It was a very standard weekend: good hockey, terrible hockey, beers and a lot of LOLs.
That was my weekend at my rec hockey tournament, but maybe similar to the Blackhawks (minus the LOLs).
Yesterday's game was better, but overall the Blackhawks' weekend was more of what we're used to seeing… inconsistent.
One would have thought at the start of the year, a home-and-home vs. Boston in the last month of the season would have been must-see TV. To be honest, I would have bet good money that the roles would have been reversed where the Hawks were in playoffs (maybe not as comfortably as BOS) and the Bruins would have been on the outside looking in. However, I give Bruce Cassidy's team a lot of credit for how they've turned it around in Boston and are now looking like true contenders.
Watching the Bruins, it also should give Hawks fans hope for next year. The Bruins still have their core of Rask, Chara, Bergeron, Marchand and Krejci (who have a lot of miles on them over the years) but have injected the right amount and mix of youth to compliment that experience.
They have a young, mobile defence group that also has the right amount of physicality. I think it's something Stan and the Hawks should look to mimic.
There were some good moments and performance to call out:
John Hayden – you have to leave this guy up. The Hawks need to show a lot more pushback physically and on the forecheck and this is the guy has the tools to do exactly that. He went down to Rockford and used it as a positive experience; exactly what you want to hear out of a young player. Also, leave him up so he can build some chemistry throughout the lineup for next year. I for one wouldn't be made with a Debrincat-Schmaltz-Hayden line come October 2018.
Erik Gustafsson(‘s offensive game) – offensive, especially on the PP, Erik Gustafsson was looking like a force this week. The young Swede finished with 1G, 4A and was a +2. That last stat is very deceiving as he had some egregious plays on the defensive side of the puck. He needs to clean that up while continuing to be an offensive threat.
Matthew Highmore – a shoutout to the kid for his 1st NHL goal. I'm not sure if he's an every day but he's doing a lot of the right things. Not a bad showing so far for an undrafted kid in his 1st pro season.
I have not heard of anything else on the potential NCAA/Euro signings, Crawford or Dylan Sikura update, but I know that the Hawks are in full scouting/evaluating mode for the upcoming draft. Mark Kelley now knows that he has a little more to work with this year and is licking his chops, as it's a deeper draft year than year's past.
The Hawks are back in action on Thursday in Winnipeg, then back-to-back on the weekend again with the Sabres (in BUF) and Blues (at home).
See ya out there!
* Rockford Playoff Watch: the IceHogs took 3 out of 4 points this weekend. They lost 2-1 in OT vs. Milwaukee and then won 2-1 in OT (Chris Didomenico with the GWG) vs. Chicago.
The ‘Hogs upcoming schedule includes a game tomorrow at home vs. Iowa, Friday at Grand Rapids and Saturday at Chicago.
* Anthony Duclair will be out for 1-2 weeks after that weird play with Brad Marchand. Listen, it's not the worst thing the Marchand has done, but I've played a lot of hockey and that was a very strange way to "avoid" a collision.