With the subtractions of Dave Bolland, Viktor Stalberg, Ray Emery, Jamal Mayers and Michael Frolik due to trade or free agency the 2013-2014 Chicago Blackhawks lines may look something like the following.

 

Bickell/Toews/Kane

Sharp/Handzus/Hossa

Saad/Shaw/Pirri

Carcillo/Kruger/Bollig

Outside looking in: Smith, Hayes, Morin, Leblanc and Beach

As we know, Quenneville’s lines are never set in stone but this is an early forecast of what they may look like to start the 2013 NHL season. Marcus Kruger (RFA) is yet to be signed but very early in the off-season Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said he will be signing Kruger to a new contract. However, we have all seen this before where Bowman has stated similar (Niemi) and the Hawks ended up losing him.

Could a team offer sheet Kruger? Possibly, the minimum that would need to be offered to Kruger would be a 105% raise of last year’s salary which I believe was 900k. That would put him close to the 2 million mark and not unreasonable for a player like Kruger. There would be no compensation for losing Kruger from the team using an offer sheet on him if that was the case.

I believe Kruger is looking for 2.2-2.5 million per season and if he does end up receiving that the Blackhawks will be completely out of cap space although they can go over the salary cap (up to 10%) until the start of the season.

Bowman could try to do something with Carcillo and Bollig who have a combines 2013-14 salary of $1,400,000 but still does not leave a ton of room, cap wise. Also, I’m not too sure what teams would have interest in either player.

As you can see in the lines I have Pirri slotted in on the 3rd line, however, with the cap situation it may be tough to add a young player in due to the cap hit. Pirri (2-way contract) has a hit of $870,000.

Kruger would need to sign a deal by December 1, 2013 or he will not be eligible to play the rest of the season.

How else could the Blackhawks make room if they want to sign Kruger?

Well, one can’t imagine any of the forwards being moved besides Carcillo or Bollig so one has to look below at the defenseman.

Keith/Seabrook

Hjalmarsson/Oduya

Leddy/Rozsival

Brookbank

Outside looking in: Olsen, Clendening and Stanton

Chicago has a solid top 6 defense group but they also have a ton of money invested in them. Bowman could free up some cap space by moving Niklas Hjalmarsson or Johnny Oduya. I personally believe it would be much easier to move Hammer due to him being an unrestricted free agent next season.

The issue with moving one of our defenseman is that the Blackhawks are not as deep on the back end as they are up front. Sheldon Brookbank would step in to fill a spot but after that is a huge question for depth.

Crawford/ Khabibulin

Outside looking in: Raanta

The goaltending situation is interesting. Corey Crawford is the clear number one goalie in Chicago after proving to many critics that he’s one of the best “tenders” in the game today. The back-up situation was figured at one point to be freshly signed Antti Raanta’s job but Stan Bowman went and spent 2 million on 40 year old ex- Blackhawk goaltender and Stanley Cup winner (with Tampa Bay) Nikolai Khabibulin.

Raanta initially signed the contract expecting to be in Chicago for the 2013-14 season and earlier Stan Bowman did an online interview saying he expects Raanta to fill that role. This was only a few days prior to the signing of Khabibulin. In a recent interview, Raanta was questioned about where he was going to be playing next season and has mentioned that he is prepared to go to the Blackhawks AHL affiliate, the Rockford Icehogs.

It should be an interesting and possibly shocking off-season for Chicago with the reduced salary cap but Bowman has done an extraordinary job in the past managing players and contracts.

Thanks for reading,

 

TK0N

 

 

 

After a game in which Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford played remarkably well and in all likelihood prevented the Minnesota Wild from absolutely kicking the shit out Chicago by a score of 7-2 or something in that range Corey, again, is the blame by many NHL fans and media.

Why not blame the goalie? It’s the easiest thing to do, right?

Give me a &*^$&@^ break.

People saying it doesn’t matter what Crawford did through the first 60 minutes of the game last night, think again. Sure, the end result is still a loss but to take anything away from Corey’s spectacular performance is an asinine thing to say.  The whole point is that Crawford gave the Blackhawks a chance to win even when the Hawks were thoroughly outplayed.

Here are just a couple examples of what “knowledgeable” goalie fans had to say about Crawford via Tracy Myers  Twitter.

OK, thanks for the life lesson, Chris.

Phil, you’re a good guy but “paper Mache goal”? I’m thinking that beer may have affected your goalie analysis just a bit. But that’s just my opinion.

OK, everyone is entitled to their opinions but I just happen to disagree with a few of them and I do realize you’re all dedicated Hawks fans but let me bring you a different perspective on this one goal.

Here is the video.

Now, prior to the goal I’m going to bet most of you were yelling something like this “OMGZ COME ON GUYS GET THE PUCK OUT” and then followed up by a “FML CRAWFORD YOU SUCK”.

Start at the 49 second mark and let it play; use the pause as often as you wish. So from: 49 To: 55 you see five Hawks players scrambling around being dominated by three, yes THREE Minnesota Wild players. This went on prior to this point for a good amount of time, too.  (Clearly Crawford’s fault at this point…)

At: 54 seconds Crawford does what all goalies do nowadays and that is get the pad down to cover any type of wrap around or some little piddly shot that may trickle close to the post. PLEASE LOOK AT THE BLOG PHOTO AT THE TOP. SAME STYLE AND CRAWFORD MADE THE SAVE ON THIS ONE.

Please take note of Stalberg as at this point he is in front of Zucker. Zucker moves in front of Stalberg after Vik took a quick glimpse at Jason and lets him glide past him as Stally was watching the puck. Crawford at this point was still looking for the loose puck. Ever try looking through a mask trying to locate a puck behind the net? It is not easy.

The puck then caroms off the board directly to Zucker (yes the guy Stalberg let go freely) and Zucker snipes the shot over top of Crawford’s shoulder. All of this happened in a split second.

So tell me, after this mini analysis do you still blame Crawford? If you do, well, OK then.

But to me it is the five Hawks chasing 3 Wild players around and a Mr. Stalberg not tying up the eventual winning goal scorer. (This was one hell of a shot by the way).

I understand most of you know I’m a goalie and perhaps assume I’m protecting Crawford, well, I am in this case and I’ve called him out before on weak goals.

Know this though, every single other goalie in the NHL has let in weak goals and If I were a betting man I’d bet they’ve let in just as many or more than Corey has this year. Corey Crawford has been one of, if not, the best goalie in the NHL this season.

One last thing, goalies will often admit after a game if they should have stopped a certain shot (much like Schneider did last night saying he whiffed on the puck). Corey Crawford did not and why you ask? Because it wasn’t his fault.
Thanks for reading,

Tk0n

 

 

 

 

The Chicago Blackhawks are off to an incredible start to the season banging off seven wins in nine games with the only blemishes on their record being two shootout losses to Minnesota and Vancouver, respectively

With a match up coming against San Jose on Tuesday, there have been a few questions on who should start in goal against the Sharks.

Corey Crawford who boasts a 5-0-2 record with a 1.66 G.A.A and a save percentage of .934 or Ray Emery who came off the best performance from any goalie so far this year who is 2-0-0 with a 2.88 G.A.A. and a .921 save percentage. Many coaches would go with the hot hand but the issue here is, both goalies are hot to start the year which is obviously a great problem to have.

For me, there is no question on which of the two you would go with in goal. With these being the top two teams in the NHL you have to go with your best and that would be Corey Crawford. Amongst goaltenders who have played at least 7 games, Crawford ranks second in goals against, tied for third in wins and fourth in save percentage.

 

Rookie Brandon Saad has stepped in and played his position remarkably well filling in for the injured Daniel Carcillo.

The subtraction of Carcillo had me worried for the wellbeing of Toews and Hossa simply because of how opposition would feast on those two considering there is no tough guy on a line with them. We did see both players get pushed around in the first game having Saad on that line but surprisingly Toews and Hossa have been left alone in that regard.

What happens when Carcillo comes back? Well, someone has to sit in the press box or be moved to Rockford of the AHL. Stan Bowman recently said that Brandon Saad will be with the team the entire season but the bottom line is that he has to produce. He is a bit snake bitten, similar to Michael Frolik last year, but it’s not rare that this happens to a rookie. Again, he’s played extremely well and he is getting scoring chances. One thing to remember is a GM’s word is never bond, remember Bowman’s comments when it came time to sign Niemi and Hjalmarsson? Stan said they weren’t going anywhere, well, he made a promise he couldn’t keep, obviously.

Let’s hope the Blackhawks can step their game up and keep their unblemished regulation time record unscathed!

Hat tip to Zimbio.com for the use of your photos.

Thanks for reading,

TK0N

 

 

 

It was a great game played by the Chicago Blackhawks today in the first game of the NHL regular season, defeating the reigning Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings 5-2.

Patrick Kane scored the first goal of the year and added an assist later in the game. Jonathan Toews, coming off a bout with the flu, was arguably the best player on the ice which is incredible considering the lingering after effects having the flu. Toews also added a goal and an assist. Marian Hossa, in his first game back from his concussion, had a great game adding two goals and one assist. The highly criticized Michael Frolik got off to a good start by scoring for the Hawks, too.

Another often criticized player is goaltender Corey Crawford. Crawford played extremely well. Goals scored against him were basically unstoppable, the first goal he was screened on and the second goal he was pushed over in his crease. Crawford was always in position, square to the puck at all times and his movement was very fast. This is what we want to see from Corey from now on and with it only being one game after his sub-par season, he’s definitely on the right track.

There was some bad news with the Blackhawks victory tonight. Dan Carcillo was caught in a “collision” as a lot are saying with Kings star D-man Drew Doughty and ended up injuring his leg in the process. Head coach Joel Quenneville expects Carcillo to be out for a lengthy period of time.

How do the Hawks replace Carcillo? It’ll be tough as Carcillo was out there as a player who could protect superstars Toews and Hossa. With “Carbomb’s” presence it allows Toews and Hossa to do more freewheeling on the ice, as seen in today’s game, plus he can actually play not too bad compared to a lot of so-called “goons” out there.

It sounds like rookie Brandon Saad will replace Carcillo on a line with Toews and Hossa. Saad is an unproven rookie with big upside (which we’ve seen with many young Hawk players); he notched eight goals and twenty one assists in Rockford and has played two games with the Blackhawks last season before being sent down. One can understand the excitement for Saad to play but people need to remember he’s just a rookie and he may not blow people away like Andrew Shaw did last season. Saad also doesn’t add much of a “toughness” factor so we could very well see “open game” on Toews and Hossa as early as tomorrow night against the Phoenix Coyotes.

All in all it was a great start for the Chicago Blackhawks and it’ll be a tough test tomorrow night against the chippy and defensive Phoenix Coyotes.

Thanks to Zimbio.com for the photos.

 

After an incredible 2010/2011 season posting a 33-18-6, 2.30 GAA and a .917 save percentage plus performing at an elite level against the Vancouver Canucks in the first round of the playoffs. Crawford now boasts a 22-16-5 record, 2.94 GAA and a .900 save percentage and has been fighting all season to find some sort of consistency.

Last season, Crawford showed very little emotion if things went south on him and found a way to fight through tough times. This season he’s been seen smashing sticks over the crossbar and staring his own players down after he lets a shot get by him to name a few instances. The problem in Chicago is that he is not being pushed by veteran backup goaltender, Ray Emery. Although Emery has been solid in a few outings, so has Crawford, neither showing that they want to take that number one goaltending position in Chicago.

Stake it as a sophomore slump if you wish, but a lot of it has to do with signing a new contract, being pencilled in as the number one goalie, not being pushed by his backup; one of the worst team defences in the NHL and simply has lost his confidence.

All the aforementioned issues makes one wonder if he’s got what it takes to be an NHL calibre goaltender and with the noticeable mental breakdowns he’s had this season, it can’t be overlooked. We feel he is an NHL goalie and proved it last season and on several occasions he’s proven it this year, however, if he can’t regain that mental stability, we fear that he may turn out like Jim Carey who won the Vezina in the 1995/1996 season and then lost it all. Of course that is a bit of a stretch and the absolute worst that could happen to Corey Crawford plus there is a goaltender that is a lot closer to Mr. Carey’s great downfall and that would be, Steve Mason.

Corey Crawford is signed until 2013/2014 at a cap hit of $2,666,667 per season.

What does Chicago do to fix this situation?

We wonder if Martin Brodeur would sign a one year deal this off-season and mentor Crawford and at the same time push for that number one goalie position, far-fetched perhaps but it would be a nice fit.

Other notable Unrestricted Free Agents available in this upcoming offseason are:

  • Antero Niittymaki
  • Chris Mason
  • Dan Ellis
  • Tomas Vokoun
  • Johan Hedberg
  • Martin Biron
  • Josh Harding
  • Evgeni Nabokov

Not much that would seem to fit nicely on the Blackhawks, perhaps Vokoun but after this sub-par year for his standards it may be a bit too risky. Islanders GM Garth Snow insists they will be re-signing goaltender Evgeni Nabokov but would he be the answer? We think not and they might as well just sign Ray Emery who is also an Unrestricted Free Agent again.

Notable Restricted Free Agents:

  • Carey Price
  • Tuukka Rask
  • Ondrej Pavelec
  • Cory Schneider
  • Anders Lindback

The odds of getting any of these goaltenders are close to none although Lindback might be attainable.

There are some decent goaltending prospects in the Blackhawks system such as Carter Hutton and Alexander Salak but neither of them is ready to make the next step up to the NHL.

We think that playing out the season (which the Hawks have no choice now) and making a move to get a veteran goaltender to push/mentor Crawford would be the most likely to happen.

Had a discussion with Tab Bamford about the possibility of packaging some prospects and obtaining a true number one goalie could also happen considering the enormous depth of forward prospects that Chicago has.

This is unlikely but could one imagine getting Carey Price in Chicago? Perhaps shipping Corey Crawford, and say a Mark McNeill and picks for Price? How would Corey Crawford playing in his hometown go over plus all the added pressure of the vicious Montreal fans? It’s understood that Price is as untouchable as any goaltender in the league but remember; Patrick Roy was trade for Jocelyn Thibault…

What do you think? Let us know.

Thanks for reading,

TK0N

 

To answer the above question; one would think so. With impressive victories over the New York Rangers, Columbus Blue Jackets and the St. Louis Blues respectively, Chicago seems to have turned the page on a ghastly nine game losing streak. The Blackhawks outscored the aforementioned opponents by a combined score of 13-5 and have quieted the critics plus Chicago fans bellowing of a certain downfall on their way to missing the NHL playoffs.

Over these past three games, Chicago has improved greatly on the penalty kill, scoring, goaltending and overall team defence. These are four of the five issues that needed to be vastly improved for Chicago to turn their impending free fall in the Western Conference around. The last matter to be rectified was the power play; however, improving four of the five issues over the duration of a three game winning streak is most certainly a great start and has surely given these Blackhawks a ton of confidence going into their next game against their number one rival, the Detroit Redwings.

Blackhawks Positives

  • Corey Crawford is 3-0 with a 1.33 goals against average and a 0.954 save percentage in his last three games.
  • Blackhawks all-star forwards Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp are firing on all cylinders and playing extremely well at both ends of the ice.
  • The newly employed penalty kill system has worked perfectly thus far
  • Rookie defenseman Dylan Olsen is showing signs that he is ready for the NHL. Excellent skater, good size and makes smart and safe decisions.

  • John Scott has been surprisingly good for Chicago even if his minutes are limited. When he plays, he’s making the most of them playing a good physical game and like Olsen, making smart plays with the puck in both ends of the ice. He has also been filling in at forward and on defence in all three games.
  • Sami Lepisto who has hardly seen the ice this year has been playing remarkably well. He did get benched against Columbus because of a wayward pass that led to the Blue Jackets only goal but recovered nicely by scoring that same game, Sami was also solid against St. Louis on Sunday afternoon.
  • With the improved play of defenseman not named Duncan Keith or Brent Seabrook; the ice time for both Keith and Seabrook have been cut back marginally which is huge for both of those guys to have anything left in the tank for a playoff run.

With the trade deadline now just a week away, one would expect the Blackhawks to attempt to make a couple deals to help solidify their team to keep them into the playoffs and hopefully make a good run at Lord Stanley.

If we were to predict who would be coming to the Blackhawks via trade?

  • Paul Gaustad
  • Bryan Allen

Of course everyone knows how predicting NHL trades turns out but we’re taking a stab at it anyways.

On a final note:

Don’t buy into any Patrick Kane trade rumours, they’re false and are only racking your brain up of something that will not be happening.

Your starting goaltender for the upcoming NHL playoffs will be Corey Crawford. The Blackhawks may look at adding a back-up goaltender, not a starter. More than likely what you see is what you get for Chicago’s goalies this year.

Thank you for reading,

TK0N

 

Interesting question to say the least, but with a recent “tweet” from one of the Blackhawks long time beat writers, Tim Sassone saying TSN’s Darren Dreger mentioned that Stan Bowman is looking for a goaltender, well, this might be the case.

One would find it odd that Stan Bowman would come out publicly stating that he is looking for a goaltender which would clearly rip the poise right out of Crawford and Emery or whatever is left of that confidence that either of them still have. Let it be known though, Bowman did not clarify if he was searching for a depth goaltender to perhaps send to Rockford considering the Blackhawks are not deep in that area or if he’s searching for a new starter or back up for the current NHL roster.

Crawford, 27, is coming off an incredible year in 2010/2011 posting impressive numbers and eventually dethroning Marty Turco of the starting goaltender position in Chicago and played very well in the first round of last year’s playoffs against the Vancouver Canucks. Corey stole a lot of games for the Blackhawks last season who were just as defensively inept as they are currently in 2011/2012. This is not the case currently, while Crawford has been spectacular at times he has also not been the goaltender Blackhawks players, fans and media have been accustomed to seeing from last season.

Blackhawks fans, a lot of them, are all over Corey Crawford and are pleading for a goaltending change via trade and one can understand their frustration since Chicago is currently on a 6 game losing slide and this often happens with any team struggling. Hopefully these fans realize it’s not entirely on the Blackhawks goaltending but the entire team defence as a whole.

It is obvious that Crawford has lost his confidence, to a certain extent, simply by comparing his reactions from last season in which nothing bothered him and showed very little emotion, to this year where he is swinging sticks and getting involved in goal mouth scrums etc.

This is Crawford’s first full season as a clear cut number one goaltender so the pressure may have affected him but he needs to fight through it if that is the case. Corey doesn’t even have 100 NHL games under his belt yet so he’s definitely not a seasoned goaltender so perhaps he will come into his own soon.

It could be that Crawford is having a comparable type downfall as Detroit Redwings Jimmy Howard had last season and yet this season he’s having a Vezina type year. Howard did accomplish 37 wins last season but he was very unpredictable and unstable in goal on many occasions. Blackhawks fans can only hope that is the case and Crawford will bounce back and not turn out like once promising Columbus BlueJackets goaltender Steve Mason who looks like he’s on his way out of the NHL sooner than later. Goaltenders are touch and go and even the best have a bad season, for example, Buffalo Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller was regarded as one of and if not the best in the National Hockey League and is currently having a sub-par season.

  • Do the Blackhawks trade Crawford or Emery?
  • Are the Blackhawks even shopping a goaltender and perhaps just looking for more depth in the organization at that position?

These are just a couple questions of probably hundreds that are more than likely running through the minds of Blackhawks fans after finding out Darren Dreger mentioned Bowman is looking for a goaltender.

With the trade deadline forthcoming combined with recent struggles in Chicago is creating a lot of havoc amongst Blackhawks followers. Of course, this is always an on edge time for all NHL teams at this time of the year.

It’s going to be “fun”.

Thanks for reading as always,

TK0N

 

The Chicago Blackhawks are in somewhat of a down fall currently and it raises the question of how good are these Hawks especially compared to last season.

The Blackhawks comparable records from last year and this year are:

  • 2010/2011 27 wins 22 losses 4 OT for 58 points
  • 2011/2012 29 wins 17 losses 7 OT for 65 points

A 7 point improvement compared to last year’s squad at this time last year clearly indicates improvement, obviously.

  • In 2010 the Blackhawks were sitting in 11th position in the Western Conference and 18th in the NHL.
  • In 2011 the Blackhawk are sitting in 6th position in the Western Conference and 8th in the NHL.

Let’s take a look at their goal differential:

  • In 2010 the Blackhawks had 170 goals for, 145 goals against and a +25 goal differential
  • In 2011 the Blackhawks have 169 goals for, 158 goals against and a +11 goal differential

It’s a mystery isn’t it? While the goal output is virtually identical, the Blackhawks goals against is up by 13 goals from last season and the goal differential is up 14 goals. Just by looking at the 2010 statistics one would think Chicago would be near the top of the standings yet they were in 11th position in 2010 after 53 games and in regards to the playoff race the Hawks were on the outside looking in.

So does this mean team statistics are misleading to say the least? Well, according to the above statistics they most certainly are.

Perhaps the competition in 2010/2011 was a lot stronger than it is in 2011/2012?

  • In 2010 there were 6 teams that did not have 60 points at this point (Hawks were one of them)
  • In 2011 there are 8 teams that do not have 60 points after 53 games.

Keep in mind we’re not comparing the exact same Chicago Blackhawks team as they have currently.

So have the Blackhawks improved a lot compared to last year? Still tough to say at this point and ” a lot” maybe a stretch but many fans feel they have improved immensely.

It seems they’re playing in a weaker Conference compared to 2010 and sitting much higher in the standings yet their team statistics are not nearly as good this year.

Chicago‘s removed players from 2010:

  • Tomas Kopecky
  • Troy Brouwer
  • Brian Campbell
  • Jake Dowell
  • Jack Skille
  • Fernando Pisani
  • Jassen Cullimore
  • Nick Boynton
  • Chris Campoli
  • Ryan Johnson
  • Jordan Hendry
  • Marty Turco

Chicago’s additions in 2011

  • Andrew Brunette
  • Steve Montador
  • Marcus Kruger
  • Jamal Mayers
  • Daniel Carcillo
  • Andrew Shaw
  • Jimmy Hayes
  • Brendan Morrison
  • Rostislav Olesz
  • Sami Lepisto
  • Ray Emery

Intangibles to think about comparing last year’s team to this year’s team.

  • Corey Crawford was lights out last season; in 2011 he’s been sub-par. Outstanding at times yet in other games he’s been mediocre at best.
  • Rookies Shaw, Kruger, and Hayes (now in Rockford) have been a pleasant surprise.
  • Ray Emery has been very good this year; last year Marty Turco was not.
  • It’s tough to replace what Brian Campbell brought to the team with youngster Nick Leddy and veteran Steve Montador along with John Scott, Sami Lepisto and Sean O’Donnell.
  • This year’s Blackhawks team has the top four defenseman playing heavy minutes while the bottom defensive pairing hardly get any playing time at all.
  • The team defence has taken a big step back compared to last season and a huge step back from the 2009/2010 season.

Moreover, the Blackhawks are marginally better. Stars Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are more seasoned and Marian Hossa is having an outstanding year plus with the emergence of Viktor Stalberg along with the impressive rookies it is helping to carry the keep these Blackhawks in contention for 1st overall in the Western Conference.

Is Chicago a true Stanley Cup contender? Sure, but the chances of going all the way with this current team are slim to none. Changes need to be made and not only on the personnel side of things.

Kudos to Zimbio.com for the photos.

Thanks for reading as always,

TK0N

 

Crash the Net has compiled a list of current Chicago Blackhawk MVP candidates thus far this season along with who would be the Studs and Duds. Do you, the reader, agree with these selections or disagree?

Blackhawks MVP candidates

Marian Hossa

Marian is on pace to having his best year as a Chicago Blackhawk and has amassed 20 goals and 33 assists in 52 games thus far. While producing at a high rate offensively, his two-way play is still proving to be amongst the best in the NHL as he often has in his career. Marian has not lost a step since arriving on the NHL scene back in 1997-98.

Jonathan Toews

Toews is almost a carbon copy of Hossa except for the difference that Toews plays center and Hossa plays the wing. Both players are excellent at both ends of the ice scoring at a rapid pace while still being the first forwards back, on most occasions, when the opposition attempts to bring the puck back into the Blackhawks end. Toews is an excellent penalty killer, like Marian, and while this is not an excerpt of comparing the two players, well, the similarities can’t be ignored. Jonathan has 27 goals and 25 assists in 52 games. Toews domination at winning face-offs has been quite remarkable as well.

Brent Seabrook

This was a close battle between Seabrook and playing partner Duncan Keith. Both are fairly close in point production and Seabrook seems to be turning it up on the offensive side of late along with being a solid defender at the same time. Duncan Keith has better offensive numbers, albeit marginally, Seabrook has been slightly more consistent in the overall game than Keith has.

CTN’s MVP pick: Jonathan Toews.

Honourable mentions: Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane

Blackhawks Studs

Patrick Sharp

On a point per game basis all year and has come up with timely goals game in and game out and is as pure a sniper as any in the league. If it were not for Patrick missing several games due to an injury, Sharp could easily be leading the Blackhawks in scoring.

Viktor Stalberg

He’s been on the first line and he’s been on the fourth line, yet Viktor continues to produce and now has 15 goals and 15 assists in 50 games. Stalberg continues to keep his positive attitude even if Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville’s continues his abomination of line juggling.  Not only is he scoring but he’s using his incredible speed to drive the net more often rather than just skating up the ice and taking a shot from the side boards as most Blackhawks fans remember from last year.

Patrick Kane

11 goals and 33 assists are still very good numbers for a player who had to adjust to the center position for a large part of the season only to find him adjusting back to the wing again. While most Blackhawks fans feel that Patrick should be a sniper, well, he really has never been one in his hockey career and has never scored more goals than assists. Patrick Kane is a play maker with the ability to score 20 plus goals a year and that’s the bottom line. What he also brings is second to none puck handling skills and the ability to create open ice for the rest of his line mates while defenders flock towards him as Kane mesmerizes them with his stick handling skills. While many disagree, CTN feels Kane has had a very good year.

CTN’s Stud pick: Patrick Sharp

Honourable mentions: Dave Bolland and Duncan Keith

Blackhawks Duds

Michael Frolik

Unfortunately the Blackhawks list of duds may outweigh the studs this year which is not a good sign. Frolik is the first dud on the list and was brought to Chicago to add a spark of offence to a team that was fishing for some more offensive depth, well, he has failed. Michael has played 49 games and currently has 5 goals and 8 assists on the year while being a healthy scratch more frequently of late. While many Blackhawks fans were excited for the past years of Frolik’s 20 plus goal seasons, well, this proves that being a top scorer for a lesser team really means very little coming to a championship caliber team.

Bryan Bickell

Coming off an impressive first full season with Chicago last year netting 17 goals and his hit numbers were very high, Bickell has diminished in with his scoring capabilities and with his physical willing. While still possessing a lethal snap shot, they seem to all come from about 40 feet away and Bryan no longer drives to the net using his hulking size to his advantage.

Steve Montador

After signing a 4 year deal worth $2, 750, 00 per year, Blackhawks fans probably had thought they finally had a solid 5th defenseman on the team that they’ve been searching for since their dismantling of the club after their Stanley Cup victory in 2009/2010. Montador was signed in hopes of him bringing a nasty hard hitting defensive style while still producing offensively occasionally. Steve has shown signs of what the Blackhawks originally wanted from him but it has been sparse at best.

CTN’s Dud pick: Michael Frolik

Honourable mentions: John Scott and Sami Lepisto

We hope you enjoyed this compilation of MVP candidates and studs and duds, if you agree or disagree please let us know. Would enjoy hearing from you!

Thanks to zimbio.com for the use of the photos

Thank you for reading as always,

TK

 

 

The evidence of the Chicago Blackhawks in their second year of rebuilding has once again resurfaced. The Hawks were dismantled at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 8-4 with an incredible performance by Sam Gagner with 8 points on the night. Not only will the Hawks be ridiculed for getting smashed by the Oilers again but will be all over the highlight reels nationwide just to rub it in a little bit more. Chicago was mocked after their 9-2 loss the last time they visited Rexall Place in Edmonton.

The Blackhawks were given a 20 game grace, by Crash the Net, without any harsh criticism as most teams should be permitted to have considering the teams have a lot of new players and need time to get in sync with one another and get used to the team system. Moving on, the criticism you may have heard from yours truly and a lot of other close friends in the “twitterverse” were acknowledging all of the errors or holes per say that Chicago had even when they were winning. Yes, the team system, as mentioned in many past blogs on this site, is an absolute mess and is a carbon copy of the Washington Capitals a couple years ago which is all offense and no concerns of defence. With all due respect to the Capitals, look where it got them, nowhere and an early exit of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Blackhawks beat writers are currently reporting that Coach Joel Quenneville is now saying the team needs to concentrate on winning the lower scoring defensive type games. Funny, is he just realizing this now or has he been preaching this since game 21 of the season? Fans can see it and media can see it so why can’t the coaching staff see it? Perhaps they do, or, have  they noticed the defensive issue but have done nothing on changing things up as far as we the onlookers can see. One can bet that half the Hawks fans would prefer a trap type system compared to the run and gun debacle that Chicago is doing right now. Okay, that might be a stretch, but surely fans are desperate for some sort of defence on this team because as it stands right now it’s one of the worst in the NHL. To clarify, team defence is the big issue here not just the Blackhawks defenseman.

Chicago played a really good game yesterday against the Vancouver Canucks albeit losing 3-2 in overtime but tonight, in only the second game of their nine game road trip, they laid yet another egg. Corey Crawford was awful and many fans are hoping he’s just having the Jimmy Howard flop season after a good rookie season and not a Steve Mason type year where he was incredible his first year and then awful the second year and holding the latter form, still.

The Blackhawks tonight showed no composure or leadership when they had a bit of a letdown during the game and acted like a team full of junior players just stepping into the NHL. This is obviously not acceptable especially with this being a team who just won the Stanley Cup only two years ago and often praised for having such great leadership.

For all the people and the silly rumour mongers out there begging to get that one solid stay at home defenseman, well, it may help a bit but not much. I’ve been preaching this for weeks saying this “the Blackhawks could have the top 6 D-men in the league but without a solid team system it will not be much better”. Chicago should make some acquisitions, absolutely, but the number one issue here is a defensive system to be set in place and start right from scratch. Throw out the garbage that Quenneville, Kitchen and Haviland have been preaching and get a fresh new system and try figuring out something from the net out rather than go all out on offence and be completely clueless in their own end. People may think some of this article is a little harsh coming off a brutal loss tonight but it’s been going on all year and something needs to be done as I’m sure most of you would all agree.

Chicago is still in a good position in the Western Conference standings but if they hope to hang onto a playoff seed and better yet improve their position they had better start sooner than later.

Tomorrow night it’s a clash with the Calgary Flames who easily handled the Blackhawks during their last visit at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Let’s see what Quenneville can put together in a span of about 20 hours before the puck drops again.

I will be at the game and the practice tomorrow but I have this feeling that the practice, deemed today as an open practice, just may be a closed one after tonight’s embarrassing loss.

TK

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