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I Am Starting To Get A Little Nervous About The Blackhawks

If you are not a Blackhawks fan, please x out of this blog. I appreciate the click, but this is for the faithful only. Circle of trust. 

I am getting nervous. I am worried that I spoke too soon when I called Ryan Whitney a buffoon and said that the Blackhawks were a playoff team. ALL the reasons I cited at the time were true. Their keys to success this year have been effort, special teams, and goaltending. Well...look at the recent results

Outside of Detroit, those are all good teams. You're not going to run through that stretched unscathed and with maximum points. That's not the problem here. The problem is how they're losing. If it were 2-1 or 3-2 losses where they weren't getting calls and PP opportunities then that'd be fine. You just want those habits and commitment to be the same as it was when you were racking up points. That hasn't been the case, especially against Florida. 

That shorthanded goal they gave up when tied 3-3 with under 7 minutes to go in the 3rd was really about effort. They have to win those 50/50 battles. They have to be like 80-20 on 50-50s. That's the only way they can be successful. The old Herb Brooks thing from Miracle. You're not talented enough to win on talent alone. Their baseline has to be effort and cohesion. You can win a lot of games with that, solid goaltending, and Patrick Fucking Kane. If that isn't there, well you're not going anywhere except back to the lottery. A place where I personally don't want to be. The Blackhawks have to get back to doing it for the culture. 

With that, let's do the mailbag

Regardless of where the Blackhawks are at the deadline they need to be sellers. If everything goes perfectly for the Blackhawks and they make the playoffs they're going to run into Tampa Bay who will be getting Kucherov back for the postseason. This group as currently constructed isn't going anywhere. The Blackhawks have a lot of LTIR cap space that they could use to acquire assets and they also have a lot of rental type players. I personally never need to see Zadorov in a Blackhawks uniform again. It's crazy that Stan turned Panarin into Saad and Saad into a guy that will likely only fetch a MAX 3rd round pick at the deadline, but that's not a good enough reason to hold on to him. The expansion draft throws a wrinkle into this thing so the Blackhawks need to be careful about who they trade now to ensure that they have enough players eligible to expose in the draft for Seattle. Same thing with the forwards. I like Janmark, Soderberg has been better than I expected, and Wallmark is a solid bottom 6 guy. If they can get picks in the draft then I think you need to entertain those offers. Janmark's value has probably never been higher. He's been very productive this year and last year proved he could be an impact depth guy in the playoffs

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That's the 100M question. I personally say no. I like Ian Mitchell. I think he has top 4 potential long term. I think Boqvist will never be a good defender. People say that his offense will make up for his defense. He has shown flashes of that lately. He's been better since coming back from covid-19. I personally don't like that trade off. You win with guys like Duncan Keith and Doughty. Those guys don't have Boqvist's offensive skills, but you want them out there at the end of the game regardless of the situation. I don't think you'll ever be able to say that about 27. It's kind of why I wanted K'Andre Miller in that draft. 

As far as the other guys…way too early to tell. I've liked Beaudin in a small sample size. He's steady under pressure. If he bulks up maybe he can be a top 4 guy some day. It'll be interesting to see if their bigger guys, Regula and Vlasic, can develop into Connor Murphy type guys. There isn't a future Norris or true top pair guy as far as I can tell though. 

I mean…no, but there isn't slam dunk great option at this point either. The best option is to just get healthy. It'd be nice if Toews, Dach, or Strome were available, but they're not. Dach is the best and most likely fit after the trade deadline. Fingers crossed he can get healthy because a top 6 center is what this team desperately needs more than anything else. He is traveling. 

I thought Kampf was fine in that role. He's a 4C on a good team. I like the way he works. We saw him create some turnovers and those turnovers turned into offense. Having said that…if he were a 1C or even a 2C, we'd know by now. He is what he is. A stop gap until Dach comes back. 

I don't. Lankinen has been "good". Subban has been "fine". I don't think either goalie is capable of stealing a game or anything like that on a consistent basis. I still wish they had brought Crawford back. If Lankinen is getting 30 starts in a normal 82 game season next year I would feel very good about that. If he's starting 50+ as the #1 then I think that is a problem. Again, I hope to be proven wrong about that, but Lankinen's total body of work sits right on the border of good and average. That's not what you want in net if your eventual goal is to win the Cup. 

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It will be about a 6. Not having Dach and Toews obviously changed the entire outlook of this team. They've gotten more out of this roster than I ever thought possible. Having said that…getting more out of a roster is not where you want to be. The Blackhawks social teams have been posting about often about how they lead the league in rookie scoring. That's sort of a dubious achievement. You don't want to be in a position where your roster is so thin that you have to rely on a bunch of guys drafted in late rounds. Kurashev has had some really nice moments. I like elements of his game. How many playoff teams would he consistently crack the lineup for? My guess is none. Hagel has earned a spot in the top 9. Would he be in the top 9 anywhere else? Probably not. Stan will get some credit for Jeremy's success, but when you evaluate the job he has done putting together this team, he doesn't get a good grade. 

That's it for now. Need a strong effort tonight. Getting points here against Tampa Bay can do wonders heading down the stretch into the deadline on 4/12. Here is hoping the culture rebounds here and the guys can get it going.