Shut out by the Minnesota Wild in Game 3 on Tuesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks are finally showing the effects of their leading scorer during the regular season being a blatant no-show during the postseason. In short, Patrick Sharp has been dreadful.
Sharp had the most productive season of his NHL career this year, notching 78 points in 82 games, good for 12th in the league. He looked fast, played with an edge, and stayed completely healthy for the first time since 2009-10. The only knock on Sharp’s game during the 2013-14 season was his nasty tendency to take unnecessary, selfish penalties behind the play.
Sharp’s season effectively ended after game No. 82, because he has yet to show up for the playoffs. Relative to expectations, he has been Chicago’s worst player by far during this postseason; he has constantly turned the puck over (often in some of the worst locations) and has generated next to nothing on offense. The excuse factory is running strong already in a situation rather similar to what is going on with Sidney Crosby. Many believe Sharp is dealing with an injury.
Of course, that excuse hardly flies; several games into the second round, it’s a rare sight for a player not to be playing through one ailment or another. The fact of the matter is that Sharp is in the middle of his worst extended stretch of play since 2005-06, when he was a fringe NHLer playing for a terrible Blackhawks team.
The rest of the team has picked up the slack in his stead, but can’t do so forever. It’s high time for Sharp to start looking like a star again.