Question 1: I don’t think the Blackhawks should do much at the trade deadline this season. We’ve seen them make big moves in the past (i.e. the Andrew Ladd trade last season), where they give up too much, and it ends up not working out for them.
The team has had very good chemistry this season with the addition of all of the younger players being added in to the equation. There’s just no reason to mess with the current lineup.
Coach Joel Quenneville has finally found the wingers who complement Jonathan Toews: Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik. The top line has 34 points (13 goals, 21 assists) in the last 13 games. The Artemi Panarin–Artem Anisimov–Patrick Kane line contains the top three scorers on the team.
And the third and fourth lines have been good enough that there’s not a ton of criticism for them. Since the treacherous 6-0 loss to the Capitals on January 13th, the ’Hawks have scored 3-plus goals nine times. So the last thing they need is a forward.
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The defense has been solid, for the most part. None of the losses the team has suffered since the loss to the Capitals have been horrendous. They’ve only allowed more than three goals twice since then. And you just can’t criticize the goaltenders. Corey Crawford and Scott Darling are one of the best goalie duos in the NHL. There’s just no reason for an addition in either of those two spots.
So where do you fit in a rental piece? There’s nowhere to put them. Q and Stan Bowman both feel comfortable going into the playoffs with the lineup they currently have, and they should feel that way. As long as the team plays solid hockey moving forward, their Cup chances won’t be any worse than they would be if they make a trade for something they don’t need.
Question 2: There’s a lot of games I’m excited to see in March. It’s going to be a jam-packed month of hockey as the season comes to an end, but that doesn’t mean the team can sit back and take a break.
To start off March, the ’Hawks play the Penguins at home on the 1st. It will be their first matchup of the season, so it will be exciting to get a taste of how they handle the reigning Stanley Cup champions, especially at home. They’ll face the Penguins again, this time away, on the 29th. Once again, it’s another great chance to pick up two points against one of the best teams in the league.
On the 9th, the ’Hawks face the Ducks at home. A ’Hawks-Ducks game is always great simply for the animosity between Toews and Ryan Kesler. The hard, heavy hits and roughing between these two teams constantly entertains me. It will be great to get the win over a team like the Ducks, who haven’t scored a lot of goals this season, relying heavily on their goaltender John Gibson.
And as always, I look forward to Central Division matchups such as the Predators (4th), Wild (12th), Colorado (19th) and Dallas (23rd). Those are always fun games that keep me on my toes. Plus, those points will be important to take, especially the ones against Nashville and Minnesota, who are also in playoff spots.