I feel like a broken record over here. "Have the Hawks figured it out?" is a phrase that I've typed, repeated in my head and said out loud too many times this year.
Just as the Hawks "figured it out", it all comes crashing down with a blowout loss. That blowout loss could happen to a pissed off Toronto Maple Leafs team tonight if they aren't careful.
The Leafs are coming off of a 6-1 thumping by the Lightning on Monday night.
The Hawks on the other hands are looking a true playoff juggernaut after proving to themselves that they can win a tight 2-1 game (Dallas on Sat) or showing off that they have the firepower to pump a team 7-1 (‘Yotes on Monday).
This is the first time in 60+ games where the Hawks have held teams to 1 goal against in back-to-back contests. Go defence!
What's been the key?
Well, it looks like their completely in sync in every zone on the ice. Also, the commitment to detail without the puck has been the best I've seen since Colliton took over.
I was reading in an article by Craig Custance on The Atheltic, that the Blackhawks are in full scouting and evaluation mode.
Chicago's pro scouts watch NHL games all year obviously, however, their focus shifts depending on the timing of the season, as well as, the state of the team.
Well, right now, they will be watching games down the stretch and will be still on the clock throughout the playoffs.
"Yeah, to see how they perform down the stretch," Bowman said. "If they're on playoff teams, how they fare. There's so much that changes. The plan I have right now is probably going to change considerably, depending on how the draft goes. If you end up in the top 10, you can maybe get a player who can play on your team. I don't know where we're going to finish. That's part of it too. We're starting it already." (Source: Craig Custance, The Athletic)
There will be a lot of time for us to discuss whom the Hawks should target in the offseason but I would love to hear what that "plan" is Stan.
I have more faith than I did after the summer in Stan Bowman. His performance in the offseason to his in-season moves has been a complete 180. What a weird year for him (a future blog on that).
Right now, the Hawks are playing like a team that only needs a couple of tweaks in the summer of 2019 to get back into the playoffs. That's bad! Because you and I both know that this team has some holes and you can't just bring back the same players and expect different (and more consistent results).
There was a lot to be made about the Schmaltz for Strome and Perlini swap leading up to the CHI/ARI game. I don't like writing about the norm and following offering the same opinion as all Hawks beat writers, but I did want to comment on it now.
A player to be fuelled by resentment and a little bit of "p*ssed off teenager" motivation is an amazing thing to watch in sports.
It's a part of the business to be traded or not resigned but it doesn't make it any easier to think that you're not wanted.
You could see this all over the ice on both sides; Vinnie Hinostroza was zipping around trying to make things happen, Dick Panik scored and Jordan Oesterle was doing all he could to contain the Hawks offense.
Then there was Dylan Strome out there looking to prove to the team that gave up on him that he is still that 3rd overall pick that they had high hopes for.
But we all know the real winner… Brendan Perlini! His 1st career hat trick couldn't have tasted sweeter than that. He's showing that with some real linemates, 12-15 mins of ice time and a whole lot more confidence, he might just be another solid piece to the quest for more depth on this Hawks team moving forward.
Moving on to a little prospect update and future watching:
The Hawks just signed Philipp Kurashev yesterday but his contract doesn't kick in until next year.
The Hawks have 30 standard contracts on the books for 2019-20 (as per CapFriendly). This will easily go up after the 13 RFAs are evaluated. Out of the list below, I would suspect at least 10 are resigned:
So, that would put the Hawks at 40(ish). Assuming there will be a couple of additions from Free Agency to be added to the Blackhawks, some other potential signings in the system include:
* Dominik Kubalik, 23
* Ian Mitchell, 20
* Chad Krys, 20
* Evan Barratt, 20
* Mikael Hakkarainen, 21
* Tim Soderlund, 21
* Fredrik Olofsson, 22
* Jack Ramsey, 23
Then whatever shakes out from the free agents and prospects, you may see a few familiar ‘Hogs brought back:
* Tyler Sikura (UFA)
* Andreas Martinsen (UFA)
* Jordan Schroeder (UFA)
* Peter Holland (UFA)
Back to Philipp Kurashev for a second; Bowman said recently he could compete for a spot next year. If Joel Quenneville was here, he is the type of player that screams to be as a Q type player. Maybe that's why he got such a long look in training camp. I'm not sure yet what a "JC" / Colliton type player is yet but we'll see what he thinks about the 19-year old centre in September.
I have Dominik Kubalik on that list above as well. I would expect a contract coming shortly. I personally don't expect much out of him, however, I wasn't expecting much out of Dominik Kahun before this year and he's been a pleasant surprise.
Looking forward to the game tonight. I suspect it will be a high scoring affair. Let's see if it's a Patrick Kane and Auston Matthews show again.