Question 1: Unfortunately I think it is David Kampf who will be the odd man out when Artem Anisimov returns from injury. A few weeks ago I would have answered differently — such as, move Kampf to wing in the place of Richard Panik or sit Patrick Sharp for a spell.
However, as we know, Panik was dealt to Arizona and Sharpie has shown signs of a resurgence in his play. Some might ask why not move Kampf to center on the fourth line, but I don’t think that will happen yet (one day perhaps).
Back to Kampf for a second. I think the rookie has a bright future as a third- or fourth-line center in this league. I suppose it’s possible that Q will play him in place of Lance Bouma, but Bouma is Q’s type of player, hence that too is rather doubtful.
Da Windy City
It all adds up to Kampf being returned to Rockford, but Sharp should be looking over his shoulder.
Question 2: I think it is safe to say that no player or coach likes the idea of a five-day layoff. In Chicago’s case, I have mixed feelings.
— Newly acquired Anthony Duclair will have played only two games in two weeks or so. Not only is learning the systems in Chicago a priority for him, but he will be shaking off rust as well. One can’t expect his timing to be quite there yet, and five more days off won’t help that cause.
— The loss to Detroit on Sunday can tend to fester. Sometimes it’s better to get right back on the horse after such a fall.
— The layoff will allow some time for injured players to heal from those nagging injuries that you can bet most are suffering from, and especially important for the recoveries of Corey Crawford and Artem Anisimov, who both are on injured reserve.
— It is a good time for a look in the mirror, for players and coaches alike. A reset, if you will, after a roller-coaster first half of the season and a dismal outing against Detroit on Sunday. A chance to come back fresh, ready to turn things around.
— Duclair, I assume, will get in some extra practice time. One of the first comments Duclair made after his first game in Chicago was that he needed to learn the systems. In that regard, he should be a tad more comfortable going forward.
Question 1: The ‘Hawks have missed the 6-foot-4 center’s scoring and active stick on the PK. He’s eighth in scoring on the Hawks with 18 points in 36 games played, leads the team with seven PP goals (next has three) and is tied with Brandon Saad with six game-winning goals. He’s also improved his faceoff win percentage to 47, up from 45.1 last season.
To make the 23-man roster, the obvious replacement is Thomas Jurco. With Anthony Duclair recently added to the roster, Jurco is the most expendable at this time. As to where to play Arty in the lineup, he has career numbers when centering the Patrick Kane line. I’d like to see: 20-19-91, 8-15-88, 12-64-48, 10-57-17.
This sets up similar to the Penguins last year with a very fast third line and scoring potential on all four.
Question 2: Considering how inconsistent the Blackhawks have been this year, the mandated five-day break should be a good thing for the ‘Hawks. One may think more time away from the game will bring even more apathetic play (like Sunday’s game), but I think the break will help the ‘Hawks both physically and mentally.
Q and staff have time to design some new looks for the powerplay (talking to you, Kevin Dineen), and the players have time to reflect on what they need to improve on to get the Blackhawks on a much-needed run.
With so much youth on the team, the core players must lead the way. When they don’t commit to blocking shots, rubbing players off the puck and getting in front of the net and not to the side of it, the rest of the team does the same.
In the Winnipeg game, Vinnie Hinostroza was getting roughed up by two players that were a foot taller than him, and Saad stood to the side and watched. Winning hockey is about giving yourself up for the benefit of the team. Hopefully a few days away will ignite this passion from the players and get the ‘Hawks back to being a more consistent, winning team.