While the internet finally cools off after nearly burning down from a napalm storm of make-believe Blackhawk trade rumors (I wonder if Brian Burke woke up on Wednesday morning and thought he’d have to answer questions regarding a rumor from Hockey Buzz. And another thing, if any person with half of a brain cell knows any post from that site is about 10% fact, 90% fantasy, how do their blog posts become an international story?) let’s take a look at some of the reality facing the Hawks in the next two games:
–Jonathan Toews returned to practice on Wednesday. The ‘meh’ news was that Toews didn’t skate with a regular line so it appears as though the Hawks still aren’t counting on him just yet. At this point, though, it’s encouraging for him just to return to the ice. To get the go-ahead from the medical staff would mean his concussion symptoms are finally subsiding.
-It’s kind of surprising how shocked people are about the Phoenix Coyotes start to the season. I suppose all the off-season drama plays into it. What people forget is Phoenix was in the hunt for a playoff spot last year until early February. Once they reached their high water mark of 5 games over .500, that’s when the wheels came apart.
Getting superb goaltending is certainly helping their cause in the early going. Ilya Bryzgalov and Jason LaBarbera have combined to stop 93% of the shots they’ve faced. With Bryzgalov getting the start against Colorado on Wednesday night, it will be interesting to see who Dave Tippett turns to in the Thursday night match-up with the Hawks.
Other than Shane Doan and Ed Jovanovski, the Coyotes are a mish-mosh of veteran players. Some familar names you’ll see- Robert Lang, Adrian Aucoin, Jim Vandermeer, Radim Vrbata, Vernon Fiddler, and Matthew Lombardi.
They won’t be raising the Cup in June, but they could prove to be a formidable opponent for teams taking them lightly.
-As for Colorado, back-up goalie Peter Budaj got his first start of the season on Wednesday night. At this point, it’s not a matter of if Craig Anderson reverts to his career numbers, but when. A heavy workload combined with having no defense in front of him isn’t exactly the key to surviving the grueling regular season.
Going into this week, the Avalanche were tied with the Edmonton Oilers for the worst shot differential in the entire NHL. Puck Prospectus uses this statistical measure to help figure who the lucky teams are and who the good ones are. I’ll let you try and figure where they think Colorado stands.
-Another bizarre thought from Tim Sassone today. After unmerciful spanking to the blogger who started the rumor firestorm, Sassone offers this:
Who wouldn’t want Kaberle, a terrific defenseman and a power-play quarterback? The Hawks need both.
Um, come again.
Two Julys ago, the Hawks gave Brian Campbell the richest and longest contract in team history to fill the role of power-play quarterback. Not to mention, power-play quarterback is the only thing Cam Barker can say he actually does. So no, the Hawks don’t need a power-play quarterback and probably won’t need one as long as those two guys are wearing an Indian head.
-As for the rumor mongerers among us, I just have one request: Is it asking too much to start throwing some other names out there? The ‘Tomas Kaberle, Anze Kopitar, and Alexander Frolov to the Hawks’ rumors have officially entered the ‘Chone Figgins to the White Sox’ and ‘Brian Roberts to the Cubs’ zone.
If we’re going to wildly speculate about players, why is it always the same three guys? Give us someone new to make fun of you about. I’m not asking for much.
*On the Farm*
–The IceHogs took out a weekend of frustration on the San Antonio Rampage with a 5-3 win. Rob Klinkhammer, Akim Aliu, Bryan Bickell, Mark Cullen, and Jassen Cullimore were the goal scorers. Cullen added two assists and Klinkhammer had an assist as well. Corey Crawford stopped 30 of the 33 shots to nab third star honors.
—Byron Froese scored his second goal in as many nights in Everett’s 3-2 loss to the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
—Kyle Beach continues to leave behind a trail of scorched Earth. He scored two goals in a 5-1 win over the Chilliwack Bruins. The goals were just over 30 seconds apart. He scored his first goal with 15 seconds left in the first period. Then he scored again 18 seconds into the second period on the power play. Beach leads the Chiefs with 13 goals.