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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Preparing For St. Louis

Hawks have decided to have "offensive" threats on every line. With Toews and Kane returning near or at 100%, the team is near fully rested. Coach Q has decided on an unusual line pairing for the first game. Saad- Toews- Versteeg No matter whom you pair up with Tazer he'll be fine. Stegger and Saad have been playing well off each other, and both show grit. This line is an unusual pairing, but it can work. Sharp- Handzus- Hossa This line isn't so far fetched. In fact, we've seen this line match-up throughout the year. Bickell- Shaw- Kane Putting Kaner on the third line to spark up what could be a REALLY interesting line up, is the most intriguing line configuration of all. I think this line could be REALLY dangerous. We shall see. Bollig- Kruger- Smith the 4th line that has been the 4th line for most of the year is a stable line that produces scorers from all three guys. The "shut down line". Morin will sit, but trust me, if Versteeg or Saad don't hold up their end of the bargain, or if Handzus rests with Smith taking that center spot, expect to Morin play in this first round. This is what the Hawks play for. Let's see what they can do in 2014.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Last 3 GAMES… What to Expect, Not Expect and What Surprises May Be In Store.

Well, I've been away for over 2 weeks. Anything happen? OMG yes. Hawks flopped right out of home ice advantage by tanking 3 in a row and 4 of 5 the end of March. Hawks lose Toews for the remainder of the regular season, and the Hawks now win 3 in April with their back ups. What? Is this Narnia? Okay…let's review. First of all, I told you this was going to be an interesting season for the Hawks, and to NOT expect them to win their conference or division. They had to figure out a way to balance their lineup and get people rested for the playoffs. First off, let's be frank here,…Hawks brass isn't going to come out and tell anyone they're resting players. Why should they? But let's look a the obvious. Saad gets a few days break and rests a game. He played Friday, rested the last game and their next game isn't until Wednesday… Rest, that's all it is. No need to panic folks. He isn't in Q's doghouse. It's a nice 5 day rest. Oduya rests a few games here lately. Rozsival rests: He needs time to rest and be prepared for the playoffs. He's an important piece of that 3rd line D-core. Bickell rested up and there was no hurry to rush him back (Until Toews went down). As you see, he's perfectly fine. Toews: Got banged up a bit. If it was the playoffs, he would have been in that next game. Just resting and healing. Kane: This is the most mysterious one to me. His injury happened to be "perfect" timing for Teravainen to enter the lineup. Kane bangs the knee and "presto" Teravainen and a host of others are able to come and play for the Hawks while Kane rests. To clarify, I'm not saying the injury is fake,… but what I am saying is it was extremely perfect timing. Nothing is ever that perfect…is it? Hossa: He has rested. He is ready to go. The ones that haven't rested are Sharp, Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, Shaw, Smith, Bollig, Kruger. The Hawks are so close to being permanently placed in the 5th seed. If by tonight or tomorrow they are guaranteed the 5th seed, expect the others to get some rest, also. PERFECT TIMING: The Hawks have had that a few times this year. Remember when Khabibulin went down with a "mysterious groin" injury during the middle of the game? Bamm!!!! out he goes. He's never been back. They couldn't to let him go (cap hit), and they wanted to put Antti Raanta in his spot, so the groin injury wasn't enough. So,what do the Hawks do? They kept digging, found an injury that allowed him to sit the rest of the season. It wasn't even related to the groin injury, but the Hawks did NOT want Khabibulin back in the lineup. Here's your $2 million…shut the f*ck up, and stay quiet about it. DO IT FOR THE TEAM. Hawks wanted to get a look at Teravainen and the only conceivable way was for one of their top 6 forwards to go down with an LTIR. BAMM!!!! The very next day, Kaner gets a knee onto a player and has a strained MCL. (He may have tweaked it, he may not have). But, it's amazing how that how that happened. Suddenly the Red Sea parts and in walks Teravainen. Coincidence? Hawks must have a lucky coin in their pocket, eh? Hehehehehehe. This is called manipulating the cap. Every team does it,…it's just the Hawks are supremely good at covering it up. WHAT TO EXPECT? 1) Expect Toews and Kane to return without a hitch. 2) Expect to see Morin and Regin fighting for that playoff roster spot. Right now, the Bickell-Regin-Morin 3rd line has been the hottest line the past 3 games and J-Mo is fighting for his playoff roster spot (more than the aforementioned). Bickell's roster spot is secure, but Regin is also fighting for the top 20 ice playing spots. 3) Don't expect Teravainen to make the top 20 roster spots in the playoffs. I think he may or may not play the rest of the season, but I don't think he will crack the top twenty. Not at all. Surprises? Right now, I'd have to say I'm thinking Peter Regin and Jeremy Morin may be the surprises that could (not will,…but could) make the top 20 playoff roster spots. The last 3 games they will need to continue that trend, if they wish to make a run for the roster spot.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Bickell, Teravainen Sit. Matt Carey Slated In.

Well, as expected. I knew Teuvo Teravainen wouldn't play 10 games. Why pay him his full contract, when all he had to do was only play 9…not 10. In comes Matt Carey. Hawks signed him last week out of St. Lawrence University.

Hawks are trying like heck to rest their players.
Bickell: 5 games.
Saad: He just came back after missing nearly 2 weeks.
Kane: out for 3 weeks. Knee injury…how quaint and timely, don't you agree? This allowed the Hawks much leverage.
Hossa: He recently returned after 3 weeks.
Rozsival: he's been getting his rest.
Crawford: He won't play all the remaining games.

Hawks are trying to find this nice mix to get ready for the playoffs. They've conceded 1st, 2nd and 3rd seeds. It is almost certain that they will play Colorado in the first round. Now it comes to which team gets home ice.

Resting other important pieces:
Sharp, Toews, Seabrook and Keith…how will this happen?

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Teuvo...He's a HIT !


I don't think I've seen this much anticipation for a player in a long time. There was some anticipation to see Brandon Pirri, and Jeremy Morin. There was some anticipation to see Drew LeBlanc. The most anticipation I've seen in the past few years had to be the arrival of Antti Raanta. However, the anticipation of 19 year old, 2012 18th overall pick Teuvo (TAY-woe Taer-a-VI-nen) was NUTS!. The first thing we wanted to know when he arrived was, "How do we pronounce your name?"......He gladly told us. He also told us that NOBODY pronounces it correctly. Teevo, Tavo, Tuvo... well not any longer. He will be a household name in Chicago for a long time.

His first game against Dallas was wonderful, and he didn't register a single point. What he did show was his beautifully skilled hands, his ability to see the ice, and his faceoff prowess. He was 7/7 from the dot. Awesome.

Teuvo Teravainen entering the ice at the UC for his 1st official NHL game

The line he was put on: SAAD - TERAVAINEN -SMITH was a wonderful line.  (Guess this puts Morin back in the hot seat again. Just as I was enjoying the "Rockford Files" Line Saad/Smith/Morin: then Teuvo changes that theme.) 3 quick guys. Saad and Smith with a little grit to their game, and all they need is a magic man at center.

He does look like the second line center the Hawks have been dying to have for years and years. We shall see. In the meantime, the Hawks can use Handzus and/or Regin or even Shaw at center.

So, with Teravainen coming in, what could be the possible OFFENSIVE line matchups?

Scenario# 1;
Sometimes Q likes to pair Tazer and Kaner.

Versteeg/Bickell - Toews - Kane
Sharp - Shaw - Hossa
Saad - Teravainen -Smith
Bollig -  Kruger - Bickell/Versteeg

Scratches: Morin,  Handzus, Regin
This loads up 3 offensive lines but hampers the 4th line a bit.

Scenario #2: This is a strong playoff situation. It loads everyline and keeps the 4th line together which has been successful all year long.

Saad - Toews - Kane
Sharp - Teravainen - Hossa
Bickell - Shaw - Versteeg
Bollig - Kruger - Smith

Scratches: Morin, Handzus, Regin

Scenario #3: You may also see a rotation of Kane and Hossa.
Saad - Toews - Hossa
Sharp - Teravainen - Kane

Handzus is "stable" he may get playing time.I only see Bickell right now as the weak link.  Bickell MUST produce or we get a total mix up of lines once again.

Friday, March 21, 2014

MORNING SKATE @ Carolina 21-March-2014

* Morin looks like he's paired with Ben Smith…can't see who else (Bollig is my guess).

* Teravainen isn't on the ice at 10:30am…Don't think he's playing…Just as I suspected.

* Saad was on the ice before morning skate.

* I don't see Saad on for morning skate.

* Teravainen IS DRESSED  ( #86) at 10:42 and on the ice. Yay!!!

* Sharp and Hossa are paired in drills.

* Kruger and Bollig paired in drills

* Rundblad is on the ice (10:47).

* Practicing face off drills with Shaw and Toews (nice to see) (10:50)

* Smith and Regin practicing face offs as well.

* Bickell isn't on the ice. He is dinged up.

* Coach Q says Teravainen isn't playing tonight. He has every intention of playing Teuvo in the near future. Q says "Teravainen is a special player"…comparing him to Kane.

* Saad may be out, as well.

Scott Powers @espnchipowers
Bowman said the 10-game entry-level slide wouldn't be a factor in how much Teravainen plays this season..sure it won't….OF COURSE IT IS!!!!

Sco @thasoapbox
�� RT @MarkLazerus: Q tells @LukeStuckmeyer that Teravainen won’t play tonight. Neither will Saad, Bickell, Rozsival and Kane. #Blackhawks…well, there you go.  

Chris Kuc @chriskuc
Bryan Bickell and Michal Rozsival also not on the ice for #Blackhawks' morning skate. Jeremy Morin is skating.Bicksy may sit tonight. Q says he's banged up.

Hawks Recall Morin and Teravainen Stays with Hawks

It was pretty apparent to me what the Hawks were trying to accomplish. However, they needed that little LTIR miracle…and wouldn't you know it, a day after I posted that the Hawks would find that miracle….they certainly did. Besides fitting Teravainen under the cap, they brought up Jeremy Morin. Smart, smart, smart move. This little move may allow the Hawks to re-sign Morin without him having a bad taste in his mouth. ESPECIALLY if they can repeat as champions.

***Side NOTE: IF the Hawks don't play Teravainen tonight…it's strictly due to numbers. They are trying to fit everything under the cap. Remember, if he plays tonight, they OWE Teravainen $925,000. There are 12 games remaining. The rules stipulate that if he plays 10 or more games he MUST be paid in full. So, don't be surprised if he sits the next 3 games. I certainly would do that. I'd just say that he needs to get used to the system, and we're trying to fit him in,…blah blah blah blah…you know…all the politically correct answers. When in actuality, it's strictly about the numbers.

Hawks are playing the CAP like a chess master. Very interesting to watch this whole thing develop.

Craig Custance @craigcustance
Blackhawks announce that they've recalled the talented Teuvo Teravainen. He'll wear No. 86. Nice to have that option available w/Kane out.

Chicago Blackhawks @nhlblackhawks
The #Blackhawks have recalled Jeremy Morin and Teuvo Teravainen; Patrick Kane has been put on long-term injury.

Pierre LeBrun @real_espnlebrun
Blackhawks announce they've called up prized Finnish prospect Teuvo Teravainen (as well as Jeremy Morin).

Any questions?

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Teravainen Miracle: Kane Out 2+ Weeks (preliminary assessment)

In the last blog, I pointed out the Hawks needed to get someone out of the lineup in order for him to go under the cap.
1) Kane gets injured: out 2+ weeks:  This will put him on the IR,...therefore this NOW becomes an easy transition for Teuvo Teravainen to play for the Hawks. How easy was that? It's almost as if the Hawks are blessed.

Let's go over some of those lovely breaks.

1) Hawks sign Nikolai Khabibulin to a 1 year contract. He turns out to be a complete bust. He goes down, and the Hawks put in Raanta.

2) Nikolai Khabibulin would put the Hawks in a pinch if he comes back to the team. So, the Hawks find a necessary surgery that he passed on when he signed with the Hawks. This surgery would put Nikolai on permanent LTIR for the remainder of the year. DONE DEAL. Keep him off the roster.

3) Teuvo Teravainen is coming in from Finland and the Hawks have ZERO room for him. The Hawks would have had to make some tough decisions when he got to Chicago this weekend.

         i) He can't play 10 games without being charged a full year's salary. Kane makes $6.3m yearly. Is this
            enough for him to play the rest of the year? Maybe not. So, he has to wait a few more games. But,   he definitely can make the team now.

        ii) Interesting how the "preliminary report" is 2 weeks. That is about how much time they need. Maybe  they need 3 weeks. Watch out for Kane to be put on IR rather than DTD. It is the only way for                     Teravainen to make the roster.
****update: Kane is out for 3-5 weeks.

**** update:Vicctoria Matiash of ESPN reports (pretty much what I stated)…

...Then there's the pending arrival of the club's top prospect. For a couple of weeks now, the Blackhawks faithful have been abuzz about Teuvo Teravainen and how and where he would fit in once landed in North America (his SM-Liiga club, Jokerit, just recently bowed out of the playoffs). Maybe Kane's injury opens the door for NHL entry a little earlier than anticipated. If the Hawks place Kane on injured reserve, they'll clear enough cap space to accommodate Teravainen's $925,000 big-league salary….

There he goes to the big lights. Cant wait to see him play in the big league cya buddy! Break a leg!