Atop The Sugar Pile 2/22
Yeah, I know. it's been a while since we did this. But when the team keeps putting it's own foot in its intestines, what's really the point? Everyone's a terrifying low. So let's get back on the horse, shall we?
The Dizzying Highs
Corey Crawford - Well this is the easy one, isn't it? One goal given up in each of the last three, with a pretty sterling performance last night and especially in NY. My big fear last night is that the Wings were going to send the roving hoards at his crease, which would cause those scrambles he's had so much trouble with all year that seem to always end up in the net. While Scum didn't exactly resemble the Mongolians over the ridge (though their fans did, ZING!), they didn't leave Crow alone either. But I only recall one or two dogpiles that didn't stop, both in the 2nd. From there, while pretty stoutly protected, Crow stood tall. Moving deeper and relaxing has made all the difference. It's only been a brief spurt, but I bet it's put any calls from Stan Bowman looking for a goalie on the back burner. And you know what? That's fine with me. The only one out there that made any sense to me was J.S. Giguere, and he's got a wonky groin. A goalie with a wonky groin is basically working on a computer that freezes every half hour. It may get you there, it may cost you everything, but the uncertainty is too much. Jonathan Bernier? Please, he has 29 career appearances. Nabokov? Khabibulin? If you suggested either of these, I'd like you to hit yourself in the face with a big rubber marital aid repeatedly.
The Terrifying Lows
Joel Quenneville - Aaargh, he's going to complain about John Scott again isn't he arf arf arf....You're fucking eh right I am. While he deserves more than a little credit for being a steadier hand than I thought after that streak, Quenneville still isn't out of the Fuck Up Woods. And he's indicting himself for how long changes that have provided this little spark took. The penalty kill needed to switch to a box formation long before Nashville last week. Corey Crawford needed to move deeper into his net long before New York. If a dummard like me can spot that, then even someone as dismissive and callous with goalies as Q could have spotted it. Hjalmarsson and Leddy needed splitting long before San Jose, and that only happened when Super Nintendo got sick....I mean hurt....I mean I don't fucking know because I'm the Blackhawks Medical team. The power play remains a frat boy car crash. Sami Lepisto has been solid, aside from a turnover here or there, and should have been given a chance far before this. And then he threw John Scott out on the PK against Detroit.
If Stan does nothing else this weekend, he kind of has to Q-proof the roster. A d-man and a forward that Q has no choice but to play. Not easy, but necessary.
The Creamy Middles
Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg - A guy I always defend and a guy I feel I've been too harsh on. While Bickell still could do a few things better, since being put on a line together these two have provided the Hawks with their most hellacious forecheck. As McClure said last night, Stals has become the best on the team at this by a country mile. While he'll never Jocelyn Lemieux his way into defenders, his pure speed to overtake d-men and force them into mistakes is just as effective. It's like watching a cheetah get a gazelle at this point. Bicks has done it through physicality, and for what seems like the first time this year, Bolland's line is spending considerable time in the offensive zone. Long may it continue.
Andrew Brunette and Marcus Kruger - I don't think it's a coincidence that Kruger's scoring binge started when he started playing with someone else who helps him out around the net. No better example than the winner last night. Kruger has got some giant balls, and I think his present and future with this team makes Pirri and McNeil very expendable for the pieces the Hawks need. I know a lot have soured on Bruno, but last night and Sunday were perfect examples of how he could be a serious playoff weapon. When games get tight, you need guys who can make plays and occupy defenders around and behind the net. No one on the team really does it better.