2010-11 Game Previews
There’s never a dull moment when the Dallas Stars come to town, and their last visit was no exception. The last time they were in town, Chicago managed to blow a 3-goal lead, ride a 1-goal advantage through the entire third period before potting an empty-netter with one tick left on the clock.
In admist all that was the scene shown above, where Jake Dowell had Dallas meat-hole Steve Ott bent over and squealing, but let him stand up before clocking him another few times for good measure.
But the most bizarre event of all was the scoring opportunity by Stars forward Trevor Daley in the final minute of the game. While attempting to defend his own zone, Blackhawks’ defenseman Brent Seabrook fell over backwards. Here’s where things get strange. When Seabrook’s hand hit the ice, his stick — for lack of a better term — was released from his grip. The loose stick interfered with Daley and he was unable to get a decent shot off. There was no call on the play.
Dallas Coach Marc Crawford went non-linear, screaming a barrage of obscenities at the officials that would make Russell Crowe cringe. He continued on his way into the locker room and later in the post-game press conference. His contention was that a penalty shot should have been awarded, but Coach Crawford needs to review his rule book.
The Blackhawks held a team meeting on Monday, likely to discuss the three game losing streak and the most recent loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Sunday night. We will never know exactly what was said at the gathering, though we will get the usual barrage of cliches and platitudes: “Our best players have to be our best players,” and other meaningless Yogi Berra-isms.
But what *should* they be saying? Is it time for a Come To Jesus Meeting about defensive responsibility? Should Coach Joel Quenneville start separating the men from the boys, call out the kids to start stepping things up and show them one-way tickets on the Rockford Shuttle? Should Captain Jonathan Toews start naming names of vets who aren’t pulling their weight and reaming them a new sphincter?
Or, should the team just invite their mothers to the meeting?
Tonight in Anaheim we will witness a meeting of two leaderless hockey teams. The Anaheim Ducks have lost Captain Ryan Getzlaf after he took a puck to the face in the Ducks’ game against the Coyotes on December 28th. He has been diagnosed with multiple nasal sinus fractures, and is listed as being out indefinitely.
Blackhawks’ Captain Jonathan Toews fell awkwardly into the boards with a man on top of him during the Blues game a week ago, and suffered a shoulder injury. He is listed as day-to-day, and was skating at practice on New Year’s Day — a nice present for ‘Hawks’ fans to start 2011. Turns out Captain Serious is also Captain I Dare You To Try To Stop Me From Skating.
If there’s one thing this team has been able to do in recent years, it’s fight through adversity. When faced with ugly circumstances, this team has faced each challenge head-on, often coming out on top, but never going down without a fight. Remember last season, when we fell behind to Calgary 5 – 0 in the first period, but fought back to win 6 – 5 in overtime? I hope we see that kind of who-says-we-can’t attitude tonight when the Blackhawks take on the San Jose Sharks at the UC. 12 of the players from that game will be on the ice tonight.
The Sharks are coming off a loss to lowly Minnesota, which follows being shut out by Los Angeles on Monday. Offensively San Jose is an open book. Their top-six forwards, plus defenseman Dan Boyle, are scoring threats. The rest of the team are no more useful than figure skaters in hockey gear. Keep those seven guys under wraps, and the Blackhawks can win.
During the filming of “Meet Me In St. Louis,” Judy Garland was so pissed off at the depressing lyrics to “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” that she went to her director (and not long after, husband), Vincente Minelli, and told him that she wasn’t going to sing it. They changed the lyrics at her request to something less dreary, and the song endures today.
Later in life, Garland proceeded to knock boots with any and every male co-star or singing legend she came across, tried to kill herself about three hundred times, and eventually died of an overdose of barbiturates. The Jordin Tootoo of her age, apparently.
What, too soon?
The Blackhawks are about to “Meet me in Saint Loo-EEEE, Loo-EEEE”, though something tells me the organist at the Scottrade Center won’t be playing any Judy Garland songs. Though if he is, it would probably be, “Strike Up The Band.” This outing will be the meeting of two winning streaks. Something’s gotta give.
Merry Christmas, Chicago. Santa brought us some healthy wingers.
Though sniper Patrick Kane is still a few days away from returning from an ankle injury, wingers Viktor Stalberg and Marian Hossa have been cleared by the doctors and will be in the lineup tonight. Stalberg has been out since December 15th, when Ryan O’Byrne lived up to his pugilistic Irish stereotype and laid a hit on Stalberg worthy of a Tom & Jerry cartoon. Hossa, believe it or not, is returning from an undisclosed injury resulting from his collision with Nick Boynton during a practice session in late-November. The initial prognosis of a 2 – 3 week recovery period was obviously off by a factor of at least 50%. We’ll have to talk to the team doctors about that shit.
Did you hear? Jim Balsillie came to Nashville! Who? Jim Balsillie! The owner of the company that makes BlackBerry smartphones who has more money than Daddy Warbucks and wants desperately to buy an American NHL team and move it to Hamilton, Ontario except he’s pissed off enough owners of existing teams that nobody will ever let him buy controlling interest in an NHL franchise and even if he somehow weaseled his way into buying one they would never EVER let him move it to Hamilton because Gary Bettman is a butt-munch and has convinced the owners that he should get whatever he wants and he hates Jim Balsillie’s guts! That guy! He was in Nashville!
Does this mean he’s trying to buy the Predators? Is he trying to assemble various minority interests to form a majority stake? I think you’d have better luck trying to pick which reality TV show Kate Gosselin is going to show up on next.
The big news out of Los Angeles has been the arrival of newly-acquired Bruins forward Marco Sturm — which hasn’t really happened yet. Sturm has not played a game this season because of surgery to repair torn ligaments in his knee, and he is not expected to be in the Kings’ lineup until their return to LA next week. Boston gave Sturm to the Kings for absolutely nothing, and that’s not a joke or an exaggeration. The Bruins moved him simply to stay compliant with salary cap restrictions. Officially the other side of the deal was “future considerations,” but Boston GM Peter Chiarelli confirmed that they received literally zilch in return.
Welcome to Gary Bettman’s NHL.
So with a new sniper not quite in the lineup, the Blackhawks will be staring down essentially the same team they faced on November 27th. The Blackhawks came away from that tilt with a 2 – 1 victory behind 21 saves from Corey Crawford.
The Kings are mired in that mud puddle of teams scratching and clawing for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference, finding themselves shy by two points at the moment. There’s a worst-kept secret about Los Angeles, and it’s this: 55 of their 82 goals — fully two-thirds of their offense — have been scored by five guys. So if we can manage to keep Anze Kopitar, Justin Williams, Dustin Brown, Jarret Stoll, and Ryan Smyth off the score sheet, we’re golden. We’ve beaten each of their goaltenders once this year, but you can bet they’ll throw Jonathan Quick and his 1.98 GAA at us this evening. It will not be easy to get pucks past him.
The good news in the last two days for the Chicago Blackhawks is that they are coming off a WIN! No, that’s not a typo: we WON! And against Detroit (*spitting noise*) of all people. I guess we shouldn’t be all that surprised: this is the season of miracles, after all.
And while we cherish the rafter-rattling cheers of “DEEE-TROIT SUCKS!!!” raining down on the Scum as we send them home with their tails between their legs, the challenge now becomes to keep this momentum going against the Kings tonight.
Now, let me just say this before we go too much further. On these “heritage night” events, we have to find some way to keep Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk away from the bar before the broadcast. From the way they sounded at the opening face-off, here’s what I believe happened. They got to the rink around 4pm, went straight to the hospitality suite and rubbed elbows with all the Ambassadors on hand for the event. They joked and laughed, told war stories from the “Golden Era,” and slugged back a bottle or more of Glenfiddich between the two of them. By the time they got on the air, they were in no shape to water a plant, let alone do the play-by-play for a hockey game. During the third period they were calling Wings netminder Jimmy Howard “Corey Crawford” and not even having the presence of mind to correct themselves. It was pretty embarrassing.
The Blackhawks, however, were on their game from the start. They played 60 minutes of hockey without once going short-handed against the Red Wings, something they would do well to repeat as the rest of the season continues. They also managed to play if not an excellent defensive game, at least an above-average one. This, too, is something that the Hawks could use night in and night out.
No changes to the roster from Saturday’s game, though watch for Coach Joel Quenneville to continue his game of musical wingers as he tries out various combinations with newly-signed center Ryan Johnson. Wingers Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Viktor Stalberg are all confirmed to be out of the lineup, and Corey Crawford will get the start in net. Let’s have another game like the last one, and we should have ourselves a winning streak.
Family-friendly Sunday night start time of 6:00pm this evening. Second straight national broadcast on the NHL Network, blacked out in Chicago in favor of WGN-TV. Broadcast radio is WGN AM-720, and XM subscribers should look for the game on channel 206
Special note for tonight’s game: Up in Section 318 you’ll find a knockout brunette with the most gorgeous blue eyes you’ve ever seen. Lord only knows why she married the loser she did, and he mooches Hawks tickets off her too. But hey, he writes for BlackhawkUp.com, so he can’t be all bad. Drop by and shake his hand, he’ll be wearing the Duncan Keith home jersey and probably talking somebody’s ear off.
I looked back at the Blackhawks’ schedule several times, and still couldn’t believe that we had only met up with Detroit (*spitting noise*) once so far this season. It seemed unreasonable, since we play them six times during the campaign. But then I remembered what a typical season schedule looks like, and I looked ahead to April. We play them three times in the last eight games. And, we play them tonight.
The Hawks are coming off two emasculating losses to the Colorado Avalanche, which I won’t go into for fear of tearing my laptop apart like a spiral notebook in fits of barely-controllable rage. They now must look ahead to tonight’s game with the team that is leading the Central Division and sits first overall in the Western Conference by a sizable margin. Oh goodie.
Now that all of our loved ones are letting us have sharp objects without supervision again following the manic-depressive episode that was the 7 – 5 loss to the Colorado Avalanche on Monday, it’s time to load up on mood stabilizers and settle in for the re-match: Blackhawks vs. Avalanche at the United Center tonight, 7:30pm.
As for me, they’ve taken off the restraints, I’ve written an apology to that bus full of pre-schoolers (most of whom won’t need counseling, it turns out), and my lawyer thinks he can get the charges dropped as long as I promise never to go within 1000 yards of a meat packing plant again. Something tells me they’ll leave the restraining order in place, however.