Stars Shine, Blackhawks Slide Continues

The Blackhawks had Saturday night off between home games, and the Dallas Stars had to travel to Chicago after a home win over Washington before an early start.

But the Hawks had no answer for Cody Eakin and company, and lost their second home game in three days.

Saad DAL

The game actually started well for the Hawks, who spent almost the entire first three minutes of the game in the offensive zone. They didn’t score, however, and that opened the door for the Stars to make their shots count early.

Tyler Seguin showed off the explosive release that has him at the top of the league leader board, opening the scoring with his 28th of the season. Then the gong show that has become the Blackhawks power play coughed up the puck and Eakin, who had one of his finest games in the NHL on Sunday evening, scored a short-handed goal to give the Stars a two-goal advantage.

However, Chicago fought back – literally and figuratively.

Patrick Kane scored his 21st of the season less than two minutes after Eakin’s first, and Brandon Saad scored a power play goal to tie the game with exactly three minutes remaining in the opening period.

A last minute goal, this one coming from Vern Fiddler, saw the Hawks head to the dressing room trailing after 20 minutes. The Hawks outshot the Stars 20-14 in the opening period, and scored twice but were down one.

Saad scored his second of the game and 15th of the season early in the second period to tie the game at three, but the physical play of the Stars started to get under the Hawks’ skin. After a couple cheap shots behind the play over the course of a few shifts in the second, Patrick Sharp had enough and dropped the gloves with Shawn Horcoff. It was Sharp’s first fighting major since 2009, and while he handled himself well it showed that the Hawks are a frustrated group.

Johnny Oduya went to the box early in the third and the wheels came off for the home team. Eakin scored his second of the game and ninth of the season, the eventual game-winner, at 2:58 into the final period and the Blackhawks never responded. Eric Cole and Horcoff added goals (Horcoff’s into an empty net) to push the final score to 6-3 in favor of the Stars.

Eakin had a career game, adding an assist and one hit to his two goals, while winning 12 of 16 faceoffs in the game. Jamie Benn picked up three assists on the night while defensemen John Klingberg and Alex Goligoski had two assists each in the blowout. Kari Lehtonen made 38 saves in the win, but faced only five shots in the third period while the skaters in front of him ran away with the game.

Saad and Marian Hossa led the Hawks with seven shots on net each, but only Saad and Brent Seabrook had more than one point on the night; Seabrook picked up two assists with his team-high four blocked shots.

Tim Erixon played… sparingly. In 11 shifts (7:28) he managed to finished minus-one with nothing else showing in the box score. Joakim Nordstrom finished with the lowest ice time on the team (6:02) but had a couple nice shifts mixed into his brief appearance. Marcus Kruger only skated 7:22 of which 2:24 came short-handed.

The Hawks have 47 hours (and counting) to get their act together before the Arizona Coyotes arrive at the United Center.

46 thoughts on “Stars Shine, Blackhawks Slide Continues

  1. Well dont look know but we coud be tied for the Wild Card spot with Winnipeg should Winnipeg beat the Ki-Yotays tonite. ( 3-3 tie in OT currently) Two crappy weeks of hockey and you could find yourself fighting for your playoff lives in the Central Division. Anyway..I don’t know what happened. 6GAA, 5GAA never happened now its happening. What is up with the D? No such thing as a sure thing …just ask any Green Bay fan how they’re feeling right now.

  2. This whole slide started when Crawford gave up the soft goal to lose the Winter Classic. When 4 goals are given up game after game I find it hard to believe that the goalie is playing well. Of course, those multiple odd man rushes aren’t helping and that third period was a complete disaster. Whats up with the defense? Is it Oduya? I have been a Rozy fan, but is he done? I can’t believe missing Versteeg and TVR is having this big of an impact.

  3. EVERY team goes through a bad slide in an 82 game season. Right now, this is a bad slide. To me, you cannot pick out one player and point the finger at him and say it’s that particular player. This is a team slide and everyone is responsible.

    Bad passes, bad reads, bad decisions and a lack of discipline is starting to become a habit with the Hawks. I believe in this coaching staff and these players that they will over come this adversity and get back to Blackhawk hockey in the near future.

  4. They usually win as a team and they usually lose as a team. These losses are because the team isn’t playing sound team defense for 60 minutes. The lapses are coming more often and consequently the goals are going into the Hawks net. Is CC playing error free in goal? No, but the team defense is the real problem, not the goaltending. The goaltending hasn’t always been good enough to overcome the defensive lapses so if that means blaming the goalie, then we’ll just have to disagree on that.

    I’ll repeat myself -PASSING. When the Hawks don’t pass well, like tonight, they don’t break out of their d-zone with speed and often times end up getting hemmed in where the other team can use their size and strength to out work the Hawks along the boards. If they don’t have their passing game working than they spend more time defending than playing offense which is a recipe for disaster for the Hawks. The Hawks exacerbate the problem when they’re slow to react or panic under a withering forecheck, then the ring-arounds start coming which results in turnovers or icings.

    If the Hawks PP were effective, it could make up for some defensive lapses, but that isn’t the case, in fact quite the contrary where the PP usually gives the opponent momentum. Now the PK is heading downhill and that is really going to make a difference in a bad way. The Dallas PP goal was because the Hawks defender just stood there (it might have been Saad – not sure) and didn’t pressure the puck and compounded the poor play by not getting in the way of a shot/pass. Just a bad play and boom it’s in the net.

    So, if the defense is going to remain this bad and both special teams are going to be as bad as they have been lately – the Hawks will quickly find themselves battling for a wild card, or worse. Right now, they’re not a good team.

  5. I agree with Reg Dunlop – NO team goes thru the 82 game schedule without a bad streak (or two)…it is a team problem (- very little TEAM defense…as Ebony Raptor said, “…win as a team and they usually lose as a team. These losses are because the team isn’t playing sound team defense for 60 minutes”) not any individuals (- none of the five goals tonight were Crawford’s fault)…and, “Bad passes, bad reads, bad decisions and a lack of discipline” the last few games. I would add that the PK has slipped a little lately, as well. ER also nails it with his assessment of PASSING and ineffective PP…which seems like it’s been a problem forever.

    It is not time to panic or to expect (or desire) a BIG move. There’s almost half a season to play – the staff and players will straighten this out.

  6. I’m not sure what constitutes a “big” move, but I think Stan should move sooner rather than later to pick up a legit 3/4 who would play #5 for the Hawks. We know how Q handles the playoffs if things get tight and he doesn’t trust the #6 d-man – he gets 7 or 8 minutes and they basically go with a 5-man rotation on defense. Right now, none of Rozsival, Rundblad or Erixon are good enough to be counted on with a normal shift in the playoffs, and even if TvR returns at 100% in time for the playoffs, he’s not playoff proven and has only 18 games under his belt. Stan needs to spend a prospect or two to get a guy that can play #4 and move Oduya down to #5 if he gets a case of the playoffs yips when things get physical. In my opinion if the Hawks go into the playoffs with the current 5/6/7 d-men, it won’t end the way we hope. Get the guy now before the Hawks competitors beat us to the punch.

  7. Your scaring me Ebony! Also think that teams just are not as scared of us as they used to be…they fiqured out we are mere mortals after all…hopefully effective countermeasures are being planned right now. Agree with Pete…it started at the Classic, we should have won that one handily…losing to Edmonton? C’mon! …..Crawford shows signs of brilliance but has not been the same since coming back…D is making big mistakes and look worn at times…other teams analysts have developed ways to beat us ..our PP sucks …ftr had video of a good fix for the Hawks but yet to see it tried. The differences in the Central Division are very small with no room for error. Coaching styles these days are all about defence, defence, defence with backchecking by everyone all the time.. .this tends to stiffle creativity and makes players worry about making mistakes and in trouble with the coach…one of the reasons the WJC were nice to watch…the coaches havent killed that part off yet in those kids…Hitting hard and fast with huge bodies ala Big Buff is becoming a big part of the game again but combined with speed and skill. The Winnipeg game was an excellent game to watch and we played hard and fast but got beat by a tired team who played harder and faster. So…lets beat the tar out of the Coyotes, take the all star break and have some fun running around the ice in those pyjamas or whatever that is and come out roaring for the second half. Keeping an eye on Corsi, Fenwick and War on ice…steady as she goes.

  8. Interesting stretch going on here. Not good team hockey at all. Bickell is playing with physicality AND scoring points…..something cried out for as critical to his play and to the team’s success, but the team as a whole is doing poorly. TT seems more active out there, but sometimes a little like a chicken with his head cut off. Going to have a little faith and assume that they’ll pull it together fairly soon, sharpen things up a bit, and get back on track. GO HAWKS!

  9. I agree with Reg too. And, no, Versteeg and TvR are not the reason for the recent slide. Not going to get into the “Q” debate…..he is a good/great coach. To me, the competition is in mid-season form. The Hawks are still tinkering with line combos and limited ice time for the 4th line and the 3d pair. I do wish that Q would make a commitment to solidifying the lines, pairings. I also wish he would make a bigger commitment to youth.

    I look at what the Red Wings situation the past 2 years. Grand Rapids wins the Calder. The next year the Wings are devastated by injuries. 6-8 players called up. Went through some rough spots but made the playoffs. Now most of those players have stuck, Red Wings on fire, no looking back. A huge commitment from a organization the loves veteran players.

    Icehogs and our system has the same potential. Use it

  10. I don’t doubt this is a January let down-tired both physically and mentally-and they have the team to get through this and play better down the stretch.
    The interesting part this year is how much longer can this go on before they’ve created a situation where there fighting for a lower playoff spot and IF they make it tackle a one seed. Actually any match up whether it be against the Peg, Nashville or St. Louis will be tough.
    They’re a hardened playoff team-what’s important is for them to get in and be reasonably healthy.

  11. Why are the Hawks D men caught so High in front of the net??? especially on their PK…

    Fundamental in almost any sport…. Stay between your man and the Basket/goal/goal line!!! they really have NO excuse for that!!!

    Keith was very bad last nite!!!

    When was the last time the “Un-tradeable Capt.” scored a goal?

  12. Last nights game was a clunker but the All-Star break is just around the corner. The break always ends up being a momentum killer for all teams. The defense has been alittle lax lately I wouldn’t mind the Hawks adding another defenseman even through they have a surplus in quality prospects on the blue line. My concerns are always the same with this roster. Q taxes these guys with heavy minutes.

    Under the new playoff format there isn’t an easy matchup in the West so seeding doesn’t matter. STL, Nash, and Peg are all quality teams.

  13. The team defense has been terrible. Reminds me of last year when we could not clear the crease area and let teams skate at will around the slot area. 27, 32 and 34 look very slow to me. 2 has had two rough games in a row. Teams sure are getting behind our D frequently. You can’t blame Crawford for the goals last night. Most were tap ins or shots right up the slot. I was thinking the same thing AJ, every time Saad scores a register rings in my head.

  14. The defense is struggling mightily and it’s pretty obvious to see. To be fair, they aren’t being helped out by the forwards as much as usual with their backchecking. Rozy has been awful and needs a game or 7 off, Oduya needs to get his act together (I’m seriously hoping he’s saving his Turbo for the playoffs), and Keith/Seabrook seem to be failing when they face the tougher competition.

    I thought Crawford was fantastic last night. Not too often you can say that while giving up 5 goals.

    While I think Ben Smith is a great 4th line player, he’s been pretty mediocre all around this season. He still has value on the power play, but his even strength play has been so lackluster and that’s probably compounded by Kruger having a mediocre year as well.

    And yes, Wall, Toews needs to score. I feel like the biggest threat on that top line is Saad and that isn’t good. Saad is a real good player and all, but he shouldn’t be the biggest threat on that line. Toews has been almost invisible as of late.

    I’m about done with Nordstrom. I think the one thing he does well is skate, but his decision making is poor and his passing/shooting blow. Next up please.

  15. JS- gotta agree on Nordstrom… he Is only good on forecheck… really doing nothing else…

    Time for Ross or McNeill to get an audition…

    But MUCH bigger problems… no prospects in view to replace aging “snipers” 81/10…

    Great thought to rest Rosey… but with what??? 34/5 combo? YIKES!!!
    Keith has been bad…

    OK- with “trying out” Pokka, Johns, or Brennan – any and all of them…
    wouldn’t be the worst thing for Hawks to realize what they have/don’t have…
    Cden- has proven (to me at least) that he is the next Pirri…

  16. @Wall

    Unfortunately, I think you might be right about Cden, if the organization has soured on him for some reason now is the time to move him while he still has some value.

    Nordstrom and Smith are exactly what they are,….bottom six players. This is a good roster but considering the Hawks are going up against some teams in the West this season I wouldn’t mind them adding some size to their roster.

  17. It’s hard for players to play consistently when they’re not getting consistent TOI. Nordstrom played his first game last night in what – 2 or 3 weeks? Smith and Kruger get how much even strength TOI – 6 or 7 minutes? Smith and Kruger played better last season when Q was consistently using them as the checking line against the opponent’s best line. This season that hasn’t been the case, at least not consistently, and the results are predictable – they are not playing as well or with consistency. The Kruger-Smith-Bollig line was a very good 4th line last season – I doubt the absence of Bollig is the reason they’re less effective this season. I think it’s because they don’t have a consistent role from game to game (other than the PK).

  18. Wall – you aren’t really going to find any team with someone in the minors that would be able to replace Sharp or Hossa. Really though, Sharp didn’t figure it out until he arrived in Chicago and was put in a better position to win, so I’m not too worried about him.

    Hossa on the other hand? Generational talent. Those are always hard to replace.

    I actually think if you put Rundblad out with a good defender on the opposite side, you might have something there. He’s skating twice as much as he should have to since they constantly beat Rozsival on his side of the ice.

  19. Wall- I believe Konroyd said last night Toews hasn’t scored in his past 11 games.

    What’s the current estimation for Saad’s new deal? Is it a bridge deal? Long term?

    I wish he would sign before he pots 30 goals this year!

  20. if youre going to get mediocre play from Kruger Smith why not have some physical players either from the minors or trade i know it is not easy but everyone knows the Hawks are a small team but skilled Keith had a bad night but is a great player so he gets a pass Hossa and Sharp also get passes because even if not spring chickens are excellent forwards B

  21. Hossa had 7 shots on goal last night. That’s good. He’s averaging a ton of shots this year, goals just aren’t going in. Once his shot production lowers, then I’ll consider myself worried.

    Bronco, the reason you can’t switch Kruger and Smith for more “physical” players is because they are the top PK unit. So you just have to live with that mediocre play at evens.

    FN- my guess is that the Hawks want a bridge and the Saad camp wants some big dollars. Dollars just going up with every goal he pots.

  22. Perfect time for a “lull” and a nice wake up call with all-star break coming! Hawks easily one of the most talent rich teams in NHL and will make the playoffs but our Home ice advantage (screw stats) has been over rated for years. Hawks play best on the road and teams come here to Chi fired up even when exhausted. I’ve said and others too on this blog, HAWKS win as a TEAM, no one player is leaned on and to me they MUST ALL SKATE HARD it is no luxury to rolling 4 lines, THE HAWKS MUST ROLL 4 LINES, and all 4 LINES MUST contribute or it’s a one goal game every frickin night! When all 4 Lines and all 12 plays guys PLAY, they’re hard to beat but most GOOD teams can win with 6 guys HAWKS if they have one weak link they play average. The Hawks are not that much better than about 6 teams in the west . . . maybe 7. They have built a TEAM that in some sense is easier to match up with and play against, smaller and little less physical than BUFF and LADD Days!

  23. One important point, at least I think it’s critical, ALL HAWKS FANS WHERE GIDDY with excitement when we had more goals and more shots and a more dominate offense this year. BUT I said it would come at a big cost when it is built on the Defense men playing deeper and more aggressive in the offensive zone. IF that is HOW HAWKS generate offense which is what I saw, we’re in big trouble, if we have so called 5 all stars and 3 more all stars on this team how in GODS NAME do Kane, Towes and Hossa need a defensive push and point pressure and postitoning to be effective? That is why this is happening, We generate offense with defense and we have Duncan who is Great at it, Seasbrook average, O-Do-Ya horribe gets trapped at the point and below way too often and Hammer okay, Rozy needs a bundgee cord o him, but all 6 even are taught to play aggressive in the o-zone so PATIENT TEAMS Like Jest and Stars and Kings will beat the Hawks, they just wait for a break and out SPEED YA into our zone, again watch the GAME, these guys are head down and going right to the net, all three forwards, no waiting for the perfect pass, pause, wait, look, fake NO one guy burst and gooooo from blue line to blue line and Hawks are forced to chase once you have to pass twice or three times to clear your ZONE the HAWKS WILL KILL YA, but if you get to center ice just go man go, that is what’s going on. Teams are pushing it and that is why these teams look so much FASTER and QUICKER! Hawks will adjust and be more patient too and get back in this!

  24. JS- Re: 10/81 – snipers that are hard to replace… Of course every team would have hard time replacing those guys… But the fact is- not every team has to replace them- The Hawks do… AND most likely won’t be able (at least near future- Unless a 4th rounder turns into Datsyuk type or trades down the road (years???))

    So the Hawks-are and will be in decline… getting older (top guys that matter 10/81)…
    Plus- the Cap Boom that is about hit w The “Penguin” like contracts for 19/88…
    only thing that can save Hawks is Super-star sleeper pick in near future or MAJOR cap increase in next two year… in 4/5 years… 19/88 will be on the downslope of their great careers…

    I luv Hoss… but those shots aren’t getting thru the D or goalie… I don’t think it’s Puck luck… I think it’s father time slowly doing what it does… Once- again my favorite Hawk- HOF- class act… it just is what it is…

  25. hate to play the name game but here is my lame name game take on HAWKS LINES
    First as i have said too often (sorry) that if you have to mix master the lines to get this type of talent to perform we suck. Plus you can see how timing is effected, anticipation sucks each line not sure who owns front of the net even timing on dump and chase blows.

    Carcillo
    Smith
    Kruger

    Kane
    Towes
    Saad

    Shaw
    Sharp / Teravanen
    Hossa

    Richards
    Versteeg
    Bickell

  26. Mook- agree the Hawks use a ton of Pinching D to generate O…

    Past great Hawk teams- could generate O/speed exiting Own end… this is the Tell-tale sign the Hawks aren’t as good as past… they rarely do that now…

    Lastly, still puzzling to me is how High the D men are in front of crease… I really don’t understand that… can’t box out or tie up a forward when he is 6-10 feet behind you and in front of Crow!!!

  27. I just reviewed the tape………let’s see if this makes sense to all of us………….the Hawks have lived by the stretch pass for about 5 years. That great first pass from our slick “D” men to our streaking forwards who are out beyond our blue line. That pass keeps teams honest, usually, and keeps our speed moving through the neutral zone.

    Starting last year, teams clogged up the neutral zone, ALOT, and made us carry the puck through the neutral zone and dump it in. Winnipeg doesn’t even do that, they forecheck the crap out of the Hawks with two forwards and then throw in a third forward when they can isolate the puck in an area along the boards or in the corners. Dallas watched a tape of Winnipeg because that is exactly what they did, last night. They forechecked unit they got a turnover and then pounced on the chance.

    I am sure that Q and the coaching staff have recognized this and are already correcting the flaws. Our forwards need to come back into our zone more and play more north and south hockey. All teams are doing is making the Hawks play “honest” hockey. They are not giving the Hawks any big opportunities to take advantage of.
    The Hawks have to ADJUST their game just like their opponents have adjusted their game to expose the Hawks weaknesses.

    I reffed ALOT of minor league and jr. hockey in my day and I know that sooner or later, talent, speed and skill will take over and dominate games. As I said, Toews, Hossa, Shaw, Smith and a few others are in a BAD SLUMP. Until we can get the train going in the right direction the only thing that the Hawks can do is get back to the basics and that includes our PK and PP must be better!!

    Maybe the 7 game road trip can get our game going in the right direction!!!

  28. Reg- That’s something I have been preaching for years now. They usually make that adjustment in the playoffs, but the prefer the lazy style during the regular season.

    How many times do we see it with both the D-Men passing the puck back and forth without a low forward to use as an outlet? Happens all the time. Puck in the Hawks D Zone and only two Blackhawks in the picture. A HUGE part of Leddy’s value was that he was able to take the puck all the way down the ice himself while his forwards cheated in the neutral zone.

    Wall – I think their philosophy is that they want the defensemen to stop the puck before it even gets to the goalie, rather than cluttering up the space in front of Crawford while battling with the man out front.

    And one more note- I think that Kane and TT are going to be something special for years to come. Kane has shown how much more productive he is when paired with an actual living-breathing center. Now one with the skill set of TT that isn’t well past his prime? I’d bet on a few 100+ point campaigns from Kane.

  29. JS, I think that down the road, Kaner and TT will be special players together, but I really don’t think TT will ever see a shift in the playoffs knowing how Q coaches in the playoffs. He’s going to go with the guys who have experience and play good positional playoff hockey.

    Injuries could get TT some ice time in the playoffs, too. You never know……..

  30. Reg – spot on with your comments (JS too). Hawks started out Blues series last year looking for a stretch pass on almost every breakout. That changed in Game 3. Two passes often before the puck left our zone. More zone exits up the middle, too.

  31. Reg, “really don’t think TT will ever see a shift in the playoffs knowing how Q coaches in the playoffs. He’s going to go with the guys who have experience and play good positional playoff hockey.” — I think that Q will (and has, even last season when he was mistaken) play the lineup he believes will give the team the best chance to win. That could/should include Teravainen who is gaining experience now and plays good positional hockey (now)…obviously, he and team mates are still going thru a period of adjustment.

  32. Reg- I hope you are wrong about TT not seeing playoff time. I think his defensive positioning has been very good. Ask yourself this-Who do you have more confidence in, 86 or 13. This is a no brainer to me. 13 should never play instead of 86.

  33. LA has lost 5 of their last 6 / 7 of their last 10, are tied for 4th in the Pacific Division, Quick’s SV% is (only) .912, Kopitar 11G 24A 35PTS -3…(somewhere) on a KommitedKings site are fans suggesting they trade Kopi and Quick = just wondering?

  34. I fully expected Carcillo to get six games or even more so I’m not upset about it. He’s a marked man and it’ll be that way the rest of his career.

    Wouldn’t be surprised if P.C. Labrie gets the call from Rockford for a few games … the coaching staff there loves him and his game.

  35. Dickie D… agree on TT- he has bee in great position… like Kruger, he will lose some board battles… but his positioning in D zone/checking forwards has been very good…

    twice last nite TT back checked and pinned the Stick of the forward…

    Reg… The Hawks don’t have the elite speed as a team – anymore.

  36. WALL, my thoughts exactly how can they leave 6 feet behind them on D? holy schmolly? and as we agree if your not gonna knock guys on their ass ( Crawford the least protected Goaltender in nhl) how can they leave that gap? Very odd and they seem out of synch? Not sure but saw the saw things and if YOU look at the JETS they CRAM like all 5 players in the blue, big guys too and the puck just has no where to go. Hawks are okay and we could use some new blood on D, I think only think that if we had a new “doug Wilson” in the system we would see him already and yes it takes time but REAL TALENT sort rises quickly!

  37. I hope TT stays up here and gets quality ice time now AND in the playoffs. But Q has a different way of thinking in the playoffs. Our speed as a team isn’t what made us a force in the league. It was our quickness in our own zone and through the neutral zone that teams could not handle. However, since our passing has gone to hell, our quickness is gone!!

  38. Last simple observation . . . Yes the lame stretch pass as we all have said works or worked BUT I can remember not long ago, Hawks did a great job getting short handed goals too . . . and yes, everyone is taking away the middle of the ice which is basic hockey. Seems now we all understand that word SPEED, now guys like Richards on second string power play or HOSSA or SMITH even TOWES have to skate it up and in and we just don’t have the speed to do that and very often, when I say speed I mean the guy gets like 6 feet ahead of you and your chasing! Hawks will do fine but they will need a lot of all four lines like every night.

  39. It is very evident that Bowman MUST make a substantial move to acquire a physical stay at home defenseman. It absolutely has to happen or visions of a deep playoff run go down the toilet. Johns is concussed and not ready or helping this season. Clendening is never going to be a fit. Dahlbeck may or may not be a partial answer. Runblad shouldn’t dress every game. Rosival can’t sustain playing every game. And Oduys is being over exposed and needs his minutes paired back.

    The role players need to catch a second wind soon. Meaning Shaw, Kruger and Smith. Richards has reverted back to being a defensive liability and the challenge of finding a line to put him on is back. And sadly Father Time is catching up with the magnificent Hall of Famer in waiting Hossa.

    Get your fill of Sharp this season because his slow regression, age and salary surely mean he is gone after this season if there is to be any hope of a Saad deal.

  40. RTF, “MUST make a substantial move to acquire a physical stay at home defenseman. It absolutely has to happen or…” — perhaps(?), for the sake of discussion, in your opinion, who might this be, and at what cost? I don’t know about Johns, and based on the limited exposure of Clendening and Dahlbeck, certainly you raise a legitimate concern. Rundblad at times has shown some skating and passing skill, as well as adequate defensive play. Rozsival hasn’t been AWFUL (like most of last season), but he is a #6, really. Oduya is good…but, I believe we’re back to the TEAM defense concept – 2/7/4/27 all have had bad games, and good games.

    I agree about Sharp — if SB has to move a LARGE Cap hit, he seems the most likely. Oduya and Rozsival will not be back…and another move (or two) may be necessary?

  41. Stephen Johns is back from the concussion but in yesterday’s game against the Wolves he went down in a heap in a scrum along the boards with an apparent leg injury. Had to be helped a bit off the ice.

  42. I agree with Dickie Dunn the Kings are playing horribly right now and is anyone ready to right them off? This whole speed north/south thing I understand, a team like Winnipeg is playing great but is it sustainable? The Avs played liked that last year and so far regressed this year and they wilted in the playoffs. Rangers and Montreal play that way as well (counter attack) but were no match for Kings.
    Not sold on the Blues either. I watched the St. Louis game with the Leafs the other night and the Blues were dominated in the first period and the Leafs being the Leafs didn’t capitalize on sure fire goals. The Blues should have been run out of the building. They seem to have a lot of bounces going their way.

    I think the Hawks will be fine but as others have suggested a big physical D man to play 4 or 5 position would be nice before playoffs.

  43. Hossa is shooting at 6.5%. That has to improve at some point. He is still doing absurd things with the puck and a force to be reckoned with so I don’t think there are any alarms there. Id still like to see him off the PK and playing in the Kovy position on the Power Play but with the lack of movement (puck or otherwise) I don’t think the players are the problem.

    The Hawks don’t have to do anything drastic. Some kind of veteran to steady the 4th line and drive some possession would go a long way and maybe a defender. Keith is going to skate 30mins \ game in the playoffs anyway so they really only need a rotation of 5. Better team defense on the whole would help.

    Zone exits and passing are probably better with Leddy in the lineup. If “win now” was the mentality then maybe they shed salary from the wrong place (cough Patrick Sharp who wasn’t missed at all after a career year and disappearing act in the playoffs cough)

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