image h/t – nbc
The Chicago Blackhawks cued up Chelsea Dagger four times in their win over the St. Louis Blues Sunday night in vengeance of a 5-1 Winter Classic loss. The sweet sound of The Fratellis, the taste of $10 Budweiser, Scott Darling standing on his head in Crawford’s absence, and another strong outing from Schmaltz-Toews-Panik rang in the Hawks ninth win in their last 10 games.
The 4-2 divisional victory capped off a Stanley-Cup-caliber February in which the Hawks finished 9-1-0 (including two wins over Minnesota). The success served as a much-needed boost after a mediocre 7-6-0 January.
The Hawks now sit a single point behind the Minnesota Wild in the Central and maintain the second spot in the Western Conference.
Now I don’t want to focus on the trade deadline. Our fearless leader, Stanley Glenn Bowman, has publicly stated that he does not expect to make noise in free agency. Stanny B made those remarks at the end of January. That was
a month ago before the Blackhawks reminded everyone that there is a constant storm brewing off of the coast of the NHL Playoffs. This year, like 2010/13/15, the storm will hit in mid-April and relief efforts won’t start for the rest of the league until June.
This tweet from @CheerTheAnthem sums up my feelings about Wednesday (which I said I wasn’t going to focus on)
Therefore, I will digress after this: the Wild made an “all-in” move by bringing Martin Hanzal over from Arizona. That’s all well and good. Theoretically, the Hanzal trade provides a puzzle piece for Parise/Pominville that can help neutralize the Blackhawks’ lines 1(1a) and 2(1b). But the recent productivity of lines 1a and 1b will make combating the likes of 8-19-14, 72-15-88 down through the combination of newly-added Jurco-Kruger-Hossa, and Hartman-Kero-Desjardins, an almost impossible task. Rasmussen has shown an ability to gel with the bottom six as of late as well.
[Edit: While finishing this blog the Minnesota Wild died of the mumps. Welcome to Minnesota Martin Hanzal! Purify yourself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka.]
The Hawks defense is seemingly stuck in somewhat of a blender situation with Hjalmarrson listed as day to day. In my opinion, regardless of what you think of TVR, any move made on or around the deadline will involve bringing someone on to play alongside 57/Brian Campbell. That means Kempny/Gustav Forsling could be candidates to move elsewhere if Stan does decide to make a move.
Scott Darling is going to be PAID come summer. There are nothing but good things to say about him and Corey Crawford as of late: Darling; 3-0 in three starts with a 1.34 GAA, Crawford; 6-1 in seven starts with a 2.71 GAA.
OK, back to these two beautiful men and the month of February.
Jonathan Toews was just named the #2 star of the week behind a red hot Filip Forsberg:
Toews netted a hat trick against the
mumps Minnesota Wild last week and Kaner managed to match him last Thursday in a 6-3 razor-scooter to the Coyote’s ankles.
Yes, the Hawks have been spreading the puck around and scoring deep into games, but if only we had some kind of graphic to illustrate that.
8-19-14 and 72-15-88 combined for a combined 75 points in the month of February. Is that good?
Yeah it’s good. The only team that played “better” in the month of February played two more games: the New York Rangers.
You already knew how well the Hawks are playing, but before we go into areas that need improvement it’s necessary to reflect on just how good it is to be us:
(Not a math guy but 88-19=69. Nice.)
Resuscitate yourself and don’t get complacent. We need to talk about the penalty kill. The Hawks are land locked at 28th in the league in the penalty kill at 76.4%. The last time with a penalty kill that poor to win a Stanley Cup? According to this compilation of winners it was the 1966-67 Maple Leafs (via hockey-reference).
The way to improve the PK is subject to discussion, and there aren’t any wrong answers when you’re sitting at 28th in the league. If you moved everyone off of the ice that would probably be worse, but probably is also subjective in this instance.
With all of the above being absolute, fortified factual information, chew on this for a second: the Blackhawks have taken the 6th least penalties in the league this year with 65/165. A 76.4% penalty is obviously much worse when you’re giving up a lot of penalties (cc: Winnipeg), but the margin for error there is
mumps virus microscopic.
Anyways, I hope that can provide some comfort. I look forward to staring out over Lake Michigan with a stogie and an Old Style to the tune of Old Thing Back with you all come June.
P.S. I liked the way Jurco looked on Sunday night. He worked himself into the slot (lol) and created chances from his first shift on. If Jurco can continue to force the puck deep he will gel tremendously with Hossa and his ageless ability to possess.