Smokey's Players Of The Week

Mark It 8, Dude

Patrick Kane - Perhaps it's gaining health in that ankle he sprained in December. Maybe it's how important these games have become that has lasered his focus, but that cocky, sneering, dancing winger we all fell in love with the first three years in this league is slowly returning. He's skating better, more willing to shoot (though not enough yet) and slithering into space instead of getting caught up in traffic. Seven points in four games tells its own story. But mostly Kane has been a threat every shift, and when he's doing that the play isn't in the Hawks zone where he struggles. Yes, it would have made a huge difference if he could have buried that breakaway in OT against Phoenix, but the fact that he's finally getting those chances is encouraging. He's back on a point-per-game pace, and if the Hawks are going to rescue themselves from the prison they've locked themselves in, they will need Kane firing on all cylinders, which few opponents will be able to live with.

Over The Line, Mark It Zero

The second line - No matter who is on it, there's been an big, black void after Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Whether is was Patrick Sharp between the two Slovaks, or Troy Brouwer, or now Michael Frolik, the Hawks cannot win with only line producing. Lots of slings and arrows are being chucked at Marian Hossa, and when you haul in his paycheck that's only natural, though maybe not always fair. But four assists in a month isn't going to please anybody. He's had all sorts of health problems, and he may not be 100% again this year. But he was more active than he's been in Phoenix, and the Hawks have to find a way to get him going. The acquisition of Michael Frolik was specifically designed to jump start Hossa, as he's left-handed and the pass to the right wing should be easier for him, whether it comes from center or the opposite wing. Word is that Frolik will be opposite Hossa being centered by Dave Bolland, and though we hate leaving the bottom six forwards for dead, anything to get a second scoring line going is worth doing. Tomas Kopecky also needs to leave us alone, he just doesn't do much when he's not crashing the net, which he doesn't do often enough.

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