Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011
By Tracey Myers
Statistics abound in hockey. Points, time on ice, hits, plus-minus, etc. Whatever the numbers, good or bad, players are usually judged by them.
And for Chicago Blackhawks Brian Campbell, one number shows hes doing pretty darn well.
Campbell is a plus-23 this season, including a plus-10 in his last seven games. Its a gaudy digit, for sure; Campbell was a plus-18 last year and had a career-best plus-28 with the Buffalo Sabres in 2006-07. Its a testament of how reliable and key Campbell has been.
Theres a reason why youre plus-23. Its pretty remarkable, coach Joel Quenneville said. Hes out there against good players and playing big minutes. Its an indication that things are going pretty well.
Captain Jonathan Toews said the plus-minus is something that definitely shows how youre playing. Maybe you dont have all the points or goals but the plus-minus shows the effect you have on linemates and teammates. Maybe youre not always the first or second assist or not always scoring goals, but youre involved in the play.
Campells logged plenty of minutes this season and has played in every situation. Hes gotten comfortable with the Blackhawks these past few seasons and said hes learned plenty from Quenneville, a former defenseman himself.
There are a lot of just simple, easy things that he stresses: good stick positioning, good gap, just a lot of positioning in our own zone, when not to attack, staying in front of the net and not attacking plays that arent dangerous plays, Campbell said. Its been good. I feel really comfortable in his game plan right now.
Patrick Sharp said Campbells comfort level is evident.
Its as good as weve seen him play these last two years. Hes been very underrated for our team, Sharp said. Hopefully he continues to play like that for us.
Then theres Campbells partnership with Niklas Hjalmarsson. Campbell said hes been partners with the Swede longer than anyone else in his career, and the familiarity breeds results on the ice. Hjalmarsson, who was a minus-9 while Campbell was hurt and is a plus-8 now, noted his partners steady on-ice demeanor.
Hes very confident with the puck and always calm. That affects me. You know what youre going to get from him every night, Hjalmarsson said. He was good last season, too, but I dont know if Ive seen him play as good as he has this season. Hes been outstanding.
Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and Carolina forward Eric Staal were selected as All-Star Game captains on Tuesday. Jonathan Toews said last week he didnt expect to be selected as an All-Star captain and sounded relieved on Tuesday that he wouldnt have to be picking teammates.
Now we can joke with each other about who gets picked before the other guy, Toews said. I guess it couldve been fun, but Ill be more comfortable sitting on the outside. Theres no reason I want to take all that pressure right off the bat.
Patrick Sharp, meanwhile, said he thinks Staal could pick him.
Staals from my hometown (Thunder Bay, Ontario), so he better draft me. But I have a feeling hes going to make me wait it out, he said. Either way well be having fun with it.
Bears or Packers?
With the Bears hosting the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship this weekend, the Blackhawks were taking sides. The teams two Wisconsin natives, Jack Skille and Jake Dowell, were firmly in the Packers corner. Others were going with the Bears.
Thats funny, because all of a sudden they became huge Packers fans, Sharp said of Skille and Dowell. Thats fine. I know my boy Robbie Gould and the Bears are going to pull it out.
Toews said itll make for interesting viewing this Sunday.
Im sure everyones going to be glued to a TV somewhere taking it all in, he said. I wish those guys (Bears) the best. Itd be awesome to see another team here do what we did last year.
And Quennevilles take?
I love football. Lets go Bears.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.