Ted Knight

Well, We’re Waiting – The Committed Indian.com’s Season Preview: The Top Line

So I know I said next week, but I just couldn’t wait any longer. It’s been so much fun to write about hockey again that I just want to dive in head first, put my face in and blow. It’s fucking taco night around these parts!

This year, with our compressed time-frame, instead of going player by player, we’re going to go unit-by-unit (cue adolescent snickering…which is kind of the official theme of this blog). So all four lines, the extra forwards, all the defensive pairs, goaltending, special teams (wait til McClure lets loose on these). Or at least what we project these units will look like. But we’ll get around to everyone.

The theme this year is just an excuse to post that picture of Ted Knight and think about the wheelbarrow of coke he had with him at all times. I think we’re all ok with that.

Usually we go from the net out on these things, but I’m tired of that. So let’s start with the BIG GUNS! (Number #1)

So this is the part where I have to guess what the top line will be. Well, I’m not going to. I’m going to preview the players that should be on it. Because I’m a righteous son of a bitch, that’s why. In a shortened season where you don’t have time to find chemistry or try things, occam’s razor should be applied to any lineup decisions or system implementation. For those in the dark or have not seen¬†Contact, that means the simplest explanation tends to be the right one.

In this case, that would mean your top line should be Patrick Sharp-Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane (well, actually it would probably mean that Patrick Sharp is your #2 center, but I’ve wasted what was left on my youth screaming about that). But these guys have played together for parts of five seasons now, and have had a dominating stretch in all of them. Toss them out together, and it won’t be long before you’re rolling in it.

So let’s go left to right, and start with the man who rhymes with “moistening”, and that’s Patrick Sharp. Oh right, stats! Let’s hit those up from last year.

Patrick Sharp: 74GP – 33G – 36A – 69P+28 – 11.7 SH% – 1.98 Behind The Net Rating

Ok, my first trip this season to Behind The Net.ca is in the books. Anyway, you may have forgotten that Patrick Sharp was fucking awesome last year. That Good Time Boys act from the previous season was wiped away, and he was the two-way stud that all men want to be again. That +/- was the second-best non-Bruin in the league. Second highest point total of his career, all while shooting below his career average in shooting-percentage.

So the only question about Sharp is whether that season signals a peak. At 31, you wouldn’t think so too much, but he is running out of prime years let’s say. Another question with Sharp is how not playing during the lockout affected him, and he won’t be the only one. Being over 30, you wonder how long it’ll take the legs to fully fire again after being dormant, and the Hawks can’t wait around that much. On the other side, Sharp only scored 7 power play goals last year. Even a barely competent PP should see that total jump up to around 10 or so (his career high is 12). If that happens, we can probably expect another 30-goal, 60-point season from Shooter. If he can hit the ground running, that is.

To the pivot, and Captain Marvel (aka Jonny Revelator aka Tazer aka Judge Dredd aka Jonathan Toews)

Jonathan Toews: 59GP – 28G – 29A – 57P – +17 – 15.7 SH% – 0.77 Behind The Net Rating

There are obviously much bigger questions around Toews. While everyone’s saying the right things about Tazer’s concussion, with his style of play is it ever too far around the corner? Maybe it’ll be like Patrice Bergeron, who has only missed a handful of games since his much more frightening injury. That’s the hope, anyway. Toews has the same question as Sharp, as he wasn’t playing anywhere during the lockout. But this is Jonathan Toews we’re talking about. If health isn’t an issue, is anyone really worried?

What I will say about Toews, and I have to whisper this because people get angry, but in his last 23 playoff games Toews only has three goals. Yes, one was to send Game 7 to OT and another was an OT winner. But 3 in 24 is 3 in 24. Injuries probably played a part, but that’s still a concern. I’m not suggesting that Toews shies from the spotlight, but what I am saying is that if the Hawks are going to go anywhere this season or any other, their best players have to carry the torch more than they have recently. Toews would tell you that himself.

Ok, now to Humpty Hump (aka Patrick Kane).

Patrick Kane: 82GP – 23G – 43A - 66P – +7 – 9.1 SH% – 0.48 Behind The Net Rating

Know what’s weird? In all the things that are said about Kaner, his durability never gets mentioned. He’s missed 11 games in five years. And some of that through injuries that probably should have kept him out. Did you know that? I think I had forgotten. Anyway, it was a weird season for Kaner, the first in which some fans turned on him because of what was going down on the ice (instead of him going down in an alley somwhere). And there were disappointing aspects. 23 goals just isn’t enough. But that came from a season that saw him shift in and out of an unfamiliar center position, which he’s probably going to have to do again this season. He also was a no-show in the playoffs, hounded out of existence by the contingent of large on the Yotes blue line.

I think people do ignore what Kane did when Toews went out. 17 points in 22 games doesn’t sound like much, but it sounds better when you consider not only did he do it from center but as the only offensive center the Hawks had then. Teams sent their best out at Kane while he was out of position, and he produced just enough to keep the Hawks afloat. Really shouldn’t be ignored.

This year? I’d love to say Kane won’t have to worry about playing center. But we all know he will at some point. He’s also been playing, and apparently pretty well, so he should have a sharpness advantage. If Jamie Kompon has any brains (which he doesn’t), he’d realize the PP has to run through Kane at the half-wall instead of Seabrook at the point. Get the puck in the hands of your best playmaker by any means. If the staff can figure that much out, the power play should improve and so should Kane’s numbers. I expect another kickass season from The Crazy 88, and one that sadly won’t be appreciated by enough people.

  • Special Agent Dale Cooper

    Ah shit this is just great!!! Love the preview Sam!!! Can’t wait for more of this, sooooo glad hockey is back!!! Is it true the Hawks open at the Kings on the 19th? And that it will be an afternoon game?

    • Joe Banks

      The word is, January 19th, 2:00PM (I assume central time) @LA Kings

      • Sparky_The_Barbarian

        Arggh! I’ll be at work!

        • ahnfire

          on a Saturday?

          • Z-man19

            Some people do work weekends Ms Mod

          • ahnfire

            I know; I work ~70 hrs/6 days a wk. I didn’t think that too many people on this site had a similar work schedule.

  • justforkicks

    holy shit, i can’t even express how excited i am by even seeing this on the board and i haven’t even read it yet

    • 10thMountainFire

      Wow. Our comments are so similar that I almost feel like I should apologize. I hadn’t read yours yet.

      • justforkicks

        great minds think alike, that’s all!!

        • 10thMountainFire

          That’s nice of you but I barely qualify comparisons to the IQ level of Torres.

  • justforkicks

    now that i’ve read it, here here to all of it and then some.

  • laaarmer

    I agree 100% with what you say here, but if we split up Toews and kane Then Pronger will have to decide to stop Toews and Hossa or Kane and Buff (or something like that)………….”It’s in the net……”

  • DesertHawk

    Should the title be well, or while? Grammar Nazi, I’m sorry…

    • RLWiener

      Since he was quoting caddy shack, the “well” is appropriate.

    • cliffkoroll

      Colossal movie quote recognition fail! Wow!
      C’mon people, let’s tighten it up! Season’s starting soon.

      • DesertHawk

        Ah… Yeah… I rarely recognize movie quotes, I’m terribly pop culture un-savvy

        • Accipiter

          If it makes you feel any better I got it right away.

  • Detroit Must Die

    If I had any faith in the coaching staff collectively possessing the intellect of a relatively slow toddler I would bank on this being the first line on opening night. But that’s not the case.

    Though I wouldn’t cry too loudly if they put Stalberg on this unit instead of either Kane or Sharp, especially if Stalberg has remembered how to use his feet on the forecheck.

    • Joe Banks

      If I remember right, last year Carcillo sat the first two games, then they put him on Towes left wing… you don’t think they’d do that again, right?

      • MySpoonIsTooBig

        Carcillo sat out the first 2 games last year because he had a suspension carry over from the 2011 playoffs. And I don’t recall him being initially inserted on Toews LW, I remember him starting off at LW on a line with Hossa at RW and Kane at C.

        • DesertHawk

          which did well if i recall correctly

    • Sparky_The_Barbarian

      I’d like to see staals on this line with DDN, Sharpie as 2C with Hossa and ‘space taker to be named later.’

  • MySpoonIsTooBig

    If we assume that both Kane and Sharp stay on the wing, then realistically who do we think is going to center the 2nd line? Kruger? Bolland? Pirri? A still-unsigned UFA (i.e. Jason Arnott)? Montador (he is versatile after all)?

    • detroit must die

      Unfortunately, I think we all know Kane is going to spend time at center at some point. I am currently in the school of thought that he is going to start the season there (cringes). Unfortunately I think Stan’s sollution to the whole on the second line is to cross his fingers and hope that one of Danault, McNeil, or Pirri will be ready for the job sooner rather than later.

  • 10thMountainFire

    Holy shit there’s a giant hockey discussion on this thread. I’m so fucking ready for opening night.

    • Accipiter

      How so ?

      • 10thMountainFire

        You have to call me Dragon.

        • Accipiter

          You have to call me Nighthawk.

          • 10thMountainFire

            Hey, listen, I like to have a lot of fresh fruit around and chocolate chips in my pancakes. Okay? Write it down so you don’t forget.

          • Accipiter

            If there’s any foods that you like…

            …I suggest you put your name
            on them, or they will be thrown out.

            By me.

          • 10thMountainFire

            I’ve been called the songbird of my generation by people who’ve heard me. THAT good.

          • Accipiter

            There. I was at about six there.

            You don’t wanna see me go to 10.

          • 10thMountainFire

            I remember MY first beer.

          • Accipiter

            Are bonito fish big ?

          • 10thMountainFire

            We put liquid paper on a bee. And it died.

    • ahnfire

      hockeyyyyyyy hockey hockey hockey!

      • 10thMountainFire

        HOCKEY! HOCKEY! HOCKEY!

  • http://www.facebook.com/USA.Kyle Kyle Miller

    If Kane posts 25g 35a in 48 games, I’ll be content. Regarding Sharp, I don’t think we can expect him to pot 30 goals in 48 games, would be sexy though if he did.

    • 10thMountainFire

      Those are some gaudy numbers. Let’s temper expectations a bit…

      • http://www.facebook.com/USA.Kyle Kyle Miller

        Kane was predicted to have his first 100 point season last year….with the shortened schedule and headstart from playing in Europe, I think he will be around the 50 or 60 point mark…Gaudy, yes…but I’m optimistic for the kid.

        • SamFels

          I guess I meant 30-goal pace. Which would be about 17.

          • M7

            Yes, this is where I’m at as well. The level I expect of Kane (in reference to offensive numbers over a full season) is something in the 30G-50A range (netting 80+ pts). Over a 48 game season I would be quite happy with 17-20G and 30-35A. If he goes better, gravy.

    • detroit must die

      Even in his best season to date, Kane didn’t put up that kind of PPG. Quite frankly, if he puts up 20 or more in the truncated seasons that’s pretty damn good.

      • http://www.facebook.com/USA.Kyle Kyle Miller

        If we can agree that Kane is capable of a 100 point season, what would it look like in terms of how many goals and how many assists pretending its an 82 game season, after that shave 42% off it off to simulate the 34 missed games…..I may be dreaming, but if the powerplay improves which I believe it will a lot, then I believe he can and will achieve a point per game and/or slightly more than that.

        • birdhead

          “I’ll be content with what works out to a 42-60-102 season, prorated” seems like a wild understatement. More like “I’ll be screamingly thrilled”. Believing he’s capable of a 100-point season is not the same as “anything else would disappoint”.

  • Joe Banks

    For those who have not seen contact… don’t worry! That movie sucked Rhino.

  • cliffkoroll

    First Hawks home game at the UC: #operationpindrop #silentroar #notapeep

    Pretty sure this will go massively viral.

    • cliffkoroll

      Apologies- I’m really struggling with this crappy site.
      OTOH, the writing’s as crisp as ever Sam!

      • laaarmer

        cliffkoroll

        • cliffkoroll

          wassup gamgsta! hey, is this joint always so dead? not to mention inoffensive?
          anyhoo, you live in Michigan, so not really who I’m targeting here, but tell me tihs wouldn’t be a pretty cool statement? The rockin’ UC, for one night, becomes a public library. All you hear are skates slashing into ice, pucks slapping sticks, etc. It’d be like one of those 5:30 AM practices in Holland. A taste of what fans bring to the game night in and night out (on top of paying for it all), conspicuous by its absence.
          #deafeningsilence

          • laaarmer

            Like a scene from Youngblood. You could here every word the guys say. It would be cool.

          • cliffkoroll

            That’s what I’m talking about! ‘red palace’, ‘Accipter’, ‘laaarmer’:

            y’all can scoop up senior positions in the Movement. I hope I’m not speaking out of turn by suggesting ahnfire has already signed up on the other thread.

            “A thousand mile journey starts with a single step.” – Mao

            “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” – Pascal

            #operationpindrop

          • red palace

            Would a roundly yelled “Rick Nash is a wiener tucker!” be permissible?

          • Accipiter

            You win the internet !

      • http://www.thecommittedindian.com/ Matt McClure

        Crappy site? Thanks.

        • cliffkoroll

          Oops…poor word choice. My apologies again. Just the interface, you know. SBN was pretty slick.
          But good content carries the day, right? I look forward, as always, to your insightful commentary and Faulknerian prose.

          • laaarmer

            “Faulknerian prose”
            pinkys up!

        • cliffkoroll

          But seriosult Mac. Is my idea nuts? My kids think so, but they’re idiots (I blame the parents.)
          This seems like a perfect use of 21st century interconnectedness technology, no?
          #eerilyquiet

        • RLWiener

          I like the site as a whole. But I do think the comments section could be better. It doesn’t seem to update/stream new comments all that smoothly.

          • http://www.thecommittedindian.com/ Matt McClure

            SBN uses a proprietary system, there was never a way to take it directly, and Disqus offered the absolute closest approximation to it. Other sites with much larger user bases, notably the AV Club, use Disqus and manage. I’m not saying you’re wrong for preferring it, but this isn’t going anywhere, and you’ll get used to it. It could be worse, the Gawker network changes its commenting system every other week

  • Accipiter

    Is Kompon definitely running the PP ?

    • laaarmer

      I read that as Tampax for some reason

      • http://www.facebook.com/timothy.fisher.581 Timothy Fisher

        special teams were bloody awful

        • http://www.facebook.com/timothy.fisher.581 Timothy Fisher

          sorry couldnt help myself

  • Sparky_The_Barbarian

    I started playing with line combos and my brain locked up. After the big five (including Bolland), it’s a jumble of adequacy. The challenge will be finding the combinations that work.

  • http://twitter.com/VULTR3 Mike

    Along with everyone else here, I’m very excited to read these kinds of articles from you guys again, great stuff! Drop the puck!

  • laaarmer

    Want to know why Sharp was below his career Sh%? He didn’t take as many quality shots

    • Accipiter

      Was Crawford facing too many quality shots ?

      • laaarmer

        That had to be the reason the other teams were so lucky

        • Z-man19

          All those lucky shots deflecting off someone’s ass

  • 2883

    I doubt these three will be together. Guessing it’ll be Sharp – Toews – lucky lottery winner. Stalberg – Kane – Hossa. But I guess at this point I’m just shufflin’

  • Toe Blake

    It was Dangerfield who did all the blow on the caddyshack set. Knight not as much.