Chicago Blackhawks’ Who’s Hot, Who’s Not: Schmaltz Looks Brand New

The Cicago Blackhawks are in the midst of a three-game funk, and the negatives are certainly outweighing the positives

Tuesday night’s battle between the Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks had playoff atmosphere all over it. While the 3-1 end result isn’t at all what the Blackhawks faithful wanted, this game was definitely a fight till the end between two contending teams.

The great goaltending was the story in this one with Sharks netminder Martin Jones ultimately prevailing. Once again, an empty third period is what ‘Hawks fans will take from this grudge match that could have gone either way.

What’s been the issue here? Honestly, this looks to be more of mental lapse than anything.

Regardless, the Blackhawks will need to figure out a solution to their problems quickly. The schedule is getting extremely close to crunch time where the Chicago Blackhawks simply cannot afford to remain treading the current path they’re on.

In this week’s “Who’s Hot, Who’s Not”, the negatives are far more prominent than the positives. The lines continue to blend in search of the desired cohesion required to pull this team out of the dark. Goaltending has not been at the same level we were growing used to seeing at the beginning of the year.

What’s been positive throughout the last couple of weeks? Let’s take a closer look at both!

Who’s Hot: Jonathan Toews

Oh Captain! How we’ve missed production coming from the Blackhawks’ cornerstone, Jonathan Toews. Of course his numbers as of late are not outrageous by any means; it’s the simple fact that Toews has been noticeable that earns him a spot on the list.

Over the last four games of the season, Toews has tacked on two goals and four assists to what has been down year. His four-point night against Vancouver was possibly the biggest breath of fresh air in light of Toews’ production being at an all-time low.

Let’s just hope Tazer has turned over a new leaf here, and can finish the year off strong.

Who’s Not: Artemi Panarin

The Breadman has slipped into a rare slump after beginning the season seemingly right where last season left off.

January 8 against the Nashville Predators was the last game in which Panarin lit the lamp. This very uncommon occurrence is certainly not helping the struggling Blackhawks, who are in desperate need of his scoring touch.

Maybe it’s time for a little more pucks in net, and a little less “Soup And A Sandwich” skits with fellow Oscar nominee Brian Campbell. Am I right?

Who’s Hot: Nick Schmaltz

In Nick Schmaltz’s first opportunity with the big club, it became very apparent that the rookie out of North Dakota State seemed unsure about what to do with the puck.

Lacking the recognition of plays along with his pass-first mentality was the true caveat to his demotion to Rockford.

It seems that his stint with the Rockford IceHogs was exactly what Schmaltz needed. Schmaltz appears to have broken from his shell of uncertainty, as the 20-year-old seems extra confident with the puck and has lost his hesitation to fire away.

Although he hasn’t received a ton of time on ice from Joel Quenneville, his recent opportunity with the top line certainly bodes well for his chances going forward.

Who’s Not: Blackhawks during third periods

This is going to sound really simple or cut and dry, but the Blackhawks just can’t afford any more mental lapses in the third periods of games.

The current three game-losing streak is the product of poor third periods. We’re really not used to seeing this struggle to finish off games, with the past few seasons proving the great success of the Blackhawks holding leads.

The Tampa Bay Lightning snapping the Blackhawks’ 78-0-5 record dating back to the start of the 2014-15 season for having no losses in regulation when leading after two periods really did a number on the ‘Hawks’ psyche.

Who’s Hot: Tanner Kero

In my last “Hot and Not” post, Kero made the hot list and once again he makes the cut this week. His mention isn’t because of any flashy plays or high-level scoring. Rather, Kero gets the nod for his dependability.

Coach Q has made it very known the young Kero provides a great presence to the bottom six, where he will more than likely remain. Despite having four goals in his 10 games with the ‘Hawks, Kero should not be expected to contribute offensively every night.

His two-way game is what makes him so valuable to the Blackhawks. Hard checking and blocking shots are just a couple of things Kero has exceeded at so far this season. I sure hope he can remain in the bottom six because depth is exactly what the Blackhawks need as the playoffs have almost arrived.

Who’s Not: Corey Crawford

Now, I’m not pointing the finger at Crow as the reason for Chicago’s recent struggles. Since Crawford’s return from injury, the Blackhawks netminder just hasn’t played at the level he was prior.

Lately he’s had serious trouble tracking pucks and giving up far too many rebounds. Again, I believe this to be only a psychological problem that Crawford will turn around, but his troubles are definitely worth noting.

The Blackhawks shouldn’t rely on Crawford to save the day every game as he was doing prior to injury. The defense must improve in front of the net as well.

Do you agree with who made the list? Let us know in the comments below!

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