Only the Biggest Game of the Year

One thing you could say about the 2009-2010 Chicago Blackhawks, they don’t enjoy making life easy for themselves.  After a disheartening loss in Game 3, the Hawks need to re-establish the home-ice advantage as well avoiding the ever-frightening elimination games. 

To bring any kind of spark to the Hawks will be Adam Burish and Bryan Bickell.  Say this for Burish, he can certainly talk a great game.

“We have to have more urgency,” Burish said. “We didn’t have that urgency to our game. In the playoffs, you have to have that.  They dictated the pace. To win in the playoffs it’s not always about your skill. It’s about who is going to work harder, who is going to be more competitive, who is going to have that will to win. When you look across the ice and see that guy next to you, you have to think that guy is not going to beat me, he’s not going to out-will me, he’s not going to outwork me.”

That’s great and all, but no one should be fooled by Adam Burish the player and Adam Burish the public speaker.  

Bickell will skate with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, at least for part of the game.  I can’t imagine a scenario where he sees more than 15 minutes of ice, but crazier things have happened.  Hossa and Toews will be great linemates someday, just not right now. 

Patrick Sharp moves back to center between Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky.  This should come as a surprise to no one as Dave Bolland has been mostly awful and this line combination was one of the few that mounted any kind of attack in Game 3.  Not to mention, Sharp and Hossa were quite dangerous together before Bolland returned from his back injury.

Bolland will center Andrew Ladd and Kris Versteeg.  Fine, whatever.  All three have been supremely disappointing thus far so it’s only fitting that they team up together.  Do three wrongs make a right?  Let’s hope so.

The fourth line looks like it will be Burish, Madden, and Brouwer.  The downfall of Brouwer is hard to pinpoint.  He missed the last couple weeks of the season to be with his ill father.  Maybe there’s more going on behind the scenes with that, but it’s still a tad bizarre how a guy can go from 20 goal scorer and top line winger to 4th line winger in a matter of games. 

Brian Campbell sounds like a game-time decision and certainly if he does play, it’s going to make for another decision by Joel Quenneville and staff.  Does Dustin Byfuglien get scratched or does he take Burish, Bickell or Brouwer’s spot as a forward?  It will be something to watch for sure. 

It won’t take a heroic effort to even up the series but it’s not going to be easy, either.  The Hawks have seen what happens when they try and loaf through a period or two.  They could make life a whole lot easier for themselves by converting on more than one power play but let’s not go around begging for miracles.

This game will not be for the faint of heart.  If you need to, keep an oxygen mask close by.

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10 Responses to Only the Biggest Game of the Year

  1. Dale Halas says:

    Looking at the shift charts it’s pretty straightforward what is going on. The teams are primarily matching 1 against 1’s, 2 against 2’s, and so on. The results have been that the Hawks first line was generally “winning” in which side of the rink they were playing on. They just weren’t scoring.

    And Kane has had some success on the second line.

    The killer has been the Preds grinders have been “stomping all over” the Hawks 3rd and 4th lines. Legwand’s line in particular is where the damage has been.

    It makes total sense to me what the Hawks Coach is trying to do with these new lines. I talked once about the reverse Peter Principle and to me Coach Q is implementing it. If your bottom centers are getting their butts handed to them then move the second center to third, the third center to fourth and sit your fourth line center. Also putting Toews and Kane together with Ladd and Bolland together probably means more 1 against 3 and 3 against 1 situations. Hey if Legwand is hurting you then you want him playing against Toews and this is as good a way as any to do that…

    I’ve said all year that the Hawks only have 4 top 6 forwards. And their top 2 lines might be better than most but they still aren’t dominate lines that can take over a series. At least not the way the pens or caps first lines can. You stated in this blog that that was OK since the Hawks had more team depth. Well all I can say is that team depth better show up. And Coach Q is doing what he needs to do to shore up those bottom two lines. So now it’s up to the players….

  2. feyer says:

    Game time decision? No – that decision has already been made. Soupy has been skating for like a week now so there is nothing he can do in the pre-game skate that they already don’t know. The fact they are mentioning him as a possibility indicates he is a go. Burish is in the right frame of mind now after watching from the pressbox to be the player he is capable of being, and I’m confident that his “talk” will translate into play as long as he doesn’t take stupid penalties. Heck, that might have been Q’s plan all along to hold him out till he was hungry enough. Same thing for Bickell. He has to be chomping on the bit to make an impact. If Buff moves up, I say he doesn’t take the spot of either of those guys. I think Buff will play. He has the capability to get into Rinne’s kitchen and start messing with his head, and the hawks will need more of that. I’ve got my oxygen mask on standby…

  3. blackhawkbob says:

    Feyer:

    I agree with half your point concerning Campbell. I’m of the opinion they already know that he will not play – if for no other reason than rushing back a defenseman with a shoulder issue during the playoffs is a very risky proposition.

  4. Leonidas says:

    Soup’s on!

    Well, according to that Rogers guy on ESPN. Maybe they gave him Johnsson’s collar bone.

  5. John says:

    I like that idea. Johnsson is the official Blackhawk cadaver. Anybody who tears a ligament or breaks any bones can just borrow some of his.

  6. Nick says:

    John, I don’t know where you get the notion that Versteeg has been disappointing. He has done everything to deserve to have at least 4 goals in this series but has been denied by an outstanding Pekka Rinne. He has been backchecking and had some prime chances. I haven’t seen him get stickhandled into submission at all this series.

  7. John says:

    He also let Legwand get behind him for the game-winning goal on Tuesday. He really did nothing in Games 1 and 2. I’m fairly certain he missed the net on his partial breakaway in Game 3 and didn’t even require Rinne to make a save. If you’re going to call out Hossa even though he was the best forward for the Hawks in the first two games, I think it’s ok to call Versteeg disappointing.

  8. Dave Morris says:

    Adam Burish For President.

    As Q might say, “Most important game in the history of the Blackhawks franchise.”

    The Preds are a much better team than most people give them credit for…and the Blackhawks are not as good a team as the hype makes them out to be.

    When Pekka Rinne gets a free ride, instead of the bashing and crashing Chicago laid on Kipper and BabaLu last year, he’ll look like Turk Broda.

    And please, no more drop passes.

    If the Hawks can win tonight, and somehow survive this series, it will be a major accomplishment.

    It all depends how much they *really* want it.

  9. Dale Halas says:

    You guys off the ledge now? :)

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