NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues

Something In The Way – C.I.’s Season Preview: The 4th Line Rotation

Marcus Kruger and Andrew Desjardins probably deserve their own posts, but to be honest and fair with you I’m pretty sick of writing these and we’ve got other fish to fry next week. So let’s wrap it all up, take the weekend, and get ready for the season next week (whatever the hell it’s gonna be).

Marcus Kruger – Poor guy has been in a holding pattern all summer. It took until the eve of camp for Kruger even to get a contract for this year, even though he’s more than earned a multi-year deal that he’s watched pretty much all his other core teammates get. Then he had to wait for visa problems to clear before he could arrive at camp late. Good thing he’s a good soldier, huh?

Much like the rest of the players who have been here for years (this will be his sixth if you can believe it), you basically know what you’re getting with Kruger. He’s going to be essentially slaughtered in terms of zone starts and opposition (though Toews has given him something of a break the past year or two in taking the toughest assignments). He’ll basically play those assignments to a standstill. He’ll be the first over the boards for every penalty kill, though it hasn’t quite been established who will join him this time around. Desjardins is probably a leading candidate. He’ll chip in a few goals, slightly less than 10 probably, and you’ll wonder (and he probably does as well at times) if he were given more of a break with his shifts if he wouldn’t put up bigger numbers. And hopefully this summer he’ll get the security and money he’s more than earned at this point. He’ll have a rotating cast on his wings again, he’ll make them all look better than they probably are, and in the spring he’ll be a vital cog.

Andrew Desjardins – Perhaps the surprise of last spring. Was acquired for Ben Smith to essentially get more flexibility on the cap this season, and he played so well he ended up signing again. At least there’s no illusion of what Desjardins can and should be doing as there are with some other players. He’s going to man the 4th line, he’s going to kill penalties, he combines well with Kruger, and that’s it. You won’t see him higher up the food chain unless the Hawks have an injury disaster or something. The Hawks seemingly like to have solid pairs on their lines and then rotate the third spots. Toews-Hossa, Anisimov-Kane, I’m guessing Teuvo-Tikhonov, and now what appears to be Kruger-Desjardins when it’s been Kruger- Smith or Kruger-Frolik in the past. Fair enough really.

Kyle Baun – You gotta take the elevator to the mezzanine, chump/change and it’s on Kyle Baun Baun Kyle Baun Baun…

The surprise of camp, and if nothing else I get to keep making the joke. Q has apparently fallen in love with his size and not-slow feet and somewhat decent hands. I mean I guess, because I don’t really have any idea what it is they see in Baun other than his size. Popping in a few goals in the preseason is one thing. Being effective in the regular season is another. I suppose asking him to plug away for 10 minutes a night on the 4th line isn’t the biggest task in the world. I’m guessing he doesn’t last more than 10 games.

Ryan Hartman – I suspect Hartman will get a look at some point this season as well, in an audition to be Shaw The Sequel next season and the ones after it. He got a brief look last season and showed an unhinged streak that fans love and the Hawks don’t particularly have in spades. He’s got better hands than he’s showed in his brief cameos with the Hawks.

Vincent Hinostroza – I’m going to throw him on here, though as a center it’ll be tougher for him to get a cameo with the team. But he’s turned heads at camp and in the run outs he’s gotten in preseason games, and he might be able to moonlight on a wing if injuries strike. He clearly plays the 200-ft game the Hawks require of all forwards, and he’s better vision than first thought. He’ll get some games.

Phillip Danault – I’m still a fan, but it’s going to depend how he comes back from injury which he’s not even scheduled to do for another month. Also well versed in his own zone and has already proven he can play center or wing. Again, probably just an injury replacement should they strike but could put himself in the window for a full spot next year. We know he’d better, because we’ve seen how the Hawks sour on any youngster who sticks around the organization for too long without cementing his spot on the big club.

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