Forward Ryan Hartman knew that he had to make an impact for the Chicago Blackhawks this season and they certainly felt his presence on Sunday night at the United Center.
The Hawks and the Nashville Predators headed into the third period with Chicago leading 2-1. The Preds tied the game up early, about two minutes into the period, but then Hartman showed up to finish the game off. He first tallied the game winner with a bit of a controversial play. In the skirmish in front of the goalie, the net came off of its moorings and the refs had to take time to determine if Hartman had hit the puck with his hand. In the end however, they determined it was a good goal. Nashville later pulled their goalie in the last few minutes of the period, allowing Hartman to tally his second and third goals of the game and thus earn the hat trick.
Hartman has not only shown that he can score goals, but that he can help the Blackhawks improve in other areas as well. He made a huge block against the Preds’ Mattias Ekholm, taking a shot that caused him to lay on the ice for a few seconds. That willingness to sacrifice himself for a play shines a huge light on the twenty two year old, showing that he can play in the same style as defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson.
Hartman has also helped to add to the team’s toughness factor. He has laid out 62 hits this season, averaging 1.68 hits per game. Though that may not seem like a huge factor, it does help to make a difference for the Blackhawks, who are not a hard hitting team. Hartman was often touted last year as a possible replacement for Andrew Shaw before Shaw was traded and since hitting the ice this season, he has proved that he can take that spot and add his own twist to it.
His hat trick also comes with a few special facts to accompany it. He’s the third Blackhawks player to score three times in a single period in the past twenty two seasons. The other two scorers were former Hawks Patrick Sharp, who is now with the Dallas Stars, and Dustin Byfuglien, who is now with the Winnipeg Jets. Hartman is also the youngest Hawk to post a hat trick since Jonathan Toews did so on May 7th of 2010.
Though Hartman’s first career hat trick wasn’t how he expected it to occur, it’s still something that shows how well he is adjusting to the team environment and the level of play in the NHL. He told the media that he doesn’t think most people will remember it in a few days, but Hawks fans are certainly excited about the growing potential he has. In the thirty eight games that he has played with the Hawks this season, he has ten goals and seven assists. Following the boost of confidence that he will for sure receive from this game, fans and the team can expect to see those numbers continue to climb.