Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Current Roster outlook

As it stands right now the Blackhawks have 10 active forwards, 7 defensemen, and 2 Goalies listed as part of their active roster. Which means we'd be 2 forwards short. 3 if you count Havlat.
Regardless I want to throw everyone a little head's up on my beloved Blackhawks squadron for this season. So let's take a quick look at the players.

Craig Adams-Nothing much new. With only 11 points last year, unless something bizarre happens I figure to see him around the 15 point level.
Adam Burrish-I think you'll see Adam move upward from being a 3rd and 4th line agitator and he'll score around 15 goals this year. Towards the end of the season he started to show what he can do if he's given a bit of freedom.
Dustin Byfuglien- I liked this kid the very first time I saw him. While he showed his scoring touch this past year, I think he'll show how physical he can be this year without losing that touch.
Ben Eager- Had very little ice time last year as he recovered from Post-Concussion syndrome. He's a giant question mark. I'm guessing he'll pair with Burrish and the two will punish our opponents.
Martin Havlat- The rumor is he expects to play the full season this year. Don't count on it. As much as I'd love a healthy Havlat for 82+ games, I'm not expecting more than around 24 games for him this year.
Patrick Kane- I have a feeling we'll see what he can do as far as scoring goals this year. With a full NHL year under his belt and a work out regime aiming at adding muscle during this off season. I think we'll see him play a bit tougher of a game and make opponents pay.
Andrew Ladd- Had 14 goals and 30 points last season. His game started to set fire as soon as he arrived in Chicago. This guy fits our team and vice versa. I'm looking for around 20 goals and 40-45 points for Ladd.
Robert Lang- One year older. I think Lang has fit in well in Chicago. I think he'll stay around the 20-25 goal scoring range and add some real depth to our line up.
Patrick Sharp- Patrick flew under the radar with fans last season and got snubbed for an All Star slot. I'm guessing he pairs up with "The Kids" and scores another 35-40 goals this year and has somewhere around 80 points.
Jonathon Toews- I don't know how much his point output will change. It might not. It might go south a bit as the kid wears the C for his first year. Regardless it has been no secret that he has those characteristics that make him a leader, which is something we haven't had in a long time. Just having a Captain might be enough to push us into the Playoffs for the first time in a long time.
Jack Skille- After flagging in the pre-season last year, Skille was a decent call up that showed some scoring potential. I'm betting he sneaks into the line up this year. COuld be wrong though.
Ben Smith- After winning the Frozen Four Championship with Boston College, Ben Smith came to Chicago via this year's draft. Immediately he entered the prospect camp and ruined the grade curve with scoring. I think you'll see him on the regualr line up.

Cam Barker- Cam has two choices this year- Click or kick. Either he finally steps his game up into the potential everyone talked about him having or he gets traded. I really don't know what to think about this kid.
Brian Campbell-Campbell's production is going to hinge highly on wether or not he pairs with Seabrook or if Keith switches over to the right side. If Campbell pairs with Kieth, it might possibly be the best one-two combo defense pairing in the entire league. If Campbell gets paired with Seabrook, Campbell's output will flag.
Duncan Keith- Keith was our only All Star last year. The kid can skate and play without a doubt. At the end of the 06-07 season, Keith suddenly clicked and went from mediocre D-man into finding his game. Almost over night he became what every team's GM is looking for a puck carrying D-man that can lead the breakout.
Brent Seabrook- He is rumored to be a part of the Khabi trades, but I don't see that coming. I think his best chance is to get teamed with more defensively responsible Sopel. They teamed well a few games last year and that seemed to up his production as a defensive defenseman.
Brent Sopel- I really hope Sopel stays healthy for all 82 games this season. When he played the entire Defensive corps seemed to play better. I don't really count on him scoring a lot of goals so much as anchoring the 2nd defensive pairing well enough to be envied by about half of the NHL.
Matt Walker- Possibly will fill in for Wisniewski while Wizzer's knee heals up from post surgery. Otherwise I expect him to play in Rockford.
James Wisniewski- He is going to miss 2 or 3 months while his knee heals. After that I expect him to be a #5 or #6 D-man on the blue line.
Niklas Hjalmarsson- This Swedish kid can play. Flat out. He doesn't score alot, but he has a knack for shutting down offenses with bonecrushing hits and physical play. He's unafraid to block shots also. Sort of reminds me of a Swedish Volchenkov. And anything Volchenkov like is good.

Cristobal Huet- I'm not sure why he's here. I think his productivity will depend on the defensive corps and the ability of the forwards to play Selke-like in their own zone.
Nikolai Khabibulin- He will be traded. He will be traded. He will be traded. If he isn't, I expect him to be a moody Russian much like he's been since he got to Chicago.
Corey Crawford- This kid will be the back up if Khabi gets traded. If not then I expect him to play between 5 and 10 games this year. And when he does play, he'll amaze. This kid has talent and is the real deal. I expect Huet to be the back up in 2 or 3 years.

Well I think that covers my thoughts on the current roster. Let me hear yours.
And if you have a bit of extra room on your fantasy team at the end snag up Hjalmarsson or Skille for just in case.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I'm in real pain.

I woke up this morning with that ache in my bones. That need, that addiction, calling to me in the unrefusable way it does. I have a real problem. And the whole North American continent is currently dry.
It started for me a few years ago. I had heard the warnings and disregarded them in my search for a life on the edge. That fringe element in the back corner of the bar. The cool guys with that jerseys drinking beer and talking about "The game". I dabbled at first watching a few games on TV. I could quit whenever I wanted to. But I didn't. I kept pushing it. I wanted more. I was mainlining two play off games at once, flipping between channels at play stoppages. But it got worse.
I couldn't just be a voyeur anymore. I made an impulse buy at the local sports store. Just a cheap wood stick and a hockey ball, my heart racing the whole time. But that wasn't enough. I had to enhance the experience. I bought tape. I had to make the stick better, because the plastic on wood wasn't doing it for me anymore.
Then one late night with a head full of beer, I got on the Internet and ordered some rollerblades off of a website. I was an excited mess the day they showed up. I spent all of my free time at the outdoor rink talking to people just as bad off as me, maybe even worse.
That was 5 years ago. I have the shakes when it goes too long without a game on TV to alleviate my nights alone. I only feel the release when I'm watching the game on TV or at the rink out there on the ice. Yeah, I went full blown a few years ago. Playing late nights in a tucked away little rink where the rest of the addicts hide out together.
This is the worst part of the year. Nothing is really going on. The draft is over. Rookie camps are over. The Free Agent bonanza is done and gone. There's just little trades at the minor league levels going on like so much ineffectual methadone.The withdrawals are almost too much for one man to take. I know I'm not alone. Why there aren't support groups I'm not really sure.
If you're with me let me know. Together we can beat this thing. If not, can I sniff your equipment? I'm really jonesing here.

Friday, August 1, 2008

All your Bowman are belong to us.

I think everyone knows by now that yesterday Scotty Bowman is now with the Blackhawks organization. When I first heard the news I didn't catch it real quick as the radio announcer had no idea the impact of what he was reading. He just sort of skipped over it. At firt I thought he said something about Stan Bowman, Scotty's son. Stan already works for us. No big deal.

Eventually it sank through what had happened. Holy crap! Scotty Bowman is in the front office! For the last year or so the organization has been saying "We're going to do everything in our power to get a Stanley Cup Championship!". I sort of believed them, but not all of our moves were in keeping with that logic. Nor where all of them all that impressive. This is the mother of all pick ups. This could be the single most important pick up the Blackhawks have had in almost the last 20 years.

No one and I mean No one has the same winning ability and know how as Scotty Bowman. 11 Stanley Cup Championships attests to that fact. I'm hoping that at the end of his 3 years in his current gig he has bare minimum 1 more Stanley Cup ring. I think Scotty coming to Chicago puts the last piece of the front office together towards a championship. Now we just need (in my opinion) a few small tweaks on the ice and we will be a true Championship threat team.

In short: Scotty is a Hawk. I'm freaking stoked. The End.