Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Five Questions: CT from Hockee Night (Blackhawks)

(CT is a patient guy. He put up with my antics during a Hockee Night podcast a couple weeks ago and has been a friend of the blog for a while now. Follow their weekly podcasts and Blackhawks coverage at Hockee Night. If you don't I'll beat you up. Srsly.)

1. What will the Blackhawks need to do to beat the Flames?
To beat Calgary, the Hawks need to keep doing what they've done in every other game against the Flames this year. Score a shit ton of goals, keep Jarome Iginla (-7 against the Hawks this year) down and let Nikolai Khabibulin do what he does best: beat Miikka Kiprusoff in the playoffs. The Hawks are 4-0 against the Flames this year and should be thrilled with this first round draw.

2. What would need to happen for Calgary to win?
On top of the Hawks regular season dominance, the Flames are really beat up going into the playoffs. Frankly, either Kiprusoff will have to steal the series, or the Blackhawks will have to completely flake out to lose this one.

3. Fan Favorite
Hard to pick just one here. I think a lot of the Chicago fanbase is just going to be high on the fact that this is the team that finally got back to the playoffs after a prolonged absence. Instead, I'll just change this subject to "the player to watch". I'm going with Jonathan Toews here. He's the captain and he's the team's most consistent player on both ends of the ice. He'll be expected to step up here and it will be interesting if he can answer the bell in his first playoffs.

4. Chicago's Goat-to-Be: This one was waaaayyy too easy. For some reason, Joel Quenneville has got it into his head that journeyman defenseman Matt Walker is a top 4 guy. He's been playing big minutes this season, often while paired with Brian Campbell, and he's awful. His only tangible asset is his size, but he's too slow to catch anybody and hit them. He's pretty bad covering in his own zone, and even worse, as of late he's gotten it in his head that he's Phil Housely, making crazy cross ice passes to no one in particular. But I'm not saying that Walker will be the goat. Nope. If Matt Walker is in the position to make that much of an impact, then the Goat will be coach Joel Quenneville, for giving him the opportunity, especially since he's got a better option in the consistently mediocre Aaron Johnson.

5. Top storyline
I'd say the return of ex-Hawks Adrian Aucoin, Rene Bourque and Jim Vandermeer, but nobody remembers those guys anyway (well, maybe Bourque). No the main storyline is exactly how the young Blackhawks will react to their first taste of playoff action. The Hawks could not have asked for a better playoff draw: a wounded team that's nose-diving at the end of the season, a goalie they seem to have solved easily and home ice advantage. All the pressure and expectations are on the Hawks and rightfully so. But despite their current state, the Flames are dangerous. They've got playoff tested players and a goalie capable of stealing a couple of games if he's on. Whether the Hawks can answer the playoff bell will be the biggest question of this series.

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