Sunday afternoon, the Blackhawks absolutely obliterated the Detroit Red Wings at the Joe Louis Arena by a final of 7-1. The Hawks are now 9-0-1 in their last 10 games in Detroit. After a tough 3-game homestand that saw the Blackhawks take just 2 of a possible 6 points, one could say that the Hawks were due for a game like this. They needed a non-stressful game too.
Rookie call-up Jeremy Morin started the scoring early in the first period by notching his third career NHL goal. Shortly after, Brandon Saad and Dave Bolland both scored to make it 3-0.
In the second period, Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad scored just seconds apart to improve their lead to 5-0 over Detroit. It was Saad’s second goal of the game, and third point of the day.
The third period saw two more Blackhawk goals; one by Bolland (his second of the game), and another by Nick Leddy. The Red Wings Cory Emmerton also scored with under a minute left in the game to break up Corey Crawford’s shutout. Crawford ended the day making 33 saves on 34 shots.
This was a good win for a still shorthanded Blackhawks team. Both Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp were once again absent from the lineup. Like I said before, the Blackhawks needed a game like this after not playing well at all in either of their last 3 games, all at home. Yes, they beat Calgary 2-0 on Tuesday, but that was not a great game for the Hawks.
This week, they will play the Predators 3 times (twice at home, once on the road), as well as one game with the Blues at the United Center. Playing a team 3 times in such a short period always makes for some intense and physical games. Nashville has not been playing great as of late, but Pekka Rinne always has the ability to win a game on his own.
With the trade deadline now just a few days away, more and more rumors are beginning to surface regarding the Blackhawks. It was reported in the Daily Herald on Sunday that the Hawks are talking with the New York Islanders about Frans Nielsen and possibly Mark Streit. Nielsen is a 28 year old center currently under contract through the 2015-2016 season. He has a cap hit of $2.5 million this year and next year, and then that increases to $3.5 million for the last 2 seasons of his contract. Mark Streit is a 35 year old defenseman in the last year of his contract.
Obviously the Hawks are looking at Nielsen because he is a center. In 35 games this year, he has registered 18 points (3G, 15A). While those numbers aren’t necessarily bad nor good, they are not the biggest thing that jumps out at me when analyzing this potential acquisition. He is 45.2% at the faceoff circle, and that is what catches my eye. The Blackhawks desperately need a number 2 center who can consistently win faceoffs (Dave Bolland is not the guy). A guy who wins 45% of his draws is not really a “good” faceoff man, which is why I am a bit confused as to why the Hawks are targeting Nielsen.
As for Mark Streit, I don’t really understand this one either. Streit is listed as being 5’11” and weighs 191 lbs. Bottom line, he is not a big dude. While he does have a history of producing a good amount of points (47 last year), I don’t think those attributes will help the Blackhawks. The Hawks need a big, physical, defensive defensman. Not a small offensive defenseman. It is odd that this is even up for discussion considering how well the Hawks’ D-men were playing just a month ago, but things have changed lately.
Johnny Oduya was a -8 over his last 4 games heading into today, and according to Tim Sassone of the Daily Herald, the Blackhawks front office does not feel confident with Oduya as the number 4 defenseman heading into the playoffs. Hence the reason they might be looking at Mark Streit.
If I were Stan Bowman, I would not make either of those deals with the Islanders. Instead, I would focus on guys like Brian Boyle of the Rangers (center), Derek Roy of the Stars (center), and maybe a guy like Lars Eller of the Canadiens (center). I have seen those names linked to the Hawks in more than one place on the internet, as well as on TV.
Brian Boyle would be a nice fit with the Hawks I think. He is 6’7″, 244 lbs, and has a faceoff percentage of 57.8% this year as the Rangers number 3 centerman. His numbers (1G, 1A) are not great, but no one on the Rangers is playing that well this year. A change in scenery and line mates may be what Boyle needs. The Hawks could really use is faceoff skills as well as his size in what is one of the lightest lineups in the league, weight-wise.
Derek Roy is more of a skilled center than Boyle. While Roy has won just 46.8% of his faceoffs, he provides more of a true number 2 center’s skill-set. This year, he has 22 points in 29 games (4G, 18A). However, in the 2007-2008 season, Roy recorded 81 points (32G, 49A), and in the ’08-’09 season he recorded 70 points (28G, 42A). I’m not saying that he would return to putting up those numbers with the Hawks, but playing on a line with Kane and Sharp wouldn’t hurt…
Lars Eller is another center that the Hawks could ask about. He is 6’2″ and weighs 209 lbs. This season he has 17 points (4G, 13A) in 32 games and has won 49% of his faceoffs. Ideally, you’d want a guy who wins over 50%, but 49% isn’t bad (nor great). I feel like Eller is more of a true number 3 center (like Bolland), but he could be useful in the Hawks lineup. Again, they need anyone who can consistently win faceoffs.
As for the Blackhawks’ potential need on defense, I am really not sure what they might do there. They are already carrying 7 defenseman on their current roster, and they have played pretty well as a unit most of the season. Oduya has shown some signs that he can be a very good defenseman in this league, but he has also shown the opposite as of late and in last year’s playoffs. I can understand the management’s concerns about him moving forward, but I don’t know what they think they can do to upgrade. I guess we’ll have to wait and see on that one.
Keep checking back throughout the week for updates on possible trades that may take place.
Thanks for reading.