“He is a very valiant trencher-man.” – William Shakespeare
Tonight will mark the first return to the UC since the 2010 Stanley Cup championship run of former Chicago Blackhawks Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien. It also marks the first regular season game of Daniel Carcillo in a Hawks jersey. God help us all.
It’s not that I have anything against the CarBomb. I don’t, and believe he could be a good addition to the 4th line. But that’s not where he’ll be lining up this evening. Coach Quenneville has been skating Carcillo with Kane and Hossa in practice this week and that is where he’ll start tonight’s game.
When Patrick Kane was moved to 2nd line center this preseason, it was assumed this would solve multiple issues. Unfortunately, a new one has arisen. Midway through game one, it was obvious that Andrew Brunette couldn’t keep pace. Since then, multiple LW’s have already been plugged into that slot.
To express my dissatisfaction in a Matt McClure of SecondCityHockey.com sort of way, “When (insert 4th line player here) is on your 2nd line, your team sucks.” Currently that player is Carcillo. Didn’t we deal with that enough last year?
As much of a Duncan Keith–Nick Leddy paring apologist I am, and as much as I’m fine with Kane skating at center, neither option is going to work unless Keith-Leddy-Kane-Hossa-PlayerX play the possession game that lineup is supposed to create. So far we haven’t seen it.
Even though it’s a small sample size, that lineup has had the easiest zone starts, but still isn’t winning the Corsi battle. Only Marian Hossa, who has actually had the toughest zone starts (only 57% of starts in the offensive zone, compared to about 70% for Kane, Keith and Leddy), has a high rating. If you’re going to try and beat the opposition by putting some of your best offensive weapons on one line and skating them against weaker competition, this just can’t be the case.
That lineup needs to “out-possess” the opposition to be successful. If you rightfully believe it is the biggest defensive liability of the top 3 lines, then one-and-dones and spending the remainder of the shift in the defensive zone is going to expose that liability. Q’s solution: Add a guy who likely will aimlessly fly all over the ice and often be caught out of position.
What that line needs is a LW who can contribute to the possession game; a player who can effectively cycle the puck. Instead we get Carcillo who could be a circus act if they get hemmed in in their own zone.
Another harbinger that arises from this lineup, is that the Rusty Olesz experiment may have already ended. He was a healthy scratch for John Effing Scott in the home opener and will likely start tonight’s contest on the 4th line. It was hoped that Olesz could fill a slot on one of the top 3 lines. If that isn’t the case already – and if Viktor Stalberg can’t be that guy upon his return – look for an early season trade in an attempt to fill that void.
Everyone might be best served by moving Michael Frolik to 2LW and replacing him on the 3rd line with Olesz. I’m just as much of a fan of 29-36-67 as the next guy or gal, but word from Florida is that Olesz was best used in a checking line role. Many cite Frolik’s shot-happy style as not fitting in with Kane and Hossa, but in my opinion, he’d be asked to do more of the dirty work on that line, should see a better shot selection, and have the chance to regain confidence by potting some easy rebounds – wait, what?? Keep an eye out to see if he doesn’t find himself there by midway through the 2nd period if the Hawks are struggling – or Carcillo is in the sin bin serving a 5 minute major.
I hope I’m wrong. I hope Carcillo scores 2 goals tonight. I hope my long lost uncle from Nigeria really does send that million dollar check. I’m just not holding my breath.
Oh, and Ray Emery is starting in goal tonight, so there’s that. It should be fun to see which version of Razor shows up. What also might be fun is watching Kaner skate a few circles around SS Fat Guy Dustin Byfuglien, as long as that doesn’t leave him winded for the remainder of the season. Come to think of it, Q might not want to let those two hang out after tonight’s game either.
Despite my concerns about Carcillo, the Hawks should walk away with a victory tonight. You can call ’em what you like, but the Winnipeg Jets are still the Thrashers, just with a new paint job. They’re a bottom-dwelling team with absolutely no defense. The Hawks should be able to put up 5 unless Ondrej Pavelec completely stands on his head, which he is capable of. If Pavelec is sharp, but Emery is still in preseason form, the game could be interesting. Someone also needs to inform CarBomb that Tanner Glass is now a Jet and thinks he’s a “donkey.” Let’s see how that plays out.
Catch you on the other side.
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