It has taken a couple of years but now Canuck GM Mike Gillis has put together a group which can play physical hockey and stay out of the box. Maybe the Canucks can’t play for 60 minutes the away they did in the opening twenty last night, but it probably isn’t necessary to defeat the Hawks.
If the Canucks could perform for sixty minutes with the same physicality and skill they displayed in the opening frame on Wednesday night, the Blackhawks would have zero chance of winning this series. As it is now the Hawks probably put forth enough effective effort during the second and third periods to give fans a ray of hope.
Those which want to believe the Roberto Luongo was fortunate to get a shutout, I agree. But don’t forget the most important point, Luongo was really sharp and although Corey Crawford was very good, Bobby Lu was better. Actually Luongo doesn’t have to outplay Crawford to win the series. He only has to not allow bad goals. A good Luongo will be enough to send the Canucks into the second round and last night he was much better than good.
Maybe an important factor to realize is the best goal scoring chances came from the newly formed, old number one line. If Joel Quenneville can play Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane for 27 or 28 minutes a night, Luongo and his mates could have their hands full.
The Ducks employ a similar method by playing Corey Perry and company many minutes in each game. But they are big, tough players who are used to shouldering the load. After the way this season has gone Toews, Kane and Sharp probably wouldn’t last very long playing many more minutes.
Quenneville will still try to lean heavily on his number one line because he really doesn’t have any other choice. Changes will come this summer but for now Coach Q. is overmatched and has no answers.
The Hawks have been exposed as a one line team relying heavily on a few players. That is the opposite of the Canucks and exactly 180 degrees away from the type of team the Blackhawks were last season.
If Hawk management can’t find a center which can play effectively with Marian Hossa he will be no more than an overpaid luxury item.
Hossa isn’t a spring chicken and as it is now he can’t string together top scoring performances. Oh, I realize he has elite talent and is one of the better two- way players in the game. But no one pays $7.9 million, Hossa’s salary for this season, for a strong back checker.
Forget about getting six shots on goal, last night Hossa needed to be the best Blackhawk. Hossa had to be the whole show in a game the Hawks desperately needed. I’m not talking about good, I mean a difference maker. See Pavel Datsyuk’s performance from last night as an example.
On most nights I love watching Hossa play and appreciate his natural talent but…For the Hawks to move forward from a playoff bubble team to a true Stanley Cup contender Hossa has to be better or at least make others better.
The last time Hossa scored 100 points was in 2006-2007 with the Thrashers. That was also the last time he has played a full season. Since then Hossa’s highest point total is only 71 from 2008-209. Actually that was the only time Hossa has achieved at least 70 points since his 100 point campaign in Atlanta.
Much of the issue is Hossa can’t stay healthy. He isn’t getting any younger and his body parts are the same, so maybe that won’t change.
The way Hossa’s contract is weighted the Hawks are on the hook for $7.9 million through the 2015-2016 season. That is unless Stan Bowman could find a way to trade him.
Having Hossa cycle the puck endlessly and not convert the effort into scoring chances, goals or assists is only pretty watch. Certainly it’s entertaining but not worth almost $8 million per season.
There are many things to fix here before next season. On the top of Bowman’s list should be to find a center to play with Hossa or to find a way to deal him elsewhere.
Trading Hossa is less likely than being able to find a center who can compliment him. But that won’t be an easy task either. Hossa isn’t a breeze to play with as he has only really clicked with Toews while in Chicago.
One issue is Hossa and Kane play the same position. But the Hawks’ front office knew that and still signed Hossa through 2021. He helped the Hawks capture the Cup last year but… Either Hossa can’t do more or is being underutilized.
I’m hoping age and injuries haven’t caught up with Hossa. Hopefully it is more a case of being underutilized. Right now having Hossa on this club is like driving a Testarossa only in rush hour traffic.
Sure the car looks great in your driveway and the neighbors are probably envious. But in many ways the expense can’t be justified.
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