Another game against a team not named the Detroit Red Wings and another L for the Blackhawks. I can't keep banging the same drum about Stan and Jeremy. It goes nowhere. It's frustrating. We all know the score. It's a lost season. It's failed leadership. It's poor management. There's no plan. There's no path. They just punted on the end of Toews, Kane, and Keith.
With all that being said I have all the respect in the world for the players on this team because they work their bags off. Before the season started everyone looked at this roster and had the same reaction
And that was BEFORE the Blackhawks lost Toews and Dach for the season. It would've been so easy for these guys to mail it in. To recognize that the season was over before it started and just throw their sticks out there and go through the motions. We haven't seen that at all. This group of guys have shown tremendous guts to start the season. They may not stack up name for name on the roster, but they compete and that is all you can ever really ask of a group like this. They're going to work and they make it easy, for me, to root for them.
--Dylan Strome has taken a step forward. In a concrete, easily visible way he's done that at the dot. He is over 52% there so far this year and that is important. He is doing a ton of the little things that go unnoticed too. Aside from a little bit of a communication gaffe with Kane in OT last night he's been better defensively. I thought he'd really struggle with tougher matchups this year since he is effectively the 1C or when he's split from Kane the 2C. More ice time, more opportunities, but more responsibility and from what I see he has answered the bell. He has 5 points in 7 games this year. He is creative. He has had a the puck in the offensive zone quite a bit. Maybe a bit underwater overall in terms of having the puck, but that's not all on him. That's a 5 man stat and he's going up against tough competition. I've really liked his game. Feels like he's taken a step forward. Hopefully some day we get to see Toews, Dach, and Strome down the middle and then watch opponents squirm to match up
--I've got all the time in the world for Brandon Hagel. I feel like I heard somewhere that he was voted most competitive at Rockford and it shows. He's a puck hound. A true digger. He has some offensive game. You can win in a big way with him as a 4th line winger who can occasionally slide up your lineup. This is a guy who had 102 points in 66 WHL games and then followed that up with 19 goals as a rookie in the AHL which is nothing to sneeze at. Despite that production he knows what he is…a north-south hard nosed sonofabitch who will have opponents reaching for oxygen and the cold tub after games.
--The Blackhawks problem is not the 4th liners they have, but it's that they have too many of them. I really like Carpenter, I like Highmore, Hagel, Kampf, Shaw, Wallmark, and Janmark. It's not their fault that Stan constructed a roster so terribly and a prospect pool so devoid of top talent that even though he's been rebuilding for YEARS his best option to fill out the top 6 is to bump Janmark up to the 1st line and sign Carl Soderberg off the street when his previous options were likely the SHL or retirement. That's literally insane and a mark of incompetence, but whatever. Just continue to waste the end of Patrick Kane's prime by making him play with Pius fucking Suter and Jarnkrok(no idea why Foley was calling him Jarnkrok last night but it made me laugh. Love Foley)
--Ian Mitchell is a PLAYER. I think everyone knew that, but he has adapted more quickly than even I imagined he could. I really wish he was allowed to play in the bubble last summer because an extra 12 NHL games would've been helpful for him. He is a top 4 guy though at both ends. Hopefully we can pencil him into that role for the next 10 years here. Love everything about his game.
--I do not like Zadorov. There. I said it. I wanted to like him. I tried to talk myself into him as a player even though that trade looked one-sided on paper(but I am getting used to that). He can be soft on pucks and that cost the Hawks a goal last night. He seems to get lost in the zone some times. His feet aren't terrible but they aren't great. Good one on one defender, but it's hard to watch him and know that Stan was on the wrong side three different Brandon Saad trades and effectively turned Panarin into Zadorov. This guy said it best
--Debrincat and Boqvist were out and it's sad to say but Boqvist being out actually helps the Hawks. The PP is better with Keith because he knows where to go with the puck and does it decisively. He also knows how to support the puck. Carlsson is better defensively. Boqvist is still young. It's too early to give up on him but he has never shown anything to suggest that he belongs in the lineup every night. If it were a meritocracy he wouldn't be. #Development
PS: Jokiharju is playing an effective 17+ minutes per night. Imagine a right side that was Murphy, Mitchell, and Jokiharju and then you draft a forward(Farabee) instead of Boqvist. Would've been sweet.
--Much has been made of the goalies. It was a huge storyline in the offseason. It was a sticking point when I interviewed Stan. The Hawks may have 3 decent backup level guys but I think through the first handful of games it's pretty obvious that none of them are guys who simply "needed a real chance". They are warm bodies on the way to the lottery. Not their fault. I think they're fine. They are just not THE guy. Never will be. If Stan thought Delia or Lankinen actually had that ability then he wouldn't have signed Lehner last year. He would've allocated that money to help the lineup elsewhere. He knew or should've.
That's it. Root for the guys because they work hard and it's not their fault.