Tonight the Chicago Blackhawks play their 20th game of the season, taking on the huge disappointment that is the Calgary Flames. The Flames went out this summer and picked up Dougie Hamilton and Michael Frolik, and looked ready to turn the corner to becoming a legitimate threat in the Western Conference. Instead, they’re chasing Edmonton for the first overall pick.
And before we get to what’s going on with the Hawks, here’s something that has been entertaining me so far this season…the Arizona Coyotes are currently in third place in the Pacific Division. Which normally would be great news for the franchise, except for two little things – 1) Anaheim is starting to get their shit together, so it looks once again like the Trifecta Wheel of California teams will lead the Pacific, and 2) the projected first overall pick, Auston Matthews, was born in Arizona. The Coyotes could have their marquee player also be a local product. So let’s enjoy the Coyotes somehow blowing the tank job.
On the bright side for the Coyotes, rookie Max Domi is going neck-and-neck with Artemi Panarin for the rookie scoring lead in the now McDavidless season. Like Panarin, there are plenty of YouTube clips of him electrifying rinks with his hands and skating. I fully expect him to make the Hawks miserable for years.
Also in the news, the Islanders are looking to trade Phil Hamonic. Hamonic has said that due to family matters, he wants to play close to his home in Western Canada. Where the teams all suck. So nobody out there has anything close to what Garth Snow would probably want for a top pair DMan like Hamonic. So they’ve all got that going for them, which is nice. They’re going to wind up taking dimes on the dollar in order to accomodate him.
On to the Hawks…the Little Idiot has picked up where he left off last season on the ice, and once again will make the push to become the first American to win the Art Ross Trophy. Last year before his injury, he was on track for the Full Mikita – but that’s not happening this year. He has 2 less penalty minutes so far this year than he did all last year, and I think a lot of the writers would do a whole lot of soul searching before they vote for Patrick Kane for the Hart. His off-ice issues aside (yeah, I know, no charges), I do think there’s at least one Canadian writer who would be loathe to vote for an American for the Hart.
Also, in terms of pure value to the Blackhawks, nobody’s been more valuable than Trevor Van Reimsdyk. He stepped into the void left by Johnny Oduya this season, and his steady play is a big reason why the Hawks didn’t completely bottom out while Duncan Keith was out. The next guy in terms of value has been Artem Anisimov. He’s been very good at doing exactly what he needs to do – get the puck to Kane, and get his sizable ass to the front of the net. He’s looking like he can provide a pretty steady 50-60 points each season.
Also valuable is Trevor Daley, if only to illustrate that it’s possible to get Hawks fans minds off Rozsival. Stan Bowman’s already shopping Daley around. Supposedly Ottawa’s interested.