Patrick Sharp had a terrible start to the postseason, failing to register a point in the first five games of the Chicago Blackhawks‘ series against the St. Louis Blues. More troubling than the lack of production, however, was his play as a whole; he was constantly turning the puck over and was playing dreadful defensive hockey.
The problems persisted even after he managed to get on the score sheet for the first time of the playoffs in Game 6 against the Blues. Sharp remained jumpy with the puck and repeatedly made bad decisions. Despite the awful stretch, Joel Quenneville maintained faith in his star winger and continued to feed him plenty of ice time on scoring lines.
Quenneville’s patience with Sharp hasn’t paid off in raw numbers, but it certainly has helped in a lot of less immediately recognizable ways. Sharp, typically an above average defensive forward, is back to his normal self in Chicago’s zone and finally looks confident on the cycle in the offensive zone as well. Even though the points aren’t quite coming yet, Sharp is getting better and better with each passing game.
It certainly doesn’t hurt to be playing alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, who along with Sharp formed perhaps the most dangerous first line in the NHL during the regular season. The points will come for Chicago’s No. 10 if he continues to trend upward as he has been lately.