Patrick Sharp’s on a winging streak
By Adam L. Jahns firstname.lastname@example.org December 17, 2011 8:40PM
CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 16: Patrick Sharp #10 of the Chicago Blackhawks tries to shoot under pressure from Sheldon Brookbank #21 of the Anaheim Ducks at the United Center on December 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Blackhawks defeated the Ducks 4-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) R:\Merlin\Getty_Photos\135916883.jpg
The facts: 6, Ch. 9, 720-AM.
Updated: January 19, 2012 11:12AM
Patrick Sharp chalks up his success this season to just about everything.
He credits being on the opposite wing from Marian Hossa for the first time, the effectiveness of the Blackhawks’ power play, the coaches using him in all situations and so on.
Sharp, who’ll turn 30 Dec. 27, is not as young as some of his teammates, but he’s still capable of improving year after year. He’s showing he can still be one of the best left wings in the NHL.
“I don’t know if it’s any one thing in particular,” Sharp said. “We have a good team this year, and we’re healthy. Hopefully, we can stay that way. I don’t know if it’s a hot streak or luck, but I feel like I’m working hard, and we’re working hard as a line.”
Last season, Sharp had a blazing run in the first half en route to an All-Star selection and 34 goals. He had a career high in points with 71, and if he hadn’t gotten hurt, a career high in goals (he had 36 in 2007-08) was in sight.
Sharp didn’t feel like he had the same start to this season.
“I missed training camp [after an emergency appendectomy], and it took me the month of October to figure things out,” Sharp said.
But he has made up for it fast.
Sharp is on a career-best eight-game point streak, the longest active streak in the NHL. In that span, Sharp has seven goals and five assists. In the last 16 games, he has 12 goals and 22 points.
There is one significant difference for Sharp this season: He has played left wing in every game. He’s not at center anymore.
While coach Joel Quenneville said Saturday that using Sharp in the middle is always something to turn to “on a need basis,” there’s really no reason to move him. Heading into Saturday’s games, Sharp was tied with the Vancouver Canucks’ Daniel Sedin for the most points for a left wing at 34. But Sharp’s 23 even-strength points led all left wings.
Just like Patrick Kane and Hossa had their first real chance to play together earlier in the season with Kane at center, Quenneville can finally use Sharp and Hossa at opposite wings for the first time because of the emergence of rookie center Marcus Kruger.
“This is the first time we’ve played with each other both on the wing,’’ said Sharp, who has 17 goals. ‘‘Usually, I’m in the middle.
“I don’t know if that has anything to do with it. [Kruger] has played really well. I know he’s not putting up huge numbers, but he’s doing all the right things out there. He’s creating space, [and] he’s making plays. It’s working well now.”
Sharp’s plus-15 rating only trails Hossa (plus-17) for the team lead. He also leads the Hawks with 11 power-play points and has four game winners, including two in overtime. Sharp has 30 takeaways and 35 hits and is averaging a team-high 3.7 shots per game.
He has done it all from the wing.
“I know in October you kind of relearn the position again,” Sharp said. “You find out when you have the opportunities to take off [and] what the responsibilities are defensively. I’ve played  games in the same spot now. It’s starting to become pretty natural.”