2010-11 Game Recaps

Better than your worst: Twice the Boxing with ‘Hawks/Senators/Islanders

As usual, Mondays after two weekend games gets you a double dose of Boxing. Boom

"That's my puck, baby! Don't you EVER touch my puck!" (Chicago Tribune)

I can sit here and say, “Yeah we got four points, but look at the competition,” but I may be in the minority of people who say the Blackhawks could be turning a corner.

Now, that doesn’t mean it’s because the ‘Hawks played spectacular in Friday’s 3-2 shootout win against the Ottawa Senators and Sunday’s 5-0 win against the New York Islanders. They didn’t.

The reason I bring up the possibility of a stretch of improved play is simply because of momentum. Sometimes, a couple of crappy wins can turn out to be the saving grace for a struggling team. The reason? The players remove the word “crappy” and look at the bare basics: A win is a win.

There won’t be any bold predictions from me guaranteeing this, nor will I say it cannot happen. But I’m leaning more on the side of this weekend being good for the Blackhawks’ 2011. Maybe it’s just the meatball in me.

Patrick Kane looks like he’s finally fully healthy. More importantly, he looks like he cares. His Give A Fuck has been broken for most of this season, so hopefully that got repaired along with his ankle.

The penalty kill still blows, though they killed their one against the Isles. That ended five straight de-pants-ings on the kill.

And how about dat der Corey Crawford guy der. First shutout of the season Sunday, and it was well deserved.

Not gonna waste a ton of time going over two games you’ve already seen, so here’s Boxing. As always, click the images to enlarge.

First up, ‘Hawks/Sens from Friday…

Click the jump for Boxing with ‘Hawks/Sens, followed by ‘Hawks/Isles

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Crowning Jewel: Boxing with Blackhawks/Kings, Sweep Edition

"Call it luck again, bitch. I dare you."

King me, please.

The Blackhawks completed a four-game season sweep of L.A. with a 4-3 victory that came with a few surprises, including:

»  The sweep itself. Who the hell saw that coming, especially with the ‘Hawks struggles
»  Jonathan Toews’ early – and welcome – return from injury
»  Jake Dowell being scratched with no explanation yet if it relates to his 3rd-period benching against the Ducks
»  Patrick Sharp’s fifth career two-goal game against the Kings. That’s, like, a lot.

The Captain’s return proved to be not only timely, but also not rushed. Most of us were worried about whether or not he’d be fully ready to go, and he quelled those worries with a solid performance. Toews’ “lucky” goal that bounced in off an errant clearing attempt by Drew Doughty happened because he was in front of the net like he should have been.

Sharp had another very handsome night, potting a goal on the power play and adding another off an aggressive forecheck by him and Tomas Kopecky. Nifty passing on the PP goal, as Kane made a nice pass across while Marian Hossa baited Jarrett Stoll into sinking toward the net, opening the passing lane.

Cash. Money. Hoes.

The Blackhawks did everything they could to attempt to lose this game, however. They were outplayed in the first period until Hossa tied it late, then took three shitty penalties in a row in the third period. The too-many-men call is flat out stupid, Duncan Keith was sleep-skating on his dipshit toss over the boards, and Toews’ high-stick shouldn’t have happened. It led to the equalizer until Toews’ shin scored the winner.

A few more thoughts here:

»   Patrick Kane is still being bothered by his injury, I’ve decided. I came to this conclusion when he skated in with Dave Bolland on a 2-on-1 and did not once even consider putting the puck on net. Confidence? Well, maybe, given that he’s still getting back in the groove after sitting out eight games. More importantly, he looks a bit shaky on his skates, and I believe it may hurt him to plant and twist that ankle in order fire off a decent shot. Kane glided into the zone and looked at Bolland the whole way. Kane is a scorer, and that’s what we need from him. The cute pass on an odd-man rush is not what anyone wants to see. If it’s the ankle like I believe it is, maybe a night off for Kane would do some good.

»   Brent Seabrook did his best  Nick Boynton impression by making a blind, dipshit clearing attempt that resulted in a turnover and a Kings goal. Overall, he played like a pile of shit.

»  Corey Crawford got another win, but hopefully he made out with the posts on the Staples Center nets after the game. Those red, iron bastards sure helped deflect the pucks outwardly. I’d count and tell you how many posts the Kings hit in the game, but my calculator is broken. However, he made a great save on Anze Kopitar’s chance with under a minute left and Jonathan Quick on the bench in favor of the extra man.

»  The minutes of Jack Skille and Viktor Stalberg were next to nothing after a decent night in Anaheim, when QStache benched Dowell. Skille and Stalberg rode the pine most of the game, and Dowell watched from the press box as a healthy scratch. Granted, Skille did have a turnover that led to a Kings goal, but it would be nice if people with credentials would ask some questions about all this.

And now for Boxing. Click the images to enlarge:

Click the jump for Boxing with ‘Hawks/Kings

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Sorry, Mom: Boxing with ‘Hawks/Ducks

"I didn't get my ass kicked like this when I was playing offense. WTF, man?!" (Chicago Tribune)

This time, the Blackhawks’ mothers got to witness the ‘Hawks fall into a last-place tie in the Central Division. How sweet of the kids.

The Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks offered some good things to take away from it. However, despite the fact the ‘Hawks outshot the Ducks 40-19, that disparity is a bit deceiving.

Yes, the ‘Hawks controlled the puck for damn near all of the third period when they held a 19-2 shot advantage. The problem is that most of those 19 shots didn’t offer many quality chances. Rather than being impressed with the ‘Hawks puck possession, I’m inclined to give the credit to the Ducks being able to keep the ‘Hawks from the net for most of the period.

Viktor Stalberg had the game tied when he put a wrister toward an open net from just a few feet out with Jonas Hiller sprawled across the crease. Then  Dave Bolland, who saw Hiller down and watched Stalberg get ready to put the puck on the net, decided an attempt at a re-direct to fool the goaltender who wasn’t there. I can understand Bolland being in the moment, but I can’t remember the last time I saw someone attempt to re-direct a shot taken from that close. Stalberg put his arms up thinking it was a sure goal, then realized what happened. That fucking sucked.

To the ‘Hawks credit, they tried to do everything they could to get another one past Hiller, who played outstanding. Hiller even made a ridiculous initial save on Bryan Bickell’s goal before Bicks poked it through.

As you’ll notice in Boxing, the ‘Hawks were murdered at the dot. The chance of Jonathan Toews playing against the Los Angeles Kings becomes much more needed after witnessing that shit show.

There’s a mystery why Jake Dowell got benched in the third period, and hopefully Q gives us an explanation. Not a mystery? Tomas Kopecky has been playing like a pile of dog shit.

The Blackhawks’ 20-17-3 record puts them at exactly .500 and in last place while the rest of the division has games in hand. The official midway point of the season is tonight, and the ‘Hawks are currently looking up the ass of 10 teams in the Western Conference. I’m not going to hop in front of a Blue Line train just yet, but it’s also time to start realizing our Stanley Cup champs have to fight for a playoff spot in the second half.

Hey, at least we got a break from the sack of nipples that is Nick Boynton.

Without further ado, here’s Boxing. Click the images to enlarge

Click the jump for Boxing with ‘Hawks/Gordon Bombays

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Hits just keep on comin’: Blues take it to ‘Hawks as Toews gets hurt

NOTE: Sorry, but there won’t be any Boxing this morning. My usual box score I use through my big-boy job wasn’t accessible because of a system error and I didn’t want to use another one. Boxing will return Thursday.

"Either you guys are a bunch of pansies, or Kaner banged Lady Luck and never called her again." (Tribune)

Welcome back, Patrick Kane. Goodbye,  Jonathan Toews.

There hasn’t been an official word as of 8:33 a.m. regarding the status of the Captain, but it’s hard to imagine having Tazer suit up Thursday after watching him go down clutching his shoulder.  It pains me to say it, but I’ll stick by my stance when I mentioned last night on the Facebook fan page that  Matt D’Agostini’s hit wasn’t dirty.

Unfortunately, the Toews injury has to be the story after that shitshow that was a 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues that dropped the ‘Hawks to eighth in the conference. When the whole squad is finally healthy and then Toews goes down, it’s starting to look like Lady Luck wants to be a fucking bitch this season.

Marty Turco’s performance in net is the only goddamn reason the Blackhawks didn’t lose 10-1. I don’t know what it is about the ‘Hawks, but when No. 30 gets between the pipes they forget how to play hockey. At one point, the Blues were out-shooting the ‘Hawks 25-8 and were dominating in a fashion I haven’t seen in quite some time.

Oh, and this was on a night when the Blackhawks got what we thought was a belated Christmas gift when  Ty Conklin got the nod instead of  Jaroslav Halak. Unreal.

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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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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…