When thinking of the Chicago Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith come to mind.
Even some of the recently departed members still come to mind. Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien have had a remarkable season thus far. Byfuglien is even the top name for the Norris Trophy, which was won by Keith last season.
Yet, fans of the Blackhawks or hockey in general have not let go of last season and the triumphant season the Blackhawks had.
Now players like Jack Skille, Corey Crawford, Bryan Bickell and Jake Dowell are getting snubbed.
All coming up from a long journey in the AHL, they have all proven to be magnificent contributors. Some more than others, but I’d say it was worth the wait for the guys to come up to the NHL and stay.
Skille has been seemingly a new fan favorite with his extrovert personality off the ice. On the ice, though, Skille has proven he has a great shot. If he could get more in the net, he would easily be the best prospect coming from the Rockford Icehogs.
With Coach Quenneville’s habitual line changes, Skille has been anywhere from the fourth line to the first line with Toews. Being on all four lines at one point or another, he has accumulated 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 42 games.
He has not been the finest performer on the team, but his contributions and devotion to the team is well known and respected.
The exit of Antti Niemi was a heartbreaker for Blackhawks fans. Then the Blackhawks started to deteriorate with the signing of Marty Turco as he began to struggle, or at least, the defense struggled when he was in net.
Opportunely, the Blackhawks had a secret weapon hiding in Rockford: Corey Crawford.
Crawford had his struggles like most of the Blackhawks did starting off the 2010-2011 season.
Overall now, Crawford is 15-8-1 with a 2.14 GAA. Not only has he stepped up his game since November, he has also easily won the starting goaltender job for this season. After the past two games, he has posted shutouts which also have won the hearts of Blackhawks fans.
Let’s just trust he can bring the Blackhawks as far as Niemi did last season, just without leaving them in dissatisfaction when it is all said and done.
Even though Bryan Bickell was in the NHL last season on and off for the Blackhawks, he was not a major part.
This season, Bickell has been an immense piece of the team and provided his skills in more ways than one. Not only has he proven he can score (11 goals) he also has proven he is a playmaker with 13 assists in 42 games.
Bickell is also an incredible spark for the team with his heavy hits and sporadic fights. He has effortlessly added liveliness to the team as well as points.
Center Jake Dowell has been one of the most important shockers for the Blackhawks. Even though he only has 15 points for the season and is a plus-11, he has shown he is a noteworthy center to add for depth.
Dowell is not considered to be a big scorer, but he has shown he can contribute in more ways than being the tough guy.
All of the new guys have replaced one of the now former Blackhawks. The only difference is, some of the new guys on the team have more expected out of them.
Dowell has a much greater amount of pressure added than Colin Fraser did, and Crawford has more than Niemi as the Blackhawks defense is not as capable as last season’s reigning champions.
The Blackhawks have conquered countless issues that were presented to them for this season. From a demolished roster, defense dilemmas, injuries…you name it, the Blackhawks figured a way to tighten up the area of difficulty.
The roster issue was the most evident and the Rockford kids have gotten their game together and made a name for themselves, not only for the Blackhawks organization, but for the NHL, too.