by Vince Maranto on 01/31/12 at 08:30 PM ET
Both Toews & Sharp will return to the line up tonight as the Hawks kick off their long road trip in Vancouver. The Hawks will play 9 straight road games, and will not return back to the United Center until February 19. With the two Hawks stars returning to the line up, and the addition of center Brendan Morrison, roster moves must be made. (Morrison was acquired from Calgary in a trade which sent AHL All Star defense man Brain Connolly to the Flames organization.) From what they have updated so far on their website, it looks like Jimmy Hayes & Ben Smith will remain in Rockford - a move made during the NHL All Star break. Either player would be more welcome than Bickell, but I guess we’re stuck with him for now. Andrew Shaw will remain in Chicago. It will be interesting to see how Coach Q lines them up. Crawford is slated to go up against Cory Schneider. Personally, I’d RATHER see Luongo. The Hawks seem to be able to break him down easier than Schneider, especially in the mental game.
These next 3 weeks, should we remain healthy, should say a lot about where this team is headed. I still think we need on more D-man, with an offensive mind set. Loosing both Brain Campbell, and his mini clone, Chris Campoli, has made a difference. Keith and Seabrook continue to log many game minutes. Hjalmarsson is solid, but Nick Leddy has become far too inconsistent. Montador & O’Donnell are OK, for a 3rd pairing.
Hopefully, Kane will still have his Superman Cape on for the second half of the season. He needs to definitely pick it up in scoring. Frolik and Kruger need to make their presence known also. I expect to see continuing solid play from Toews, Sharp, Hossa, and Bolland, Viktor Stalberg, although showing some great flashes, has yet to prove consistency game in and game out.
Crawford, I feel, will have a shorter leash going in to the second half. As we know from the past, Huet - Niemi, Turco - Crawford, Coach Q will play the man with the best chance to win. Period. Ray Emery has proven to be a solid back up, but one of these two guys needs to get HOT.
As we later, go into the home stretch, 3 point games & ROW is going to decide who falls where in this tight Central Division. It’s going to be great to watch, that’s for sure.
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