Monday, November 28, 2011

Puckin Thanksgiving Gripes and Grudges

With the infamous circus trip over, the Blackhawks can focus on a more normal schedule. The management also has to get back in the swing of things, and gear up for the playoff run. It was pretty clear during the road trip that there are some outstanding issues with this team. Here are a few highlights:
  • Beat writers aside, it's become pretty apparent that the young prophet, Ben Smith, isn't the savior everyone promised. In all fairness to Ben Smith, those are some pretty lofty expectations cast on a guy that has played a total of 15 NHL games. He's just not that kind of player. He's a role guy that could swing from 3rd liner to fill in top 6 guy in a pinch. He had 2 good games in April, and the whole Chicagoland area was suddenly moist with the thought of the sandy haired kid playing for the Hawks. You would have thought he was going to be the next JR the way the media and fans talked him up. If this was the case, John Druce, Chris Kontos, Fernando Pisani, and Sean Bergenheim would be all of fame players with multiple scoring titles. He's never going to be that savior, people. If they let him be Ben Smith, he'll turn into a pretty solid 3rd line shutdown guy, but if everyone casts these delusions of grandeur on him, he's going to crack from the pressure, and end up Tony Salmelainen...or Fernando Pisani.

    Maybe SOME people think that keeping him on the roster as a practice player seems like a good idea, but I'm not one of those knuckleheads! He's not some over-the-hill veteran that can live with sitting in the press box, and collecting free cash. He is a young player that needs to PLAY. If he's not working out, then send him to Rockford, and let him PLAY THERE. Real novel and original idea, I know. Nothing good will come of a 23 year old Ben Smith, watching games. He needs to be out on the ice SOMEWHERE, so the management needs to swallow their pride, and send him down. PERIOD!
  • Car Bomb, Car Bomb, Car Bomb. Oh how we tried to love thee. The Honeymoon is over in Chicago, for Dan Carcillo, it seems. After opening up the season as the newest OTHER team darling, he has fallen from grace. He fell down the depth chart until he hit the bottom, which is sitting with Ben Smith and Sami Lepito in the skybox. We were sold this bill of goods, that stated we were getting a loose cannon forward that was going to hit everything that moves, and maybe somethings that don't move. All we ended up with, is a guy that seems to be afraid to take a bad penalty, and end up in the box. Maybe the the FEAR of going from the penthouse to the doghouse, actually SENT him to the doghouse anyway.

    Where does this story go from here? At the very least, He can be let loose on the 4th line. They out there for limited minutes, and NO ONE can try to tell me he's a worse forward than Big Slow. I take that back, you can TRY, but you'll be sorely mistaken. Let him run around, sans leash, with MegaMayers and whichever other winger is in the Q-House for that particular game. Just assume that he will do something completely mental, at some point, and ride the wave as long as we can. Maybe we can even coax the Dr. Jeckyl Car Bomb back out of the Q-House. Stranger things have happened, but two healthy scratches don't tell a fairy tale.
  • One-Trick-Bick. This mentally challenged young man is one step behind Car Bomb in the Q-House. He is ringing the buzzer and just waiting to be buzzed through. It's pretty obvious that last year's 37 points were somewhat of a fluke. He had only eclipsed that total once since 05-06, in the AHL. He did a good job of laying low, and surprising some goalies with his lazer of a wrist shot. The problem is that is takes him 36 hours to get the shot off, and now that teams have seen him, it's much easier to defend him. Couple that with the fact that he refuses to use his big frame to lay hits, and you have an issue. Well, not you specifically, but the large craniums in the Hawks management. He's barely making the league minimum, so really they can put him anywhere, even the press box, but there is no need to force feed us Bryan Bickell. StanBo can even dangle him out there as trade bait because, no doubt, some team is willing to take a chance on a big 25 year old body.
  • The curious case of Frodo. What more does this guy have to do to start scoring goals? He skated around like a fearless maniac; sometimes too much so. He's been recently shuffled up the lineup to play some top six minutes, but it hasn't pushed him over the edge. I'm hoping to see Quenneville give him a few more games at the top to see what he makes of it. He's only on pace for 28 points and that's just not good enough for a 23 year old with two 40+ point seasons under his belt, already. He's being outscored by Viktor Stalberg, for Christ Sakes! I REALLY like this kid, but if he can't pull it together, then maybe it's time to start dangling him out on the market for a big name. I'd rather not see that, but his age and fairly palatable cap number could be enticing.
  • Hammer Time. I was a strong supporter of StanBo's desire to bring Hjalmarsson back, even after the Sharks pulled their dick move, but he's wearing VERY thin on this guy. He's only 24 and his numbers are declining. Not only that, but it takes an act of god to get him to show a mean streak. It's really hard to play defense in the NHL if you don't have a mean streak, unless you have a plethora of god given talent or you have the mind of a brain surgeon, you're not going to get away with it long. Hammer has neither. Maybe the beating he takes from blocking shots takes THAT much of a toll on him, but my #4 defenseman making $3.5 million a year needs to either be punishing people, or putting up some points. Technically, he should be able to provide some relief on the PP, but the thought of that just brings on fits of laughter. There are kids in Rockford that are more than willing to throw their bodies around, and blocking shots isn't rocket science, folks. While I had no problem with the Hawks letting Niemi walk to keep Hammer, and still don't, he needs to start showing that we are on the better end of that deal. As things stand, that's not so certain.
  • Pick-to-Click Vik is becoming an interesting conundrum. He has been moved up and down the lineup which, in and of itself, could be the issue, and can't seem to lock himself in a spot. When you're put on the ice with two of the best players in the entire NHL, you need to be able to dunk a good portion of the insane chances you'll be given. While 13 points in 21 games is certainly not Bickell bad, the number of chances he's been given could have him over 20 points. There are a few missed open nets and wasted breakaways in there, that don't show up on the stats. I LOVE his speed, but he needs to tighten up. The Hawks don't need 40 goals from him, nor should they expect that, but a solid 20 goal/45 point season isn't too much to ask from all this opportunity.
  • I'm not even wasting time on the Big Slow, it's pointless, and everyone but Quenneville sees it.
  • Completely off topic: "Hey Paul Maurice (Canes) and Bruce Boudreau (Caps)? Happy Thanksgiving, you're fired!"

All this being said, it is certainly not all doom and gloom in the United Center, unless you factor in the chance that the NBA is going to be back to soften up the UC ice, in the very near future.
  • El Capitan is playing like a Captain and MVP
  • Hoss is solidly putting in a great season on both ends of the ice
  • Kaner is putting up some really good numbers during this "#2 center experiment"
  • Shooter is doing all the little things that they've always asked him to do.
  • While the goalies have looked soft at times, they have been fairly solid, generally speaking.
  • Marcus Kruger and MegaMayers have turned out to be very pleasant surprises. Kruger has been played everywhere, and done a very admirable job, while Mayers just puts on his hard hat and grabs his lunch box every night. Nothing fancy, but very effective.
  • Even though Leddy does have his brain farts, the kid is FAST, and to be logging these kind of important minutes, and NOT filling his diaper is a testament to his coconuts. He has even leapfrogged Hammer to become the #3 D-Man. Impressive for a 20 year old kid. ::cough::Toews-n-Kane::cough::

Shoutcast Player


Facebook Page

Blog Archive