Inconsistent play has been a theme for the Chicago Blackhawks' 2011-12 NHL season through the first few months. A number of players on the Hawks roster have been the main cause of that inconsistent play.
You can't point fingers at the team's core group of skaters, consisting of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa, because these guys are the reason the Hawks have achieved the amount of success they have this season. They've been playing like men amongst boys, and it seems like no one can get in their way.
The inconsistent play comes from a number of the Hawks' role players on the roster.
For whatever reason, whether it be injuries, lack of patience or just bad execution, a number of individuals on the Hawks have been unable to play at a consistent level.
These players have experienced major highs and lows thus far in the 2011-12 season.
Viktor Stalberg is one of the Blackhawks' most frustrating players to watch on a regular basis. The guy drives me absolutely nuts!
Stalberg has so much potential, considering how fast he moves on the ice, in addition to him being listed at 6'3", 210 pounds. In Stalberg's case, potential doesn't always translate into production.
You can watch Stalberg on two different occasions and witness two completely different performances, and those who aren't familiar with the Hawks may think they saw two different players wearing No. 25.
One night Stalberg can have a multi-point night like he has on two different occasions throughout the early goings of the 2011-12 season or bury an overtime winner like he did against the Nashville Predators on Halloween.
On other occasions, Stalberg can screw a plethora of things up for the Hawks, like he did on a 2-on-0 with Patrick Kane against the Los Angeles Kings on Nov. 26th. Or he can earn two minutes in the sin-bin for in three of four games like he did in early November.
It'd be nice if Stalberg could find a happy medium when it comes to producing. You know, like use his body at times when he needs to and not find the penalty box at inopportune times. Or he could just figure out a way to not make the extra play and simply fire the puck on net when he has the opportunity to.
The time will come when Stalberg figures out how to take advantage of the skills he was blessed with, otherwise Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman will end up shopping the 25-year-old forward.
It's safe to say that the Blackhawks have witnessed Steve Montador's maximum production thus far in the 2011-12 NHL season.
Montador was one of Bowman's offseason acquisitions over the summer, and he was brought in to add depth and size on defense.
After tallying just one point in October, Montador provided Blackhawks fans with a big tease the following month. In November, Montador tallied eight points, one of which was a game winning goal. Five of those points are all thanks to head coach Joel Quenneville for inserting Montador into the Hawks' second line power play in which he followed through tallying five points on the man-advantage.
December, thus far, is similar to October. Montador has been nearly nonexistent, and it's looking like his November production was nothing but one gigantic tease for all of those faithful Hawks fans.
Steve Montador is the first person to wear No. 5 for the Hawks since Brent Sopel wore it during the Hawks' 2010 Stanley Cup season, and Montador is starting to look as slow as Sopel did when he won the Cup with Chicago.
I feel bad for Corey Crawford. He started off the season playing so well, and his success has really taken a hit in November, and he's had a had time regaining it.
All goalies go through a funk, and Crawford is no different. That's why there's no reason to panic.
Craw's save percentage has decreased every month so far in the 2011-12 NHL season. In October, Crawford stopped 91 percent of the shots he faced. He stopped 89 percent of the shots he faced in November, and his save percentage is decreasing through the early goings of December.
What's tough about Crawford's inconsistent play is that it's not all his fault. When he finally gets his swag back and starts playing well his defense hangs him out to dry. There's not much more Crawford can do when he stops a series of three or more shots when the guys in front of him can't clear the puck, resulting in a goal for the opposition.
Corey will find his game again, sometime soon, one can only hope, but until then Blackhawks fans need to not point fingers solely at Craw.
Being a goalie is the toughest job in the NHL.
Daniel Carcillo has been good and bad for the Blackhawks, similar to how he's played throughout his career prior to signing with Chicago over the summer.
As expected, Carcillo leads the Hawks in penalty minutes, but that's not always bad. It's bad when he takes a penalty at an inopportune time, like he did on Nov. 6th in the Hawks' 6-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks when he racked up 21 minutes in the sin-bin and only hindered whatever momentum the Hawks may have had at any given time.
Carcillo is most effective when he's out banging bodies and coming to the defense of his teammates, like he did against the St. Louis Blues on December 3rd in defense of his captain, Jonathan Toews. That's an example of a good penalty.
An example of Carcillo earning a bad penalty is his interference penalty he earned against the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 25th when the Hawks were trailing in the second period. That didn't help the Hawks at that time, and it only took away any momentum they may have had. Luckily the Hawks ended up winning that game 6-5.
I didn't expect Carcillo to tally points at a high rate, but he's tallied nine points through the Hawks' first 29 games of the regular season. That's always a benefit.
One of Carcillo's best games of the season came on Dec. 5th against the Phoenix Coyotes. Not only did Carbomb tally an assist in the Hawks shootout loss, but recorded seven hits and didn't find himself in the penalty box at all during the game.
That's what the Hawks are trying to get out of Carcillo. A controlled head of steam, rather then a box score filled with unnecessary penalty minutes.
Calling Dave Bolland inconsistent may be a bit harsh, but breaking down his monthly stats shows he is, in fact, inconsistent for the Hawks. Bolland had a plus-three rating in the month of October, and then followed it up with a minus-nine rating in November.
Bolland can blame the injuries he's suffered thus far in the 2011-12 season for part of his inconsistent play, because sitting out doesn't help when a player is trying to find a groove and develop the necessary chemistry with his linemates.
Before the month of December, Bolland had already missed four games for the Hawks due to injury. When he returned in mid-November after suffering a lower body injury from blocking a shot in the Blackhawks' Nov. 8th game against the St. Louis Blues, you could tell that Bolland wasn't 100 percent healthy.
He wasn't as aggressive as he usually is at both ends of the ice, and he wasn't moving as fast or sharp as he can.
Slowly but surely Bolland has gotten is health back since returning from the injury he suffered in St. Louis, and he's played well enough in the early goings of December.
The only way for Bolland to be the Dave Bolland that everyone saw throughout the last two playoffs is if he can stay healthy, but health hasn't been the easiest thing for the 25-year-old Ontario-native to maintain in the last couple of seasons.