Between the Circles

Between the Circles

Talking faceoffs

Posted by TimS on Sat, 02/14/2009 - 16:44
The numbers don't lie. The Hawks were the NHL's third-worst team on faceoffs going into Saturday's games at 46.7 percent, ranking ahead of only Phoenix and the Islanders. Jonathan Toews is an OK 53.2 percent on faceoffs, but Dave Bolland wins just 43 percent of his draws, which isn't very good for your checking center. It's no secret the Hawks would like to add a center before the March 4 trade deadline, a guy who can win draws among other things. I see some of you want Dale to claim Chris Gratton on re-entry waivers. Yeah. he's a big guy, but why are 29 other teams not interested? Maybe it's because many scouts feel Gratton doesn't have much left. The Hawks can do better.

Khabibulin injury said to be "minor"

Posted by TimS on Thu, 02/12/2009 - 12:44
The lower body injury suffered by Nikolai Khabibulin in Wednesday's win over Atlanta is being called "minor" by the Hawks, who have recalled Antti Niemi from Rockford to likely back up Cristobal Huet Friday against St. Louis. The fact Khabibulin was able to finish the game Wednesday probably speaks to the injury truly being minor, although he did miss six games the last time he suffered a similar problem in late November. Assuming Huet starts Friday (and why wouldn't he), it will be interesting to see what happens Saturday against Dallas at the UC. Will Khabibulin be OK to play? Does Huet get the start again? Or do the Hawks take a look at the rookie Niemi, who they like a lot?

Talking Khabibulin and Havlat

Posted by TimS on Wed, 02/11/2009 - 12:50
I just have one question for those of you out there who still want to trade Khabibulin and Havlat before the March 4 deadline: What are you going to get? The teams that need Khabibulin are Stanley Cup contenders, so its unlikely they are going to give up a top player in return. The Capitals might love to have Khabibulin for the playoffs, but they want to win a Cup, so who would they give up? Nylander? You make that call. I'd pass. All of a sudden it looks as if Montreal might need a goalie. Do the Red Wings feel confident with Chris Osgood? But no way I deal Nik to Detroit, unless they want to give up Franzen. Khabibulin might sign with the Wings in the off-season, though.

What do Hawks need?

Posted by TimS on Sat, 02/07/2009 - 11:29
There's a reason why we haven't been hearing the Hawks mentioned in trade rumors with the March 4 deadline fast approaching. It's because GM Dale Tallon and his staff still aren't sure they want to mess with the special chemistry in the dressing room, and can you blame them? The Hawks might be good enough as is to get out of the Western Conference, and anyone that thinks I've been drinking too much Canadian beer isn't paying attention to what's happening. The Hawks have great goaltending with Nikolai Khabibulin already owning a Stanley Cup. They have a mobile and deep defense that gets the puck out of trouble quicker than any team in the league. They have three lines that can score and a fourth line that is as good or better than any fourth line in the NHL. Size? There's enough.

Kane's struggles continue

Posted by TimS on Wed, 02/04/2009 - 20:23
CALGARY, Alberta - Patrick Kane is showing he's human after all. Or at least he's showing he's a 20-year-old, second-year player in the NHL. Kane has 1 goal in his last 16 games. Who would have thought this could happen after the way he started? Can it all be related to the high right ankle sprain he suffered on Dec. 30 in Detroit? Or is Kane getting gun shy from being targeted by the opposition every night? Maybe gun shy is too strong an indictment. But there was another instance in Tuesday's 3-1 win at Edmonton where Kane had a lane to the net on a rush and instead went to the left side and tried to pass. Kane earlier in the season would have taken it to the net and likely shot. Now he's looking pass first. He even admitted that a few weeks ago.

Quenneville will figure it out

Posted by TimS on Sat, 01/31/2009 - 01:59
In Joel Quenneville, the Hawks probably have their best coach behind the bench since Darryl Sutter. While Quenneville offers little insight to the media about what he really thinks, you can rest assured he sees the same things the rest of us do and eventually will address the issues sooner than later if the Hawks begin sliding down in the standings. Quenneville knows the Hawks need another center. Hopefully he'll lobby his GM hard for one ahead of the March 4 trade deadline. What else do I think Quenneville recognizes? How about the need to start playing Nikolai Khabibulin more and begin going away from this alternating business. Playing Toews, Kane and Sharp together from here on out as well as Bolland, Havlat and Ladd. He knows he is getting very little out of Dustin Byfuglien.

Why not Nik again?

Posted by TimS on Thu, 01/29/2009 - 01:25
ANAHEIM, Calif. - How good was Nikolai Khabibulin in Wednesday's 3-2 win over the Ducks. Darn good. Good enough to start again Thursday night against the Kings down the 110 at Staples Center. Why not go for two quick wins to start the eight-game road trip and play Cristobal Huet on Saturday in San Jose in a game the Hawks might have trouble winning anyway? Just a thought, but Coach Q might be thinking the same thing because after Wednesday's win he said Huet "probably" would start against the Kings. There's definitely some wiggle room there. This isn't to say Huet has played poorly. He actually has played very well. But Khabibulin has been better and wins big games like the one Wednesday.

Pelletier up, Versteeg out?

Posted by TimS on Mon, 01/26/2009 - 16:44
The fact the Hawks recalled forward Pascal Pelletier from Rockford on Monday was a pretty good indication that Kris Versteeg won't play at least Wednesday at Anaheim. Versteeg suffered an injury to his pinky finger in last week's game against St. Louis when he was slashed by Keith Tkachuk. It's not known if the finger is broken. Pelletier had 22 goals and 41 points at Rockford and likely will skate on the fourth line with Ben Eager moving up to top-nine duty. Duncan Keith practiced Monday and is expected to play against the Ducks after missing the last four games with an apparent concussion.

Do Hawks have their priorities straight?

Posted by TimS on Wed, 01/21/2009 - 22:11
Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said before Wednesday's game against St. Louis that the club has not considered asking Patrick Kane not to participate in this weekend's skills competition or All-Star Game. It's clear that Kane has not been the same explosive player he was before suffering a high right ankle sprain Dec. 30 in Detroit. He played in the Winter Classic two days later when he probably shouldn't have, and now he's going to all-star weekend. At least the Winter Classic was a regular season game.

Keith skates but won't play

Posted by TimS on Mon, 01/19/2009 - 12:53
Duncan Keith participated in Monday's morning skate but won't play against the Wild and is doubtful for Wednesday against St. Louis. Keith said he felt better but not ready to return to game action. He suffered an apparent concussion last Wednesday when elbowed to the head by Buffalo's Drew Stafford. Keith did blame himself for having his head down and not Stafford for the hit. Keith wouldn't discuss the injury or the NHL-mandated concussion tests he must pass before being cleared medically to play again. The best bet is we won't see Keith back on defense for the Hawks until at least Jan. 28 at Anaheim following the all-star break.