After the Vegas stay that had some up in arms, the Hawks got back to work in San Jose today. If you were on the meatball train -- which I admittedly was for a time on Saturday night -- and thought the Vegas session of goofiness should be canceled, you'll be glad to know that today's practice was Quenneville's version of a bag skate, with lots of battle drills and contact. The good news is that Brent Seabrook and Micheal Frolik both participated, and the Hawks could be at full-strength tomorrow at The Tank. Well, close to it, because John Scott looks like he'll continue to play even though the Hawks might want to consider having as many good d-men as they can in the lineup considering the shenanigans of the past two games. But then the sky is blue in my world, not the hibiscus pattern is appears to be in Q's world. I know, you're all tired of hearing our complaints about Scott, and believe me I'm tired of making them. But it has to be addressed because it really defies explanation, especially if fatigue is playing any part in Duncan Keith's recent yips.
As for other lineup changes, I'm just guessing here but I would imagine that Frolik slots right back in the lineup, and then it's a matter of Ben Smith vs. Bryan Bickell. I doubt highly that Smith would be a regular healthy scratch, so I'm guessing Bicks had better iron that suit. But we'll find out more tomorrow.
Now to fix what's been the problem. And the thing is, outside of Seabrook returning to the ice, there really isn't much to be done. I don't think it's a problem of personnel here. Of the utter avalanche of goals that came through, it's hard to find more than one or two that weren't the direct result of a Blackhawks mistake. Be it a turnover, bad positioning, poor decisions, whatever. Stempniak's goal could be an individual effort, but Keith did get his feet curled up in a knot. Simply, the Hawks d-men just have to keep the game simple and return to their norms. We can slice and dice what that is, but if all of them just play to what we expect and not what we hope for, things will tamper down. Sure of that, I am.
As for the forwards, I noticed a bit of a debate on Andrew Brunette in the comments yesterday. That's fine, there's been an odd-fit so far, I can't question that. But to declare it over and out after 20 games is rash. Brunette is what he is and has been for over a decade. It's up to the coaches to find a way to make that work, which I don't really think they've done. At first it was on Toews's wing but with a floating Sharp waiting to finish. Now it's on the 4th line, which he isn't either (with some other formations in between). Just my humble opinion, but Brunette would look pretty good with Toews and Hossa. They can do the forechecking and rushing, but when they get a cycle going then Bruno's high IQ below the net will be a true weapon, because both will be there to finish. Even when he was an odd fit with Toews, they were creating behind the net pretty consistently. Throw in Hossa's badass-ness, you've got something. It's a little harsh on Stalberg who hasn't put a foot wrong, but he could slot just as easily with Sharp and Kane. Now, that formation would be a real problem defensively, but with Carcillo it isn't much better in that sense anyway. And while it's been a surprise what Dan Carcillo has provided, we should be honest with ourselves and remember he's a fourth liner and is going to end up there anyway.
Boy, tomorrow night can't come fast enough.