Following a hard loss in Anaheim, the Chicago Blackhawks have had some time to rest, practice and look back on the past couple of weeks. Most importantly, to areas which did not work out so great for the #1 team in the league.
With updates coming in that Hossa will not skate against the Kings Monday night, Q has made some moves in an attempt to avoid repeating maybe his worst coaching decision of the year. That choice was of course, to double shift Patrick Kane continually over the course of their 4-2 loss to the Ducks. For one, it put Kane in position to get injured against a team who likes to hit opponents into submission, and it did nothing for the Hawks chances of winning their showdown with the 2nd place team in the league. Nor does it allow for some players in the system to prove their worth, and get some NHL ice time.
Instead, it looks as though Frolik will be moved up to the top line alongside Saad and Toews, if their practices have any bearing on the outcome. This will allow for more continuity among the lines, an easier replacement on the 4th line, and gives Fro the moment he has earned from outstanding play all year long. I am excited to see what Fro does with his shot at more ice time with some offensive talent on his side.
The choice to play Kaner did however, allow Chicago fans to glimpse the winger's new found focus on hockey, and being a better all around player this year, in the form of his interviews following the game. As part of his new, and more mature approach to his life, Kane took responsibility for not showing up in Anaheim. He said that he could have played better even though we shouldn't have expected much from a forward who played 25+ minutes. Frankly, I wouldn't have expected much from Kane even without the exhausted state he was in. The Ducks are a big, physical, and defensively strong team. Not Kane's best opponent by any stretch. But, his ability to talk the talk, and walk the walk lately, has me grinning from ear to ear, and anxious to see how much better he can get.
Almost forgot to mention this: The Hawks have given fans a lot of reason to get excited this year, but there are 2 players who seem unable to join those reasons. Seabrook and Bolland are not exactly having great seasons by any stretch of the imagination, and I expect better from both of them. Bolland hasn't been awful, but he goes for great lengths of time without being noticeable, and his stats show a very disappointing truth. Seabrook has been just about as awful as someone can get with his skills. Seabs might not be playing for his future in a Hawks uniform like Bolland is, but I sure as heck expect more from him as the playoffs come closer. It seems like a conditioning issue, so maybe he is not 100% healthy. If this is the case, maybe some time off will help.
As Vegas mentioned in the last post, the Wings gave the Ducks a spanking which points to a number of elements surrounding NHL conversations these days, and also served to keep the Ducks below the Hawks in the standings. Monday night, the Hawks face another surging team in the West, who also happen to be the Cup Champions. The Kings have found their groove at the right time, and it will be swinging through the UC shortly. LA is a Cup favored team, and we are coming into the stretch here. This week of home games for the Hawks gets started off with a bang. Here's to the Hawks showing us what they have without 2 prime players in the lineup, and Hossa making a speedy recovery for Friday night's rematch against the Ducks.