2013-14 Game Recaps

Boxing 3-16-14 Red Wings

We’ve Missed You: Boxing with Blackhawks (4) and Red Wings (1)

CT Hawks_RedWings13271.JPG

Jimmy’s down! (Chicago Tribune)

First off, apologies for the lack of content on the site lately. Not only has Mighty Mike D had some internet issues over Ireland, Nakis is currently in NOLA for his bachelor party and I just returned from a two-week stint in Hawai’i for my honeymoon (I’m sure you feel sorry for me). Needless to say, we’ve had some shit going on.

Secondly, apologies for the lack of Boxing due to the same reasons listed above.

OK, onto Sunday.

That Marian Hossa guy is pretty good at hockey. After sitting out five games with an upper-body injury suffered in that snowy mess at Soldier Field, Hossa returned to score a beautiful goal before adding an assist on Jonathan Toews’ late shorty that iced the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win over Detroit on Sunday.

It was the only visit of the season for Detroit, which sent their asshole fans who bolted the bankrupt city to live in a real place like Chicago because they know its superior to a place riddled with boarded-up whore houses.

Hossa’s goal was all kinds of disgusting, as he essentially as blew past every Wing and then put one right past Jimmy Howard. Hoss was a beast all night on both ends of the ice, and it’s no secret the ‘Hawks missed him. They had scored two goals in three straight and four of their last five before Hossa sparked them.

A couple notes before Boxing…

*  Brandon Saad played only a little over six minutes before leaving with an injury, sort of tainting the victory if he misses some time. The Blackhawks have to face a hot Philly team on Tuesday before asshole Blues come to town Wednesday. With an offense that has overall struggled of late, it likely can’t afford to be missing Saad’s contributions.

*  Ben Smith saw significant time at second-line center and didn’t disappoint. He scored a goal from his knees, added an assist on Nick Leddy’s goal and made Howard’s life a living hell all night. The lineup shuffle was even unexpected for Smith, who won 7 of his 10 draws. Does Q put him there Tuesday again? Can’t say I’d argue if he does.

*  I don’t like Kris Versteeg. He played all right against Colorado – he played with Toews, so he should have – but other than that I’m just not enjoying anything he’s doing, which isn’t much. One goal in his last 18 games isn’t going to cut it.

*  Detroit haha I hate you bye.

Here’s Boxing…

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Things Aren’t Looking Up, But We Are: Blackhawks 2 – Avalanche 3

We were actually discussing this game as a staff this morning and who would write the recap. I volunteered for it with my reasoning being that the Avalanche just have something about them that makes them punchable. Coming into this season we made a lot of jokes about Patrick Roy and the Feet but after 3/4 of the season I think it’s only we fair we give them credit for just how far they’ve come in a year. This roster is shaped similarly to the rebuild taking place for the 6th straight year in Alberta yet coming into tonight they were just one point behind Chicago in the division.

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Fenwick chart for 2014-02-03 Blackhawks 5 at Kings 3-1

Like a Hurrikane: Boxing with Blackhawks (5) and Kings (3)

Chicago Blackhawks v Los Angeles Kings

(Chicago Tribune)

Maybe it was the death of his grandfather that motivated him, or maybe it’s just that Patrick Kane is one of the most lethal offensive threats in the NHL, but his performance Monday was one that we’ve been dying to see again.

Kaner scored twice and added an assist in a 5-3 win over Los Angeles as the Blackhawks improved to 2-0-2 on this hell of a road trip. It’s late, so here a couple of thoughts before Boxing…

– The goals aside, Kane’s pass to Bryan Bickell was equally as stellar. Bickell had been scratched for three of the previous four games, and it seemed as if Kane was looking for him the whole way. It was part of a fantastic night just hours after his grandfather passed away.

Kane’s 26th and 27th goals brought him to within three of his career high set in 2009-10.

– After the ‘Hawks largely dominated the first period due to a plethora of Kings penalties, here’s how the rest of the game played out:

Fenwick chart for 2014-02-03 Blackhawks 5 at Kings 3-1

Corey Crawford would probably like to have a goal or two back, but his performance in the second and third period helped hold off the Kings attack. It wasn’t his best game, but he made some solid saves to give the ‘Hawks a chance to finally pull away.

Patrick Sharp took a double-minor high-sticking penalty, and also had a couple of other run-ins. He’s seemed overly frustrated lately and getting into skirmishes, but I think some of the reaction is a bit overblown. He has at least one point in six of the last eight games, so his production is there. If he wants to mix it up a little bit more, so be it. It isn’t quite hurting anyone.

– Another solid game from the fourth line, including the goal from Kruger off of a shot from Leddy, who also had a goal and led the team in Corsi %.

– The Blackhawks allowed their first power-play goal in nine games when Doughty scored in the first period.

Ok, I’m very tired. Here’s Boxing…

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Boxing 1-28-14-Canucks

Going, Going, Back, Back to Cali, Cali … With a Win: Boxing with ‘Hawks (5) and Canucks (2)

Chicago Blackhawks v Vancouver Canucks

“Psst, Lu. Hey, Lu. Are you… are you crying dude? Don’t cry dude.”

Finally I’m not here talking about a loss. And that’s an even better feeling seeing how the first 16 seconds went Wednesday.

The Blackhawks’ losing streak came to an end with a 5-2 win over Vancouver, scoring five unanswered after falling behind quickly. The ‘Hawks get two days off before they begin a three-game tour of California in San Jose on Saturday.

It’s very late, so let’s get to a couple things quickly:

Kris Versteeg’s pass to Marian Hossa on the power play was nothing short of spectacular, marking the second straight night – after his feed to Patrick Kane from the behind the net against Calgary – that he made a nifty pass that led to a goal. However, his refusal to make a smart, simple pass to relieve pressure in his own zone led directly to the second Vancouver goal. After losing the puck, he then wandered aimlessly around the ice and was completely out of position chasing the puck, leading to an open man in the slot. His highs are high, but his lows are infuriating.

– The ‘Hawks got hosed 40-23 at the dot tonight. Meh, for now.

– Oh, hello Brandon Saad! Sweet game from the kid, including that redirect off Brookbank’s point shot.

– The fourth line was all over the ice, with Ben Smith sticking out especially. Brandon Bollig put a team-high six shots on goal. MOAR BOLLIG!.

Corey Crawford haters during and after Sunday’s loss to Winnipeg: DAT CRAWSFORD GUY AIN’T DA GUY FOR DIS TEAM CUZ HE CAN’T STOP ALL DA PUCKS HE’S SUPPOSED TO STOP WHEN DA PUCK IS DER FOR HIM TO STOP! I CAN’T BULLEEF HOW SO BAD HE IS WIT HIS POSISHONING!

Crawford haters after the first goal Wednesday: C? HEAR WE GOES AGAIN WIT DIS GUY!

Crawford haters after playing a stellar game, making plenty of solid saves after the first blip early: OH BIG DEAL! DAS WHAT’S HE’S SOOPOSED TA DOO WIT ALL DAT MONEY WE PAYED HIM!

– The ‘Hawks penalty kill is 19 for 19 over the last seven games.

– The Sharks put 59 shots on net against Edmonton, and Ben Scrivens stopped them all. Ouch.

The rest is in Boxing…

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Leavin’ on a Jet Plane: Boxing with Jets (3) and Blackhawks (1)

 

(Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune)

(Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune)

With a six-game road trip upcoming before the Olympic break, the Blackhawks headed into their final game at the United Center until March 4 coming off a dismal offensive performance against Minnesota and looking to provide some momentum going into their trip.

And what did we witness? Another dismal offensive performance that left us all scratching our heads and had some trying to place all the blame on Corey Crawford because, well, that’s what people tend to do – no matter what.

The Blackhawks missed open nets and failed plenty of solid opportunities when Glenview native Al Montoya wasn’t standing on his head, and Marian Hossa gift-wrapped Andrew Ladd’s winning goal in the Jets’ 3-1 victory Sunday. It marked the Blackhawks’ first loss in regulation in 27 games when they led after two periods.

The Blackhawks, who have failed to score at least two goals in back-to-back games for the first time since March 23 and 27, 2012, now embark on a trip that includes stops in Calgary, Vancouver, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Phoenix before the Olympics.

Bryan Bickell was a healthy scratch, with Q saying “we want more, we need more” from him. Q simply is trying to send a message – he dressed both Kostka and Brookbank – but expect Bickell to be back in the lineup against Calgary.

Some thoughts before Boxing… (Actually, it’s one big thought)

Jim got into it with a few people on Twitter following the game, and it largely had to do with this:

Leave it to Zawaski to try and make a game the Blackhawks clearly lost because of their inability – for the second straight game – to get a second goal by missing many, many chances into something about Crawford to fit his “controversy” narrative. The worst part is that people buy it, and therefore will continue to do so.

Montoya played fabulously and far above his means – he entered having given up 10 goals over his previous two starts – while the Blackhawks failed to convert on the chances Montoya allotted them. Furthermore, the deciding goal came off a horrible Hossa turnover, even before Ladd’s shot deflected in off Keith.

Zawaski continued by saying Crawford “needed to be in better position” and should have “bailed out a teammate.” C’mon guy. I’m sorry, but this loss isn’t on Crawford. And for anyone to say it is, is completely blind to the fact that the ‘Hawks lost because they couldn’t put the puck in the net – again.

In Boxing, I list the recent production from four of the Blackhawks’ top six. It’s pretty pathetic. The ‘Hawks haven’t scored an even-strength goal since Andrew Shaw’s tally in the first period against Detroit. They’re also 1 for 20 on the power play over the last six games.

If you want to place blame, start getting on the Blackhawks’ top players for not producing how they should. Blaming Crawford is a cop out, and someone like Zawaski should know better if he’s going to go by the title of “Blackhawks Analyst.”

Jonathan Toews said the ‘Hawks “just threw away another two points.” And that’s not on Crawford. The ‘Hawks played like a pile of dog shit in the third period at both ends of the ice. That was the problem. They played 40 minutes, not 60.

On that note, be sure to check out our latest episode of Cheer the Podcast. We talk plenty about the doldrums of January and this current slump, even before the loss to Winnipeg.

Here’s Boxing….

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(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Out for a Walk: Boxing with Wild (2) and Blackhawks (1)

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

That’s just your run-of-the-mill, please-get-this-crap-off-my-TV kind of game.

The Blackhawks entered Thursday’s matchup with Minnesota 9-0-3 in the second of back-to-back games, and they nearly pulled another point out of their asses in the final minutes. Alas, their sleep walking through the first 58 1/2 minutes did them in before falling 2-1.

The ‘Hawks have lost nine times in regulation this season. Three of those defeats have came against the Wild. Yes, one-third of the Blackhawks’ regulation losses have come against goddamn Minnesota. Let that sink in for a second.

It’s no secret we didn’t see anywhere near the Blackhawks’ best against Detroit save for the quick two-goal lead they eventually relinquished, but Thursday was just one sad sack of a performance from top to bottom. Q said after the game that no one stuck out, and I couldn’t agree more. Laziness, stupid penalties and missed opportunities all were had throughout the contest, and it grew frustrating to watch.

Having Keith out was another turd we had to swallow.

Thoughts before Boxing…

*  So, I understand the bright side of pointing out that the Blackhawks have lost only twice in regulation over their last 18 games. At least they’ve gotten points more often than not. I get it. However, Let’s take a quick look at the seven OT/shootout defeats.

- Dec. 20: Blew two-goal lead at home to Vancouver before falling 3-2 in a shootout
- Dec. 28: Blew three separate two-goal leads at St. Louis, then lost 6-5 in a shootout
- Jan. 2: Lost 3-2 in OT to the New York Islanders. Yes, those New York Islanders.
- Jan. 5: Fell behind by two in a listless performance until the third, tied the game, lost 3-2 in a shootout to San Jose
- Jan. 11: Nothing until the third, then lost 2-1 in OT to Montreal
- Jan. 14: Fell behind quickly 2-0, recovered to tie it, lost in OT to Colorado
- Wednesday: The Detroit debacle

This 9-2-7 stretch hasn’t exactly been pleasant, though the wins over Anaheim and Boston were rather big. But the Blackhawks rarely have played a full game lately, either falling behind early and having to battle back or blowing a multiple-goal lead of their own while leaving an extra point on the table. Thursday was just a crapfest throughout, and I’m not exactly surprised the ‘Hawks played a full stinker given the direction they’ve been treading lately.

*  Handzus is getting plenty of blame for lollygagging it back into the defensive end, allowing Pomniville to receive a great pass from Heatley to beat Raanta on the first goal. However, have you seen Bickell in that highlight? He began coasting at the red line. I’ll throw some blame his way as well.
* Anyone else ever think you’d see Hossa demoted/benched for even a single stretch like he was? Not sure if there was a specific message Q was sending, but still surprising. Hossa had a three-game goal-scoring streak snapped despite having a short-handed breakaway chance he failed to convert when the puck took off on him.

*  Matt Cooke is still a prick, no matter how much he wants to try and convinced us he’s changed.

*  Brandon Bollig. Quality minutes late in the third period of a close game. Again. It’s becoming as painful as brushing your teeth with barbed wire.

*  Winnipeg, which had a four-game winning streak snapped with a loss to San Jose on Thursday, visits the UC on Sunday for “one of those great 6 o’clock starts.”

Here’s Boxing…

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One Less Than Desired: Blackhawks 2 – Avalanche 3

The face says it all. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel, NHL.com)

Semyon Varlamov is the reason the Colorado Avalanche got one point, let alone the two they walked away with tonight. He was outstanding stopping 46 of 48 shots that reached him, with at least a handful or more being spectacular saves. I’m going to leave the off ice stuff out of this and give him credit for playing an excellent game tonight. His teammates didn’t much help him in the effort as Colorado was playing in its own end for roughly 75% of this game.

The Blackhawks also deserve credit of their own. You don’t generate 75% of the scoring chances in a hockey game without thoroughly dominating the 18 skaters the other team iced.

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Snapped: Boxing with ‘Hawks (5) and Oilers (3)

 

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That’s a Shame: Boxing with Rangers (3) and Blackhawks (2)

Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune

Chris Sweda / Chicago Tribune

It’s tough to say that a first-place team that just lost in regulation for the first time in 11 games is in a slump, but the Blackhawks sure seem to be the closest thing to it.

There’s no doubt that the ‘Hawks haven’t looked their best since the 7-2 shellacking they gave Colorado on Dec. 27. In the six games following that win, they blew three two-goal leads to the Blues, got only one through on the Kings, stumbled against the lowly Islanders, needed Sharp to save them against the Devils, allowed a tying third-period goal in a boring loss to the Sharks and got off to a piss-poor start in Thursday’s 3-2 home loss to the New York Rangers.

When you break it down, the ‘Hawks haven’t exactly been setting the world on fire during that 2-1-3 stretch. Looking to see that St. Louis is two points back with four games in hand, it makes this “slump” a bit more uneasy.

From Q postgame: ”We’ve got too many guys right now that aren’t contributing to that level we saw most of the season.”

At the same token, let’s not go full meatball and get discouraged. This team – like every team – will go through lulls, and I’m more than willing to take this one now rather than May. We could, however, do without Leddy and Rozsival engaging in a staring contest around the net on the winning goal.

It’s getting late, so here’s Boxing. More analysis will follow for games when I’m not at work, and also now that I’ll finally have cable and internet in my new apartment after 11 days of living like I was back in the 1980s.

Oh, quick note passed along to me by my high school buddy and Horse Racing Television anchor Scott Hazelton. Q, Mike Kitchen and former Bears assistant Mike Tice co-own a horse named Midnight Hawk. He’s racing at Santa Anita in California on Saturday at approximately 4:30 p.m. Central on Saturday, and the race will be broadcast on HRTV. Tune in to watch rich guys get richer. Midnight Hawk is a Kentucky Derby hopeful.

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Chicago Blackhawks v St. Louis Blues

A Pain Merely Temporary: Blues 6, Blackhawks 5 (Shootout)

Chicago Blackhawks v St. Louis Blues

I specifically waited until this morning to put together a recap because I was so pissed off last night that I knew everything I wrote would be pure emotional rage with very little logic sprinkled in. The Blues fans on meth reading this know what I’m talking about.

The Blackhawks entered last night’s showdown in St. Louis with a 17-0-1 record when scoring at least four goals, with the lone defeat being that 6-5 OT loss to Tampa Bay way back on Oct. 24. I was doing nothing short of dreaming up ways to make fun of the Blues after the ‘Hawks went up 2-0 and 3-1 in the first period, figuring they’d tack on a couple more and send Nakis to the St. Louis-area bars with insults in tow. It looked much like the Colorado laugher from the night before.

Then the first two-goal lead evaporated. Brandon Saad and Brent Seabrook gave the ‘Hawks another, but they blew that, too. What was even more enraging was how quickly it happened, with Tarasenko and Berglund scoring goals they probably shouldn’t have.

Antti Raanta in a shootout? We can only hope we don’t have to see that happen again. To say he’s bad in the tiebreaker would be as nice as telling Ken Hitchcock he looks fine the way he is. And just like that, the Blackhawks pissed away three separate two-goal leads and handed two points to the hated Blues, who have won four straight in the series.

But that’s where I’m going to draw the line right now when it comes to these two teams. I’m going to jump ahead to May, because we all know there’s a good chance the Blues and ‘Hawks will be battling it out in the playoffs.

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