John Jaeckel: Who Are These Guys? (And Rumors)

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The Blackhawks exploded for 4 third period goals last night against the Stars at the UC. This, after folding meekly in the second period Friday against the Red Wings.

If there’s been a theme to the 2014-15 season thus far for the Hawks, it’s just that. Ups and downs, and as such, extreme peaks and valleys that seem unusual for an experienced, Cup-contending club.

As for last night’s game, my first star was Hawk goalie Corey Crawford, who kept the Hawks alive with a couple of gigantic late second period saves, when the game was tied at 2. This enabled the Hawk outburst that followed.

I’d love to give huge kudos to Patrick Kane, who had a goal and two assists and was +3. But of course, he was a team worst -3 Friday night. Kane, like many others and the team as a whole, has been wildly inconsistent this year.

Crawford also has been inconsistent. His play has arguably been worse overall than his statistics show. Because if there’s one area where the Hawks have been more consistently good, it’s been defensively.

All that said, what gives?

There was no huge roster turnover this offseason.

While the Hawks had less rest in the offseason than most clubs, they certainly had more in the summer of 2014 than they did the previous year.

I’m going to go, for now, on the theory that with a new goaltending coach (Jimmy Waite), a new assistant coach (Kevin Dineen), a new center (the also inconsistent Brad Richards), Joel Quenneville is stlll struggling to get the Hawks onto a consistent groove. The good news is he can and, barring significant injury, likely will.

The alternative is something else that no one can quite put their finger on at this point—and might be a lot worse. Although the season is not quite a quarter over, the Hawks sit at 8th (up from 9th after last night’s win) in the conference. If we are having this same conversation, say 20 games form now, look out, this could be a very challenging season.

Which leads to

RUMORS

I heard from my top source this morning.

The Hawks are tighter than a bug in a rug up to the cap and have limited options, but that saud, they are quietly looking around the league for a veteran with some size and physicality.

As for the rumored fight that occurred last season or over the summer between two Hawk players (discussed at length on this message board thread): “DID NOT HAPPEN.”

I trust this source implicitly.

All for now,

JJ