By Brad Vandenberk
Now that the Olympics have claimed its victor and the Stadium Series business is behind us, its time to shift focus to the NHL playoff chase. On the eve of the trade deadline, the Chicago Blackhawks host the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs entered the contest trailing the Hawks by three points in the standings. To make Tuesday night’s matchup even more meaningful, Colorado also has a game in hand on the defending champs in a tight race atop the Central division between the Avs, Hawks and Blues.
As we sit on March 4, 2014 the Hawks have 20 games remaining in their schedule with the pesky Avs nipping at their heels. While the St Louis Blues began the evening tied with the Hawks at 86 points (St. Louis won 4-2 over Tampa on Tuesday night to climb to 88 points]. This will make for a great finish heading into the playoffs. The bad news coming out of the Madhouse on Madison is that Marian Hossa will be on the shelf for approximately 2-3 weeks with an upper body injury suffered in Saturday night’s affair at Soldier Field. This next stretch without him will be a very tough test as no one can play as good a 200 foot game as Hossa. Brandon Saad started out on the top line Tuesday night as a first-laid plan to replace Hossa alongside Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp for the time being. Read more
Posted in Blackhawks, Game recap
Tagged Avalanche, Ben Smith, Blackhawks, Brandon Saad, Colorado, Corey Crawford, Erik Johnson, Game recap, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Maxime Talbot, Nathan MacKinnon, Paul Stastny, Ryan O'Reilly, Semyon Varlamov, Tyson Barrie
Stan Bowman solidified his repackaged defense corps on Thursday, inking Steve Montador to a 4-year $11 million agreement. The $2.75M annual cap hit is slightly more than you would have wanted to spend, but the difference isn’t significant enough to debate over.
The Blackhawks had acquired Montador’s rights late Wednesday from Buffalo for the seventh-round draft choice Chicago received from Florida this past Monday when the Hawks sent Tomas Kopecky’s negotiating rights to the Panthers. Kopecky signed with the Panthers two days later; $12M over 4 years.
Montador, 31, isn’t huge (6-0, 210) but he’s tough and plays with an edge the Hawks lacked on the blue line. He’s best-suited as a third-pair defenseman on a contender, which the Blackhawks should be again in 2012. But he will kill penalties and fill time on the power play if need be. He’s solid all around, but not really above-average at anything in particular. He gets into trouble when he leans too heavily into the offensive end or in the physical side of his game. But he makes good reads, a solid first pass and is trustworthy. Montador also has a big shot the Hawks might use on a second power play unit and he’s adept and willing to patrol the crease on the defensive end. Read more
Posted in News and Notes
Tagged Brent Sopel, Erik Cole, free agency, Jeff Woywitka, Joel Ward, Kent Huskins, Matt Bradley, Maxime Talbot, Paul Mara, Sean Bergenheim, Steve Montador, Vernon Fiddler