Analysis

Chicago Blackhawks’ 5 Questions Heading Into All-Star Break

By Colin Likas
Jan 13, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville looks on from behind the bench against the Washington Capitals in the second period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 13, 2017; Washington, DC, USA; Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville looks on from behind the bench against the Washington Capitals in the second period at Verizon Center. The Capitals won 6-0. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports /
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What are the Blackhawks going to do with their defense?

This is the simplest way I can word this question, broad as it may be. Because there are numerous issues to go over right now (even if this group is still better than last season’s unit).

The Blackhawks are currently carrying seven defensemen, and they have a few more with NHL experience sitting in Rockford. The group has seen its struggles, and Coach Q has some weird trust issues regarding Michal Kempny while putting ultimate trust in Trevor van Riemsdyk.

Now, there has been small talk of the Blackhawks possibly pursuing a blueliner at the deadline, but I don’t think they need to do that. They have the pieces for a capable enough blue line to support Crow and Darling. It’s just getting things in order.

Duncan Keith isn’t playing up to snuff, but he isn’t going anywhere. Niklas Hjalmarsson has been the No. 1 defenseman at times this season. Brent Seabrook is the No. 3.

After that? Well, I still think Kempny is No. 4, but Q obviously doesn’t agree with that. Brain Campbell hasn’t been all we expected, but he’s plenty capable as a No. 5 defenseman.

We know what Michal Rozsival is, but counting on him to keep up with various speedy teams down the stretch is a sketchy proposition. TVR … isn’t going anywhere, but also is doing more harm than good at this rate.

Gustav Forsling is sitting in the AHL right now, as are Erik Gustafsson, Viktor Svedberg and Ville Pokka. Three of that foursome have some NHL experience.

Honestly, this might be an even more difficult question to answer than the top-line left wing issue. Q is never going to bench TVR, it seems, and he might not ever fully trust Kempny.

I would like to see Keith, Hjalmarsson, Seabrook, Kempny and Campbell play regularly. I’d also like to see Forsling again, but I’m not sure if he’s ready for an everyday grind. That No. 6 D spot is a question mark, and if the Blackhawks are seriously considering adding a top-line forward, they probably won’t be able to add a defenseman at the deadline as well.

They’ll have to work with what they’ve got. Is it good enough to make a serious Cup run? We’ll see.

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