Power To The People - Second City Hockey's Season Preview: The Special Teams
Today's question comes from long time guy 326 Bureau Chief:
Your selections for PP and PK units, please. (Include a utility pick in case of injury, suspension, etc.
And he actually said please, which is weird. Happy to help, Chief.
Let's start with the power play, because it's really just more fun to do so, isn't it? We've spent probably the most space debating and slating this unit, whether it's humming or the footwear of the jesters (my, wasn't that elegant?). We bemoan the forward on the point, we love it, we like it but want it to be someone else, we want that guy here and that guy there and why is this guy in front of the net and why isn't this guy and the the big beat goes on and on, and on and on.
You probably already know the first PP unit. It was the one last year that pretty much carried the Hawks to one of the league's best units. Kane on the half boards, Toews down low, Sharp at a point with Seabrook which makes exactly no sense but managed to work even though it would seem to have one foot tied in its colon. So the question is who takes the other forward spot. Most likely, and this is just a guess, Andrew Brunette will to provide some crease presence -- though he's actually more of a down-low-behind-the-goal-line presence, which is where Toews is. You could see Hossa up here, or Sharp on the other wing allowing Keith and Seabrook to pair on the backend. Seabrook can easily sneak down to get all the chances that Sharp does from there, we've seen him do it before. And this will give Keith more chances to ping the shin pads of everyone in the league, as if it were always his first at-bat of a ballgame.
But in my mind, Keith -- at least until say December -- shouldn't be on the power play at all. Part of the challenge this season is to keep his minutes reasonable until they can't be any more, and there's enough ammo on the back end to give him a rest during these times. He won't like it, they'd never do it, but it works for me.
Anyway, on to the second unit, and this is where Nick Leddy had better shine. He's clearly built to QB a unit, and has a better shot that he should use more often. The dream scenario is that he realizes his potential and has to be moved to the top one, but that's getting ahead of ourselves and we don't do that here. Out over the skiis and such, which I'm told is a bad thing, but I don't ski because it doesn't make any sense to me. That's for weirdos like McClure. Ideally, Leddy will be paired with Steve Montador (or as The Ombudsman wants to call him, "Monty Pylon", but that's way harsh). Montador has a heavy shot and knows when to sneak down to overload a kill as well. This could be Lepisto's role too, or Lepisto could take over for Leddy if Stan's prognostication skills falter again. Y'know, if they "Kruger". At least there are some options here. Even Hammer isn't the worst idea, because he's the one d-man we all know can walk a puck to find a shooting lane.
Up top, the only certainty here is that Dave Bolland will be working from the boards or behind the goal line, where he's more lethal. Hossa will be here if he doesn't get on the top unit. This is where things get tricky. Ideally, you'd like a crease crasher to join that duo, , with Hossa on his off-wing, and that should be Bryan Bickell. But it isn't. It might be Rusty Olesz, but we don't know that yet. It could be Brunette too, depending on how the first one shakes out. Or if you want to be more creative about it with a floater, Frolik would do this job. Frolik definitely does the Bolland thing when he almost certainly gets hurt. In a pinch, Ben Smith could do it as well. Again, at least there are plenty of options. My optimum to start is Bolland-Bicks-Hossa.
Ah, now to the kill. Some of these are already set. Toews and Hossa will be second out on most kills. The guess here is that Bolland and Frolik will start most of them. We'll see how that goes, but they're both nippy and quick and responsible, and will provide a threat. After that, I look for Sharp to be with either Mayers or Smith. If a fourth forward unit is needed, if Stalberg is in the lineup I've always wanted the Hawks to try that, or Olesz has seen some time in the preseason. On the backend, they probably shield Leddy from this because the Marlboro 72, Hammer, Montador and either Lepisto or especially O'Donnell can handle it.