Brohug? BROHUG!

Hear me, baby? Hold together.

Not only am I a stat wonk but I have a bit of an affection for using Star Wars to explain everything. The Blackhawks have lost lateral controls on their 2011-2012 campaign but the ship is still flying. If you’ve given up hope on this season, and I know for a fact that some of you have, no worries. It’s just hockey. I’m not going to question your fandom (which is stupid), call you a bandwagon jumper (equally unintelligent) or ask that you please turn in your Indian Head sweater along with your keycard on your way out. There’s some flaws that probably won’t be fixed on this roster, even after the February 27th trade deadline that is quickly approaching. What there is, however, is a window that’s very wide for this team in the future.

To be clear, I haven’t thrown in the towel on this season. Not even close. We’re still a good three weeks away from Spring Training baseball and that’s really the only thing that could completely placate my sports sensibilities. My hopes for the Blackhawks this year have been reigned in a bit, that is certain. But looking at the Nashville game on Tuesday night I saw quite a few things that I liked.

After the Sharks loss, I had said that another poor performance in the desert would probably require Joel Quenneville to step down or be let go because the losing streak had reached that point where a head needed to roll. Not only that, but he wasn’t making any adjustments other than hitting Frappé on that blender he keeps behind the bench for his lines. Well, he finally decided that there were some differences he could make and they started on the special teams unit. The triangle plus one strategy on the penalty kill has been scrapped in favor of the more traditional box formation. Nashville’s 3rd ranked powerplay went 0-for-3 against the Hawks kill and, for the most part, were not given quality scoring chances.

Hey! A positive!

The other half of the special teams unit decided to dump the back door play on the man advantage and opted to work from the boards a bit more. And look! The forward on the point? BE GONE WITH YE! YAY! Sharp was on the point much less than we’d seen in the past and wouldn’t you know it? The puck stayed in the attacking zone far more often instead of squirting out with only one defenceman manning the blue line. Quenneville made adjustments. For that, we should commend him. As for that line juggling at even strength? Look below.

Click to Embiggen

The Hawks didn’t come away with any points and that sucks. We’re all sick of this losing streak and I’m sure would take an overtime loss in New York tonight at this point just to say we came away with a point. If the Hawks play like they did in Nashville on Tuesday, they’ll have better odds than the previous six games on this road trip. Beating King Henrik would be a hell of a shot in the arm.

Do yourselves a favor too. If someone is telling you that Stan Bowman has given up, ignore it. He’s not a made move and, yeah, that’s frustrating. With the talent this team has on the big club and the amount it has to trade in the AHL and abroad he definitely has the pieces to make a move. I’ve discussed Hal Gill and I still think he’s a fit for this team in certain areas. Other than that? There’s not a whole lot out there. If Stan is opting to maintain status quo and go with the team he’s built for this season, I’m fine with that. The Blackhawks have a tremendous core; one that at least 75% of the league would kill for. Brandon Saad is tearing up juniors. Dylan Olsen will head back to the AHL where he’s had a fine season. The average age of this team is 27. The window is wide and not mortgaging the future is just fine. Expectations have been set since Rocky took over that we should compete for a Cup every year. We should embrace that. When we fall short of those expectations, we should be frustrated with it. Not to the point of throwing tantrums and hurling barbs at our front office though. They’ve built a quality hockey team. It’s got some flaws this year. Fix them in the summer if it makes more sense than a panic stricken move in February.

I don’t have any stats or concrete empirical evidence that this team will turn around. What I do have, is confidence that this can’t go on forever.