Hawk Talk: Sharpen Up
On pace for over 40 goals and the league leader in shorties, he should be there. Add a respectable +11 for a team hovering at .500 and a shooting percentage that ranks 4th in the league, it all but should have sealed the deal. But that's not the case, as the powers that be decided guys like Henrik Sedin, Paul Stastny, and Anze Kopitar deserved it more.
Now don't get me wrong, those guys are good players. But Sharp is more deserving. Yeah, Sedin has 35 assists -- but only seven lousy goals. C'mon. Kopitar is a -12 for a team 12 games under.500. There were plenty of years when the Hawks did not have an All-Star representative. Do the Kings really deserve one? I don't think so.
Sharp's shorthanded prowess alone should have gotten him there. He has more than all but three TEAMS in the entire NHL. That's a game changing stat. Seven shorthanded goals halfway through the season is huge -- but apparently not huge enough.
For whatever reason, when Denis Savard took over, Sharp's game improved. His 20 goals last year and good penalty killing were a precursor to his play of this season. The biggest improvement for Sharp has been his ability to finish scoring chances. Whenever I think that trait is one that you either have or don't, a guy like Sharp comes along and simply gets better at it.
I've asked him and other players who have developed that ability how they do it. All they can tell me is they trust their ability and have the confidence to be aggressive (see shorthanded play). There 's that word again, confidence. Do you get it by being successful, or does the success come because you have it already? I don't know and I don't care, but once you get a taste of it (success and confidence), the sky's the limit.
If Sharp continues his rise, can you imagine what a Kane, Toews, Sharp line will look like over the next few years? Remember, six months or so ago, these three had never skated together on the same ice. They already seem like they've been playing together for years.
Toews' injury obviously has slowed Sharp's production, but that's a temporary slow down. At least I think it is. Maybe the recent slowdown is the reason why Sharp did not make the All-Star team.
Regardless, the silver lining is that he continues to fly under the radar. Can you be a potential 40 goal scorer AND lead the league in shorthanded goals but still fly under the radar?
If anyone can, it's Patrick Sharp.
Email pre- and post-game radio host Jesse Rogers at: email@example.com. Listen to "Inside the Hawks" with Jesse and special Hawk guests Thursdays from 8-9 pm on WSCR 670-AM.