An interesting piece from Rich Lindbloom about the Hawks chemisty:
For the past two and a half seasons, without overstating the obvious, the Hawks have developed a team chemistry that would rival Watson and Crick’s discovery of the double helix. Emerging from the primordial soup of mediocre hockey, the Hawks have mutated into one of the best teams I’ve ever followed in Chi-town. In Darwin’s theory of evolution he notes that 99% of mutations are considered deleterious. It seems with every mutation, heretofore known as adding one knucklehead and subtracting another, the Hawks have increased their chances of survival. Coach Q’s latest line formulations should win him the Noble Prize in Chemistry.
Start with Kane, Toews (the Hawks new muscle?) and Brou-dog, or as I like to refer to him, “Digging Dog.” I recall the first time I saw Toews and Kane play, against the Avalanche in early 2007, noting immediately that we had something special under the Bunsen burner. There’s some sort of weird cosmic thing going on with those two. Think ying and yang, Batman and Robin or Laurel and Hardy. As different as a proton and an electron in individual qualities, their synergistic effect is a sight to behold. Adding Brouwer to the line, (the catalyst?), is proving to be an alchemists dream. Both Toews and Brouwer tend to open up the ice for our “Little Big Man.”
On the post game show, Kaner was asked if he mentioned anything to Brouwer about missing the wide open net. Kane replied that he asked Troy, “Hey Brouw, what happened on that shot?” Troy told Kane that he didn’t see the puck. Kaner said, “Man, just keep your stick on the ice and I’ll deflect it off your stick next time!” Brouwer threatened to stop screening for Kane if he continued to pursue this line of questioning. Apparently Toews was oblivious to this chemistry building banter, as he scoured the ice for his next dance partner. You could almost see him thinking, “I’ll bet I could I could open a can of whoop-ass on Havlat.” Let the rest of the league take note, Chief War Paint is on the prowl.
Our current second line of Sharp, Hossa and Ladd is firing on all eight. Let me ask you something; was the two month delay for Marion to join the team worth the wait? I was told after we acquired the oft traded journeyman, (yuk, yuk), that he was a top ten player. Now I’m beginning to see why. Hossa has that rare ability, much like Kane and Datsyuk, to appear to play keep away with the puck. Ladd might be the hardest working corner guy on the team. Rumor has it, when he doesn’t dump the puck into the corners on shootout attempts, he’s a threat offensively. He was not only the friendliest Hawk at the Holiday Party at Navy Pier, he appears to be the brightest.
Sharpie, whose name unfortunately continues to surface in the process of jettisoning salaries, has been one of the basic elements in rejuvenating Blackhawk hockey. He went into a minor slump a few weeks back which prompted RoseLee to observe, “I think he might be trying to tone down his game so he doesn’t look to attractive to other teams.” Fat chance if he stays on this line – I feel comfortable going out on a limb to say Patrick could end up around 35 goals this year. (Not counting the times he physically plows into the net himself. Did anyone else notice Brouwer trying this approach on Harding last Tuesday at the end of the game?) Who can deny our second (?) line is strong, talented and dangerous.
It doesn’t get much easier for our opponents when Buff, Steeger and Madden jump over the boards. Versteeg resembles a free radical, possessing an indomitable spirit as he buzzes around the ice in search of the puck or whatever. He just seems happy to be out there skating his butt off. Despite being told over and ever and over again that you can’t stick handle past 5 opponents, it will never stop Kris from trying. The Buffster has appeared to be an Apollo Ohno at times this year. He seems to have a 5th or 6th gear, a quantum leap if you will, that has caught more than one opponent off guard. The way he’s been crushing opponents lately, it would appear he is a huge proponent of “The Big Bang Theory.” I can’t help but think a lot of teams would like the 6’4”, 260 pound thumper.
The picture Sam Fels posted on the website of Madden celebrating the goal against the Nashville Pests, was a classic. He looked like a 10 year old kid, not the imperturbable 36 year old defensive specialist added to shadow the opponent’s top centers. Toews should study that picture to learn how to celebrate goals. Sometimes when Jonathan scores his celebration seems to say, “So what, that’s what I’m paid to do. Now who can I go postal on next.” I read on one of the blogs that Madden and Toews will not let this team lose. Someone pointed out Toews would skate 60 minutes/game if necessary. Madden, may not have a C on his sweater but it’s embedded on his heart.
Fourth lines tend to take on a life of their own. Our opponents would be wise not to underestimate the Hawks fourth line. I’m not sure if its gay, but this line does have pride. Colin Fraser is the epitome of a stick your nose in it hockey player. Ben Eager, currently number two behind Toews in the tough guy category, has considerable offensive abilities. His play may be a bit hindered this year without his body guard, Burr-dog, covering his back. Big Ben reminds me of the kid at school that used to try extorting my lunch money. Kopecky has struggled a bit to fit in, but generally speaking is better liked than Huet. The last few games, there does seem to be a good chemistry emerging with this trio. Lets call it Chemistry 101. They’ve been getting a lot more time in the third period lately with the lopsided nature of the last few games. Not a bad idea to rest our million dollar babies.
Of course, as the sagacious Sam Fels noted, Coach Q changes his lines more than David Byrne of the Talking Heads changes hairstyles. Hopefully, he’ll let these lines stay together for awhile. Chemistry is everything when it comes to team play. It’s one of the reasons I think the unsubstantiated rumors floating around about Kovalchuk would prove to be a disaster. Trading players like Barker and Versteeg to add a player who would be with us for 2 – 3 months? As Al McGuire pointed out so many moons ago, “You dance with the girl you brought to the prom.”
While on the subject of dancing, I now know why Captain Marvel is reluctant to drop the gloves. Jonathan made former Hawk enforcer Keith Magnuson look like the heavy weight champion of the world. Help me out here, but did Toews’s tussle with Backes more resemble a bad version of The Electric Slide? I think Jonny needs to spend some quality time with Burrish and Eager. Maybe spend a little time with Kaner in the back of a cab.
Before the season is over, I may have to resort to violence when defending our embattled net minder, Cristobal Huet. I’ve come to the conclusion that his detractors would rather see him fail, than the Hawks win. I was watching the Wild game with about 8 other people at a friend’s house on Tuesday. Towards the end of the game Huet made a great point blank save, and then another one on the rebound. I won’t mention any names, but Donny almost stood up to cheer when the rebound appeared to be heading for the twine. When Huet made the save, he actually went, “Darn.”
The Hawks currently have the best record in the NHL. Who knows, perhaps we might be undefeated if only we could pick up a real goalie. Please!! Actually my son Greg made a poignant observation concerning Huets bad luck at times this year – change back to # 38. Think about it Cristobal.
Finally, while on the subject of Crystal Balls, if one more analyst says, the Hawk/Devil, Hawk/Sabres, Hawk/Penguins or Hawk/Bruins could be a preview of the Stanley Cup final I’m going to pull my hair out. Anybody really relishing playing a healthy Red Wing team that squeaks into the playoffs in the first round? It takes 20 committed players, fortuitous bounces, lady luck, hot goal tending and above all – a great team chemistry. As Huet critics might point out, 4 out of 5 ain’t bad.
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