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HawkTalk: Hav-A-Lot

by Staff Writer / Chicago Blackhawks

One of the nice things about Denis Savard early on is his lack of "old school" thinking. He's shortening his bench when he needs to and riding his hot players as much as possible. Even in just a handful of games so far this season, can there be anyone hotter or better than Martin Havlat right now? I think not.

The adjectives to describe his play have already been used up. "Dynamic" pretty much covers it all when it comes to #24. He's the complete package, even showing unselfishness in his own end. I'm not sure what his best attribute is but the combination of speed, quickness, and instincts is nearly unmatched in the NHL.

We always throw around the word "finisher" when talking about scorers in the league. He's the definition. His uncanny ability to find the back of the net from all angles and positions on the ice is, in my opinion, what separates him from just being a very good player to what he is: an elite one.

Now I'm not telling you anything you don't know. Your eyes will tell you everything. The stats aren't lying either. At this writing he was averaging an incredible two points a game. 98% of the players who miss 19 games need some time to, well, get their timing back. This is another thing that separates Havlat. It's literally like he didn't miss a game.

We're not talking about a men's league here, where, say, Troy Murray, can look like he never retired. This is the fastest league in the world. Look at Tuomo Ruutu, a great athlete in his own right. He needed four or five games to get going after his injury -- not the case with Havlat.

Back to my original point. Denis Savard's early use of the Hawks star gives me hope that this one player can carry this team to the playoffs. Already he's been double shifted on power plays and five on five, while even being out there up 3-1 with seconds remaining and an empty net. Why not? Why take a chance when you can really seal it with an easy one? (In this case, Arkhipov did just that.)

It's a mentality not all coaches have. None of this rolling out four lines and dividing the playing time equally. He's great so he plays more. End of story. I can't wait until Savvy uses him on penalty kills. I'll go out on a limb: The shorties will increase substantially. Savard was a great star and has to have an idea how to treat one.

Add Peter Bondra to the mix and things could get real interesting real quick. We'll know soon enough what he has left in his tank. Health will be a key issue down the stretch for this team and don't forget the Bulin Wall has returned to form so the Hawks have some positives moving into the New Year.

Savvy, Havlat, and the coach's handling of him are right at the top of the list.

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