Tuesday, January 29, 2008

It's Now or Never For The 'Hawks

As we head to the second half of the NHL season, I've decided to focus more of my attention on the Blackhawks instead of the Bulls until they make some sort of trade. I honestly cannot stand watching the Bulls at this point. Nothing they do warrants my attention. Call it being a fair-weather fan if you want, but I would rather watch a 3 hour documentary on the history of bridge building for all I give a fuck. I have a feeling you can count on Noce to handle your Bulls thoughts; so with that in mind, let's take a look at the highs and lows of the season thus far.

EMERGENCE OF KANE AND TOEWS: The 07' number one pick and the 06' number three pick have been an awesome combination to watch thus far despite Toews having been out the past few weeks with a knee injury. Despite the injury, Toews is still third among all rookies with 32 points, while Kane leads with 45. While Kane only has 12 goals, he has 33 assists, which puts him 15th in the league overall. Kane has shown a great ability to set up his teammates, with guys like Bobby Lang and Patrick Sharp benefitting. The goals will catch up as he gets older, but he's shown instant impact on a team that struggles to score at times. The Hawks will need Toews to get healthy soon to contribute.

THE OFFENSIVE DEFENSEMEN: Brent Seabrook, Brent Sopel, Duncan Keith and Dustin Byfuglien have been playing great on the opponents side of the ice, contributing 69 points, which is 12 more then the combo of Tuomo Ruutu, Jason Williams, Marty LaPointe and Rene Bourque. It's pretty sad to consider that lack of offense from your forwards, considering Ruutu was a former first round pick in 01'. While LaPointe is slowing down, and Bourque missed 14 games due to a broken thumb, Ruutu was billed to be alot more then he has shown. Marty Havlat needs to stay healthy and Ruutu needs to pick it up. The kids can't do it by themselves.

STAGNANT OFFENSE: The Blackhawks were 19-15-3 heading into this month before going 0-6-1 to start January. They currently sit at 23-23-4, which puts them 6 points out of the final spot for the playoffs. The reason for their slump this month is their inability to consistently score. During that 7 game streak, the Hawks scored only 12 goals. Now on the year, they rank 17th in Goals scored per game. However, in 5 on 4 situations, they're 27th. In 5 on 5, they're ranked 23rd. Not having Toews and Havlat have hurt, but they need more production from their forwards to carry them forward if they are to make the postseason this year.

THE 'BULIN WALL IS BROKE: Talk about a waste of money. The guy is 25th in the wins, 29th in GAA (2.77) and 36th in Save PCT. (90%). While Patrick Lalime's Save PCT isn't much better (90.8%), in my opinion he's been slightly more consistent. Yeah it sucks that the goalies aren't getting much goal support, but they know they need to keep the score low if they are to win, and cannot have games like the 9-2 ass-kicking from a worse L.A. Kings team.

LOOKING AHEAD: The schedule doesn't start off nicely for the Hawks, as they start on a seven game road trip with every team having a better record then them (which isn't hard when you're in last place of your division). In fact, they only play 3 home games in the entire month of February. Savvy's called out his team to "commit to the Indian". In reality, they should be commiting to the offense. It's obvious they're not going to get steady play from Khabibulin; so it will be on them to win games instead of holding on to them. It should be interesting to watch.

This team is about a year or two from being serious contenders, but it sure as hell beats watching a lifeless Bulls team.

BallHype: hype it up!

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