Hawks take their talents to Miami: News, Notes & More
Talking hockey while wondering why people still read Phil Rogers……
♦Lets start with the power play, shall we? As I’m sure you’re all aware, it badly sucks. A PP which contains Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp is 4 of 45 though 11 games – that’s a 8.9 % conversion rate, good for 29th in the league ahead of only a putrid Blues squad. Some people have blamed personnel. Some people blame assistant coach Mike Kitchen. Who the hell really knows? One thing is for certain, somebody told them to start firing away before the game Monday night. The PP (especially in the 3rd period) had a ton of pucks heading towards the net. Had the Hawks been facing another goaltender, the story coming out of Monday nights game easily could have been that the Hawks power play had finally broken through. Is there a brightside here? Well, if your powerplay is going to go 4 for 45 – it’s not a bad time to do it while your team is on a 7-2-2 roll. The PP will look to get going tomorrow against a Florida Panthers penalty kill led by – Tomas Kopecky? Seems like the perfect opportunity to get things rolling.
♦On the flip side of that coin, the Hawks penalty kill is kicking every sort of ass there is. Toews, Hossa, Dave Bolland, Michael Frolik and Jamal Mayers have been exceptional and led the PK to a 91.7% success rate – 3rd best in the league behind an unstoppable Pittsburgh Penguins team and the Buffalo Sabers (I’ll chalk that up to Ryan Miller). The PK was one of the most frustrating aspects of the 2010-2011 squad and it’s a great relief to see that they’ve turned it around (especially if they are going to take 5 penalties a night like Monday). Quick note: Bolland leads the league in shorthanded goals with 2.
♦Speaking of Bolland, there is a must see video in this article about Bryan Bickell’s goal monday night showing Bolland discreetly tripping Kevin Klein in the slot and opening space for Bickell to finish. Another classic Rat moment. I enjoy these immensely.
♦Viktor Stalberg is coming off the best two games of his life and looks to have earned a spot on the top line with Toews and Andrew Brunette tomorrow night – and he has earned it. How awkward is it going to be watching him go up and down the ice with Brunette? It’s great to see Stalberg finally get some breaks, but we’ve seen this movie before. Stalberg has had good moments rewarded with top 6 minutes before and always ends up back where he started due to either defensive lapses or his biggest problem – lack of consistency. Still, there is no denying that a producing Stalberg helps the Hawks a immensely and skeptical fans should be pulling for him to have success. Plus, a couple good weeks here would do wonders for his trade value.
♦ Daniel Carcillo returns from his questionable suspension tomorrow night. Right now, it figures he will be on the 4th line with Marcus Kruger and Jamal Mayers. The best part about Carcillo’s return is that it should ensure we don’t see John Scott again for awhile unless something terrible happens. Then again, one never can tell with “Crazy Joel” Quenneville behind the bench. One Hawks beat reporter tweeted today that Ray Emery would likely be starting Friday night because it was the Blackhawks annual “dad’s weekend.” Does this mean Scott gets a turn too? If so, the whole daddy weekend concept should be reconsidered.
♦ Speaking of Scott, his playing time skyrocketed from 1:44 against the Blue Jackets to 2:45 against Nashville. Progress!
♦ If the playoffs started today, the Hawks would be the only team to make it out of the Central Division. The Red Wings haven’t won a game since getting absolutely curb-stomped by Troy Brouwer and the Washington Capitals on October 22nd and have dropped 5 straight games. Detroit just emerged from a home and home with the Minnesota Wild with only 1 point to show for it. Last night, the Wings had a 1-0 lead at home with a little over a minute to go when Johan Frazen took a needless goaltender interference penalty which led to a Mikko Koivu power play goal. Devin Setoguchi went on to win the game for Minnesota in overtime. That’s the sort of thing we like to see from Detroit. Meanwhile, the Hawks have compiled a 7-2-2 record which is good enough to leave them tied for the 1st seed in the Western Conference with two unlikely teams – the Edmonton Oilers (playing in front of the red hot Nikolai Khabibulin) and the Dallas Stars (saddled with Adam Burish). One would expect teams like Nashville and Detroit won’t be out of the playoff picture for long, but we should enjoy looking at them down in the gutter of the Western Conference while we can.
The Blackhawks are in Florida this week to play golf and drink face the Panthers and Tampa Bay Lightning. The Panthers have 3 members of the 2010 Stanley Cup squad – Brian Campbell-Kris Versteeg and Kopecky. They also have Jack Skille. Skille, a member of the less memorable 2010-2011 Blackhawks squad, squared off with Andrew Ladd on Halloween night after a hit he delivered on Tomas Enstrom was not well received by the Jets. The good voters over at hockeyfights.com have Ladd winning this one – he got 91.4% of the vote. To be fair to Skille, at least he didn’t pansy out like Ryan Kesler.
Tim will be around with a preview of the Hawks-Panthers game tomorrow. Remember, it’s an East Coast game so make sure to utilize those emergency lanes if you’re trying to beat the traffic home for the 6:30 start.
* Please do not use emergency traffic lanes
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