soothe or win over the fans. He never shed that aura of doubt that was cast on him.
I chose Dave Bolland during the offseason as the player to watch this season. Boy, did he disappoint me and many other fans.
Bolland has four points in 22 games. This is easily a guy with the talent to get 25-30 goals a season. He is simply just under-performing this season and it's drastically hurting the Hawks.
Bolland was one of those "keepers" that the Hawks were expecting to step up into that sort of leadership, mature player role. He has been far from that.
Injury has plagued this season, forcing him out of a week's worth of games, but that doesn't explain the fact he seems non-existent on the ice. It's sad to some extent.
Bolland is not a bad player, but continuing like this could make the Hawks organization question what his impact on this team is.
Niklas Hjalmarsson is clearly the most deserving of biggest underachievers this season.
After the Hawks purposely made sure they kept this up-and-coming youngster to the team, knowing that matching San Jose's offer would cause them to get rid of another player, expectations were high Hjarmarsson, and for good reasons.
All signs pointed to Hjalmarsson becoming a well-known defenseman. He was supposed to be up there with Keith and Brent Seabrook.
Things didn't exactly work out like that.
Hjalmarsson has had a pitiful season. Twenty-six games played and he has two points and a minus-one plus/minus rating.
Even worse, his defense has been as disappointing as Keith's early blunders, only that Hjalmarsson doesn't seem to be improving his game.
It's been nothing but blues for Hjalmarsson, whose serious underachieving was good enough to make the No. 1 on my list.