Jeff Bartl the writer for Blackhawk Up was kind enough to answer a few questions about the Hawks, Sharks, and the current state of the Western Conference Finals………
The Blackhawks are up 2-0. What concerns you, if anything heading home?
The only thing that concerns me is how the Blackhawks have played at home in the playoffs. They haven’t been very impressive, and Queneville has even said they’re trying to be “too cute” when playing in front of the home crowd. The Sharks are too good of a team to take for granted, because they can easily send this series back to The Tank tied.
What player on the Sharks is currently most feared?
I would say Dan Boyle. I feel he has both the offensive and defensive skills to shift a game, and he seems to be one of the few Sharks who hasn’t lost his composure. Joe Thornton has been basically invisible, and the Joe Pavelski line hasn’t done a whole heck of a lot so far.
If someone on San Jose gets hot, who do you hope it isn’t and why?
Dany Heatley. Once that guy get’s going, he’s tough to stop. If he gets back into his rhythm and regains that killer instinct, he could light up the score sheet. He’s seemed off the past couple of games, which could factor into the Blackhawks frustrating him.
What do you like about the way your team is currently playing?
Everything. They’re quick, deep and are showing how talented they are from goaltending down to the fourth line to the last defensive pairing. Everyone on the Blackhawks is playing the exact game they’re expected to play. Marian Hossa gets ripped for not scoring enough, but he’s done so much on the forecheck and back-check that he’s creating chances for others — Troy Brouwer’s goal in Game 2 being a prime example.
What piece of Chicago’s play needs to improve?
Bad penalties. The Blackhawks have dominated the Sharks five-on-five throughout the regular season and through the first two games of this series. They need to stay out of the box and play disciplined hockey, because the Sharks are by far the least penalized team in the playoffs.
How good has Niemi really been thus far?
Niemi has been outstanding. There’s no surprise anymore — he’s the perfect playoff goaltender for the Blackhawks. He has a short memory when it comes to goals and close chances, and he doesn’t carry what anyone says about him. Let’s not forget how well the D has played in front of him, but when he’s needed to make the big save, he’s done it. He’s not showing any signs of slowing down, either. He’s given up ONE even-strength goal in this series. If that keeps up, Tuesday may be the last time you see the Sharks this season.
I want to thank Jeff for taking time to answer these questions. Good luck to both teams heading forward………..but of course better luck to the Sharks