Our little wrap up go interrupted by a game of hockey last night, and some marathon drinking from the three of us. We'd apologize, but at this point we doubt you'd expect anything else. Anyway, let's continue our midterm Report Card, shall we?
#25 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks
Apr 04, 1986
|2009 - Cam Barker||39||4||9||13||5||49||3||0||1||0||61||6.6|
If we had written this is November, he'd be awfully close to an F. Barker was a turnstile early in the year, we even dubbed him so in The indian. He was piling up the points, both at even strength and on the power play. Things have kind of reversed themselves. I say kind of, because he's not yet lockdown in his own zone, but he's been far more solid. But the points have all but dried up, to the tune of two in the last 19 games. Campbell and Buff have taken over on the top power play unit, and there have been times when Keith and Seabrook were on the 2nd. Which leaves one to wonder what Barker is for. Still the most likely candidate to get moved, and he'll always be burdened with the unfair wrap of being the player taken behind Ovechkin and Malkin, when everyone knew that was a two-player draft. Can't give him anything more than a C/C-.
#51 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks
May 23, 1979
|2009 - Brian Campbell||43||5||23||28||17||12||3||0||1||0||81||6.2|
I will not lie to you, I'm writing this review with a giant smile on my face. For people like me, who had to listen to all the Campbell bashing when it got out of hand, the booing on opening night, the ill-informed criticisms of his contract, the past two months have been a vindication. Most on this blog will agree that only Patrick Kane could make the argument that he's been a better player on the Hawks than Campbell the past two months. The pairing with Hammer has led to a comfort level for 51 Phantom that sees him play his game. Numerous times per game he starts a rush all by himself, and it usually leads to a scoring chance. He's been solid in his own zone as well, and Q hasn't hesitated to throw him out on the kill when need be, and according to Behind The Net he's been very good on it. Soupy is in the Top 10 in scoring amongst d-men, and 2nd in +/- in that group. He's been on fire recently, with 12 points in his last 12 games. Quite simply, one of the biggest reasons the Hawks are the force they are right now is that for 40-45 minutes a game they have a d-man on the ice who can transition the team instantly from defense to offense, and Campbell is half of that reason. Fearing that if i give him an A some people will send this blog up in flames, I'll settle for a B+, but you know what it should be.
#6 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks
Feb 23, 1984
|2009 - Jordan Hendry||19||0||3||3||3||6||0||0||0||0||12||0.0|
Only in the past month or so have we gotten an extended look at Hendry on the backend, though he did some spot duty on the 4th line, where he did what he could. With continuous injuries to Barker and Hjalmarsson and Sopel here and there, Hendry has gotten a pretty extended look. He hasn't disappointed. He's shown slightly more skating ability than Hammer (I am not suggesting for one second he should play in front of Hammer) and the skill of being able to skate himself out of trouble. Basically, when he has played, you haven't noticed him, which is exactly what you'd want out of him. He's proven that if Sopel or Barker go later in the season, we'd be comfortable enough with him sliding into the Top 6. B/B-.
#4 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks
Jun 06, 1987
|2009 - Niklas Hjalmarsson||38||1||6||7||12||14||0||0||0||0||23||4.3|
Just for what he's allowed Campbell to do, he should get an A. Never caught out of position, and becoming more and more physical by the day. Can you remember when he made a wrong decision? Sure, he's basically playing centerfield, but look what that allows the Hawks to become? Could be a slightly better skater, and you feel some team deep in the playoffs will try and take advantage. Still needs to fill out physically, but that will come with time. And if he's 6' 3", then I'm packed like a porn star. Still, a sterling rookie campaign so far. We'll go with A-/B+
#2 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks
Jul 16, 1983
|2009 - Duncan Keith||43||6||31||37||13||24||1||1||1||0||106||5.7|
McClure's prediction that Keith will be the last ever Hawks to wear #2 will come true if he keeps this up. You'd have to say he in the discussion for midseason Norris Trophy. He's second in scoring among D-men, and also in the Top 10 in +/-. But I get confused sometimes when I look at his Behind The Net Numbers. He's a minus there, and through Matt's preferred eye-test, he's been more of an adventure in the defensive zone than in the past. He's not awful by any means, but teams are running at him harder and he's been more turnover prone than last year. Perhaps his shotgunning up the ice is hurting him? Still, a premier blueliner, has his call up for the Olympics will testify to. He's also the team's best PK-er from the backend. So if we've lost a little on the defensive side for the big gain we're getting from Flash on the offensive side, I think we can take that. A-
#7 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks
Apr 20, 1985
|2009 - Brent Seabrook||41||3||16||19||18||23||0||0||2||0||74||4.1|
And the reason Keith has been allowed to play his hair on fire game. Basically, Hjalmarsson is playing a poor man's version of Biscuit's game. I don't know what we could possibly complain about when it comes to Seabrook. He's been physical, without losing positioning in his end. He snuffs out almost everything he sees, and then lets Keith get the play going. Another headache when his contract comes up after next season, but if he allows Keith to be Keith, then he is no less of a mandatory re-sign. B+
#5 / Defenseman / Chicago Blackhawks
Jan 07, 1977
|2009 - Brent Sopel||42||1||5||6||5||24||0||0||0||0||27||3.7|
We all like to joke about Sopel. He's ungodly ugly. He's slow. He skates as if he just dumped his pants. He makes mistakes, and can get exposed by skilled and/or fast wingers. But Catfish is a #6 defenseman, and should be viewed through that prism. It's the same as really studying a middle relief pitcher. Neither should make or break your team, but they can surely help it to be dominant when they are good. And for the most part, Sopes has been. He's had his slap-your-head moments, sure, but all bottom rung d-men do. Lately, he's been a monster on the PK, and seemingly blocks 43 shots a night. He looked worse when partner Barker was in need of a rape kit earlier in the year, but has leveled out along with Barks. Salary is still too high, but that's not his fault. But he is what he is and for the most part, he's helped the Hawks a lot more than he's hurt them. Solid B.