The Chicago Blackhawks are the league’s best team. Going into today’s game with the Los Angeles Kings, the Hawks are undefeated through 14 games (11-0-3). They’ve been dominating the stat sheet except on the power play. They rank 13th (18.3%). While you could suggest I’m digging for issues, teams that normally perform on power plays win.
The top-line features Jonathan Toews (pictured above), Marian Hossa and Andrew Shaw at the forwards with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook on defense. On the second line, Bryan Bickell, Dave Bolland and Patrick Kane are at forward with Nick Leddy and Patrick Sharp on defense. Since head coach Joe Quenneville is all about match-ups, there are times when Kane will move to the first line. But for the most part, these lines are together.
Shaw could be considered the weak-link on the top line. But if you recall the 2009-10 Stanley Cup team, Dustin Byfuglien planted himself in front of the goal creating opportunities. Shaw is a physical forward that tries to take that role. However, Shaw is much smaller than Byfuglien and isn’t the same type of player. Bickell is much bigger, but isn’t as skilled as Shaw. Since Byfuglien became a salary cap causality for the Hawks, they’ve been looking for someone to fill his shoes. It’s been easier said than done.
If there’s any move the Blackhawks could make before the April 3rd deadline is adding a physical presence at forward. When the oft-injured Daniel Carcillo comes back, he adds a physical dimension, but he just can’t seem to stay healthy. With two knee injuries in two seasons, questions about his durability keep arising. If he stays healthy, the Hawks will improve in that department. Jamal Mayers is also an option, but his hockey skills aren’t up to par.
GM Stan Bowman isn’t afraid to make moves to improve his team. Don’t be surprised to see him add a physical forward before the deadline.