Patrick Sharp’s statistics stick out
BY BEN MEYER-ABBOTT email@example.com March 17, 2012 11:44PM
With 61 points in 64 games, Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp is ranked 23rd in the NHL with 0.95 points per game. Sharp scored his seventh game-winning goal Friday against the Dallas Stars. | Tony Gutierrez~AP
The facts: 6, NBCSN, 720-AM.
Updated: April 19, 2012 8:44AM
It was a moment that came to define the first half of Patrick Sharp’s season.
One that displayed his pure scoring ability and that ultimately led to something that has happened too often during his NHL career.
While scoring his 20th goal of the season Jan. 8 against the Detroit Red Wings, Sharp also suffered a broken bone in his left wrist when he was slashed by center Jiri Hudler.
The injury cost the Blackhawks winger the next eight games and — despite being one of only three players in the league with at least 20 goals and 20 assists — reportedly kept him from earning his second consecutive nod as an NHL All-Star.
“When you look at Sharp, you could say he’s one of the most underrated players in the league and probably one of the most underrated players on the team,” Patrick Kane said. “You look at his stats this year, they’re pretty unbelievable stats for how many games he’s played and how many goals he has and how many big goals he seems to have.”
With two goals Friday against the Dallas Stars — including his team-leading seventh game-winner — Sharp tied Marian Hossa for second on the team with 28. And with 10 points (four goals, six assists) in the last seven games, Sharp is a huge reason the Hawks are 7-4-1 in the 12 games Jonathan Toews has missed with a concussion.
“He’s not underrated in our locker room,” center Jamal Mayers said. “He’s a competitive guy, he’s not going to shy away from the opportunity to be an elite player and that’s something that I can tell he strives to be every day.”
Only seven players in the league entered Saturday with more game-winning tallies than Sharp. With 61 points in 64 games, he ranks 23rd in the league with 0.95 points per game. Those stats are made all the more impressive because Sharp reportedly might require surgery at the end of the season to repair his wrist.
“It’s a tough injury to go through with the wrist, and he’s done a great job coming back from it,” Kane said. “He seems like he hasn’t [lost any of his skills].”
Sharp was slated to miss up to a month but rushed his return to the lineup, which didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates.
More than that, it’s easy to make the case that Sharp has been the Hawks’ most important player since his return. In the 22 games since coming back from his injury, Sharp leads the team with 21 points and 13 assists and is tied with Hossa for the most goals during that stretch with eight.
“In the first few games back, it was a little difficult,” Sharp said. “I was a little tentative and nervous to get hit or bump into someone, but after getting hit a few times and shooting a few pucks, it was really a non-issue.”
Coach Joel Quenneville has leaned on Sharp during the Hawks’ 6-1-1 run. The winger leads all forwards in ice time in each of the last three games, including a massive 26:07 against the St. Louis Blues.
“It’s huge for the team now that [Toews] is out,” Kane said. “He’s stepped up, and we’ve followed him. It’s good to have it.”
NOTES: Jonathan Toews (concussion) is expected to miss his 13th consecutive game Sunday after he did not skate or work out for the third day in a row after returning to the ice last week.
◆ Corey Crawford will start in goal Sunday against the Washington Capitals.