This preview is going to be fairly easy, because the team looks extremely similar to the one that was ousted in the first round by Phoenix last season. Bowman added a couple of names under the radar, but no one that is really going to jump out at the casual fan right away, or maybe ever. There are questions at #2 center, just like last season, and questions about goaltending, again like last season. Lets jump right into it:
|29||Bryan Bickell||6'4" 233|
|36||Dave Bolland||6'0" 184||52||Brandon Bollig||6'2" 223||13||Dan Carcillo||6'0" 203||67||Michael Frolik||6'1" 198||81||Marian Hossa||6'1" 210||88||Patrick Kane||5'11" 181||16||Marcus Kruger||6'0" 181||22||Jamal Mayers||6'1" 222||20||Brandon Saad||6'1" 202||10||Patrick Sharp "A"||6'1" 199||65||Andrew Shaw||5'10" 180||25||Viktor Stalberg||6'3" 209||19||Jonathan Toews "C"||6'2" 208|
The only difference between last season and this, is that Andrew Brunette was dropped for Brandon Saad. I'm not going to spent time previewing players that we already know from top to bottom, rather focus on some wild cards.
It's anyone's guess what Saad will be asked to do, because the roster is as tight as a virgin on prom night. I'd love to see him matched up with some talent like Toews, Kane, Sharp or Hossa, rather than rotting away on the forth line. That will really do no one any good. If they are planning on that, then just send him back to Rockford, so he can actually play more than 5 meaningful minutes a night.
Carcillo will still be a point of contention on this blog as well as any others that collectively possess a single brain between them, because he is a grade-a knucklehead. Even after the infamous cheap shot that injured the opposing player and tore his own knee up, the meatballs continue to defend his actions like he runs some kind of cult. Bowman was clearly drinking the kool-aid when he re-signed Carcillo for two more seasons. For the fans sakes, I hope he cleans his ass up, because it'll drive me mad if he continues to run around like a clown. That is asking ALOT!
The rest of the forwards are the usual cast of characters, with Quenneville trying Bolland out at the #2 center spot, for the moment. I have been wanting to see him succeed there for a few seasons, but he seemed to love dogging other team's top centers from the shutdown line. Time to grow up and step into the spotlight, little Bolly. Shaw will take over the 3rd line center spot in Bolland's place, until this experiment goes belly up. I would prefer Kruger as the #3 and Shaw on the energy line, but that doesn't look to be in the cards for opening night, at least.
Frolik is an interesting player to watch, under the radar. If he can recapture some confidence once again, I would be quite a happy camper. I just cannot find it in my heart, or mind, to give up on him, and he has talent. If he makes it back from the depths of Q's Doghouse, this team immediately goes from good to dangerous.
Bickell is in a contract year and needs to prove his worth, so hopefully his agent sits him down and explains just how to extenuate ones talents for open market desirability. In other word, DO WHAT YOU DO WELL, DUMMY!
I really hope that some of these question marks pan out, because if we are left to count on a trade deadline acquisition, Bowman has shown us that we will be sadly disappointed once again.
|17||Sheldon Brookbank||6'1" 202|
|4||Nik Hjalmarsson||6'3" 207||2||Duncan Keith "A"||6'1" 200||8||Nick Leddy||6'0" 191||5||Steve Montador||6'0" 210||27||Johnny Oduya||6'0" 190||32||Michal Rozsival||6'1" 212||7||Brent Seabrook||6'3" 221|
The defensive corp comes in deeper, in general, than last year. Thank god for that, right? The place they WILL be hurting is that 7th or 8th defender. Since that glorious part of last season when Quenneville assisted in pummeling Montador's brain into brown mush last season, Montador has never fully recovered. We might never see him in a Hawks jersey, or even on the ice, ever again. If someone goes down, they are going to be counting on the acquisitions of Brookbank or Rozsival to help. After that, it's a crapshoot. Olsen, Stanton, Dahlbeck, Clendening and Lavin are just a few names that might be called upon, in an emergency, but you won't see much out of them. Olsen has fallen drastically down the depth chart, in Rockford. Dahlbeck and Clendening could be sleepers if the dice are rolled just right.
Seabrook and Keith are who they always are. The steady top minute eating workhorses that Quenneville and the Hawks lean on heavily. With as much press and exposure Keith gets, Seabrook is the glue on the back end. Expect another season of high ice time numbers for these two, and lets HOPE for a return to excellence for Keith.
The second pair will most likely be Oduya and Leddy, which is not all that bad; If we get the Oduya of the regular season, and not the one that got rolled over against Phoenix. I'm not an Oduya hater by any stretch of the imagination and if they can manage to clear Leddy's pants of the ants he carries in them, we'll all be happy.
The third pair will be Hjalmarsson and Rozsival, or Hammer and Brookbank. Based on his size and experience, I would like the think that Rozsival holds the edge, but whenever I try to read Q's mind, it gets me nowhere. Expect the unexpected. If Montador was healthy, I would tell you that Hjalmarsson would be out the door ASAP, but he lives to fight another season in Chicago.
|50||Corey Crawford||6'2" 208|
|30||Ray Emery||6'2" 196|
Another season, same goaltending issues. Crawford wasn't terrible last year, but he wasn't good either. Very vanilla for the Crow man, and the way the playoffs ended just left us all with an awful taste in our mouths, something like your first shot of Malort. This is Crawford's last chance as the Hawks starting goalie. If he regains his form, it's his job until his contract is up. If he fails, he'll be watching games while opening the bench door for his teammates next season. I have faith in the guy, and I'm really hoping he puts things back together. With only 48 games, there is no time to experiment or hit a cold streak.
Emery is, to quote Dennis Green, exactly who we thought he was. He's a serviceable backup that can be called on to start for short stretches, in a pinch. He is simply too fragile for the grind of a starting position. I, for one, am fine with that if Crawford returns to form. If not, we are pinning our hopes on a guy with hips worse than an inbred German Shepard, and a heavy 5 month grind. I'm not very confident about THAT. Hutton and Richards won't be any help from Rockford, and even though Kent Simpson and Mac Carruth are lighting the world on fire for their respective teams, they aren't carrying this team to the Stanley Cup; yet.
Until then, enjoy this message from the Blackhawks:
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