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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posts by Bartl
With eight games remaining and the Blackhawks clinging to eighth place, they’ve managed to put themselves in one of the most hated positions any of us could possibly dream: The Red Wings will be a major hurdle in the ‘Hawks chances to make the playoffs.
Tonight begins the first of three meetings against Detroit before the regular season ends. That’s about as appetizing as a shit sandwich topped with wet farts.
Just for some quick added pessimism, the last Stanley Cup champion to miss the next year’s playoffs was the 2006-07 Carolina Hurricanes.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s a positive: Pavel Datsuyk won’t play tonight, and Johan Franzen sat out Saturday’s 4-2 Wings win against Toronto. Jimmy Howard is day-to-day after injuring his shoulder against the Maple Leafs, and with Chris Osgood on long-term IR, it looks as if Jimmy MacDonald will be in net tonight.
It wasn’t exactly the entertainment I was accustomed to during my five nights in Las Vegas, but I’m not going to complain about two much-needed points.
The Blackhawks welcomed me back home with a 4-0 snoozer I largely blame on the Panthers being, well, bad. With that, the ‘Hawks are now tied for 5th in the West with nine more games which will be much tougher and more exciting than Wednesday’s.
Against Florida, the ‘Hawks got away without needing a Dave Bolland nor a Patrick Sharp nor a 100-percent healthy Brian Campbell. Don’t get used to it with Anaheim, Detroit and Boston looming. Pardon the pessimism, especially knowing each game is a must-win given the standings, but the Blackhawks will need more against those squads.
With that said, the defense played like they should have in a home game against a team looking up at New Jersey and the New York Islanders in the East. Corey Crawford did what he needed to, aside from re-enacting Al Pacino’s scenes from Scent of a Woman each time he touched the puck.
A couple other quick thoughts before Boxing:
→ I was very impressed the way Viktor Stalberg responded to the top line promotion, playing actively and drawing a penalty by taking it hard to the net on the first shift of the game. He later took a feed from Jonathan Toews on the doorstep for a goal in the first minute of the third period. Sweet.
→ Did anyone else have heart failure when Marian Hossa went back to the locker room after taking a spill?
→ For the first time all season, the idiots at the UC who constantly yell “SHOOOOOOOOT” each time a Blackhawk has the puck were right to direct it at Nick Leddy.
→ Not sure what the hell happened to Tomas Vokoun when he went ice fishing along the boards on the Tomas Kopecky goal, but that net couldn’t have been more wide open. Hossa, to Michael Frolik, to Kopecky on a great passing play started by Brent Seabrook, who can’t get credited for an assist unfortunately.
→ Speaking of Seabrook, he played a hell of a game which included the rocket that ended up being the game-winner.
→ Oh, and the Captain did his thing again.
Onto Boxing …
What’s the best thing about Corey Crawford starting every game for the past month? The meatballs haven’t been able to voice their blind hatred for Marty Turco.
OK, OK … it’s not the best thing. Crawford’s 10-2-3 record and 2.66 goals-against average takes that title. But despite those numbers, I’m still going to lobby for him to don the baseball cap Thursday in Dallas.
Here’s part of the reason why:
Finally, the Blackhawks got to Antti Niemi.
The 6-3 win Monday night boosted the ‘Hawks up to the 4th spot again in the West and ended a three-game losing streak which had many talking “Must Win” against San Jose. I don’t care how bad ass or bleak things look, every game is “Must Win.” Get used to it.
Patrick Sharp had four assists in the second period alone, tying Jim Pappin’s franchise record set in 1973 – with two of them coming on the power play to Marian Hossa, who put both through Niemi’s five-hole. Hossa’s goals gave him at least 20 for the 11th straight season. Boom.
And who better than Jonathan Toews to provide the goal which ran Niemi. The Captain seems to have his hand in everything, setting a career-high with 71 points in the victory.
Seeing Niemi trudge toward the bench was bittersweet, in a way. Him getting the hook tonight gave me little satisfaction. Yes, it was nice to get back at him for the three defeats earlier this season. However, I would’ve felt the same way if it was Antero Niittymaki getting pulled. Going out for revenge at this point in the season is senseless. Sharp admitted it was nice to get to Niemi, but everyone made a point to say the win is what matters. There’s just always going to be a soft spot for a guy who really, truly wanted to stay in Chicago.
Speaking of goaltenders, Corey Crawford gets yet another win despite pretty much everyone lobbying for him to get a rest. Though he got the W tonight, he’s given up 16 goals in the last five games. And if he lost to Niemi, wouldn’t you believe Crawford’s confidence would have been completely shot, especially heading into the playoffs? Well, David Haugh sure as hell believes it.
Here’s what sent me into a rage:
Yet of all the Hawks, rookie goaltender Corey Crawfordperhaps can benefit most from having success on a night defined by Niemi’s failure. Crawford was coming off one of his roughest weeks mentally. Had Niemileft town with a 4-0 record against the Hawks, Crawford could have spent the next month awaiting the playoffs suffering by comparison.
(Begin rant)Want to talk about suffering? How about seeing Haugh’s byline next to anything Blackhawks-related. When you’re being read simply so people can laugh at whatever loads of bullshit you want to make up that day, that’s when you need to stop writing about a sport you know nothing about. (End rant)
Patrick Kane hit a milestone with his 100th career goal, Viktor Stalberg even got in a nice whack in to contribute.
And with that … BOXING:
Once again, Jonathan Toews summed it up:
“That’s two overtime losses in the last couple of games. We can’t be happy with just getting one point in each of those games. If you look at the games ahead and we keep getting to overtime, it doesn’t do us any good. It’s just about getting beyond that point of satisfaction and finding a way to win.”
And just like that, the Blackhawks are back down to 7th in the Western Conference - one point up on eighth and two up on ninth – after a 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals. Games like this aren’t going to cut it. And the fact of the matter is that the ‘Hawks were lucky enough to salvage that one point on a 6-on-4 power play with an empty net.
We can make excuses. No Dave Bolland. Limited action from Brian Campbell. But the ‘Hawks gave up a short-handed goal and got pretty damn lucky with good bouces on all three of their goals. The Capitals scored on defensive breakdowns and were much more solid the entire day.
Oh, and the Blackhawks didn’t get ONE SINLGE SHOT on net in nearly four minutes of overtime. Crap.
I’ll send you on your way to Boxing with this thought: Please, for the love of God, play Marty Turco tomorrow, Q. Please. Crow needs a break heading into another two-game trip. The game is too big and means too much to be strolling out a tired goaltender. It won’t mean you’ve lost faith in Crow, Q. It means your guy needs a break. Give it to him.
If I could do some hockey betting on this, I’d say Q still starts him. Damnit.
Well, what are you gonna do? Shit happens, move on and be done with Tuesday.
Everyone knew the Blackhawks were going to lose, and sadly I said before this past weekend even started this will be the game it happens. I’m not trying to show off, but it’s a game like this streaking teams often fall victim to.
3-2, Panthers. Onto Tampa Bay.
Corey Crawford needed the entire night off, not just the last two periods. I’ve been clamoring for this, and if he starts Wednesday I’m going to sic Jack Klompus on Coach Q. While each goal can be attributed to a defensive lapse, Crawford gave up a couple of juicy rebounds which he normally snags. The game was lost too quickly for me not to believe Crawford’s start tonight was the major contribution to it.
Marty Turco got a nice easy go of it as Florida sat back with the lead and proved why it has the 3rd-ranked penalty kill in the NHL. When I say Turco should start, it’s because he’s the next in line and not because I’m licking his bunghole over a few saves. If what’s left of Rick DiPietro’s rotting corpse was wearing the baseball cap, I’d be asking for him to start. Crawford needs a break.
Speaking of goaltenders, Tomas Vokoun withstood a two-period barrage from the Blackhawks and he deserves a ton of credit for nearly single-handedly winning the game for the Panthers.
Boxing will do the rest. Enjoy
My best bud sent me a text during an intermission: “Jonathan Toews is on a drug. It’s called ‘Jonathan Toews.’”
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
The addiction has seem to spread to the Blackhawks, who are playing their best hockey of the season following a 6-4 win against Calgary on Wednesday. The best part? The Flames were just as good. There’s no question the better team won.
Both of Toews’ goals were gorgeous, with the first even more handsome after Patrick Kane hit Patrick Sharp cross-ice, leaving Toews wide open in the crease. The second? Just the captain being the captain.
Marian Hossa capped it with a goal in his fifth straight game.
There was plenty more in between, including a mini-breakdown at the beginning of the third period, but Boxing will do the rest of my talking. Have at it:
Welcome back to the return of Behind Enemy Lines! Today, Vicki Hall of the Calgary Herald answers a few questions regarding the Flames’ surge up the Western Conference standings, the previous three matchups this season and the resurgence of Jarome Iginla.
It’s clear Vicki put a lot of thought into her answers. If this is one interview you read all the way through, make sure it’s this one.
Bartl: The fluctuating Western Conference standings reordered again Tuesday with Calgary’s win against St. Louis, moving the Flames back ahead of the Blackhawks. Can you shed some light on how Calgary has responded to what’s at stake with each game as it shoots to return to the postseason?
Hall: The Flames have basically been fighting for their playoff lives since Christmas. Seriously. They languished in 14th place at the time and had little, if any, chance of clawing back into the race. Somehow, they’ve done just that by breaking the season into three-game segments and pledging to win at least two out of every three. They’ve accomplished that goal, thus far, but much work remains.
Click the jump for the rest of the Q&A
Shhhh… Come closer…
I’m not going to say this too loud. I’m preposterously superstitious, and the jinx factor is as strong as using the word “sh****t” when a goalie is going into the third period with no goals against. So lean in…
The Blackhawks have a winning streak going. Five games and counting.
You just can’t make it easy can you, Blackhawks?
When Tomas Kopecky decided to be, well, Tomas Kopecky, and flick the puck over the boards for absolutely no justified reason, I thought for sure the league’s 26th-ranked penalty was going to let Minnesota tie it.
It was a welcome surprise to not only see a solid kill, but then have Jonathan Toews make a perfect pass to Marian Hossa for the game-clinching shorty.
From 9th to 5th in a matter of a couple hours. Five straight wins allows for such things. Most importantly, Monday’s 4-2 victory against the Wild came in regulation to avoid handing over an extra point to a team the Blackhawks are fighting in the constantly fluctuating Western Conference standings.
I’m very tired tonight, so I’m going to let Boxing do most of the talking. Enjoy, ya’ll.