Atop The Sugar Pile – 3/4

Sometimes I feel like I’m beatin’ a dead horse….and I don’t know why you keep bringing me down….

That’s kind of what it feels like to try and write about the Hawks these days. There’s a little left to say. We’ve entered the territory of the absurd, and very few people have experience with this sort of thing. But we’ll try.

The Dizzying Highs

The 3rd line – Few would argue that the troika of force that is Andrew Shaw, Bryan Bickell, and Viktor Stalberg haven’t been the Hawks most effective line for the past few games. It seems every shift, they’re pinning whoever they’re against in their own zone for minutes at a time. They’re completing line changes while the other team is still pinned behind their own net. They should have had at least two goals yesterday, got a goal for Bickell against Columbus, had the dagger goal against St. Louis, and we could go on and on.

I was hard on Shaw-at-center, and while he can still get reckless, he’s really opened my eyes there. Yes, I still think he’ll be more effective as a 4th line winger if and when a true #2c is acquired (because this line won’t lose much when and if Bolland has to center it). But he’s improved as the season has gone on, and the neutral zone adventures have calmed down a bit. He still sucks at draws, but unlike the line ahead of him that hasn’t mattered as much because Stalberg and Bickell are so adept at chasing the puck down. It’s this kind of depth that is driving the Hawks success. If the thunder don’t get ya….

The Terrifying Lows

Um….The Power Play?: This is a stretch, because it basically managed a goal against Columbus, and one yesterday, and was a threat when it didn’t score. But it could be better.

It seems that I’m being a bit unfair to Patrick Sharp, who keeps cocking up the Stamkos/Subban role, one he could perform. He’s either walking the puck down low and robbing his angle and time, or staying out too high to not be available for a one-timer.

But here’s the thing. On the second unit, who else is there? Hammer and Oduya are left-handed, and you want a right-handed shot opposite Leddy. Rozsival? You could try it, but that’s not really how he’s built. It would actually be the perfect slot of Montador, but there’s that whole he’ll never get in the lineup thing.

You could put Bolland there, but Bolland’s shot isn’t as big as Sharp’s and he’s better off making plays from down low when he’s healthy. Really, the only hope is that Sharp just gets a better feel as things go along. Besides, Kane will score anyway.

The Creamy Middles

Humpty Hump: He’ll score when he wants, he’ll score when he wa-a-ants….Patrick Kane, he’ll score when he wants….

Michael Frolik: It’s easy to make fun of Fro, but now in a very simple role of killing penalties and slaying fourth line bums, is anyone doing it better in the league? Probably too expensive to stay in this role after this season, but it’s awfully nice having him there. And lately he’s had to do it playing center and dragging around either two dufuses in Carcillo and Bollig or the corpse of Jamal Mayers. Doesn’t seem to matter to him much. He’s second on the team in Corsi/60.

  • mightymikeD

    Nail hit firmly on head.. although I’m surprised that Gorilla Salad on the Toews line didn’t get a mention..

    • HealthyScratch

      Yakupov concussed?

      • XxMJ20xX


  • Waylon

    Loved the Jerry Garcia reference – great song.

  • DesertHawk

    Does anyone else think Fro will take a paycut? I mean he can’t honestly expect to get the same pay, without the 20 goals a year.

    • mad-hatter

      I’m hoping a lot of guys are willing to play for less just to stay in Chicago, especially if the contracts guarantee they stay a little longer.

      • W

        If you look at the prior experience of SCUM, they got a lot of vets to play at less than market wages, for the chance to win the cup.

      • ballyb11


    • TheFullAmonte

      Never say never about the contract, but I think if he enjoys winning he could easily stay here at 1.5 mil.

      • robondacob

        i feel like 1.5 mil is a lot for a fourth liner, especially someone with only one goal

        • TheFullAmonte

          Not many fourth liners kill penalties and play in the opponent’s end as well as Fro does.

          • Black JEM

            Capgeek says he is still around next year at about 2.3M. Assuming we can buyout Olesz we would have about $7M in cap space next year with a cap at 64.3 in order to sign 6-7 players. The question would be who do you try and keep – Stals or Bicks or do you let them both go and try to have guys from the minors step up?

          • Z-man19

            I keep Bicks, theoretically he’ll be cheaper than Stals. I like Stals but I see him getting a nice pay increase next year and I don’t think he’ll fit in the hawk’s cap

          • Black JEM

            And I just realized I missed Leddy – my guess is he will be gone.

          • TheFullAmonte

            I can’t imagine Leddy going anywhere. He will get a big raise that he is due but I think StanBow keeps him first before Stals/Bick. Probably Leddy and then whichever one of the other two come cheaper, so probably Bickell.

    • 10thMountainFire

      He’s like Kopecky except good.

  • JesusMarianHossa

    The top line is Ginger. The third line is Mary Ann.

    So, what I guess I’m saying is, [looks up quote] the Hawks have it all. The Madonna and the whore.

    • Joe Banks

      When you said the top line is Ginger, I thought you were talking about a different team…

  • stacie7

    Isn’t it kind of sad that I just remembered Bolland is out? That’s how well all of our guys are playing. Wow, just wow.

  • mightymikeD

    by the way.. I did a thing in the Forum.. it’s just over there on the right but here’s a link for the lazy

    • DesertHawk

      It’ll be Nash, I guess… but those games are so frequently boring 🙁

    • Paul the Fossil

      In terms of rivalry-hatred directed _at_ us, the clear winners for the forseeable future will be St. Louis. There’s no way that every current Blues fan won’t end up mumbling jealous rage about this Blackhawks core on their deathbeds. In kind of the same spirit that those of us here of a certain age will never stop seeing the 1971 and 1973 Canadiens in our nightmares. [Same is true for Vancouver fans right now except they won’t have the regular reminders of several season tilts each year plus periodic divisional playoff series under the new alignment. And they only have another year or two as a serious contender with the current core.]

      As for who _we_ will loathe the most over the next few years…we’ll probably keep the Canuckleheads #1 in that category for a while on accumulated merit, until their current core is broken up and/or the asshat coach finally gets fired. But as to which team in the planned new division emerges as the games we most want to win, that seems less clear.

      • Bullitt315

        I haven’t read the newest realignment plan too closely but would we even play Vancouver more than twice? Is it still a home/away with everyone and then the rest in division? The Blues as are primary rivals sucks. I hate them but at least Detroit, and Vancouver play a fun type of game to watch.

        • birdhead

          We’d play Van three times according to this:


          32 games vs. Eastern Conference (one home, one away vs. each opponent).
          21 games vs. other division in Western Conference (teams with the extra home game will be rotated every season).
          29 games vs. own division (you will play one team four times instead of five).

          Which would only be one or two less than if they were in-division rivals. I guess. Man, the Mid-West division is boring as fuck.

          • Z-man19

            If that’s boring, you’re doing it wrong

      • Waylon

        “…that those of us here of a certain age will never stop seeing the 1971 and 1973 Canadiens in our nightmares.”

        Agreed, but the Edmonton teams rank a close second in my book, and I still harbor quite a bit of dislike for Messier.

        • Joe Banks

          You must be about my age. Same nightmares…
          If only there were Northstars.

    • I’m gonna fly the Winnipeg flag for this job. I don’t have to explain myself here, this isn’t Puck Daddy.

    • cliffkoroll

      Good stuff- even the part where you got busted by the PC cops.

      • mightymikeD

        I don’t believe in a “PC Corps” the same way I don’t believe in “Freedom Of Speech Allows Me To Be Offensive”.. but I do understand how that joke could be misinterpreted. To clarify: one of my colleagues managed to convince a customer that Stallone won the “Best Actor” for Cobra. Beating DeNiro. So my jokes always aim for the ludicrous rather than any “ism”

        Oh, and thanks!

        • girlphoenix

          i’m just saying that it would be much funnier just best actor or supporting actor, whatever it was

          • mightymikeD

            not in my fevered brain it wouldn’t.. when I thought of that joke I had an .gif in my tiny brain of Mike Smith, wearing an immaculately-tailored Versace gown, swinging around and hammering his stick off the back of his seat. when he hears that he hasn’t won,,. the joke is in the extreme ludicrousness of the situation rather than any sexism and you should know me better than that by now.

  • Scott13

    – The Blackhawks are 19-0-3 with 16 regulation or OT wins and they have 12 players with at least one game winning goal. That’s crazy depth.

    – Not enough good things being said about how the top two penalty killers among the forwards are two 4th line players (well when Bolland’s healthy Kruger is a 4th liner), this spreading of the minutes with contributions from up and down the roster are reason 1B for the PK’s renewed success.

    – If you were going to run a survey for most improved Blackhawk over last year who would you put in your list? For me I count seven guys who are worthy of the discussion: Crawford, Emery, Hammer, Kruger, Frolik, Bickell & Keith. Keith is a bit of an outlier because we know what his top form looks like, but he’s had a much better year nonetheless. And the irony is if you ask most of the national pundits who the Hawks most improved player is they’d pick Kane, Leddy or the goalies yet for me I don’t think Leddy or Kane are as worthy of the distinction as this group.

    – If Anaheim (32 points) was in the East they’d be in first place, instead they’re 9 points behind the Hawks. The Blackhawks have a 9 point lead on their nearest rival, yet only 6 points separates 3rd place Vancouver (26) with 14th place Edmonton (20). The late stages of the playoff race for the last few spots could be super tight.

    – The Hawks are probably only 7-8 wins from locking up a playoff spot, they have 26 games remaining. In 1979-1980 the Flyers had 35 straight games with a point, they didn’t win the Stanley Cup.

    – Is there a name yet for this thing that Bickell does, the one where he finds a guy wide open in the low slot for a high percentage shot? It needs a name.

    – I’m among the small group of people that didn’t automatically hate the idea of Carcillo on the 1st line but his last two games were absolutely brutal.

    • Bullitt315

      “- Is there a name yet for this thing that Bickell does, the one where he finds a guy wide open in the low slot for a high percentage shot? It needs a name.” Assist

      • Scott13

        Assists are for goals, they don’t count when Frolik field goals an easy look.

        • Joe Banks

          In other words, pass it to Shaw

    • 10thMountainFire

      There is nothing on this planet that would convince me that Carcillo on that lane outdoes Saad’s contributions to that line. Nothing.

      • Accipiter

        Nothing on this planet ? Not even if I got you a Bickell jersey ?

        • 10thMountainFire

          Oh, shit. You say a 29 sweater? Can I have a few minutes to think about this?

          • Accipiter

            Take your time.

          • 10thMountainFire

            Ok, let’s do this.

            I love you Car Bomb. I love you on the first line!

            Now give me my goddamn sweater.

          • Flavius

            Intentional or not….I’m hearing that last line in the voice of Eric Cartmann.

          • 10thMountainFire

            It wasn’t intentional… but it works.

        • Z-man19

          With LORD BYRON on it?

  • raditzzzz

    right now, we are truly atop the sugar pile.

  • Preacher

    I didn’t pay close enough attention but it seemed to me that after the goal yesterday where Tatar scored as Carcillo was behind him and not displaying good defensive skills—Carcillo didn’t see much ice time after that? Or am I just imagining that.

    The creamy middles (or maybe even the terrifying lows) HAS to be Coach Q–for putting Carcillo on the top line.

    • MNHawkFan

      Agree wholeheartedly! Q should totally be in the creamy middle (or Lows) section for the whole Carcillo on the 1st line idea. And dressing 7 d-men against Detroit?! What is he trying to do?

      This team is so deep all Q needs to do is stand behind the bench and watch. He has admitted that all he needs to do is roll 4 lines and not worry about match ups.

      • steeg of their own

        I actually disagree on this analysis of Q. Look, we know how the dude rolls in playoffs, and we know that he values matchups as much or more than any other coach in the game right now.

        Given that, we need to accept the fact that he’s going to go looking for options. We’re going to see sub-optimal lines, just because he needs to know how they’re going to play. (Granted, I wouldn’t have gone with the 7D option in a nationally televised game against our big rivals.) But standing behind the bench and watching is not an option, because Q needs to know how this team operates in a way that will let him work with playoff injuries, which means looking at changes and differing configurations. I’m okay with him experimenting, especially when the Hawks have a points cushion like this.

        If we were a playoff bubble team, then it would really be a problem that he’s playing the team at less-than-optimal capacity. But Q has the luxury of messing with things right now, and I’d rather he got it out of his system here rather than in the first round.

        • Black JEM

          Yes we know how he rolls in the playoffs and that without his one cup run he is a career sub .500 coach in the playoffs. Guys like to play for him, I get it – and that is important. But he likes to be a mad scientist and it gets him in trouble. Thankfully this year he has had less time to tinker and we have been relatively healthy. I have seen fewer bad changes because he probably knows it doesn’t matter. Carcillo on the first line right now with how Saad has performed is pretty much coaching malpractice. Dressing 7 Dmen I will assume there was something going on we just will never know about – if it becomes common then I will worry about it.
          In fact when I look at the lows of the season – Saad being put back on the 4th line in favor of Carcillo is the bad. An average power play with one of the top pk is not an issue. The other thing that concerns me is we throw a lot of rubber at the net and don’t seem to get much out of it, but I haven’t done my homework to see if that is a real issue or not.

          • steeg of their own

            The team knows who Q is. You can dislike his style if you like (I don’t, though I sometimes disagree with his choices), but when the team hired that coach then they’ve got to give him some latitude to coach within his style, and that’s exactly what he’s doing. So far it’s working out for us this year.

            The ‘not doing homework’ is coming into play here. We’re 8th in the league right now in shots per 5v5 60min played (all stats that I quote are from behindthenet), which is good but not outstanding, so “we fire a lot of rubber at the net” is semi-true. The “don’t seem to get much out of it” is untrue, though, since we’re also 8th in the league on 5v5 goals scored for us. Our shot percentage is pretty much the definition of average, so yes. We put a decent amount of rubber at the net. But we also reap rewards.

    • mad-hatter

      You’re right; after Tatar’s goal, Carcillo only saw about fifteen seconds in the third.

    • Waylon

      I think he saw less time additionally because of his typical MO on the ice, taking a needless penalty in a close game and deserving of at least another for that stupid hook/trip in mid – ice. He even looked immediately at the ref skating close by, he thought for sure he was going to get nailed for that one.

    • steeg of their own

      You’re not imagining anything. Q tends to punish players who make defensive lapses.

      Carbomb was largely responsible for that goal with a poor defensive performance, and Q pretty much benched him for it. We’ll see if it had long-term repercussions tonight, when we get a look at who gets regularly shifted with Captain and Hoss. If we’re really really lucky the defensive lapse and the dumb penalty in the last game combined to convince Q that Saad deserves top line time more than Carbomb, so we finally get a stable top line.

  • TheFullAmonte

    Love the European football reference on Kane. Completely accurate too. Fuck Van (Persie).

  • Paul the Fossil

    This post reminded me about the question of how relevant powerplay success is to the NHL standings. Over the last few seasons the answer has been “not much”, but of course this isn’t a normal season so how’s that going right now?

    The Hawks of course have run the table so far despite a very middling (13th in the league) PP%. Montreal is leading the East despite similar PP results (11th) and the Bruins are right behind them despite an overtly bad PP (22nd). Meanwhile Carolina’s truly clown-shoes PP (28th in the league) hasn’t kept them from getting to four games over .500 and playoff contention.

    The Ducks’ league-leading PP has correlated with a 15-3-2 record and the Pens, third-best in PP, are 14-8-0 on the scoreboard. But they are truly the outliers here because look at the 4th through 7th-best PP teams: _all_ are under .500 overall! (In order that’s WAS, NYI, TB, EDM.) Then the 8th-best and 9th-best PP teams are both right at .500, then come the Panthers who are dead last in the East. So actually 6 of the top 10 PP teams right now are on track to miss the playoffs, not counting the Flyers who are at the moment barely clinging to the East’s 8th spot.

    So yea I think we’re back around to “not much.” A bad power play sure is aggravating to watch, no argument there. But it’s just not in reality all that important to being a winning NHL team.

    • TheFullAmonte

      I think the PP is more important to teams with less depth and less important to those with good depth. A team like Edmonton or the Islanders (you could arguably throw the Blues into this category as well) that does not have much scoring depth really relies on the power play to score goals. Teams like the Hawks, Bruins, and Canes have more players who can score or even just chip in with a goal or maybe two when the top end players don’t have a great night, so the power play isn’t as important to them. The Ducks and Pens I would say use the power play to augment their already great scoring, which makes their teams more likely to win, hence the better records there.

  • PainSt

    1. Kane wills it
    there has never been a blackhawk like this in my lifetime and probably never ever
    ..not Stan not Bobby not Denny

    You know damn well that he would have scored even without the powerplay

    2. the third line was mesmerizing but because of Shaw not in spite of him
    he is the one that brings the frantic urgency

    3. I’m ok not seeing Bolland till a week before the playoffs
    He doesn’t do regular seasons anyway

    4. I’m not sure if you said that Patrick Sharp has been really really good
    but yes he has been

    5. Frolik has been this good all along but we all expected goals and at a 3% success clip he just doesn’t shoot enough. now that we expect him to be what he is he doesn’t disappoint

    6, Leddy is getting perceptibly better with every game
    This kid will cost us a lot of money

    Go Hawks

  • Squamel

    Darryl Hannah’s tits were responsible for Kane’s tying goal. Know this.

    • Joe Banks

      We gotta introduce him to Sofia Vergara then…

  • Joe Banks
    • steeg of their own

      Wow, that article was amazingly ignorant. Paraphrasing: “The Nucks are persecuted as whiners but don’t really deserve the reputation, wait, let us whine more.” And this one, which kills me (direct quote here): “The East used to be the black-and-blue Conference and the West was the speed-and-skill Conference. The roles have been reversed.” Oh really? Because the two best speed-and-skill teams in the league are leading the West. And uh, the Bruins are #2 in the East.

      • Joe Banks

        I did a Danny Thomas “spit take” when I read the “East used to be” comment. WTF?

    • mad-hatter

      There is so much about this article I don’t understand. Wait, why did he bring in that tangent about doping without explaining how it relates to hockey? Why is he talking about shortening the season? Why is he bringing in the recent trade acquisitions? I think they’re all starting to suffer from tinfoil poisoning up there.