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I keep the ends out for the tie that binds - Because you're mine, I walk the line: Blackhawks Mid-Season Report-The Defensemen

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 The blue liners on this team have been largely overshadowed by the surprisingly potent offense.  But don't let that fool you.. we've got a bunch of talented defenders on this team.  Don't let this all star game fool you either - Campbell is not going to be the best of them.  Together with the two-headed monster we have between the pipes our team is 4th in the league in Goals Against per Game.  We've seen them buckle down and simply refuse to let anything to the net (past few games excluded) 

So lets see how they're doing individually:


GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Cam Barker 32 3 16 19 -5 39 3 0 1 0 37 8.1

 

Barker has been an interesting case so far this year.  He didn't start the season with the team despite alot of people calling for him to be here.  Now that's he's here - he's occasionally played great.  Occasionally he's been scratched.  The return of Wiz has hurt Barker the most.  He's seen his time on the power play dropped even though Barker has better hands on the point.  He's shown some offensive worthwhile with the third most points for Hawks defencemen.  He does have the fewest blocked shots of any defender not named Hendry or Hjalmarsson (holy shit I spelled that right without looking). Along with Sopel, he's one of the few defenders with an overall minus rating

Barker's got potential but hasn't yet lived up to it: 2.5 Guinness

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GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Brian Campbell 45 7 23 30 6 10 4 0 1 0 61 11.5

We all know Campbell's story this year.  He was brought in to be the puck carrying D-man the Hawks needed and to quarterback the power play that had been the Hawks weak spot for so long.  And.. well.. he's kinda done that.  The Hawks are 9th on converting the power play.  He's the most offensive minded of the blue liners with the most goals and the most assists. 

Still - Campbell frustrates most of us fairly often.  Sure he's fast, but he blows his coverage and despite his speed we've seen other teams forwards blow right past him. Then in some games he's a force on both sides of the ice and can cause major headaches for opposing teams. 

Campbell does lead the team and the league in 1.3 spin-o-ramas per game though: 3 Guinness

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GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Aaron Johnson 26 3 5 8 18 24 0 0 1 0 20 15.0

I'm not too sure what to say about Aaron Johnson.  He might be in the running for the least talked about Hawk this year.  Johnson got off to a pretty hot start this year and looked like he could be another nice surprise for the Hawks.  On Nov. 26th Johnson was second among all NHL defensemen and was tied for 4th in the league with a +13 rating.  Then this happened. 

Johnson went on IR and missed 11 games.  Since coming back he hasn't quite been the same as he was earlier.  He hasn't had a negative rating in a game this year but his play has been far from great.  He's looked sloppy in the past few games but then again.. everyone's looked sloppy lately. Perhaps this week break might do him some good.

This now concludes the most that has been written about Aaron Johnson ever: 2.75 Guinness

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GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Duncan Keith 41 5 21 26 23 20 1 1 1 0 86 5.8

Our love for Keith on this site should be well known.  Actually, I think every Hawks fan loves Keith.  He's probably been the most consistent Hawk this year and one of the best blue liners in the league (All-Star Games be damned). He's 20th overall in the NHL in points for defensemen and 5th overall in the league in +/-.  (Another impressive stat - the four players ahead of him in +/- all play for Boston.. they're scary this year). 

Keith uses his speed to not only join in the rush in the other team's zone but also gets back in the Hawks zone and breaks up plays consistently. Hopefully he can continue to mostly fly under the radar for the NHL because he's going to be due a huge raise soon. 

Keith does it all for this team and the struggles in the past few games has a lot to do with him not being out on the ice. 

Here's hoping Keith can join up with the rest of the Hawks for the upcoming scary roadtrip - our first perfect score: 5 Guinness and a shot of Jameson

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GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Brent Seabrook 45 5 9 14 15 45 2 1 0 0 75 6.7

Seabrook obviously benefits a lot from being paired with Keith most of the time he's on the ice but don't let that fool you.  Seabrook is having a good year on his own right.  The combination of Keith and Seabrook on the blue line should soon be recognized as one of the best pairings in the NHL today.  While Keith brings speed, skill and some offenseive power to the pairing.  Biscuit brings his size and power.  Seabrook is leading the team in hits and is tied for 9th overall in the league.  He's also leading the team in blocked shots with 68 so far.  

Seabrook has played big minutes in every game and has been one of the better "defensive defencemen" in the league.  We'd all like to see him step up a bit more without Keith on the ice with him but Seabrook is continuing to improve every year he's in this league and is on pace for his best year yet.

Seabrook is even getting love for the highly coveted Rod Langway award: 4 Guinness

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GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Brent Sopel 23 1 1 2 -4 8 0 0 1 0 15 6.7

Oh Brent Sopel.  How we miss you.  It used to be, when the Hawks played poorly it was easy to just blame it on Sopel.  Sopel was sneaky good last year and even wore the A for the team.  This year has been a total disaster for him though.  Sopel has played so poorly that the team has put him in long term IR with a mysterious injury.  Is he really hurt?  I doubt it.

Sopel has been sloppy on all areas of the ice and became the go to whipping boy of this site and many others.  He did have some good shifts on the penalty kill with Walker though.  I think I was so hard on Sopel that I actually feel bad about it - so just in case you're reading this Brent, sorry - but I'm not really looking forward to the rest of the ridiculous contract you got.

There's not much else to say for Sopel this year - his season has not been going the way he planned. He's been decent on the penalty kill though.

Don't forget though that Sopel does seem like an all around great guy - check this out.

Sorry again Brent: 5 Bud lights for you (Bud Light being the opposite of delicious delicious Guinness... obviously):

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GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - Matt Walker 33 0 3 3 6 39 0 0 0 0 40 0.0

Walker came to us from our good friends over in St. Louis.  And like anything out of that city - he's not that great.  He's got a good role on the team though.  He eats up the minutes when Campbell, Keith and Seabrook need a rest and like Sopel has actually been quite good playing shorthanded.  Walker has been named one of the stars of the game a few times mostly for shutting down other teams power play units.

The other role that Walker has been great with is punching Ed Jovanovski in the face. He brings size to the blue line but needs to bring more a physical element to the game. 

Walker is the only active Hawk without a goal so far but anyone looking for a scorer from this guy is going to be very disappointed.  Walker's nothing great but not everyone can be Keith and Walker plays his role well.

That punch on Jovanovski boosts his rating a bit: 2.5 Guinness

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GP G A P +/- PIM PPG SHG GWG GTG SOG PCT
2008 - James Wisniewski 16 1 6 7 2 8 0 0 0 0 44 2.3

It's hard to really say how Wiz has been doing so far this year because it feels like we only just yesterday got him back on the team.  Wiz missed most of the season so far recovering from surgery but he came back in awesome style. 

In his first rehab game in Rockford scored what I'm guessing is his first professional hat-trick.  Then in the first game with the Hawks Wiz scored a career high 3 assists.  In his next 15 games though he's only scored 4 more points so I don't think he suddenly became an offense first D-man in his rehab. 

Wiz has been playing the point on the Power Play and has jumped right in on the kill too.  I'm still not totally sold on him on the point - I'd rather have someone like Barker out there to handle the puck but you can't really complain about someone with a hard slap shot on the blue line for you.  We've already seen a few people slow to get up after taking a shot from Wiz. 

Wiz has yet to drop the gloves this year too.  I'm wondering if he's worried about his knee (don't forget he hurt it while pummeling Tootoo last year) or if he's just not had the chance so far this year.

Wiz has started a clothing line too - which would be easier to make fun of if he didn't use it to support the USO:  2.5 Guinness so far.. but only because we haven't really seen enough to say more.

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Jesus.. that took forever... I'm not even going to go back and proof this.. so please mock me for all the mistakes I've made.

Enjoy the Skills programs tonight folks...