Chicago Blackhawks’ Hot And Not: 4 Wins Baby!

The Chicago Blackhawks have won their last four games!  As usual, some players are stepping up more than others.

I’m lucky.  Since last week’s Hot and Not, the Chicago Blackhawks have participated in four tilts.  I’m also lucky in that they’ve won all four of those matchups.  It’s always more fun to watch the Hawks win!

The Chicago Blackhawks now boast a 27-12-5 record, which is good for 59 points, and second place in the league!  All in all, this is an excellent place to be in January.  Because it’s hard to stay motivated throughout an 82-game season.  Especially in January and February.  So let’s get to who doing a better job of it than others.

Who’s Hot: Ryan Hartman

Hartzy was a Not last week, mostly because of getting into some penalty trouble.  Well, guess what?!  Hartman’s had only one penalty in the last four games.  And it was an embellishment on a penalty he drew, for 4-on-4 play.   Oh, and of course there’s the fact that he’s scored four goals and two assists in said games.  In case you didn’t see it, or you happened to forget, here’s Hartman’s beauty of a goal from last Thursday against Buffalo.

On Sunday night against the Preds, Hartzy earned himself his first NHL hat trick.  It involved a puck going in off his hip; but he was at the right place at the right time, in front of the net.  And then he added two empty netters at the end of the game to help give the Hawks a 5-2 win.  Even as a rookie, Hartman is finding ways to contribute.

Hartman now has 10 goals and nine assists in 40 games.  His 10 goals is currently tied for fourth place among all NHL rookies.

Who’s Not: Brent Seabrook

Unfortunately, Seabs was also a Not last week.  Uh, oh.  That’s not a good sign.  Seabrook seems to be in a bit of a slump right now.  On Thursday night against the Buffalo, Seabs was responsible for the turnover that led to the Sabre’s first goal.  On Friday night against Carolina, he found himself on the bench for the final six minutes of a one-goal game.

Seabrook’s ice time is definitely down, and this is because Coach Q has lost some confidence in him.  He’s not defending very well.  He’s being careless with the puck, and he seems to have lost his touch when it comes to positioning.  He’s also not shooting well; his shot percentage is way down from the last two seasons.  He’s not playing well with Brian Campbell, and he’s not playing well with Michal Kempny.  At some point you have to wonder what’s going wrong.

Who’s Hot:  Patrick Kane

Kane might not be lighting the lamp like he did last year.  Instead, he’s taking a little bit more of an under the radar approach.  Kane is adding apples like there’s no tomorrow.  Against Buffalo, he had one goal and two assists.  Against Carolina, he earned an assist on Panarin’s power play goal.  Against Nashville, Kane was credited with three assists.  And against Detroit, he tallied yet another assist.  His 33 helpers are now one away from Connor McDavid for the NHL lead.

Who’s Not:  Michal Kempny

Poor Kempny can’t seem to find his groove.  Fortunately, he’s guaranteed a little bit more playing time now that Gustav Forsling has been sent down to the AHL.  But it hasn’t added up to much.  Since scoring two goals in two games last week, Kempny has struggled.  He’s had some bad turnovers, and his ice time is down.

I think Kempny would be better served to play on the third defensive pairing instead of the second.  He played well with Seabrook in the past, but that doesn’t seem to be working anymore.  Give him some time to get his feet under him against lesser competition, and then go from there.

Who’s Hot: Duncan Keith

Some might say that Keith isn’t having the best season compared to past years.  But he’s had an assist in the last four games.  On Sunday, Keith’s assist on Niklas Hjalmarsson’s goal made 487 career points, which tied Chris Chelios for third most points in Blackhawks’ franchise history for a defenseman.  His 29 assists now ranks fourth in the league.

To top things off, Keith scored the game-winning goal in overtime to beat the Detroit Red Wings 4-3 last night.  Surprisingly, it was only his second goal of the year, but it comes at a good time.

Who’s Not: Jordin Tootoo

This is like preaching to the choir, because it’s been like this all season.  Toots was a healthy scratch against Buffalo.  Against Carolina, he played 4:29 minutes.  Versus the Predators, his TOI was a whopping 7:26.  I’m pretty sure this is a record for him.  When Detroit came to town, Tootoo was back to 5:55 minutes of ice time.  He has yet to contribute with a point all season.

So why play him at all?  Well, I guess the point is that Tootoo is a placeholder while Coach Q figures out who he really wants to take the ice in the playoffs.  As long as the Hawks keep winning, we as fans have to struggle with putting up with Tootoo being a non-factor.

It was actually hard to figure out who to highlight as Hot this week.  Lots of players are doing really good things.  It was also a task to pinpoint the Nots.  Even players that aren’t contributing points right now are doing good things.  The team seems to be progressing.

Although we have to remember the last four wins have been against mediocre competition.  Let’s see how the Chicago Blackhawks fare against two of the top teams in the league.  Friday brings on the Washington Capitals, and on Sunday the Hawks host the Minnesota Wild.

Keep up the good work.

Let’s Go Hawks!!!

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