In the spirit of Christmas, today I will present my list of what Blackhawks fan’s should be hoping Santa delivers to Chicago as we approach the half-way point of the season!
- Health- Both Kruger and Carcillo have been injured in the past few games with apparent head injuries and the top priority for the Hawks are to get these two healthy and back in the lineup. Kruger has been an important part to the Hawk’s 2nd line which has been arguably the best line for Coach Q the past couple weeks. A full healthy line of Kruger centering Hossa and Sharp make the Blackhawks one of the toughest teams to beat in the NHL. While the Hawks have been relatively lucky when it comes to the injury bug this year, we will need that to continue if we want to maintain our status as the leader of the NHL at the 35 game mark.
- 2nd Line Center- While Markus Kruger has been a solid addition to the 2nd line, it’s been clear that a pure scoring 2nd line center would be ideal between Hossa and Sharp. While Kruger has proven serviceable, he has yet to find the scoring touch in the NHL. While being on a line with proficient goal scorers like Hossa and Sharp may dull down the effect of having a less adequate center, acquiring a center that can improve the Hawk’s goalscoring opportunities makes them that much tougher to beat.
—-The Dilemma: If the Hawks were to acquire a true 2nd line center, where does Kruger fit? Bolland has obviously solidified the 3rd line center job, and Jamal Mayers has been a complete different player (in a good way) since taking the 4th line center job. Do the Hawks scratch Kruger? Do they move him to a wing to keep him in the lineup? Perhaps the most likely scenario is of course that he is included in the trade for the new center. To get a top notch player like the Hawks would be searching for, they would obviously have to give up a substantial package to their trading partner in order for the deal to work. Do the Hawks want to give up on Kruger already for a possible rental player?
- A Good Shut Down Defenseman or Powerplay QB- As we have watched the Hawks this year it is clear that one of their biggest weaknesses is their defense. While the new addition of Montador has been solid, this team really needs another reliable Defenseman who can log alot of minutes. Keith and Seabrook are definitely the big ice time defenseman again this year, and an addition of another defenseman who isn’t a constant liability on the back end will do wonders for their Health/Fatigue when it comes Playoff time. Another aspect the Hawks are looking for is a good Powerplay Quarterback type player that they are missing after dealing Brian Campbell in the offseason. While the move was necessary for salary cap reasons, it did leave the Hawks with a hole on their PP. Nick Leddy has recently been showing flashes of Brian Cambell-esque puck carrying abilities, but will he develop into an adequate PP QB? Do the Hawks take that chance to wait for Leddy to develop more, or do they acquire a rental player (at the expense of more prospects or draft picks) and make sure they are ready for a Stanley Cup run?
- Continued Great Goalie Play- If you have been watching the Blackhawks lately, the one thing you have probably noticed is that they are getting great Goaltending. Ray Emery stretch of going 5-1 in a 6 game span really fueled the Hawks recent hot streak. While people were a little nervous about another Goalie controversy in Chicago as Emery racked up points, Corey Crawford was putting in extra work at practice awaiting his chance to regain the coach’s confidence. That chance came on Wednesday in Chicago as Crawford played brilliantly in the Hawk’s 5-1 win over Montreal. For the Hawks to go far this year, Goaltending will be a huge factor and right now they have two great goalies playing top notch hockey…let’s hope it continues.
THANKS FOR READING AND HAVE A HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
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