pens#1 wrote:Are the Hawks that good or is a combo of the west being a bit weaker this year?
The West is very good. The Blackhawks are that good. The other team doesn't touch the puck at all the entire game. I wish there was possession time for the NHL, the Blackhawks would beat other teams by several minutes every night...it's unreal what they do. They don't allow shots because they just own the puck, it's all speed, quick transition...tonight was a good example. They score off a draw in their own end. The Stars had like 6 shots or whatever tonight, or so it felt like that...Emery is horrible, so he gives up two weak ones which prevented another shutout.
Head's up: Here's your next "OMG, stats, this goalie is great!" ridiculousness...how many times have I heard that Emery is "back" (he was here before?) and he's a #1 and all that noise...he's horrible. He's just flat out bad. But here we go again...soon we'll realize about goalie stats, soon...
so where do the Pens stack up against the Hawks?
It's tough to say really. The weakest point of the Blackhawks is their goaltending. Especially if Emery somehow gets the start. They aren't deep down the middle...if we're healthy, the Crosby/Malkin dilemma will be problematic for them to match up against. They have to use Toews against Crosby because that's their only chance to gain possession off the faceoff. That's their best defensive center against our best player. They need to make that match up I think.
Then when Sharp gets healthy, I'd aim for a Sharp-Bolland-whoever (I guess Kane) to go against Malkin. Sharp will take the faceoffs and between him and Bolland (who has been iffy all year really, but he's a good player), they should be the match for Malkin and friends.
They're fast...and we're not. That worries me a bit. The mobility of their back line will be tough late in the playoffs for our older, slower wingers perhaps...Duncan Keith is an awesome skater, Leddy is one of the faster d-men I've seen in the league, Hjalmarsson is very mobile, Seabrook and Oduya can skate too...those guys can move and they can move the puck. And like I said, they just own the puck. The difference will be established zone time...both teams have too much skill to be on the defensive for too long...eventually, the team with the puck will score. Period. Both teams are too good skill wise.
I'd play Vitale in the series for the right-handed centerman that can take draws and his speed. He'd be a must. Kennedy would be a must too, to be honest. Johnny Oduya on that third pairing turns the puck over a lot while under pressure, TK and/or Vitale would generate a lot of possession time or at least anti-Chicago possession time if deployed on a 2-1-2 forecheck, I feel.
We'd need to win faceoffs, such a big part of the game, so it goes without saying...but that's a difference, having possession vs. trying to acquire possession vs. that team. They can play, man, they can play...it'd be tough...
We're a long way from that...St. Louis can play these guys, I'd like to see them go at it in the first round...it could be a long series there...