Michael Frolik finally on board in Hawks’ 6th straight win
Adam L. jahns ON THE blackhawks March 2, 2011 11:00PM
Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM
Winger Michael Frolik tried a few different ways to explain his 32-game goal drought Wednesday when pressed about it before the Blackhawks hosted the Calgary Flames.
Frolik used the appropriate cliché, describing it as a “little monkey” on his back. He mimicked holding his stick too tight, declaring his hope for “some lucky bounce.” He also joked around, saying it was because “some magic or something where it just can’t go in.”
“It’s been awhile, so I’m kind of stressed a little bit,” he said. “Hopefully, it’s going to come.”
It came on Wednesday. In the end, it took a nice pass from Jake Dowell and some good hands in tight to end it as Frolik scored with 1:35 left in the first period. It also was his first point as a Hawk, and he later added two assists.
Frolik’s linemates, Dowell and Troy Brouwer, and coach Joel Quenneville have issued messages of patience and encouragement. But Frolik was putting some pressure on himself.
Frolik is a key part of what the Hawks can and will do going forward. He knows that. He knows he was acquired to score and be a consistent offensive threat.
“I would like to help the team more with some goals or points,” said Frolik, who had consecutive 21-goal seasons to begin his career. “I feel more comfortable every day. I know the guys now and the coaches. It’s better than the start. Hopefully, it will turn [for me].”
If Frolik starts clicking at any rate, the Hawks will be a deeper team than some thought. The Hawks will have a scorer with a decent resumé and a renewed confidence who could move up the lineup when called upon. Right now, they’re letting him work out the kinks and find a comfort zone in their system.
“I don’t want to put pressure on him to think, ‘You’ve gotta score, you’ve gotta score,’ ’’ Quenneville said. “Obviously, I’m sure he’d love to score. . . . [But] I like his game. He’s doing what we want him to do, and he complements how we want to play as a team. He’s responsible without the puck. He’s in the right areas.”
An extended scoring drought can be a huge distraction. It can change and test a player’s resolve, especially when you’re expected to produce, and the media make sure you know you’re not.
Frolik’s drought was probably a factor in the Florida Panthers’ willingness to give up on a 23-year-old forward. Frolik had dropped from the first line. The pressure, it seemed, was winning.
That same type of pressure doesn’t exist in Chicago. Frolik could be considered the fifth- or sixth-best scorer on the Hawks.
“The pressure is lower, for sure,” Frolik said. “But you still want to do your job and try to help the team and score some goals and get some points.”
The Hawks were still winning because of Frolik, despite his lack of production. He’s a bigger offensive threat than Jack Skille, whom he was traded for, and teams have to compensate for him because he simply has the puck more.
“Jack had the great speed, and he really wanted to use that,’’ said Dowell, who has played with both. ‘‘He’d drive from the outside and take pucks to the net. Michael is just a different style of player. He’s a bit more finesse, but he works hard. He’s always trying to read off of everybody else. They’re both good players, but they’re completely different styles.”
Frolik’s style is what the Hawks — who prided themselves on having a bevy of similarly skilled players last season — needed. His arrival has opened things up for others.
“[Frolik has] proved he can score at our level, and his production over the last couple of years is pretty high-end — we haven’t [even] gotten there yet,” Quenneville said. “Jack’s more of a pace guy and more physical, and [Frolik’s] probably more positionally strong [with] more offensive skill.”