Couple of interesting items caught my eye today….
Mirtle churned out his list of top defensive forwards at the quarter pole of the season. On the list from the Blackhawks were Kris Versteeg, who ranked second, John Madden, and Colin Fraser. I’m still not 100% sure how players are ranked, but the Hawks tied with Ottawa and St. Louis for most players on the list.
For reference, to qualify on his list, players must be regular penalty killers on their team so if you’re pissed off Patrick Kane isn’t getting any recognition for his better defensive play, that’s why.
And speaking of Patrick Kane, Puck Prospectus attempts to quantify “How Good is Patrick Kane?” While there is a lot of interesting information in this piece (like everything else they do), I can’t help but notice the inordinate amount of space PP dedicates to examining shootouts.
It’s no different when they examine Kane. Over three-quarters of the article dissects Kane and Toews shootout success.
Look, I understand how important those extra points for teams on the playoff bubble are. Florida would have easily qualified for the playoffs last year if they won just half of their shootout losses. For a team like the Hawks, though, the extra points aren’t nearly as important because they’re going to be racking up plenty of points anyways. If a couple shootout losses prevents them from winning the President’s Trophy, then so be it.
I’d rather get a closer look at how Kane’s numbers look on even strength this year as opposed to years past instead of digging inside his shootout numbers.
And one last thing, if Joel Quenneville ever taps Andrew Ladd’s shoulder before Marian Hossa in a shootout, then he might as well shave his mustache because anyone who makes a decision like that clearly can’t have something so amazing hovering over his upper lip.
–Back at the practice ice today, Joel Quenneville swapped spots with Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane. For Tuesday night’s tilt, Sharp will skate with Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews. Kane will skate on the right wing with Kris Versteeg and Dustin Byfuglien.
At least for the first couple shifts.
There’s really no use getting too worked up about any changes Quenneville makes because he’s going to eventually switch them around again. But if anyone can please answer how Sharp and Hossa complement each other or how Kane and Versteeg complement each other, then be my guest.
It seems fairly obvious (at least to me) that Sharp and Kane should be surgically attached to each other. Giving Sharp a playmaker and passer of Kane’s ability is the best way to get the most out of him. Versteeg should skate with Hossa to give him and Toews someone that can feed them the puck. These seem to be the pairings that would work out best.
Of course, that all depends on Sharp’s willingness to play center and the more they try to force-feed Versteeg as a pivot, the more it seems like Sharp would rather pose naked on the hood of an airplane than play center.
–The Blue Jackets invade the United Center on Tuesday. They’ll be fresh off snapping their 5 game losing streak after downing the St. Louis Blues 5-2. Don’t let that score deceive you. The Jackets scored two empty-net goals in the final minute to make it seem like a bigger blowout.
Personnel-wise, the Jackets have all the same important pieces as last year. Rick Nash, R.J. Umberger, and Antoine Vermette will make their offense go. Their defense is still a hodge-podge of mediocre journeymen.
Unlike last year, they actually have a good power-play. Going into action against the Blues, the Jackets had the number one unit in the entire league. Quite suprising from a team who was 30th in the league last year.
Last year’s Calder winner, Steve Mason, has gotten off to a fairly rough start. Mason boasts an 89% save percentage and a whopping 3.46 goals against. So you can probably expect him to stop 47 in a shutout tomorrow night.
Whether he gets the start against the Hawks remains to be seen.
–If you’re attending tomorrow night’s game, be sure to pick up an issue of “The Committed Indian” (like you always should anyways). Our article will be towards the back of the issue and will have all the things we’ve learned 25 games into this season.