Bartl

Editor/founder of Cheer the Anthem, season ticket holder in Section 326 and full-time sports writer who lists June 9, 2010, as one of the greatest days of his life. Contact him at jeffrey.bartl@gmail.com.


Posts by Bartl

Boxing Blues Game 3

It’s Kind of a Thing Again: Game 3 Boxing with ‘Hawks (2) and Blues (0) – Blues lead Series 2-1

 

(Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune)

(Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune)

 

In Game 1 and 2, the Blackhawks were outplayed for long stretches, held a one-goal lead in the third period before eventually succumbing to late goals in overtime defeats.

Game 3 had plenty of similarities, but Corey Crawford stood tall in net and led the Blackhawks to a 2-0 victory in one of the better games he’s ever played. His 34-save effort got the ‘Hawks back into the series and gave us all the hope we’ve been looking for after two disheartening losses.

Puck possession and a general presence in the offensive zone were essentially non-existent from about the initial burst in the first period through the final minutes of the third, and the Blues continued to up the pressure and controlled most of the action. These stretches were all too familiar from the first two games in St. Louis, and it seemed the Blues would score that eventual cock-stomping goal we’ve all come to expect.

Crawford played well in Game 1 and admittedly not so well in Game 2, but he was exceptional Monday – and the ‘Hawks needed every last bit of it.

Jonathan Toews was able to slip one past Ryan Miller in the first period, and Crawford made it stand up until Marcus Kruger added an empty netter in the final seconds. It was another up-and-down performance from the ‘Hawks, with plenty of improvement still left in order to even this series Wednesday.

– Sheldon Brookbank played a lot better than I expected and didn’t seem out of place at all filling in for the suspended Brent Seabrook. He made one defensive-zone turnover that had us holding our breath, but other than that he was solid. He even took hit from behind by known piss drinker Maxime Lapierre, who proceeded to act as if he had just been the victim of the world’s greatest injustice. Fuck you, Maxime.

– Remember how so many of us still had confidence because the ‘Hawks played well enough to win the first two games but still lost? That’s exactly how Blues fans feel after Monday, except they are still one game up and have the chance to bury the Blackhawks into a 3-1 hole heading back to St. Louis. Crawford was the difference this time by being basically perfect, but a replica of this Blues performance and one blip of imperfection from Crawford on Wednesday easily could have the ‘Hawks coming up on the losing end.

– Brandon Bollig and Ryan Reaves combined for less than 10 minutes of ice time in Game 3 because they’re both worthless piles of shit who serve absolutely zero purpose yet continued to be dressed.

– Meanwhile, Jeremy Morin sat in the press box – again.

– So, about the power play. St. Louis gave the ‘Hawks four prime chances to provide some breathing room on the scoreboard in the second period, including a brief 5 on 3. The Blackhawks are now 1 for 14 in the series, and it’s starting to become a problem given that the Blues continue to take stupid penalties and the ‘Hawks can’t take advantage. At one point on the 2-man advantage, Patrick Sharp held the puck roughly eight feet from the net for seven straight seconds with nary a shot or pass for absolutely no reason. That type of stagnation, along with trying to generate offense from the point rather than in around the net, isn’t going to get it done.

– Michal Handzus was great on the kill again Monday. He’s still a fart in the wind 5 on 5, and there’s no reason for him to be centering the second line and dragging it down. It’s a tough line to toe when he’s playing so well when the ‘Hawks are shorthanded.

– Toews won 19 of 24 faceoffs. That’s, like, good and stuff.

So the Blackhawks got away with a less-than-stellar effort to get back in the series. Get another one Wednesday – hopefully without giving fans acid reflux – and it will be a best of three. Let’s take this one and move on.

 

Here’s Boxing……..

 

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Blackhawks-Blues Boxing (1)

You Should Have Racing Stripes the Way You Keep Me in Pursuit: Overtime Boxing with Blues (4) and ‘Hawks (3) – Blues Lead Series 2-0

(Chris Sweda/ Chicago Tribune)

(Chris Sweda/ Chicago Tribune)

 

You want narratives? OK, I’ll give you narratives.. They’ll make you feel better. Which is good, because these are things you’re going to be hearing from the time you read this Sunday through faceoff of Game 3.

The Blackhawks were down 0-3 to Vancouver in 2011 and pushed the series all the way to overtime of Game 7. The ‘Hawks were down 1-3 to Detroit last season and came back and won the series on the way to winning the Stanley Cup. The Blues were up 2-0 on the Kings last season before coughing up the next four games.

Chicago has been down in a series and won, and St. Louis has been up in a series and lost. Hey! Look at that!

Want to be realistic? Probably not, but I’ll take the unpopular side and be realistic.

None of that shit matters a single bit. Not even one little word of it matters. Different teams, different years, different odds for everything. Different personnel, different opponent. If you want to get caught up in a feel-good narrative, you go right ahead and do that. I’m not going to be the one putting an arm around your shoulders to tell you, “History sides with us! We’re going to win for sure!” I have too much pride and logical thought to do that.

Now, that doesn’t mean I’m standing on the ledge, either. I might have been for the few hours following Saturday’s dick punch of a 4-3 overtime loss, but I’ve brought myself back to Earth a little bit to actually try and discuss some things without simply staring at the DOOM of a 0-2 deficit to those toenail eaters that reside in Chicago Jr.

We can begin anywhere here, so I’m just going to start with another thing you’ll be seeing for the next two days.

– Brent Seabrook’s hit is going to be characterized as dirty and will get him a suspension. There’s no suspense here. That’s what will happen. However, I’m not angry about the severity of the hit – would have probably been different had David Backes been completely upright – or what’s to follow, but rather pissed off that Seabrook put himself in that position in the first place. Up one goal, shorthanded, less than five minutes left in the third period of a playoff game and he’s taking runs at people in the corner. Seabrook would have gotten a charging call regardless of if he hit Backes in the head or shoulder or wherever. It was a hit that simply did not need to be made, and shouldn’t have been made. And then the worst possible outcome happened, and things got doubly fucked.

Not only did he put the Blackhawks in a bad position to have to kill off that major, but now a member of the top defensive pairing will be out likely multiple games in a series they trail 0-2. I understand hockey is a fast-moving, reactionary game, but Seabrook needs to take a split second to think about what the fuck he’s about to do and the situation he’s in.

– Let’s also not sleep on the league possibly taking action with Bryan Bickell, whose blatant knee-on-knee hit on Vladimir Sobotka put the ‘Hawks shorthanded in the third in the first place. He was luck to escape with a minor.

– So Brandon Bollig played a whopping 1:23 after the first period. Essentially, the ‘Hawks played the final two periods and into OT as if he’d gotten a red card (savor the soccer reference, folks). They could have put his sweater on a hanger behind the bench and it would have served the same purpose. I want Q to justify Bollig dressing in Game 3, Game 4 or for the rest of his life, for that matter. There were two guys in the press box that would have gotten more minutes had they just accidentally fallen off the bench and onto the ice.

– Speaking of changes, Michal Handzus 5-on-5 is a complete disaster. He’s as fast as a turtle in quick sand as serves as much purpose as a screen door in a submarine at even strength. Did he play well on the kill? Pretty much, but so did everyone. I would say Peter Regin could have done the same things he did shorthanded while also providing more 5-on-5.

– So, last-second goals were a thing for the Blues, eh? That sure as shit fucking sucked as much as winning a day with an NHL player and having Ryan Reaves show up.

– Lots of blame being placed on Corey Crawford for… everything. I’m sure he’d like to have the OT goal back despite not having X-ray vision to see through five guys and still be able to slow it down, but he’s the reason these games weren’t blowouts. Anyone who can’t see that should be watching an intense battle of team handball or something. That being said, he definitely wasn’t as good in Game 2 as he was in Game 1.

– Positive stuff we’re looking for, right? At least the next two games are played at the United Center. That’s something. The penalty kill has been outstanding and erased eight Blues power plays before falling six second short of killing off over six minutes of penalties to end the game. Also, the Blackhawks weren’t at their best for consistent stretches and could have won each game had it not been for late breakdowns of various kinds. Thing is, the Blues are sitting there saying, “We didn’t play our best either and still won these fucking games.” It goes two ways.

What we’ve gotten so far is the height of playoff competition in the first two games of a series against what has become a bitter rival. It’s going to make us more emotional. I get that. So I need to take my own advice and calm down a bit and see what happens in Game 3. A loss Monday and I’ll be wondering why you’re not panicking along with me.

Here’s Boxing……..

 

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BRACKET BARTL

Your Blues Inspire Our Rock ‘N’ Roll: Cheer the Podcast Ep. 11, CtA Round Table and Playoff Predictions

Blackhawks-Blues

(Columbia Missourian)

One year after having to go through their storied rival in the first round to win their second Stanley Cup in four years, the Blackhawks now begin their title defense against a St. Louis team that has taken Detroit’s place as our most-hated franchise in the Western Conference.

Before I go any further, I’d like to point out that the Blues are the only franchise that was part of the 1967 expansion that hasn’t won a Stanley Cup. Ever. Not one. At all. That’s hilarious. Fuck them.

But despite St. Louis pissing down its own leg for the last 47 years, I think we’re all expecting another round of heart palpitations. I explained to Adam and Jim the other day that I’m unexpectedly calm heading into the matchup with St. Louis. It’s not because it comes in having lost their last six of the regular season and blew the division title in hilarious fashion, but more so because I have confidence in this Blackhawks team when at full strength. Once the broadcast starts, though, and I see all those meth-heads waving their towels, I’m going to start getting nervous.

In fact, by the time you read this, I’m sure I’ll slowly be beginning to freak out. Because that’s what I do.

Speaking of Adam and Jim, those bastards decided to record a podcast on a night I had to work, again excluding me from being able to share my feelings “on the air.” Below you’ll find Episode 11 of Cheer the Podcast.

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Boxing-Canadiens-4-9

Save it for the Morin After: Overtime Boxing with Blackhawks (3) and Habs (2)

(Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune)

(Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune)

It took 80 games – yes, 80 – but the Blackhawks finally found a way to win in overtime.

Thanks to Jeremy Morin extending his goal-scoring streak to three, Marian Hossa’s tying goal with the extra skater and Patrick Sharp’s tally in OT, the ‘Hawks won their fourth straight by beating Montreal 3-2 on Wednesday night in the final regular-season game at the United Center.

While the Blackhawks’ overtime woes cost them some points in the standings, all it really did was cause some minor frustrations in the grand scheme of things as they prepare to head into the playoffs for another defense of their Stanley Cup title. And with this ‘Hawks team, that’s pretty much what we’ve been looking forward to since this season began, anyway.

Speaking of the postseason, it may be about time Q begins considering dressing Morin over Kris Versteeg as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are back in the lineup when the playoffs start. It’s been a whirlwind for Morin all season, considering he was unexpectedly sent to Rockford after camp and shuttled to the big club to play 22 games to fill various needs.

But all the kid has done is produce when he’s here and given the ice time. Aside from a rather perplexing dump-in that resulted in icing last night, he put together a solid performance to extend his point streak to four since being a healthy scratch for two games. Morin has four goals and six assists with the ‘Hawks, mostly playing fewer than 10 minutes in each contest. He’s gotten over 12 in each of the last three and scored a goal in each. When he’s on the ice, he does his job, and his game is suited for playing against the up-tempo style of Colorado (if that’s that team the ‘Hawks end up facing in the first round).

Versteeg, meanwhile, has been one of the most frustrating ‘Hawks since he was acquired from Florida. He’s wildly inconsistent, takes shots that simply don’t make much sense and has made so many careless turnovers and incomprehensible decisions that I’m about ready to explode upon hearing his name. Maybe Sharp didn’t see him on Hossa’s goal, but Sharp had Versteeg open for a clean shot on the far side and decided to throw it to Hossa in traffic. Hopefully Q gives Versteeg a seat in the press box come playoff time, though I’m not holding my breath.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for tonight. Washington on Friday and then the Preds to finish the season Saturday. Here’s Boxing….

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TeuvoDrinking

You’re My Saving Grace, And I’m not Your Loser: Blackhawks/Stars Preview

Teuvo

The time finally is upon us.

Teuvo Teravainen will make his much-anticipated debut tonight for the Blackhawks as they host the Dallas Stars, and it’s being met with plenty of excitement – much to the chagrin of the beat contingent.

Speaking of, before I go any further I’d like to send my condolences out to to the family of Daily Herald reporter Tim Sassone, who passed away today at the young age of 58. Sassone covered the Blackhawks for 25 years, through the darkest depths and the highest of highs. I’m sure he would have loved to see a prospect like Teuvo. Rest easy, my friend.

The arrival of TiVo – as Q said will be the kid’s nickname – has been met with a great deal of excitement (just listen to Nakis on the most recent podcast) while our friendly neighborhood beat writers have done their best to pump the brakes. And while I understand both sides of the emotional spectrum, it’s time to drop all of it and see what the kid’s got.

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Boxing 3-16-14 Red Wings

We’ve Missed You: Boxing with Blackhawks (4) and Red Wings (1)

CT Hawks_RedWings13271.JPG

Jimmy’s down! (Chicago Tribune)

First off, apologies for the lack of content on the site lately. Not only has Mighty Mike D had some internet issues over Ireland, Nakis is currently in NOLA for his bachelor party and I just returned from a two-week stint in Hawai’i for my honeymoon (I’m sure you feel sorry for me). Needless to say, we’ve had some shit going on.

Secondly, apologies for the lack of Boxing due to the same reasons listed above.

OK, onto Sunday.

That Marian Hossa guy is pretty good at hockey. After sitting out five games with an upper-body injury suffered in that snowy mess at Soldier Field, Hossa returned to score a beautiful goal before adding an assist on Jonathan Toews’ late shorty that iced the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win over Detroit on Sunday.

It was the only visit of the season for Detroit, which sent their asshole fans who bolted the bankrupt city to live in a real place like Chicago because they know its superior to a place riddled with boarded-up whore houses.

Hossa’s goal was all kinds of disgusting, as he essentially as blew past every Wing and then put one right past Jimmy Howard. Hoss was a beast all night on both ends of the ice, and it’s no secret the ‘Hawks missed him. They had scored two goals in three straight and four of their last five before Hossa sparked them.

A couple notes before Boxing…

*  Brandon Saad played only a little over six minutes before leaving with an injury, sort of tainting the victory if he misses some time. The Blackhawks have to face a hot Philly team on Tuesday before asshole Blues come to town Wednesday. With an offense that has overall struggled of late, it likely can’t afford to be missing Saad’s contributions.

*  Ben Smith saw significant time at second-line center and didn’t disappoint. He scored a goal from his knees, added an assist on Nick Leddy’s goal and made Howard’s life a living hell all night. The lineup shuffle was even unexpected for Smith, who won 7 of his 10 draws. Does Q put him there Tuesday again? Can’t say I’d argue if he does.

*  I don’t like Kris Versteeg. He played all right against Colorado – he played with Toews, so he should have – but other than that I’m just not enjoying anything he’s doing, which isn’t much. One goal in his last 18 games isn’t going to cut it.

*  Detroit haha I hate you bye.

Here’s Boxing…

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PG1-AJ-BLACKHAWKS-OLYMPICS-0207

Cheer the Anthem Roundtable: Previewing the Sochi Olympics

PG1-AJ-BLACKHAWKS-OLYMPICS-0207

(Chicago Tribune)

With 10 Blackhawks and 149 NHL players taking part in the Sochi Games, the fellas decided this would be a perfect time to get together for a roundtable “discussion” of the internet variety. I think Mighty Mike is the most excited out of any of us given that he finally gets to watch NHL-level competition without having to stay up until all hours of the night. The rest of us? Well, that’s why they invented DVR.

Let’s get to it:

Who will win the gold medal and why?

Mike: I’m going to make myself popular and say Canada. There’s a shocking amount of firepower there, even without Stamkos, which also extends to their Defensive corps: when you can ice Keith, Doughty, Weber and Subban you are bringing some serious Offensive upside. Obviously Crosby, Toews, Getzlaf, St Louis and Tavares are all-world elite forwards and the supporting cast is terifying too. I’d expect Drinky Price to do the heavy lifting in goal and he’s in wonderful form, despite the Habs’ struggles of late. Bob and Flopper are more-than capable backups. I really don’t think there’s anyone to touch them, if I’m honest. But I tend to get these things wrong, too.

Adam: Canada, because they’re better than everyone else. Their B-Team would probably make it to the medal round. If the Canadians fail to make the gold medal game, it would be a major upset.

Nakis: Canada. This #analysis is based on that fact that their roster seems to have better players on it than any of the other teams participating in the tournament. They’re so deep they aren’t even dressing Matt Duchene. They’re so deep that they literally buried Marty St. Louis. They’re so deep that Roberto Luongo doesn’t even matter.

Bartl: Let’s take a quick look at some of the players left off Team Canada.

Claude Giroux (11th in NHL with 58 points), Joe Thornton (2nd in NHL with 48 assists), Tyler Seguin (24 G, 32 A), Logan Couture (14 G, 21 A in only 43 games due to injury), Eric Staal (14 G, 31 A).

You could create a new country like Peter Griffin, use these guys as five of your top six regardless of position and you’ll have a potential medal contender on your hands. Not to mention, it’s highly doubtful any of them would have been left off Team USA.

I will take Canada.

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Fenwick chart for 2014-02-03 Blackhawks 5 at Kings 3-1

Like a Hurrikane: Boxing with Blackhawks (5) and Kings (3)

Chicago Blackhawks v Los Angeles Kings

(Chicago Tribune)

Maybe it was the death of his grandfather that motivated him, or maybe it’s just that Patrick Kane is one of the most lethal offensive threats in the NHL, but his performance Monday was one that we’ve been dying to see again.

Kaner scored twice and added an assist in a 5-3 win over Los Angeles as the Blackhawks improved to 2-0-2 on this hell of a road trip. It’s late, so here a couple of thoughts before Boxing…

– The goals aside, Kane’s pass to Bryan Bickell was equally as stellar. Bickell had been scratched for three of the previous four games, and it seemed as if Kane was looking for him the whole way. It was part of a fantastic night just hours after his grandfather passed away.

Kane’s 26th and 27th goals brought him to within three of his career high set in 2009-10.

– After the ‘Hawks largely dominated the first period due to a plethora of Kings penalties, here’s how the rest of the game played out:

Fenwick chart for 2014-02-03 Blackhawks 5 at Kings 3-1

Corey Crawford would probably like to have a goal or two back, but his performance in the second and third period helped hold off the Kings attack. It wasn’t his best game, but he made some solid saves to give the ‘Hawks a chance to finally pull away.

Patrick Sharp took a double-minor high-sticking penalty, and also had a couple of other run-ins. He’s seemed overly frustrated lately and getting into skirmishes, but I think some of the reaction is a bit overblown. He has at least one point in six of the last eight games, so his production is there. If he wants to mix it up a little bit more, so be it. It isn’t quite hurting anyone.

– Another solid game from the fourth line, including the goal from Kruger off of a shot from Leddy, who also had a goal and led the team in Corsi %.

– The Blackhawks allowed their first power-play goal in nine games when Doughty scored in the first period.

Ok, I’m very tired. Here’s Boxing…

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Boxing 1-28-14-Canucks

Going, Going, Back, Back to Cali, Cali … With a Win: Boxing with ‘Hawks (5) and Canucks (2)

Chicago Blackhawks v Vancouver Canucks

“Psst, Lu. Hey, Lu. Are you… are you crying dude? Don’t cry dude.”

Finally I’m not here talking about a loss. And that’s an even better feeling seeing how the first 16 seconds went Wednesday.

The Blackhawks’ losing streak came to an end with a 5-2 win over Vancouver, scoring five unanswered after falling behind quickly. The ‘Hawks get two days off before they begin a three-game tour of California in San Jose on Saturday.

It’s very late, so let’s get to a couple things quickly:

Kris Versteeg’s pass to Marian Hossa on the power play was nothing short of spectacular, marking the second straight night – after his feed to Patrick Kane from the behind the net against Calgary – that he made a nifty pass that led to a goal. However, his refusal to make a smart, simple pass to relieve pressure in his own zone led directly to the second Vancouver goal. After losing the puck, he then wandered aimlessly around the ice and was completely out of position chasing the puck, leading to an open man in the slot. His highs are high, but his lows are infuriating.

– The ‘Hawks got hosed 40-23 at the dot tonight. Meh, for now.

– Oh, hello Brandon Saad! Sweet game from the kid, including that redirect off Brookbank’s point shot.

– The fourth line was all over the ice, with Ben Smith sticking out especially. Brandon Bollig put a team-high six shots on goal. MOAR BOLLIG!.

Corey Crawford haters during and after Sunday’s loss to Winnipeg: DAT CRAWSFORD GUY AIN’T DA GUY FOR DIS TEAM CUZ HE CAN’T STOP ALL DA PUCKS HE’S SUPPOSED TO STOP WHEN DA PUCK IS DER FOR HIM TO STOP! I CAN’T BULLEEF HOW SO BAD HE IS WIT HIS POSISHONING!

Crawford haters after the first goal Wednesday: C? HEAR WE GOES AGAIN WIT DIS GUY!

Crawford haters after playing a stellar game, making plenty of solid saves after the first blip early: OH BIG DEAL! DAS WHAT’S HE’S SOOPOSED TA DOO WIT ALL DAT MONEY WE PAYED HIM!

– The ‘Hawks penalty kill is 19 for 19 over the last seven games.

– The Sharks put 59 shots on net against Edmonton, and Ben Scrivens stopped them all. Ouch.

The rest is in Boxing…

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Boxing-Jets-1-26

Leavin’ on a Jet Plane: Boxing with Jets (3) and Blackhawks (1)

 

(Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune)

(Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune)

With a six-game road trip upcoming before the Olympic break, the Blackhawks headed into their final game at the United Center until March 4 coming off a dismal offensive performance against Minnesota and looking to provide some momentum going into their trip.

And what did we witness? Another dismal offensive performance that left us all scratching our heads and had some trying to place all the blame on Corey Crawford because, well, that’s what people tend to do – no matter what.

The Blackhawks missed open nets and failed plenty of solid opportunities when Glenview native Al Montoya wasn’t standing on his head, and Marian Hossa gift-wrapped Andrew Ladd’s winning goal in the Jets’ 3-1 victory Sunday. It marked the Blackhawks’ first loss in regulation in 27 games when they led after two periods.

The Blackhawks, who have failed to score at least two goals in back-to-back games for the first time since March 23 and 27, 2012, now embark on a trip that includes stops in Calgary, Vancouver, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Phoenix before the Olympics.

Bryan Bickell was a healthy scratch, with Q saying “we want more, we need more” from him. Q simply is trying to send a message – he dressed both Kostka and Brookbank – but expect Bickell to be back in the lineup against Calgary.

Some thoughts before Boxing… (Actually, it’s one big thought)

Jim got into it with a few people on Twitter following the game, and it largely had to do with this:

Leave it to Zawaski to try and make a game the Blackhawks clearly lost because of their inability – for the second straight game – to get a second goal by missing many, many chances into something about Crawford to fit his “controversy” narrative. The worst part is that people buy it, and therefore will continue to do so.

Montoya played fabulously and far above his means – he entered having given up 10 goals over his previous two starts – while the Blackhawks failed to convert on the chances Montoya allotted them. Furthermore, the deciding goal came off a horrible Hossa turnover, even before Ladd’s shot deflected in off Keith.

Zawaski continued by saying Crawford “needed to be in better position” and should have “bailed out a teammate.” C’mon guy. I’m sorry, but this loss isn’t on Crawford. And for anyone to say it is, is completely blind to the fact that the ‘Hawks lost because they couldn’t put the puck in the net – again.

In Boxing, I list the recent production from four of the Blackhawks’ top six. It’s pretty pathetic. The ‘Hawks haven’t scored an even-strength goal since Andrew Shaw’s tally in the first period against Detroit. They’re also 1 for 20 on the power play over the last six games.

If you want to place blame, start getting on the Blackhawks’ top players for not producing how they should. Blaming Crawford is a cop out, and someone like Zawaski should know better if he’s going to go by the title of “Blackhawks Analyst.”

Jonathan Toews said the ‘Hawks “just threw away another two points.” And that’s not on Crawford. The ‘Hawks played like a pile of dog shit in the third period at both ends of the ice. That was the problem. They played 40 minutes, not 60.

On that note, be sure to check out our latest episode of Cheer the Podcast. We talk plenty about the doldrums of January and this current slump, even before the loss to Winnipeg.

Here’s Boxing….

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