Coaching. Coach Quenneville and company actually didn’t really change things up that much this month. The second line is still intact. Toews and Hossa are the mainstays on the first line, with Teuvo Teravainen and Andrew Shaw both spending time on the left wing.
Many people think Teravainen should be the answer here, and even Q himself has hinted that he is probably the long-term solution. But at the same time, shaking things up a bit is what the coach does. And that might not be such a bad thing. It gives incentive to TT to play even better, and it rewards Shaw for his hard work.
Meanwhile, among the bottom six, lack of depth and the Kruger injury is forcing the coaching staff to take a look at the youngsters. Players like Dennis Rasmussen and Phillip Danault are now getting their shots, and Coach Q appears to be on board with this. They are getting decent ice time, and are being moved around in the lineup to figure out their best fit.
Bryan Bickell is back from the AHL, and it was the right thing to give him another chance. But he’s not doing much with his chance. In the last game against Colorado, he was a healthy scratch. How many times does Q have to get a fire lit under him?! And Brandon Mashinter was his replacement. If you ask me, they’re taking a little bit too long of a look at Brandon Mashinter. I guess when the options are limited, this is the kind of thing that has to be done.
Like I mentioned above in the defense section regarding the third pairing, the coaching staff is trying to make the best out of a not-so-ideal situation.
Speaking of the defense, Coach Q can’t seem to decide whether to put Keith with Hammer or Trevor van Riemsdyk. Whoever isn’t with Keith of course plays with Seabrook. I’m not sure what he’s up to here, but hopefully it won’t negatively affect any of the players. I’m sure they would prefer consistent pairings.
So the coaching staff is still experimenting, but they do seem to be settling in with some things. Will it all round out in the end? We shall see.
Intangibles. The Chicago Blackhawks are still in third place in the Central Division with 48 points. They are one month closer to the playoffs. Every year they seem to find a way to make it to the playoffs, and then their experience becomes a huge factor. Losing Marcus Kruger for the rest of the regular season is a big loss, but it gives the youngsters and players like Andrew Desjardins a chance to step up. I think this tweet says it best.
Even with all kinds of adversity, the Chicago Blackhawks always seem to manage to be a contender. I truly do think this year’s team will make it to the playoffs. After that…well check with me in April. Right now, let’s get ready for 14 more games in January, starting with the Ottawa Senators Sunday night. Buckle up everybody!
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