It was an exciting weekend for fans throughout the NHL, but Chicago die-hards are feeling mixed emotions. Not only have we dropped 6 out of 7 games in December, our record doesn't appear to be improving. That is of course unless immediate changes are put into place by Head Coach Denis Savard.
Of course, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have stolen the spotlight in their first years of the big league, but beyond those two sensational young stars, the Hawks are struggling to find consistency.
-Patrick Sharp has taken the organization by storm, proving to be a very effective player all over the ice.
-Robert Lang, Chicago's #1 Center has solid numbers so far, but he definitely has had his up and down games.
-Martin Havlat, a gifted winger has 8 points in 9 games, but being paired up with Dustin Byfuglien has quieted his game.
*The biggest problem with Chicago's offense, is the overall strategy. Too many shots from the perimeter, without players in the slot to clean up the scoring chances. The Blackhawks are predictable and commonly underachieving.
-Brent Sopel is considered the Hawks' #1 Defenseman. He seems to be a quiet, behind the scenes type of player more than anything. He is responsible and usually defends with great positioning.
-Duncan Keith has really stepped up his game. He had a rough start to the season, but I think he's been Chicago's best defenseman as of late. His numbers don't lie, he's playing with confidence and smart decisions.
-James Wizniewski has played great, while healthy. He has missed some games, but he's a tough player who excels in physical games.
-Brent Seabrook has been my biggest disappointment. Even though I personally would like to see him remain a Blackhawk, I would think this just might change if he keeps missing the opportunity to clear the zone. Seabrook's +/- rating is in the likes of Zyuzin, Burish, Samonov and Perreault.
*Chicago is not aggressive enough at the blue line. If you let the opponent in your zone without putting up a fight, you've lost half the battle. Stronger presence and better slot protection needs to be a priority. Chicago's offense if forced to shoot from the outside, why are Chicago's defense taking an opposite approach?
-Nikolai Khabibulin is the #1 man without a doubt, but his consistency is just as bad as Chicago's lines staying together. (They change from game to game FYI) He simply cannot take Chicago to the playoffs, like he did with Tampa Bay when they brought home Lord Stanley. A supporter of Nikolai, I understand it's easy to blame a goaltender. But, his play has been sub-par regardless of the team in front of him.
-Patrick Lalime has also struggled with consistency. Tonight against Florida, he appeared very shaky and uncertain. Both Lalime and Khabibulin have similar stats, but the difference between their salary is $5.8 million.
*Unstable and not able to carry this team to the post season. Both tenders are inconsistent. Rebounds are issues for both Nikolai and Patrick. Mix that with terrible slot protection, and you have a recipe for destruction and an early off-season.