For the first time in their 23-game point streak, the Chicago Blackhawks have received news that they will be without one of their biggest stars. Those who simply focus on the statistics would call the loss of Patrick Sharp a minor blow, however it’s never easy playing without one of your alternate captains.
Hopefully this shoulder injury doesn’t stop the Hawks from making history. Sharp has been a Hawk since 2005 and was a driving force when the franchise won their first Stanley Cup in 61 years. In that illustrious season Sharp played in 82 games assisting on a career-high 41 goals with 11 postseason goals of his own. 2010 seems like a century ago for Chicago fans that have seen numerous players from that championship leave town.
Although 2013 hasn’t been kind to Sharp with a plus/minus of just plus seven after finishing last season plus 28 in that category, Sharp is one of the elder-statesmen on the young Hawk team at 31-years-old. The experience he brings is unparalleled to any possible replacement.
Sharp’s absence means that Michael Frolik will have a bigger opportunity for this team at right-winger where Frolik has scored 59 goals in five seasons at the NHL level. Frolik is one of the best skaters on the team and like the rest of the Blackhawks is extremely quick with the puck. Look for Frolik’s average time on the ice of 11:42 to jump with Sharp away from the rink.
Patrick Kane will remain the focal point for this offense as he leads the team with 17 goals, but other players are going to have to contribute as long as one of their alternate captains is injured. I don’t think you can underestimate the impact that Sharp has on this advantageous and mega-talented Joel Quenneville coached team.