For reasons I don’t fully understand, I love Power Rankings. Every major network site has their guru explaining why the 25th ranked Toronto Maple Leafs are better than the 26th ranked New York Islanders. There is absolutely no reason why I should care, but I have to read them. Luckily, my obsession has lead to a very disturbing finding. The Chicago Black Hawks are rated higher than or on par with the Detroit Red Wings. What!?! I have no idea how that happens. I think the biggest reason that’s a shocker for me is because I’m a homer. Sure you may want to knock down my credibility a little bit, but why not be up front about it. I’m still going to lay out a detailed argument as to why that’s crazy talk, but I feel it’s important to get the truth out of the way early.
I do want to make clear I don’t believe the Red Wings should be ranked number one necessarily. I think Boston, as champs, has the right to start atop any rankings. I know Vancouver is still incredibly dangerous. I like what Washington did by adding Tomas Vokoun, and the continued improvement of defenseman John Carlson. Oh yeah, they have a guy named Alex “something or other” too. I’ll openly admit any of these teams might be better than the Wings…but the Blackhawks?
Clearly, their top four forwards and two defensemen are terrific. I’d take Jonathan Towes, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa any day. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook and spectacular on the back end. But, I’m pretty sure Pavel Datsuyk, Hank Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, and “pick a fourth” forward are on par. I think Brad Stuart and the Nicks are match up just fine.
Goaltender wise, there isn’t much difference between Jimmy Howard and Corey Crawford. I’ll take our guy, but there is a lot for the Blackhawks’ to like in their crease. Crawford’s actually the main reason the Hawks were able to back their way into the playoffs. When Chicago was leaning on Marty Turco, they were in the lower half of the conference. Crawford’s emergence helped sparked the Fighting Quennevilles.
My big problem comes from the secondary scoring comparison. After losing another member of their Cup Finals team from ’09 in Troy Brouwer to the Capitals, after the names above, the Hawks only have Dave Bolland still around. They basically have a hodge podge of new signings manning their lower lines. The newest additions are Andrew Brunette (38 years old and 46 points), Jamal Mayers (36 years old and 18 points), and brawler Danny Carcillo (6 points in 57 games). In the “Who Would You Rather Have” game, I’ll take Todd Burtuzzi, Patrick Eaves, and Justin Abdelkader any day.
How about the “old” new guys. Guys like Viktor Stalberg (24 points) and Mikael Frolik (38 points) return to second and third line duty for the second year in Chicago. These are nice players who provide some additional scoring help. Just like Tomas Holmstrom and Danny Cleary. Again, not lot looking at age, just production, who would you rather have? Isn’t it Cleary and Holmstrom, or am I just being a homer?
I still haven’t even mentioned Darren Helm, Val Filppula (who might count as that top four forward), Drew Miller, or Jiri Hudler. The Hawks have two rookies and Bryan Bickell still remaining. I’ll take the Wings, thank you.
Maybe these folks are looking at the defensive corps. After the clear one-two, the Hawks follow up with Niklas Hjalmarsson, Steve Montador, Sami Lapisto, and Nick Leddy. I’ll take Ian White, Jonathan Ericsson, Mike Commodore, Jakub Kindl. Again, maybe I’m a homer, but remember, I included Stuart, Lidstrom, AND Kronwall. Although, I will give Hjalmarsson some credit. I do believe he’s a quality third defenseman. I just don’t like anyone who will be paired with him. I don’t mean to disrespect the 3rd-6th defensemen for Chicago, but I just feel like we have more known (and better) quantities here in the Motor City.
Granted, after taking a cursory look over the entire rosters, none of that really matters. What matters most is what happens on the ice. The two teams have a while to settle into the season before meeting. Their first match-up this season is slated for December 30th. I don’t know about you, but I’ve already got that game circled.