Weekend No. 1: Home and Home vs. Dallas Stars

Aaaaand, we’re back.

Sorry for the late weekend posting – and for not devoting a single post to Friday’s loss in Dallas.  We’ll be trying a bit of a new format here – not that we’ve quite figured out what that will be yet – but we appreciate everyone’s patience while we work things out.  We’re sure things will figure themselves out here, but we definitely intend on continuing to throw thoughts on the wall on at least a gamely basis.  We’re sure you’ll tell us what sticks.

On to what we’re all here for:

  • Of all the summer acquisitions and movement, I’m sure everyone would agree that the acquisition of Steve Montador was the biggest.  (Of course, we hope Carcillo, Brunette and others make their marks, but aside from perhaps being the best, Montador signed the longest contract of them all.)  It was, then, certainly funny to see him chasing around Jamal Mayers on the fourth line on Friday night.  With the departure of Brian Campbell and the struggles of Duncan Keith and Ham Sandwich, shifts on the fourth line for Montador on opening night were most puzzling.  While I’m not usually phazed by Joel Quennville’s reluctance to stick to script, taking a should-be top-four defenseman and asking him to play forward on opening night is nothing short of maddening to me.  Put him back there; give him decent minutes; and make damn sure he’s comfortable enough to contribute once things get a bit more serious.  Otherwise, you’re telling us that the defensive core is, in fact, worse than the one that wasn’t nearly good enough last season, and that won’t do.
  • We’ve certainly said our share about Dave Bolland here, but given the Hawks last ten or so non-pre-season games, it certainly seems that the Blackhawks will go as Bolland does.  He’s not your grandfather’s shut-down center; he’s better.  Yeah, he won’t be the answer to the long-standing question mark that is the second line center position – which, in fairness, he was likely signed to do – but what he does is arguably more important.  It sure is a shame that his health is hit or miss.
  • Thinking of the three-zone combination that Bolland and Michael Frolik could serve up on a nightly basis makes me giggle.
  • Funny scene on Saturday night when Steve Ott fake lunged at Jonathan Toews after Toews took a penalty in the Dallas zone during the second period.  Minutes later, Toews stepped out of the box, met a long pass from the stick of Brent Seabrook and put the puck past Stars’ goalie Andrew Raycroft.  Sure is nice when world class NHLers show agitators exactly how large the talent gap is between them.
  • Speaking of talent gaps, Adam Burish missed Friday night’s game, but made sure to play in Saturday’s contest.  Burish always seemed like a nice, well-liked guy, but there’s little doubt he wouldn’t cut it on this year’s squad.  Burish made his presence known at the end of the first period when he ran Bolland – and promptly ended up on his ass.
  • Jonathan Toews scoring before November can’t be good for anybody outside of Chicago.
  • Big, tough, nasty, gritty, gutty Jamal Mayer wasted no time dropping the gloves in front of the United Center faithful.  From my seat, it was hard to see the sweater number of Mayers’ dance partner, but the Dallas Star held his own with Mayer and more than likely out-muscled him for the decision.  Then, I learned the Star was Jake Dowell, former Blackhawk punching bag.  Listen, the Hawks need guys like Mayer and Carcillo, but neither are much more physically than was Adam Burish.  All this talk of the two policing other teams in the names of Toews, Kane and Sharp is just wrong.  That doesn’t mean that the Hawks aren’t tougher this year than they were last – or that they’re less likely to win another Cup; it just means that none of the new Hawks are going to make other teams back off physically.
  • Rusty Olesz.  Oh boy.  Brian Campbell will be missed – but there’s no doubt he was overpaid by about $2 million per.  Trading him for someone who’s overpaid by at least that amount might not work out for the best.
  • Defensemen playing a two-on-one in which Patrick Sharp is the puck carrier should pretend it’s a one-on-one.  Thankfully, the ability to shot the nipple off a cow from 30 feet isn’t held in one’s appendix.
  • Keith and Sandwich certainly don’t seem any more comfortable than they did last year, and that ain’t no good.  For my money, I would pair Keith and Seabrook again and ask Montador and Sandwich to play second pairing minutes.  That leaves Leddy and either of O’Donnell and Lepisto on the third pairing.  (Now, if Montador is really a winger with sandpaper, then, well, this all goes out the window.)  Montador’s ability to jump into the play a bit would be important if this plan were to work.
  • There’s been a Bryan Bickell sighting.
  • Sure, Andrew Burnette skates like he’s got burning hot coals up his ass, but batting a puck out of mid-air in front of Raycroft on Saturday night was something like what he was signed to do.
  • It should be interesting to see how the Brandon Saad exit is handled.  Saad has definitely improved people’s view of the Hawks prospect pipeline, but he’s obviously not quite ready.  Playing games in junior this year will be like shooting fish in a barrel for him – which is good.
  • Did anyone notice that an entire offseason went by without any goaltending questions?  Corey Crawford showed everyone why this weekend.
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14 Responses to Weekend No. 1: Home and Home vs. Dallas Stars

  1. Adam F says:

    Welcome back,

    Place is a mess.

    The only real conclusion I came to after these two games is that I don’t want to watch any more Dallas Stars hockey.

    I’m so tired of the whole “We’ve added a lot of sandpaper, and we’re going to be tougher to play against…” propaganda that Hawks PR has been forcing down our throat. The Hawks were outhit 37-19 in game 1 and I think they were out hit in game 2. I did see Bickell making some hits. And Hammer had a nice one on Robidas. (More of that please.) But I didn’t really see a more physical team.

    I’m not going to do the whole “this team misses Campbell” thing. Too early to say. But the Puck possession team did trade away its best puck possessor, and now seem to have trouble possessing the puck. Part of the solution seems to be to let the center pick it up earlier in the attack, and that’s where I think the move of Kane to center is really interesting. What do you guys think of the Kane to center move? Personally I’d like to see Hossa move up to Toews’ line ( I like Toews with Big wingers….) but I guess Hossa and Kane have “great chemistry”….

    Oh and I really hate that long haired dork that always winds up on the jumbotron. But I’ll save that for later.

    Should be a fun season.

  2. John says:

    I find the ‘Kane to center’ move equally interesting. It’s obviously still very early in the process but it has the ability to go down as one of those things that seems so obvious in hindsight that people forget how openly it was mocked upon first trial.

    Anywho, I don’t think he’ll last the whole season there. The Hawks are simply a better and deeper team when they have Kane on the wing.

  3. Ken says:

    Props on the D pairings. With Keith/Leddy, there were at least 3 times when Dallas had minibreakaways on them Sat night. Coach Q, enough! There is no reason not to play Keith/Seabs together or if you finally do, to play them 25 minutes a game this early in the season.

  4. Marts says:

    Tangent alert: The player numbers on the front of their helmets sure looks strange to me. It will take me a long, long time to get used to that one. Weird.

    Q jerking around Montador is a pretty big downer as far as I’m concerned. Maybe my perception of the situation is wrong, but I see it as you do John – and it can’t bread confidence into the game of an incoming player.

    O’Donnell is scary slow. This I already knew, but I think it will be more apparent in the west where I believe the game pace is played at a slightly higher level. It’s a testament to his professionalism and experience that on most occasions his positioning can overcome his lumbering. But, with him in the line-up we have to be willing to trade off some excellent PK shot-blocking for some free passes to the opposition at even strength.

    You can often learn more about players in losses than during wins (IMO) and I thought Kane at centre in game #1 was pretty good. I’m less worried about his ability to win draws than his defensive positioning and I actually thought he was very accountable in his own zone and when things got hairy below the goal line, he was there chipping in with some “muscle” (maybe presence is a better term). It will be interesting to see if that commitment to bringing his coverage that deep will last the entire season, but I thought he was pretty good. Having a set of hands that good deep in your defensive zone can only help once the Hawk’s turn the oppositions puck over and, in theory, allow them to play puck possession a little easier.

    I had a wedding on Saturday so I missed the entirety of that win, but in the recaps it sounds as though we played a bit better with the main difference being burying chances.

  5. Marts says:

    * breed confidence

  6. CT says:

    The Keith/Leddy pairing confounds me. Theoretically, Leddy is supposed to blossom into a puck moving defenseman like Keith. Playing them together makes no sense (much like playing Keith and Campbell together wouldn’t have made sense). Seabrook should be babysitting Leddy while he’s growing in to the roll, while Hjalmarsson should be more than capable of being Keith’s running buddy.

  7. CT says:

    Er, “growing into the role”

  8. Marts says:

    @ CT – that’s how I see those two pairings as well. So much so, that I think they could both be pretty deadly actually. I would also think those two pairings could play nearly equal minutes thereby limiting Keith and Seabrook’s minutes to the sub-25 minute range (perhaps they pick up a few extra minutes each being paired together in must have moments).

  9. Dominic says:

    Leddy is out there to make up for Keith’s mistakes. Those breakaways Ken mentioned were twice caused by Keith blunders. Boy that Leddy is fast.

    Listening to Edzo and Pat cover for Keith is like listening to Mainstream media struggle to criticize our president, even though there are glaring reasons why one would offer some criticism.

    Bottom line, Keith/Leddy bad pair. Keith Seabrook, Leddy Montador or Keith Montador Leddy Seabrook or Ham/Montador and Leddy/ODonnel, or Ham and Lepisto..that is how they should be.

    Glad you are back. With some of these lineups so far, wondering if Hawks are gonna do dress a vetran ride along program…today, Rick Patterson comes back to skate on the 4th line….WTF…

  10. Don T. Chaknow says:

    oh i know! lame-stream liberal media! fascists.

  11. BobbyJet says:

    Keith was better the 2nd game but his gambling style of play, brain cramp giveaways and failure to get the puck to the opps net, remain a concern. I hope Q doesn’t feel hand-cuffed into playing him, even when he is having a bad game …. like Q did last season.
    Montador, on the other hand, looked more like the dman I was expecting on Saturday. That’s a good sign.

  12. rich Lindbloom says:

    good wrap – I liked your observations on Montador. I thought it was Larsen that ran into the buzzsaw known as David boland.

    The committed Indian piece was hilarious. My favorite line was “The curious case of Banjamin Button.” Although I thought Sandwich looked pretty good on Saturday – probably from only remembering his crunching check on Robidas.

    The Frolik assasination attempt was also really good – although tallon may have to off you along with Rocky as you obviously already know too much.

    Instead of showing Bobby in the suite, they should just show highlights of him circling around and heading up ice when he played. As kids, we used to hold our breaths when he grabbed hold of the puck – now, well…

  13. Cam says:

    “I thought it was Larsen that ran into the buzzsaw known as David boland.”

    Yep, wasn’t Burish. Burish came in afterwards to tell Bolland to, uh, stop bracing himself for huge hits near the boards.

  14. rich Lindbloom says:

    “take it like a man Bolland. Feel the pain.” – Burr-dog

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