Question 1: I’d like to see Nick Schmaltz get the call again. Since he was re-assigned to the Rockford IceHogs, he’s had six goals and eight points in 11 games.
He’s had some time now to gain his confidence, and find his scoring touch. I think he could definitely help bolster either the third or the fourth line for the Chicago Blackhawks.
Question 2: Absolutely! I miss seeing the Red Wings more often. It didn’t seem right when they moved to the Eastern Conference.
They’re an Original Six team, and they’ve been rivals with the Chicago Blackhawks for way too long to just brush them off now. Unfortunately, names like Pavel Datsyuk and coach Mike Babcock have moved on from the organization.
It was always fun to match up against some of the best at what they do. But there are still names to get excited about. There’s still Henrik Zetterberg and Gustav Nyquist. And what about Justin Abdelkader? He’s that guy you love to hate. And it’s really fun to say his name.
I look forward to seeing them play the Chicago Blackhawks this Tuesday.
Question 1: I’m going to offer two guys for this answer because I’d like to see the two utilized in different ways. Let’s start with Mark McNeill.
This is a former first-round pick who has gotten one whole game of NHL experience — and it was a game the surrounding Blackhawks couldn’t be woken up for (against Carolina last season).
It’s hard to know if McNeill has what it takes to hold some kind of NHL role if he never gets an extended look at that level. So I’d like to call him up very soon, in advance of the trade deadline on Feb. 28, and get him some run to see if he can be traded for some other asset(s).
On the other side, I’d like to see Gustav Forsling return to the Blackhawks so he can actually play. I do get the idea of wanting him to see regular action and that being the reason he was sent to the AHL. And I think that’s great, and hopefully after a nice run with the Hogs, Forsling can return and be a solid third-pairing guy.
With Brent Seabrook and Brian Campbell struggling and Trevor van Riemsdyk always hit-or-miss (not to mention Michal Rozsival), a fresh-legged, hopefully-confident youngster in Forsling could be a nice addition to the Blackhawks later this season.
Question 2: My first instinct is to say no to Blackhawks-Red Wings still being a rivalry, but then I think about a couple things.
First, whenever I go to a game at the United Center, I make it a point to shout out “DE-TROIT SUCKS!” at least once during the “LET’S GO ’HAWKS!” chant. Yes, I’m 5 years old. But that’s just a thing with this fan base, and you’d only do that for a rival, right?
Second, I think about watching Blackhawks-Red Wings games now, especially when I get to catch them with my cousin, who’s a Wings fan. And I think about how much more I want the Blackhawks to win when those are happening, a similar feeling I get when they take on the Blues.
So after some thought, I’ll say this rivalry is alive, but not nearly as well off as it used to be. Maybe Detroit’s brass can complain its way back into the Western Conference someday.