Where do we go from here?
At 5-5-2, after losing 6-3 in Colorado last night, the Blackhawks have hit the low point of this young season.
From a blistering start to the season, to a sputter, then a slow slide to NHL mediocrity over the last three games, the Hawks are not just struggling to find an identity, they've raised real questions about whether they are in fact a playoff team.
The standings don't matter right now, but points and games played do, a little—and the Hawks are on pace for an 82 point finish, which would be well out of the postseason.
A lot went wrong last night, not least of which was the first poor performance in the Indianhead for backup netminder Anton Forsberg.
All goalies have bad nights, and there's some debate as to how easy the chances were for Forsberg. So unti he has a bad night, let's set that one aside—as Forsberg was pretty much outstanding in OT losses to Toronto and Edomonton. Just my .02: the goltending isn't "the problem>
Ahh, yes, "the problem," now the subject of endless Twitter and message board debate.
Alternately, it's "dat bum Toews."
Or, "dat other bum, Seabrook."
"Q needs to go."
"Send 'Cat' down. Bring up Vinnie."
"You have 'seriously ignorance' (whatever that means) if you would send 'Cat' down for Vinnie."
The mind boggles. Regrettably, there's probably no one magic tweak or move that "fixes" what ails this team.
And who replaces him? Kevin Dineen? If coaching is the problem, then Dineen is at least part of that problem.
But a team that plays at times as lethargically and dispassionately as this Hawk team has probably would benefit from a jolt to the system.
A small jolt would come in the form of the recall of Vince Hinostroza (and possibly Matthew Highmore), but someone would need to go down to to Rockford in all likelihood to make that happen. And due to contracts, as well as performance, that would be . . . Would be wunderkind Alex DeBrincat, the aforementioned 'Cat.'
Ahhhh, the logic of some (albeit well meaning) Hawk fans:
"'Cat' should be in Chicago because he scored a gazillion goals in the OHL." Meanwhile Hinostroza and Highmore are pretty much ripping up the AHL—an actual pro league—but Cat's 5 points in 12 games makes him vitally important on the NHL roster.
But I digress. What a Hinostroza (especially) or a Highmore bring is speed and the ability to play bigger than their size. More disruption, more push up the ice.
Another small jolt, more of the Kempny-Franson pairing.
It was only one game against a pretty bad team (well, good enough to beat the Hawks last night), but in about 20 minutes of TOI that pairing was very good, with great possession numbers, and Kempny had two assists and was +2.
Kempny is a "popular" whipping boy, but I have liked some of what I have seen from him this year under Ulf Samuelsson's coaching, using his speed—bringing what Hinostroza and Highmore might bring more of—push up the ice and opportunities through getting the puck behind opponents.
If I were Quenneville, I'd have that pair dressed and playing together Wednesday night at the UC.
But these are smaller moves. What else is there?
Well, despite recent allusions in the press to the impending greatness of next year's 'Cat', 175 pound college forward Dylan Sikura, GM Stan Bowman is largely responsible for the state of this team's NHL fortunes.
And if the team is legitimately interested in making a playoff appearance this year, much less a lasting one, Bowman needs to be very serious about making a trade or two—and as long as there's maybe nothing to lose—perhaps a big one.
All I have for now,