Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford makes a save during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Calgary Flames in Chicago, Sunday, Nov. 3, 2013. (AP Photo/Paul Beaty)
It feels like just yesterday that the Chicago Blackhawks were raising their 2013 Stanley Cup championship banner to the rafters, but after the team’s victory Sunday over the San Jose Sharks, the Hawks have already played 21 games into the campaign, just over a quarter of their 82 games they’ll play in the regular season.
After each of those games, Madhouse Enforcer runs a column where we name our Three Stars of the game for the Blackhawks. Whether it was a particular play that stood out, a milestone reached, or just the overall effort a guy puts into the game, we try to recognize the three biggest positive contributors to the Hawks on a given night.
In the spirit of recapping the first quarter of the team’s title defense, we compiled a list of all the “Star” honors we’ve handed out so far this season, and assigned them a point value. For every First Star distinction a player gets, they receive five points. For Second Star, it’s three points, and for Third Star honors, a player gets one point.
We then average it out by the number of games that each player appeared in, and we have come up with the Hawks’ Three Stars for the first quarter of the season (with a couple of honorable mentions too).
Honorable Mention: Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane (0.86)
Kane and Toews have been inexorably linked ever since they entered the league together in 2007. Whether it was the fact that both were nominated for the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year that season (Kane won it), or the fact that the two have each won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP (Toews in 2010, Kane in 2013), the two players are this generation of Hawks’ fans equivalent to Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull.
It shouldn’t be surprising then that Kane and Toews have both been named First Star twice, Second Star twice, and Third Star twice to tie for fifth in these rankings.
Honorable Mention: Brandon Pirri (0.88)
Pirri barely edged out Kane and Toews in the first quarter of the season, receiving two First Star honors in just 16 games with the Hawks. He has come on strong lately, being named a star in two of the Hawks’ last three games.
Third Star: Corey Crawford (0.95)
Crawford has been a dynamite player for the Hawks so far this season, sitting atop the league in wins this season with 13 and with a 2.42 GAA. Because of his consistently solid play this season, Crawford has been honored numerous times in the Three Stars column, with two first place finishes to his credit.
Second Star: Brandon Saad (1.05)
Saad leads the Hawks in First Star honors this season, having gotten that spot four different times already in the early going. He has scored five goals and dished out eight assists so far this season, and has fit in on whichever line head coach Joel Quenneville has placed him on.
First Star: Patrick Sharp (1.10)
Sharp edged out Saad by only one point, with his Third Star finish against the Dallas Stars earlier this month proving to be the deciding factor. Sharp already has 20 points this season, with seven goals and 13 assists to his credit. He also leads the Hawks in shots on goal with 80, and his constant pushing of the offensive tempo has been a huge boost to a Hawks team that started out the year inconsistently on offense but has picked up steam in recent weeks.