We all know who the big guns are. We need players like Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa to fulfill their scoring duties. We know that Corey Crawford is a reliable—if not a great—starting goaltender. The team is certainly not the same without Duncan Keith in the lineup. That much is certain.
The Chicago Blackhawks depend on their stars as anyone does, but there are players on their roster that do not get recognition and are critical to the team's success.
They haven't been flashy, perhaps not brilliant. Regardless, Hawks fans know what they are going to get night-in, night-out from these few. Models of consistency, their roles on the team have been just as vital to the Hawks current record.
A lot of people, myself included, were hopeful that Niklas Hjalmarsson would provide more of a spark offensively this season. That hasn't happened, but you can't be disappointed with what we been getting from No. 4, either.
When Hjalmarsson is at his best, you don't notice him that much. This is a good thing, and he certainly has been quietly efficient this year.
He's a steady defender, moves the puck well and plays tough along the walls and in front of the net. If Hjalmarsson continues this play, it will put the Hawks in a good position down the stretch.
After a training camp not to be envied, who would have predicted Marcus Kruger's value to the team thus far? In many circles, he was destined to begin the season in Rockford. He was given his chance with the big club, and unless he drastically falls of the wagon, he's in Chicago to stay.
Kruger has been an excellent addition to the Hawks' fourth line. He has been decent in the dot, understands his responsibilities with in-zone coverage and has provided a spark offensively. With Dave Bolland out, Kruger has been just as affective as the Hawks' third line center.
On a lot of other teams, Michael Frolik could be a first- or second-line player. He would more than likely be expected to be a major offensive contributor.
He has found his niche as a third-line winger on a Cup-contending team. He has mostly been slotted with Dave Bolland and Bryan Bickell. When Bolland is healthy again, you will see these two paired again. If Bickell can ever get his life together, perhaps this line will reconnect.
Of late, Frolik's plus/minus is not great. It will improve, however, and he is a necessary ingredient. He can provide offense when need be and and plays over 15 minutes per game.
I think you are going to see Frolik play a more pivotal role for the Hawks in the second half of the season.
Many were worried about a sophomore slump from Nick Leddy. Not a chance.
Leddy is having a marvelous season, and while it is not surprising that he is a regular, his contributions have been more than most thought they would be. Through 18 games, he has 12 points and has a plus-4 rating. Also impressive is the fact that he is logging over 20 minutes a game.
The Hawks have this 20-year-old under contract for $1.1 million a year for the next two years. A bargain if there ever was one, Leddy has been extremely impressive this season.
Steve Montador has been having a lot of fun lately. He scored twice on Sunday night against the Oliers and has three goals in his last three games.
Montador has been paired in the third set of defenseman as well as the second. This season, he has played an average of 15 minutes a game and has recently found himself on the second team powerplay unit. It's been working, as he has two powerplay goals from the front of the net.
Montador is all that the Hawks hoped for when they signed him last summer. He is a true defenseman, not the rushing style we were used to with Brian Campbell. This is what the Hawks paid Montador for and he is delivering.
One thing you don't see Montador on the ice for often are goals by the opposition. Among Hawks defenseman, he and Duncan Keith lead the team with a a plus-8 rating.