Blackhawks Youngsters Dazzling
Over the course of the Chicago Blackhawks 2017-2018 season, the Hawks have relied on youngsters to prop up the struggling veterans. Rookie Alex Debrincat helped pace the team with a red hot November. Gustav Forsling and Jan Rutta teamed up to be the Hawks most consistent defensive pair for a stint. And second year player Jon Hayden anchored a line with two wily veterans who consistently agitate their opponents. So who is at it now?
— Eric Lear (@BHTVeric) December 20, 2017
Jordan Oesterle has not only earned minutes, he has taken the first line pairing with Duncan Keith from the likes of Brent Seabrook and Connor Murphy. Through 14 games, Oesterle has 7 points. More impressively, he has two goals and two assists in the last three games. Oesterle is the offensive player at the blue line that the Hawks have been missing. He moves the puck quickly to the forwards and applies offensive pressure from the point. He also has an elite level Corsi of 55.3.
Vinnie Hinostroza has only played nine games with the Blackhawks this year. He made his debut on Dec. 8 vs. Buffalo, largely because the Hawks needed some speed and a little energy. Boy did they get it. Hinostroza has tallied only four points in his first nine games, but he has scored three in his last three games and has an impressive Corsi at 56.7. Hinostroza looks to be finding his legs, especially alongside Captain Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad. If the last game is any indication, the Hawks have finally found their answer to the first line woes. Obviously the sample size with Hinostroza is small, but the line has not had this chemistry since the second game of the year.
Finally, David Kampf is making his mark with the Chicago Blackhawks. He has only played four games as the third line center, but he is growing each game. Last night in the tilt against the New York Rangers, Kampf notched his first NHL point. Aside from that, his stats don’t jump off the page. But sometimes, a players worth is not entirely wrapped in stats. Last night, during the Hawks six times on the penalty kill, Kampf found himself in the first grouping. He was very active disrupting the Rangers’ flow at the blue line. Coach Quenneville obviously sees something special in this youngster to put him in critical situations like he did last night. To further prove the point, Kampf was tasked with a late faceoff deep in the Hawks defensive zone while they were holding on to a one point lead.
The continuing impressive play from Vinnie Hinostroza and David Kampf could mean that Richard Panik sees fewer and fewer minutes. Or, their play could ignite a fire under Panik that allows him to return to form. Either way, the Hawks win. We will find out more on Friday night as the Hawks host the West leading Vegas Golden Knights.
Come back to BlueHQMedia on Saturday for a full story.