Blackhawks’ Michael Frolik hopes time on top line will jump-start his offense
BY MARK LAZERUS firstname.lastname@example.org March 24, 2013 10:53PM
Chicago Blackhawks Vs Los Angeles Kings. 1St Period. Chicago Blackhawks No.67 Michael Frolik looks to score as Los Angeles Kings No.10 Mike Richards slides across the goal cage to stop Frolik from scoring. February 17, 2013 I Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Michael Frolik still considers himself to be an offensive player. His back-to-back 21-goal seasons to open his career with the Florida Panthers are proof of it. But in 119 career games with the Blackhawks, he has scored only nine goals.
Last season, Frolik’s inability to put the puck in the net — he scored only five goals — got to him. This season, he’s scoring even less — his lone goal came in the season opener against the Los Angeles Kings — but his frustration isn’t boiling over this time.
‘‘Last year, I was pretty hard on myself,’’ the 25-year-old winger said. ‘‘I put too much pressure on [myself], and when it doesn’t go in, you think about it and it’s in your head. [Now] I just try to learn from it and don’t worry about the points and goals and just try to help the team.’’
His newfound prowess on the penalty-killing unit and the fourth line’s recent strong road trip have made the lack of goals easier to swallow. But with Marian Hossa likely out Monday against the Kings — Hossa’s apparent shoulder injury has kept him off the ice since he was hurt last week in Colorado — Frolik will get a shot on the Hawks’ top line, alongside Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad.
Coach Joel Quenneville said he hopes it sparks Frolik.
‘‘He doesn’t have the production to reflect how well he’s been playing,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘The finish is the one area where it’d be nice to be a little more patient and comfortable. He’s going to get some higher-quality opportunities. Don’t force it, don’t change too much. Just in the offensive areas, cash it in.’’
Riding a 27-game goal-less drought — he has only three assists during that span, too — Frolik welcomes the opportunity.
‘‘I don’t have that [many] points, but I think my game is kind of there, just the goals didn’t go in,’’ he said. ‘‘The team is playing great, and I’m glad to be a part of it. And hopefully I can have more chances now and do something.”
Third-line center Andrew Shaw missed practice with an illness, but Quenneville said he was ‘‘optimistic’’ Shaw would play Monday. Marcus Kruger took his spot during practice, with Jamal Mayers centering the fourth line.
Crawford to start
Corey Crawford will start in goal Monday, and Ray Emery will play Tuesday against the Calgary Flames. On Feb. 2 in Calgary, Emery made 45 saves and stopped all three shootout attempts to steal a victory for the Hawks.