**** Sam Fels of Second City Hockey gave me some space in his wonderful creation, The Committed Indian, for tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. Here’s my column. Don’t be cheap and purchase one outside the UC for $3 if you’re headed there tonight. GO ‘HAWKS!
Despite all the departures, I don’t think anyone believed the Blackhawks would be stumbling into November hovering around the .500 mark. Things sure as shit haven’t been ideal and right now, this isn’t a Stanley Cup contender.
Fortunately, the NHL doesn’t hand out the Stanley Cup in November. Through 16 games last season the Blackhawks were 9-5-2 – not much difference from this season — Antti Niemi’s balls hadn’t dropped yet and Cam Barker still skated on the third pairing.
Lots of things can change between now and June – and they have to. As much as we all sit and point farts in the direction of Stan Bowman, we know he knows, too. And we know the players know it.
So, with that in mind, I present you with 10 Reasons Why the Blackhawks Can Repeat. I’m not saying they will repeat, so don’t come trying to chop my head off if the ‘Hawks are on their couches come June. Agree, disagree, whatever. Sam gave me the space for tonight, you paid for the damn thing, so you will listen to every single word I have to say.
John Scott and Nick Boynton
Total joke. These two worthless piles of shit hopefully won’t be around come March. I’m actually hoping Scott murders Boynton and is sent to jail for life. Then we won’t have to worry about either of them. Now that I have your attention…
Patrick Kane will start to give a shit
Partying with his best friend Jack Daniels and a summer of casual sex may still be on his mind, but Kaner isn’t far off his pace from last season. After 16 games, he had 16 points (4G, 12A). He’s behind, but not by much.
The problem is that his attitude seems to be different. He looks like he’s ready for the bar as soon as he steps on the ice. I personally think his “20 Cent” incident last offseason had him coming out of the gate with fire in his eyes. After winning the Cup and being loved for scoring the winner, he may seem a bit more casual. Rather than playing with something to prove on top of his ridiculous talent, he’s simply playing on talent.
Despite all of his nonsense, Kaner is a competitive SOB. He’s not happy where the team is right now, and his attitude will change. I’m certain of it. Last season’s, “I’m going to score on you, and there’s nothing you can do about it” attitude will come out – and soon.
Marian Hossa is, well, Marian Hossa
Hopefully while you’re reading this, Hossa is on the ice somewhere. Before he got hurt, Hossa was the best player in the NHL. He was doing everything right, scoring goals, finding teammates… it was beautiful to watch. The ‘Hawks haven’t been the same without him. They’ve looked like they’ve been missing something.
That something has been Hossa’s “Yeah, I’m doing this, you can watch if you’d like” style of play. The Blackhawks have Marian Hossa, the other teams don’t. Advantage: ‘Hawks.
Patrick Sharp is extremely handsome… and good
I remember saying at about the midway point of last season that Sharp has the offensive talent to be a 40-goal scorer. He just may accomplish the feat this season – and look good doing it.
I understand he can be better in his own zone, which his plus/minus proves. But his offense is what’s going to help the Blackhawks, and he hasn’t disappointed thus far.
Jonathan Toews won’t let this bullshit continue
I’m not talking about his performance on the ice – though the ‘Hawks could use some more offensive production from Tazer. I’m talking about that ‘C’ on his chest which he’s shown he’s well deserving of having. With all the new faces in the locker room, I’m assuming he’s simply waiting for the right time to start putting people in their place.
Duncan Keith recently said it’s taking some time for everyone to jell – both on and off the ice – and the Blackhawks are struggling because of it. Toews isn’t going to stand for much more of that excuse. This team is a bunch of professionals and they’re expected to mesh with whatever situation they’re thrust into. Tazer will do his job and right the ship.
Marty Turco may give you heart failure, but he’s a very serviceable goalie
The flailing, the flopping, the sometimes recklessness with the puck … I know, it can be taxing on blood pumper. His style is similar to Tim Thomas of Boston, which has been said to not but suitable for a playoff grind.
It’s true, Turco hasn’t had much playoff success. But Turco has come up with big saves while facing a lot more shots than he and any of us thought he’d be facing. Turco is far from the reason the Blackhawks are roughly mediocre right now. He’s kept some games closer than they should’ve been, and he has the talent, experience and determination to earn a ring to help the ‘Hawks through the season.
Brian Campbell is back
Without him, the Blackhawks were giving up an alarming amount of shots and changing up the defensive pairings seemingly every night. His absence was more than noticeable. Does anyone find it coincidental the ‘Hawks began rolling in the playoffs once Campbell came back last season? His return is the reason I believe …
Niklas Hjalmarsson will start playing up to his contract
Hammer’s left a lot to be desired since the ‘Hawks matched San Jose’s offer sheet, but I refuse to put all the blame on him. He hasn’t been able to play with the same cohesiveness with his defensive partner as he did nearly all of last season with Campbell.
Super Nintendo Hjalmers is a very heady player who is fundamentally sound and isn’t afraid to absorb contact in order to make the correct play. Though he hasn’t lived up to his new salary, look for Hammer to return to form with Campbell returning.
Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will play like the best D tandem in the NHL
Campbell’s injury forced Keith and Seabrook to play ungodly amounts of minutes, mainly because the units behind them were simply far less talented. They even had to be split up at times to try and make up for the deficiency.
Keith is still the Norris Trophy winner for a reason, and he’s near the top of the league in assists. His decision-making has been questionable, and Seabrook has appeared to be a bit lazy and getting beat on plays he normally wouldn’t.
Fatigue can’t be ignored in this situation. They’re the best tandem in the league when they’re on top of their game, and I can’t see some of the sloppiness continuing much longer.
Everything will fall into place by mid-January.
The ‘Hawks basically wrapped up the Central with a 10-4-1 January last season with Hossa hitting full stride after returning from injury. Hopefully the Blackhawks can stay healthy and won’t have to worry about that sort of thing. However, the new faces should have meshed with the stars by this point, and everyone should understand their roles. There’s a reason the stars are the stars, and they make people better. We’re not seeing the immediate effects, but by January we should be seeing some solid results.
No matter what, this team will be dangerous come June.
Put a defending Stanley Cup champion in the playoffs and anything can happen. Last season, some wondered if the ‘Hawks were too young and inexperienced to win it all. Well, there went that idea.
Now think of a young team coming off a Cup win and hungry enough to want to repeat. Five of the last six President’s Trophy winners haven’t won gone all the way, so forget regular-season record.
I know it may seem harder than it sounds with the Central Division being as strong as it is this season. But if the Blackhawks can get in the playoffs, they’ll make some noise. They have the talent to win a finesse series, the ability to win a speed series and the toughness to win a physical series.
Stealing a quote, “Never underestimate the heart of a champion.”
Contact Bartl sits in Section 326. Go buy him a beer or contact him at Jeffrey.Bartl@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @BlackhawksUp