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 email@example.com.
Posts by Bartl
Back on Nov. 7, I wrote a column for Sam Fels’ wonderful creation The Committed Indian before the Blackhawks dropped to 7-8-1 with a 2-1 loss to Edmonton.
In my column titled, “10 Reasons Why the Blackhawks Can Repeat,” I shared my optimistic viewpoints skewed by a Stanley Cup run last season. I’ve decided to go back and breakdown what I wrote in November to what’s actually happened so far in 2010-11.
If you hate my guts, you’re going to want to share this with any and all of the electronic options available to you at the end of the post. I was wrong way more than I was right, though I don’t feel I’m anywhere near alone in most of these thoughts dating back five months.
Below are each of the reasons I wrote Nov. 7, with a detailed explanation and update to current times.
Have a blast.
Much ado is made about whether or not the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks will qualify for the postseason. But let’s ask ourselves an important question:
If the ‘Hawks do make the playoffs, would it be worth the inevitable embarrassment of getting bitch-slapped by Vancouver? Because that’s what’s going to happen – especially with efforts like Sunday’s.
The 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay is a microcosm of what the Blackhawks are going to be as postseason participants. We’ve been waiting all damn season for the ‘Hawks to live up to their “talent,” and through 78 games we’ve been mostly disappointed. Is there any sign of this being a different team when the Blackhawks hit the ice for the first-round series against the Canucks?
The answer is no. Sunday proved there’s going to need to be a lot of prayer to whatever higher power you answer to in hopes said higher power just ordered a Jonathan Toews FatHead.
Go ahead, call me pessimistic. You’d be 100 percent correct. But if you’re in any way optimistic following Sunday’s wet fart of a performance, get your head examined.
Here’s what the West standings look like heading into Monday:
Yes, I’m aware a series with the Canucks is not a sure thing and the Blackhawks can move up. And I’m also aware the ‘Hawks have had their way with Vancouver in previous postseasons. This isn’t previous postseasons.
On top of that, what makes anyone believe the ‘Hawks can beat Detroit or even San Jose if they can move up to 6th or 7th?
The effort against Tampa Bay was that of a team not realizing the magnitude of what’s happening. The Blackhawks treated all 60 minutes like a Sunday morning drive to church – relaxed, while hoping some figment of their imagination will make everything sweet and wonderful. Forget putting a foot on the gas pedal, because the Blackhawks were taking a handsome cab ride with Rusty guiding the way.
Mike Smith (yeah, I know, Mike Smith) wasn’t in the least bit challenged the entire night, and an early power-play goal off Niklas Hjalmarsson’s dipshit delay-of-game penalty culminating with Brent Seabrook thinking about the next episode of Chicago Code as Vincent Lecavalier converted did the Blackhawks in.
And before you say anything, I don’t care if Dave Bolland and Patrick Sharp are out. It’s no excuse. The effort put forth Sunday wouldn’t have beaten the Charleston Chiefs.
Onto Boxing, if you dare …
You had to know this was coming.
It’s not as if the ‘Hawks haven’t played back-to-back games before – in fact, they came into the game 8-3-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season – but it was pretty evident the Detroit game took a ton out of the Blackhawks. The Boston Bruins dictated the pace and took it to the ‘Hawks in a 3-0 shutout from Tim Thomas.
Jonathan Toews ended up a minus-3 for only the fifth time in his career as the Blackhawks mustered only five shots on goal in the first period, giving Thomas basically 20 minutes off to start the game. There was basically zero energy, and Corey Crawford gets the credit for the ‘Hawks coming out of the first unscathed.
Boston simply played its game, and there was nothing the Blackhawks could do about it, even though they literally tried to rip off the Bruins’ faces in the process. Shawn Thornton needed 40 stitches after Fernando Pisani’s skate cut him across the forehead.
(Quick sidenote: Any chance this heats up the NHL’s talks of mandating visors? I say yes.)
Dallas lost to Phoenix in a shootout, meaning they’re six points back of the eighth-place Blackhawks. Chalk Tuesday up as tough loss, and move onto Columbus on Friday fresh and ready to go.
Here’s your Boxing…
Marian Hossa deserves every bit the credit for this victory, and not just because he scored the game-winner.
The Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime victory Monday against Detroit came to fruition mainly because of Hossa’s 23:54 of purely superb play on both ends of the ice. I’ve said it over and over again, but watching this guy play is a thing of beauty and we’re lucky to be able to witness it.
If Hossa had scored on that breakaway after jabbing the puck off the boards between two Red Wings, we may be talking about this being his best game of the season. It would have been nice to see him put more of a move on Joey MacDonald, but it shouldn’t take away from the original play he made to get into that position.
Hossa’s overtime winner was more than deserved after Patrick Kane fought off the entire communist party to control the puck then drew the penalty from Henrik Zetterberg at the end of regulation.
Oh, and I hope Todd Bertuzzi is having his toenails ripped out one by one with metal tongs while having farts blown in his face by Yokozuna as Failure to Launch plays on loop in the background. Ultimate torture.
Here are a few more thoughts before Boxing…
↔ To state the ridiculously obvious, the two points earned are insanely important. However, they became a hell of a lot more important when the Ageless Wonder Teemu Selanne decided to net an effing hat trick in Anaheim’s 5-4 win against Colorado later in the evening. A Blackhawks loss in the OT would have put them two points back of the Ducks for 7th. Despite the victory, the ‘Hawks are stuck in eighth.
↔ MacDonald played a hell of a game, don’t get me wrong. My issue with what most have deemed an exceptional performance lies in the fact the Blackhawks were rather non-existent around the net on point shots. MacDonald had clear looks at nearly every shot put on him. The one time someone made him smell their ass, Toews was the culprit and the puck sneaked through on a Brent Seabrook shot and hit the post. If the ‘Hawks put more traffic in front, MacDonald may not have had the performance everyone is lauding.
↔ Niklas Lidstrom may play until his 84 years old — and everyone would still fear him.
↔ Bertuzzi’s hit was unquestionably a scumbag move from a scumbag player who’s been a scumbag for his entire career. If you think I’m overreacting because Ryan Johnson played the duration of the game and still was a factor at center, look at the replay. Bertuzzi came at Johnson with his elbow up and no regard for the consequences of his actions. There was no “hockey play” made. Will he be suspended? Probably not, since he’s been somewhat clean for the past couple of years. However, the NHL is doing everything possible to rid the league of hits such as these. They need to do something about it.
And with that, here’s Boxing…
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