With my upcoming NBC duties, we were trying to figure out ways that I can still hang around and bother you lot as much I do now without simply copying and pasting the same material both places. One thing we're going to try is by simply ripping off Anaheim Calling (a blog I love) and do these dialogs a couple times a week between the two of us on the issues of the day. Here we go.
So Mr. McClure, Patrick Kane will be out three weeks. With Hossa already out, this would be categorized as less than good (I'm a hockey expert!). Word around the campfire is that the lines will look as they did at the end of the Calgary game, with Jonathan Toews between speed merchants Viktor Stalberg and Jack Skille. Tomas Kopecky will continue to waste our time on the second line. Obviously, with Kane out Jonathan Toews is going to have to harvest his inner Sidney Crosby and carry a banged up team through sheer will. I think he's got it in him, but we've only seen it in spurts this year (encouragingly, one of those was when Kane went down, so he clearly gets it). My question for you good sir, can Jack Skille at least fill in on that line and provide enough for the Hawks to survive? Would Jeremy Morin be a better choice there? Or are we asking too much of a 19-year old in his first year in professional hockey? Is there another solution?
I think either would be decently suited to, but Skille moreso. First off, he and Toews' current linemate Viktor Stalberg exhibited some pretty decent chemistry early in the season when they couldn't get within shouting distance of 8:00 a night of ice time, and that was flanking Jake Dowell (which is to take nothing away from Dowell, mind you). Skille on that line puts the three of them in the clearly defined roles that Quennveille likes - puck winner (Skille), playmaker (Toews), and finisher (Stalberg)- though it could be argued that the roles between Stalberg and Toews could be swapped. With Morin on that line, though I don't think he's a complete defensive liability at this point, Skille at least has a touch more experience coming back toward his own end, and it's not fair to ask Toews to cover for that on top of everything else he's going to need to be doing. Furthermore, though Morin's been flying around trying to initiate contact, his projections and what we saw of him in the pre-season bill him more as someone who gets the puck to the net. While I don't think that the second line is lacking that with Sharp still 2nd in the league in shots on goal, Skille doing his cannonball act on the top line is worth a look, as his and Stalberg's combined speed should create some opportunities.