Everything Else

Finishing off the other half of our preview of the Green Men from St. Paul, today we move to the forwards. There is a step up in class from Nashville for the Hawks in this one. While the Preds were certainly not bereft of talent and depth among their forwards, the Wild have a higher top end with theirs and probably more depth as well. Whereas the Preds didn’t really have a 4th line, the Wild most certainly do and it’s one that has driven the Hawks nuts for a few years now. While the Wild’s D cannot play at the same pace that the Preds’ defense could, their forwards probably aren’t going to find a pace they can’t handle.

The other change in gear for the Hawks is that the Wild are far better and deeper down the middle than the Predators were. That makes for a problem, but not one the Hawks can’t handle.

So let’s get to it.

Everything Else

Just as we did last night, we’ll give you a few names that should, or could, be around when the Hawks pick at #27. Though today Stan Bowman said he’s not averse to losing that pick for something else, so this all might be moot anyway.

Not that the Hawks tend to draft for need, they generally take the best player available, but the system is short on centers. Right now it’s only Teuvo and Danault, so I’m assuming all things being equal they’ll take a center. That said, they’ll probably just take the best player that’s on the board when it gets to them.

Let’s get to it, then:

Everything Else

Sorry kids. Indian duty precluded me from getting this yesterday. But let’s get to it now, Lord knows we’ve got plenty of time before the game tonight thanks to NBC. I always think it’s a great idea to start a game at 8:30 local time on a Friday night. Doubt the UC will be lacking for atmosphere tonight.

Right, the forwards:

Zach Parise-Mikael Granlund-Jason Pominville

This was the formation for most of the Colorado series, even though Mikko Koivu had centered for Parise for most of the season. Granlund is the better playmaker for these two snipers though, and he scorched the Hawks this season with four assists in just three games (he was hurt the other two). Of course, he was able to do that as Q kept tossing Michal Handzus against him, which won’t happen this series (I pray). Granlund was able to feast off Hawks turnovers and cash in on the break, but hopefully the Hawks have tightened that up for good now. He’s a shifty little fucker, with some balls so he’s not going to shy from anything.

Parise is obviously the big gun and brought his A-game at the end of Round 1, almost willing a Game 6 win by himself at home. What scares you about Parise is that his best work comes right around the net, and this type of player has given the Hawks fits before (Daniel Briere scoring 18 goals in the ’10 Final comes to mind). The Hawks don’t really have any crease clearers in their top four, as much as Hammer and Seabrook should be. Parise is too strong and his hands too quick to be completely neutralized by any road grater anyway. He only made an impact in Game 3 of last year’s series, but I’d look for him to do more this year.

Pominville really cooled off in the second half of the season, and only managed an empty-netter in Round 1. But he’s still very effective at ghosting into space to find time for his quick release, and runs a point on the power play where he’s pretty good at getting a shot through. He had his fun against the Hawks early in the year.

Everything Else

We move on from what is probably the Blues biggest strength (the blue line) to a severely banged up forward corps. And what it was at full-strength was kind of a debate among everyone to begin with. While most of the mass media in hockey slobbers over Alex Steen, David Backes, and T.J. Oshie, we have screamed at the top of our lungs about their faults and weaknesses. Through injury or whatever else, those have started to show. And while everyone loves to talk about GRITSANDPAPERHEARTFAAARRRRT on the bottom six, even if it’s healthy it looks pretty bereft of anything useful. Which really came to the fore in the season’s last month when the top six stopped scoring and absolutely no one was there to pick up the slack. So let’s dig in, shall we?