Mar 8, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks left wing Teuvo Teravainen (86) skates against New York Rangers right wing Mats Zuccarello (36) during the first period at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports
A casual fan might look at the standings and see that the Chicago Blackhawks have won 5 out of 6 points in the last three games. This is good right? But anyone who pays closer attention to hockey knows that the Hawks are in some trouble. They barely won against Edmonton on Friday night, a team at the bottom of the league (2-1 in a shootout). And then they were shut out against the New York Rangers on Sunday by a score of 1-0 in overtime. During Saturday’s team practice, Coach Q called for his players to get ticked off. Well I’m a fan, and I’m ticked off. Does that count for anything? I need to vent. Here are my 5 ways to fix the Chicago Blackhawks. Tell me if you agree or disagree.
5. Let Sharpie be Sharp. Why is it that Patrick Sharp seems to constantly shoot the puck either into the goalie’s chest or off the goalpost? I heard that Patrick Kane has a special shooting coach; maybe Sharpie should borrow him for some lessons.
That being said, why is Sharp playing on the third line with Daniel Carcillo? I thought Sharpie was a veteran that was supposed to step it up in Kane’s absence. Well let him step it up…to the second line. Wait, the second line was the best line last night. Better yet, put Sharp back on the first line to replace Versteeg. What has Steeger done lately? Sharp had a game high 4 shots on goal last night (I know only 4 but it was the game high). Put him with some better players and let him show his stuff. The more chances he has the less likely they will go off the chest and the goalpost.
4. TT the best player on the ice. Before this last game I was going to say that Teuvo Teravainen was in over his skates on the second line. I’ve changed my mind. He is the closest thing the Hawks have to Patrick Kane right now, so use him! No more healthy scratches for TT, leave him on the second line with Vermette and Saad!
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Outside of Crawford (nothing needs to be fixed there!), Teravainen was the best player on the ice last night. He had the puck a lot, and created some good chances for himself and his line mates, both during 5 on 5 play and during the power play. Now leave him there and let him keep working! The points will come.
3. Use Desjardins where he is supposed to play. The Hawks traded for a gritty player in Andrew Desjardins, and then they put him on the third line for the Oilers game and he didn’t do much. He was a healthy scratch for last night’s contest. Put him on the fourth line where he belongs. Desjardins-Kruger-Shaw. Now there’s some grit. Enough with Carcillo! And not that I’m against Nordstrom. Pit Nordy and Desjardins against each other and see who comes out on top. Nothing like some healthy competition to get the best player for the playoffs.
Since we’re talking about third and fourth lines, we might as well touch on Bickell. Yes, he got his healthy scratch, which is apparently what it takes to get through his thick head to play better. Well I hope it works, because the Hawks could use his muscle. Bickell-Richards-Versteeg could make a nice third line.
2. Get it done on the blue line. I think we can all agree that Hjalmarsson gets it done. He’s looked great the last couple of games. And Seabrook is holding his own. Plus he has a wicked shot that he’s not afraid to use. It was his goal that got the Hawks to overtime in the tilt against Edmonton Friday night. And poor Duncan Keith; he’s way too busy skating around trying to cover for his partner, be it Rundblad or Rozsival.
Rundblad is either “Rundbad” or “Rundblast”, there’s no in between. He seems to be out of position and/or turning over the puck most of the time. On the rare occasion he’s on his game, he’s trying to blast a shot in. The one thing we CAN say about him is that he is inconsistent. Rundblad needs to sit. He’s just not ready yet. The good news is that a well-rested Johnny Oduya is slated to be back on Thursday when the Hawks take on Arizona. So hopefully Rundy will be in the press box (with Carcillo).
The bad news is that rookie defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, who was so solid at the beginning of the season before his injury, has yet to play with the Rockford IceHogs. His chances of getting up to speed and back to the Hawks for the playoffs is looking more and more slim. It looks like we might be stuck with Rozsival. At least Rozy is a veteran and has playoff experience.
On the topic of veterans, Kimmo Timonen missed the last couple of practices, and only had 10:35 minutes of ice time this past game. Hopefully he’s just easing his way back into things. Give Timo his time and his maintenance days, and let’s hope he can start producing soon. Speaking of which…
1. Fix the Power Play! It’s kinda funny that the United Center announcer makes this great pronouncement about the “Blackhawks Power Play” when it’s just, well, not great. I’m sure you’ve probably already read some of the terrible statistics by now. The Hawks had 4 power plays last night, during which they only generated 3 total shots on goal. They haven’t had a power play goal in 15 tries. The ironic thing is that the last PP goal was the one Toews earned when Patrick Kane was injured. The Hawks are definitely missing Kaner on the power play.
Well, Kaner is not available right now so somebody needs to step up. This is where the T’s come in. Teravainen and Timonen. Teravainen looked pretty good on the PP last night. Maybe give him some more time. And Timonen is supposed to be good with entries and set ups. It sure can’t hurt to try something new because the old just isn’t working. I’ll bet they’ll get a lot of practice; no team needs to worry about committing penalties against the Blackhawks these days.
What do you think Blackhawks fans? What are some of your ideas to fix the Chicago Blackhawks? The next game isn’t until Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes, so we have plenty of time to dwell on it. Rest up now, as it’s a 9 pm start. And keep an eye on the standings this week. Things are heating up!
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