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.

 

I understand the probability of all these players being booted off the Blackhawks roster are zero but I just want to give my take on players that I would like to see gone as soon as possible from the Blackhawks roster.

Daniel Carcillo – I swear the reason person like this guy is because he has a twitter account. Perhaps people see something different than what I am seeing on his play as a member of the Blackhawks. He does have skills and he can fight but is he intimidating? Not at all unless the opposition is worried of a cheap shot which of course we saw this year and he ended up with a season ending injury. I don’t care what his record is with Chicago when he is in the lineup, I really don’t.

Here is an example for you that really pissed me off during a game against the Calgary Flames. The Hawks’ were getting manhandled as they usually do in Alberta and Jarome Iginla was challenging Carcillo for a tilt. Carcillo promptly turned away and denied the scrap. Daniel was hurt, I believe, but if he’s in the line-up you do what you can to take out the player. Hell, just hug Iggy and fall to the ground. He’s gone for 5 minutes and you’ve done a great job. OR do what Daniel did and turnaround and go sit on the bench.

I also find it hilarious that Carcillo has all of these fans. Going back to 2009/2010 Daniel was one of the most hated players by the Blackhawks nation. He comes to our team and all of a sudden he is a fan favourite. I don’t think it is wrong but like I said I think it is hilarious. I wonder what would happen if Alexandre Burrows was a Hawk. Wait a minute, I know what would happen, create a twitter account, be funny, post some photos together with Duncan Keith, score some goals and you will be loved by most. Go ahead; deny it if you wish but it would happen just like that.

I personally have no problems with fans embracing their players but it is funny how things pan out.

Michael Frolik – This is going to be my favourite part of this entire blog. I’m going to pull out the ol’ I TOLD YOU SO. Soon after Frolik was acquired in a 5 player trade with the Florida Panthers I cringed slightly when the deal was made. However, like most of us, we were excited for the highly touted Alexander Salak and we also did not give up very much to get these two guys.

Let’s look back a bit onto Frolik’s inaugural season in Chicago and compare it to this year. Frolik scored three times in twenty eight games and showed me very little of this offensive capability he was supposed to have. To his credit, Frolik was nothing less of outstanding in the playoffs and earned himself a decent contract extension. This year he was unable to double his goal scoring output and he had 63 games to do so but was OK to very good during this year’s playoffs. Do we have another case of “he only gets amped up for the playoffs”?

After news broke out that he was resigned to an extension I went off a bit and people attacked me saying “he was a 20 goal scorer 2 years in a row”. I lifted my leg and urinated on that comment as that means nothing to me. A ton of it has to do with how he is used on his previous team and we all knew he wouldn’t get that opportunity in Chicago, didn’t we? I told you so….

Andrew Brunette – I can’t be too hard on Andy because he’s a veteran who has had some solid years and he actually did some good things for Chicago. Brunette is a classy guy, too. I did not like the signing when it was completed simply because of his speed and from being used to a fast skating style of the Hawks’ in the past it made me question Bowman’s sanity for a second. Good luck Andrew on your next team or retirement, you were a very good NHL player.

Jamal Mayers – I expect some argument here as Jamal was a steady player for us and was always a willing combatant when it came to sticking up for his teammates or trying to boost the Hawks’ energy level for the game. He was actually not too bad on the penalty kill either. With all these positive things being mentioned you’re probably wondering what I am smoking if I still want to remove Mayers from the roster. For me, it’s simple. We need the roster space. I know most are pencilling in Kruger as a second line center and some maybe even third. I see him as a perfect fit on the fourth line. I still don’t see Patrick Kane being the Blackhawks number 2 center no matter what Stan Bowman says. Remember when he was attempting to resign Niemi and said he was going nowhere? Hmmm.

Sean O’Donnell – Another guy on his last legs in the NHL. Tough as they come and in fantastic physical shape but the only problem are his skills have diminished as one would expect from a 40 year old D-man who has played a tough role his entire career. Yet another questionable signing by Bowman and I expect O’Donnell to retire this off-season.

Steve Montador – I think most of us were up in the air about this signing. We figured we were getting a solid defender who is tough as nails. Instead we got a guy who was constantly beat with speed to the outside and numerous bad giveaways in his own end. Of course Steve spent a lot of his time nursing a concussion but in my most humble opinion he was nothing to get excited about. The bright spot for Montador for me was him being on the powerplay and scoring goals. I guess that shows how pathetic the Blackhawks powerplay really was especially throwing a d-man up there that had 28 goals in his entire career prior to this year. Oh, fire Mike Kitchen.

Sami Lepisto – This guy took a lot of heat as he was not good to start the year and then he was a healthy scratch in numerous games. He only played in 26 games this season and he did play a handful of solid games back there. But come on, he is obviously not liked by Joel Quenneville (whom I don’t always agree with) but whatever. Sami, in my opinion, would be a good 2-way contract guy we could use as a fill in from time to time but it is much easier just to let him walk. The only positive things I heard on Lepisto is that he was good looking and also that people on Twitter started a hashtag called #FreeLepisto . I guess that shows how sad our overall defence was this season when people are begging for Sami to play.

Brendan Morrison – I despised this trade. I don’t care if everyone proceeded to tell me that Brian Connelly was never going to make the Blackhawks roster. BMO was good 6 years ago and in my opinion had little chance to show he could help Chicago this season. I think his play showed exactly what I thought it would be plus he was a healthy scratch for most of the time he was here. I would have preferred a third round draft pick in 2099 for Connelly and brought up Pirri.

Rostislav Olesz – He wasn’t given a good look this year only playing in 6 games but apparently that was enough for the Blackhawks to send him to Rockford. He did well in the AHL season so I say keep him there and he can light up the AHL. Olesz was the price the Hawks’ had to pay to unload the contract of Brian Campbell (which I know many of you hated). If Bowman does the right thing in the near future, well, I’m sure most of you will see it was actually a smart move as much as it hurts not having Soupy playing for Chicago.

Ray Emery – First off, kudos to Ray for coming back from major hip surgery to earn himself a backup position with Chicago and a contract extension for another year moving into 2012/2013. Now, I will kick dirt on Bowman’s shiny white dress shoes for doing that extension. Corey Crawford just finished his first year as a starting goaltender in Chicago and he had a tough time staying consistently good.

I truly believe part of that problem is because there is no threat whatsoever from the backup goaltender. Competition for that #1 spot is a good thing for goaltenders and I know that from experience (not at the NHL level of course but you get my drift). As much as I am impressed with Emery’s recovery and his resurgence in Chicago, I believe if they signed or tried to sign/trade for a better goaltender it would help Crawford excel in goal. Look at St. Louis for example with Halak and Elliott. Elliott was one of the worst goaltenders in the NHL and Halak was not terrific last year for the Blues. Elliott catches fire and now they have arguably the best tandem in the league with both fighting for that #1 position.

What goalie could we get? Oh I don’t know, Scott Clemmensen must be pissed off about being a backup his whole career and might turn it up a notch to try to take over a number one spot. Just throwing a name out there…

Johnny Oduya – I won’t try to hide my opinion after Oduya’s short regular season with Chicago but he impressed me just like he did for a lot of you out there. However, was there a worse D-man for Chicago in the playoffs this year? I don’t think so. I spoke to a close friend in Winnipeg and she assures me that his giveaways were a common occurrence on a daily basis playing for the Jets. I will take my friends word on that and what I saw in the playoffs from Johnny-O and stand firm in saying. Get outta here. We can spend that money elsewhere.

Bryan Bickell – The guy was a sick beast during the final stretch and in the playoffs he played remarkably well. Where was he all season though? Notice he joined Twitter after he turned it up a notch? He would have been run into the ground if he was on Twitter prior to his run of good play and he was the goat for most of the season for Blackhawks fans. This reminds me of Troy Brouwer too much; Troy only brought it on some days and was never consistent. Bickell never brought it all until the end of the year and partially in the playoffs. I guess I’m not one that is worried about the “great” Bolland, Bickell, Frolik or Shaw line. Was it really that great? I don’t think so.

Honorable mention goes to Niklas Hjalmarsson.

I hope you enjoyed my take on the 12 guys I would like to see removed from the Blackhawks prior to next year. Who would we want to replace all or some of these guys with? That is an entire new discussion and I can’t wait for the off-season. It’s a make or break year for Stan Bowman, he had his freebie year after the dismantling of salaries and he’s had another year to see what he has to work with in seeing youngsters Shaw, Leddy, Olsen, Kruger, Hayes and Bollig and how Crawford would handle the starters role. His time is now to bring this team up to a more competitive level and become elite once again.

Kudos to Zimbio.com for the photos.

Thanks for reading,

TK0N

 

Daniel Carcillo was signed to a two year extension at an average of $825,000 per year as reported by Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune.

Carcillo, 27, is currently on the mend recovering from surgery from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on his questionable hit on the Edmonton Oilers and now Minnesota Wild defenseman Tom Gilbert. Dan received seven games for that hit, which was called as boarding, only two other players had higher suspensions this year in the NHL and that was Andy Sutton of the Oilers and James Wisniewski Of the Blue Jackets whom both received 8 game suspensions.

Here is the video on Carcillo’s hit on Gilbert.

This is not the first time Carcillo has been suspended in his tenure in the NHL and the Blackhawks are hoping it will be the last time. The signing was surprising to most as he really has not changed from his days in Philadelphia, Phoenix and of course currently playing with Chicago. Daniel has played 310 games in the NHL, amassing 84 points and 1068 penalty minutes.

Chicago Tribune reporter Chris Kuc also got some quotes from Carcillo on his new signing and where he is at currently with his injury.

“I’m the happiest guy in Chicago to hear that I’m coming back for another two years.”

“With a guy like me, you don’t usually get that security and sort of gesture so it’s really nice.”

Here is an interview with Carcillo also courtesy of the Chicago Tribune seen HERE

The salary that the Blackhawks gave to Carcillo was a fair one but it’s the roster spot he would claim from this contract that is questionable. With the emergence of tough guy Brandon Bollig and physical players like Andrew Shaw and Jimmy Hayes, it makes one wonder where the Hawks’ are headed for a roster for next season. Chicago has an overabundance of young talent currently playing in Rockford plus highly touted Brandon Saad and Kevin Hayes on the rise so the question is asked, where do these kids play? Surely the Blackhawks will take a look at bringing back Jamal Mayers as he’s been a solid role player for Chicago this season and more than likely try to sign newly acquired defenseman Johnny Oduya to a reasonable contract.

Carcillo does have the skills to play the game and be a physical presence every night but will he bring that every night and keep his head on straight? Like the Blackhawks roster next season, only time will tell on both accounts.

Thanks to Zimbio.com for the photo and kudos to Chris Kuc and the Chicago Tribune for his interview and video.

Thanks for reading,

TK0N

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