CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 15: Viktor Stalberg #25 of the Chicago Blackhawks battles for the puck with Matt Duchene #9 of the Colorado Avalanche at the United Center on December 15, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Avalanche defeated the Blackhawks 4-3. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
I'm going to eschew my normal stats breakdown for just some spare thoughts that I have after the game yesterday. While my first post today was generally positive, I certainly have my complaints.
Here they are:
For the 2nd and 3rd periods last night, Jordan Hendry was skating on the Hawks second forward line with Patrick Sharp and Tomas Kopecky. So let's review; Jordan Hendry is good enough to skate on your second forward line but not good enough to skate on the third defensive pairing, even though he's a defenseman. You sort that one out, because I can't -- nor do I want to. It's extremely galling with the way Nick Boynton is constantly getting beat, whereas Jordan Hendry can actually skate and fits in much better with what the Hawks want to do. Coach Q has always been fascinated with having some meatbag on his third pairing for a "physical presence." He caught lightning in a bottle with Brent Sopel last year, but he also tortured us with extended use of the doorstop that is Matt Walker two years ago. He's torturing us even more now. With the high-octane Wings on their way in, the Hawks really need the added mobility of Hendry on the back line.
The penalty kill can't ... well, it just can't. There's no excuse for this as there are far too many forwards on the team with a high defensive IQ for this unit to be third-bottom in the league. The problem I see is that the Hawks are getting sucked down too deep when the other team has possession. That is, when the attacking team moves the puck to the half-boards or down by the goal line, the Hawks four-man unit is coming too far down toward them. This means when the puck gets back to the points, they can't get out their quick enough to prevent or block shots. When those shots get through, because they're almost always screened from the goalie, they create rebounds and chaos. With Troy Brewer and Tomas Kopecky being forced to kill penalties, they just might not have the foot speed to close these gaps, but something has to be figured out.
Tomas Kopecky needs to go away.
You might want to write off Viktor Stalberg for a while. What we heard from Leafs fans after he was acquired was that he showed a lot of promise in the first half of the year last season before suffering a concussion. After he returned, he was basically afraid to go anywhere on the ice that might involve contact, which would make him pretty useless as a player. It's clear he suffered another concussion last night. So...
The power play let the Hawks down last night, and maybe they just don't have the personnel at the moment. Some of this could be alleviated by getting Patrick Sharp off the point and to a forward position. The Hawks use Sharp and Brent Seabrook on the point on the top unit, and they serve the same purpose. They both are their to blast shots from the point. Neither are a great passer from there, or a great puck-handler. The Hawks need Sharp's skill at finding the soft areas to score from the forward spot. But they won't, because that would be too easy.