Chicago

Hawks Struggles and Prospect Signings

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The Blackhawks are clearly enduring scoring struggles, as they have lost their last 2 games in a combined score of 9-3 to two clubs that are currently out of the playoff race. The absence of Patrick Kane is definitely a factor to this. The Blackhawks also have been giving up too many Grade  A chances for the opponents in their own end, and they are well aware of this. Although this isn’t the least of their problems.

The Blackhawks went 0-5 on the power play last night against the Flyers, a definite issue in the eyes of many. The Hawks special teams has been struggling in recent games and they know it’s something that needs to be fixed.

The Blackhawks are taking today off of practice to regather themselves as they face two more teams that are in desperation mode for the last playoff spot. This is a situation the Blackhawks do not want to be in, and they will be if they fall these next couple games to the Jets and to the Kings.

“I don’t have a formula on that, on why, but we know it doesn’t matter who we face … we have to be better,” Hossa said. “We had lots of good stretches, but when we had bad ones, it’s like it’s costing us a game because they end up in our net.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson took a puck to the hand and immediately dropped what he was doing on the ice and headed to the bench during Friday’s game. Coach Q said he believed he was O.K. but many speculated the injury could be significant because of the way he headed off the ice. However, we shall see how he is when the Hawks face Winnipeg on Sunday.

In other news though, the Blackhawks managed to meet terms with Colgate College UFA Kyle Baun and 3rd-Round pick Michael Paliotta. Both are coming off their college seasons and will report directly to the Blackhawks. We more than likely will get a view at what these players are made of in the next couple games.

Here are my ‘Quick Hits’ on these new signees…

Kyle Baun, RW: 6’2″ 209 lbs, right handed shot.
2014-15 Stats: 38 GP, 14G-15A-29P, +12 with Colgate College
– Utilizes his size and strength
– Difficult to move off of the puck
– Gains separation
– Battles for loose pucks
– Excellent skater with terrific speed
– SCORES GOALS
– Clutch
– Can wreak havoc in front of opposing goaltenders
– Sets up plays

Essentially everything the Blackhawks aren’t doing right now. From a quick look, this kid could be a piece to a long term solution. He has everything you want in a young player and more. I look forward to seeing him in a #39 Hawk uniform.

Michael Paliotta, D: 6’3″ 207 lbs, right handed shot.
2014-15 Stats: 41 GP, 9G-27A-36P, +15 with University of Vermont
– Known shutdown defenseman
– Good size and skating ability
– Proven offensive game as college career progressed
– Played a key role in the resurgence of UV’s hockey program
– Great vision
– Sets up plays
– Can play the power-play

Although there was a lot of speculation if Michael Paliotta would go the same route as Kevin Hayes and not sign with the Blackhawks and see who else was interested, I’m very excited to see this youngster in a Hawks jersey. There are a lot of right handed defenseman waiting for their opportunity in the Blackhawks organization but I believe Paliotta, along with Johns, will make their way to become a full time NHL defenseman with the Hawks.

Both Paliotta and Baun will report to the Blackhawks using the first of their 2-year ELC.

Another prospect signing that broke earlier was that of Vincent Hinostroza, a 5’9″ winger who was Notre Dame’s leading scorer in the 2014-15 season. Although on the smaller side of the NHL standard for height and size, he just has to look towards the likes of Martin St. Louis and Calder contender Johnny Gaudreau for inspiration. Hinostroza signed a 3-year entry level contract that will ultimately send him to the AHL for some ‘peppering’.

Thanks for reading,

JJH
image courtesy of Chicago Tribune

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