Atop the Sugar Pile – Post-Holiday Hangover

It’s time again for the good, the bad and the decent in the world of the Blackhawks…

The Dizzying Highs

Dominik Kubalik. With two goals in Saturday night’s win over the Ducks, Kubalik tied Victor Olofsson for the league lead in goals for a rookie. He’s had five goals in his last four games, and in the game before the goal streak began, he had a playmaker with three assists. Kubalik is doing good things away from the puck, too. Tying up the d-men at center ice helped set the stage for Toews’s goal on Saturday, and his possession at evens is at 50.2 CF%, and that’s with less than half of his starts coming in the offensive zone (47.1 oZS%). On a good team, Dominik Kubalik would be a role player on a hot streak. On THIS team, however, he’s an elite player who has firmly earned his place on the top line. But it’s a hot streak nonetheless and the Hawks need all the help they can get.

The Terrifying Lows

Jeremy Colliton. It seems too easy, right? Maybe it is. It’s easy to knock the coach of any team anytime things go sideways, and it’s really easy to knock a neophyte with a turd of a roster that needs to be polished. However, at this point there are serious issues with Jeremy Colliton’s decision-making that any Hawks fan or observer should raise. I’ve railed about them in game wraps recently, so let’s summarize: first, lineup choices. Colliton’s loathing of Dylan Sikura makes no sense. The guy finally popped his scoring cherry and is still in the press box. Ostensibly, this was the complaint about Sikura, although that view just shows you how little the Hawks’ brass values speed in a player. So fine–you hate him. You clearly need to trade him because what good is he if he doesn’t play nor do you get a player you don’t hate to replace him? But by marooning Sikura in the press box, Colliton isn’t even increasing his trade value by showcasing whatever skills he has to less stupid coaches and GMs. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face.

Second, line composition. Again, I’ve bitched about this plenty but the fact remains that Patrick Kane isn’t a third liner and shouldn’t be stuck with Flotsam and Jetsam. Even he can’t make Alex Nylander look good. David Kampf is not a winger and isn’t helping Kirby Dach or Alex DeBrincat, nor is he providing the help at center that the team actually needs. And John Quenneville isn’t an NHL player, much less a top liner. The sensible choice is pretty damn clear (8-19-88; 12-77-95; Kampf centering two oafs; Carpenter centering the remaining two oafs), yet Colliton’s willful ignorance of this–or anything at least close to this–has long passed any excuse of greenness or knowing something that others don’t. It’s just bad coaching. Oh, and he can’t count how many guys are on the ice at a given time either.

The Creamy Middles

Jonathan Toews. If Kubalik wasn’t going off right now, Toews could be considered the team’s best player over these last couple games. He’s had four points in his last two, and he did some standout work defensively on the PK against the Flames earlier in the week. Since the start of the new year, he’s got a 58.2 CF%, which leads all forwards with the exception of Caggiula and Nylander (??), but those two have had exponentially less ice time than Toews. Captain Marvelous has had over 67 minutes on the ice, while Caggiula played 20 minutes in one game and Nylander’s had barely 30 minutes in that time, so they can fuck off.  It’s still a truism that Toews can’t always deliver both offensively and defensively, but recently he’s been managing it, so let’s enjoy it.

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