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Chicago Blackhawks

The Huet-lephant In The Room

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As the Blackhawks look to continue their post-season momentum from 7 months ago against the Vancouver Canucks, the big issue that looms amongst fans and critics alike is the play between the pipes. Many Hawks fans were happy to hear that Antti Niemi will get the nod Wednesday evening at the U.C., but, and hear me out, I believe it’s for the wrong reasons.

As I’ve noted before, the Blackhawks (if I may borrow a baseball term here…) “platooned” their goaltenders last year, and I think that might be what they will do this year. Huet has never played in more than 52 games in a single season, and while that may cause concern, just look at my past posts for his stats last season as a number 1-a netminder. I know he’s getting paid a ton of money, but that’s also why the team will have to make adjustments to insure he will be at his best, you can’t just let him go.

That said, the defense (and frankly, the entire team) has to play better in front of him. Huet’s a goaltender that gives up a lot of rebounds, and, for the most part, that’s not going to change. Khabibulin did this as well. The team learned to adjust to his style, and got better at clearing the garbage from the front of the net thus limiting second and third chances that are potential game-changers. They also need to be more physical in front of the net before any shots get there as far as clearing out bodies that create screens. And that’s pretty standard no matter who you have in net.

I’m not absolving Huet of all blame by any means. I’m hoping that Stephane Waite can work with him on not dropping into the butterfly as quick, as well as shore up that vulnerable glove side. But the team in front of him has to give him more on-ice support and they won’t have to worry about the off-ice interviews.

So, in a “going around the block to get next door” kind of way, this brings me back to my point that I believe some people may be happy that Niemi is getting the start for some of the wrong reasons. With the exception of the time he was coaching the uber-goalie Patrick Roy, Quenneville has almost always gone with a 2-goalie system. And I gotta say, looking at his track record, it seems to have worked. Go with the hot hand, and don’t exhaust any one option before settling on your #1 horse to take you down the stretch. And since the knowledge gap between myself and the Q could just about fit in the Grand F-ing Canyon, I gotta say, I’m committed to the ‘Stache.

As always, I’d love to hear each and every one of your thoughts…


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One comment for “The Huet-lephant In The Room”

  1. I completely agree and that is a shocker as I can typically find something to “argue” with you on. Until Huet and the team can adjust to his new style I say give Niemi the start. This will also allow Huet time to mentally prepare for the Chicago crowd who likes to “eat” their own (i.e. the booing).

    Posted by tinao37No Gravatar | October 21, 2009, 1:28 pm

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