There have been plenty of talks of the Blackhawks needing to find that depth they lost after having to dismantle the Stanley Cup team just a little over a year ago. The Blackhawks might have found that saving grace on the third line.
Michael Frolik, Dave Bolland and Bryan Bickell comprise the most successful line the ‘Hawks have had this season. The trio started producing way back in the first round of the playoffs against Vancouver when Bolland returned from his concussion injury, and they haven’t stopped producing since then.
There were talks that this Blackhawks team would be able to compete for the Stanley Cup this season, but like all predictions, it needed to be taken with a grain of salt. Now that we’ve seen the ‘Hawks in action, those predictions had some truth to them.
It does look like the ‘Hawks have the depth and skill to make another deep run in the playoffs. It’s been the Blackhawks’ offense that has been the most successful.
The ‘Hawks’ offense has scored 17 goals in five games, only second to Colorado in the Western Conference, which has scored 20 goals in six games. The third line has a combined 11 points, six of those being goals.
This line is not going away and will make teams focus on limiting their success. In hockey you hope one of your bottom two lines plays this well because it makes your opponent relocate their efforts to both your top line and one of your bottom lines, and unless the team has the same amount of depth, they will not be able to change things around without affecting one of their lines negatively.
Having a third or fourth line perform so well will make your first and second lines play even better because teams can no longer just focus on your first line. It basically messes with the other team’s strategy, forcing them to make changes they might not feel totally comfortable with.
That’s the advantage the success of the third line gives the Blackhawks a huge advantage over other NHL teams. The success of the third line can open many other doors for this ‘Hawk offense, an offense, when healthy, that can easily be one of the NHL’s best.
Patrick Kane is already onto a great start, amassing a team-leading six points and a rating of plus-2. Patrick Sharp has also played pretty well, but it’s been Marian Hossa who has opened many eyes. A healthy Hossa brings a lot more potential to this team, not only offensively, but defensively. Hossa is one those players who’s amazing offensive ability overshadows his defensive abilities and defensive abilities are normally overlooked.
Things are off to a pretty good start for the Blackhawks. The penalty killing unit looks a lot better than last seasons and has actually scored one more goal than it’s let in, the centers are winning faceoffs, most notably Jonathan Toews winning 17 out of 21 faceoffs on Tuesday’s game, and Corey Crawford is still performing well in the net.
The season is long, but the team and fans can’t be anything but happy about what they’ve seen so far.