Corey Crawford will be back between the pipes as the Blackhawks skate into San Jose Friday evening. It will take a consistent, effective game by every Hawks player, including Crawford, to get back on track after a six game skid. Under the best circumstances, the Sharks wouldn’t be an easy foe, and Friday night they have may have a significant edge. Steve Montador could be back after being sidelined with an upper body injury, but he isn’t the only player that may not be at 100 percent.
The flu bug is making its way through the Chicago dressing room as Bryan Bickell, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Nick Leddy and Viktor Stalberg have been bitten. Being out on an extended trip makes it more difficult to deal with the flu. This is a significant development, and if multiple players aren’t able to perform the Hawks road woes could continue.
San Jose should be an ornery opponent, as they have lost their last two games and are looking to gain some traction. To add to the Hawks’ woes, San Jose should be ready and focused as they have fallen two of the last three times they have faced the Hawks. A bright spot for the Blackhawks is they normally match-up pretty well against the Sharks.
San Jose prevailed in the previous meeting on home ice, but the Hawks actually outplayed them. Although dropping a 1-0 decision, Crawford was rock solid. That contest also featured one of the better defensive efforts this season from the Blackhawks.
The Sharks will want take advantage of home ice before leaving on their own nine-game road journey. The Hawks will look to overcome road woes and bounce back from the longest losing streak since the 2007-2008 campaign.
As Blackhawks fans look for any ray of hope and await a trade or two to inject life into their favorite club, let’s consider the plight of GM Stan Bowman.
Financial planning is a part of the formula for success in the NHL, but things can’t always be scripted on a spreadsheet. Before the February 27 trade deadline, Bowman has to try to improve his club.
In the NHL there are cost considerations, as general managers operated in a salary cap world. Bowman for example, is well aware of the salary cap hell that followed winning the Stanley Cup.
Last summer, defenseman Brian Campbell was pushed out the door and sent packing to Florida. The Hawks gained about $4 million in salary cap relief for this season, with more to follow in coming years. Chicago picked up forward Rostislav Olesz in exchange, who has played most of this season in Rockford.
Shortly after the trade, Bowman told Yahoo Sports, “We’ve worked hard over the last week or so to determine the teams that had the most interest to get the most value.”
Blackhawks fans can debate the wisdom of dumping Campbell’s contract and the effect on the club’s performance this season. One thing that can’t be argued is thus far the Hawks haven’t received any value in return for Campbell, except for the additional salary cap space.
The Blackhawks can’t play the same type of effective transition game without Campbell. More disturbing is that they are still trying to do so, as Joel Quenneville continues to speak of a playing a fast transition style. Coach Q. could be stuck in the past just as Lovie Smith still insists the Bears are a running football team.
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