Fringe Players Making Hawks Decisions Tough

By:
09/29/2009 4:29 AM - From chicagoblackhawks.com: (link)

Joel Quenneville has said he would use Monday night's exhibition against HC Davos and Tuesday night's Victoria Cup game against ZSC Zurich as final auditions for a number of players who are on the bubble.

Well, things aren't any clearer after the game against Davos, a 9-2 victory for the Blackhawks before 7,252 fans at the Hallenstadion.

Chicago's bottom two lines were full of players hoping to survive the final cut of six players, which will likely come Wednesday or Thursday. Each can make a case that they deserve to stay after Monday night.

"Certainly, we like the depth of our organization," Quenneville told NHL.com. "We like the overall competitiveness as the games have progressed. We'll be sorting out things for the next day or two. We're going to have to make some very tough decisions."

Radek Smolenak, picked up on waivers from Tampa Bay right before Chicago's departure to Europe, had two goals in his debut with the Hawks. Evan Brophey, probably a year away, had a pretty goal as well. Bryan Bickell, sent to AHL Rockford before a spate of injuries necessitated his return to the lineup, had an assist on Brophey's goal and was strong on the puck all night.

Then there were the goalies.
Corey Crawford and Antti Niemi are in a dead heat for the job as backup to Cristobal Huet. Monday night, they both played half the game and each allowed one goal. Each also made a few really nice saves in limited work.

Chicago star
Patrick Kane has enjoyed the battles for position brewing all around him. He is happy to see everyone fighting for a job, refusing to give up their dream. It makes the team, as a whole, that much better.

"You definitely want to see who is playing good at a time like this," Kane said. "There's going to be some tough decisions to be made. It seems like everyone is playing pretty good right now. I'm glad I'm not in the decision-making process."

No, Kane is not paid to make decisions. He is paid to score goals and create offense. Monday night, against Davos, he did not disappoint, scoring a pair of goals -- including one sure to make the highlight reels -- and putting the Davos defense on its feet almost everyone time he had the puck on his stick.

"We have some guys that love the extra space (of the Olympic-sized rink), including myself," Kane said. "There were a lot of nice plays tonight and it was good to get some confidence for some players.

Kane showed how much he loved all the room on his highlight-reel goal, a third-period tally that gave Chicago an 8-1 lead. Kane beat defenseman Robin Grossman to the corner and got position inside the defenseman, allowing him to bull to the net and beat the Davos goalie to the far post, which allowed Kane to easily wrap the puck into the half-empty net. Kane was all smiles as he pulled himself up off the ice and the Davos supporters were on their feet.

"It was kind of around the world there. I fought off that guy and at the last second cut in and got it to my forehand and banged it in," Kane said. "It's nice to get one like that."

And while it was goals like Kane's second one that the fans came to see, it was the contributions from the lesser lights that had the Chicago coaching staff riveted.

Smolenak knows he is under the microscope and has a limited window to impress. Two goals will help in that endeavor, especially when they came from right in front of the net, showing that he is willing to use his body to make space and has the soft hands to capitalize on the room once it is obtained.

"It's nice to score two goals in my first game with Chicago, but, on the other hand, it was just an exhibition," Smolenak said. "I hope that management saw what I can do. That's my game -- and up and down guy that plays physical and goes to the net."

That job description also defines
Troy Brouwer, a player who will make the Blackhawks, but is looking for a bigger role this season. Monday night, Brouwer was placed with Kane and captain Jonathon Toews, filling in for the injured Kris Versteeg.

All Brouwer did with that opportunity is score the game-opening goal on a shorthanded, give-and-go with Toews and then add the primary assist on defenseman
Brian Campbell's goal four minutes later.

Just another player stating his case for the role he believes he deserves. And, when it was over, Davos had seen enough Chicago auditions to last a lifetime.

Arno del Curto, the Davos coach, looked a little shell-shocked in the postgame press conference. Speaking through a translator, del Curto had some high praise for the Hawks and some cutting words for his own team, which he feels failed their own audition against the best the NHL has to offer.

"It was our worst game of the season," del Curto said. "We seemed to be paralyzed out there. But the Chicago Blackhawks showed that they are excellent skaters. I'm sure that we will see them in the Stanley Cup Final for years to come."


Search Archive »




Browse by Year »

2014
2013
2012
2011
2010
2009
2008
2007
200
0

Browse by Month »

April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010

December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
December 0200