Two preseason games left, and two at the disposal of our throbbing brains Friday and Sunday. Did we learn anything? Do we ever? Let’s try anyway….
-Let’s get to the biggest debate or competition coming into camp first. And we really haven’t cleared anything up at all. Thanks to Brandon Pirri’s injury (though he’ll play tonight and I bet he sticks around long enough to get a look in the last preseason game, too), Drew LeBlaahhhhhh had a chance to seize the #2 center derby by the throat. I can’t really say he did. He hasn’t been good on draws, and other than his assist to Sharp against Pittsburgh, I haven’t really seen him do much in the two away games. He’s tidy if nothing else, but it’s been far from inspirational.
And it might be that the Saad Experiment is over, because yesterday he was playing on a wing with Toews. If they really wanted to push it they would give him all the game time at center they could. Maybe jumping to conclusions, but that’s just the way it looks. Which is fine, because Saad didn’t show much other than confusion at the pivot anyway, and I want my Rick Tocchet back.
All of which leads me to believe that either Handzus or Kruger is going to be centering Sharp and Hossa (if he can stand up) on Oct. 1. The only way that doesn’t happen is if Pirri blows them away in the next week. But I would bet some combo of Smith, Handzus, Kruger, and Shaw fill out the three spots behind the captain. I’m rooting for Pirri, though. Just cuz.
-While I only saw limited Hogs games last year, both live and online, I always seemed to notice Klas Dahlbeck. He doesn’t do anything spectacular, but he seems to do everything correctly (which is what people would like to believe Ryan Stanton does, but doesn’t). His positioning is sound and he always makes the right outlet pass to get the Hawks out. He won’t amount to more than a #5 or #6 down the road. But if injuries strike and the Hawks need a Hog to get them out of a three to five game stretch, I wouldn’t get too queasy if Dahlbeck got the call.
-Jimmy Hayes’s skating is better than I thought, and better than it’s been in previous years. And yet Morin’s snipe in Washington is kind of why I still lean to him. There’s just a predator’s sense there that I don’t get with the blunt instrument of Hayes. But at this point, they could go either way and I wouldn’t mind. And they’ll probably go both ways (lucky them), as I get an inkling that Morin and Hayes will trade off Chicago and Rockford roster spots for the first month or two until one of them seizes it for good.
-I want Dylan Olsen to be the Regehr-like atom-smasher he’s projected to be. I just worry by the time he gets there, the atom will have moved. He doesn’t have to be fast, but he’s probably got to be faster than this.
-Pretty sure Ben Smith has wrapped up the other forward spot on the first kill unit with Kruger. Hopefully he’ll take the draws, too.
-Only one preseason game, but Antti Raanta does look pretty smooth and athletic. Obviously some rough corners that will need sanding down, but it’s obvious there’s a lot to work with here. Wouldn’t be shocked if he lights up the AHL.
-I’m kind of tired of the “Bollig can actually do hockey things!” angle that people are pushing. Because it doesn’t matter. If he’s suddenly going to be in the lineup because he can actually somewhat play the sport, there’d still be another option that could do all those things far better. And if he’s in the lineup for neanderthal reasons, that’s just a waste.
-Ok….that’s enough with this Brad Winchester thing.
-The Adam Clendening to replace Johnny Oduya train next season seems to be right on course.
-Kyle Beach. Still a dope.