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-Rangers-1-8

That’s a Shame: Boxing with Rangers (3) and Blackhawks (2)

Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune

Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune

It’s tough to say that a first-place team that just lost in regulation for the first time in 11 games is in a slump, but the Blackhawks sure seem to be the closest thing to it.

There’s no doubt that the ‘Hawks haven’t looked their best since the 7-2 shellacking they gave Colorado on Dec. 27. In the six games following that win, they blew three two-goal leads to the Blues, got only one through on the Kings, stumbled against the lowly Islanders, needed Sharp to save them against the Devils, allowed a tying third-period goal in a boring loss to the Sharks and got off to a piss-poor start in Thursday’s 3-2 home loss to the New York Rangers.

When you break it down, the ‘Hawks haven’t exactly been setting the world on fire during that 2-1-3 stretch. Looking to see that St. Louis is two points back with four games in hand, it makes this “slump” a bit more uneasy.

From Q postgame: ”We’ve got too many guys right now that aren’t contributing to that level we saw most of the season.”

At the same token, let’s not go full meatball and get discouraged. This team – like every team – will go through lulls, and I’m more than willing to take this one now rather than May. We could, however, do without Leddy and Rozsival engaging in a staring contest around the net on the winning goal.

It’s getting late, so here’s Boxing. More analysis will follow for games when I’m not at work, and also now that I’ll finally have cable and internet in my new apartment after 11 days of living like I was back in the 1980s.

Oh, quick note passed along to me by my high school buddy and Horse Racing Television anchor Scott Hazelton. Q, Mike Kitchen and former Bears assistant Mike Tice co-own a horse named Midnight Hawk. He’s racing at Santa Anita in California on Saturday at approximately 4:30 p.m. Central on Saturday, and the race will be broadcast on HRTV. Tune in to watch rich guys get richer. Midnight Hawk is a Kentucky Derby hopeful.

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Chicago Blackhawks v St. Louis Blues

A Pain Merely Temporary: Blues 6, Blackhawks 5 (Shootout)

Chicago Blackhawks v St. Louis Blues

I specifically waited until this morning to put together a recap because I was so pissed off last night that I knew everything I wrote would be pure emotional rage with very little logic sprinkled in. The Blues fans on meth reading this know what I’m talking about.

The Blackhawks entered last night’s showdown in St. Louis with a 17-0-1 record when scoring at least four goals, with the lone defeat being that 6-5 OT loss to Tampa Bay way back on Oct. 24. I was doing nothing short of dreaming up ways to make fun of the Blues after the ‘Hawks went up 2-0 and 3-1 in the first period, figuring they’d tack on a couple more and send Nakis to the St. Louis-area bars with insults in tow. It looked much like the Colorado laugher from the night before.

Then the first two-goal lead evaporated. Brandon Saad and Brent Seabrook gave the ‘Hawks another, but they blew that, too. What was even more enraging was how quickly it happened, with Tarasenko and Berglund scoring goals they probably shouldn’t have.

Antti Raanta in a shootout? We can only hope we don’t have to see that happen again. To say he’s bad in the tiebreaker would be as nice as telling Ken Hitchcock he looks fine the way he is. And just like that, the Blackhawks pissed away three separate two-goal leads and handed two points to the hated Blues, who have won four straight in the series.

But that’s where I’m going to draw the line right now when it comes to these two teams. I’m going to jump ahead to May, because we all know there’s a good chance the Blues and ‘Hawks will be battling it out in the playoffs.

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Fenwick chart for 2013-12-20 Canucks 3 at Blackhawks 2 (SO)

You’re Tired and You Don’t Show It: Shootout Boxing with Canucks (3) and ‘Hawks (2)

(Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

(Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

You’ve likely read most everything regarding last night’s 3-2 shootout loss to the hated Canucks, so I’ll try and be brief throughout some points and into Boxing.

– With Vancouver playing the second of a back-to-back – three in four nights overall – and the ‘Hawks coming off three days rest, the first period went about as expected. The Blackhawks outshot the Canucks 10-3 and, as evident by the chart seen below via Extra Skater, they pretty much dominated the play. Kris Versteeg got the ‘Hawks on the board with a deflection of Patrick Kane’s shot for the period’s only goal.

Fenwick chart for 2013-12-20 Canucks 3 at Blackhawks 2 (SO)

– As you can see, though, Vancouver turned it up a notch after a period of finding their legs and held the ‘Hawks relatively at bay, save for Kane’s goal less than five minutes into the second. The Canucks tightened up and clogged the neutral zone, allowing them to put more chances on net before tying the game.

– Antti Raanta could’ve been better, but each of those goals came off deflections. Kassian’s goal deflected in off Brent Seabrook’s inner leg and changed the puck’s trajectory. Raanta made a valiant effort on the second goal to go post-to-post, but Sedin got enough lift on a loose puck to get it off Raanta’s shoulder and into the net. Shit happens.

– That shootout was fucking agonizing and I hated every second of it. Especially when Lack somethefuckhow was able to snatch Kane’s backhand. I read Kane’s lips on TV and he explained it perfectly: “No fucking way.”

– The Blackhawks failed to score on the power play after going the last 10 games with at least one power-play goal. Kane said he thought the PP let the team down, but Vancouver has killed off 29 of their last 30 penalties and leads the NHL with a 90.2 PK percentage. Something had to give, and it so happened to be the ‘Hawks PP.

– Adam, Jim and I would like to thank Piece in Wicker Park for their hospitality while we were easily the most animated people in the place watching the game.

– Losing to Vancouver is never fun – at all – and it’s especially frustrating when blowing a two-goal lead to those assholes, but, well, whatever. 5-1-1 over the last seven ain’t so bad. Just pound the Devils on Monday.

Brief Boxing…

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Boxing 12-10-13 Flyers

Scoring Spree: Boxing with Blackhawks (7) and Flyers (2)

Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune)

Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune)

Welp, Philadelphia sure got Phucked.

Trailing 1-0 after 20, the Blackhawks dominated the final 40 and ran away with a 7-2 victory over the Flyers on Wednesday night that had a good portion of the United Center faithful leaving early to beat the traffic.

What they saw before heading out into the penis-shrinking frigid temperatures was a beatdown perfectly suited for an embarrassment of a Philadelphia squad. Seven goals by seven different Blackhawks. They’ve scored 19 goals during their three-game winning streak, making it look so easy that Jonathan Toews literally has goals coming out of his ass.

Our friend Brandon Spinner points out that the ‘Hawks haven’t scored at least six goals in three straight games since Jan. 21-24, 1993.

Quickly here…

– The ‘Hawks have six players with at least 10 goals. Six. Andrew Shaw got into double digits with his wrap-around tally past Rey M. Murray. Shaw is Chicago’s third-line center. He has 10 goals. You know how many Flyers have 10 goals? Hint: It equals the same amount of Stanley Cups they’ve won over the last 36 seasons.

Patrick Kane had two assists, bringing him to within one point of Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead. He has a point in 19 of his last 20 games, yet that didn’t stop the guy in Sec. 326, Row 13, Seat 11 from saying shit like this all night: DAT KANE, WHYS HE ALWAYS LOOKIN FER DA PASS? HE’S NOT DOIN NUTTIN. GOTS NO SPEED. SUMFFINS WRONG WIT DAT KANE GUY TONIGHT. HE DONT LOOK NO GOOD. I hope you’re reading this, too. Moron.

Patrick Sharp had a goal and two assists, making the handsome one officially on fire. Four goals and four assists during the winning streak. Remember when he used to play for the Flyers? And they gave him to the Blackhawks because they had too many centers and has flourished as a wing? And even played center on the 2010 Cup team at times? Hahahaha. I like that story.

– So, the penalty kill was meh, and the power-play unit gave up a pair of short-handed breakaways. But Antti Raanta was all over those, and he played a pretty solid net overall – especially given he played last night against Dallas. This two-day break should suit him well. Oh, and the ridiculous scoring output is sure helping ease his transition to holding down the fort in Crawford’s absence.

– Nice little tribute welcoming back Emery. He must’ve really missed hearing Chelsea Dagger.

Here’s Boxing. The other idiots will be here with you Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday, as I’m going to be doing plenty of drinking during an extended birthday weekend. You’ll hear me with Adam and Jim on Cheer the Podcast early next week, though.

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Boxing 12-9-13-Stars

Messin’ with Texas: Boxing with Blackhawks (6) and Stars (2)

Ronald Martinez/Getty photo

Ronald Martinez/Getty photo

Well, city of Dallas, thank you for providing us with two teams Chicago can laugh at on consecutive nights.

After the Bears broke open a tight game to rout the Cowboys on Monday Night Football, the Blackhawks scored early and often in a 6-2 domination of the Stars on Tuesday.

Before we go any further – especially since we won’t get to see him again until March 25 – can we all agree that Antoine Roussel is one of the biggest jagoffs this planet has ever seen? Kris Versteeg giving him that little shot as the clock wound down got him all butthurt, but Roussel was a piece of shit all night with his antics. And of course, that asshole scores twice. At least they had little meaning, unlike the last meeting at the United Center. He’s about as much fun as a morning-after-White Castle shart.

On to more important things, the resounding victory was a nice follow after dominating Florida on Sunday, and a solid precursor heading into Wednesday’s tilt at the UC against Philadelphia. Antti Raanta was solid, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad and Duncan Keith all played very well, and the ‘Hawks got a little revenge, too.

A couple things I wanted to point out…

– We’ve all been pretty tough on Brent Seabrook around here, but I thought he played a solid game tonight, including the pass that sprung Kane for his breakaway goal. He played tough along the boards and drew a couple penalties.

– Though the ‘Hawks failed to convert on that early, extended 5-on-3, it wasn’t because they were short on chances. Sure, it stings not to pot one there, but Lehtonen made a couple of nice saves and pucks went just wide. Had they not generated anything, it would be more concerning.

– As Nakis wrote on Twitter, nice goal by Future 3rd-line Winger Michael Kostka.

– Keith’s slap pass to Sharp that led to a breakaway goal was a thing of beauty. By the way, he’s fourth in the league with 24 assists. Not fourth among defensemen, but fourth in the goddamn NHL. That’s neat.

– With the news Corey Crawford will be out three weeks – and I think that’s a gift given how bad he looked coming off the ice Sunday – it’s Raanta’s net. He might even get the call against the Philly as well given that the backup is now something named Kent Simpson. He let in a softy in the second and then one in the closing seconds to Dallas’ resident cocksucker, but he played some solid goal and made 27 saves.

Jonathan Toews missed a couple shifts and only took 11 draws, losing seven. Hand? Wrist? Just precaution in a blowout? We’ll see.

Before I get to Boxing, I’d like to first apologize for my lack of presence around the site lately. I got married – yes, I actually was able to convince someone to marry me – and have been dealing with a pending move back into the city, so things outside of here have been a bit hectic. I’ll be around a lot more now, especially as we get Cheer the Podcast going regularly.

Here we go….

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The Wine Cooler, Episode 8: And We’re Back – Finally!

Wine Cooler

It’s been a hell of a long time since we’ve done one of these – since right before Game 6, to be exact – so we decided to get back on the horse. Bartl and Nakis (Pronounced n-AAAAAAAA-kis, as I was told later) welcomed Adam into the fold for his first ‘cast. We discussed:

- Mighty Mike’s trip to U S and A

- Kris Versteeg since the trade

- Brandon Pirri

- The awfulness of the Eastern Conference

- The domination of the Western Conference

- The fucking Blues

And other stuff. Go ahead and take a half hour out of your time and give us idiots a listen. Enjoy!

If that doesn’t work, click and listen here

Chicago Blackhawks v Florida Panthers

Thirdy Something: The Blackhawks and the Third Period

Chicago Blackhawks v Florida Panthers

I planned to do Boxing tonight, but I ended up having to watch the game at work and couldn’t get around to it. Plus, there are some things to talk about that can’t be done through Boxing. I will do it after Thursday’s game against the ‘Ning. I think. I hope.

Taking at least a point in eight of the first nine games is something that should be celebrated. Not in the NHL-record-24-straight-games-to-start-a-season sort of fashion, but it’s definitely impressive – even for a team coming off its second Stanley Cup title in four years.

But there’s no doubt there’s some uneasiness resonating within the fan base about the Blackhawks’ inability to find twine in the third period this season, leading to some unnecessarily uncomfortable outcomes. Such was the case Tuesday, as the ‘Hawks blew a 2-0 lead in the final period before Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp scored in the shootout for a 3-2 win over Florida.

I know it seems like the easy way out, and I’m probably in the minority, but paint me unworried – which is precisely the stance the Blackhawks are taking. It’s October, and they’ve ended up with two points more often than not.

”We’re not happy with giving up leads in the third period,” Sharp said. ”We’d like to close teams out by scoring in the third period and get out of here, but when the games get tight we seem to play better and that’s important. It would be a lot worse if we were coming away with no points instead of two.”

”I don’t think we’re playing any different than the first two periods. I don’t think we’re sitting on leads,” Quenneville said. ”We’re not complaining, let’s put it that way.”

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Bolland

Revisiting Bolland’s Return to Chicago; Nordstrom Sent Down Before Trip to Florida

Bolland

Before I start looking ahead, I wanted to take a look back at Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Leafs, when Dave Bolland made his first trip to the United Center as a visitor and the whirlwind of emotions that went along with it.

We’ve been through this before when key members of the 2010 Cup team returned to the UC after being jettisoned, but Bolland hitting the ice in a Leafs sweater felt very different – for me, at least. Him being dealt on draft night probably was the least surprising transaction Stan Bowman has made after Bolland had a rather disappointing 2013 regular season.

He battled injuries – which was becoming all too familiar – and his inability to supplant himself as a consistant second-line center who could win draws became tired. There’s no question Bolland is talented, and his playoff performances from seasons past along with his lively personality kept some on his side. But when it came down to it, we all knew he had to go. It was merely a formality.

Had Bolland not scored the clinching goal in Game 6 against Boston, which may end up going down as the most famous goal in Blackhawks history – surpassing that of Patrick Kane in 2010 – due to the situation, the sadness we felt watching him go likely wouldn’t have reached the heights it did. But he did work his ass off to get in front of the net and beat Tuukka Rask 17 seconds after Bryan Bickell’s equalizer, and he did give us that famous celebration of tossing his gloves to the ice before Frolik jumped into his arms. We’re not going to forget that. Ever. And that’s why seeing him on the ice Saturday wearing Toronto colors felt more strange than maybe it should have.

Does that video tribute get played, sans the goal obviously, had he not delivered one of the greatest moments in franchise history? Doubtful. The standing ovation that followed? Maybe, but I can’t imagine the game is stopped to give him that much attention. The fact is, his 399 games donning the Indian head, including the playoffs, will be defined by the last few seconds he wore it.

That’s all well and good, and he gave us one of the best sports memories of our lives, but we have to realize his previous deficiencies were what sent him packing for Canada. It was tough Saturday, and I’m glad it’s finally over.

Now, for the week ahead….

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CPR Results - Lightning

That’s a Shame: Blackhawks Allow Late Goal, Fall 3-2 in St. Louis (Plus Community Player Ratings Voting)

 

(Chicago Tribune photo)

(Chicago Tribune photo)

Losing is never fun. Losing to the Blues and their meth-head fans is even worse. Then changing the channel to see the Cardinals win a playoff series 10 minutes later undoubtedly is the featured torture of the devil himself.

But let’s take a step back and realize a couple things. Firstly, three victories in October does not a Stanley Cup champion make, no matter what Blues fans would have you believe. And a Blackhawks loss in October in a game between two solid clubs that could have gone either way really shouldn’t have anyone losing control of their bowels.

For once, a matchup between the ‘Hawks and Blues was pretty riveting, exciting hockey. The Blackhawks opened things up right off the bat, shooting down the ice at every possession change and creating a number of odd-man rushes they just couldn’t get past Jaroslav Halak. If one of those chances are buried, the scope of the game changes and I might be writing about a victory.

St. Louis converted on their prime chance in the first, with Vladimir Tarasenko potting a neutral-zone turnover past Corey Crawford. But, in usual Blues fashion, a stupid hit-from-behind penalty by Maxim Lapierre allowed Patrick Kane to tie the game less than two minutes later.

David Backes redirected a Alex Pietrangelo’s shot to give the Blues a 2-1 lead, but, yet again, St. Louis committed a dipshit penalty immediately that wound up with Jonathan Toews tying the game, again less than two minutes after the Blues took the lead.

Brent Seabrook’s attempt to slip into the slot backfired, as Alex Steen converted a 3-on-1 with 20 seconds remaining, and that was all she wrote.

All in all, there wasn’t much to hate – other than of course the extended cast of Duck Dynasty that are Blues fans celebrating like they were just offered a lifetime supply tainted crack. Let me explain….

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Backes kissing dog

I Actually Like the St. Louis Blues

Backes kissing dog

I know there’s a lot of hate going around from Blackhawks fans towards the St. Louis Blues. Sure, it’s becoming a nice rivalry, but sheesh. I find it pretty astounding, actually. I really don’t mind them.

For instance, look at that picture up there of David Backes making out with Ryan Reaves, who is being held by the lovely Barret Jackman. It’s quite obvious how much they care about each other and support each other. They always have each others’ backs and have great chemistry, especially Jackman and goaltender Jaroslav Halak.

Jackman catches a lot of flak, but he’s actually a very classy individual. I remember that one time he tried to have a nice, calm, intelligent conversation with the Blackhawks bench last season. I’m sure he wasn’t complaining or acting like one of those cracked-out menopausal homeless women that sleep under the Arch whom he has sex with on a regular basis. He was simply trying to say, “Hello, how are you?” And look how he was treated:

And all that talk about how the Blues take cheap shots at people? Especially against the Blackhawks? C’mon. Backes is the epitome of a captain and great teammate. I remember that time when he simply tried to give Jonathan Toews a pat on the back for a job well done, and then Toews just flipped out for absolutely no reason. I mean, of course Backes is going to try to defend himself.

And who can say enough about their coach, Ken HitchcockDespite playing stout defense that by no means features a bunch of thugs on skates trying to make up for their lack of skill like everyone claims, he quite obviously has them all under control.

St. Louis is a high-end organization from top to bottom. They’re so very welcoming to everyone, especially Blackhawks fans. Sure, they have that new ticket policy to try and prevent ‘Hawks fans from getting tickets to games at that luxurious stadium of theirs, but can you blame them?

Why would they want us unruly Blackhawks fans mingling with dedicated Blues fans like these:

No wonder they don’t want us idiot ‘Hawks fans there. The people of St. Louis are some of the smartest in the country:

get-a-brain-morans

I really don’t understand why Blackhawks fans are so hurtful and derogatory towards the fine people of St. Louis and their loveable Blues.

I mean, look at how much there is to like.