–Troy Brouwer is continuing his downward spiral through the Blackhawks depth chart. In his last ten games, Brouwer has 0 goals and 2 assists and his +/- is an even 0. That is completely unacceptable for a guy playing on the second line and with two of the most offensively skilled guys(the two Patricks) on the team. While playing solid in the defensive zone and sticking up for his linemates was commendable for a time, he’s done nothing offensively to justify his top-6 status. Q’s latest effort to motivate him included dropping him to the fourth line Saturday night and scratching him from the line-up Sunday. This is the second time Quenneville has done this in the past couple weeks. Cam Barker returned from the doghouse last night (more on him coming up) and this may be the last chance Brouwer gets before he’s shipped back to Rockford. If Brouwer doesn’t come back and at least produce some solid scoring chances, it will be a short trip across I-90 for him.
–In Troy Brouwer’s absence on the second line was Ben Eager. This is totally undocumented but when Kane was hurt with his ankle sprain and Eager saw action with the second line, I thought to myself, ‘hhmmm, I wonder what he would look like playing with Sharp and Kane.’ Eager throws his body around, will cause turnovers in the offensive zone, and won’t hesitate to clock someone if they’re getting frisky with his linemates. Call him a poor man’s Tuomo Ruutu. Keep an eye out for his play the next couple weeks as they will probably go a long way in determining his Blackhawk fate.
–I’m sure Patrick Kane is frustrated and I’m pretty sure he’s more hurt than the team is letting on, but just because an opponent is putting clean checks on him doesn’t mean he has to take unprovoked swings at them. At the end of the second period, Greg Zanon rode him hard into the boards. Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk immediately called it a clean check. Kane took exception, gave Zanon a little shove, and his teammates came to protect him. In the third, he got his clock cleaned on an open ice hit. Then later, he got checked along the boards and a whistle ensued. Unfortunately, the broadcast went straight to commercial but just before, they showed Patrick Sharp skating towards the corner where the check was. Kane is going to have to grow thicker skin otherwise the checks will be coming with even more frequency. Not to mention, if he takes swings after every check, his teammates are going to tire of this routine pretty quickly and start thinking he’s a (rhymes with ‘glitch’).
–Cam Barker made his glorious return to the line-up last night and he played pretty well. Q scratched Barker in five of the last six games. He had a couple of big checks in the first period, played solid in his own end (by Barker’s standard), and had a couple of scoring opportunities. Hopefully, this is the kick in the keyster Barker needed because I can’t take much more of Matt Walker playing important minutes. Walker almost cost the ‘Hawks the lead late when he unnecessarily pinched in the offensive zone with no forwards supporting and let Nashville come down on a 3-on-1.
–As if you needed any more reasons to disregard any Marian Gaborik or Ilya Kovalchuk rumors, here’s a couple more. Kovalchuk was named captain of the Thrashers and Gaborik is essentially done for the year following hip surgery. Have no fear though because the Vincent Lecavlier to Montreal rumors will dwarf them all. Here’s what TSN’S Bob McKenzie had to say about it:
What the deal might end up being is anybody’s guess, but sources in Montreal say the actual offer the Canadiens have put on the table for Lecavalier does NOT include defenceman Mike Komisarek, nor is it likely to, but would see Tomas Plekanec, Chris Higgins, prospect P.K. Subban, Josh Gorges and a package of draft picks including more than one first-round pick going to Tampa.
Now, I’m not going to pretend to know every salary cap rule but Lecavlier’s contract and Montreal’s lack of cap space will make this situation hairier than Chris Simon’s back.
–Speaking of rumors closer to home, here’s another reason why the ‘Hawks shouldn’t trade Khabibulin or Havlat: the expiring contract. With 12 million and some change coming off the books next year, the ‘Hawks should be sitting pretty this off-season as they reward Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane, and Jonathon Toews with new contracts.