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.