1. Patrick Sharp, Forward: He’s been hot recently and is quietly putting together a fantastic season. Sharp’s success has been under the radar due to an MVP-type year from Jonathan Toews and the more flashy production, at times, of Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane. But Sharp’s recent back-to-back overtime winners thrust him back into the spotlight. When Sharp isn’t scoring he’s getting helpers, putting him on pace to match or exceed a career high in assists (41). He has nine goals and three assists in his last eight games and in the middle of it all was a good kind of distraction -- the birth of his first child. This week, the streaking Sharp is a lucky man.
2. Niklas Hjalmarsson, Defenseman: Getting points in three of his last four games constitutes streaking for Hjalmarsson. He’s not expected to be a huge offensive producer but he needs to contribute some on that end of the ice based on the minutes he’s seeing. When he’s shot the puck lately it’s reached the net, creating some offensive chances off rebounds or chaos in front. Look at it this way, Hjalmarsson has five assists already, half of what he had in 80 games last year.
1. Nick Leddy, Defenseman: This is mostly due to point totals because his defense has been decent enough, although he’s minus-2 over his last eight games. That’s mostly due to his production drying up. Leddy did get his 15th assist of the year last game, but that was his first point in seven contests. He hasn’t scored a goal since October, but more important than anything, he hasn’t produced many of his patented rushes with the puck into the offensive zone. He did it routinely in the first 20 games or so. Not as much lately.
2. Ben Smith, Forward: A demotion to the minors is slumping, right? His much anticipated return after last year’s playoff heroics fizzled. He never got a chance to play with the Hawks’ top lines but he didn’t earn it either. Smith just wasn’t as noticeable with or without the puck. He had one point in seven games before being sent to Rockford of the AHL on Monday. He was minus-6, never earning a plus rating in any of the seven games. His slow start could easily be attributed to his preseason concussion. It forced him to play catch-up and he simply didn’t look like the player who was a force in the first round of the playoffs last season.