The Blackhawks have come to the end of a very successful season this weekend, which has given them a first round match against the Wild. After watching a couple of meaningless games, the playoffs are a much awaited event. Meaningless might be a little harsh. Let's just call them boring.
The highlight of Friday night's game against the Flames was Kane and Toews scoring back-to-back goals to solidify 5th overall in goals. I found it funny watching Kane get a little overly excited for the goal, and attributed it to the fact that he had just gone one up on Toews, only to watch Toews notch the next goal. However, Kane did finish 5th overall in points with 55, leaving Toews in his dust at 48. And, Kane did this without Saad and Hossa on his line all year.
If this were a full season, we would have probably watched Kane hit the 100 mark, which is pretty much a fair example of his scoring power. I currently consider him the most deadly natural goal scorer out there. One of the best things to take away from the Calgary games, and the Edmonton one before that was watching the 2nd line with a healthy Sharp and a center doing his job. The fact that Kane hit 55 points playing alongside a struggling Bolland, and Kruger for far too long makes the 55 points that more impressive. All Handzus did was play his position, win faceoffs, and get Kane the puck, and that is all Kane really needed. It has earned Handzus an extended look in that spot heading into round 1 this coming week IMO.
The only other thing I felt worth mentioning about that Flames game was how bad the power-play stunk up the ice. Following a couple of healthy looking performances here, the Hawks almost handed the game over to a much inferior Flames team because of their lack-luster PP. As much as I hate Keenan, he pointed to the fact that this might be the way to beat the Hawks in the playoffs, as it is their only visible hole to exploit.
Word to the wise: Start with Leddy/Seabrook on the point, and Shaw in front with Kane and Sharp. That is a very balanced and potent group. Seabrook and Sharp should utilize their wicked one-timers, Leddy will quarterback, and we all know what Kane will do. Shaw provides the chaos in front, and retrieves the rebounds, as the Hawks pepper the opponent. Pepper, meaning shoot after movement. Handzus might be worth some looks over Shaw as well.
Page Break: Onto the Blues Game.
It was announced before the game that 8 Blackhawks would be sitting out this one. That apparently means that Stalberg, Kruger, and or Hjalmer don't count or something, because the Hawks were without 10 of their usual starters (if my math is right, which is doubtfull). The pregame show only featured Kane, Toews, Hossa, Sharp, Keith, and I think Saad as being left out for the game. Handzus was also given the day off.
This was good for 3 things. Keeping the above mentioned names from getting injured, which also got them much needed rest. Allowing us to see the prospects finally, and making for a pretty boring game. We also got to see goaltender Carter Hutton as Crawford took a break, and Emery remains injured. Surprisingly, I found watching the young goaltender's first NHL game one of the most interesting parts of the game, especially given that he might actually be called upon in the playoffs with Emery's injury keeping him sidelined.
- I will get right to the standout Ryan Stanton. A surprise, given some of the names called up, the 6'2" defenseman was quite good last night. Nothing too special, just patient with the puck, physical, and fairly active at all areas of the ice.
- The Hawks out hit the Blues. For the most part, the young Hawks were overwhelmed by a superior opponent, but there were some moments early in the game that it almost felt as though the Hawks had a chance at the W.
- On Hutton. Besides giving up 3 goals, 2 costly rebounds, and one flucky 5-hole goal, some elements of his game stood out, and looked good. Namely, Hutton is a very strong skater, and handles the puck well outside of his net. He is a quick goaltender with probably more natural talent then either current starting Hawks goaltenders. With some of the jitters out, and a year or 2 of experience, Hutton has a great deal of possibility.
- The names that we have become familiar with, such as Smith, Morin, Pirri, Hayes didn't overcome any of our expectations, which is not to say they disappointed. Hayes looked good, Smith continued to prove his knack for scoring goals, and the 2nd line of Pirri/Smith/Morin had a really impressive shift halfway through the 1st.
- I am left wondering how players like Carcillo and Bollig get icetime over any of these names, as neither of them stod out when surrounded by prospects. And, I know I am going to get crap for this, I also find it amazing that Kruger is played over Pirri, but it is not like I haven't pointed that out before. I was also shocked that Kruger was rested over Frolik for that matter. Not that I think Kruger hasn't done well this season, I actually think he has excelled, but I also think Kane would have rather had any one of these guys over Kruger playing with him. A lot more offensive sense with superior skating ability in that group of names
- In the end, you have to wonder what SB plans to do for next year. Some of these guys need to either get played, or get traded away for someone who will, because they deserve to be in the NHL. In any event, they all landed trips with the favored team in the West, and anyone of them might get the nod in the post season.
- My question to you is this: should a player like Smith get played over Carcillo or Bollig? Would we rather have the skill, over the physical factor, and does the physcial factor that those 2 bring needed? And, does the opponent matter?
That's enough for now. Time to get ready for the big season. Bring on the Wild!
Filed under: Game Recap