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Of new Blackhawks, Dan Carcillo grades out the best

Hawks winger Daniel Carcillo checks Jets center Mark Scheifele inboards first period as Chicago Blackhawks host Winnipeg Jets Thursday October

Hawks winger Daniel Carcillo checks Jets center Mark Scheifele into the boards in the first period as the Chicago Blackhawks host the Winnipeg Jets Thursday October 13, 2011 at the United Center. | Tom Cruze~Sun-Times

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Updated: December 3, 2011 8:21AM

Of course, there are still things left for the Blackhawks to improve, starting with their power play. Coach Joel Quenneville will tell you that any day.

But at 7-2-2, including a 5-0-2 record at the United Center, the Hawks had the successful opening month they needed, with a rough road schedule looming in November.

‘‘We haven’t gotten to the level to where we have to be,’’ Quenneville said. ‘‘There have been some good signs. We’re more consistent in our team game. There are areas in all our games to get better. There’s still a higher level of pace we can get at.”

The Hawks’ stars are leading the way, but their new guys have played roles in the team’s success.
Still, some of them need to improve, too.

Here’s a breakdown of how the new guys in town have fared:

F Andrew Brunette

Stats: 11 games,
2 goals, 5 points, minus-3 rating, 15 shots.

Back check: Brunette would be the first to tell you he could be better. He recently admitted that he still was trying to connect with his new teammates on the ice. He was brought in partly to help the power play, which didn’t produce in the opening month. His two power-play goals, which he scored in the first three games, lead the team.

Grade: C.

F Daniel Carcillo

Stats: 7 games, 2 assists, plus-5 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 25 hits.

Back check: He’s proving to be more than the rowdy fighter he’s often billed as. He’s driving to the net, causing traffic and even making nifty passes to linemates Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. Carcillo also has been physical without the penalty trouble. He leads the Hawks in hits despite sitting out four games because of suspensions.

Grade: A.

<<< G Ray Emery

Stats: 2-0-0 in 2 starts, .915 save per-
centage, 2.50 goals-against average.

Back check: He has shaken off an average preseason with two victories in his first two starts. Emery’s rebound control could be better, but Quenneville has been very pleased with his performance. It’s hard to argue against him.

Grade: B.

D Sami Lepisto

Stats: 3 games, plus-1 rating,
1 shot.

Back check: The Hawks’ system definitely fits him, but the team has enough puck-movers. Still, he remains a solid depth signing and had sound outings in place of veteran Sean O’Donnell the last two games.

Grade: Incomplete.

F Jamal Mayers

Stats: 11 games, 2 goals, 3 points, minus-1 rating, 17 penalty minutes, 12 shots, 15 hits, faceoff winning percentage of 60.

Back check: He has done what he was signed for, fighting three times, but he has done more. Mayers has helped kill penalties, has done well in the faceoff circle and has been a calm presence in the locker room. Any scoring he provides is a bonus.

Grade: B-plus.

D Steve Montador

Stats: 11 games, 1 assist, plus-3 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 11 shots, 10 blocks.

Back check: Montador deserves credit for overcoming a bad camp and a rough debut in which he saw shifts on the fourth line. Now he’s playing like the solid fifth defenseman the Hawks hoped he’d be when they traded for him. He’s scrappy around the net, and he even has shown a knack for offensive creativity.

Grade: B.

D Sean O’Donnell

Stats: 9 games, 3 assists, even rating, 4 penalty minutes, 5 shots, 11 blocks, 11 hits.

Back check: There’s not much to complain about if O’Donnell is the sixth defenseman and he continues his reliable play. What he lacks in speed, he makes up for with smarts. He’s averaging two minutes per game on the penalty kill, giving others a much-needed breather. It looks as though Quenneville will give him some games off, but you know what to expect when he’s in the lineup.

Grade: B-plus.

F Rostislav Olesz

Stats: 2 games, 0 points, minus-1 rating, 2 penalty minutes, 1 shot.

Back check: With a salary-cap hit of more than $3 million, Olesz has turned into the most expensive regular scratch in the league. The Hawks call it a numbers game, saying it’s hard to change a lineup when things are going well. But when defenseman John Scott gets the first nod at wing against two division opponents, that says a lot more.

Grade: Incomplete.

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