In the Year Two Thousand.......twelve: Hack gets his 'Hawks61' on

The future, Hack?

Alright we can screw around as much as we want and make our little jokes, but I think we should get serious here for just a second.  I think it’s time, once again, that we take a look into the future.


That’s right, SCH, let’s look to the future, all the way to the year two thousand…..twelve.


In the yeeear Two Thousand, in the yeeeaar Two Thousuuuuund….
A bored John Scott will attempt to get in on the Ryan Kesler Nick Mangold e-middle-child-syndrome that is photo bombing, but due to an understandably unprepared zoom, he will disappointedly have to settle for Torso-Trolling.


In the yeeear Two Thousand….
Jonathan Toews will finally loosen up and display his humorous side while on a road trip stop in Colorado.  Unfortunately for his teammates, Toews’ idea of displaying his humorous side is performing Abbott and Costello’s "Who’s on First?" with special guest Tim Tebow.


In the yeeeaar Two Thousuuuuund….
Dave Bolland will go on to become the NHL’s Career Iron Man after a post season diagnosis from team doctor Michael "House" Terry reveals that the correctable source of Bolland’s 2011 back trouble was carrying Bryan Bickell.


In the yeeear Two Thousand….
Tired of McClure and Fels incessant jabs at his intelligence and journalistic integrity, Jesse Rogers will finally fire back via Twitter.  McClure and Fels temporarily lament their transgressions, until Rogers accidentally reveals that he is sending these tweets while riding "bitch" in-between Ben Smith and Antti Niemi, from the back seat of Dustin Byfuglien’s SUV.


In the yeeeaar Two Thousuuuuund….
After over a year of performing the workout routine known to the team as P90-Toews, Mike Haviland will finally be able to see his own abs.  Unfortunately for John Scott, Havi is now just another in a long line of defensemen ahead of him on the depth chart.


In the yeeear Two Thousand….
After a 50 goal campaign on playmaker Patrick Kane’s wing, Marian Hossa will name Kane as the godfather of his daughter.  This experiment will come to an abrupt end as Kane turns a simple babysitting task into "Patrick Kane’s First Annual Baby Bjorn Bar Crawl."………. Yeah, I thought she looked more like a Carlos too, Kaner.


In the yeeeaar Two Thousuuuuund….
Stan Bowman will come to find out that Dale Tallon is in fact his biological father.  In a fit of rage, Scotty Bowman will turn on Stan and attempt to kill him, but Tallon will destroy Scotty and bring balance to the Blackhawks universe.  George Lucas will be on hand to film this saga, and will remaster and repackage it about once per decade, until the end of time.

Well, after 3 other prognostication posts, I had to get in some kind of attention-getter, right?  After the jump I'll throw my picks your way, which (SPOILER ALERT) will a have different ending than the other three.  Get your Point-and-Laugh gun out of the holster.

Leading goal-scorer:  I'll go with Patrick Sharp here.  The organization seems like they are going to do what they can to keep Sharpie on the wing, where I believe he's a more dangerous offensive player.  Could Sharpie end up back at center?  Certainly, but his assumed production on the powerplay makes this a pretty safe pick regardless.  I'm going to go all Price is Right on Killion, and predict a 37 goal season. 

Leading point-getter:  While I did write this post before the switch to center occurred, I still believe that Kane will be the team's top point producer this season.

+/- Leader:  Toews at +31, notice a trend here?  I hope that Dunc returns to form this season, but how high can his plus minus go if he's babysitting Nick Leddy for half the year?  Hoss would be an interesting choice, but he'll probably experience the growing pains of the Kane at center experiment.  Captain Marvel is the safe pick here, and I'm saving the dumb stuff for the end.

PIM:  Dan Carcillo will use his two game suspension to finally get his dirty stache electrolysized, and yada-yada-yada, he'll lead the team and be in the top 25 in the league in penalty minutes.  "But Hack, you yada-yada'd over the best part!"  No, I mentioned the electrolysis.

Power Play Rank:  Meatball poll of the day:  If you trust Mike Kitchen, please raise your hand.  Alright Q, put your hand down.  Unless I've got my facts wrong, Kitch started out last year coaching the PK, while Havi got his wish and lead the PP to its early season success.  At one point, the PK got so bad that Q flipped the two coaches back to where we had originally assumed their spots to be, and the fortunes of each unit were somewhat reversed.  Listen, I know that it's not all on Mike Kitchen; Q, Havi, and Kitch, as well as the players on the ice all share in the successes and failures of both special teams units, but I'm going to Bartman him because it's just more convenient for me.  I'll say the Hawks end up 8th in the league on the PP based on talent alone, but they won't reach their top 5, or even top 3 potential this coming season.  Word on the Sharp backdoor play might actually get out at some point, and between that and some uncertainty on the back end of the 2nd unit, I'm setting my expectations low for this portion of the Hawks special teams play.

Penalty Kill Rank: From 4th in the league two years ago to 25th last year.  Let's try for something between those two numbers, eh fellas?  I'll go with 13th here.  A big key for Q and crew will be Dave Bolland's health, as well as finding some role players who can effectively spell stars like Toews, Hossa, and to a lesser extent, Marlboro 72.  The additions to this unit look good on paper, but I'm not ready to vault them into the top 10 just yet.

The Crow: City of Angels:  Many years after getting his first NHL start, the spirit of the Crow resurrects as yet another different starting goaltender to begin the season.  Is anyone even still reading at this point?  Just in case you are, you should know that I hired Jonah Hill (not the goalie for the ducks) to design a computer program that projects goalie statistics.  He came back to me with Crow at 40-16-6, a .915 save "percentage" and a 2.20 GAA.  Jonah went on to advise me to lose some weight so that I could stop being typecast as SCH's lovable fat guy, and then he asked me to borrow 20 bucks.

Breakout Player:  I'm going with Michael Frolik in this spot, not because I want to, but because there are no other legitimate candidates from my viewpoint.  We know what we're getting from the core, Monty, carbomb, Mayers, Brunette, and Lepisto are who they are at this point in their careers, Bolland's health scares me off, and I'm not 100% sold on leddy, stalberg, or smith playing above their head for the bulk of an NHL season.  A 20 goal, 45 point year for Fro wouldn't be "breaking out" by traditional standards because he's already done that in Florida, but I suppose that it would be considered a breakout season based on his short career in Chicago.  It doesn't make sense, but let's go with it anyway.

Biggest Disappointment:  Andrew Brunette at even strength.  I've already written about Andrew Brunette's 2010-2011 lack of even strength production, and I'm just going to ride that out.  I'd really love to be wrong on this one, and won't mind one bit when I am.

THE CENTRAL DIVISION

1) Chicago

2) Detroit

3) Nashville

4) St. Louis

5) Columbus

6) Houston - Wait, why is this the only division with six teams? That just doesn't make sense.

The Triumvirate has already walked you through what this bloodbath of a division will look like.  The Central figures to takeover for the Pacific as the toughest division in hockey this year.  It'd be considerably less nerve racking to predict a division championship if the Hawks were in any other division, in fact, this is looking like it might end up being just downright unfair.  Let's remedy this by reconfiguring the entire division setup, sending detroit out east, and adding two wild card teams that will compete in a one game playoff.........oh no, I've just gone cross eyed.  This is what happens when you start watching playoff baseball after you'd already sworn the sport off months ago.

THE WESTERN CONFERENCE

1) Canucks

2) Sha-aarks (2 syllables)

3) Hawks

4) Kings

5) Wings

6) Preds

7) Ducks

8) Blues

Much like last year, the western conference playoff picture figures to be about as crowded as the UC restrooms during intermission number two.

I can sense that you're all getting tired, plus I'm running out of snacks, so let's just skip right to the Stanley Cup Final.  In the East, I'm going with The Fighting Troy Brouwers, aka The Washington Capitals.  Laugh and jeer all you want, I can't pick the Pens without knowing what's going to happen with Sid the Kid, and any team that can make the Stanley Cup finals without the league's best forward returning to form should probably violate some kind of Anti-Trust Law, so I'll just assume that it won't happen.  To be clear on the Washington pick, it doesn't have all that much to do with Troy Brouwer, who hasn't proven himself to be even an above average playoff performer in the past.  Between the additions the Caps have made, and the emergence of young players like Carlson, Alzner, and Johansson, the thought is that they'll have enough to overcome the disappearing acts of guys like Semin and Green.

In the West, I'm buying what the Sharks are selling.  I know that they don't have a top D pairing, or even a number one defenseman that can absolutely shut down an opposing top line whenever he wants to, and I know that they aren't as deep on the third and fourth lines as other contenders, but I love the Havlat and Burns additions as well as the move to slide Couture to the wing to form a pretty frightening top six of Marleau-Thornton-Couture, Clowe-Pavelski-Havlat.  Hockey Analysts have been picking perennial springtime underperformers like the Sharks and Caps for several years now, but this is my first prognostication post, so I'm banking on being able to claim ignorance when this all goes tits up.

The question I have to answer that the Triumvirate didn't is; Why not the Hawks?  The answer for me is fairly simple.  I don't think they have all of the right pieces in place in the top six, and I don't know what Bowman is going to do at the trade deadline.  If I told you that a team was going to start a rookie 2nd round pick on their first line wing, backing him up with a couple of mid-twenties never-was(s), all while moving their best offensive player from 1st line wing to 2nd line center, would you run to Vegas to put money down on that team?  I'm familiar with the Hawks cap situation, and am excited about the prospect of bringing in one or two impact top 9 forwards (ie, Doan, Peverly, or McClure's pick of Grabovski), but no one can guarantee me that when Stan Tallon (see what I did there) gets asked for players like Morin, McNeil, Saad, etc that he won't go into Jerry Angelo "we like our people" mode.  Hey, maybe I'm just being Chicago-pessimistic, and when the revamped D corps gels and Rusty Olesz and Patrick Kane set the world on fire in their new roles, we can all have a good laugh at my expense.  At the very least, you got to read something a little different than what you expected on this fine Thursday afternoon.

The only thing that really matters is that the Hawks' season finally starts tomorrow, let's do this.

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