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BLITZ 07 TEAM REVIEW - CHICAGO - A LEAGUE

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Here is the review of Chicago. I believe I just have to do Montreal to complete all 24 teams now?! I also plan to go back to the review of my Washington team. It was my first effort & didn't have much detail in it, so i'll complete that to finish off. As always, comments welcome and hope you enjoy.

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CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS - BLITZ 07 A LEAGUE

COACH: ZALEX

TEAM LINK: http://www.blitz94.com/draftab/rosterinfo.asp?team=CHI

TEAM OVERVIEW

The Blackhawks will have been devastated at their heartbreaking exit from Blitz 06. Powered by Jeremy Roenick's 91 goals and 135 points Chicago dominated the Blitz A league with an incredible 34-9-1 season before cruelly losing out to eventual champions Montreal in a thrilling 7 game semi-final series.

JR has moved on to pastures new for the first time in his Blitz career, so how are the Blackhawks going to cope with the loss of their iconic talisman? There haven't been too many major changes here, but they do have a big name replacement in Roenick's place, and added offensive depth which they'll hope will cover the points lost from JR's departure.

Whilst it didn't seem to hurt them too much last season, opposition teams look likely to target their lack of defensive size & elite skills, but you have to think Chicago are set for another strong season..........but will it be as successful now they're not fueled by Roenick-Power?

TEAM MAKE-UP

There's only one place to start here - Who's taking JR's place on the Blitz 07 Chicago roster? Enter Kirk Muller. A very different player to JR for sure, but can he achieve similar stats? Well he's just shy of 2.200 points a game in his Blitz career, which may not be quite up there with JR, but it's still pretty hot, and past 80, 79 & 73 goal seasons show he can hit the net on more than a regular basis. Whilst JR is all lightweight speed, finishing and power shots, Muller brings a much more physical game. 9 weight, 4/4 skating, 4/4 shot, 4 passing and 4 checking make him a great all round player, but a real handful too, with the ability to ride the challenges and get back on D as well.

So who joins Muller for Chicago's attempt to go one better this season? They've actually retained a lot of their most important players from Blitz 06, including on offence: Pierre Turgeon, Vladimir Ruzicka and Paul Ranheim, and on defence: Matt Schneider, Curtis Leschyshyn, Bruce Driver and Jim Johnson. I think this is probably the most complete 06 roster of all, with these 7 players all retained.

Pierre Turgeon is my personal '94 cult-hero, and a fantastic 2nd forward on any roster. Another 9 weight with 4/4 skating, 5 Off aware, 4/5 shot and 4 passing. Turgeon can do it all. Like Muller he's tough to knock down, but it's that awesome shot that makes him such a valuable player. Combined with his Off aware he finds the space to receive the deadly passes, and it's his great positioning that helps make his one-timer arguably up there with the best in the game. At C or cutting in from the right he's gonna get goals, and it's a toss up as to whether Turgeon or Muller will lead down the middle in the absence of Roenick. With a 2.200 PPG average in his career Turgeon's a touch better than Muller, and may get the nod.

Vladimir Ruzicka was Chicago's #3 forward last season, and he may well be again this time around. With 4/3 skating, 4/3 shooting and 3 passing his skills are more average than a number of his team mates, but his big 10 weight means he's another that's going to take the hits, and a Muller, Turgeon, Ruzicka line is going to be a nightmare to defend against. He's about to start his 6th season with the Blackhawks and with a career PPG average of 1.900 Chicago have big points guaranteed once again.

If they're your front 3 Paul Ranheim is a great looking backup for them. At 8 weight he's yet another who's tough to defend against, and his 4/4 speed combined with average shooting and passing skills make him solidly reliable, which is probably why he's back for his 5th season with Chicago in Blitz 07.

Completing the forward slots are 2 more nice looking players, who add more lightweight options in Adam Graves and Alexei Kovalev. Graves adds just a touch more depth to the roster than the Blackhawks had last season, which could help them make up the lost Roenick points. With 4/4 skating and his 6 weight he'll be hard to catch, and could get behind defences better than anyone else on the Chicago roster. His 2/3 shot and 3 passing is nothing special, but he does still add something a little different all the same. Kovalev is another genuine option off the bench with 4/3 skating, 3/4 shooting and 3 passing. A little less speed, but a little more shooting ability than Graves, depending on what you want to try.

The forwards look a nice group that are going to be tough to dominate for even the biggest defences, with a good variation of skills.........but can they cover the loss of the '94 legend?

So the same defensive 4 that helped Chicago dominate the Blitz 06 A league are back..............what can we expect from them? Matt Schneider looks the most skilled of the group, and therefore the most likely to help out on offence. 3/4 skating and 4 passing makes an accomplished offensive Dman, but his 7 weight and 3 checking means he's not the biggest hitter, and could struggle against the bigger forwards. Curtis Leschyshyn actually has an impressive 1.035 PPG average in his career, helped by his 3/4 skating and 3 passing, but his 9 weight makes him more of a physical presence than Schneider, which possibly explains is superior productivity?

Bruce Driver is another light Dman and has average skating and passing. Hard to know exactly what he adds, but he's yet another with a long history on the Blackhawks roster who Zalex has faith in. Jim Johnson's 2/3 skating and 7 weight make him another average Dman here, but his 4 passing is equal to Schnieders. Maybe he comes in when better possession play is needed?

The D doesn't have the quality to the offence, and in particular lacks goals to assist the forwards, but they're solidly skilled and all have years on this team. This continuity must be an advantage to Zalex, who by now knows them inside out.

In goal the elite Felix Potvin has gone, which of course is a big loss, but with Bill Ranford coming in they have a quality replacement.

STARS

One of the biggest names has gone, so this team is going to be all about how many points Kirk Muller & Pierre Turgeon can conjure up between them. They have a huge responsibility on their shoulders!

In goal Ranford will also be under pressure to prove he can fill Potvin's shoes.

This roster certainly doesn't have the star power of last season that's for sure.

WEAKNESSES

Whilst the forward line retains good passing, muscle and finishing ability, without Roenick we're lacking both major shot power, and also elite speed. You have to think that's going to cost Chicago a few goals over the course of a season.

On D it has to be said - They're a long way short of elite. It's a really small, averagely skilled D line that's not going to contribute major points, and doesn't hit very hard. Kirk Muller is actually the biggest hitter on the roster, and the only player above a 10 checking effect. Big offensive teams could have a good time here.

PRE-SEASON PREDICTION - PLAYOFF QUALIFICATION

OK, so because of the coach we know we can expect them to be challenging again for sure, but with Roenick & Potvin gone they've lost an elite star at both ends of the ice. That has to make them weaker this season. With such an average defence too many opponents may fancy their chances against Chicago this season, knowing they're less of a scoring threat this time round.

Despite all of that I still think Chicago are going to be a real handful for everyone. With such a big, skilled offence they could steam-roller teams for sure, even if the loss of Roenick's speed does require a change of playing style.

For me it all depends on whether they can continue to score at the same rate without JR, and if they can keep the same amount out of their net without Potvin............an interesting season should be in store.

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Great write up again rob. Zalex will have no problem getting 'Potvineske' results from Ranford, Muller is also fatter than JR and as good of a goal scorer as most in this game; this team did not lose much of anything.

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Great write up again rob. Zalex will have no problem getting 'Potvineske' results from Ranford, Muller is also fatter than JR and as good of a goal scorer as most in this game; this team did not lose much of anything.

Well, Muller's PPG average is just under 2.200, whilst Ronenick's is 2.700, so there's half a point every game Zalex needs to make up straight away.

Potvin's career save % is .688 compared to Ranford's .673, so a .015 difference there. Not too bad.

Still a very strong roster, but Zalex's play needs to find probably an extra 0.550 points per game this season to bridge the gap for sure.

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Zalex will have no problem getting 'Potvineske' results from Ranford

This will be interesting to see. Potvin had a ridiculous 2.53 GAA in the regular season with 44 GP. Since the defense is the same, we'll see if Ranford can come close to that. I have my doubts, but Zalex is one player who can definitely prove me wrong.

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This will be interesting to see. Potvin had a ridiculous 2.53 GAA in the regular season with 44 GP. Since the defense is the same, we'll see if Ranford can come close to that. I have my doubts, but Zalex is one player who can definitely prove me wrong.

Hes seems to have good chemistry with ranford too. 2.53 will be hard to beat, but replacing jr with muller will def hlp defensively.

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Great write up again rob. Zalex will have no problem getting 'Potvineske' results from Ranford, Muller is also fatter than JR and as good of a goal scorer as most in this game; this team did not lose much of anything.

Ya, what he said too. :D

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Well, Muller's PPG average is just under 2.200, whilst Ronenick's is 2.700, so there's half a point every game Zalex needs to make up straight away.

You cant compare two players PPG when they were not used by the same coaches. PPG is not reflected by the player attributes but by the coach skill.

The only season Muller was in the hands of a true A coach, he achieved 2.909pts/g.

When I drafted Turgeon last year, he had a PPG around 2.10. I achieved 2.977pts/g with him.

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You cant compare two players PPG when they were not used by the same coaches. PPG is not reflected by the player attributes but by the coach skill.

The only season Muller was in the hands of a true A coach, he achieved 2.909pts/g.

When I drafted Turgeon last year, he had a PPG around 2.10. I achieved 2.977pts/g with him.

Blah blah blah, i'm good, radiogagagablahblah fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu

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You cant compare two players PPG when they were not used by the same coaches. PPG is not reflected by the player attributes but by the coach skill.

The only season Muller was in the hands of a true A coach, he achieved 2.909pts/g.

When I drafted Turgeon last year, he had a PPG around 2.10. I achieved 2.977pts/g with him.

Erm............that's actually the whole point of these reviews - To analyse the teams and players, and less so the coach using them. We all know the coach skill is the deciding factor, which is why I occasionally do give a nod to the guy using them, but it's more to give the reader an idea of the team set up & the factors affecting their likely playing style and strategies to beat them.

Sorry. I'll do yours again:

Chicago, A League. Zalex.

Zalex is s**t hot regardless of who he's got, so forget your chances & start playing for 2nd place.

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wtga my name is not AJ cant you read. im not bragging.

just saying Muller is better than 2.2ppg guy

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CHICAGA

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