Anyway, Nicolas-Cage based antics aside, this series is now 2-1 and the Hawks now have a chance to make the return to Nashville an elimination game (Which sounds like a tortuous setup for a urine -based pun, but I won’t go there…heh, heh). Despite some reversals , especially in the immediate aftermath of scoring a goal, and some curious coaching decisions, the Blackhawks dominated this one for long stretches and were well worth the win. Shall we address the matter at hand? We shall.
Somehow this series is tied 1-1. The Blackhawks deserve to be opening up game 3 at United Center down 2-0 and needing to be desperate. They’re still comfortable right now, it seems. They’ve miraculously taken home ice advantage back despite being the worse team in both contests.
The goaltending “controversy” happening in Chicago is taking center stage in the media and even in the locker room. Scott Darling is getting the start this afternoon, but that’s masking the fact that the Hawks have been hot garbage in front of whichever guy is standing in the blue paint and it’s been that way for weeks.
You know it’s the playoffs when the Tribune’s Dumbass-In-Chief, David Haugh, stops fretting about Kris Bryant long enough to give we mere mortals the benefit of his wisdom. Yesterday, he pinched off a real steamer about the “Goalie Controversy” ahead of Game 2. Needless to say, it’s down to his usual level of gibberish but fear not, intrepid reader, I’ve gone behind the paywall so you don’t have to.
Hello and welcome to Narrative Heaven. Last night had a bit of everything, didn’t it? A first period meltdown, Roszival and Shaw being terrible, the goalie getting pulled and replaced by the “local” boy, the comeback, the fourth year in a row we go to overtime in the Hawks’ Game 1, action, drama, redemption, MOAR OVERTIME and finally Victory and a win on the road that starts this series off the Flahavans’ Way. In addition, I was kept up until 6am by Playoff hockey.. oh, how I’ve missed that.
Let’s get into this, shall we?
Those of you who were around this site last year may recall that, rather than shaving off my beard and regrowing it, I instead chose to brew a beer during the playoffs with the eventual aim of using it to toast victory. The beer turned out just fine but, sadly, was imbibed a little sooner than planned. Oh well.
Prior to heading into the playoff series vs Nashville the guys get together to discuss Antoine Vermette’s entrance to the witness protection program, the return of Patrick Kane and what it’ll take for the Blackhawks to move on to the 2nd round. They also look across the other seven playoff series on tap and take some stabs at the NHL Awards to be handed out after the playoffs.
Audio after the jump.
“To Piss On One’s Chips” is defined thus by Urban Dictionary:
“…to really mess something up for yourself (rather than for someone else) with an unnecessary and/or stupid act….The origin of the expression is from the scenario in the UK of a guy buying some takeaway chips (french fries for any US readers) after an evening’s drinking.
Finding that he then needs a piss on the way home, the inebriated guy finds a quiet spot somewhere then and puts his chips on the ground nearby while he relieves himself. In his drunken state he then accidentally pisses on his chips, thus depriving himself of his meal through his own carelessness and stupidity”.
A better definition would be the highlights of last night’s game, with special attention paid to Michal Roszival.
It gets really grim when the Blackhawks have a day off after a particularly demoralising defeat. As a fanbase we take to social media and comment threads en masse in order to tear our hair and each others throats out. Considering that this specific defeat is the third really bad one in the last four games, the angst levels have been redlining. That’s not to say this is without good reason: losing three out of four is never a Good Thing, but losing them to non-playoff teams in abject fashion makes it far worse. It isn’t even so much the lowly status of the Stars, Flyers and Beej that stings, it’s the patheric capitulation by the Hawks in those losses (and you can include the win over the Canes in that, too: the Hawks did their level best to fuck that up as well). just four games ago we were coming off a successful trip to New York talking about a run at the Division. Now the Hawks are (at least temporarily) in the Wild Card mix and we’re looking anxiously over our shoulders at Winnipeg.
The boys take on the last week of Blackhawks action and discuss Q’s roster usage, the effectiveness of Brad Richards, and what’s going on with the rest of the playoff picture on the Jocelyn Lemieux episode. Listen after the jump.
This effing Hockey Team.. right after I bigged them up in relation to the Central (and by default, Western) title race, on the back of a shutout of the Rags, the Hawks go and #Cube one up against the out-of-it-even-if-they-don’t-believe-it-themselves Stars. Guess those are the breaks. What made it doubly annoying was the Wings making it three straight losses (albeit with loserpoints involved) for the Blues. Boy, St Louis must be looking forward to a playoff series against Minnesota the way one looks forward to a proctological examination. Anyway, stuff:
OK, that one felt pretty good, despite it not being a “classic” but rather a tight, disciplined effort from both sides, backed up by excellent goaltending. Could have gone either way but Brad Richards popped up late in the 3rd and clearly greatly enjoyed his goal against the team that scratched him in the playoffs ahead of buying him out last offseason (although I’m sure he enjoys cashing the checks they’ll be writing him till the sun goes supernova more), Scott Darling earned his first NHL shutout and the Hawks leave the Empire State with four points from two games against two of the East’s best.
That was a short recap, hey? Let’s talk more stuff, specifically how the rest of this season looks..
Matt Carey Cam Barker Jerome Dupont episode. In the first cast since Pat Kane’s collarbone become more than one piece the guys discuss the implications of the injury, the replacements acquired to help soften the blow and of course there’s plenty of Teuvo talk after his big game against the Rangers. We do wonder if Patrick Sharp will ever emerge from urinal trough he’s been stuck in for the better part of two months however.
Audio after the jump.
That one was annoying. Granted, the Rangers are one of the top teams out East but last night felt like a squandered opportunity to close in on the floundering Predators and the stuttering Blues, not to mention putting a little distance between the Hawks and the Wild, who are riding Devan Dubnyk right back into the postseason picture. If there was going to be a bounce from the new acquisitions, it was going to be here.
After the shovel to the face that was Tuesday in Chicago sports the staff got together to do an emergency roundtable and share their feelings about the rest of the season in light of Patrick Kane’s injury.
1.) So, the season is effectively over, yes? Y/N/M/brb
mMD: In the words of the great Walter Sobchak: “Nothing is fucked, dude.. come on, you’re being very un-Dude”. This could mean a decent run on a top line for Teuvo and a fit and rested Kane in the playoffs. In the words of the great Walter Sobchak: “Nothing is fucked, dude.. come on, you’re being very un-Dude”. This could mean a decent run on a top line for Teuvo and a fit and rested Kane in the playoffs.
LePac: I’m not in a joking mood about this today, so I’m looking entirely to numbers. Kane’s health is obviously important, but the season won’t turn on him. It’s about our fucked up D-corp. We won’t make it through without addressing that.
Bartl: We were bitching up a storm about how the ‘Hawks are going to struggle to win a playoff series BEFORE one of the NHL’s leading scorers suffered an up-to-10-week injury. There’s my answer.
Nakis: Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? My answer is an emphatic no.
Adam: I have a very difficult time seeing how a team that was entering a questionable slide with Patrick Kane is going to advance to the conference finals without Patrick Kane. There’s so many variables here that have to go in Chicago’s favor for the season not to be over. They need to use as much of the $5.2M possible made available by Kane’s LTIR placement to upgrade the current roster, Kane’s injury needs to heal at the shorter end of his timetable than the 12 week portion and the Blues/Predators need to start playing closer to Earth as April approaches. If you think all of that is not only possible but probable, then the season is not in danger of ending early.
tl;dr.. They’re done.
2.) Do you still want the Blackhawks to try and acquire talent for this season at the deadline? If yes, who and why? If no, why not?
mMD: Until bits started falling off Oduya, I’d have said no. What Q needs to do is limit Roszival’s exposure as a bottom-pairing d-man. Now.. yes, a cheap blueline rental would seem neccesary.
LePac: Nick Leddy. He’s still available, right?
Bartl: Try? Sure. But even saying “The Hawks acquired the best available player at the deadline” doesn’t do very much good if said player isn’t all that good to begin with. Even with Kane going down, I’d like to see an upgrade at defenseman, if anything is done at all.
Tom: No. I don’t. I want them to just run this season out with the current crap. Why? Because I don’t want to add some half-assed veterans like Chris Stewart to try and make some postseason run. This team has greater issues than they believe they do and any stopgap acquisitions aren’t going to be enough to help them compete with the big boys. You might as well just run into the postseason with what you’ve got and hope that somehow Corey Crawford turns into Dominik Hasek.
Nakis: No, let’s just give up in a “go for it” season and surrender to the playoff giant St. Louis Blues.
Adam: There’s a fence post up my ass on this one. When I sent out these questions yesterday I was a hard no. After talking it over with the rest of the guys there’s a couple of moves that would be OK with me. With McKenzie mentioning Vermette by name and Keith Yandle reportedly available I would be fine with mortgaging part of the future from Rockford to upgrade down the middle and on the backend in that fashion with one swift move. Stan has been hesitant to make splashes in the past and with this team needing help on both sides of the puck it would seem to me that having one trade partner instead of two would make the cost more manageable for such a large upgrade. Kinda like going to CostCo for butter. What, no one else does that? It’s going to cost them some prime talent to make a move like that happen, but with no cap in the playoffs and this being one last run with this group, that’s probably how you’d do it. You probably won’t ever see Danault, McNeil or someone like Klas Dahlbeck in a Hawks sweater though.
3.) This Kane injury is going to give Joel Quenneville and Stan Bowman a free pass for this season, isn’t it? Should it?
mMD: Both are untouchable anyway. Two Cups etc etc. But yes, there’ll be an Escape Goat (sic) for the season (assuming we don’t have a parade in june and I still believe that’s a distinct possibility)
LePac: It should not. I don’t remember the current estimate for how many goals equals a win, but I know it’s not enough to conclude that losing Kane’s hypothetical goals over the next 21 games would significantly affect the standings. And if we’re talking about individual game heroics in a first round he misses, well . . . that’s just guess work. Maybe he would have been Kane of the L.A. Hat Trick. Maybe he would have been Kane of the Games before the L.A. Hat Trick. Who knows. It. Is. About. The. Defense.
Bartl: It will, but it shouldn’t. It’s going to overshadow all the lineup mismanagement over the course of the 61 games that Kane played. And if the Hawks bow out early in the playoffs, people will say it was because either Kane wasn’t playing or the team lacked enough time to jell while he was out.
Tom: Sure is. No it should not. As I said earlier, this team has significant issues and this is just going to give them a free pass to not acknowledge those.
Nakis: No. The failure to work in young players like Teuvo Teravainen and Klas Dahlbeck is now coming full circle. I, for one, will not forget this.
Adam: I’m with everybody else and this is probably the most heated I get about something that spins off from Kane getting hurt other than the injury itself obviously. Quenneville and Bowman will both get a pass no matter the season outcome. If they’re able to swing a big deal before March 2nd and Quenneville assimilates those parts well while also actually using Teravainen effectively then they’re heralded as heroes. If they don’t make an upgrade and bow out early, you just point to the fact that your best player got banged up.
4.) Is Teuvo returning and likely getting significant minutes a silver lining to you?
mMD: It’s a Platinum lining. Q is going to be forced to deploy real offensive talent in the top-six and… oh, shit, Gorilla Salad is going on the 2nd Line, isn’t he?
LePac: Well, he’s back of this writing which is great. I hope that whatever Sharp did to anger Q is still alive and well and burning Q’s whiskers enough that Q’s unwillingness to slot Teuvo in with a decent line intersects with his fiery hate for Sharp and we get a Teuvo-Sharp. How good is that fucking buddy cop movie?
Bartl: I have to find out with whom he’s playing first. And no matter where he’s place, it needs to stay that way consistently so he’s not being flopped around the lineup constantly.
Tom: No. I hope he comes up here and dominates for a few weeks and our TWO CUP GUY Quenneville looks like a dumbfuck for sending him down in favor of the talentless Joakim Nordstrom and the ever-redundant Ryan Hartmann.
Nakis: Yes. The Blogger v. Hockey Buzz commenter war on this issue has been raging for years now without any real hard evidence. LET’S GET IT ON.
Adam: Nope. Doesn’t mean I don’t want him to have success in his second stint this year but this is not how I wanted him recalled.
5.) Which numbskull is going to do something stupid in Sunrise today?
mMD: See above. Although you’ve got to believe that the players know it wasn’t as bad as some fans are calling it.
LePac: Frankly, I hope Go’Sal takes a run that looks awful, causes no real injuries to anyone, but earns himself a long suspension on account of being an insufferable waste of our time, money, and meagerly apportioned existence.
Bartl: I’m afraid the list of numskulls on this team is long than of those who are playing well, so I could name more than half the roster.
Tom: Nobody. This team is too damn soft to do anything stupid. Carcillo knows that if he does, he’s done so he won’t.
Nakis: Bryan Bickell will take several runs at Petrovic, only to pull up at the very last second. In all seriousness, the Hawks don’t do revenge. We saw it when Ovie hit Campbell in 2010. We saw it when Orpik hit Toews last year. It just doesn’t happen.
Adam: Patrick Sharp
On the Bob Probert episode we chat with Sirius Chicago Blackhawks correspondent Al Cimaglia about the Hawks’ recent slide. We try and understand the roster construction, where blame should be placed, and what can be done to get the Blackhawks back to being a perennial powerhouse. Jim’s computer dies.
I was entertained. If you weren’t please seek medical attention immediately.
It felt like the Chicago Blackhawks controlled this contest tonight for the better part of 45 minutes of game action. The thing is, they really didn’t though. The Red Wings seemed to get their legs underneath them in the final frame and it was the right time considering the game was tied heading into the that last period of play. This game was pretty much flipped on its head. Even the shot totals reflected that with the Blackhawks hammering Detroit 17-6 in the first period, an 8-8 even second period and the Wings having an 11-7 advantage in the last period.
But back to how I opened this: this was a hell of a hockey game and it really is a shame we only play these guys twice a year anymore.
It’s the Kris Versteeg episode of Cheer The Podcast. The guys discuss the past week of Hawks games, whether or not they have enough depth to compete in the Western Conference, and the moves that have already been made by Nashville.
We all wanted Hossa to be a hero. He didn’t need to score the winning goal against Vancouver. He sent the game to overtime. That was enough. We hailed him for it.
Then, early in OT, Sedin offered a silent objective rebuttal to homophobes and ingrates. The Hawks lost. Hossa got a loser point and a fine harangue. We’ll call him a fucking hero.
All around the league losses are rotting on the ice. Points left behind. Some days we anoint heroes. Other days we damn them all. Who is just a loser? Who is a fucking hero.
We decide, based on nothing. Hossa is a fucking hero. Hossa still lost. So did the whole team. They all lost.
Maybe you claim Hossa as a hero because you need something beautiful to cling to in the wee hours. Maybe you claim Hossa–especially in the aftermath of embarrassing defeat–because simply accepting that even the best teams skid sucks the meaning away. I know I do.
No matter what your reason, it is selfish. It means nothing. The Hawks still lost. They still left two points rotting on the ice. But he’s a fucking hero.
And now what? After the Canucks game, Teuvo earned a ticket to Somewhere in Illinois that is Not Chicago. LIke I said in our Round Table, even the Pope admits he can’t explain how his supposedly loving God permits the suffering of innocents. Where does that leave Hawks fans, drenched as we are in pride and avarice? It leaves us with our Golden Boy clipping coupons for the Olive Garden.
Which begs the question: do we try and force meaning into this game tonight? We can hue and cry but we cannot affect the front office. We can contort a February skid into a narrative of challenge and grit. We can write off losses to a bored team that maybe, just maybe, isn’t placing hockey at the top of its daily To-Do list.
Whatever path you choose, know that it is meaningless. The season will grind on, wins and losses accumulating whether we swear blind allegiance or boycott, the end result of countless events too obscure to measure. We are powerless to affect change.
So I choose to rage against the heavens. I don’t want a fucking hero. I want a team. I want Carcillo and Shaw off my team. I want Teuvo back from Nebraska or wherever the fuck they sent him. I want whatever happened one spring evening at the penalty box door in Detroit two years ago. I will not be happy until this team’s name rings from the throats of choirs raised in triumphant measure.
You keep your fucking heroes. I want a fucking team.
Coming up a fraction of an inch short of taking all six points on a three-games-in-four nights stretch probably should feel better than it does. But when the Blackhawks fail on four power-play chances – including a 4-on-3 in overtime – and take a dumb penalty that gives an inferior opponent a chance to swing the momentum, it becomes a little more difficult to swallow.
The no-call on the ice is what put the ‘Hawks at a disadvantage even before the video review, and to me the more disheartening fact of that same sequence was Brandon Saad hitting the crossbar that would’ve made the puck that toed the line moot. Antti Raanta ended up getting out-classed in the shootout, Mike Smith decided not to completely suck for a night and the Blackhawks dropped the first of an eight-game homestand, 3-2 to Arizona.
With Kris Versteeg about to make his return against Vancouver on Wednesday, the focus now shifts to who will be sent down to Rockford to open up a roster spot. Will it be Teuvo? Nordstrom? We’ll find out soon enough.
But let’s take a quick look at some points from this loss…
- As close as Shaw was to getting credited for the winning goal, he was just as close to blowing the whole thing. A bonehead turnover in his own zone led to a breakaway that Raanta was able to stone. I’d seriously like to know why this guy doesn’t catch more flak from the beats and why Q continues to put every ounce of trust in giving Shaw power-play time and minutes in big situations. I know us here at CtA have harped on this topic plenty, but it deserves mentioning as long as it continues happening. In his defense, he won 12 of 15 at the dot.
- Speaking of problems, Ben Smith continues to be terrible. His gaffe led directly to Arizona’s second goal, and he spent most of his nearly 12 minutes on his ass. Also, Johnny Oduya was #bad again after a solid showing against St. Louis.
- Patrick Kane cannot take that penalty. I’m guessing he was voicing his displeasure over an offsides call, but that’s no excuse to be sent to the box for only the second time this season. The mistake ended up in the back of the net, and the Hawks were caught in a tie game despite owning most of the contest up to that point.
- To speak on more positive notes, the Saad-Toews-Hossa line was fantastic. I’m convinced Toews listened to the podcast, because even he would admit the bit of ribbing we gave him for his recent play was warranted. He had an extremely solid all-around game and assisted on both of Hossa’s goals. Saad drew the penalty on Erat in overtime and created the opportunity on the delayed call.
- Staying with Hossa, let’s keep this little run going, shall we? He’s scored each of the Blackhawks’ last four goals after netting the final two in Sunday’s win over the Blues. He scored four goals in his previous 16 games combined.
Oh, let us know what you think about Teuvo…
Everything else I have is in Boxing….
Cheer the Podcast Episode 22 (2.8.15): A week after dropping two of three in California the guys reconvene to discuss coming away from three divisional games with four points. Other topics include the upcoming eight game homestand, the impending return of Kris Versteeg as it relates to Brad Richards and inexplicably somehow talk of the Calgary Flames making the playoffs shoehorns its way into this one. Of course, plenty of Teuvo too.
Audio after the jump.
The Blackhawks have been reeling for a few weeks and we haven’t seen their best hockey since before Christmas. One of the prevailing excuses for why that is has been that this is the mid-season doldrums. Maybe the Hawks have been bored. They know they’re almost guaranteed a playoff spot if they play mediocre hockey until the end of the season. But something about that seemed like too easy of an out for a team that’s struggled to score goals lately.
Today, we had ample opportunity for some evidence for that theory. A rivalry matinee game with a STL team that has been pummeling opponents lately, all coming after an OT win on Friday night. How would the Blackhawks play?
Well, they played well enough to beat the Blues on the road. A disgusting one-timer from Brandon Saad to Marian Hossa in the third period put the Hawks in the lead for good after blowing two leads throughout the game.
At moments, they looked like a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. At others, they looked like the pedestrian team that gets manhandled by Minnesota. The good news is that those moments were fleeting and the mistakes the Hawks made were mostly because the Blues are a damn good team. They force their opponents to make mistakes and Chicago showed enough resilience and effort to overcome them.
We’re podcasting later, so let’s get a quick breakdown… More >
Now Rise, Chicago
We tithed to them when poor
We tithed to them when weak
We tithed to them in honor’s name
To lift up the arctic’s meek.
Gen’rous host, a role we played
By the Lake or River’s shore,
Bound for glory we did know
Three games we could afford.
Without a thanks they took them
And turned upon us swift.
No honor have the ‘Peggers
Who spurn such gracious gifts.
The time has gone for charity.
The time has gone for grace.
The time has come to show them
Their proper lowly place.
Now Rise Chicago, cast aside
Your kind and gentle heart.
Unsheathe your sword and bellow
Like the God of War thou art.
Now Rise Chicago, do not rest
Until the light bleeds red.
Now Rise Chicago, do not rest
Until their dreams are dead.
There are plenty of things that piss me off. Like traffic, people who are too lazy and ignorant to clear the pile of snow on the top and back of their vehicles and let it blind other drivers on the expressway, and those who say, “Yuck, this tastes disgusting. Here, try it.”
You can add the Blackhawks playing like dog shit during a long, important road trip to that list. They squandered two points against the Kings, dismantled a flawed Ducks team, failed to do much of anything against the Sharks and then looked rather disinterested against the Wild in a game where getting a pair of points was pretty much necessary.
Each player we consider bad was downright awful, and the ones we count on for production weren’t very good either. Corey Crawford was probably the best Blackhawk on Tuesday. Too bad he didn’t get any help, as the ‘Hawks were blanked for the first time in consecutive games for the first time since 2006.
I break down most everything in Boxing, but here are a couple of points:
— In the CtA text thread during the game, a solid point was brought up. The Hawks simple have too many “just guys,” i.e. players who simply put on a uniform, skate around, do essentially nothing and head back to the bench. Joakim Nordstrom, Ben Smith, Andrew Shaw, Bryan Bickell, Michal Rozsival and Johnny Oduya were discussed. The fourth line as a whole basically has been terrible. Why Shaw continues to get minutes on the first power-play unit and in important situations when a goal is needed simply defies logic at this point. His bonehead penalty seconds after the ‘Hawks were awarded a power play is a prime example.
— Pat Foley reminded us again how Coach Q consistently makes the point that the team that comes out better after a 5-on-3 situation usually seizes momentum and wins the game. Well, the ‘Hawks had a great kill of such a situation and turned away the rest of the penalty … then still gave up 24 shots on goal in the period and came away with zero points. Thanks.
— Did Teuvo play all that well? Not particularly, especially on the third goal. Is he being used properly? No, of course not. His time with Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp had little to do with Teuvo and everything with Brad Richards being so bad that Q had no choice but to make the switch.
— And hey, this road trip gets more fucking terrible. Winnipeg on Friday and an afternoon tilt with St. Louis. The Hawks have two points out of eight possible so far. At this point, getting at least to overtime in both games would be a victory.
Cheer the Podcast Episode 21 (2.1.15) – We wrap up the California trip, bring on our first guest, ESPN.com’s Corey Pronman, to discuss the Adam Clendening-Gustav Forsling deal and the Blackhawks’ prospect pipeline, and we talk about the second half of the lengthy Hawks’ roadie.