May 2, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Michal Handzus (26) and Minnesota Wild center Mikael Granlund (64) fight for a face off during the third period of game one of the second round of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the United Center. Chicago won 5-2. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
Michal Handzus has played in 1009 regular season NHL games. He has scored 185 regular season goals and recorded 298 assists. In the NHL playoffs, Handzus has appeared in 106 games and recorded 14 goals and 30 assists. Handzus is a onetime Stanley Cup Champion with the Blackhawks last season. With all of these accomplishments, Handzus has been a solid NHL player.
According to The Hockey News Handzus “can be an effective shutdown center”. He plays solid defense and is a capable playmaker. With assets come flaws and Handzus has flaws. Per The Hockey News are Handzus major flaw is LACK OF SPEED.
Handzus is by far the slowest player on the Blackhawks. He literally slows down every line he is on. When the Blackhawks postseason began Handzus on was on the second line with Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa. Handzus’ lack of speed slowed down that line and hampered the play of Hossa and Sharp. Handzus play has relegated him to the fourth line. The fourth line this playoffs is the line of misfit toys. Handzus has been paired with Kris Versteeg, Brandon Bollig, and Jeremy Morin at one point. The fourth line is essentially time filler while the top three lines rest.
Now Handzus is not all bad. Handzus has been an effective penalty killer this post season for the Blackhawks. He has sacrificed his body on numerous occasions. He was so good on the PK that the United Center Faithful cheered his name on several occasions. Is being an effective penalty killer, worth slowing down a fourth line? My answer is no. The Blackhawks need to use their speed to overwhelm opponents.
The Blackhawks strength as a team is their speed. Speed and talent wins in the playoffs just ask the St. Louis Blues. With Handzus on the ice the Blackhawks are hampering their greatest asset which is their speed. To quote the Great Iron Eagle 2, Graves stated, “Speed Kills Peaches”.
The enigma of Michal Handzus is solved: Place him on the Bench.
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