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Will 2C deficiency cost the ‘Hawks?

May 26, 2014, 2:14 PM EDT

Justin Williams, Michal Handzus, Corey Crawford AP


It appears either Ben Smith or Andrew Shaw could move into the No. 2 center role held down by Michal Handzus for the past few games. Each player got a few shifts on the second line in the third period Saturday as Chicago looked for goals. Quenneville believes those two players are more effective offensively than Handzus.

There is, however, an issue when it comes to re-jiggering the forward lines with the Blackhawks. Simply, it is a hesitancy to mess with the top-line unit featuring Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa. It has been the Blackhawks’ most effective line at each end of the ice in this series. To tinker with it, which would almost become a necessity if you try to get struggling forwards like Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp going, threatens to damage chemistry.

Ah, yes, the old 2C issue rearing its ugly head again for the Blackhawks. That’s second-line center, to be clear. Handzus went into the playoffs in that role, but the 37-year-old has managed just one goal and one assist in 15 games, with dreadful possession stats to boot.

The ‘Hawks managed to win it all last year with Handzus gamely stepping in to fill the important position, but that didn’t stop a summer of speculation about who could take over for the veteran. Brandon Saad was an option at one point. Same for Shaw, Marcus Kruger, Brandon Pirri and Drew LeBlanc.

General manager Stan Bowman didn’t make a deal at the deadline to address the position, instead stating his belief “in our group here.”

Not that a GM can just snap his fingers and add a top-six center, but expect another summer of 2C talk in Chicago, especially if the ‘Hawks can’t battle back to beat L.A.

Related: Patrick Kane believes he can turn things around by demanding the puck

  1. lowenni - May 26, 2014 at 2:30 PM

    Is it worth trying Patrick Sharp at center? He’s good at faceoffs and has played the position before. I doubt it would make sense to try that in the middle of a Conference Final, but Handzus is simply slowing down too much to handle that role on the team. He’s bringing down his linemates, as well, and Kane needs to get going to put the Hawks over the edge against the Kings.

    • lowenni - May 26, 2014 at 2:31 PM

      I guess another way to put it would be that I personally think just about anybody would be better in that role than Handzus right now–I thought he would suffice there earlier but right now I think Shaw’s crash the net style would be an improvement alongside Kane.

  2. esracerx46 - May 26, 2014 at 2:55 PM

    The problem with Shaw is his faceoff numbers. Not so good. Actually that sums up the hawks faceoffs this whole series. Kane really needs to make the players he’s playing with better. Too often you see him letting other guys do the dirty work while he waits. While that’s something he’s always done, he’s done that a lot this series.

    • slysipops - May 26, 2014 at 7:25 PM

      he looks more cowardly all the time………….. too many tv commercials maybe ?

      • slysipops - May 26, 2014 at 7:27 PM

        i’m meaning KANE of course

  3. kcprof926 - May 26, 2014 at 3:28 PM

    I feel sorry for Kane being stuck with Handzus. Any other team he would be with a top notch center. Coach Q needs to make some moves. I would put Kane with Bickell and Toews and drop Hossa down to match up with Carter’s line. Move Krueger up to center that line for better defense

  4. slysipops - May 26, 2014 at 7:22 PM

    STAN hasn’t made too many moves that turned curdled milk into ice cream ! the HAWKS have looked like a very unprepared team in part of the MINNESOTA WILD series and now here against the KINGS . coaching problem …? who else pushes the buttons ? the team has been off and on cold / hot since the Olympics break ended . is the desire to win it all gone ? is there too much fanfare and no constructive criticism in CHICAGO ? has loosing BOLLAND and FROLICK hurt that much ? last season i always thought they could come back in a game even if down 2 or 3 goals at the start of the third period …. not this year. it seemed if they went into the final period without at least a 2 goal lead a loss could come easy ! sadly, if they don’t find a way to play with any gusto and produce a win tonight … it’s about over for 2014 !

  5. slysipops - May 26, 2014 at 7:34 PM

    ROZSIVAL has made a lot of mistakes lately …including stupid penalties at the worst times. that is usually a sign of fatigue ! would BROOKBANK be a better fit at this time ?

  6. blomfeld - May 26, 2014 at 9:11 PM

    ‘Stand fast’ Sly !


    Friend, I’ve detected an almost ‘defeatist’ tone from you these past couple of days ? … a tone almost consistent with one who is becoming ‘afraid’ and considering ‘breaking rank’ from the line ? The bottom line Sly is that the harder the circumstances become, so ‘harder’ too must your convictions and beliefs become ! Yes sir ! In fact my very own bloodlines used to refer to this notion as ‘sangfroid’ or cold blood if you will, and it was the credo of our ‘glorious’ armies for centuries. The bottom line friend is that when an enemy is pressing you hard and things look doubtful, ‘that’ is the time to kick things into gear and pursue your aspirations with even ‘greater’ vigor and courage !

    Anyway, I have to go now as we’re about to ‘go in’ and my LA comrades are calling for me. So take care friend, be safe during the coming fight and please remember that at the end of the day, it’s all in God’s hands regardless … comrade Blomfeld :)

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