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Monday Morning Wideout

Not quarterback. I never wanted to be a quarterback. Too much responsibility. They made my QB once on the flag football team I played on in grade school. It sucked. I should have made this “Monday Morning 2nd Baseman.” That’s what I, and any other Cubs fan my age, wanted to be really.

Anyway, there’s a couple new things we’re trying here this season, and I’m hoping I have the discipline to stick with it. One is I’m going to rewatch every game, or at least most of them. This is something I promise myself I’ll do every season and never do but I mean it this time! Second, I’m helping (or trying and failing to help) Jen track zone entries for the Hawks this season. Just to see what there is to see.

So this is the kind of thing we’re producing for games, and this comes from the season opener in Dallas:

20013 DAL CHI - SAM ZE 5V5I’ve also tracked the Buffalo game but we haven’t run it through the grill quite yet, but what I’ve seen from the two, and its admittedly limited sample size is that the line of Kane-Shaw-Saad carry the puck in more than anyone. Kane and Saad have lead the Hawks in zone entries in both games and have generated the most shots. There’s obvious reasons for this. One, Kane might be the best stick-handler in the game and can get through tight areas. Saad is incredibly strong and straight-line and it’s hard to get it off of him. Now, you might think they’d be taking on the easiest competition (though playing the Sabres is by definition easy), but through two games that line is actually seeing the toughest competition. Again, two games but we’ll keep an eye on it for you and see if it continues. Strangely, they don’t have the highest Corsi on the team but let’s let that settle out for a bit. We’re going to store these in the “Stats” tab up top on the site once we get them a little more presentable, so you can view them at your leisure.

-As for just viewing, I get more impressed with Trevor Van Riemsdyk. One way I like to gauge if the Hawks puck support is where it should be, i.e. if they’re hunting in packs instead of having big gaps between the forwards and defense, is not how short the passes are but whether someone is right there when one Hawks loses the puck. Well, TVR always seems to be there when that happens. Yes, he knows when to pinch down in the offensive zone, when to open himself up, and has an eye for a pass. But his instincts also have him supporting his forwards in an instant when they have the puck stripped or poked off their stick. I’m a little more excited about him than I was before the season, let’s say. And I had already liked what I’d seen.

-The Hawks have been sloppy in these games, and you can tell by how many odd-mans they’re giving up against. Their third forward in the offensive zone, the one supposed to support the d-men, has gotten caught deep multiple times, and at times when one of the blue-liners is pinched down. They haven’t beaten it back to their zone always, though hardly anyone expects this to be on full tilt in the first week. Gotten caught on more changes than usual, though this was more a problem in Dallas.

-As for David Rundblad, I know the world is out for him but I tend to want to give him a break for most of it. What I have seen is that he does have an eye for a long pass, though that usually is a skill for the more conservative d-man on a pair and not the one who is supposed to be pushing up the ice with his feet. He’s also only played five real games since January, and a lot of his problems stem from a lack of feel. As Feather pointed out he’s just caught in between. This will be an interesting test between coach and GM. We know that Bowman clearly rates this guy, because he gave up a 2nd rounder for him. But we have a player who clearly needs patience and games to see what he really looks like when he kicks off the rust, and in this division and conference the coach might not feel they have too much time or points to play with (and he’s not really wrong on that).

It is worrying that he does look so slow, because that’s not rust. I thought he could skate better than this, and it’s hard to be an offensive d-man if aren’t quick. Though with Rozsival coming back, it’s hard to see how he’s going to get the looks he may or may not need.

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