CSNChicago.com Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers and PGLhost Chris Boden will evaluate the 2011-12 performance of each player on theHawks roster. One breakdown will occur every weekday in numerical order.In his 16th NHL season, Andrew Brunette played in 78games and averaged 13 minutes and 33 seconds per game. He scored 12 goals (fouron the power play) with 15 assists (three on the power play) for 27 points andfinished minus-13. He was credited with 21 hits and four penalty minutes. Inthe series vs. Phoenix, Brunette scored one goal (in Game 3), has no assistsand finished minus-3.Boden's take: The team was almost unbeatable when hefound the scoresheet (25-2). Problem was, he couldn't find it often enough inthe least-productive full season of his career. The times his soft hands paidoff around the net couldn't make up for hs lack of speed that really left himlooking like a square peg in a round hole on this team for much of theseason.Maybe his lack of a defined role -- or line -- affected hiseffectiveness. The 38-year-old has been a definition of durability throughout hiscareer, and he played through a painful foot injury in the playoffs.Myers' take: The veteran wing has a great set of handsand that was beneficial around the net. That made him a decent option for apower play that needed someone who was willing to be a net presence. ButBrunettes lack of speed meant he had a tough time keeping up with his swifterteammates. He started on top lines and had a few later games there. He was partof that troika with Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane that got hot late in the season.But he spent more time getting juggled up and down the forward lines, nevertruly finding a niche anywhere. The constant changing showed in his stats: his27 points were his fewest since 1998-99 (31 with the Nashville Predators).2012-13 ExpectationsChris: Brunette already indicated the team won't have himback next season, and he had to decide whether this would be a disappointingend to an otherwise productive NHL career that dates back 16 seasons.Tracey: Brunette basically said hes not planning onbeing back with the Blackhawks next season. Sounds like he was told as much,anyway. But right now its uncertain whether hell even play anywhere nextseason. The 38-year-old said he needed to think about whether he wanted to playanother NHL season after wrapping up his 16th. If this was it, Brunette had apretty solid career on which to look back.How do you feel about this evaluation? As always, be sureto chime in with your thoughts by commenting below and check out some ofBrunette's highlights above.Previously: Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, SteveMontador, Sean O'Donnell, Brent Seabrook, Nick Leddy, Patrick Sharp, DanielCarcilloUp next: Marcus Kruger
There were six teams deserving of reaching the College Football Playoff this season. But there were only four spots.
But what if there were more spots?
An expansion of the Playoff field to eight teams has seemed inevitable from the day the four-team system was announced. Four more Playoff games means oodles more TV viewers, which means oodles more dollars.
And then we wouldn't be having all these arguments, either — but that's nonsense because of course we would, trying to figure out who got snubbed from the expanded bracket.
But this season's emphasis on the conference-champion debate might kick the efforts to expand the Playoff into high gear. Just take it from NCAA president Mark Emmert.
Mark Emmert on the CFP: “I'd like to see all five of the conference champions get in the playoff.”— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) December 7, 2016
Now, technically speaking, there are 10 FBS conferences, each of which crowns a champion at the end of every football season. Emmert is obviously referring to the Power Five conferences: the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC, Pac-12 and SEC. He might want to pick his words a bit more carefully, considering he represents the other five conferences — the American, Conference USA, the MAC, the Mountain West and the Sun Belt — too, but his point remains understood.
This season has sparked a ton of controversy as the Playoff selection committee opted for the first time to include a team that did not win its conference, Ohio State, and it picked the Buckeyes over the Big Ten champs, Penn State. Plus, Big 12 champion Oklahoma was passed over in favor of non-champion Ohio State, too, actually falling behind another non-champion from the Big Ten, Michigan, in the final Playoff rankings.
With that decision brought the reasonable question of how much a conference championship should matter in getting a team into the final four and competing for a national championship.
The Playoff committee's mission is to pick the country's four best teams, and there aren't many people out there that will argue that Ohio State isn't one of the country's four best teams. But there's something to be said for winning a conference championship because if the Buckeyes can waltz into the Playoff without even playing in the Big Ten title game, why even have a conference championship game — besides, obviously, earning one more night of big-time TV money.
And so the call for an expanded Playoff bracket has reached perhaps its greatest volume in the short time the Playoff has existed. The obvious solution to Power Five conference champions continually being boxed out is to lock in five spots on the bracket for the five conference champions. Then, guarantee a spot for the highest-ranked team from the Group of Five conferences, and you're left with two "at-large" spots that this season would've gone to Ohio State and Michigan, two of the highest-profile programs in the country sure to drive TV viewership in battles against conference-champion Alabama, Clemson, Washington, Penn State and Oklahoma teams. And P.J. Fleck's undefeated Western Michigan squad takes the final slot.
That's quite the field. But if you think it would've solved all this year's problems, you're wrong. Still there would've been outcry that red-hot USC didn't make the field. The Trojans are playing so well that they could very well win the whole thing, despite their three early season losses. That debate over snubs will exist forever, no matter the size of the field, something we see play out each and every season in the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
Also, what a damper an expanded bracket would put on the final few weeks of the regular season. Ohio State's game against Michigan, the highest-rated game of the college football season with more than 16 million people watching, would've been effectively meaningless. No matter who won or lost, both teams would've made that eight-team field, right?
Additionally, another round of Playoff football would expand the season to 16 games for some teams. That means more physical demands on student-athletes and a season cutting deep into January, which would impact their educational and time demands.
But again, an expansion of the Playoff bracket has always seemed inevitable. There's too much money to be made, and at the same time fans seem to be all about that idea. People love the postseason for good reason, and the win-or-go-home nature of the NFL playoffs make those games the most-watched sporting events of the year.
Now the NCAA president is chiming in with hopes of an expanded field. So really isn't it just a matter of time?
CSN's Chris Boden and Tracey Myers have the latest on the Blackhawks in the Road Ahead, presented by Chicagoland and NW Indiana Honda Dealers.
From an injury standpoint, it's been a tough few weeks for the Blackhawks.
The Blackhawks are down two key players in captain Jonathan Toews and goaltender Corey Crawford, and now may be without defenseman Brent Seabrook who sustained an upper-body injury in Tuesday's victory over the Arizona Coyotes.
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While the Blackhawks haven't had much luck on the injury front, their upcoming two opponents are in the same boat.
"You look at the New York Rangers, a very talented team, but this is what every team goes through every season. Your depth gets tested," Myers said.
Check out what else Boden and Myers had to say about the team's upcoming matchups in this week's Honda Road Ahead