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Atop the Sugar Pile – Winter Slog

It’s time once again for the good, the bad, and the mildly entertaining in all things Blackhawks. This has been a rather relentless part of the schedule, and even though the Hawks will see New Jersey and New York for what may be a bit of a respite, they still have four more games before the All-Star break. Let’s see where we’re at as we get to the end of this death march through January:

The Dizzying Highs

Alex DeBrincat: Sounding a little like a broken record here but in the best way possible. Top Cat has been a force lately, and lord knows we need all the help we can get. He scored twice last night and has five goals in the last week. He’s a fixture on the first power play unit, and he’s a huge part of why the man advantage has actually been, well, advantageous lately (five pp goals since right before Christmas). His shooting percentage is 17.2 right now, and while you’d expect that to decline a little, last season he ended with a 15.5, so there’s every reason to expect he can sorta keep this up. Let’s fucking hope so.

Patrick Kane: You know he’s good, we know he’s good. Sam wrote about the year Garbage Dick is having so I won’t re-hash it here, but in the last week and a half he’s racked up 10 points, including a goal and an assist last night, and he had a playmaker a week back, just for good measure.

The Terrifying Lows

Artem Anisimov. You know he sucks, we know he sucks. Apparently everyone does and yet there he still is on the second line. Despite starting nearly 60% of the time in the offensive zone, and despite playing on a line with one of the best players in the game having one of his best years, ‘ole Wide Dick is underwater in possession (48.9 CF%) and makes multiple dumb mistakes every game that cost his line quality chances. I’ve lost count of the times I make a note during a game about him fumbling a pass, losing a puck in his feet, and basically just standing there staring at things. He’s officially reached “glacial” as the speed at which he skates, and overall is a complete waste of space while also being doubly annoying as the moron not helping them take advantage of Kane’s current performance, and taking what should be Alex DeBrincat’s spot. I know it’s not Arty himself making that decision, but as the useless oaf inexplicably placed there, he’s going to face some wrath.

The Creamy Middles

Collin Delia. I honestly want to put him in the Dizzying Highs really just as a mark of appreciation for what this guy’s putting up with, but let’s be honest about the win/loss column lately. Still, three of his four recent losses came in OT which is stupid anyway, and his play is a big reason why they even made it to those overtimes (particularly against the Flames last week) in the first place. He’s got a .932 SV% with THIS defense in front of him, and with Jokiharju not being around the last couple weeks they had all of about 2.5 functioning defensemen. Delia’s been good.

Jonathan Toews. It’s been a little while since Toews has made the Sugar Pile and I guess we’ve just accepted that he’s good again and taken it as a given. He’s got five points in his last five games, including a gorgeous short-handed goal against the Predators the other night. His 50.8 CF% isn’t mind-blowing but it’s getting the job done, and that’s with just over half his starts in the offensive zone. If he can score consistently and the top line can stay as reliable as it’s been most of the year, this team will remain much more bearable to watch.

 

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