So far everything seems to be working for Coach Q and the ‘Hawks. He has two goalies that can start, (or come in and play well, just as Ray Emery did last night) and win games. Both Emery (8-0-0) and Corey Crawford (9-0-3) have more wins themselves, than Columbus, Washington, Florida, and Calgary do this season. Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith are recreating the magic they had in the 09-10 season, where Keith won the Norris. This pair has also cut down their average ice time, and the team is not suffering, thanks to the excellent play of the supporting cast on defense. In all 20 games this year, either Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, or Marian Hossa has recorded a point. The third and fourth lines are without question the league’s best, and they have been playing phenomenal.
With minimal injuries, the Blackhawks have been playing consistent, strong hockey. The reason for this is because the lineup never changes! Last night, the Blackhawks scored their first goal 12 seconds in to the contest. In that time, the puck touched all 5 players on the ice, before Jonathan Toews redirected the pass into the net. A dream start! Especially on the road against a big divisional rival in St. Louis. Not 3 minutes later, Dan Carcillo was on that very same line. Just after that, him and Brandon Saad were on the 4th line with Brandon Bollig! Dan Carcillo should not be playing on the first line. He missed a great number of contests already this season, and Saad stepped up, filling in with Toews and Hossa. Saad, even though he is a rookie, is a dynamic, underrated forward. He has great speed, excellent vision, and the hands to match. He plays good fundamental hockey, and he has a wicked shot, that he gets off very fast. He contributed tons more than Carbomb does on that line. Yes, every team needs a “sandpaper” player like Carcillo. However, he does not belong on the scoring line. Every player on this team has a role: his is not to put pucks in the net. He may occasionally, just like how Toews will get in the rare scrap! But forcing scoring from Carcillo is not the right move. It’s just like putting Hossa or Toews on the fourth line: they are not playing where they should be. Would Quenneville ever put Toews on the fourth line? No.
This issue is one that should bug any Chicago fan. Saad belongs on the top line. He worked hard to get there, he worked hard when he was there, and he works hard shift in shift out. His numbers will go up dramatically if he continues to play with them. The improvement from the start of the season is already noticeable. My message to Coach Quenneville: Carcillo and Saad both have a duty in the grand scheme of things. Let them do what they do best.
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