Oct 1, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival (32) clears the puck from in front of goalie Antti Raanta (31) with Montreal Canadiens left wing Jacob De La Rose (25) in pursuit during the third period at the United Center. Montreal won 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
#2 – The Defense is Still on the Fence
I was in high hopes that Sheldon Brookbank and Michal Rozsival would be bid adieu this offseason, and Nick Leddy would finally be given a regular line-mate. Obviously, this isn’t going to happen anymore. The problem now is the third defensive line for the Blackhawks is completely in flux, and that’s, that’s no good… Yes there are certainly plenty of viable options in the likes of Kyle Cumiskey, David Runbland, and Trevor van Riemsdyk. However, as we know chemistry among lines in hockey is critical, and that’s doubly true when it comes to the blue line. The Hawks could try to throw together a make shift line with what’s left over in the wake of the Leddy trade, but maybe their best option would to bring up an already proven defensive pairing in Adam Clendening and Klas Dahlbeck from the Rockford IceHogs. Yeah, maybe Clendening and Dahlbeck aren’t quite ready for the NHL, but given what other options the Hawks have to fall back on for their third defensive line, what do they have to lose? Clendening and Dahlbeck could be a potentially low risk – high reward option. Regardless of who ends up comprising the third defensive line, there is big potential for them to thrive if left alone to form their own synergy, and therein lies the big question.
#1 – Coach Q Still Has Line Blender on Liquefy
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville caught a lot of flak from Hawks fans last season for his constant line alterations; never really allowing the Blackhawks to form the crucial chemistry to flourish to their full potential. With the personnel shifts that have happened this offseason, Coach Q needs to learn to stop mix and matching his lines so whimsically. Hockey players need to develop a comfort and camaraderie with their line mates, and unfortunately, this fact seems to be lost on Q-Stache. The good news is that the top two offensive and defensive lines are all but set for the most part, and it’s just the lower lines that need tinkering. With a team so full of talented players, the temptation will always be there to shuffle the lines. Quenneville needs to resist this temptation and not jump the gun at the first hiccups in each line’s performance.
Unfortunately, the chances of this happening with Coach Q are low given his past tendencies. The only way I see Quenneville finally getting out of his own way is his line blending putting the Hawks in such a precarious position in the standings midway through the season that others in the Blackhawks organization take notice and call Q-Stache to the carpet for his actions. Perhaps only then will Quenneville with step aside and let the Hawks chemistry bubble.
I’m sincerely hoping I’m proved wrong on all the aforementioned, but these are very real obstacles, and therefore need some equally real contingency planning. The good news is we all know the Hawks have overcome similar hindrances before, and there’s no reason they can’t do it again this season.
FOR THE DAGGER!