So now the Chicago Blackhawks trail in their best of 7 opening round playoff series to the Vancouver Canucks 2-0. So the question is – are they down and out? Or can they summon the heart of a champion, win both of the next 2 games on home ice and even up the series?
I submit to you they are down and out and will lose this series in 4 or 5 games.
Simple. Salary Cap. The Hawks lost too many important role players due to salary cap problems last offseason, mostly due to a couple bad contracts (ahem, Brian Campbell and Cristobal Huet) and poor management desicions by the prior GM before Scotty Bowman’s soon took over the team and built the champions of 2010.
So the question I submit to you is, which player that the Hawks lost has had the most impact on the team this season?
Antti Niemi? He sure has done well with the Sharks and seems poised for another deep play run, but one could argue that rookie of the year candidate Corey Crawford has filled that void quite well.
Kris Versteeg? He did supply speed, skill, locker room personality and a secondary scoring threat. Has any othe the young forwards called up from Rockford (Pisani, Dowell or Stalberg) stepped up enough to carry this load? Not really.
Brent Sopel? A steady defensive shot blocking penalty killing machine. Young Nick Leddy is good, but not that style. Same goes for Campoli. Jordan Hendry is closest thing going but hasn’t broken out yet into a prominent defensive role.
John Madden? Quiet, but leader on the bench, defensive shut down specialist, great on faceoffs and the penalty kill, and he can pop you a clutch goal now and again. Kopecky kinda grabbed this spot but not really, and Frolik certainly hasn’t fit in quite well with t he team just yet. I think he will in time, but not right now.
Dustin Byfuglien? Ok here is one sorely missed. Big body, can cause havoc in front of the net, can give you some shifts on defense (Atlanta just made him a full time defesneman!) and will score both gritty and pretty goals when you need them. I don’t see anyone on the Hawks that has stepped into any of these roles.
So who is your vote for the player most missed by The Blackhawks?