Apr 3, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Wild defensemanJonas Brodin
(25) battles for the puck with Chicago Blackhawks centerMarcus Kruger
(16) during the overtime period at the United Center. The Blackhawks won 3-2 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
1. Corey Crawford: overly underrated or under overrated?
Some fans will say that Crow is overrated. Others will argue he’s underrated. Let’s just stop questioning him in the playoffs. He clearly has a switch he can flick to turn on Uber Crow mode. He’s battle tested with a cup to show for it, and yet we’re at the same juncture. We’re starting to sound like Detroit fans. Crawford will need to continue to be the Hawks’ best player if the Blackhawks want a chance to repeat.
2. Saad News for opponents if Saad can finish, but can he?
Brandon Saad may have finished the season on a disappointing note, but in games 5 and 6 he turned it up a few notches and looked dangerous. While generating some real nice opportunities, the puck would take a funny bounce and roll off his blade or the pass would skip over the intended target. I feel that if he can finally bury one, then he could really go on a tear. It never hurts to have more depth scoring. If you don’t believe me, ask the Blues how they feel about it.
3. Zus PK wonder or master illusionist? How should he be used?
Everyone is swooning over the mighty Michal Handzus on the PK. While I’ll admit that he had some nice looking blocks and pokechecks, I feel that a more mobile player could have easily made those plays and possibly made more of those chances. Zus in general plays a smart game, but you would have to think that it will get tougher and tougher for him to keep up with the pace of the playoffs.
4. Shaw & Bickell: A tale of net front presence. Will it continue?
The Hawks struggled immensely in the first two games to get the offense rolling. They started to find some success with getting bodies to the front of the net. I find it slightly amusing how often the offense forgets this and how long it takes for someone to point it out. The road to the cup will be lined with guys that will be solely focused on snuffing out the Hawks’ big guns. We will need goals from up and down the roster, and these are the guys to do it. Both Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell had goals from either being set up in front or driving hard to the net. This will need to continue and should be expected at this point.
5. Kruger – Will he be able to keep being a nightmare at the dot?
Marcus Kruger has taken some steps forward for the Blackhawks this season. He has been staying on his skates and working the boards much more effectively. The biggest improvement has been at the dot. Last year with Toews injured we relied on Handzus and Sharp heavily and it didn’t always play out so well. With Kruger reaching Toews like numbers on some nights we now have another defensive forward we can rely on. Kruger will be an unsung hero for the Hawks if he can keep doing what he’s doing while putting up a few points.