Editorials

Chicago Blackhawks Roundtable: West Dangers And Team Starters

By Colin Likas
Jan 1, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) skates during practice for the Winter Classic hockey game at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Jonathan Toews (19) skates during practice for the Winter Classic hockey game at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports /
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Dec 11, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; St Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (55) and forward Ryan Reaves (75) check Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise (11) in the third period at Xcel Energy Center. The Minnesota Wild beat the St Louis Blues 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 11, 2016; Saint Paul, MN, USA; St Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (55) and forward Ryan Reaves (75) check Minnesota Wild forward Zach Parise (11) in the third period at Xcel Energy Center. The Minnesota Wild beat the St Louis Blues 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports /

Aaron Goldschmidt

Question 1: I’m still concerned about the Minnesota Wild.  They have always played the ’Hawks well in the playoffs, especially in their own building.  They just ended a 12-game win streak but have been on a tear the last month.

With the addition of Eric Staal and the emergence of Charlie Coyle, the Wild pose a serious threat to the Blackhawks from a competition standpoint.

Question 2: If I can’t choose the obvious in Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews, I would probably go with Nick Schmaltz.  He’s a young player who is shaping his game in the AHL but he will be a future leader for the ’Hawks.

He’s a pass-first center, he’s won at the collegiate level and he will have the size and competitiveness to play in the NHL.  After a year in the AHL, Schmaltz should be ready to return to the ’Hawks’ and compete for a roster spot.

Gail Kauchak

Question 1: The Central Division is still stronger this year than the Pacific Division, with the Chicago Blackhawks currently on top of the West with 51 points. I believe your Stanley Cup Final contender from the West will come from this division (hopefully the Chicago Blackhawks!).

So looking at other teams in the Central Division, I’m tempted to say I’m most concerned with the Minnesota Wild. After all, their recent 12-game winning streak was pretty impressive. And it was only ended by the Columbus Blue Jackets, who are no slouches, having now won 15 games in a row and leading the league.

But if I’m truly honest with myself, it’s the St. Louis Blues that scare me the most. They have Vladimir Tarasenko, who is so dangerous. And they have more experience and confidence now that they beat the ’Hawks last year and went on to eventually lose in the Western Conference finals.

Even after losing some valuable players from last season, the Blues are still a strong and solid team with a crafty coach in Ken Hitchcock. He’s gotten better and better throughout the years at matching up against the Chicago Blackhawks and Joel Quenneville.  After all, he’s had lots of practice.

This is a huge rivalry and there is no love lost between these two teams. Ugh! What if the ’Hawks lost to them in the playoffs two years in a row? It’s just not going to happen!

Question 2: Jordin Tootoo. Just kidding. I’m trying to be creative here because I’m afraid we’re all going to have the same answer.

Let’s see. Marian Hossa is just too old. Artemi Panarin hasn’t won any Cups (yet). Patrick Kane, well, he doesn’t exactly have the best reputation off the ice. Seabs and Keith, again too old. Niklas Hjalmarsson appears to like to stay behind the scenes. Crawford? Now there’s a thought. But not many teams get built around the goalie.

I mean come on! How can you compete with Jonathan Toews? He’s an incredible two-way hockey player and an excellent centerman. He’s extremely intense, he has an extraordinary work ethic and he leads by example. He’s a role-model citizen, and as captain of the Chicago Blackhawks, he’s led his team to three Stanley Cups.

I don’t care if he’s in a scoring slump. There’s more than scoring that makes a great hockey player and a great leader. When it comes to a guy like Toews, the intangibles are invaluable. How can you possibly go wrong?

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