Feb 8, 2014; Dallas, TX, USA; Phoenix Coyotes goalie Mike Smith (41) makes a save on a Dallas Stars shot during the third period at the American Airlines Center. Smith has 31 saves in the game. The Stars defeated the Coyotes 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
#4 – A Hot Goalie
I think we can all agree one of the Blackhawks’ biggest Achilles’ heels this year has been when they come up against a goalie that stands on his head. Facing a scorching net-minder is inevitable in hockey, but when your team is the #1 offense in the league, and you’re throwing everything but the kitchen sink at a goal keeper to no avail, for the Hawks, their tail feathers get mighty ruffled; ruffled to the point where they become obsessed and start making mistakes that end up costing them the game. This can’t happen in the playoffs, and the Western Conference is chalk full of goalies liable to catch fire in the post season. The Blackhawks need to learn how to adapt their offense on the fly when their best shots aren’t cracking the façade of a notoriously lucky net-minder, get the defense more involved, and hope for ricochet goals. They also need to remember that it doesn’t matter how pretty the shot looks, as long as it ends up in the back of the net.
#3 – Michal Handzus
Why is it that everyone from Chicago, America, planet Earth, the universe, and more importantly Blackhawk Up can see what a drain Michal Handzus is on the Hawks’ offensive efficiency except coach Joel Quenneville? I hate to sound like Dollar Bill Wirtz, but we don’t owe Michal Handzus anything. He’s no Nicklas Lidstrom or Teemu Selanne: franchise fixtures since forever that get honorary starting gigs pretty much no matter how they play. Handzus was brought onto the Hawks last season on the eve of the playoffs to win face-offs, and yes, he did so much more but com’on, this regular season he’s John Q. Leman Brothers: he’s run out of credit to borrow against, and it’s time for Coach Q to admit as much. Handzus has all our respect, but he’s clearly not doing anyone any favors taking up a roster spot with his slowness and lacklusterness (it’s a word!) when we have plenty of cannon fodder players (said in an endearing way) waiting on the Rockford IceHogs willing to throw their bodies, and yes even their lives, on the line for the glory of Lord Stanley (Jeremy Morin, I’m looking in your direction).