Yep, it’s back. And won’t this one be fun? Let’s kick this pig!
The Dizzying Highs
Samoans Do The Humpty Hump – There’s little I can add to what Patrick Kane is doing. There are few sights in hockey more exciting than when Kaner is feeling it and unafraid to try anything. Literally anything could happen. It’s complete anarchy. Spin-o-rama pass right on the tape through three defenders? Sure, why not? Dance two or three checkers into a fucking hole? Check. Egregious turnover in own zone? Might happen! Only Tomas Vanek’s insane game in Boston is keeping Kane from atop the charts in points and goals, and good for him for being honest about wanting to win the scoring title. Just like when Derrek Rose admitted he wanted to win MVP, and then went ahead and did it. They both know that if they accomplish these individual goals, it will be good for the team.
Couple caveats here. Kane is shooting 27.3%. That’s not going to last. His career average is 11.5 and career high is 12.5. Secondly, he’s averaging about 2.75 shots per game, and you’d like that to be over 3. It was when he scored 30 goals for the only time in his career. When the percentage drops, he’s going to have to make that up with more shots. Sadly, his center not winning a whole lot of draws isn’t going to help that much.
The Terrifying Lows
Sharp-Shooter Needs A New Spotter: Pretty obvious what the goal-drought is doing to Sharp. However, it has led him to be more dogged in his puck pursuit the past couple games. What’s worrying is that Sharp is barely cracking 2.5 shots per game, and his career average is over 3.5. Again, it’s being hidden by the satanic verses Kane is spitting up with the limited chances he has, but this line just doesn’t have the puck enough.
In Sharp’s defense, when his game is on it’s about ghosting into open areas to be available to score. It’s darting in and out and being hard to find. It’s not that thick of a line to cross to go from that to merely floating around the outside waiting for Kaner to hit his tape, and it’s something he occasionally struggles to balance. As long as Sharp continues to chase the puck down on the defensive side, he should see his chances again.
Uh, faceoffs? – It’s an issue, because everyone not named Toews or Mayers is getting murdered. A puck possession team that doesn’t possess the puck as much as it should is headed for some bumps.
The Power Play – Ignore a couple 5-on-3 dunks against the Yotes and suddenly there’s a small sucking sound emanating from the man-advantage again. It’s not as bad as it was last year. The entries are still pretty clean, for the most part, and there are chances. But there’s an awful lot of standing around too, waiting for Kane to do something. Have to get the movement back into it, because the kill won’t be elephants over the Alps forever.
The Creamy Middles
StanQ – I know, it doesn’t look like they’ve done much, and both were forced into some decisions that came up trumps. It took an injury to Carcillo for Q to figure out that Saad should go into the Top 6. They haven’t had a lot of practices for Q to juggle the lines. But one or both of them instructed the Icehogs to have Leddy play on the left side, and it’s transformed his game. Rozsival and Brookbank have been pretty much exactly as advertised. Marcus Kruger has been excellent as a 4th line center and penalty killer (beside the draws). Stalberg and Bickell have been a terror on the forecheck. Everything has been slotted correctly. That hasn’t always been the case.