Ok. No excuses now. The Hawks should be back in game shape by now and operating like the hockey robots we claim they are – right?
Hopefully Dan Carcillo hasn’t ended anyone’s career, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook haven’t been overused by Coach Q and Corey Crawford has regained his groove as the #1 in Chicago by this point in the season.
If the stars don’t align and the Hawks start off with a less than desirable record to the upper brass, then there might be some changes. Quenneville made the call and let fan and player favourite Mike Haviland go to bring in his old pal Jamie Kompon. This immediately put him on a short leash with management especially considering the other possibilities out there to help with the Hawks special teams, Q still opted to bring in Kompon who LA Kings fans deemed too incompetent in this department despite winning the Stanley Cup.
But let’s not be a negative Nelly and instead, let’s put on our glass is half full glasses. Perhaps the Blackhawks start off with an explosive start and either a refocused Patrick Kane or a bulked up Marcus Kruger fills their second line centre woes. Johnny Oduya is as good as he was down the stretch to help lighten the load for Keith and Seabrook and what do you know, Corey “Don’t Call Me a One Hit Wonder” Crawford looks like a premiere #1 goalie in this league.
Regardless on how it plays out, let’s see what’s in store for the Hawks in games #21 – #40:
Wed Nov 28 – Blackhawks @ Wild – The latest winner of Extreme Hockey Makeover, the Wild have a new snazzy look this year. I challenge you on this though, outside of Ryan Suter can you name the remaining players that will form this defense corps? I’ll give you a couple minutes… … ok I’ll help you out:
Justin Falk, Tom Gilbert, Steven Kampfer, Jared Spurgeon and Clayton Stoner. Now, I’m not hating on the Wild because I think they’re much improved and will pose as a difficult opponent but I just don’t see an elite team with these top 6 on the backend.
Fri Nov 30 – Flames @ Blackhawks – Jay Feaster? You still there? You are?! Wow.
Sun Dec 2 – Sharks @ Blackhawks – December starts with the third matchup in 2012 against the Sharks. At this point, Joe Pavelski leads the pack (is that what a group of Sharks are called?) in points. Good thing they didn’t include him in a trade for Rick Nash! Just wait, you’ll see!
Tue Dec 4 – Blackhawks @ Canadiens – Marc Bergevin is desperately trying to make his mark as a rookie GM. He still has a challenging piece of business with P.K. Subban still unsigned. A full season of Andre Markov seems implausible but not as much as Tomas Kaberle regaining his days with the Leafs; if either of these come close to true, the Habs will be much more improved on D but still need Subban to continue to grow as a person and a player.
Fri Dec 7 – Devils @ Blackhawks – I grew up idolizing the now ageless Martin Brodeur and his performance last year proves that he is one of the all-time greats. However, after signing a 2-year deal to end his career in the Garden State I can’t help but to think his fall from supremacy is right around the Parise-less corner.
Sun Dec 9 – Blues @ Blackhawks – Sunday-Funday brings the St. Louis Blues in for the 2nd match this season, this time on the Hawks turf. It seems Q always dresses his muscle for these games (see past highlights of John Scott on the bench) and I’m sure this year will be no different. Expect to see a lot of Reaves and Nichol matched with Bollig and Mayers to decide on the playground if my team’s tougher than your team.
Tue Dec 11 – Blackhawks @ Islanders – Hey there Islanders, we almost forgot about you. Oh don’t be upset, if I was traded to you I’d be happy to go and report for duty. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be able to carpool with Lubomir Visnovsky. Visnovsky, who has filed a grievance with the league (http://www.torontosun.com/2012/07/23/visnovsky-reportedly-files-grievance-over-trade-to-islanders) saying he did not give his approval before the Ducks traded him in June to the Isles for a 2nd rounder. This, according to “Lubo” was in direct violation of his no-trade clause. The sad part for the Islanders is, not only have they heard this song before (with current goaltender Nabokov), Visnovsky might be the veteran piece they need to help Streit with the youngters on the back end on Long Island.
Thu Dec 13 – Blackhawks @ Sabres –The Hawks head to Buffalo where Kane will be looking to show off a little in front of friends and family. Last season didn’t exactly go the way the Sabres had planned but I don’t think it’ll take much to get them back on track. In comes superpest Steve Ott and will make Kaleta look like a house fly in comparison to him. These disturbers mixed with the growth of the tenacious group of young players like Gerbe, Hodgins, Ennis and Myers should make them competitive night in and night out.
Sat Dec 15 – Blackhawks @ Blues – I’m not a Blues fan but this guy is going to be fun to watch – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f7o3Yj5TEyM. St. Louis fans have a lot to look forward to in the future with this guy, a pure goal scorer.
Sun Dec 16 – Flames @ Blackhawks –Who in the world is Roman Cervenka? He’s the Flames #1 centre… THAT’S who he is! So hopefully he is as good as advertised because the Flames don’t have much down the middle and no Matt Stajan doesn’t count. Hopefully for Flames fans out there their team doesn’t play as confused as I am confused with their gameplan.
Tue Dec 18 – Blackhawks @ Wild – This is about the time the Wild fell apart last year due to injuries. This year if they can live up to the hype just a little, the playoffs are definitely in their future. Like I mentioned earlier, I don’t think they’re quite an elite team, but a very competitive team.
Sun Dec 23 – Ducks @ Blackhawks – Corey and Ryan, just in case you’re missing your Canadian Holiday weather from your childhood, don’t fret, a trip to the Windy City should bring back some memories. While the 12 or so Canadians on their roster are reminiscing, the Hawks will hand them a nicely wrapped loss! Meanwhile Bob Murray checks his list… and he checks it twice and yep Justin Schultz is still on his naughty list!!
Wed Dec 26 – Predators @ Blackhawks – The Predators never cease to amaze so I can only assume Barry Trotz has him team near the top of the West and all in time for the holidays. Even without Suter, no one can dismiss this team, I do every time the Hawks face them and I’m usually regretting it by the third period. Stupid me.
Fri Dec 28 – Hurricanes @ Blackhawks – Staal to Staal… back to Staal… GOAL. What a great trade for both the Carolina and Pittsburgh organizations. Ray Shero traded Jordan as he knew he couldn’t keep him and gained a great replacement as the third line pivot, Brandon Sutter as well as a prospect and a 1st overall pick.
In this trade, Rutherford reunites Jordan with his bro-bro Eric, along with his other saavy off-season moves, this makes their top six just as good as any in the league. Newly acquired, Alex Semin joins ex-Hawk Tuomo Ruutu, stud Jeff Skinner and the always-consistent Jussi Jokinen to round out the top two lines. I like what the Canes have done and I like Cam Ward so you get my vote Carolina.
Sun Dec 30 – Oilers @ Blackhawks – The Oilers come into town to face the Hawks as both teams play their 2nd last games of the year. The Hawks head to Columbus after the game. While Edmonton jump on a plane for Minnesota.
Mon Dec 31 – Blackhawks @ Blue Jackets –What better place to spend New Year’s than in Columbus? At least Kaner shouldn’t be able to get into too much trouble in Ohio… then again I’m sure he could.
Wed Jan 2 – Rangers @ Blackhawks – The Blackhawks welcome the Rangers to the United Center to start 2013. Marian Gaborik should be back in the lineup (torn labrum) and flying down Nash’s right wing. With grumpy ol’ Tortorella behind the bench you can never count out the Rangers.
Sat Jan 5 – Blackhawks @ Capitals – Mike Ribeiro will be the Caps’ red and white this season as McPhee tries to find those supporting pieces for Ovechkin and Co. They are counting on Brandon Holtby to be the real deal as Voukon took his talents to Pittsburgh to back up MA Fleury. I will enjoy watching Troy “Dumptruck” Brouwer play in this game as I feel as if he wasn’t given a fair shot in Chicago and have always been a fan.
Sun Jan 6 – Red Wings @ Blackhawks – Nik Lidstrom retires and although Ken Holland knew this day was coming, how do you really prepare to replace a player like #5. The Red Wings have some work ahead of them and although I can still see them acquiring a minute burglar on the back end they have to think about a winning-by-committee approach to this season.
Tue Jan 8 – Blackhawks @ Predators – A 101 point season in the OHL, a 1.42 PPG in the playoffs during his OHL career and a gold along with 2 silvers for Team Canada in the World Jr. Championships. I know he’s been relatively unproven but Ryan Ellis is just 21 years old and I will go out on a limb and say that this is Ellis’ year, with the added ice time with Suter’s departure.
There you have it. As I run out of analyzing off-season acquisitions and movement, the next couple blogs on the final half of the season could get a little wacky. Hey – don’t say I didn’t warn you.
Non-Hawk Hockey Topics on the Brain: It’s maddening with the lack of movement throughout the league right now. Obviously all signals point to a shortened season as talks last week did not go well and no future meetings between the NHL and NHLPA have been scheduled. Yikes. But when looking at the remaining RFA’s, these players better hope the season isn’t resolved too quickly or they’ll have to scramble to negotiate their new deal. I know some are slowly working on it and this is another signal that sides aren’t close when the caliber is: Jamie Benn, Evander Kane, Del Zotto, Ennis, John Carlson, etc. Keep an eye out for when multiple deals start to happen, that should signify that there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Non-Hockey Topics on the Brain: I cannot wait for the upcoming TV premieres next week. Hopefully there are some exciting new shows that catch my eye because I just tortured myself by writing this blog with Bachelor Pad in the background… wow, some truly awful stuff!
I’m not a huge NFL fan, so with a potentially shortened NHL season I am crossing my fingers for some fun new TV shows. Chicago Fire looks interesting – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chicago_Fire_%28TV_series%29 I’ll be to checking that out. And I know Matthew Perry is probably cueing himself up for another fail with his new show “Go On” – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go_On_%28TV_series%29 as he hasn’t had the best of luck holding down a show since he was on Friends. That’s not a slight to Perry, I mean Mr. Sunshine wasn’t great but I loved “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip” but it didn’t last, apparently it was too awesome.
Ty Cam out! (@tycam)
Filed Under: Chicago Blackhawks
About the Author: I am a rare Chicago Blackhawks fan from Canada, one might describe me as a hockey connoisseur and a solid checking line centre to your local rec hockey team. I once lived in a town of 500 people and now work in the hockey mecca that is Toronto. I work for the Score Television Network so I couldn't get away from sports if I tried. These opinions are one of my own and not of Score Media Inc. - don't get it twisted.