Tim Currell

Tim spent Saturday mornings playing street hockey in suburban Toronto before moving to Chicago at age 11. He played amateur hockey in Chicagoland through high school, got his B.A. in Communications, then wasted 7 years as a news/talk radio host. Today he tinkers with computers and web sites and yells at the TV a lot.


Posts by Tim Currell

Playoffs On The Line: Lose to the Blues, it’s Curtains

Photo: Getty Images

Okay, here’s the problem. I said a long while ago that we had better have ourselves a nice cushion before these last three games, because it would take a miracle to get points out of any of them. Remember that?

Start praying for a miracle.

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Will They Bring The “Give-A-Shit”? Hawks & Habs Tonight

As the anthem is sung, the whistle is blown and the puck is dropped, we all sit back and wonder which Blackhawks team will take the ice. That’s basically what it comes down to this evening against Montreal: will they bring the “give-a-shit” tonight? Or are they going to lose to a clearly-inferior team — again?

We saw this earlier in the season, and we just wrote it off. Now, it’s the playoffs on the line. It matters. The question remains because the ‘Hawks haven’t answered it convincingly enough, consistently enough, all year. Tonight we will ask the same question. Only the Blackhawks know the answer.

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Standings Update and Tampa Preview: Nail-Biting Continues

Photo: chicitysports.com

Okay, last night was good. Lots of teams that we needed to lose, actually lost. Those include Anaheim, Dallas and Nashville. And there was much rejoicing.

The standings of relevant teams in the Western Conference now look like this:

4th:  Los Angeles  (96 points, 4 games remaining, 36 non-shootout wins)
5th:  Phoenix  (96, 3, 37)
6th:  Nashville  (95, 3, 36)
7th:  Anaheim  (93, 4, 40)
8th:  Chicago  (92, 5, 36)
9th:  Calgary  (89, 3, 30)
10th:  Dallas  (87, 6, 33)

Why Los Angeles is ahead of Phoenix is a little stymieing, but it doesn’t involve the Blackhawks at this point, so screw it. One day I’ll invest the 2 minutes necessary to research the answer, but not right now.

The other games of consequence tonight are actually pretty big ones for us. Calgary takes on Colorado, and Dallas is at Anaheim. Victory for the Men of Four Feathers coupled with losses by the Flames and Stars make it nearly impossible for either of those teams to make the post-season, in-effect guaranteeing the Blackhawks a ticket to the playoffs. So while you’re cheering the ‘Hawks, keep an eye on those two tilts.

Tonight the ‘Hawks take the ice against a potent and crowd-energizing Lightning team boasting two how’d-they-do-that offensive powerhouses in Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis, as well as 41-year-old comeback kid goaltender Dwayne Roloson. But the secret behind this team is two-fold: first, Stamkos and St. Louis are nearly all of the Lightning’s offensive punch; and secondly, Roloson is rarely exceptional — he’s very often only as good as he has to be on any given night.

Evidence? How about most of the roster being in a negative plus-minus, many of whom in double-digit negative? How about one (count him, one) 20-goal scorer aside from the afore-mentioned howitzers? How about winning games by decidedly unimpressive margins in nearly every outing? And how about a team GAA closer to 3 than 2, and a save percentage a fingernail above 90%?

This team is beatable. And we proved that in Tampa less than a month ago, we just couldn’t recover from the loss of Dave Bolland early in the matchup thanks to Pavel Kubina’s elbow to the head.

Umm, guys? Yeah… Okay, good. You remembered. Just one request: blood splatter. We want to see blood splatter.

No lineup changes for the Blackhawks, Corey Crawford is your goaltender for the next week unless he runs off with Britney Spears or something. Lightning defenseman Randy Jones is the only player absent from the visitors’ bench.

Family-friendly 6:00pm puck drop at the United Center this evening. National coverage of the game is available on the NHL Network, although Chicagoland will see the game on WGN. Broadcast radio is WGN AM-720, and XM subscribers will hear the game on channel 207.

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6 Games In 10 Days: Columbus Is First Hurdle

Photo: Getty Images

In the past these previews have been about the opposing team and any personnel changes we expect to see from the Blackhawks. So here goes. We’re playing the Columbus Blue Jackets, and they suck. They are without leading scorer Rick Nash and #1 goaltender Steve Mason, so this should be an even easier game to win. No lineup changes for the Blackhawks, Corey Crawford starts.

Now let’s talk about what everybody’s interested in: the playoff race, and the Blackhawks’ chances.

Some teams have clinched Division titles or playoff spots, so they aren’t relevant. Neither are the teams that are (for all practical purposes) mathematically eliminated from the race in the West. That leaves the following teams:

4th:  Phoenix  (95 points, 4 games remaining, 37 non-shootout wins)
5th:  Los Angeles  (94, 5, 35)
6th:  Nashville  (94, 4, 36)
7th:  Anaheim  (93, 5, 40)
8th:  Chicago  (90, 6, 36)
9th:  Dallas  (87, 6, 33)
10th:  Calgary  (87, 4, 29)

Now, I’m not a stats wonk, I don’t do probability calculations and all of that nonsense. So I’m just going to run down the rest of each team’s season and lob my guesses at where we may end up.

Phoenix will likely beat Colorado, lose in OT with the Kings, and split the last two against the Sharks. That gives them an extra 5 points, total of 100.

LA has suffered significant injuries in the last week, I’m going to say they beat the Coyotes in OT, push the Ducks into OT once and fall in a shootout, and then lose the rest. 3 more points, total of 97.

Nashville will lose to Detroit, but win out their last 3. 6 points, total of 100.

Anaheim will split with the Sharks, lose to the Stars, and beat the Kings twice, once in OT. 6 more points, total of 99.

Chicago I’ll save for a minute.

Dallas will beat both the Kings and the Ducks, I’ll say they split against the Avalanche, and beat Columbus and Minnesota. 10 points. 97 total.

Calgary will lose to Vancouver, but take their other 3. 6 points, total of 93.

If that proves out (HA! Yeah, right…) the standings (minus Chicago) will look like this:

4th:  Phoenix (100 points, 39 non-shootout wins)
5th:  Nashville  (100, 39)
6th:  Anaheim (99, 40)
7th:  Dallas (97, 38)
8th:  Los Angeles (97, 36)
9th:  Calgary (93, 32)

So now, to the Blackhawks.

Remaining games: Blue Jackets, Lightning, Canadiens, Blues, and Detroit (*spitting noise*) twice.

We have to beat Columbus. Hear me guys? WE HAVE TO BEAT COLUMBUS! We pushed the Lightning to OT in their building last time, I think we’re going to pull it out this time. We will beat the Canadiens, they’re sliding of late. 6 more points, 3 more NSW. That would put us at 96 points, 39 NSW. Not good enough.

We’ll need another win from among the last three against the Blues and Red Wings. And this is what it all comes down to.

In the next ten days we will find out who is going to be playing for the Blackhawks next year. Who is going to step it up when we’re down two goals early in the 3rd in a possibly-season-ending game? Who is going to dog Henrik Zetterberg until he goes to the bench and cries? Who is going to back-check the Wings so hard they can’t tell which goal they’re supposed to be shooting at? Who is going to knock Todd Bertuzzi out of the game and into the hospital in the first minute of the first game of that home-and-home? Who is going to take the punishment in front of the net and notch a tip-in goal for every bruise they get across their backs? Who is going to block shots like he’s protecting a 5-year-old girl wearing street clothes in the net behind him? And who is going to absorb 35, 45, 55 shots and THEN win it in the shootout?

We all know the names of the guys who will be there. But who will join them? Bryan Bickell? Troy Brouwer? Viktor Stalberg? Jake Dowell? Ryan Johnson? These guys all have the mojo, they just haven’t found it the last 20 games. If it shows up between now and April 10th, we have a shot at this.

If not… well, this post-season will be difficult to watch without a team to cheer for.

6pm puck drop tonight out in Columbus. Comcast SportsNet has the TV coverage, broadcast radio is WGN AM-720, and XM subscribers can hear the game on channel 204.

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Nobody Washes Their Underwear: Blackhawks visit Boston

Photo: Getty Images

The guy you’re looking at here is the leading contender for the Vezina trophy, given to the league’s top goaltender. He won the title back in 2008-09, had a startlingly bad year in 2009-10, and has now come back just as strong as he was two seasons ago. He’s big, covers a lot of the net, but is also mobile. It’s as if his hands are magnets: the pucks are just drawn to them. 32 wins, 2.00 goals-against, and a .939 save percentage. And he’s just now starting to hit his stride.

Vezina… You know, if you replace the ‘ez’ with ‘ag’ it— never mind…

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Water Off A Duck’s Back: Four Point Game Against Anaheim

Photo: Getty Images

There are three stories of interest coming out of Anaheim these days. The first is that Teemu Selanne, in the words of one sports reporter, refuses to act his age. The second is the eruption of winger Corey Perry, who has 15 points (including 11 goals) in his last 8 games. And finally is a goaltending conundrum that has three brand-name goaltenders struggling to put two wins together as the team claws towards a playoff spot.

The Ducks and the Blackhawks have both won 3 of their last 4 games, they are both locked in a tight battle for a playoff spot (the ‘Hawks in 7th, the Ducks in 8th in the Western Conference Standings), and they are both handing bonus points to opponents by allowing games to be pushed into overtime. Neither team can lose this game — but somebody will.

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Let’s Try This Again, Shall We? Hawks/Panthers

A little over two weeks ago, a cocky Blackhawks team took their 8-game winning streak for a little sun and fun in Miami, and promptly got their asses handed to them in a 3-goal first period melt-down that resulted in a 3 – 2 loss to the team sitting 26th out of 30 in the league. It was the anemic start to a dismal 3-game road trip that yielded a mere two out of a possible six points. Humiliating. Eye-opening. Infuriating.

It’s time to get some payback, gentlemen.

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Tim’s Bits for Tuesday

Fairly large amount of news coming out of the Blackhawks’ practice today, so I thought I would pass it along. This is, more or less, a good-news/bad-news situation, so bear with me.

First of all, Patrick Sharp’s knee injury is ~not~ season-ending. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he will miss several games. This puts the Blackhawks down two top-six forwards as we hit the final 10 games of the season. More on that in a minute.

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Safety, Practicality, Heresy

Photo: Eric Bolté 24H MONTREAL/QMI Agency

I have an idea, but you’re not going to like it.

You must have been locked in your room listening to your Justin Bieber CD’s if you didn’t see the uproar caused by Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara’s hit on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty’s head smacked into the stanchion supporting the glass at the end of the bench (see photo above), and he is now home from the hospital to continue his recovery from a broken neck as a result of the incident.

Now, I’m not going to open up the discussion about the hit, the league, the decision not to suspend Chara, or those who think that Chara should be waterboarded. Somebody else can beat that dead horse, my arms are tired.

But one of the subjects that didn’t get a lot of attention at the time was the safety of the rinks themselves. NHL Commissioner Gary “Napoleon” Bettman ordered an engineering review of all NHL rinks in the wake of this crisis, then galloped off to invade Portugal. But I would like to throw a simple, albeit unusual idea out there so at least somebody has said it. To some, this will be just common sense; to others, pure heresy.

Close in the benches with safety glass like the rest of the rink.

This would solve the problem of people’s heads slamming into the stanchions: there would be no stanchions. One additional benefit would be a reduction in the number of pucks going out of play and into the benches. And there would be no guys flying over the boards from enthusiastic checks.

Plus, closing in the benches would also eliminate the type of hit that knocked the Blackhawks’ Fernando Pisani out for several weeks. The whiplash effect from having your torso stop at the boards and your head and neck proceed at a jaunty clip another foot into the bench area would be a thing of the past.

There is a lot to like here, but the down side is going to make hockey fans’ stomachs churn. Closing in the benches with safety glass would mean that players could no longer hop over the boards during a line change, they would have to enter and exit the ice surface through the doors. I know more than a couple of hockey fans that will dismiss the suggestion outright for that reason alone. And frankly, I’m not sure I can blame them. In fact, I may eventually be one of them!

The practicality of this needs to be assessed. The penalty boxes are closed in, and guys can get onto the ice quickly from there. But would that necessarily be the case on the benches with 14 other guys sitting next to you? Would the existing doors need to be widened? Would there need to be a design change to facilitate faster opening and closing? Would there need to be an additional door installed? I have no idea. These are all questions for guys who have quadratic equation solution races against each other on weekends.

But despite the potential complications, I don’t think this should be summarily dismissed. The league and the fans are reluctant to let go of certain traditions, and rightfully so. However, we need to ensure that we are weighing the benefits the game could realize by doing this, as this suggestion could solve a number of problems — many of which have an impact on player safety. The league is saying that the safety of the players is their top priority. If they’re serious, they need to give this more than a passing look.

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Hawks Beat Dawgs, Possibly Losing Sharp

Photo: Getty Images

The two points we needed. The injury we didn’t.

As is frequently the case, Blackhawks’ fans are faced with a good news/bad news headline following an important game against a Conference rival. The Blackhawks played a tight game, allowing only 23 shots on Corey Crawford in a 2 – 1 victory over Phoenix, but suffered what may be a back-breaking loss in Patrick Sharp if his injury proves to be serious.

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Blackhawks Visit Hamil— Uhh, Winnip— Err, Phoenix

Photo: US Presswire

With the bulk of the hockey headlines coming out of southern Arizona being about legal battles and ownership changes and Gary Bettman stomping his feet like a child being told he can’t have candy at the supermarket, it’s easy to forget that there’s actually a hockey team there.

A team that is in fourth in the Western Conference, nipping at the heels of Division leader San Jose. A team on a five-game winning streak. A team that has scored the seventh-most goals in the league, yet has not one single 20-goal  scorer. Although with two of their players named Lauri and Adrian, I’m not sure how seriously we’re supposed to take them.

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They Had Our Number, And Our Number Was Odd

Photo: AP

Corey Crawford was pulled less than half-way through the game against Dallas, giving up 3 goals on 10 shots. And it wasn’t his fault.

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Among The Contenders: Blackhawks Visit Dallas

Photo: Getty Images

I wish there was more time to celebrate these wins. After handing the San Jose Sharks their jock straps and a bus ticket on Monday night, it would have been great to sit back and savor the moment a little longer than just two days. But alas, there’s business to attend to, and tonight that business is in Dallas.

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Fishing For Two Points: Blackhawks Host Sharks

How many times can we use the phrase, “must-win” in a single year? What about “do-or-die?” Or “crunch time?” It seems I’m typing those phrases almost daily now, and this is no exception. With the Blackhawks’ OTL to the Capitals on Sunday, Chicago dropped into 7th in the Western Conference standings, just two points from having to fluff the throw pillows before playoff games.

And look who we’re playing! The San Jose Sharks, who sit first in the Pacific Division, four points ahead of us, and who are looking for a sweep in their season series against the ‘Hawks.

Long and short: if we thought Washington was a hard-fought game, this one is going to be even worse.

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“Grab Yer SAC!” Umm, no thanks, Bruce…

Any of you who watched the “Penguins/Capitals 24/7″ show on HBO got an earful of Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau hitting below the belt on his team in the locker room following the latest in a string of humiliating losses due to lackluster play. The quote above was the most memorable of the diatribe.

As if getting checked for a hernia wasn’t humiliating enough, now we have this ringing in our heads.

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Who’s Free Monday? We’re Giving Away Hawks/Sharks Tickets!

Once again, the generous folks at StubHub.com have hooked us up ~big time~ with some tickets to a stretch run game against the Western Conference rival San Jose Sharks– and YOU can have a chance to win them!

We’re having a random drawing tonight (Friday) at midnight CST.

All you need to do is: go to our page on Facebook, find the status announcing the ticket giveaway, and “Like” that status. Simple!

Winner will be chosen at random and notified soon thereafter about ticket delivery.

It’s Blackhawks vs. Sharks, Monday night at the United Center. And you could be there!

Big “thank you” again to our friends atStubHub.com for making this possible. Thanks for participating, and good luck!

Confederacy of Dunces: Overreaction To Chara Hit On Pacioretty

The last 48 hours have seen one of the most staggering displays of emotional overreaction, knee-jerk stupidity, and just plain moronic behavior, all because of 0.15 seconds of hockey that took place at the Bell Centre in Montreal.

Below is the video of the check that Boston Bruins’ defenseman Zdeno Chara leveled on Montreal Canadiens’ forward Max Pacioretty. If you have not seen this, and are squeamish in any way, take a pass. I don’t want you to vomit on your keyboard.

The end result was about what you’d expect. Pacioretty is currently at Montreal General Hospital with a severe concussion and a non-displaced fracture to the 4th cervical vertebrae. Non-medical interpretation: he broke his neck, but not enough to cause paralysis.

So that happened. And then, following the league’s disciplinary hearing with Chara, it was announced that Chara would not receive a fine or suspension. And then, IQ’s all over Christendom dropped by 50 points, and all hell broke loose.

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Shake It Off: ‘Hawks Try To Stay Grounded Against Bolts

Photo: Getty Images

It was one game. And really, it was just one period. The Blackhawks ran circles around the Panthers and launched 29 shots on goal in the second and third on Tuesday night. They just didn’t get the bounces and were up against a very talented, very lucky goaltender guarding the twine.

So, that happened. Cough it up, spit it out, and forget about it. Tonight we’re playing one of the hottest, most talented teams in the Tampa Bay Lightning. We’re going to have to put together a 60-minute performance that looks like our 40-minute performance last night.

The LAST 40 minutes.

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Team Record In Sight: Hawks Take On Pus—- uhh, Panthers

There’s a back-story with the Chicago Blackhawks and the Florida Panthers, as most of you know. Former Blackhawks player/broadcaster/scout/general manager Dale Tallon was hired to take over the GM post down in Miami. It can be argued that Tallon orchestrated the drafting and roster moves that won Chicago the Stanley Cup, and some people love him for that.

It can also be argued that Tallon accepted the GM position in Chicago despite being completely unqualified, was thrown into the deep end without a life jacket, made the draft picks any idiot could have made given the same circumstances, and got lucky with trades. I think the next five years in the Florida organ-eye-zation will illustrate exactly which of the two is closer to the truth.

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Lending A Hand: Blocked Shot Creates Another Mystery

Photo: Getty Images

During the third period of the Toronto matchup on Saturday, Blackhawks’ defenseman Duncan Keith blocked a shot with his right hand and appeared to get hurt. Today in Florida he was not on the ice for practice, however we got a heaping helping of zilch regarding the full extent of the injury.

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Two Unstoppable Forces: Winning Streaks Clash in Toronto

Photo: CBC

What the Blackhawks have done the last 10 games in the Western Conference, the Toronto Maple Leafs have done in the East. With who’s-THIS-fucking-guy goaltender James Reimer between the pipes, the Leafs have surged to a 6-1-3 record over their last ten games. After having been written off for another year by pretty much everyone as recently as the All-Star Break, they are now within 4 points of a playoff spot.

Tonight the Leafs play host to the similarly-resurgent Chicago Blackhawks, setting up a Clash of the Titans in the NHL’s broadcast media Coliseum: an Original-Six matchup on CBC’s Saturday night edition of Hockey Night in Canada. The only thing that would make this more perfect is if it were at Maple Leaf Gardens. But alas, time marches on.

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We’ll See Who Gets Rocked: Hawks Host Hurricanes

Photo: Official Scorpions Web Site

“Hear about the Hurricanes?” Ask this question, even in Raleigh, and the answer usually comes back, “No! Was anybody hurt? Are they coming here? Do I need to board up the house?” Ask 100 random people on the streets of Chicago who Eric Staal is, about 3 will know he’s the Captain of the Hurricanes. I doubt you’ll find more than 2 who can answer that question correctly within a 10 block radius of the RBC Center.

Carolina’s about chitterlings, NASCAR, basketball and good ol’ Southern hospitality. Not exactly hockey country. Easy to explain why, like most teams south of the Mason-Dixon line, the ‘Canes are in the bottom half of the league for nightly attendance, filling only 17 out of every 20 seats on average. Shame, too: because even with a team put together with a $10 million salary cap cushion, they are in 7th place in the Eastern Conference and will likely make the playoffs.

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Attention Blackhawks: You Were Not Traded. Now Go Win.

Photo: blackhawks.nhl.com

With all the attention on the NHL trade deadline today (when the Blackhawks picked up defenseman Chris Campoli from the Ottawa Senators for pathetic minor-league flame-out Ryan Potulny and an exchange of draft picks) it was easy to forget that the ‘Hawks have a game tonight. The Men of Four Feathers are in Minnesota to take on the Wild, a team with an identical record but by virtue of the screwy tie-breaking system sit just ahead of them in the Western Conference standings.

This is a must-win game, the fourth in a stretch of 22 must-win games for the Blackhawks. But we’ll add another requirement to the Blackhawks’ job tonight: win in REGULATION.

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All-Out Assault: Pummeling Bryzgalov Key To Beating Coyotes

Photo: Phoenix NewTimes

Today is the kick-off to the most grueling part of the Blackhawks’ season: five games over seven days, starting with three opponents hovering just above them in the Western Conference standings. Today’s opponent is the Phoenix Coyotes, who recently wrapped up an 8-game winning streak that included a 3 – 2 shootout win against Chicago. It was this stretch of solid play that propelled them to fourth place in the West.

This is a big one for the Blackhawks, and we owe these pukes. But how do we derail this train?

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Locking Him Up: Seabrook Signs Contract Extension

Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook has signed a contract extension for 5 years and a reported $29 million. This takes one of the biggest restricted free-agent headaches off the Blackhawks’ plates as the off-season approaches.

This puts the focus on GM Stan Bowman to acquire the penalty-killing defenseman he has been in search of, and he has roughly 24 hours to put a deal together. Stay tuned to BlackhawkUp for details.

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