The Blackhawks’ Kurashev line is setting the standard

Despite the disappointing season Chicago Blackhawks Yes, there are a number of players who have stepped up to the plate of late: Seth Jones, Taylor Radish, Tyler Johnson and others have had point streaks that have helped them win five of their last six games. However, when the Blackhawks dive deep into the top line combination that has produced the most chances and goals this season, one player’s name continues to shine like a Christmas tree: Philip Kurashev.

Kurashev’s lines are the Blackhawks’ strongest

Kurashev is having a successful season. He is now sixth-best on the Blackhawks in points, scoring 19 in 43 games. The 36-point pace he’s on would be a career best, as he had 21 points in 67 games last season. But it’s not just that point that stands out; About how he affects the lineup. The Blackhawks are not a good offensive team. They are second-worst in the NHL, averaging 2.37 goals per game, but they are the offense is Produced, Kurashev that plays a big role.

Philip Kurashev Chicago Blackhawks
Philip Kurashev, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

The Blackhawks’ line combinations have been hit-and-miss, but when a line has clicked this season, it’s usually because Kurashev is on it. The top-10 line combinations that create the most scoring opportunities on the team, his name comes up the most (four times). According to Natural Stat TrickHere’s how the rankings stack up with him.

1. Kurashev – Jonathan Toews – Taylor Radish (225)

8. Kurashev – Max Domi – Radish (44)

9. Lucas Reichel – Domi – Kurashev (41)

10. Sam Lafferty – Jason Dickinson – Kurashev (39)

The Kurashev-Toews-Radish line leads the team in opportunities and goals (9). Its Ben Pope Chicago Sun-Times noted how successful Kurashev was Toews and Dickinson line when the Blackhawks are nine games into the season. It’s impressive that now at 43 games, two more lines have been added to the list. The other thing that stands out about these pairs is that each line is placed as the first, second or third line. Again, this shows Kurashev’s versatility and how his presence, whether playing in the top-six or bottom-six, makes the Blackhawks stronger.

Kurashev’s playing complements everyone

When thinking of players that instantly make any line better, no matter who they play with, the first name that comes to mind is Patrick Kane. He is a player who can play with anyone and still perform at an elite level, and in return, he encourages his linemates to do the same. He can do this so well because of his vision and adaptability. He instinctively knows how to set up players at the right time and get the best out of everyone. Although Kurashev was only in Chicago for three seasons, he displayed a similar hockey IQ trait to Kane, where his game perfectly complemented his teammates. When the Blackhawks drafted him in 2018, creativity, versatility, And playmaking ability is often repeated. This past month, he showed a lot of those qualities.

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During the Blackhawks’ game against the Buffalo Sabers on January 17, he had his first career three-point game (one goal, two assists) and a play that perfectly encapsulates Kurashev’s game came from a defenseman. Connor Murphy scored in the first period. Toews, Raddysh and Kurashev were skating in the offensive zone, so naturally, that drew all the Sabres’ attention. Kurashev recognized that, and after receiving a pass from Toews, he saw Murphy standing on the right side and got the puck to him. This allowed Murphy to carry the puck and score a goal virtually untouchable to give the team a 1-0 lead. This type of play helps him create many scoring opportunities. Being able to see the ice and know how to find players at the right time when in prime position to score is essential, and he’s done that quite well this season.

Philip Kurashev, Chicago Blackhawks
Philip Kurashev, Chicago Blackhawks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Creativity aside, he is also capable of scoring on his own. He can make the most of opportunities for himself outside of the crowd or anywhere in the offensive zone. His speed makes it easier for him to evade defenders and gives him more time to create offense, and he’s probably one of the best forecheckers on the team. When you combine speed, offense, creativity and versatility, those skills fit seamlessly into anyone’s playing style. If a line has extra punch it will instantly get better and it makes sense why he gets the results.

Kurashev is who the Blackhawks hoped he would be

For Kurashev this season was all about growth and proving that he belongs with the team long term. The Hawks re-signed the 23-year-old to a one-year, $750,000 contract because of what they believed he could be. He had moments of offensive greatness but then would go cold for long stretches. The season started the same as he had six points in his first nine games but then just three points in his next 17. He has five points in his last five games (three goals, two assists) and is currently playing some of his best. hockey

Because the Blackhawks continue to promote consistency in his offensive production They always expected him to be a top-six forward, but then noted that they didn’t feel his hot and cold streaks made him an ideal fit for the spot. But, now something has changed. Fifteen of his 19 points this season have come in top-six play, and since the second line of Kurashev, Toews and Radish has been the team’s best, he’s unlikely to be moved anytime soon. So, he’s showing everything the Blackhawks hoped for, and even more so now that he’s on the top two lines.

Related: The Blackhawks need these 4 forwards to step up

Individual production aside, Kurashev has positively impacted his linemates, which can mean more than just the scoresheet. Toews and Raddysh are both on four-game point streaks, and wherever Kurashev is placed, results follow him. But, conversely, his linemates seemingly get the best of him, too. It says a lot about a player if they can come off a “lost” season and end up being the glue that holds every line together. It’s something that can make a team even more dangerous when they’re in a playoff position, and it’s exactly why the Blackhawks should have a building block for the future.

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