With the first two games in the books to this 48 game schedule I wanted to offer my opinions of what I like and don’t like from the Hawks so far, early on. Just to prepare you for my in-season blogs, I can tell you now that I won’t be simply recapping each game and breaking down a box score for you. You can do that (and probably have done that already) on your own with numerous Chicago beat writers. What I hope to contribute, as a Blackhawks blogger is a different perspective to certain players and strategy I see from the comfort of my own couch.
So what do we know? Well, we know the Hawks are 2-0 with a win over the reigning Cup Champions in game #1 and last night a revenge win against those pesky Yotes. We know they have hit the back of the twine 11 times on the road which is a good thing considering the suspect goaltending.
None of this surprises me. What does surprise me was somebody, somewhere seems to have broken an age-long proverb “You Can’t Teach an Old Dog New Tricks”. Who is that sharp dressed mustached vigilante that has stolen Joel Quenneville’s identity behind the bench?
The ice time adjustment alone would have been enough to make me go to the local convenience store to by a lottery ticket. However, couple that with some changes I’ve noticed with Q’s coaching style and I might skip the ticket and hope to find millions directly deposited into my Super Savers bank account instead.
It looks like Q took the extended time off to break out his shammy and clean off those X’s and O’s that were almost permanently etched into his whiteboard for the last 3 years. I was not for the firing of Mike Haviland but maybe Coach Mustache is more comfortable he has his cronies Kitchen and Kompon with him.
I’ve noticed dump-ins and movement in the neutral zone that have these 2013 Blackhawks working as a cohesive unit rather than Kane/Stalberg/Player X trying to deke through the entire team just to lose it at the opposing blueline. This has allowed an actual forecheck to evolve which has been very inconsistent in recent years. The biggest key is working better with the personnel you’ve been given and not trying to force a stretch pass strategy when Jamal Mayers, not Kris Versteeg is on the receiving end. Not picking on you Jamal but times have changed.
Along with this movement in the neutral zone, the power play has more moving parts to appear “not as predictable” (as Q would say) and the penalty kill has looked more aggressive.
By no means am I planning a parade route because it’s just two games and this team has proven to be more up an down than my ego during Kids Jeopardy. Time will tell if my eyes were deceiving me or maybe the real Q escapes from the ropes that had him tied up in a basement somewhere. All I know is this style fits this team a lot better and if they can continue this balanced attack this new Quenneville is and all his colourful ties are A-OK in my books.
* The Blackhawks have acquired Henrik Karlsson from the Calgary Flames for a 7th round pick. Something was bound to give in Calgary as Jay Feaster had Karlsson and Leland Irving on waivers last week. I’m not too familiar with Karlsson but it’s a low risk move and gives the Hawks much needed goaltending depth. http://blackhawks.nhl.com/club/news.htm?id=651704&navid=DL|CHI|home
* I have to preface that I have a bit of a man-crush on Marcus Kruger so forgive my slightly biased view but I feel like he has been great so far this year and has given Q a great 4th line/PK option. He’s looked like he’s bulked up a little too. I know some fans are skeptical of Young Marcus’ skills but I love the way he plays and I’m not alone in my opinion as Coach Q instills a lot of faith with the game situations he puts his his Swedish center in.
* Hammer and Frolik have been a pleasant surprise with their enhanced play so far as well. Them playing overseas has given them an edge.
* Finally, if you haven’t seen it, the Rockford Icehogs were involved in a bench clearing brawl. I know it’s shocking that Kyle Beach is in the middle of this fiasco. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0mEk_OfLWg I’m not sure why Grand Rapids were so upset, I thought the Hogs looked pretty in pink.
Ty Cam out!
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 in the wonderful world of Advertising and these opinions are one of my own and not of my company - don't get it twisted.