Question 1: I’m going to go with Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik as the most impressive players during the stretch. I don’t know about everyone else here, but seeing a formidable top line has been the most enjoyable and relieving thing about the past month for the Blackhawks.
It’s really a great story all around here with the ‘Hawks’ top line. Panik came to the Blackhawks as a journeyman looking for any opportunity and has been rewarded with playing along side Jonathan Toews, and truly helping to kickstart the captain’s season.
The same goes for Schmaltz, but in a slightly different fashion. The Blackhawks knew they had something special in Schmaltz. It just took some time for the rookie to find his game, and in the process, help elevate Toews’ game, too.
Question 2: Honestly, it is a bit nerve-wrecking to think about the possibility of Hjammer’s injury being long-term. Although the ‘Hawks are much deeper on defense than they were in previous seasons, it’s really difficult to replicate just how solid and consistent No. 4 plays every single game.
Hjalmarsson is the most underrated NHL defenseman by far. He’s second in the entire league in blocked shots with 156. We are also beginning to see just how inconsistent TVR is this season. He has forked over some costly turnovers in recent games, making me less and less confident in the 5-6 defensive pairing.
Question 1: I think I’m most impressed with the whole first line of Jonathan Toews, Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik. Not too long ago we were doubting all three players.
Toews had just 17 points all year, Schmaltz was invisible and Panik had gone ice-cold since the beginning of the season. Now, they’ve played so well, ’Hawks fans are convinced they don’t even need to make a trade to improve that top line.
I’m glad they found some chemistry, but I still think another center is needed to help with faceoffs.
Question 2: I’m not sweating the Hammer injury. This time of year, if Q finds out you have anything close to a minor injury he will shut you down. Just because he left the game doesn’t mean you’re hurt long term.
But who knows? Hockey injuries will always remain a complete mystery.