Mmmmmmmmm, pie.

I’m going to give an abbreviated breakdown of the community responses and their respective stats today. I’ll be grouping player by line or defensive pairing and then giving the aggregate rankings for each player while listing the line’s total stats instead of individuals. Again, thanks to everyone that has been participating. We’re going to try and keep on the ball with these, but the spread out nature of the schedule has made it a little difficult, and participation went down from the first time we did it so there’s not as much data to draw from. Again, all advanced stats are pulled from the Extra Skater advanced box, the standard stats from the NHL.com box and shift charts are now available and the sparkly new shiftchart.com.

Joel Quenneville

Average Rating: 6.65

Lower than he received for the first two games, that’s for certain. I’m guessing the decline is lineup related as Joakim Nordstrom still looks overmatched and Brandon Bollig’s usefulness hasn’t really shown up since the first period of the first game. I will give credit to Joel for this, though. He’s not allowing his defencemen to get complacent. As he’s carrying eight of them to start the season, they’ve now all seen action through the first three games. The powerplay has also kicked up, while the PK remains questionable. Let’s get to those.

The Powerplay

Average Rating: 9.27

When you lose to the Blues, it’s nice to have a positive like this to take away from the game. The usually woeful powerplay was 2 for 2, and they scored those two goals pretty quickly with the extra skater. This unit is looking much better to start the new campaign. The two goals were also scored by the two most important forwards on the team.

Penalty Kill

Average Rating: 3.95

It’s bad. I have little to offer in the way of remedy for it, too. Or even something that points to it turning around. Hjalmarrson, Kruger and Handzus led the Hawks in SH TOI. Hammer has been hot and cold to start the season, but it looks like his improvements have come in the form of skating and looking for his game a little more in the offensive zone. That doesn’t help the penalty kill. Handzus and Kruger have been getting worked this season. Kruger in the dot. Handzus in the “I can’t keep up with other players, even the plodding Blues” department. Something has to change here. The Kill was a very important part of Chicago’s success last season.

Corey Crawford

Aggregate Rating: 6.59

Stats: 31 saves on 34 shots. 2 saves on 3 shots while shorthanded. Team CORSI of -1, team Fenwick of -6.

A reasonably decent game from the netminder and I won’t fault him too much for giving up the game winner on a 3 on 1 despite getting a piece of the puck. You’d like Crawford to stop that, but you don’t expect it. Once again, the Hawks allowed a PPG but they did manage to kill off another to start the third period which Crawford never saw a shot reach him. He saved two long distance shots on the first Blues PP (62 foot slap shot, 36 foot wrister) but Backes tipped a shot from the point in off a lost faceoff by Kruger. Can’t fault Crawford for giving that one up, either. I gave the Hawks’ netminder a 9.

The Top Line

Average Aggregate Rating: 6.92 (Toews 6.65, Kane 8.32, Bickell 5.78)

Aggregate Stats: 2 G, 2 A (Kane primary, Toews secondary), 4 P, -2 (+/-), 3 penalties taken (Bickell 2x, Toews), Toews 9 of 20 in the dot (45%), 2 penalties drawn (Bickell, Toews)

Aggregate Advanced Stats: -9 CORSI, -13 Fenwick

That’s not very pretty when you take out the powerplay success, is it? Especially the Toews penalty he took defending Hjalmarsson. Bickell can’t take two penalties in a game either. Both Toews and Bicks drew one which sort of makes up for those three taken, but not really. Their possession numbers aren’t woeful, but they aren’t good either. Bickell was even in CORSI, Kane and Toews were minuses. This line needs to do better against a team that can’t keep up with them. Create more space and take advantage of it.

Top Pairing

Aggregate Rating: 6.62 (Keith  7.30, Seabrook 5.95)

Aggregate Stats: 0 G, 0 A, 0 P, -4 (+/-), 0 penalties drawn/taken

Aggregate Advanced Stats: +1 CORSI, +1 Fenwick

Yeah, Seabrook probably shouldn’t pinch with 20 seconds left in a tie game on the road. Let’s just get that out there and past it. Otherwise, in a game where the Hawks really fell off the possession pace by the middle of the second period, this pairing kept its head above water. Keith wasn’t overtaxed (23:40 TOI) and Seabrook actually skated 14 more seconds than his partner did.  They were on the ice for both ES goals the Blues scored, but the first one was Hossa’s fault, not theirs.

2nd Line

Aggregate Rating: 6.14 (Sharp 7.73, Hossa 5.62, Handzus 5.05)

Aggregate Stats: 0 G, 2 A (1 primary, 1 secondary both Sharp), 2 P, -4 (+/-), Handzus 4 of 10 in the dot (40%), Sharp 3 of 4 in the dot (75%), 0 penalties taken, 1 penalty drawn (Sharp).

Aggregate Advanced Stats: Even CORSI, +1 Fenwick

Handzus dragged this entire line down. He was the only negative possession player (-6 CORSI, -4 Fenwick). He didn’t do his job in the faceoff circle which is the one thing you’re expecting out of him. He can’t keep up with the two wingers he’s centering. Why is Brandon Pirri in Rockford again? I’ll ask this question again when we get to the fourth line because it’s even more apparent there.

2nd Pairing

Aggregate Rating: 7.16 (Hjalmarsson 7.49, Oduya 6.84)

Aggregate Stats: 0 G, 0 A, 0 P, even (+/-), 0 penalties drawn, 1 penalty taken (Oduya)

Aggregate Advanced Stats: +11 CORSI, +1 Fenwick

Not a bad night for the Swedes. They pushed possession in a game that saw the Blues win that overall battle. That said, they did see much softer zone starts than the first two games. About 29% of their zone starts came in the defensive zone. Perhaps the first two games made Q think differently about how he should deploy this pair. Or, perhaps against a team like St. Louis that tries to make these two fixtures on the endboards, Q opted to give the tougher assignments to his top pairing. Either way, they did well in the starts they were given. Oduya’s only missteps came on the penalty kill.

3rd Line

Aggregate Rating: 6.51 (Saad 8.05, Shaw 6.73, Hayes 4.76)

Aggregate Stats: 0 G, 0 A, 0 P, even (+/-), Shaw 4 of 9 in the faceoff dot (44.4%), Saad 2 of 3 in the faceoff dot (66%), 0 penalties taken, 1 penalty drawn (Shaw)

Aggregate Advanced Stats: +14 CORSI, +2 Fenwick

Hayes received the lowest ranking from the community among these three but actually had the best game on the stat sheet. While he didn’t factor into faceoffs, he was the highest CORSI performer and the Fenwick wouldn’t even register without his presence. I like this 3rd line. Of course, that means it’s changing Friday against the Isles with Hayes getting bumped and sapling Joakim Nordstrom continuing to get pushed around on the 4th line.

3rd Pairing

Aggregate Rating: 5.27 (Leddy 6.51, Brookbank, 4.03)

Aggregate Stats: 0 G, 0 A, 0 P, even (+/-), 1 (needless) penalty taken, 0 penalties drawn

Aggregate Advanced Stats: -8 CORSI, -8 Fenwick

Congrats to Sheldon Brookbank for keeping alive the tradition of the fight within 2 minutes of puck drop that probably didn’t mean anything. Other than that, he didn’t contribute much and was generally helping the Blues possess the puck (-5 in both CORSI and Fenwick). Leddy will see Rozsival return to the lineup tonight and that’ll be a welcome sight. If Brookbank plays more than 10-12 games this year, that would be unfortunate. Not because he’s earning his pay, but because it means someone probably got hurt on the blue line. Brookbank is the “break glass in case of emergency” defenceman on this team.

4th Line

Aggregate Rating: 4.72 (Kruger 4.65, Bollig 4.97, Nordstrom 4.54)

Aggregate Stats: 0 G, 0 A, 0 P, even (+/-), Kruger got absolutely destroyed in the dot and I won’t make you look at the actual numbers, 0 penalties drawn/taken

Aggregate Advanced Stats: Even CORSI, +1 Fenwick

As much as I’d like to complain about Nordstrom here, I won’t. Just look at how you all ranked them. Bollig got the highest rating among the three and I’m inclined to agree with it. No matter how you shake out the first two spots, the bottom of it is Kruger. This is the soft underbelly of this team right now. Last year, depth made the Blackhawks great. This year, it’s holding them back so far. Brandon Pirri or Jeremy Morin have to be more valuable on the big club than they are in Rockford. Kruger isn’t getting sent back. Nor is Bollig, despite all those eyelashes I blew off my finger. Nordstrom, while having a somewhat positive game, just isn’t ready for the NHL game. Why not reward the players down in Rockford that have put in their time and allow Nordstrom to get more minutes in Rockford than he does up here? Wouldn’t that be better for his development than skating 10 minutes a night up here? Wouldn’t it also be better for the team as a whole? Good job, good effort in training camp. The signs are there that the small sample size of training camp is about to be outweighed by a larger sample size against real NHL competition.