The Blob

The following ran in Sunday’s edition of “The Committed Indian”:

There was a forgettable movie made in the 80’s (weren’t they all?) called ‘The Blob’.  Unless you’re really interested in seeing the crap Kevin Dillon used to make before he joined the cast of ‘Entourage’, then you’ve probably missed this one.  The slow-moving ooze from another planet devoured everything that got in its path.  The more life-forms it consumed, the bigger it got; the bigger it got, the harder it became to escape from.

In other words, it was exactly like the Western Conference this year.  From the 2nd seed to the 12th seed, as of the time of this writing, only five points separate the ten teams.  Unfortunately, unlike the past two seasons, the Hawks find themselves right in the middle of the Blob. 

Let’s take a look at who else is part of the Blob, who’s a serious playoff threat, and who the Hawks will have to beat if they want to rise out of the Blob.

First though, let’s eliminate some teams from the Blob.  Detroit, unfortunately, has pretty much locked up the division.  The only thing we can hope for now is for the old legs to start feeling old in April.  And, Vancouver and Colorado are going to have breathing room because they get to play Edmonton, Calgary and Minnesota 18 times a year. 

And now, to the Blob. 

Dallas Stars– The Stars are still hanging around, thanks to their hot start.  The Stars have two really strong scoring lines and are getting ridiculous goaltending from Kari Lethonen.  Unfortunately, they’re essentially run by the league thanks to Tom Hicks running the team into the ground.  So they won’t be able to make any additions to their team and the better their record stays, the more aggressive opposing teams will become to keep Brad Richards and his linemates off the scoresheet.  Something he hasn’t really been accustomed to in a couple years. 

Games left vs. the Hawks: 3 (2 in the Lone Star State, 1 at the UC). Great at home, horrendous on the road.  Doesn’t really smell like a playoff team to us. 

Nashville Predators– These bastards need no introduction.  Once again, the Predators find themselves in the thick of the action.  Don’t worry, once the regular season ends they’ll catch their lunch again.  Quite frankly, just thinking about them annoys us so let’s not waste anymore time here. 

Games left: 4 (2 at home, 2 at the UC). Good news is things tend to even out between the Preds and Hawks during the course of a season.  The Hawks have lost their first two meetings.

Anaheim Ducks– Since we are the Olympic hockey headquarters, allow us to scream in delight with the fact that the U.S. team has a bona fide defensive stud in Cam Fowler.  Ok, now back to it.  The Ducks are essentially a one line team with Jonas Hiller in net.  So kind of like Team Switzerland.  So far, the Hawks really haven’t had a problem with them.

Games left: 2 (1 in Disney, 1 at the UC).

Los Angeles Kings– The Kings have been the team to watch out for the last couple years.  They’re another team that relies almost solely on their top line (and power play) to provide their O-ffense.  When that well runs dry, then Michael Handzus and company have to take over.  Consider us under-whelmed.  After nearly eclipsing the 60-point mark last year, Drew Doughty has done far less than has been expected of him this season, only notching a goal and 10 assists thus far. 

Games left: 2 (1 in La La Land, 1 at the UC – tonight’s game, dummy). The Hawks have taken all four points thus far.

Columbus Blue Jackets– You again?  We thought we were done with you guys.  This is basically the exact same team that couldn’t crack 80 points last year.  Now they’re threatening to hang around the playoff race with the likes of Antoine Vermette and Jakub Voracek doing the heavy lifting.  Come on.  This has to be some kind of sick joke played out by Doug Maclean.

Games left: 4 (2 in Columbus, 2 at the UC). Um, let’s not let another two-goal lead at home disappear to these dopes and six points from them shouldn’t be out of the question.

San Jose Sharks– It would be entertaining if the hockey gods have finally had enough with them and just not allow them to make the playoffs.  Unless something catastrophic happens, though, there is simply too much offensive firepower here.  They’re still short on the defensive end (think they still want Hjalmarsson for a first- and third-round pick?) but they will be in the thick of it until the bitter end.

Games left: 2 (Both at the UC). The Hawks owe them a serious beating as they’ve only grabbed one point in their two meetings.

Phoenix Coyotes– Last year they were a cute story.  This year, not so much.  In 18 shootouts last year, they were 15-3!  This year, they’ve already lost three times in a shootout.  Quite frankly, if Dave Tippett drags this rag-tag group of rejects into the playoffs two consecutive years, he should retire and declare himself a hockey god.

Games left: 3 (2 in the desert, 1 at the UC).

St. Louis Blues– They have suffered injuries to just about every key player on their roster, yet somehow, they’ve managed to keep their heads above water.  For now.  What they have going for them is a significant home ice advantage as they’re simply not giving away points at home.  For them to stay in the race, that will have to continue.  Otherwise, they’ll find themselves in the same place they were last year.

Games left (2 in the Hellhole, 1 at the UC). The Hawks have to win one game in St. Louis this year.  The encouraging news is they’re usually good for one.

______________________________________

You figure of Dallas, San Jose and Los Angeles, one of them is going to win the division.  So, leaving out Detroit, Vancouver and Colorado, that leaves eight teams battling it out for four spots. 

Assuming the Hawks can keep their head above water (which is no promise these days), the situation isn’t as dire as you’d think.  Columbus and Phoenix are garbage, and the Ducks will combust at some point.  Now it’s five teams going for four spots. 

The best thing that could happen is Los Angeles or San Jose claim its division so Dallas gets thrown into the mix, because they’re not nearly as strong as the other two.  The Predators are a lock, unfortunately.  Barry Trotz and his voodoo magic won’t allow anything less.  Whoever doesn’t win the Pacific between the Kings and Sharks will also make the playoffs. 

So that leaves the Blues, Blackhawks, and Stars left to battle it out for the other two spots.  

The Blob has a long way to go before it freezes and explodes over the surviving teams.  It’s going to be a long and wet ride.

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13 Responses to The Blob

  1. Dominic says:

    Thank goodness you wrote something. The Blackhawk insider and whiner posts are brutal.

    OK, first, have to take issue with Detroit, They will not run away with it. They are old and the season is a grind. Not sure if you caught this but was it me or did Dave Bolland pull a Sedin with Zetterberg last game. Zetterberg, though dangerous, looked frustrated and annoyed. That is a good sign going forward for Hawks. Babcock had to separate he and Datsyk.

    For perspective sake, as frustrating as the hawks have been all year do you realize that if we win 5 of next 6 we will have 49 points at the turn. I know that is a big if, but if they improve marginally, that is win 3 to 5 more games than the first half during the second they can end up witn 105 – 110. That is totally doable.

    The adversity has brought the group together. If/when healthy, I will take our top 12 forwards vs any team in the league. The healthy part will be the challenge. But how can we not see our 4th line this year as a huge improvement from last year. Bickell is giving you what big Buff has. Pisani is/will give you what Ladd did. Stalhberg is not as dynamic as Versteeg, but is dangerous.

    Anyhow, I like where we are. I think the success the team is having without Kane and Hossa, will make those guys focus better and play harder. As opposed to them coming back as saviors.

    Thanks for posting something that is not a “who is tougher? Superman or Spiderman?” Article.

  2. John says:

    I’ve seen that movie before, the one where Detroit jumps out to a multi-point lead on the division. It always ends the same.

  3. dominator says:

    Its going to be a long and wet ride unlike (INSERT BLOG COMMENTERS NAME HERE)’s sex life! HEY HEY!

  4. bringbackladd#16 says:

    … though i appreciate how the hawks seem to be on the upswing these last 15 games, they will have to learn to protect their leads down the stretch if they want to start climbing the ladder in the west.

    I read a stat the other day that surprised me. 10 of the hawks 14 losses came after they had been leading or were tied at the end of the 2nd period! granted, a couple of them were in OT or in SO, so they walked away with a point, or lost one… whichever way you want to look at it. i can accept the fact that we aren’t as deep, as skilled, or as talented as we were last year. however, playing defensively has more to do with being disciplined in your system and having heart and dedication to play it, rather than being talented. i am hoping that Q, his staff and the leaders of this team can reach the rest of the group and get their collective ducks in a row before entering the second half of the season!

    I don’t think there is anything more frustrating than watching this team lose their leads and not being able to put away teams. Wait… maybe one thing, watching them lose almost half their home games!!!

  5. Cam says:

    “I read a stat the other day that surprised me. 10 of the hawks 14 losses came after they had been leading or were tied at the end of the 2nd period!”

    *

    Shouldn’t surprise you. I’ve mentioned similar stats several times here.

    Not a good night for the Hawks’ playoff chances. Blues and Jackets won. Sharks will likely beat the Oilers. Avs and Kings play each other. Stars up 2 quick goals against Montreal.

  6. titan says:

    The season is far from over at this point – the Hawks are in the thick of the playoff battle now with many games to go.

    However, the Hawks ave played more games than jst about everyone else, so they have less margin for error going forward, and will simply have to play better to have any reasonable chance of advancing in the playoffs.

    Gettng Kane and Hossa back healthy and productive would be a big help. The lower level players would also need to continue to play well once Kane and Hossa are back. With those two things, it would not be unreasonable to expect the rest of the season to go a little better – but we may well need both of those things to happen.

  7. Dale Halas says:

    Hey John, I finally got an answer on how waivers work. We had a discussion in November on why Potulny could come up to the Hawks without going through re-entry waivers. I wanted to clear up how that actually works since what was posted here was incorrect.

    12 days to 1 day before the start of the season, any “waiver eligible” player that is not going to make the active roster needs to be waived. This has to be done before they can be loaned to a minor league team. So all players like Potulny, Cullimore and Huet were waived at that time.

    Now during the season a player that is called up has to go through re-entry waivers unless they are exempt. Players on two way contracts whose minor league contract is 105K or less are exempt from the re-entry waiver process. So Potulny and Cullimore are exempt but Huet would have to pass through the re-entry waivers (he has a one way contract).

    Now Cullimore is also exempt from re-entry waivers at the start of this year because he did not play in enough NHL games last year or the combined last two years to be eligible for the re-entry waiver process. So Cullimore was exempt for two reasons.

    Now, waivers are NOT good for the rest of the year. Waivers expire once a player plays in 10 NHL games or is on the active roster for a total of 30 days. Once that happens, you have to be waived again before you can be moved to a minor league team. This is why Cullimore was waived recently. And again, this is good until this waiver expires after 10 more NHL games or 30 more active days.

    I have also verified in the CBA all of the above rules. Just wanted to clear up what was said previously…

  8. dominator says:

    That’s some mighty fine CBA spelunkin’ Dale.

  9. John says:

    Dale, if it took you this long to do all the research to find an answer on the intracacies of the waiver process, I commend your dedication.

    By the way, if I remember the debate correctly, you were insistent that Potulny had to clear waivers before he played against Minnesota (I think?) which he didn’t have to do.

  10. Dale Halas says:

    Yes, I couldn’t figure out why Potulny didn’t have to clear re-entry waivers when he originally came up. So I have asked that question all over the net. And to a couple of local sportscasters, too, btw. I only recently found out the answer at JJ’s site. It came up because of conversations dealing with Cullimore being waived.

    So, yea, I wanted to get the correct answer out there at least at some of the places I have asked the question. And I wanted to clear up that waivers do expire and are not good for the entire year. Which is something that was talked about here…

  11. Cam says:

    Hawks play a great all-around game against Nashville. But for some posts and a few misses on odd-man chances, it could’ve been 9-1.

    And I really like the addition of Ryan Johnson. He breaks up plays in the neutral zone, blocks shots and plays gritty. He’s doing what we hoped Sammy Pahlsson would two years ago.

  12. John says:

    Pahlsson is ten times the player Johnson is. Let’s not get carried away here. The guy was signed off the street. Pahlsson is in the second year of a contract. Johnson won’t play more than 9 minutes a night while Pahlsson logs upwards of 14. There is no comparison.

  13. Marts says:

    I’m not sure that I agree with Pahlson being 10x the player Johnson is. Johnson is very good on faceoffs (he took a ton for Van city the past couple seasons). I think that aspect of his game, in addition to fearless shot-blocking, make him more valuable to the Hawks. Pahlson strikes me more as a defensively adept player who skates the opposition into poor positions and forechecks. Good for sure (and his counter attcking threat adds an element), but I think Johnsons game is more what we need. I’m quite comfortable with Toews, Johnson and Dowell (surprise!!) being out there for important draws…

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