From the Balcony
Ho, ho, ho, Mr. Fels. Merry Christmas Eve Eve. As we settle in here while the Hawks get a minor holiday break and rosters are frozen, let's take a look at what's transpired recently. As Al Cimaglia wrote earlier in the week, and you reiterated in the Indian yesterday, it appears that the Hawks have turned the proverbial corner by realizing their offensive limitations as a group, and ditching the attempts of last year's flash and dash in favor of a more straightforward attack. As a result, I have several questions for you relating to this. First off, do you think that if this style is adhered to over a long enough period of time, it will yield excellent results, or will it remain a roller coaster? Furthermore, do you think that this is an actual change in offensive philosophy, or merely an adjustment made out of necessity, and will things go back to the sputtering version of the high-octane displays of last year when Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, and Viktor Stalberg return to the lineup (which is hopefully fucking soon)?
And a ho ho ho to you too, sir. As to your questions, first off I don't think the system will result in the roller coaster so much as the Hawks adherence to it. As we've seen these past three games, all over teams well-placed in the standings, when the Hawks are disciplined in what they are trying to do it yields excellent results. None of these games were all that close, though the Kings scoreline may suggest that. What worries me is the level of effort and brainpower it takes to play this way. Now, great teams can do this night-in and night-out. The Wings have been consistently outworking people for six years now. However, a team we watched put forth "spotty" efforts for the first two months of this year can't be counted on to bring it every night. Perhaps facing the abyss right in the face has lit a fire, but we won't know for weeks.
As for what happens when the trio of mercy returns? I see no reason to change. This type of style would fit Marian Hossa's game perfectly, as it's all about hustle, straight lines, and power. Kane wouldn't be out of place either, as the turnovers it creates will allow him more space to do his thing. Stalberg's speed would be a great asset in this sort of play, if he knows where to be (which we don't know that he does). But Rattlehead can emulate Jack Skille in this if he's willing to show a little more physicality, which of course is a big question. Yes, we'll see a little more inspiration when Kane and Hossa are back, but not enough to readjust everything that's worked so well.
My question is when the three return, someone has to sit. Let's just assume Scott and Hendry make way, there's still a third forward that has to move out of the way. They appear to really like Ryan Johnson, so I don't know that it'll be him but he might move to wing with Sharp moving to center to make room. But who sits? Can't be Dowell, he's been too good. Same with Bickell or Skille. Is Stalberg's spot guaranteed? I'd be shocked if it were Kopecky. All questions to be answered.
Anyway, with the Hawks on break, we're gonna take one too. From the triumvirate, Hack, and GMH (she's still alive, trust me), we wish you a very happy holiday. We hope you get everything you want, eat all you can fit, and drink all that's rational. We'll talk again on Boxing Day.