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

Turco’s turn: Solid performance, Hossa’s return, Boxing with BJs

"Oh, nice. The meatballs didn't attempt to fill my water bottle with diarrhea tonight. Sweet."

"Oh, nice. The meatballs didn't attempt to fill my water bottle with diarrhea tonight. Sweet."

Before  Corey Crawford’s bandwagon breaks an axle, I’ll get it out of the way that this post isn’t me clamoring for  Marty Turco to get more starts in net. However, this is me solidifying my position when I state fans shouldn’t immediately gasp when he gets the nod.

Turco’s 26-save effort in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win against the Columbus Inappropriate Acronyms won’t earn him any Vezina votes, but I also have a strange feeling it won’t get him any more beats from the fading hearts of his naysayers. It’s unfortunate, though most likely true.

While Turco sat on his ass as Crawford won over the fanbase in a city so fond of the “backup,” he maintained his stance of being a consummate professional in every sense of the label. He’s said and done all the right things while he watched a kid outplay him and take a job he specifically came here to do and succeed at.

That may not seem valuable to those who kill themselves with each loss and resurrect with the smallest glimmer of hope. What’s lost is that Turco’s professionalism, patience and team-first attitude specifically led to his performance in net Sunday night. That, and a better defensive effort in front of him.

Keep in mind, Turco has face 107 more shots than Crawford in only three extra starts. Though Crawford has indeed played better than Turco, being outplayed isn’t so bad considering the facts.

Click the jump for  more recap and Boxing with ‘Hawks/Inappropriate Acronyms

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How do ya like us now?: Boxing with ‘Hawks/Predators (12/22/10)

Cash. Money. Hoes. (Chicago Tribune)

Three straight wins, two against opponents above the Blackhawks in the Central and another against a team the ‘Hawks should have fits with.

Oh, and all that was done without  Marian Hossa and  Patrick Kane.

Wednesday’s win against Nashville wasn’t exactly exciting — is anything against Nashville ever exciting? — but it’s two more points heading into a short Christmas break earned without two of the Blackhawks’ best offensive weapons. Pretty impressive to say the least.

Remember last season when the ‘Hawks were playing well around Thanksgiving and Hossa returned with a two-goal performance? A new season, a different holiday and another return is coming up. Would be nice to have a repeat of that shit.

One quick note: Jack Skille and  Dave Bolland each played a hell of a game. (Bartl limbers up, sits back, takes deep breath, inserts foot directly into mouth.)

And onto Boxing we go…

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FanSided and Site5 team up for Holiday Charity Drive

The holidays are upon us and the FanSided Sports Network is thrilled to announce a charity drive to get in the spirit of giving.  We’ve teamed up with our outstanding host company Site5 in an effort to raise money for the Boys and Girls Club of America.

In case you’re not familiar with the Boys and Girls Club of America, they’re an outstanding organization aimed at helping young boys and girls.  Is there any group more deserving of your generosity than kids in the holiday season?   The mission of BGCA:

To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens.

Core Beliefs

A Boys & Girls Club Provides:

A safe place to learn and grow…

Ongoing relationships with caring, adult professionals…

Life-enhancing programs and character development experiences…

Hope and opportunity.

So what can you do to help?  Visit the official charity drive page and help us reach our goal of raising $5000.  Any amount will do.  Even a couple of dollars will help us reach our goal!

Tale of two defenses in one year’s time

I had planned to come home and write this anyway, but Chris Kuc’s story regarding the Blackhawks’ gap control gave me even more reason.

The problem I have with this article isn’t that it was written, but more so in the way it was written and where the focus of the story lies. The Blackhawks have always emphasized controlling the gap and taking away opponents’ easy entries into the offensive zone. They’re not just starting to put more time into practicing it, it’s simply that they’re doing it better over the past two games.

The story seems to be written as if this is a new thing the ‘Hawks are becoming good at doing. When a topic like this comes up, there’s no question it has to be compared to the way it was done during a championship campaign.

Last season,  Duncan Keith won the Norris Trophy disrupting zone entries.  Brent Seabrook did a hell of a job at this as well.  Brian Campbell and  Niklas Hjalmarrson were solid at the blue line, and even  Brent Sopel played his part when he wasn’t getting caught flat-footed, though his strengths blossomed when the puck had already been in the zone.

Once again, it’s not a matter of the ‘Hawks just starting to talk about this. I don’t attend practices or hang out in the locker or film rooms, but I can put in a safe guess this has been a topic of discussion all year. The Blackhawks simply aren’t going to forget one of their main strengths which helped them win the Stanley Cup.

If a defensive unit — and back-checking forwards — can disrupt the opposition’s entry into the zone and force more dumps than controlled entries, the game can become a battle for the puck along the boards — another thing the ‘Hawks excelled at winning last season. More dumps, more board battles and less controlled entries leads to fewer shots for the opponent, simply because the offense has difficulty getting into a rhythm and setting up its offense.

Through 35 games last season, Blackhawks goaltenders faced 842 shots on goal. This season? 1,016. That’s a whopping difference of 174 shots, which averages out to roughly five more shots per game. While the latter stat may seem minuscule, remember it only takes one shot to put the puck in the net — as simple and stupid and obvious as that may sound to you.

More statistics after the jump

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Two for the show: Weekend recap, Boxing with ‘Hawks/Communists/Kings

"Excuse me, Fatass? Hi, yeah, see, I'm gonna stop it anyway. Just give it up." (Chicago Tribune)

Beating a bitter rival rather convincingly while undermanned is one thing. Following up that performance two nights later against another contender is downright beautiful.

Without  Marian Hossa and  Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks have held their own through a stretch when points in the competitive Central Division are becoming a necessity. The ‘Hawks gained four points on Detroit this weekend after the Communists fell to Dallas on Sunday night.

Sexy stuff.

The ‘Hawks have a golden opportunity to continue picking up points on the division when Nashville visits Wednesday, but we’ll get into that over the next couple of days.

After three straight losses and picking up only a single point against Western Conference foes San Jose and Colorado, the Blackhawks needed to respond with the Communists and Kings visiting the United Center — where they’ve played like dog shit at times this season. They’re now 6-2-0 in their last eight at home and giving the crowd something to cheer about after losing four of five at the UC previous to this stretch.

Jonathan Toews continues to play like an animal.  Brent Seabrook and  Duncan Keith are playing better, and  Corey Crawford keeps impressing. It’s a shame Crawford’s success is linked with the meatballs’ version of  Mary Turco’s so-called failures because Crawford is making a hell of a name for himself with his play this season. I wish we could all just shut up and be happy the Blackhawks have two solid goaltender to go to at any given time, but I keep forgetting this is Chicago. Silly me.

Going along those lines and knowing there’s no in between when it comes to either jumping from the Whatchu Talkin’ ‘Bout Willis Tower or celebrating like the ‘Hawks have repeated already, I’m taking this weekend in stride and sitting in the middle like I’m hoping most of you are.

Two wins against top conference contenders are fabulous, especially because the Blackhawks continue their dominance of the Kings this season. However, there’s still those farts against the Sharks and Big Falling Snow Pile that resonate. Much like I didn’t down a bottle of Advil following those losses, I’m not going to start having celebratory sex with Kaner’s leftovers. I’m strapping in for the rest of the homestand and preparing myself for a more thorough evaluation after the 1st of the year.

With that being said, here’s your “Boxing” from the weekend. First, it’s ‘Hawks/Wings. Then, scroll down for ‘Hawks/Kings. Click the images to enlarge. For those viewing on the iPhone, attempt to enlarge your screen with your fingers like you would for anything else. The reason I say this is because Spinner got an email regarding this, and I want to make sure I can help those out having trouble viewing. If you are, comment here and I’ll figure something out for you.

Click the jump for Boxing with ‘Hawks/Wings and ‘Hawks/Kings.

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The Storm Before the Calm: Boxing (again) with Blackhawks/Avs (12/15/10)

Here’s to hoping the big shit cloud hovering over the beginning of the week rolls out of town with the passing days.

Once again the Blackhawks urinated through another game, dropping their third to Colorado Big Falling Snow Pile 4-3 on Wednesday night. However, there are more positives that came out of tonight’s trail of stinky skid marks than from Monday’s.

The ‘Hawks outshot the Avs by a large amount — 38-23. Problem is,  Craig Anderson decided he wanted to stop damn near everything, unlike Monday.

While I’m damn pissed off about this loss, which dropped the ‘Hawks to 16-14-3 and into 10th place in the Western Conference, I’m not about to start robbing old ladies of their handbags. The ‘Hawks didn’t play a phenominal game, but they didn’t exactly leave road apples on the bed either.

The obvious turning point came on the phantom call assessed to  Jordan Hendry, who was simply battling for the puck when Daniel Winnick skated directly into his elbow. There was blood, and Hendry got four minutes in the box when he shouldn’t even gotten two.

Tomas Fleischmann then proceeded to score on both ensuing power plays with Hendry in the box, then added another later to complete his third-period hat trick. Tomas. Fucking. Fleischmann.

Corey Crawford did his best  Marty Turco impression tonight by flopping all over the crease and getting caught out of position. The Avs should’ve had another goal on an empty net with Crawford sprawled out, but  Brent Seabrook made a block to save his ass. I have a feeling, however, that the meatballs won’t be clamoring for Turco to start Friday because, well, Turco didn’t start the season as the backup. To get more on the goaltending shit, check out Fork’s little write-up.

Onto your latest edition of “Boxing.” Enjoy.

Click the jump for Boxing with ‘Hawks/Avs

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Blizzard of ineptitude: Boxing with Blackhawks/Avalanche (12/13/10)

"Hey guys, thanks for this rubber disc I'm about to go put in the net now. You've all been so generous tonight." (Denver Post)

What an absolute horrendous loss to have to deal with. I would make the whole team walk home if it was up to me.

Four possible points and the ‘Hawks come away with one on a two-game trip, mostly because the defense couldn’t figure out how to do a goddamn thing in a dog-shit-eating 7-5 loss to Colorado. To make matters worse,  Craig Anderson was on fucking fire coming into the game, the ‘Hawks put five in against him, and then they still proceeded to lose.

Before I get to “Boxing,” I have some other thoughts.

I want to know why  Brent Seabrook and  Duncan Keith decided to do Jager shots before the game. Seabrook especially was so fucking bad that I can barely type this sentence without my fingers shaking. He seemed so mesmerized by the puck carrier that he completely lost men crashing the net. You’d need a calculator to count the number of Avalanche skaters open in the slot tonight. Pathetic.

There are some  Jack Skille fans out there, but I’m not one of them. Yes, he got a goal. But the Avs first goal is directly on him for not just chipping that puck out of the zone while deciding to fuck around with it. What’s more is that the guy just looks like he’s skating around the ice without a thought as to what his next move is going to be. Everything is reactionary, when sometimes you need to have a logical plan as to what is going to happen. He just seems too stupid to have that type of brain capacity.

If you said one word about  Marty Turco being a bad goalie because of tonight, you didn’t watch the game. Turco didn’t have a chance on those goals, and his defense left him hanging.  Denis Savard said in the studio after the game that it’s possible the Blackhawks were “holding their sticks tighter” hoping to get a win for Turco because he hasn’t played much. Whatever the case, the ‘Hawks played like hell in front of him. But, the meatballs are going to keep on him mainly because…

√   Corey Crawford played well replacing him. Crawford made some big saves and did play a better game than Turco did. He deserves each minute he’s getting right now, and you’re not going to hear me complain about Crawford continuing to start. However, Turco really isn’t playing horrible either. Rather than bitching about Turco and licking Crawford’s ball sweat, you should be happy the ‘Hawks have two very serviceable goaltenders who can each play when asked.

√   Paul Stastny’s goal was impressive, batting the puck ahead of him with his stick and putting it in the net. Give him credit despite the turnover the ‘Hawks made which helped lead to it.

All right, I’m gonna let “Boxing” do the rest.

Click the jump for “Boxing”

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Clever headline regarding getting bitten by a shark

Sorry loyal readers, but there won’t be any “Boxing” for the Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to the Sharks on Saturday night. I was part of a world-record crowd in Ann Arbor during that day for The Big Chill at the Big House to watch the Michigan Wolverine manhandle my Michigan State Spartans, then had some internet issues on Sunday.

To be very brief, the loss wasn’t all that bad to swallow. Sure, things could have gone better. However, the Blackhawks ran into a very good  Antti Niemi and  Corey Crawford played very well. Sometimes the amount of goals just don’t work out in your favor.

Jordan Hendry got on the scoresheet and — for a brief moment — out of Q’s doghouse, but that was more out of necessity than anything.

Viktor Stalberg got robbed of a goal and the officiating was suspect all night, but that is one of the few complaints I have.

Oh, and the dipshits who constantly boo  Brian Campbell because he played six minutes in a Sharks uniform.

Once again, I apologize for the lack of “Boxing” or more in-depth recap, but that will be coming tonight after the Avs game.

Spinner will be along shortly with the weekend Espo and Tim will have your preview for tonight’s game around 3pm.

Till then…

The Daily Phil Esposito (12/9/10)

Brandon Spinner will be all set up later today and will post The Daily Espo under his own name tomorrow. Here’s his second edition recapping former Blackhawks’ performances from last night.

"Hm, I used this tongue on that blonde in the fifth row back in May." (Chicago Tribune)

Only a handful of former Hawks were in action, combining for just 1 goal and 2  assists. The return of well-loved Adam Burish to the Madhouse proved to be nice. He received a loud cheer when he started his first shift, but that’s the only noise that was associated with him.

Click the jump for updates from the 12/8 games

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Boxing with ‘Hawks/Stars (12/8/10) and Crawford’s legit tirade on refs

Let’s get down to brass tax here — Dallas Stars coach  Marc Crawford laid into the refs following the game and had a very legit gripe. Whether or not  Brent Seabrook meant to throw his stick at the puck carrier makes no difference. It should have been a penalty shot for Dallas. I’m not even going to attempt to deny that.

Here’s Crawford’s postgame press conference:

While understandable for Crawford to go nuts, he may want to look deeper at his team, which fell behind 3-0 before deciding to play. Then it was too late. The Stars are lucky to have made the comeback in the first place. And I’m sure he’ll realize that once he looks at the tape and takes a step back from the heat of the moment.

Of course, I could say the same thing about the ‘Hawks giving up a goal-against immediately after going up 3-0, then giving up two goals in just over a minute to allow Dallas to make it interesting heading into the third period. The ‘Hawks have been notorious for placing the opposition’s collective mouth on the curb, then forgetting to stomp.

Everything else I have to say is done through “Boxing.” Click the images to enlarge and, as always, enjoy.

Click the jump for “Boxing”

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