The Blackhawks continue the streak and have their eyes on the prize against the Sharks on Friday night. The prize being a page in the history books as the most games played gaining consecutive points to start a season at 17.
The incident that has the Blackhawks attention after the battle with the Canucks is the Jannik Hansen hit on Hossa. The word came down from Shenaniganhan that Hansen will receive a 1 game suspension for his careless act. Whether there was intent there or not, no one will ever know; well all of us except Ms. Cleo or JoJo and her psychic alliance.
Most of the media has centered their attention on this winning/point/can’t stop, won’t stop string of games this Chicago team has put together since this lockout lifted. They will now be tested potentially without the likes of Marian Hossa for a TBD amount of time, Seabrook (who’s singing Soprano) and Corey Crawford with his Upper Bobby Ryan injury.
However, this blogger has fixated his attention on that of the centre… position that is. Your centres last year consisted of the same recipe you see today with a little less Jamal Mayers twist, sans Brendan Morrison and thank the Lord, sans Kane. Don’t get me wrong, Kane was fine in the pivot but is elite on the wing. Seriously would Kane have flourished like he has this year force fed as a centre? Doubt it.
It is not easy to play in the middle in the NHL, I’m just basing this on assumption, I’m not an NHL centre, I just play one on TV. For this reason, I was willing to cut Andrew Shaw a break moving from his time at wing last year as he looked a little lost like John Locke at the start of the season. He is now currently sporting a 48% faceoff winning percentage, good for 2nd on the team and has settled in nicely on the 3rd line.
I was a strong advocate of trying Dave Bolland (for an extended period please Q) on the 2nd line and specifically wanted to see what he could do with Sharp and/or Kane. The line isn’t perfect but rivals any other team’s secondary scoring. It was the progression of young Marcus Kruger, that made it more plausible that this was going to be the year that Bolly finally got a look on a line other than the 3rd. Kruger, however is looking great in a lesser 4th line & top PK unit role in the 2013 season, the latter is taking more pressure off of the other guys than one may think. Kruger is clipping away at a 2:47/game SH TOI (up 105% from 11-12) while Toews and Bolland have been able to rest a little more with the time going down 10% and 23% respectively.
So let’s recap:
- Toews is Toews
- Bolland could be the future 2nd line centre fans have been asking Bowman for
- Shaw is Bolland-lite
- Kruger is a wizard in a child’s body with great potential, a little like Harry Potter
The dynamic has changed so much for Quenneville this year down the middle. There shouldn’t be any reason to wonder, outside of Q’s stubbornness and the poor faceoff prowess (yes, the Hawks who are not named Toews still can’t win a draw) that you should be questioning the coaches’ decision to play any line, anytime. Along with the depth on the wings, all of these centres are extremely responsible in their own end; especially when you promote one of the best shutdown 3rd line centres to the 2nd line.
THIS, is a huge reason for Q’s change of heart to role the lines the way he has done to date this season. But… BUT, what happens when Bowman has to make that call to Rockford for a temp?
Martin St. Pierre is not going anywhere outside of the Rockford team bus.
Brandon Pirri is not going anywhere because he’s not a “Q player” it appears but he has great upside.
Jimmy Hayes is not a centre… stop trying to force that and let the kid play his game.
Rob Flick is your future 4th line centre in 2 years.
… and if we want to look at potential impact C’s in the future:
Mark McNeill might end up being a better winger, he definitely has the size, just needs to be consistent as a pro next year.
Philip Danault is a favourite of mine (not going to hide it) as I’ve seen him live and watched him closely in the Q and for Team Canada; he is a coach’s dream with the skillset and motor he brings to every single game.
The Hawks are in a good spot right now but a David Steckel/Nate Thompson type player would be a great add come deadline time. Not saying those guys per se, but a centre who can win important faceoffs is vital to the Hawks playoff success.
Ok, I can’t say centre anymore.
- UPDATE: Marian Hossa is on the ice today (2/21). I repeat he is on the ice. Great news for him personally and for the Blackhawks organization.
- There was a lot of chatter over the Blackhawks/Canucks game with fans from outside of the team’s fanbase commenting on this rivalry. I’m sorry, this matchup has nothing on the current beef the Flyers and Pens have with each other. The Flyers hung on to win 6-5 Wednesday, which was highlighted by plenty of extra-curricular activity.
- I mentioned this on the ol’ tweet machine on Tuesday night but I’ll reiterate; if the Hawks had Carcillo in the lineup on the top line instead of skating Saad there, the outcome could have been different. Yes, Hossa still would have been hit but Carcillo wouldn’t have let Toews be the one to approach Hansen after the hit. He would have nullified the PP (that did nothing most of the night) but also could have set the tone moving forward in the game.
- Kevin Hayes suspended indefinitely? Ruh oh! http://www.uscho.com/2013/02/15/boston-colleges-hayes-suspended-indefinitely-for-violation-of-team-rules/
Ty Cam out!
Filed Under: NHL
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.