Rozner: Blackhawks beat now, but still team to beat
After a long and winding road trip and a disappointing shootout loss to begin an extended homestand Monday night, some random Blackhawks thoughts:
• The Hawks had every reason in the world to be tired Monday, but they simply have to play smarter and start faster against non-playoff teams. Giving away a point was a poor beginning to the longest homestand of the season.
Granted, Arizona has been better of late, but the Hawks could have buried the Coyotes early and coasted. Instead, they just coasted.
• The lack of good chances on the power play was again baffling. The home team had 2 shots on net in eight man-advantage minutes.
"I didn't like it," said coach Joel Quenneville. "You could talk about all of them. They started off poorly and ended poorly. You could talk about every aspect of it. We didn't have any possession time really. Didn't have any net presence. Didn't have threats."
But they could have. This is hardly anything new, but the Hawks passed up several open looks from the circles in and instead went looking for the perfect play that never materialized.
For the game, that number was probably closer to a dozen. Players are told every day to take the shot. They don't. Nothing new about it, but it is very frustrating.
• Did Andrew Shaw's shot go in with 16 seconds left in overtime? Sure looked like it, but it never should have come to that. An overtime power play should have been all the Hawks needed.
And, by the way, even on that wild sequence at the end, Brandon Saad -- who had a strong game -- did not fire while open in the slot and telegraphed a pass to Shaw that goaltender Mike Smith played all the way.
• With Kris Versteeg expected to return, Teuvo Teravainen will probably head back to Rockford rather than play sparingly on the fourth line. Teravainen has mostly played out of position since he got here and is still adjusting to the pace and space of the NHL game.
The 20-year-old is used to having the puck, and he hasn't really had a chance to show what he can do.
• Joel Quenneville will undoubtedly go down as one of the best coaches in NHL history and has a spot waiting for him in the Hall of Fame when he's done.
But he does have a blind spot when it comes to playing veterans over kids. He has his favorites and generally they're not young players. With cap difficulties approaching again this summer, at some point Quenneville will have to embrace some younger players.
It's also not smart to force a coach to play guys he doesn't want to play or doesn't believe in, which is why so many kids have been dealt the last couple of years.
• It's only a matter of time before Quenneville puts Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook back together, but he has no confidence right now in Johnny Oduya, so his reunion with Niklas Hjalmarsson is delayed.
In the meantime, David Rundblad is a work in progress and Michal Rozsival is playing far too often and too many minutes for a man of his advanced experience, especially if you want him sharp for the postseason.
Trevor van Riemsdyk is still quite a ways away, and the Hawks are lacking depth on the back end, where Nick Leddy would look awfully good right now.
• The Hawks need to make a move or two, but with no cap space they'd have to give up a player off their roster to make it happen. Arizona has three or four players who would look really nice in the Hawks' lineup, but the Coyotes don't want to take on much salary.
• While St. Louis is up against the cap, Nashville has $11 million of room to make moves and Anaheim has $5 million to spend. Considering that the season is two-thirds over and any salary acquired would only be for the final part of the season, that's a lot of available cash to pick up players for the stretch run.
• The Stanley Cup still has to go through Chicago, and you'll not find anyone in the West who disagrees, but your stars have to be your stars and your stars are exhausted right now.
Is there a simple solution? Not unless you're willing to concede the top two spots in the division and give guys some rest down the stretch.
And that seems rather unlikely.
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