There’s a whole lot to cover, so let’s get right down to it:
—Jack Skille was reassigned to Rockford once again on Tuesday. At this point, the Hawks jagging around Skille is beyond curious. The excuse they are giving is their salary cap issues. However, one simple move would alleviate this so-called headache: placing Marian Hossa on Long Term Injury Reserve.
Bobby and I have tried to get to the bottom of why the Hawks haven’t placed Hossa on Long Term Injury Reserve and the best answer we’ve received is the Hawks don’t feel like it.
Ok, so then why are the Hawks constantly calling up Skille and subsequently reassigning him once the game is over?
Well, they obviously don’t think that highly of him. The Hawks would never pull stunts like this with a prospect of an esteemed pedigree.
The only other logical explanation we can think of is money. Every day Skille is up with the parent club, he’s collecting some of his $1.275 million contract. When he’s in Rockford, he makes significantly less. Players on two-way contracts are paid daily based on where they’re playing. So when Skille played on Monday, he collected on some of his $1.275 million. When they reassigned him on Tuesday, he was back to collecting his minor league contract.
Seems kind of silly for a team making bank like the Hawks to try and save a few thousand dollars, but it’s really the only thing we can think of. Any other ideas would be greatly appreciated.
–Here’s a conversation Bobby and I had during Monday night’s game:
Bobby: Have you noticed perhaps no one in the history of the NHL faces more bouncing pucks than Brent Sopel? Every time a loose puck comes to him, it’s hopping all over the place.
John: No, never noticed.
(Five seconds pass, the puck finds Sopel in the neutral zone and it’s bouncing like a Superball.)
John: You might be on to something there.
–The Hawks absolutely abused the Flames in the face-off dot. They won 41 of the 64 face-offs. Sure, it’s only five games into the season but the Hawks are currently the 3rd best team in the NHL in face-off percentage. They’re winning draws at a 56.4% clip. That’s already quite the improvement from last year’s 48.1%. Being mediocre at face-offs isn’t the worst thing in the world, but it sure is nice to see the Hawks made a conscious effort to improve a glaring weakness from last year.
–Raise your hand if you knew Patrick Sharp was in the middle of a 5-game point streak….Thought so. It’s quite possible Sharp is having the quietest point streak to open the season in NHL history. Maybe it has something to do with how awful he looks playing the point with a man advantage.
I’m all for Quenneville and the coaching staff experimenting with different looks at the start of the season. That’s why you won’t see me complain about Colin Fraser on the penalty kill yet, but using Sharp on the point is wrong on so many levels.
Everything Sharp is below average at doing, the Hawks are asking him to do by playing the point. He’s not an efficient puck handler; he’s not very good at distributing the puck; and that’s without taking into account how asking Sharp to stand there and wait for the puck is the worst thing for him. He’s at his best when he’s constantly moving around, helping out on the cycle, and getting himself open for a pass.
So yeah, anytime they’re ready to ditch the idea is fine by me.
–With Ben Eager out indefinitely, the Hawks fourth line is quickly turning from one of their major strengths into a major weakness. Last year, more than any other player, including the pie-slinging Adam Burish, Eager was the one who gave Quenneville the ability to constantly roll four lines without worry. His ability to forecheck and create offense has actually become pretty hard to replace.
—Colin Fraser is certainly more than capable of being a 4th line center. Unfortunately, if he’s not playing with two players better than him, he becomes a huge liability. He runs around in the defensive zone with the awareness of a Mite player in a scrimmage.
With Fraser between Skille and Kopecky, the Hawks are quickly becoming a three line team. It should be enough to get them out of the first couple months of the season but once the calendar flips to spring, they need to be rolling all four lines again.
–Just so everyone is clear, Bobby is planning on charging $20 a head for anyone trying to re-board the Dustin Byfuglien bandwagon. His goal against Calgary was something to be seen; picking the puck on his backhand, deking Kiprusoff, then sliding the puck through the 5-hole. Do I dare call it a ‘goal scorer’s’ goal?
–Speaking of bandwagons, it appears Sam and I will probably be the only two left on Cristobal Huet’s by the end of the month.
Let’s clear up some confusion because with the Hawks now a mainstream story, the media is adding all sorts of poppycock to this.
This isn’t football and goalies aren’t quarterbacks. If Antii Niemi is named the starter for a couple games that doesn’t mean we have seen the last of Huet. We’ll still be seeing him two to three times a week so the talk about the team losing confidence in him, not believing in him, his season being over, etc. is for the birds.
If anything, goalies are like relief pitchers. It’s incredibly difficult to predict future success, during the season they’re largely interchangable (with the exception of the top 2 or 3 guys), and they’re really weird.
Hell, we’re barely two years removed from Patrick Lalime being named the starter ahead of Nikolai Khabibulin for a brief period. How quickly we all forget.
–I would venture to guess the same people begging Dale Tallon to trade Khabibulin at the beginning of last year because of Huet’s arrival are probably the same people bemoaning the loss of the great Nikolai Khabibulin.
–Sticking with the goalie theme, I have to wonder this: If Huet let in the two goals Antii Niemi did on Monday night, he probably would have needed President Obama’s security staff to help him exit the United Center. Say what you will about Huet’s play to start this season, but he’s yet to give up two goals as bad as those. That’s a fact.
The Hawks are a whopping five games into the season. Five.
The hyperbole of the Hawks not being good enough to win the Stanley Cup because of what happened in an October game is patently ridiculous. If that were the case, the Penguins wouldn’t have had a prayer against the Capitals in the playoffs last year. The Capitals beat them 4-3 on October 16th and Marc-Andre Fleury only stopped 26 of the 30 shots he faced.
I guarantee you there were more than a few Penguin fans proclaiming after the game, “This team isn’t good enough to win the Cup with Fleury as their goalie!!!11”
How did that work out for everybody?