Some people may dread the prospect of their birthday because it means turning a year older, but for several members of the Chicago Blackhawks this season, celebrating birthdays has become something to look forward to.
Johnny Oduya got the party started on Oct. 1 when he scored the go-ahead goal as the Blackhawks knocked off the Washington Capitals. On Dec. 27, Patrick Sharp celebrated his 32nd birthday by picking up a hat trick in a big win over the Colorado Avalanche. Finally, 35-year old Marian Hossa scored a gorgeous goal and added an assist in Sunday’s victory over the Edmonton Oilers.
Those kinds of birthday performances raise an interesting question for Hawks fans: Which player performs best on their birthday?
Unfortunately for Duncan Keith, Andrew Shaw, Ben Smith and Michal Rozsival, they will never know the joy of playing an NHL game on their birthday, as they were born during the summer.
In addition to those guys, a slew of other players have never hit the ice on their special day. Corey Crawford is the oldest guy on the team at 29 years old to never play on his birthday (Dec. 31). Kris Versteeg (May 15), Brandon Bollig (Jan. 31), and Brandon Saad (Oct. 27) also are in that group. Perhaps the most surprising addition of all to that club is captain Jonathan Toews, who despite making the playoffs in five consecutive seasons has never played a game on April 29.
That leaves 12 players on the current Blackhawks roster who have played games on their birthdays. Here is the breakdown of those guys:
There are a couple of notable performances of guys on the list. Hjalmarsson has only played twice on his birthday, with both games coming in big-time playoff games. He picked up two assists in a Game 4 win over the Los Angeles Kings in 2013, and he played some great defensive hockey in a Game 5 victory over the Flyers in the 2010 Stanley Cup Final.
Kane’s birthday has been a feast-or-famine affair for the Blackhawks, with three losses by a combined score of 21-5 and one victory that was a 7-1 laugher over the Avalanche.
Finally, there’s Brent Seabrook, whose two goals both came in the same game against the Phoenix Coyotes in 2013.
For the record, the next Blackhawk who will get a chance to improve upon his birthday totals will be Bickell, who will play the Buffalo Sabres on his 28th birthday in March.