Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Thank You

First, I just wanted to thank Cubs Dynasty for allowing me to post my periodic Hawks insights here on this blog.

I do thing it's mildly ironic that a blog called Cubs Dynasty has so far been about football betting lines and hockey write-ups.

Only in Bob's world would this happen.

And now, to my first post - just a quick summation of the Hawks standing in the, CBS.sportsline, USA Today, and NHL Power Ratings:

(starting from their first Power Rankings of the year):

19 Blackhawks 1-2-1 You win your first game of the season ... and your coach gets fired. Was this a smart move or a panic move? Time will tell.

11 Blackhawks 3-2-2 After a tumultuous turn of events, Chicago has responded. It is undefeated in regulation under new coach Joel Quenneville. Mr. Kane also has three goals and three assists in those three games.
5 Blackhawks 7-3-3 After a rocky start to the season, the Blackhawks are 6-1-2 since Joel Quenneville took over as coach. Chicago has also yet to drop a game at home (6-0-2).
11 Blackhawks 7-4-5 Word out of Chicago is that Nikolai Khabibulin is happier and wants to play out his contract in the Windy City. Any takers for the Hawks' second-best goalie, Cristobal Huet?
8 Blackhawks 10-4-5 The Blackhawks have to be Khabby the Bulin Wall is still in Chicago.

10 Blackhawks 10-6-6 Three straight losses with Cristobal Huet in net, but can you completely blame him against San Jose and Anaheim? Seven of Chicago's past nine games have been decided by a single goal, and the Hawks have won just two of those games.

8 Blackhawks 12-6-7 Tough shootout loss to the Red Wings, but we can't wait to see more moves from Jonathan Toews in the Winter Classic.
6 Blackhawks 15-6-7 The truck filled with outdoor goodness has made it to Wrigley and the countdown to Jan. 1 has officially begun!

(starting from their first Power Rankings of the year):


Sophomore Patrick Kane was in tears after Savard was fired, but he responded with six points in his first two games under Quenneville.

Playing on the top line with Toews and Kane, Kris Versteeg is becoming a dark horse rookie of the year candidate with two goals and eight points, the best freshman output so far.

Khabibulin and Huet are pushing each other, which is a good thing for Chicago. The Blackhawks are still waiting for Jonathan Toews to get his first goal.

The Blackhawks seem to have fixed whatever ailed them under Denis Savard and quickly. And they're putting on a good show at home so far with a 6-0-2 record.

Not so good in tight situations. Chicago won nearly 60 percent of its one-goal games last season, but has only one victory in eight tries this time.

Nikolai Khabibulin might be on the trading block, but in the meantime he won't let go of his starting job in goal for the surging Blackhawks.

More questions now about Chicago's decision to sign Cristobal Huet. The goalie blew another chance to prove himself, losing all three of his starts on last week's annual circus road trip.

The kids are alright. Patrick Kane has 13 points in his past 10 games, while Jonathan Toews has all eight of his goals in the past 13.

One of the best shows in town. Chicago has sold out all 15 home games this season, and is 10-1-4 at the United Center, scoring four goals per game there.

(They only release these every two weeks and then rank only the Top 10 teams. But they also rank the contenders for various league-wide awards.)

Chicago Blackhawks
15-6-2-5 (37 pts., 2nd in Central)

(That was the Hawks' first appearance of the year, and hopefully one that will be repeated. Their 51 points (i.e. total ranking points by their 7 experts) was just a hear below the #5 Caps (52) and #4 Flyers (53) and significantly above the rest of the pack.

No MVP or Vezina love (makes sense, as the Hawks are gettin contributions from so multiple guys on both fronts), but Keith made his first appearance in the Norris talk, albeit down the list.

According to their experts, Versteeg is in a back-and-forth battle for the Calder with Derick Brassard (a center on Columbus). If they keep close, the Hawks better season could be the difference, but there's a lot of year left.)

(starting from their first Power Rankings of the year):

9Chicago Blackhawks
The Hawks offered an appreciative nod to their past this week by retiring the number three worn by Pierre Pilote and Keith Magnuson, and naming ex-coach Denis Savard a team ambassador. If only the news from the ice was as heartwarming. The defense gave up 12 goals en route to three straight losses -- hardly the ideal launching pad for the six-game road trip that begins Tuesday. The Hawks have flexed their muscles at home, going 6-1-4, but they've won just one of five road games.

5Chicago Blackhawks

Let's officially drop any further discussion about trading Nikolai Khabibulin, shall we? After clearing waivers, he clinched his status as Chicago's top option between the pipes (3-0, 2.90 GAA, .918 save pct. and overall mark of 7-1-4). GM Dale Tallon is being lambasted for blowing $22 million on pinewarmer Cristobal Huet, but might save face if he lands a second line center, say, Michael Nylander, in the next few days.

13Chicago Blackhawks
This is why it was a good idea to hold off on planning the parade rout. Young teams go through rough patches, and the Hawks are in deep, thanks to the inability to generate secondary scoring. And doesn't it look like that C is weighing heavily on Johnny Toews?

7Chicago Blackhawks

The best teams spread the offense around. Few do it better than the Hawks. Thanks to Andrew Ladd's hot streak (seven points last week), they boast eight skaters with at least 15 apiece. Only San Jose (10) has more.

6Chicago Blackhawks
The story circulating about them skipping a chance to head home last month in order to attend the funeral of GM Dale Tallon's father instead tells you more about what kind of team this is than does their four-game winning streak. This group is building something special.

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