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Chicago Blackhawks’ Vermette Answer To 2nd Line Center!?

By Zachary Raderstorf
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CHICAGO- While there’s been much time between match-ups for the Chicago Blackhawks lately, I’ve been forced to ponder situations and issues that I’d usually be unable to find the time for, let alone the luxury to think about. But something finally dawned on me, something that I’d thought some time ago – at the beginning of the season to be specific. That thought… “why don’t we figure out how to put and keep Toews and Kane on the same line moving forward?”

Of course, just as Q believes, continuously putting two enormous talents on the same line allows the opposing team to matchup more easily or more precisely – or does it? If you had asked me this same question around the All-Star break, I would have agreed that it does indeed limit the Hawks. But that was before Antoine Vermette – that was before Andrew Desjardins.

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In the Hawks most recent loss to the New York Rangers, something began to stand out on the ice that hadn’t caught my attention since Teuvo Teravainen played with Patrick Kane – Chemistry. Only Sunday evening, Teuvo had that chemistry with newly acquired Center, Antoine Vermette. Which just might be the biggest blessing in disguise this season – second only to the injury to Patrick Kane.

Here’s the thing, if you asked anyone today whether or not they’d be comfortable with Teuvo officially centering the second line – most would say no. If you asked the same question but told the person being asked that Teuvo had just spent two years on the same line as Antoine Vermette, under his tutelage both at the face-off dot and at the Center position – suddenly you might find the answers drastically change.

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With 16 games left, this thought is not necessarily under any time constraints, as it’d be more impactful in the upcoming season – but the relationship and development can certainly begin. Things have begun to look a bit interesting in the Central Division and as the Hawks sit right now, I’d be hard pressed to bet against them in the opening round of the post season. Quite frankly if anything worried me, it’d be the Hawks somehow winning the division only to face Winnipeg or Minnesota in the opening round. Those two teams scare me.

Patrick Kane’s injury has certainly made me nervous, but there’s a thought in my head that on the power play and at times at even strength, the Hawks have become reliant on Kane to enter the zone, or to make something happen. In truth, the Hawks are talented and deep enough to compete with almost every team in the league roster to roster – maybe this shake up helps them realize that. Even still, I pray that the Hockey Gods shine grace on our superstar and get him healthy by the third week of April.

But I digress…

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  • It seems that the more pairings you have that play well together, the better the lines work. Sure, the ultimate goal is to have three men that work in unison, with the same thought process’ – with the same attitudes. But more than likely, it’s easier to find two and insert someone into the pair – rather than focusing on three, leaving each individual almost alone, and out to dry. So here’s the thing… What if the Hawks go from being an All-Star team, to just a damn good team – TEAM being the keyword there.

    So you know a shake down is coming in the off-season, not to focus on it, but it needs to be focused on. And with the shakedown coming, one must look at possibilities. Now that Vermette is on the books, and poised to win a cup, could Stan Bowman figure a way to keep him for a couple years? Think about this…

    “…once we get to the playoffs, we’ll see what happens. I’ll worry about what I have to worry about, and I’m sure the team will be fine.”-Patrick Kane on the Hawks moving forward.

    Saad – Toews – Kane
    Teravainen – Vermette – Hossa
    Versteeg – Shaw – Desjardins
    Hartman – Kruger – Nordstrom

    That’s just a first thought, maybe I’m way off, that could definitely be the case. But one thing’s for sure, Teuvo is going to be a star. The more I see him play, the more his stock continues to rise. And the fact remains, Vermette is the second line center this city has been searching for, for years. It’s just going to be whether or not he stays in Chicago, if that’s even possible. I’m not the, nor a GM, so only time will tell as to whether or not Stan Bowman can work it out. No matter what happens with Patrick Kane this season, truth be told, I still like the Hawks’ chances. It’s their group that’s resilient, not just one player – they still have the best leader in the league.

    But still, however, the fact remains… Kane just might be planning a monumental comeback for the middle of April and should that happen – well yippie!! Regardless, five weeks left folks and the real fun begins!

    Until then don’t hold your breath, you’re going to need the oxygen come April!

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