could suffer short of something happening to
Among the forwards, anyway. I’m not trying to debate the importance of Sharp vs. defenseman
. I’m just saying I’d rather lose
than Sharp because Sharp does more. Scores more, for starters. Scores more than anybody on the Hawks, in fact, and that was before coach
loaded up Toews, Kane and Sharp and immediately created the best line in hockey.
But Sharp is far more valuable than Kane because he can work the power play and kills penalties. While Hossa can excel in those situations, too, Sharp remains more valuable because of his ability to play wing on the top line or center the second line the way he did with a team-high 11 goals in last year’s Stanley Cup run.
Sharp’s injury, which came on a knee-to-knee collision with Rotislav Klesla in the first period in the win over Phoenix on Sunday, is a killer for many reasons. First, the Hawks stand sixth in the
. Stand sixth tenuously with 10 games to play. They have 86 points, leaving them three behind Phoenix with two games in hand and two points behind Los Angeles with one game in hand. That’s the optimistic view.
The pessimist sees the Hawks tied with Nashville with a game in hand and just one point ahead of Anaheim, Dallas and Calgary. The race is so tight that given cetain scheduling and results, the Hawks would be an off-day away from 10
So, if it’s that tight, you need everybody, but the Hawks are missing too many somebodies. Before Sharp went down, the Hawks were already missing center
(concussion) and defenseman
(left leg). Just listing the absent, however, does them a disservice. That’s your No. 2 center and one of your top four defensemen.
Bolland always gets the opponent’s top line. It’s his job to check and annoy and aggravate. He does this very well. See the now and likely future Sedin MVPs for details. But Bolland also picked up his scoring after moving to the second line when Sharp moved to the Toews line. We’re talking about contributions in so many areas, and they will be lost for a while, it appears, as the fog refuses to clear up in Bolland’s head.
Campbell, meanwhile, went down with the second-best plus-minus in the league. Campbell is still a one-man breakout play, but his defensive reliability, as unexpected as it was, has been a big reason the Hawks have remained in the playoff race despite wonky seasons from Keith and
And now, Sharp. At least, that’s the way it sounds because the Hawks said nothing to make it better on Monday. He might not need surgery, but based on some comments from teammates about moving on without him, I’m getting the feeling Sharp won’t need his sweater for perhaps another month.
If so, the question becomes: Can the Hawks make the playoffs without Sharp?
Obviously, there’s a mathematical chance, but look, seven of their remaining 10 games are against teams currently holding a playoff spot, including three against the evil
, with two of those at The Joe. Thing is, the Hawks hold the season series lead on the Wings in their three games, just as they hold the season series over their other remaining Western Conference foes St. Louis, Columbus and Anaheim. They have four games remaining against
teams, starting Wednesday night against Florida, a bad team that embarrassed the Hawks badly recently. The Hawks also face a Tampa Bay team that beat them, along with Original Six matchups in Boston and Montreal, teams they haven’t faced this season.
Rough math would suggest that beating their three non-playoff opponents and splitting the remaining six against good teams would earn the Hawks a postseason spot. A rough scouting report that presumes Sharp and Bolland would be out for the remainder of the regular season, however, suggests they would not have the roster to win six of 10. The Hawks have ridden the top line and Crawford to the middle of the playoff standings, and now the top line has lost a third of its firepower.
The Hawks would need new heroes. They would need
to make a difference offensively. They would need
to do something in front of the net. The Dowells, Bickells, Stalbergs and Pisanis, hel-lo. And that’s presuming that Toews and Kane stay hot even without Sharp.
Yeah, it looks bad, but Stevie Sunshine is here to point out what might be an omen. At least, I hope it’s an omen and not a blip. Either way, in the game in which Sharp went down, the Hawks won 2-1 game on a power-play goal by newcomer