Sometime just before 9 last night, as I was brainstorming how to tackle the game’s recap, I decided to frame the ‘Hawks win as a positive but to be sure to point out the general lousiness of a one Troy Brouwer. It was during the second frame when there was a huge rebound out towards the middle of the slot and Brouwer just kind of chipped a half-hearted backhand towards the net. I remember yelping out something along the lines of, “Brouwer, what the hell are you doing?!!?” Had he been strong on the puck, he may have gotten a good piece of it and maybe even a solid scoring chance. Notice how I didn’t say a goal, we are talking about Troy Brouwer.
At one point or another this year, Brouwer has been on a line with Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Martin Havlat, Jonathan Toews, and Dave Bolland. In the 50 games he’s played, he has 8 goals and 14 assists to show for it. Did I mention that he’s seen significant ice time with the five most offensively dynamic players on the team? You’d think he could trip and fall over himself and still end up with an assist or goal per night playing with those guys. In the past couple weeks, Brouwer has had numerous golden scoring opportunities at crucial moments:
- -Against the Wild, a one-timer from the doorstep was nabbed by a sprawling Josh Harding. Call it bad luck or great save all you want, a top line forward buries that shot.
- -The aforementioned shot against Pekka Rinne on a weak backhand chip
- -In a 1-0 loss to the Blues, Brouwer fired a puck off the post standing just three inches away from an open net
Those are just the ones I can recall off the top of my head.
There is no doubt the ‘Hawks could use a depth forward and if they do acquire one, Brouwer may find himself on the outside looking in. Toews, Kane, and Sharp will be the number one line. No matter what the HaBolLadd line calls itself, that’s a second line. Then, on the third line, it would probably be Versteeg, Forward to be named later, and Byfuglien, assuming of course Byfuglien isn’t moved for said forward. There’s no room for him on the fourth line so that only leaves Byfuglien’s spot. And that would bring us to the root of the argument:
Is Brouwer more fit to be a 3rd line checker or a top 6 forward?
The answer is plainly obvious if you’ve watched extensive Blackhawk hockey this year; he’s a 3rd line player. For all of his offensive shortcomings, Brouwer is a solid defensive winger. He’s almost always on his assignment and very rarely does he cough up the puck in a danger zone (ie, the slot or the three feet on either side of the blue line). Unfortunately, his inability to bury chances or create ones deter him from being an elite point contributor. No matter what some people may think about his untapped potential.
–Speaking of, our old friend Barry Rozner was up to his old tricks today, this time using a reader’s email to drive home a ridiculous and untrue point.
From e-mailer West Side Strangler: “Your point that fans are supposed to be emotional when it comes to trades, but management should not be, did not go far enough. You pulled your punch.
“For too long (the Blackhawks) made decisions about players based on emotion. That hurt the team. I’m expecting the ‘new Hawks’ to operate professionally.
“Furthermore, (Nikolai) Khabibulin should have been traded the same moment they signed (Cristobal) Huet (last summer). That was negligence, and also very strange.”
You mean like when the ‘Hawks tried to trade him and couldn’t find any takers. Or when they put him on waivers and every team in the league passed on him. Or when they not so subtly mentioned it wouldn’t be a bad idea for him to play in the Russian League. I’m not sure if Rozner was trying to prove the point that his readers are just as big of morons but deciding to include that in his column doesn’t make a whole lot sense considering it’s totally false. The ‘Hawks did everything in their power to ship Khabibulin out in the summer and the market was empty.
–Just to prove we don’t just pick on Rozner, Greg Couch picked up and ran with the enforcer torch in the Monday Sun-Times. He wasn’t as adamant as Rozner has been about it, just that the ‘Hawks should be looking for a skilled player with some brawn.
He has built a team mostly out of the high draft picks the Hawks had every year from their failures on ice. It’s time now for Tallon to prove himself. He needs to find some muscle.
Not a traditional goon. Not a modern Probert. Just someone to protect but who also can skate.
Hhmmm, this type of player sounds awfully familiar. (Scrolls up to top of page, reads first few paragraphs, slaps hand on forehead) Vroom, vroom, Party starter!
–Old friend and everyone’s favorite designated driver Mark Bell finally found an NHL home today when the New York Rangers claimed him off waivers from the Leafs. It’s hard to believe only five years ago he was supposed to be one of the chosen few destined to lead the ‘Hawks to the promised land. Turns out, he passed out and drove right past the exit. (Badum-Cha!) If you want to get a good laugh out of this, check out what the guys from Pension Plan Puppets have to say about it.