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

 

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

 

Now we sit, wait, and ponder on what the Chicago Blackhawks season is going to end up as with it either being a playoff position, making a run in the playoffs or missing the playoffs altogether. The majority of Chicago fans feel after the Blackhawks lone acquisition of defenseman Johnny Oduya from the Winnipeg Jets for 2nd and 3rd round draft picks in 2013, it seems the latter is not impossible.

In regards to the trade, many mocked at what a steep price the Blackhawks gave up to get Oduya but the price to pay for any player on a trade deadline is always steep, we all know that. Chicago has a surplus of forwards in the minor system, not so deep at the defensive position, but Stan Bowman did not make that bad of a deal because I believe Oduya is foreseen as a part of the future of the Blackhawks past this season. Blackhawks fans can look down the road in 5 -7 years and see if this trade really hurt us that bad. In the end, it helps us now and hopefully in the future.

Bowman probably had bigger things on his mind in regards to today’s trade deadline and probably wanted a center but could not land one. It may sound like I am trying to protect Stan Bowman and that is not the case, I simply feel that today’s trade was a good one. Now, with Bowman’s failed attempts or believed attempts at landing more key pieces, well, he gets an F grading. The Blackhawk’s holes on this team have been evident since game ten of this season and he’s had ample time to adjust this roster to make them more competitive.

A recent piece by Crash the Net was written about Stan Bowman seen HERE

Let’s take a look at how the Blackhawks roster will look when healthy and perhaps make an educated guess if this is a playoff team or even a Stanley Cup contender.

The following lines are how I would like to see them.

Sharp/Toews/Kane

Stalberg/Kruger/Hossa

Shaw/Bolland/Hayes

Bickell/Mayers/Brunette

Michael Frolik, Dan Carcillo and Brendan Morrison as extras

Keith/Montador

Seabrook/Leddy

Hjalmarsson/Oduya

O’Donnell, Olsen and Lepisto as extras

Of course we all know the Blackhawks are missing Jonathan Toews, Steve Montador, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Dan Carcillo due to injuries.

With a healthy roster I believe this team can make the playoffs and make a bit of noise in doing so, however, we’re not healthy so this team is in very big trouble. We’ve seen the Blackhawks play their best at least five times this year, yes, that little, which puts a damper on any projections of Blackhawks success this season. While anything can happen in the playoffs it’s safe to say the Chicago Blackhawks are not going to win the Stanley Cup this season with our current roster, just being a realist, not a downer and I for one will never give up on this team’s chances as we have seen lesser teams make it to the Stanley Cup final but will not classify them as a true contender at this time.

The idiocy that has been thrown around with fans selling their season tickets and/or abandoning this team is unsettling to say the least. It’s tragic that some of these people seem to have forgotten the past year’s in which the Blackhawks were once rated as the worst franchise in professional sports. Trust me, the team is much better off than they used to be, you know it, I know it, we all know it.

One can understand the concerns moving forward with this team and the decisions that have been made but I, for one, still have faith that this team will be a successful one even if I have concerns with the Blackhawks current General Manager Stan Bowman and his seemingly lackadaisical attempts at building a cup contender. If more poor decisions are made by Bowman I truly believe upper management will put a stop to it before it gets worse.

Chicago Tribune’s writer Chris Kuc asked Bowman how his day went and he responded with “Lots of talking. I’m tired.” 

Perhaps don’t leave it to the last day, Stan.

Thanks for reading as always,

TK0N

 

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.

 

  Chicago Blackhawks fans are getting anxious with the NHL trade deadline only two days away and rightly so. The Blackhawks have a big game in which the entire NHL will be tuning in to watch and more so for the debut of newly acquired Jeff Carter by the Los Angeles Kings who is reunited with center Mike Richards from their days playing together with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Chicago currently sits sixth in the Western Conference with 73 points and a plus 10 goals for and goals against differential. Last season, at this time, the Blackhawks sat in 9th position in the Western Conference with 72 points and a plus 32 goal differential. What does this tell you? Well, it tells you that in comparison to last season the Blackhawks have not improved and if anything they’ve regressed, to some extent.

The Blackhawks are sitting three spots higher in the standings in comparison to last year; however, a lot has to do with eight teams not having 70 points in comparison to last season when there were only four after 62 games. There are additional teams this year that are weaker; there are teams this year that are much stronger; for example, the St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators. What does this mean for Chicago? It means that they’re once again fighting for a playoff spot and if they want to get home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs, well, they will have to go on quite a sick winning streak. Blackhawks nation are hoping they don’t lose their way in to the playoffs like they did last year when they were sitting and hoping that the Dallas Stars would lose their final game of the year, luckily for them, they did.

Looking at the trade front, it’s no doubt that the Blackhawks fans, media and undoubtedly some of the players are hoping that something gets done to bolster this team into a true Stanley Cup contender because at this point they are not a legit contender. General manager Stan Bowman has to be feeling the heat, unlike last season, he has the cap space, prospects, draft picks and players to make some significant moves so basically there are no excuses. Sure, there are not a ton of pieces that seem to be available but there are some noteworthy candidates that would make an immediate impact for Chicago that are available such as a Derek Roy or Paul Gaustad from the Buffalo Sabres.

The pressure on Bowman to make a move has increased immensely considering that Steve Montador is more than likely gone for the season, Niklas Hjalmarsson has concussion like symptoms, Jonathan Toews injury is being downplayed but many feel it is also concussion related, and agitator Dan Carcillo is also done for the season. Brendan Morrison is not going to do the trick especially being a healthy scratch many times since he was acquired from the Calgary Flames.

It’s no secret that the Blackhawks have had holes since the beginning of the season and little has been done to help find a solution to adjust those holes. Just recently, the Blackhawks coaching staff finally implemented a better defensive system along with a new penalty kill structure. The Blackhawks management’s lackadaisical and seemingly non urgent attitude to strengthen the team’s weaknesses are frustrating a lot of people.

It has only been two years since the dismantling of the Stanley Cup team and it’s understandable that it takes time to rebuild, however, with the Blackhawks core and many pieces to use as trade bait plus a plethora of cap space there are no excuses for Stan Bowman. It’s now or never for Mr. Bowman, he’d better improve the team or he will most certainly be on the NHL unemployment line sooner than later.

Let’s see if he does something to impress…. then perhaps we will take a look at this again.

I’m sure most don’t want to hear “we were unable to do anything by or at the trade deadline, teams were just not willing to deal”

Thanks for reading as always,

TK0N

 

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

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