By most accounts, it has been quite a rookie season for Nick Schmaltz.
He's scoring, passing with purpose and precision, and showing poise rarely seen from a 21-year-old straight out of college.
The worst faceoff percentages among players with at least 200 attempts
1. Nick Schmaltz, Hawks 28.6%
2. Drake Caggiula, Edm. 39.3%
3. Logan Couture, SJS 39.5%
4. A. Burmistrov, Ari./Wpg. 39.9%
5. Jack Eichel, Buff. 40.1%
(Through Saturday's games)
Now if he could just win a darned faceoff.
Schmaltz, who has played a big part in stabilizing Jonathan Toews' line over the past two months, recently has dropped to play full time on the Chicago Blackhawks' second line with Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin. The trio has shown incredible ability to flummox the opponent, but it would happen more if Schmaltz could win just 40-45 percent of his draws.
"It would be nicer if they won a few draws (and) had the puck right off the bat, and then you've got it maybe for a whole shift," said coach Joel Quenneville before the Hawks defeated Colorado 6-3 on Sunday night at the United Center.
Schmaltz has won just 13 of 63 faceoffs (20.6 percent) in the past six games. For the season, he is at 28.9 percent.
That ranks last in the league, and the next closest among those who have taken more than 200 draws is Edmonton's Drake Caggiula (39.3 percent).
Quenneville expects Schmaltz's numbers to improve as he gets stronger and as he becomes more aware of opponents' tendencies.
"Repetition's part of it," Quenneville said. "(For) younger guys, it's a tough league when these guys have been taking so many draws over their (careers). They know a lot of things that are going to happen prior to the puck being dropped. Strength and quickness are probably the two things (that are most important)."
It may come down to Game 82 before we see if Artemi Panarin once again cashes in on the $1.725 million bonus in his contract. Panarin, who must finish in the top 10 among forwards in goals, assists or points, is tied for ninth in assists and tied for 10th in points.
The assist standings are incredibly tight. Panarin (42 assists) would be in the top four if he had 45, but he'd also be in 15th if he had just 2 less.
In the points race, Panarin (66) is tied with Minnesota's Mikael Granlund, but six players are tied for 12th with 63 points.
Johnny Oduya and Marian Hossa (lower body) sat out Sunday's game against Colorado. Coach Joel Quenneville said he wanted to rest Oduya, who has averaged 4.4 blocks in five games with the Hawks. Hossa was injured Thursday in Ottawa and is considered day to day. … Ryan Hartman notched the fourth game-winning goal of his career Saturday when he scored with 17 seconds left in overtime at Toronto. … Jonathan Toews, who scored twice Sunday, has now reached 20 goals in each of his 10 NHL seasons. ... John Hayden recorded the first 2 assists of his NHL career Sunday. He also had 5 hits and was a plus-3. ... Duncan Keith has at least 1 point in eight of the last 11 games.
He said it:
"Exactly the same. Just a few more gray hairs."
-- Niklas Hjalmarsson on what's different about Johnny Oduya since 2015.