Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Jonathan Quick heaps high praise on Toews, Kane

toews-kane-7-29-15.png

Blackhawks: Jonathan Quick heaps high praise on Toews, Kane

Jonathan Quick is quite familiar with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

The Kings All-Star netminder squared off with the Blackhawks' dynamic duo in back-to-back Conference Finals in 2013 and 2014, both teams getting past each other en route to a Stanley Cup victory — Blackhawks in 2013, Kings in 2014.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Buy a Jonathan Toews jersey and Patrick Kane jersey]

But it doesn't make them any easier to defend.

Quick wrote a nice piece for the Players' Tribune evaluating the elite snipers in the NHL, and provided a detailed analysis on what makes Toews and Kane so dangerous. 

Read it below:

I’m cheating again with his duo. It’s not a coincidence these guys are in the Conference Finals or Stanley Cup Finals seemingly every year. Unlike Getzlaf and Perry, these guys do very different things, but they complement one another perfectly. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two guys play with more confidence in themselves. They just seem to have an unwavering belief that they’ll find a way to win.

 

Let’s start with Kane. Even though he’s a smaller guy, he has a top-tier release and I think he’s actually a little bit underrated in terms of his hockey intelligence. He’s one of the best in the NHL at seeing the ice and reading defenders. A lot of guys with his natural skill level would maybe coast and wait for their chances, but Kane is constantly scanning the ice and processing where the play is going, and where he can pop into open space for a good opportunity. And, of course, his hands are ridiculous. Kane’s stickhandling quickness is probably the best in the NHL. Almost every game, he makes a defenseman look silly by catching them cheating on the pokecheck, then he goes right through their tripod (between the stick and legs) with the dangle.

 

When a guy like Kane is on the ice, you immediately take notice as a goalie. He’s on your radar constantly as the play is unfolding. But add in Toews to the mix and it’s a totally different level. The thing with Toews is that he is constantly moving, constantly working, and possesses an unholy ability to know where the puck is going before it even happens. He’s like a psychic out there. I hate to use words like “intangibles,” but it’s very difficult to describe how Toews is always able to find himself in the right place at the right time, especially in big moments.

 

If Anaheim is hard minutes physically, Chicago is hard minutes mentally. You have to constantly be tracking the movements of Kane and Toews because you’re paranoid that Kane is going to float back door and Toews is going to know he’s there without even looking up. And I think that’s why hockey is such an interesting game to break down. Most people think of hockey as this brutal game (and it definitely can feel that way when you get hit with a Shea Weber slap shot below the belt) but it’s really a mental game more than anything. Chicago has won three of the last six Stanley Cups. Kane and Toews aren’t the biggest guys in the world, but they’re incredibly intelligent, mentally tough and have amazing intuition when playing together.

 

Man, I want to beat them so bad. Let’s get this season started already (sorry, honey).

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

jonathan_toews.jpg
USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Seth Gruen (Big Ten Unfiltered) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel. 

The Blackhawks drop their 8th straight. So should their “One Goal” be to tank?

Plus, Jon Lester isn’t a fan of the new pace of play proposals. Is he right?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

joel_quenneville_2.jpg
USA TODAY

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

After losing their eighth straight game and falling 12 points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks' playoff chances have dipped to a season-low 0.2 percent. It would take a miracle for them to extend their postseason streak to 10 at this point, where getting just one win seems like a monumental task.

The Blackhawks were probably never really going to be buyers before the Feb. 26 trade deadline even if they were still in the hunt, but it's hard to imagine they had plans to be sellers. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has reiterated over and over again that he's confident in this group, one that's getting younger and faster.

But now they've reached a territory where they have to consider selling off spare parts simply to coup some draft picks or prospects that they could perhaps retain or use as sweeteners in the offseason.

So which players could the Blackhawks realistically sell?

Let's start with the two players getting rewarded with top-six ice time as of late: Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels.

These are two players that play with high energy and go to the greasy areas, something that's important in the playoffs when scoring goals becomes more difficult. They can clean up rebounds. Wingels, particularly, likely has more value and it's showing given his recent success on the power play as a net-front presence guy. He also isn't a stranger to the playoffs with 54 games under his belt compared to Bouma's five.

Both of them are pending unrestricted free agents and are making $1 million or fewer, which certainly works in the Blackhawks' favor considering they won't cost much and their cap hits are easy to fit in on any interested team.

Maybe a team would like to take a flyer on Tomas Jurco, who's a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but that would be a move somebody makes as more of a longer term project than strengthening your depth for a playoff run this spring.

On the back end, Michal Kempny and Jan Rutta could be in play for a contender looking to ensure some depth as a sixth or seventh defenseman. Again, each of them are making less than $1 million so it's a low-risk situation for clubs whose Plan A or B fall through and may be interested in at least getting something.

While they don't have much NHL experience, they're both 27 years old and have played the sport long enough to know what they can bring to the table.

Once Feb. 26 passes and potential roster spots open up, expect the Blackhawks to start calling up the kids. 

Matthew Highmore deserves a look after leading the Rockford IceHogs with 20 goals and 32 points. John Hayden has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 15 games since joining Rockford, and belongs in the NHL. Even Anthony Louis, who's taken a step forward, should get a taste of the action as he continues his development.

Carl Dahlstrom is getting his shot now. Erik Gustafsson is in that process as well. Gustav Forsling had another extended look during the first half of the season before the team decided it would be wise to continue his development in Rockford, where he can play top-pairing minutes.

All of this would give the Blackhawks a better indicator of how they can approach the upcoming offseason, and which young guys they can possibly add into the mix for 2018-19. But first, we have to see how the end of February plays out before making those calls.