The middle of the pile is never as enjoyable as the top.
Hopefully, the last few ATSPs will be full of performance reviews that will have vaulted the Hawks into first round home ice advantage. Until then, I've got plenty of lows to counterbalance the dizzying highs. Feel free to use this thread in place of the usual scoreboard watching thread that would ordinarily go up at this time.
The Terrifying Lows
- Troy Brouwer - If there is a master of contemporary Troy Brouwer apologetics, I might just be that guy or have that degree (depending on how you read it). Unfortunately, even I can't defend a 15 game span that has yielded just 1 point and a collective minus 5. TBrouw hasn't dented the twine in over a month and that's just not good enough for a guy playing top 9 minutes.
- Whatever it is that Q thinks Troy Brouwer is - After Sharp went down, Brouwer got about 6 shifts with Daydream Nation. While these shifts didn't produce any points, I thought it was the best cycle and puck possession that I'd seen out of Toews' line in the last few games. Unfortunately, those six shifts would be all that Troy Brouwer would get as Stalbeg took over from there. I'll admit that, at times, Stalberg looks good with DDN. His speed adds some jump to that line and it will often produce high-energy play, but your kidding yourself if you think Stalberg is a permanent solution there, at least with where his game is at currently. The question I really want an answer to is "What does Q think Troy Brouwer is?" As much as Quenneville might want Brouwer to be his Andrew Ladd, he's not, and he's a player that thrives on the confidence that offensive production gives him. We're talking about a guy that, as of Monday's Indian, was at the top of the team in GFON/60 power play rating, yet has seen almost no time on the top power play unit. While I've never been the biggest Dustin Byfuglien fan, I do believe that his role in last year's playoffs needs to be filled. Tomas Kopecky and Bryan Bickell aren't that guy. Troy Brouwer is the closest thing to a skilled net presence that Q is going to get at this point, somebody oughta tell him.
- The Sharp Floater - Now, that title is a bit too harsh, but I couldn't think of anything better. Sharpie's 4 point night against San Jose will keep this bullet point from being as rough as it could have been, and none of us should be surprised that DDN+Sharp was due for a small slump, but neither of these things nullify the eye test. At least from my vantage point, Sharp has started to get a bit too comfortable with Kane and Toews and hasn't been doing the little things lately. More aggresive forechecking, more purposeful back pressure, and a little more want to on the boards, please. Don't agree? Go back and watch the Washington game and try to tell me that Sharp was of any use.
The Dizzying Highs
- Ryan Johnson - 4 points in the last 8 games for a 4th line grinder who's just horsing dudes at the dot, I'm down with that. The PK has started to pick it up just a bit, and I'm guessing that RJ's 58.8 shorthanded FO% is somewhat helpful in that capacity. If Bolland ever gets healthy, and if and when Sharp moves back to center, I'm in the RJ over Dowell camp to start the postseason.
- Jonathan Toews - What do you do when your linemates are starting to cool off and your team is in the midst of losing 4 of 6? Oh I don't know, maybe find a way to produce 7 points in those six games while making sure that you grab a point in the standings in two of those losses. Jonathan Toews hates losing like Matt Cooke hates other dudes' temples.
The Creamy Middles
- Leave the gun, take the Campoli - (Props to Scott13 on the title) There's been a lot of talk about Campoli since coming over, both good and bad. At times, he can make Campbell look like a stay at home defenseman, but considering the Hendry and Soupy injuries, I don't think many of us want a return on that purchase. His 9 game ATOI of about 21 minutes may be inflated by the aforementioned injuries, but he's been solid in both zones and has shown that he can play more quality minutes than most 5th/6th Dmen are capable of.
- Marty Turco - I could make a case that Turco should receive this status simply based on the veteran leadership he's displayed while riding the pine. Turcs didn't take a pay cut to come here and watch an up and coming goalie start in front of him, but you wouldn't know it by the way he has comported himself. It sounds corny to say, but I was proud of Marty for shaking the rust off while filling in admirably in the Florida, Tampa, and Dallas games. I'm not about to say that if Crawford were to go down, I'd still feel great about our chances for the season/post-season, but that doesn't mean that Turcs isn't doing his job.