Apparently, all it took was one mid-game Pat Foley rant and Duncan Keith’s skates have suddenly become all the rage. During the Hawks loss to Columbus on Sunday evening, Foley discussed how Keith has gone through ten skates from Bauer this year. Keith hasn’t found a pair of skates to his liking. Well, that was all the beat writers needed to hear.
Not one, not two, but all three Blackhawk beat writers took it upon themselves on Monday to get to the bottom of the Great Duncan Keith Skate Mystery. As if his skates are the reason for the mental mistakes piling up.
In Keith’s defense, he did downplay the attention that his skates have attracted. It also goes without saying that Keith has been a far better defenseman this year than he was at this point last year. Even as he’s embroiled in SkateGate 2010.
Still, it’s humorous to see some use +/- (and now equipment) as some great indication for how poorly the Hawks have been playing recently. Keith, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Brent Seabrook are chief among the evildoers with a minus rating.
Of course the majority of Hawks will be minus players; they’ve gotten piss-poor goaltending out of Huet since the beginning of March and they’re playing at a below .500 clip. Not exactly the best way to have a stellar +/-, but please let’s go back to blaming the evil Olympics. Look how awful the Wings–with their 7 Olympians–are doing.
–While I’m here, let’s put a moratorium on comparing the Hawks to any baseball team in town. Since the Hawks have become relevant again, people have been very quick to categorize them with teams who don’t even play the same sport. Maybe it’s because those people are more familiar with baseball so it’s easy for them.
Last year, when the Hawks went through their putrid March, they were compared to the ’05 White Sox. This year, they’re having another ugly March and people are comparing them to the ’05 White Sox again. Neither this year or last year are/were in the same universe as the ’05 Sox.
The other favorite is to compare them to the Cubs in a variety of ways. Whether it be the “Wriglification” of the Hawks (which has to be one of the stupidest arguments out there) or because they lose a heart-breaking game, the Cubs label gets branded on the Hawks for some unknown reason.
Whatever, the Hawks are the Hawks. Let them be who they are.
–With the Hawks back at practice, the forwards were grouped up into new lines. The abbreviated version is Kane and Hossa flipped spots; Kris Versteeg was the second line center; Dustin Byfuglien was on their wing while Dave Bolland and John Madden were shifted down one line, respectively.
Some quick thoughts: I can’t imagine Versteeg stays as the second line center for more than a couple periods. Madden seems much more suited for a reduced role so he’s rightfully placed as the 4th line center (Anyone out there still want to re-sign him to a multi-year, multi-million deal?). Byfuglien is a much more effective forward than defenseman, but probably not as a top-6 forward.
Either way, I don’t really get too bent out of shape over line combinations because everyone has their own idea on what they should be and no one is ever wrong. I know some have soured over Quenneville’s line-juggling, but I would ask, what NHL coach doesn’t shake up lines to get something going? Maybe Q has a quicker trigger finger than most, but nothing he has done this year is out of character for a veteran NHL coach, at least in regards to line-juggling.
*On the Farm*
–Kyle Beach scored Spokane’s first goal of the game. It was his 6th of the playoffs. The Chiefs win forces a Game 7.
—Byron Froese was held without a point as Everett dropped Game 7 to Kelowna, 2-1.