Chicago Blackhawks: Full Team Report Card at the 25-Game Mark

Michael Gibbons@DachicagofanCorrespondent IIDecember 1, 2011

Chicago Blackhawks: Full Team Report Card at the 25-Game Mark

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    The Chicago Blackhawks beat a lot of teams to the 25-game mark. Only one team reached it more quickly.

    The Hawks own a record of 14-8-3, which is good enough for 31 points.

    They have been solid at home with a record of 7-2-2, with the two losses coming in bad games against Vancouver and Phoenix. Things have been a little tougher on the road, where they have a record of 7-6-1.

    They have only scored two more goals then they have given up thanks to come poor showings. Being outscored 14-4 in two games will hurt any goal differential.

    In October, the Hawks tallied 16 points in 11 games, going 7-2-2. November wasn't as kind, with the 'Hawks getting 15 points in 14 games with a record of 7-6-1. It really has been a Jekyll-and-Hyde season so far.

    Some players have stayed hot most of the season.

    Some started slow and have heated up, while others started hot and have become ice cold.

    Here is who made the honor roll and who is headed to the principle's office.

The 23rd Man

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    This is a weird spot to grade because no one has held it long enough to make an impact.

    Promising youngster Brandon Saad was up for the first two games of the season before being sent back to Juniors.

    Brandon Pirri got one game and is the only one of the group to register a point.

    Rostislav Olesz was up with the team for most of the season but only appeared in six games. It was very clear he did not fit in coach Joel Quenneville's plans.

    Now we have playoff hero Ben Smith up and probably holding onto the spot for the rest of the season. So far he has only skated in two games after being called up over a week ago.

    Right now I have to give this spot an incomplete. Smith has the chance to make an impact, and his presence will provide great competition nightly on who skates and who doesn't.

Ray Emery

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    It is hard to say Ray Emery won the backup job out of camp, but he has done a decent job so far.

    Emery has appeared in six games, getting his first relief appearance Tuesday night against the Phoenix Coyotes. His record so far is 3-1-1 with a 3.52 goals allowed average.

    If you take out the beating he took in Edmonton during the "circus trip," then his average might not look so bad. He gave up seven goals to the Oilers and five to Tampa, but he has only allowed six goals total in his other three starts. The game against Tampa was the second game of a back-to-back, and the entire team looked flat against Edmonton.

    Overall I am going to give Emery a B, because all you ask for a backup goalie is just not to lose the game, and Emery has proven when he is on he is pretty good.

John Scott

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    What can I say about John Scott?

    Seriously, what do I say about this guy? If he isn't fighting, does he serve a real purpose on this team?

    Scott has appeared in 13 games so far this season and even played more then half of those on defense, taking regular shifts. When he was asked about doing that, the reporter was struggling to say it's the first time he has done that since, and Scott replied, "Ever."

    Scott hasn't looked awful on defense, but he hasn't made much impact either. He hasn't tallied a point this season and is still searching for his first goal as a Hawk. He is a minus-two on the year with four penalty minutes.

    It's really hard to grade a guy who hasn't done much, but I guess he hasn't hurt the team, so he gets a C.

Sami Lepisto

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    Sami Lepisto seems to have been caught in a numbers game so far this season. The Blackhawks have eight defensemen, which means two sit each night, and so far Lepisto has usually sat.

    Lepisto has appeared in eight games and hasn't looked bad in any. He is a plus-four on the year and has been even or positive in all but one game. Against the Calgary Flames, he was a minus-two.

    I would rather see much more of Lepisto rather than John Scott skating along the blue line. I have to give Lepisto an incomplete because he has played so little.

Sean O'Donnell

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    When Sean O'Donnell was paired with Nick Leddy, it was kind of cool. Having a guy who is 40 teamed with a guy who is 20 is rare.

    O'Donnell has appeared in 17 games, totaling three points, all assists. He is a minus-four, which isn't what you are looking for from a guy who is usually part of the third pairing. The only time he has been a positive this season is when he gets a point.

    I'm not sure why O'Donnell, 40, is getting so much more playing time then Lepisto, 27.

    I'm going to give O'Donnell a D. He has provided some toughness, but too many goals are being scored on his watch.

Marcus Kruger

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    It is hard to judge Marcus Kruger.

    We keep hearing he has all this potential, and we keep seeing some flashes, but most of the time he has been unimpressive.

    I mean, come on, he is a center who doesn't take faceoffs.

    Since being called up after the first game, he has played in every game, but I believe that might be coming to an end.

    He has seven points, which isn't too bad for a rookie who got a taste of the pros last season. However, with Ben Smith getting the call-up, playing time will be hard to come by.

    It's hard to give a guy who has been compared to Dave Bolland as a defensive center a good grade when he is a minus-four. I'm going to give him a C- mostly because of how much he is talked about by those in the organization.

Jamal Mayers

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    Jamal Mayers was brought in to add some veteran leadership and toughness, and he has done both very well.

    He has centered the fourth line all season and continues to just do his job no matter who he is paired with. Mayers also has seen some time on the penalty kill and done well.

    In my mind, Mayers deserves a B because of what he does that doesn't end up in the box score.

Andrew Brunette

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    Andrew Brunette might be the most disappointing player on the team.

    Many, including me, expected him to play a role similar to Andrew Ladd.

    So far this season Brunette, 38, is very much looking his age. His 10 points (five goals and five assists) aren't very impressive for a guy two years removed from totaling 60 points.

    I'm giving Brunette a D because he was placed in a spot to succeed but failed to do so on that top line.

Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik

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    I intended to give each of these guys their own slide, but then I realized I was just repeating myself.

    Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik started the season off so well. Being paired with Dave Bolland early on, they were the reason the 'Hawks got off to just a fast start.

    They have 12 points combined, with all but one coming in the month of October. The last point was from Frolik on November 6.

    Some may say they are out there for their defense and not their offense. Well, their defense isn't that good either. Frolik is a minus-five, while Bickell is a minus-eight. Recently they were both moved down to the fourth line, and Bickell was even a healthy scratch a few games ago.

    I'm giving both a D but nearly gave both a F.

    Frolik so far is giving a lot of ammo to those who felt that new contract was over-generous, while Bickell hopes to get an extension that isn't likely if his play doesn't improve.

Steve Montador

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    Who would have ever thought that Steve Montador was the answer to the Hawks power-play issues?

    Montador scored eight of his nine points during a nine-game stretch in November.

    He has skated in all 25 games and has done a good job no matter who he has skated with. Depending on who has been out, I think he has been paired with all seven other blueliners.

    Montador has been a nice addition to a defense that was lacking last season, and his offense this past month has been an extra bonus.

    I'm giving Montador a B and feel safe in saying that of all the new additions, he has made the biggest impact so far.

Dave Bolland

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    I almost included Bolland on the Frolik and Bickell slide but couldn't find a good picture of all three.

    Dave Bolland is a very frustrating player. Every time it looks like he finally is healthy and producing, he gets hurt.

    However, we all know it's his defense that matters, but now that is struggling as well. Much like his linemates Bickell and Frolik, Bolland is on the wrong side of zero. For the season he is a minus-six with 10 points. His seven goals is good enough for fourth on the team, tied with Patrick Kane.

    Bolland tallied five points in the first 10 days of the season and just added three more in the last five games. Between those two stretches were a lot of games with very little production.

    I'm going to be a little kinder to Bolland and give him a C since he has been slowed by injuries. Let's be honest: As long as he is healthy for the playoffs, he will get a passing grade in my book.

Nick Leddy

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    I think people forget that Nick Leddy is only 20 years old.

    Many wondered if Leddy would be able to last through a whole NHL season after slowing down towards the end of last season. Well, so far so good.

    Leddy is averaging over 20 minutes of ice night every night and has 16 points to show for it.

    He has replaced Brian Campbell on the power play, and while there is still room to grow, he has done a serviceable job.

    It also doesn't hurt that he started the season being paired with Duncan Keith until recently being paired with Hjalmarsson.

    I am giving Leddy an A because of what he has done and what I think he can do the rest of the season.

    Spoiler alert: This is one of only four A's I pass out. I'm not sure if that makes me a tough grader or not.

Niklas Hjalmarsson

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    Is Niklas Hjalmarsson, 24, ever going to develop an offensive side to his game?

    Hjalmarsson is very solid defensively, but while he is out on the ice it's like the Hawks are short handed. He has two assists in 25 games. The only defensemen he has more points than are John Scott and Sami Lepisto, and they have none.

    Hjalmarsson gets a B based on his play this season. However, with how he got paid and his position on this team, he needs to start helping on offense.

Viktor Stalberg

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    Viktor Stalberg might finally be putting it all together.

    He seems to have a firm hold on being a top-six forward on this team and has been fairly consistent since returning from a knee injury.

    Stalberg's 13 points are good enough for seventh on the team. In his 22 games, he has five goals to go along with eight assists and has moved his way up from the fourth line to the first.

    I for one think that Stalberg had a lot to lose, including his roster stop when he got hurt in the preseason. However, while others have fallen he has risen.

    With guys like Jeremy Morin and Brandon Pirri waiting for a chance out in Rockford, Stalberg had to seize his chance. I think Viktor deserves a B because of his stellar play over the last month.

    Since his father came into town and then hit the road with the team, Stalberg has tallied 12 points. Maybe dad should visit more often.


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    I have been extremely impressed with Dan Carcillo.

    When it was announced that the 'Hawks signed Carcillo, I had mixed emotions.

    When I attended the 'Hawks convention, I ran into a lot of people who hated the signing.

    The way Carcillo has played so far this season, he has changed a lot of people's minds. When not suspended, Carcillo has spent a lot of time skating with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa and doing well.

    His seven points already surpass the six he had last season, and if he keeps this up he will have a career year. He has appeared in 20 games, being a healthy scratch once while being suspended for four games.

    With Carcillo I am going to be an easy grader because I didn't know what to expect, so he gets an A.

Brent Seabrook

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    Brent Seabrook has had a rough start to the season.

    He missed a few games, and his offense is struggling. Seabrook has appeared in 21 games and has only seven points.

    His seven points is fourth among defensemen, and it is starting to look like maybe Seabrook had a career year as he chased a new contract.

    Seabrook started the season being paired with Niklas Hjmarsson but recently has been paired with Duncan Keith again.

    Even though he is a plus-three, I am going to have to give him a C. If the 'Hawks hope to fix their power play, it is going to come from Seabrook finding his offense again.

Corey Crawford

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    If you asked me a month ago, I would have given Corey Crawford an A.

    In October Crawford was 5-2-2, while in November he was 6-5, which gives him a total record of  11-7-2. He goals allowed average is 2.86, which isn't great but it could be a lot worse. His save percentage has dropped below 89.8.

    Not all of it can be blamed on Crawford. He has only allowed more then three goals in six of his 21 games. He lost to Dallas early in the season despite allowing only two goals and most recently only allowed one to San Jose as the 'Hawks were shut out.

    Based on the average and where expectations were, I'm going to give Crawford a B-. It would have been an A in October but a C in November. We need to see more of the Crawford we saw in the playoffs if the 'Hawks are going to make a run at the cup again.

Duncan Keith

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    Well, he doesn't look like the Norris Trophy winner, but he has played better than last season—most of the time, at least.

    In only 22 games, he has 15 points, which is good enough for second among the defensemen. He trails Nick Leddy by one point.

    Keith has now missed nine games during his seven-year career.

    I'm giving Keith a B and hoping he doesn't have a breakdown as the season goes on. Hopefully coach Qunneville can find some games to give Keith a rest so he isn't playing 30 minutes a night.

Patrick Sharp

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    Patrick Sharp has been putting points up all season, but something seems to be missing.

    Maybe he actually misses playing center.

    Maybe it was too much Toews.

    Whatever it was, it seemed to switch after he was reunited with Patrick Kane for a few games. Whatever it is, these two seem to always know where the other one is on the ice.

    Sharp is tied with Marian Hossa for the lead with a plus-10 to go along with his 23 points. The surprising thing is his penalty minutes. He has 20 penalty minutes already and is well ahead of his pace of 38 he had last season.

    No matter, he is proving that he deserved that new contract, but I'm going to give Sharpie a B.

Marian Hossa

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    So this is what a healthy Marian Hossa is able to do.

    Hossa has 24 points in 24 games, and he is a plus-10. Also, how can you deny the impact he is having on whoever is lucky enough to skate with him?

    He started the season with Patrick Kane, and they started great. He then was paired with Jonathan Toews, and Toews seemed to wake up.

    If he can stay healthy, it will be the season all 'Hawks fans imagined when Hossa was signed three years ago.

    If you average a point per game, I gotta give you an A.

Jonathan Toews

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    Except in this case.

    Captain Serious is getting a B.

    Maybe I am being to hard on Jonathan Toews, but I thought this was going to be the year he started to dominate.

    Sure, he leads the team with 25 points, but he has been held pointless in nine games. In the past five games he has six points, but five came in one game.

    He started off slowly and has picked it up as of late. While his leadership has really shown at times this year in games they needed it like against the Bluejackets and Ducks, he needs to be a presence every game.

    Maybe I am being so hard on Toews because of the grade I gave the next guy.

Patrick Kane

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    How can I not give Patrick Kane an A?

    The experiment of Kane at center has been a complete success, and the combo of him and Hossa has been fantastic.

    Through the first 25 games, he has 24 points with seven goals and 17 assists. As an extra bonus he is a plus-nine, which is good enough for second on the team.

    With Kane centering, the 'Hawks have two dynamic scorers on each of the top two lines. It also allows general manager Stan Bowman to search for a wing, center or defenseman to help the team through trades rather then just focusing on a second-line center.

    Kaner, you get an A. To bad I can't give the team overall that grade.