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.

 

With a recent quote from Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville to the Chicago Tribune seen here: “He’s been working on it for some time now; we’re down to a couple of days here. Hopefully we can add somebody and help our team.”

It’s quite obvious that even the coaching staff realizes the need for an addition or multiple additions to the team to help the Blackhawks secure a playoff spot and to make a good run this year on their quest for a second Stanley Cup in three years.

Below is a list we’ve compiled to give a take on what Chicago could be looking at.

Paul Gaustad (C) – $2,300,000 UFA in 2012/2013

Derek Roy (C) – $4,000,000 UFA in 2013/2014

Sheldon Souray (D) – $1,650,000 UFA in 2012/2013

Derek Brassard (C) – $3,200,000 RFA in 2014/2015

Lubomir Visnovsky (D) – $5,600,000 UFA in 2013/2014

Cory Sarich (D) – $3,600,000 UFA in 2012/2013

Bryan Allen (D) – $2,900,000 UFA in 2012/2013

Adam Burish (F) – $1,150,000 UFA in 2012/2013

Matt Carle (D) – $3,437,500 UFA in 2012/2013

John Erskine (D) – $1,500,000 UFA in 2013/2014

Luke Schenn (D) – $3,600,000 UFA in 2016/2017

Mikhail Grabovski (C) – $2,900,000 UFA in 2012/2013

Nate Thompson (C) – $900,000 UFA in 2013/2014

Marc-Andre Bergeron (D) – $1,000,000 UFA in 2013/2014

Chris Campoli (D) – $1,750,000 UFA in 2012/2013

Eric Belanger (C) – $1, 750,000 UFA in 2014/2015

Chad Larose (W) – $1,700,000 UFA in 2013/2014

While we all know that no trade is guaranteed, a lot of these players are a bit of a stretch such as Mikhail Grabovski or Luke Schenn from the Toronto Maple Leafs as Brian Burke will want a fortune for them. We think the most likely to get would be Matt Carle, Paul Gaustad or Sheldon Souray and to be honest, the Blackhawks could use all three players that we just mentioned.

Who do you think? What are the Blackhawks biggest needs?

Either way, we will know in less than 22 hours if GM Stan Bowman makes an attempt or stands pat.

Thanks to Zimbio.com for the photo and CapGeek.com for the salary figures.

 

With the recent struggles of the Chicago Blackhawks and currently on an 8 game losing slide, something has to be done to get them out of this catastrophe. When folks see “the trap”, as mentioned in the title, they immediately scoff at the idea simply because no one enjoys watching a team play a boring brand of hockey plus the players themselves probably have little fun in doing so.

One doesn’t need to remind people that the Blackhawks are a complete mess right now and basically an individual type team in which everyone is trying to do too much. They’re not playing any type of system, they are weak defensively, their offence is marginal at best and the goaltending isn’t going to steal them any games.

The trap is generally for teams that are offensively challenged, which Chicago is not, or wanting to protect a lead late in the game, some teams use it throughout an entire game to slow everything down to their preferred pace. The neutral zone trap is basically clogging the neutral zone and not allowing the opposition to just walk into their defensive area, which in most cases, forces the opponent to dump and chase and often ends up in a turnover. It’s a tedious style because the team playing with this implemented system does very little fore-checking and often drives onlookers batty.

Stan Bowman, the Blackhawks G.M., is surely working the phones right now in hopes of getting a quick fix via trade, but the Blackhawks are far from being a quick trade or two away from being a legit contender for a Stanley Cup run. As mentioned in the past, a team can be full of all-star calibre players but without a system the team will more than likely, fail.

Many fans were calling for head coach Joel Quenneville’s head last season but in all fairness to Joel, last year was a rebuilding year after being dismantled after the Blackhawks Stanley Cup victory. However, coaches need to change to adjust to their current roster and their capabilities. No longer does Quenneville have the luxury of having players such as Campbell, Byfuglien, Versteeg, and Ladd playing on their lesser lines so he can’t play the same puck possession style he was accustomed to.

So what do the Blackhawks do?

  • Change the system to some sort of defensive scheme to cut down the goals against?
  • Fire Quenneville or the entire coaching staff for someone who can implement a better system?
  • Make a larger scale trade involving core players?
  • Bring in smaller pieces via trade and hope they can drastically improve the team?

These are the questions being asked and rightly so during an 8 game winless drought but to the blind eye that only saw the victories earlier in the season and not the faults, this has been going on since the first game of the season and is not new. This downfall of the Blackhawks is a surprise to many, but as other teams improved and the Blackhawks stayed playing their passive style with no regards to defence, well, it was just a matter of time.

Many thanks to zimbio.com for the photos

Thank you for reading,

TK0N

 

 

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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