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Chicago Blackhawks First Quarter Player Grades

Saturday’s game marked the official end of the first quarter of this NHL season for the Chicago Blackhawks. While it certainly wasn’t the prettiest performance, by any stretch of the imagination, the team still stands near the top of the league and should continue to be, provided they remain healthy. Check out how we grade each player on the roster to this point in the season.

Forwards

Jonathan Toews – A – The captain of the Blackhawks has brought his game every night this season, despite being without the benefit of playing with quality wingers every night. He’s been a wizard in the faceoff dot, taking just over 62 percent of the draws. His 10 goals are tops on the team.

Patrick Kane - A - As criticized as it may have been, initially, Patrick Kane  has made his transition to center a flawless one. Kane did early damage next to Marian Hossa, but has remained successful even when playing with different linemates. His 22 points are second on the team, while his 15 assists sit atop the Blackhawks leaderboard.

Marian Hossa - A+ – Boss Hoss has been a monster this season, leading the team with 23 points in 20 games. He brings the power on every shift, at both ends of the ice. Whether it’s on the first or second line, next to Toews or Kane, Hossa has been a force and should continue to be as the season moves on.

Patrick Sharp - B – Sharp missed training camp and the entire preseason, and has looked like a guy that missed both, at times. His point totals are still strong, with 19 in 21 games, but he’ll need to do a better job hanging onto the puck moving forward.

Dave Bolland - C+ - Bolland, like the rest of his “Rat Pack”, started the season off strong, but his play has declined as the season has gone on. Yes, he’s struggled with injury a bit, but his faceoff percentage has dwindled and he’s at a minus-5 for the season.

Daniel Carcillo - B – Carcillo has been a pleasant surprise for the Blackhawks, despite missing four games for two different suspensions. He’s actually focused on playing hockey, spending much of his time playing in the top six. If he keeps it up, Carcillo could be a guy that the Hawks might want to keep around beyond this year.

Michael Frolik - B- – If you’re looking at Frolik’s point totals, then he might seem like he deserves a much lower grade. In reality, his play has been pretty solid, particularly on the defensive side. However, that offensive production does need to get going, especially to take some of the pressure off of the top six.

Andrew Brunette - D+ - He’s done some good things, but overall Brunette has struggled to make a real impact with the Hawks so far. He’s already proven too slow to hang with the top six and his minus-6 is the worst on the team.

Bryan Bickell - D – He had a solid start to the season, but has gone back to his lazy, passive ways that have frustrated us all so much in the past. His days in Chicago might just be numbered.

Viktor Stalberg - B - This might be a stretch, but the Blackhawks’ verson of Luis Mendoza has actually pieced together a pretty solid start to the year. He’s hanging in there on the top six, primarily on the top line, and is one of only seven Hawks with a double-digit point total.

Marcus Kruger - B - Everything outside of the faceoff circle has been impressive. After initially being sent to Rockford to start the year, Kruger has shown he has no intention of going back. He’s been a strong defensive forward, logging plenty of time on the penalty kill, and stepping into that third line center role when Bolland went down with his injury.

Jamal Mayers - B+ - Mayers was brought in to add depth, be a veteran presence, and add some sandpaper to the lineup. He’s done what he’s needed to do to near perfection, even adding some PK time.

Rostislav Olesz - F+ - There’s a reason his ghostly ass is in Rockford.

Defensemen

Duncan Keith - C- - This is being generous. Keith has been very good in a few games this season, just okay in a few, and really bad in some. He’s minus-8 in his last two games combined. Some consistency would be nice, even if he is producing on the stat sheet.

Brent Seabrook - B – Seabs has been pretty solid all year long. His point totals likely won’t reach what they were at last year, but he’s still that steady physical presence and has been consistent on the ice. These last few games without him have shown how important to the lineup he really is.

Nick Leddy - A- – How great has it been to watch Nick Leddy? He’s probably been the best defenseman on the roster and is playing like we’d expect Duncan Keith to play. His 15 points are among the best among defensemen in the league.

Steve Montador - C+ - It was a rough beginning for Montador in the preseason and in his first few games as a Blackhawk, but he’s come on strong lately, with points in four of his last six games. Moving him in front of the net on the power play proved to be a spark for the Hawks with the man advantage.

Niklas Hjalmarsson - D – He blocks shots…

Sami Lepisto – D+ – He’s looked completely lost at times and just okay at others. As long as it continues to be Lepisto, O’Donnell, and Scott, he’ll see a good bulk of time as a sixth defenseman.

Sean O’Donnell – C+ – Old Donald has spent plenty of time in the press box of late, but that was expected. When he’s on the ice, he’s been pretty decent, but how much can you really expect from a 40-year-old defenseman?

John Scott - D+ - He hasn’t completely killed the Hawks when he’s on the ice, but why exactly is he out there?

Goaltenders

Corey Crawford - C+ - He hasn’t gotten the most help in a lot of games, but his vision and confidence between the pipes hasn’t been as strong as it was last year.

Ray Emery - B- - Emery was brutal in the preseason, but won the backup job over Alexander Salak. Despite plenty of flak from fans, Emery has been solid behind Crawford, including that brilliant outing against Calgary a couple of weeks ago. That mobility is concerning though.

When looking up and down the Blackhawks’ roster at the first quarter mark, it’s clear that they have yet to play their best hockey this year. As nice as it is to be looking down at most of the teams in the Western Conference, no one involved with this organization is satisfied, and things should start to pick up for some players moving forward. If not, look for personnel changes before the trade deadline.