Question 1: I don’t want to see the ’Hawks having to give up any of the youngsters that have been doing so well this year. Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman, Tanner Kero, Vinnie Hinostroza, Gustav Forsling. None of these guys should go. They have worked hard, improved and built chemistry, enabling them to contribute towards another Cup run.
With that being said, Stan Bowman doesn’t have as many bargaining chips to work with, and of course the salary cap is always an issue. But I would like to see an experienced forward added to the mix, as well as an experienced defenseman.
OK, maybe Forsling can go, depending on what the ’Hawks can get in return. Or Michal Kempny; he just doesn’t seem to fit into the system the way Coach Q wants him to.
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I see Bowman making a couple under-the-radar moves at the deadline, one at forward and one at defense, that will hopefully bolster the momentum the team already has going.
Question 2: The Minnesota Wild on March 12th. The Chicago Blackhawks are currently trailing the Wild by seven points. But if they can beat them this coming Tuesday, and continue to pick up wins while the Wild perhaps lose a few, this matchup could be a huge swing in favor of the winner.
Regardless of whether the ’Hawks can catch the Wild and challenge for first place in the Central, it’s a pretty forgone conclusion that these two teams are headed to the playoffs. One could very easily eventually have to go through the other in order to advance. That’s why I think their matchup in mid-March will feature some excellent hockey.
Oh, and did I mention I have tickets to the game?!
Da Windy City
Question 1: It was so easy earlier this season to say the Blackhawks needed a top-line left wing, because no one was working out at the post. It was 2015-16 all over again. But over the last few weeks, Nick Schmaltz has worked out, and he seems to be pushing Jonathan Toews’ play as well.
So maybe the door is closed on that, but frankly, I’d like the Blackhawks to do something else even more than find a top-line left wing: find a depth defenseman.
I’m sorry, but if the Blackhawks are carrying Trevor van Riemsdyk and Michal Rozsival into the postseason while coach Joel Quenneville continues to show trust issues with Michal Kempny, then things are going to go belly up really fast. Unless the offense goes supernova each night or Corey Crawford steals every game in sight.
In today’s expert panel, The Gatekeeper of Puckin Hostile brought up a few names of interest: Kevin Connauton, Luke Schenn, Fedor Tyutin, Eric Gelinas, Nikita Zadarov and Patrick Wiercioch. These guys all play for Arizona or Colorado, AKA dead-in-the-water teams.
What would it take to get one of these guys? I’m not exactly sure on that. None of these guys are world-beaters, but all of them are guys the Blackhawks could use in some way to shore up their defensive depth. And as we learned last season, defense is critical to advancing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Question 2: I didn’t think anyone would bring up the Columbus game on March 31, but Aaron did. So now I feel the need to get a little more creative with my response. Here are some games I’m interested in this March:
— The games against Pittsburgh on March 1 and 29 and the game against Minnesota on March 12, for the reasons everyone has said in this post.
— The game against Detroit on March 10, because even if the Wings suck this season (and they do), it’s still a touch of a rivalry game.
— March 18 at Toronto, because have you seen some of the youngsters they have playing over there?
— March 31 vs. Columbus, because I hope the Blackhawks abduct Brandon Saad after the game, dress him up as Rozsival and have to start explaining to everyone why a 38-year-old defenseman is now one of the team’s best forwards.