So if you were living under a rock today, you missed the biggest story of the day until blackhawkbob broke the news. The ‘Hawks called up defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. That, my fellow readers, will be the last time you see me spell out his name. From here on out, he will now be known simply as Ham Sandwich.
Why? Well, for one, it took me about five minutes to make sure I spelled his name correctly above. More importantly, it’s because I’m not sure how I feel about Ham Sandwich as a meal or as a defenseman. Every once in a while I get the hankering for a ham sandwich and really enjoy it. Too much of it though, and I get sick of it. Don’t get me wrong, I love ham. I’ll put it in eggs, omelettes, skillets, whatever, but slap it between two pieces of bread with some mayonnaise, swiss cheese, and there’s only so much I can take. Jim Halpert, I am not.
Ham Sandwich was a late season call up last year and had spurts of some solid defensive play. For a twenty-one year old rookie defenseman, he looked a lot more comfortable in his own end than Cam Barker. He’s a decent checker, a strong skater, and made some pretty solid decisions. Then, there were other times when he looked like a twenty-one year old rookie defenseman. None of that matters now though, because Coach Q will have his first look at him. Whatever he thinks of Ham Sandwich will likely determine what’s going to happen with him for the rest of the year. It certainly seems like Q has tired of Aaron Johnson and may be souring on Matt Walker (I say with both fingers crossed). A strong performance by Ham Sandwich will likely mean a demotion for Johnson and if he plays really well, a nice padded chair for Matt Walker up in the press box. So here’s hoping Ham Sandwich will have a solid game tomorrow and Q will decide to give him an extended look.
–Hockeysfuture.com did a brief write-up on a few of the ‘Hawks NCAA prospects. Some noted players on the list were 2006 second round pick Simon Danis-Papin and ’07 second round pick Billy Sweatt. Papin is interesting because he’s a 6’7 defenseman. Unfortunately, I’ve also heard he’s a terrible skater. No mention of that in this scouting report. Hockeysfuture can barely contain themselves when they start talking about Sweatt’s speed but isn’t too high on any of his other skills. These are two pretty large picks for Dale Tallon as he started to take fire recently for his second round misses after trading Michael Blunden. Duncan Keith and Dave Bolland are all he has to show for after Blunden, Bryan Bickell, Ryan Garlock, Jakub Sindel, Michal Barinka, and Dan Bertram (just to name a few) have pretty much flamed out.
–Another ride on the Sassone Roller Coaster finds us on another downturn. With plenty of top guys in a desert-like drought, the ‘Hawks will probably never win a game for the rest of the season….and if they do, it will have to be 1-0.
A big part of it is the Hawks’ top scorers, with the exception of Martin Havlat (4 goals in five games), have struggled putting the puck in the net, particularly on the power play, which is 5 for its last 41.
Patrick Kane has no goals in 11 games, Patrick Sharp 1 in eight and Jonathan Toews 2 in seven. The drought has spread through the top three lines with Andrew Ladd scoreless in eight games and Kris Versteeg in seven. Dave Bolland has 1 goal in 12 games and Dustin Byfuglien 1 in eight.
Sorry to be optimistic about this, but how many of you really thought the ‘Hawks were going to roll through the season and the power play was going to score 2, 3 goals a night? Yes, they are in a drought and yes, the power play is scuffling, but if they truly are a team that ‘has what it takes’, then this will merely be a blip on the radar and some more false panic to go with your side of playoff hockey.
–This kind of slipped through the cracks. I really wanted to mention it a couple days ago but forgot. In Chris Kuc’s Blackhawk Bits from Sunday, Nikolai Khabibulin has pretty damning things to say about his past coaches. He never mentions any by name, but I’ll give you one guess who he was referring to.
“We have a young team, but at the same time our coach has a lot of experience,” said 13-year veteran goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin. “Where we lack experience he comes in.
“Everybody believes so much in what he says that everything goes without question. We kind of stay calm even when we’re losing games.”
As if Denis Savard needed to be told he’ll never coach again in the NHL, people seem all too willing to pile on his coaching grave.