A quick thought parade of the Hawks’ preseason opener
-Most of these guys aren’t going to be anywhere near an NHL arena near you this year, and if they are ask for you money back. However, Nick Schmaltz being head and shoulders above really anyone on either team is something you’re more than allowed to be encouraged by. Schmaltz’s hands and vision made flashes last year, and if he carried the confidence he looks to have now into the season there’s really no reason to think he can’t be a genuine #2 center in the NHL. Of course, I’m sure Q will coach the actual movement he showed on the 5-on-3 to set up the goal right out of him, because the Hawks just don’t do that don’t you know?
-Franson looked a little lumbering, but he’s always looked a little lumbering and that can be canceled out with a partner who can move. He’s also got a right-handed shot for the power play, in case something happens with Seabrook and Sharp.
-Vinnie Hinostroza also stood out, and given the way the game is played now he should really get a big look on the fourth line. While the Hawks love their size and grit and heart and FAAAAART, these days they should be packing as much speed as they can everywhere they can. And Hinostroza has noticeable speed. I’m willing to give Bouma a chance (not really but he’s going to get one anyway so I might as well accept it) but Tommy Wingels can’t do anything except sound like a skin condition.
-The other big positive was Anton Forsberg with 38 saves. This wasn’t the full Jackets firing squad, and even that one isn’t one of the better ones he’d see in the NHL. But it’s a good start, and we know the Hawks need a quality backup to keep Crawford from having to play 65+ games or the season collapsing should Rise Against play a show during the season again.
-Jan Rutta looked find. Hardly automatic.
-They’re giving John Hayden the big sell right now, which I guess is fine because he has something the Hawks don’t have a lot of which is size. Again, I’d prefer the Hawks pack the lineup with speed, but if Hayden played ahead of Wingels I wouldn’t complain.
-Good thing Mark Stuart sucked. You don’t want him anywhere near this team when things count.
-The other story is of course the officiating on two fronts. One is the crackdown on faceoff violations. I’m not sure why this was a thing and I don’t know who was complaining about it or what point it serves exactly. But it also doesn’t seem like the hugest adjustment for players to know they have to come to a full-stop before the draw and have to be behind the lines and not moving until the puck is dropped. It’s going to lead to a lot of needless penalties and annoying delays at first, but again this really shouldn’t be that hard of an adjustment for everyone to make.
The other one is crack down on slashing and more interference type calls. I’m fine with this if it continues into and through the season. You can suggest all kinds of rules changes and goalie equipment changes but the only thing that’s going to open up the ice again is somehow eliminating this kind of stuff, no matter how rough the ride there ends up being. But I have a feeling this all ends Oct. 4th anyway.