2013 Game Recaps

Halfway Home, All The Way Gone: Blackhawks 1 – Sharks 2

While I don’t much care for Joe Thornton, his beard is all that is man. (Photo credit: Don Smith, NHL.com)

I’m writing this the morning after and little has changed in the way I feel about this game. Full admission: I tweeted this last night and it actually happened. Upon waking up this morning I found out they the Hawks had failed to get the extra point and had to watch the skills competition on my DVR. That basically encapsulates my feeling about shootouts. That a game like this, while only two goals were scored, was decided by this method is meaningless in deciding who was the better team tonight.

This game was a tie for all intents and purposes.

More >

Blackhawks 6 – Bruins 5 (OT): Break Point

Up and down points to Blackhawks
(NHL.com credit Bruce Bennett)

The outcomes of this game after regulation could not have been more different from a Chicago perspective.

In 60 minutes, the Blackhawks scored five goals against the Boston Bruins vaunted defence. Only one of which came at an advantage (with Handzus’ at a disadvantage). They controlled possession for roughly 65% of the regulation time. They even scored a powerplay goal to give a shot in the arm to a unit that couldn’t find the opposing blue line to save its life. At the end of that regulation, the game was tied.

If Chicago loses this game, a three game uphill climb required sherpas that not even the deep pockets of Wirtz Beverage Co. can afford.

Instead, we’re looking at a best of three series with the Blackhawks holding home ice advantage.  There’s a lot to look at here, but let’s just soak in some highlights and glances because we’ve got two days to prepare for a tilt at the UC that is going to put one team a victory from hoisting the chalice.

More >

Regicide: Hawks 3 Kings 2 (Series 3-1)

Tonight was all set up to be a write-off for the Hawks: even perennial “Glass-Half-Full” types like myself were prepared to accept a Keith-Less Chicago getting beat by the Kings and their formidable Home record. We were saying things like “Holding Serve at Home will win this series”.. which is making Tennis analogies in Hockey and clearly all wrong. But I think it’s safe to say that we were planning on resuming hostilities at the UC with the series tied.

Not the case, as it happened.

The Hawks played out of their skins from Puck Drop. There were few battles uncontested and the men in white were everywhere, hassling and harrying. There was also the confidence to keep the passing short and smart. Mainly, the game got played at a pace that the LAK Defense simply cannot live with.  Kane’s goal is a prime example of this. Yeah, sure he just tapped a Bickell redirect of a long shot from Hjammer over the line..  but he had also (along with Toews) been part of a sequence of play leading up to it that had left the Kings reeling. That sort of White-Hot Offense from Chicago will beat anyone. The goal felt inevitable.

Make no mistake, this was an excellent performance from the Hawks, missing one of their biggest pieces. We are headed back to Chicago with a chance to do as the Hawks did unto the Wild.. which is to say Win in 5.

The sun is up here in London, it’s pissing it down with rain and I’m foregoing sleep entirely tonight, as I have to go to work in two hours. Therefore, let’s get the bullets going.. but before we do, the 3 Stars tonight (according to NHL.com) were, apparently, Hossa, Kane and Penner. Which is all kinds of horseshit.

More >

Boxing-Hawks-Kings-Game3

Speaking Words of Wisdom, Let it Be: Game 3 Boxing with Kings (3) and Blackhawks (1)

 

(Credit: Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune)

(Credit: Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune)

Nothing like quoting The Beatles to get a very important point across: Forget this one, and move onto Thursday.

Go ahead and say you expected the Blackhawks to sweep, even after winning the first two at the United Center. Go ahead. You’re a fucking liar, and that’s it. The Kings have played a completely different game at home over the last two months, and there was all but a ball hair’s chance the ‘Hawks would take both at Staples Center.

Not much surprised me in Tuesday’s 3-1, Game 3 loss in L.A. The Kings had an extra bounce in their step, they were more aggressive with the forecheck than they were through the first two games and coach Daryl Sutter used the last change on home ice to pit his top lines against the Blackhawks’ bottom defensive pairing when he could.

Damn near every ‘Hawk and then Q stated that they simply didn’t match everything they had prepared for and expected to see from the Kings. That’s on them, and they know it. Yet still, L.A. played probably the best game we’ll see and the Blackhawks were threatening to tie – and probably should have tied – the game late. Not only that, but the winning goal turned out to be a fluke off of Slava Voynov’s broken stick.

Shit happens, man. Bounces go a certain way, and they’re not always favorable. And given the way the Kings have dominated during their now 15-game winning streak at home – they came into tonight with a 38-18 scoring edge during that run – we should be pretty content that it took a couple of bad breaks for the ‘Hawks to wind up on the losing end.

The Blackhawks should be just fine, so relax.

A couple other things before Boxing…

♦   I’m currently working a night shift, so I heard a caller on Les Grobstein’s overnight show on 670 The Score on my way home talking about how Patrick Kane has been awful and he needs to be more physical and yada yada yada he finally hung up. Here’s the thing every Blackhawks fan needs to get through their fucking heads: Kane is not ever, ever, going to be a physical player. That’s not what he’s here to do. He’s a finesse player with open-ice stick-handling skills that are other-worldly, making the Blackhawks more dangerous when they can create space for him to operate.

Q said after the game the ‘Hawks didn’t get him the puck enough, mainly due to the Kings’ pressure that prevented them from cleanly breaking out of the zone and forced many passes to miss sticks. Kane was essentially taken out of the game, and that’s a credit to the Kings. Also, the ‘Hawks winning 10 fewer faceoffs didn’t exactly help matters for puck possession.

Stop worrying about Kane. Worry about how the ‘Hawks will adjust to get him the puck more.

♦   Duncan Keith apologizing to Jeff Carter was pretty classy, if you ask me. He clearly got caught up in the moment and didn’t mean to hit Carter up high. And to do that after Carter purposely tried to slash his bare hand while picking up his glove took even more character, because had it been me I probably would have meant to hit Carter in the face for being a jagoff.

    As Nakis pointed out on Twitter, Brandon Saad cannot be losing that puck at the blue line late like he did. Get the puck deep, kid.

   Jonathan Quick was the only reason the ‘Hawks didn’t tie that game. He stopped Bryan Bickell on the doorstep multiple times over the final minutes, including the desperation arm save. The Blackhawks had their chances and, like what happens to many opponents at Staples Center, Quick snuffed them out.

♦    Corey Crawford was damn near just as good. That stop on the bouncing redirect was sick.

The rest is in Boxing. Hopefully by the time you’re reading this you’ve taken a step back and realized that if the Blackhawks play this same game Thursday and the Kings come out with any less jump than tonight, the ‘Hawks likely will head home up 3-1.

Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…

More >

Boxing-Hawks-Kings-Game2

Off to LA LA Land with 2 In Hand: Game 2 Boxing with Blackhawks (4) and Kings (2)

Jonathan Toews thanks Corey Crawford for backing him up in a scuffle in the third period.

So, Jonathan Quick is human after all.

The reigning Conn Smythe winner allowed more than three goals for the first time in 35 playoff games as the Blackhawks took an early lead and never let go in a 4-2 victory Sunday in Game 2 at the United Center.

Andrew Shaw, Brent Seabrook, Bryan Bickell and Michal Handzus scored goals for Chicago, which now heads West with a 2-0 edge. And even though I was confident heading into this series, I didn’t see the ‘Hawks taking both at home – mainly because of how well Quick had been playing.

The things is, Corey Crawford is beginning to steal the show.

It’s not to say Quick didn’t deserve all the hype, by any means. He put the low-scoring Kings on his back last season and guided them to the Stanley Cup. Despite the team’s 1-6 road record in this postseason entering Sunday, Quick had held the opposition to two goals in each defeat. Twelve of L.A.’s previous 14 playoff games had been decided by one goal. You can’t ask much more from a goaltender to keep you in a game.

Finally, he didn’t have it. And since the offense rarely has it, the Kings are pretty much fucked when Quick doesn’t have it. The Blackhawks got to him early and kept adding insurance, finally leading to Quick’s departure.

Meanwhile, Crawford continues to shove solid performances up the asses of his doubters. The only goal he allowed in Game 1 was basically an own goal caused by the idiocy of Dave Bolland, and the second goal in Game 2 came on the first power play the Blackhawks failed to kill in 27 short-handed situations at home. The Jeff Carter snipe? Hey, it was a nice shot.

Crow has a 1.68 goals-against average this postseason, giving up one or zero goals eight times in 14 games. He even came to the aid of his captain when Jonathan Toews got caught up in some some shoving Sunday. If his doubters aren’t convinced yet, then I’m not sure what it’s going to take short of killing Ray Emery.

Does that mean he’s going to outplay Quick for the rest of this series? We’ll see. Crawford got to face a Los Angeles offense without Mike Richards on Sunday due to Bolland’s hit in Game 1, and the Kings are 7-0 at home in the playoffs while outscoring opponents 18-8. They’ve been down 0-2 before, in the first round against St. Louis, and came back. And if you’re expecting Quick to get pulled again, it’s probably more likely you’ll see Dwight King make the world happy by playing with a paper bag over his ugly fucking face. This series definitely isn’t over.

The Blackhawks surely won’t be mistaken for the Blues, though, mainly because they’re not all eating dog shit burritos garnished with Ryan Reeves’ pubes as Ken Hitchcock blocks the sun with his elephant ass while the team plays a round of Catch Jackman’s Farts With Your Taste Buds. While the defending Cup champs won’t roll over, the Blackhawks also aren’t going to let Staples Center intimidate them.

There’s plenty more I can write about this game – Brandon Saad playing like a fucking beast, Bolland playing like a bag of shit (again) and Patrick Sharp adding two more assists to his already solid playoff numbers – but I’m going to let Boxing do the rest.

Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…

More >

Check out this dude. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

Here’s Lookin’ at You: Blackhawks beat Kings 2-1, Take Game 1 of West Final

I fully admit to being slightly pessimistic coming into game one. I told anyone who asked me I thought the Kings would probably take a game in Chicago. The Hawks were coming off a highly emotional series against their departing arch-rivals, the Kings played just the kind of game that gives the Blackhawks fits, their goalie was a freak, the Rolling Stones were fucking up the ice…….the list went on this way.

After watching the game this afternoon, I’m thinking that pessimism was pretty much completely unjustified. For starters, the Kings are coming off a long series, too. The sneering, Anaheim Ducks-like assault we expected never materialized and the Hawks came out flying, playing a more physical brand of hockey than we’ve seen from them all year. Sure, Jonathan Quick was fantastic, but he wasn’t unbeatable. The Hawks were indefatigable in their efforts to get pucks at Quick and didn’t allow themselves to be frustrated by his early mastery. Hell, the ice didn’t even factor in today. In short, despite facing a phenomenal goaltender and surrendering a fluky goal to the Kings early – things really couldn’t have gone all that much better today for the home team.

You should all feel good about what you saw. The Blackhawks controlled the play with very few exceptions and moved the puck efficiently in all three zones. The power play actually produced chances and Corey Crawford made all the saves his team needed him to make. The Hawks withstood the late Kings push and killed the last two minutes by playing keep away on a power play.

1-0 good guys.

To the good stuff:

More >

Boxing-Round 2-Game 6-Hawks 4-Red Wings 3

And It All Comes Down… To This: Game 6 Boxing with Blackhawks (4) and Red Wings (3)

"I learned this face from my pit bull that will one day rip my throat out in my sleep." (Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune)

“I learned this face from my pit bull that will one day rip my throat out in my sleep.” (Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune)

Exercise your sphincters, everyone. Game 7 is Wednesday.

I’ll admit, I wasn’t extremely confident we’d see it. OK, so maybe I was a bit of a Chicken Little. But don’t tell me I didn’t have reason to be. I did, and I’m pretty over the moon about being proven wrong.

After a Game 5 skull thumping, the Blackhawks took the lead, let it go through a dynamic Red Wings surge, then regained it for good with three unanswered goals in the third period to send us back to the United Center with a 4-3 victory in Game 6 at The Joe.

The United Center is going to be rockin’ on Wednesday, and I’ll be in attendance for the final game between the Blackhawks and Red Wings as conference foes for the right to play in the West finals.

Some stuff before Boxing…

   So we’ve been talking about how the Blackhawks have dominated the 5-on-5 play with the Corsi numbers pretty one-sided in the ‘Hawks favor throughout the series. Well, these numbers aren’t exactly fantastic, especially those of Niklas Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya, who made up the team’s worst pairing of the night. Still, the Blackhawks came away with the win. Interesting twist.

♦   Corey Crawford made 35 saves and ended up having a pretty fantastic game. However, the goal from Patrick Eaves can’t happen. He saw the shot off Drew Miller’s stick cleanly, yet he left a juicy rebound Eaves pounced on. Michal Rozsival holds some responsibility, too, for not tying him up. The second goal? I’m not going to deny the puck being on edge created a knuckling effect, but… c’mon guy. Crow’s gotta have that.

♦   Hello, Brent Seabrook. Nice to see you again.

♦   Marian Hossa’s power-play tally marked his fifth goal in 11 playoff games in 2013. That matches the amount he had in his first three postseasons with the Blackhawks, which totaled 32 contests.

♦   Bryan Bickell is making damn sure someone overpays to sign him this offseason.

♦   I think Jonathan Toews is back in the groove, sans his penalty. I’m saying it now – Toews scores the first goal Wednesday. I just feel it. I have no reasoning for it, except that he’s a fucking machine and will be out to gather heads in Game 7.

♦   That third-period surge was… wow. First Michal Handzus makes Brendan Smith pay for overplaying on Hjalmarsson, who found Handzus wide open in front of the net to beat Jimmy Howard far side. Then Bickell pots the lead goal before Michael Frolik became the first player to score on a penalty shot in the playoffs since… Michael Frolik, in 2011 vs. Vancouver.

♦   Not going to deny Red Wings fans can put that penalty shot call on the list of questionable ref decisions along with the non-call on Hjammer’s hit on Johan Franzen in Game 3. The referring has been pretty suspect throughout the series, but don’t forget the goal-that-wasn’t when Andrew Shaw “tied” Game 3. Shitty calls have been pretty evenly spread.

Next up: Game 7. But Boxing first. Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…

More >

Boxing-Round 2-Game 3-Red Wings 3-Hawks 1

Woah, They’re Halfway There: Game 3 Boxing with Red Wings (3) and Blackhawks (1)

Nope. (Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune)

Nope. (Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune)

Anyone expect this? Even the most unreasonable of Red Wings fans would be lying if they said they did.

Yet, here the Blackhawks are, trailing 2-1 in a series with their bitter rival and forced to win three of the next four games just to survive a series that seemed to be a mismatch. The joke’s on us, so far.

I’ve been known to be a bit of a Chicken Little, and I readily admit I think I actually enjoy it just so if I’m wrong it feels even better. I sense doom and I speak loudly about it immediately. It takes me some time to take a step back, be rational and think things through. I’ve done that, I think, and have realized the ‘Hawks didn’t play a terrible game in Monday’s 3-1 Game 3 loss at Joe Louis Arena.

Jimmy Howard made 39 saves, but he was beaten a total of four times. Unfortunately, three of those hit the post or crossbar. They sustained an attack in the Red Wings’ zone on multiple occasions. Patrick Sharp had plenty of good looks, he just shot them all into Howard’s chest. And, after giving up two goals 31 seconds apart in the second period, they actually came back to tie the game. And in another unfortunate incident, the zebra blew the call and disallowed the second goal because of Andrew Shaw committing phantom interference (more on that later).

Now, am I worried? I think if any ‘Hawks fans says they’re not it would be at least a 75 percent lie. The ‘Hawks are down 2-1 to an inferior team (sorry, Detroit fans, but you know it just as well as us Blackhawks fans do) and face as close to a must-win as possible in Game 4 on Thursday. Concern at this point is reasonable.

Panic? Let’s not go there yet. That would set in with a loss Thursday. However, I wouldn’t necessarily blame anyone for being uptight right now, partly for these reasons:

♦   As I posted on Twitter, if Shaw hadn’t been acting like a reckless, irresponsible asshole throughout this whole series, the tying goal would have stood and the ref wouldn’t have waived it off. I’m fully convinced that Shaw’s out-of-control antics to that point combined with how close he was to Howard had the ref calling a close play against Shaw rather than looking at it with an open mind. I mean, did you see how quickly the ref waived that off?! That was a call against Shaw, plain and simple. It was assumed Shaw fucked with Howard because he’s been skating around the ice at 10,000 mph trying to decapitate people. He has 18 penalty minutes through the first three games and has officially gone from annoying guy you want on your team to a detriment. Q needs to put at stop to this shit, and fast. It’s the fucking playoffs. Get some control.

♦   Brent Seabrook is playing some bad hockey. It’s been noted that his passing skills have taken a nose dive, but his overall decision-making is suspect and he’s skating like he’s wearing slippers. How does he not keep Nyquist to the outside on that goal? That can’t happen.

♦   Jonathan Toews has three assists in his last nine playoff games. Aside from that, he’s 18 for 41 on faceoffs over the last two games. The Captain did play an overall solid Game 3 and had his chances, but he’s got to put one in, if only for his own sanity. This has to be driving him nuts.

♦   0 for 4 on the power play Monday. 3 for 22 for the playoffs. Luckily, the kill is a perfect 29 for 29.

The rest is in Boxing. Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…

More >

Boxing-Round 2-Game 1-Hawks 4-Red Wings 1

Just As We Remembered: Game 1 Boxing with Blackhawks (4) and Red Wings (1)

(Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune)

(Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune)

Going into Wednesday’s contest, 10 of the last 11 meetings between the Blackhawks and Red Wings had been decided by one goal, with the only exception being the Easter Funday blowout in Detroit. And while the Western Conference semifinals opener seemed destined to be decided by the same margin, the ‘Hawks pulled away with three goals in the third for a 4-1 victory and a 1-0 series lead.

It was less than two minutes after Marian Hossa opened the scoring that Damien Brunner knotted everything back up. And while the Blackhawks carried the play for most of the contest, Detroit headed into the third with a chance to steal home-ice advantage.

Then, Johnny Oduya potted the go-ahead goal, Marcus Kruger added some insurance and Brent Seabrook saved a sure Wings goal that could have shifted the momentum. The ‘Hawks have now won eight straight meetings with the Red Wings and don’t appear to be slowing down.

Some thoughts before Boxing…

♦   The long layoff didn’t seem to bother the Blackhawks as they looked like they had never left the ice. They basically dominated Detroit through the final two periods and finally put them to rest with a three-goal outburst. Fact is, the Red Wings simply can’t keep up with this ‘Hawks team, and their defense likely moonlights as a team of matadors. Aside from the depth gap, the speed gap was evident even with ….

   … Viktor Stalberg being scratched. By now everyone knows as much as everyone else outside of Vik and Q – which is nothing. And frankly, I really don’t care. Yes, I was shocked that Stalberg appeared headed for a benching because I think he at the very least held his own against Minnesota. But really, it’s obvious something must have happened. True story here – A friend of mine told me a month ago he was getting his haircut at the same time and place as Stalberg, and Stalberg was bitching to his hair dresser about his playing time. He hasn’t been happy for awhile, and it’s possible things boiled over. We’ll see what happens for Game 2.

   As someone who attended Michigan State, Justin Abdelkader scored the second-favorite goal of my life (I think you can guess which is No. 1). But man is he a piece of shit. “It’s amazing how a uniform can change the way you feel about a guy.”

♦   I need to know how it’s even fucking possible that of the 11 draws Kruger took, him and I ended up winning the same amount.

♦   Patrick Sharp was a beast at both ends of the ice, and his pass from the boards to a streaking Oduya was beautiful. Keep it up, Handsome One.

Nakis will be by in the afternoon with some more observations so for now, here’s Boxing. Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…

More >

Boxing-Round 1-Game 5-Hawks 5-Wild 1

Movin’ On: Game 5 Series-Clinching Boxing with Blackhawks (5) and Wild (1)

(Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune)

(Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune)

How relieving was it to witness a handshake line you knew wouldn’t be the last of the Blackhawks’ postseason?

For the first time since their Stanley Cup run in 2010, the ‘Hawks are headed to the Western Conference semifinals after eliminating the Minnesota Wild with Thursday’s 5-1 victory at the United Center. And even though there are plenty of things that need to be improved and refined before the second-round series with either Detroit or San Jose, the rather quick series we all expected should give the ‘Hawks some time to get everything together.

Getting this out of the way quickly, it sucked to see Josh Harding’s season end the way it did. He labored through all or part of five games while battling MS, and that’s enough for me to call him an inspiration. To get chased in an elimination game had to sting. Poor guy.

To the more exciting stuff, Jonathan Toews finally got on the score sheet after a nifty pass to Marian Hossa helped open the scoring then later adding an assist on Patrick Sharp’s power-play goal. The top line of Toews, Hossa and Brandon Saad entered Thursday with three combined points in the series – all from Hossa – but totaled six in Game 5 alone.

And it was a great thing those guys showed up because the second line was hamstrung once again by the ineffectiveness of Michal Handzus, who won just 41.8 percent of his draws in the series. Maybe Q considered replacing him with Marcus Kruger, but he lost 12 of his 15 faceoffs Thursday and won 40.9 percent throughout the series. Dave Bolland should be back for the second round, but I wouldn’t exactly consider him an upgrade given his shitty season that saw him win 46.1 percent at the dot in 35 games. I’m just going to say this once: The Blackhawks won a Stanley Cup with Sharp as their second-line center. OK, that’s it. Won’t say it again.

And how about that power play, eh? Fuck me. The ‘Hawks finished 2 for 13 in the series thanks to Sharp’s 5-on-3 goal, but luckily they killed off all 17 of Minnesota’s chances. It still baffles me how a PP so deep with talent can’t score, and guys like Michael Frolik and Kruger are the catalysts for one of the best kills in the NHL. It would be nice to see the power play giving the special teams units more balance in Round 2.

I know to this point I’ve pretty much been Buzz Killington, but we all knew the ‘Hawks have some deficiencies moving forward. And since we’re all looking at the big picture – in other words, Stanley Cup or bust – I’m not going to pat everyone on the wiener and celebrate a first-round win against an overmatched opponent. But how about some good?

Corey Crawford. I want to know how many people chanting “Cor-ey! Cor-ey!” at the UC were earlier this season demanding he be benched permanently in favor of Ray Emery. There were way too many of those meatballs all season, and Crawford basically stuck it right up their asses in this series. It had to be a great moment for Crawford and another boost to the confidence of a goaltender who continues selling more people on his potential to lead these ‘Hawks to a Cup.

Oh, and Hossa. Fuck, and yes.

All right, Boxing time. Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…

More >

Partay

Congratulations, St Louis. Blackhogs 1 Blues 3

 

Well done, Blues, well done. You saw the cream of the Just-Outside-The-AHL-Playoffs tonight, but you didn’t flinch and ground out a gritty victory. I hope you enjoyed it. Hard Times are a-coming.

 

dong 3

Partay

Victory Party Behind The Purina Building

 

 

 

In other news, The Wild will be the Hawks first-round opponents.. but more o’ that later. Hope those who went to Gonna Drinken 2 aren’t suffering too badly this morning and we’ll be back with much, much more before the Real Fun begins.

(Brian Cassella/Tribune Photo) "Wow, we're really fucking good."

Only The Beginning : Hawks 3 – Flames 1

(Brian Cassella/Tribune Photo) "Wow, we're really fucking good."

(Brian Cassella/Tribune Photo) “Wow, we’re really fucking good.”

Tonight the Blackhawks arrived at the United Center and competed in a contest they couldn’t have possibily cared less about. Despite the games meaninglessness, they managed to walk away with a 3-1 victory. They finished 18-3-3 at home. They are 18-3-2 on the road. They will have home ice throughout the playoffs. What am I getting at here? YOU SHOULD ENJOY IT. Really, think about it – the Toews/Kane era may be as good as it ever gets. After the sour note we ended last season on, it was goddamn satisfying watching them put everything together to dominate the Western Conference this year. This was the type of season we envisioned this team having once it became clear THE CORE was truly something special. Are they head and shoulders above the rest of the NHL? Absolutely not… but I can’t help but feel that optimism should carry the day here.

Things that happened during this mandatory attendance game:

More >

Boxing4-24-Hawks-4-Oilers-1Full

Leaders in the Clubhouse: Boxing with Blackhawks (4) and Oilers (1)

While we’re all waiting for the playoffs, I guess we can handle putting another trophy in the case with a dominating victory against an overmatched team.

The Blackhawks took it to the Oil all night, clinching their first Presidents’ Trophy since 1990-91 – when they went on to lose to the fourth-place Minnesota North Stars in the Norris Division playoffs. Let’s hope this season ends up a little better, eh?

Due to the late start I’m pretty wiped out, so I’ll just make a couple of points before Boxing…

♦   Ray Emery going off the ice after re-aggravating his lower-body injury got me to thinking. “Well, it’s coming down to the end of the season so of course a guy who is pretty injury prone will start to suffer from his bangs and bruises. He’ll sit for the last couple games and be OK if Q needs him in the playoffs.”

Then I thought again. “But wait, this is only a 48-game season. And he’s hurting and can’t get through a game. And he’s probably coming back next year because he had such a stellar basically half-season. And he’s starting to break down at the most important time. I’m not happy about this, seeing as the the solid goaltending between him and Corey Crawford has been such an important part of the Blackhawks’ success. What if we don’t have both of them for the playoffs?”

However, that doesn’t mean I’m necessarily worried about Emery. Crawford’s disgusting save on Jordan Eberle shows what he’s capable of doing during a playoff run. I’ve always been on the side believing Crow should be the playoff starter, and Emery’s injury just may secure that anyway.

♦   Patrick Sharp, glad to have ya back, sir. And also, please don’t almost get hurt again and scare the fucking shit out of us. Thanks.

♦   Not a bad debut from Drew LeBlanc. Patrick Kane tried to get him a goal there in the third and he also had a couple nice passes that could’ve gone for goals.

♦   Speaking of Kane, hell of a job potting that breakaway after Michal Handzus sprung him for one of his three assists. Kane then had a beautiful cross-ice pass on Johnny Oduya’s goal later. He’s good.

All righty, that’s it. Here’s Boxing. Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…

More >

Boxing4-22Hawks-1-Canucks-3Full

That’ll Happen: Boxing with Canucks (3) and Blackhawks (1)

Canucks-Hawks

I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have a feeling this was coming, with the Blackhawks playing their third game in four nights and all. I just didn’t think they’d get smoked for roughly 45-50 minutes.

A loss to Vancouver is never exciting and always annoying, but the Blackhawks’ 3-1 defeat in America Jr. marked only their sixth of the season in actual hockey. Out of 45 games. That’s, like, good and stuff.

A couple things before Boxing …

♦   The first person to ever use the phrase, “He’s a giant rectal wart who washes his vagina with a Brillo Pad while listening to Bette Midler’s Greatest Hits and eating a dog’s asshole,” when referring to a human in a derogatory manner must’ve been thinking of Ryan Kesler. Oh, wait, I’m the first person to ever use that particular phrase? OK. Yeah, I was thinking of Ryan Kesler.

♦   Dave Bolland left with a groin injury, per Q. I’m completely over this guy. He can’t stay on the ice because he’s constantly injured, and when he is on the ice he’s awful. I give up.

♦   Ryan Kesler snacks on used diapers. Regularly.

♦   If not for Corey Crawford, the Blackhawks would have been down 8-0 at the end of the first period. He played a fantastic game and bailed the ‘Hawks out with a stellar save on numerous occasions. The Blackhawks played horribly in front of him. He’s the only reason the Blackhawks had any semblance of a chance before Daniel Sedin - brotherfucker – put a great move on Crawford on the breakaway at the end of the second period.

♦   Gorilla Salad scored the Blackhawks’ lone goal. Ouch. Cory Schneider snuffed out some great chances from the ‘Hawks in the third, but he was nice and rested for most of the first two periods as the Blackhawks mustered just four scoring chances through 40.

♦   Q said Michal Handzus being scratched was a “coach’s decision.” My guess is because the Canucks can keep up with the Blackhawks speed-wise and Handzus can’t beat a snail in a 40-yard dash.

All right, I’m done. Here’s Boxing. Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge….

More >

blackhawks640

The Mellow Hoss of Texas (sorry) Dallas 2 Hawks 5

 

blackhawks640

Well, I took a pre-game nap that overran slightly so watched a lot of this match-up from a slightly dazed viewpoint. Whether that enhanced my Critical Faculties (yeah, right) or impeded them, I know not.

What I saw was a Hawks team that is playing it smart: content to mooch along doing what they do until it’s neccessary to suddenly up the intensity and blow the opposition out of the water. Which worked out quite nicely.

This was an effective performance by the Hawks and stretches their current streak to 6 games. Dallas and Phoenix losing, combined with the Beej becoming the 2nd hottest team in the West (4 game win streak) has caused another round of musical chairs around the lower seedings. Be thankful, very thankful that the Hawks are miles above that particular shitfight. It’s going to be very, very ugly.

Anyway, to bullets before I head off to work

More >

Credit: Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY

Hated Respect for Detroit; Just Hate for St. Louis

Credit: Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY

Credit: Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY

Winning the last-ever Central Division title has a nice feel to it, especially when the Blackhawks were able to clinch it by coming back Friday against a Detroit team we all love to loathe. And when dessert is a sweet victory over the talentless apes wearing Blues sweaters, well, that makes for a nice weekend in my book.

But after Corey Crawford turned away 30 shots in Sunday’s 2-0 victory in St. Louis, it got me to thinking a little bit about where the rivalries with these teams will stand once Detroit heads East as realignment takes effect next season.

While the Red Wings have always been hated, there’s still a level of respect that goes into watching guys like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk - and going further back to the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom, Dominik Hasek and Steve Yzerman – grace the ice with their play. It just so happened they wore a different sweater.

Granted, those sweaters are evil and ugly and make you want to vomit up the three squares of your day, but any one of us ‘Hawks fans would have liked to have any of them wearing the Indian head. Hell, Hasek may have played most of his career in Chicago had it not been for Ed Belfour.

The Blues? Other than Vladimir Tarasenko, there’s not one breathing pile of diarrhea on skates I would take from that team. Even if any of them wanted to play in Chicago for free, I would have them deported back to that hellhole of a city that shouldn’t be allowed to call itself part of America.

More >

With Fire From Above: Hawks 1 – Wild 0

(Jim Mone/Associated Press)

(Jim Mone/Associated Press)

So this game was a lot more one-sided than the scoreboard indicated when the final buzzer sounded. The Blackhawks completely dominated a scoreless first period and had the best of the play the final two periods as well. In a perfect world the Marian Hossa goal which was called back would have counted. Whatever, they survived.

The first half of the second frame was rather calm until the Hawks claimed the momentum and the only goal when Marian Hossa blasted a slap shot through the five hole of Niklas Backstrom following a hysterical Clayton Stoner giveaway. Hossa winding up and firing away in the slot is just a joy to watch. We saw it against St. Louis in the shootout last week, we saw him beat the Blackhawks this way in 2008, and we saw it again tonight. Keep it coming, Marian.

The rest of the affair was mostly dominated by Chicago, with the Wild really never getting it together to make that final push. Emery made the saves he had to and the Hawks were able to avoid the 3rd period blues they’ve dealt with the past month or so.

It’s getting late and I have actual real life work to do so lets get right to it, shall we?

More >

165546589_slide

Do The Jerk: Blues 3 Hawks 3 (Blues Win SO)

165546589_slide

 

Well, that didn’t feel good, now did it? The Hawks’ first loss to a Central Division rival this Season and it had to be the Blues. Never mind that it came at the end of a hard-fought game full of incident, a pulsating OT period and a coronary-inducing six-round shootout,  losing to St. Louis always stings.  Because they’re assholes.  This feels like another one that got away and another example of the Hawks failing to kill off the opposition before the third period when given plenty of opportunity.

After pretty much torching the Blues for the first two periods, the Hawks were 2-1 up going into the 3rd, due to a fortunate goal from Adam (Score Some) Cracknell after a Keith blowout at Center Ice and two in quick succession in the 2nd from Toews and Saad. Then Cracknell got his second of the night (and season) when Seabrook tipped his long shot past Crawford and Noted Manly Man Backuusss popped up from wherever he’d been hiding until then to score from close range.  Viktor Stalberg tied it with 4 1/2 to go, overtime came and went in a flurry of Hawks shots, and then the SO marched through joy and despair and back again till Shattenkirk ended it after Handzus missed his shot.  Bullets..

More >

Boxing4-1Hawks-3-Preds-2Full

April, Fools: Shootout Boxing with Blackhawks (3) and Predators (2)

"Yes, as a matter of fact, I am this good." (Chicago Tribune)

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I am this good.” (Chicago Tribune)

As the Blackhawks and Predators were lining up for the third-period faceoff and the ‘Hawks leading 2-0, my buddy Neil leans over to me and says, “All right, let’s not fuck this up.”

The Blackhawks, though, nearly played their own April Fool’s joke on us, blowing the lead on a couple of weak goals before Jonathan Toews and Michal Rozsival (!) went all fuck-this-shit in the shootout to give the ‘Hawks a 3-2 win over Nashville at the UC.

I’m tired, so here’s this stuff before Boxing…

— The first news of the day was on the trade front, as Stan Bowman acquired Michal Handzus – who waived his no-movement clause and agreed to join the Blackhawks – from San Jose for a fourth-round draft pick in order to provide some center depth and win a draw or two. So naturally, Dave Bolland goes out and wins six of the eight draws he takes before getting injured.

Handzus should be able to make his ‘Hawks debut Thursday against the Blues, and we’ll see where Bolland is at at that point. One of the best parts of the trade, though? The ‘Hawks were forced to send Brandon Bollig back to Rockford to make room for Handzus. That in itself is awesome.

— The Corey Crawford haters got a little more ammunition after he allowed a couple of softies in the third period to tie the game. While there’s not doubt he shouldn’t have allowed probably either of those goals, no one can really deny the defenses hung him out like week-old laundry as well. Either way, though, Crow needed to have a better period – but you can also say that about pretty much the entire team.

— Brandon Saad. Patrick Kane. Fuck. And yes.

— So, Q goes with Roszival in the shootout because of how well he’s done in practice. Honestly, that’s pretty damn awesome to pluck a guy, no matter his position or offensive reputation and put him out there in game action during the skills competition. It was a complete surprise, and that could be a good part of the reason the move worked.

And now Boxing. Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…

More >

Boxing3-31Hawks-7-Wings-1Full

Easter Funday: Boxing with Blackhawks (7!) and Red Wings (1, Ha)

Credit: USA Today

Credit: USA Today

Man was that fun. Well, unless you’re a Red Wings fan – meaning you had already gone through life without a soul before Sunday’s beatdown, so maybe you felt no emotion anyway.

For the Blackhawks, elation ensued throughout most of the day as they went into MoTown and penis-slapped Detroit 7-1 in front of a stadium full of people ditching church on Gordie Howe’s 85th birthday “celebration.”

I’m not going to recap each of the seven goals that helped lead to Jimmy holding grudges, but here’s a few things before Boxing …

— HAHAHHAHAHAHA Jakub Kindl HAHAHAHAHA. What a fucking awful play to put the puck in his own net to help Dave Bolland end a 14-game goalless drought. Bolland would go on to score one of his own later, proving he actually does have some sort of worth left in him after dragging his ass up and down the ice and constantly losing draws for most of the season.

— Welcome back to the big club, Jeremy Morin. Scoring on his first shift was a hell of a way to get going donning the Indian head.

— Brandon Saad is the fucking truth, and that’s all there is to it. Jonathan Toews said after the game that Saad is getting better with each shift, and there’s really no better way to say it. Saad for Calder?

— Speaking of Toews … Boom. A goal and two assists, and he won 14 of 19 draws, which is just flat out disgusting. The Captain has won 60.3 percent of his draws this year.

— I CAN’T BELIEF DAT CRAWFORD GUY COULDN’T GET DAT SHUT’EM OUT. DA EMERY GUY COULDA HAD DAT LAST SHOT CUZ HE’S DA WAY BETTER GOALIE MAN AND I TINK HE WINS DA CONTROVERSY WE GOTS A BREWIN’ ‘ROUND HERE CUZ HE STOPS MORE SHOTS AND WINS BETTER DAN DA CRAWFORD GUY WINS.

— So Q decided to switch up the defensive pairings, going with Keith-Hjalmarsson, Oduya-Rozsival and Seabrook-Leddy. Q downplayed the changes by saying he was simply testing things out, but maybe he’s finally have enough of the underachieving Keith-Seabrook pairing to send a message. I’m assuming these won’t be long-term changes, but after the dominating performance Sunday there’s a chance Q sticks with these Monday versus the Preds.

Here’s Boxing. Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…

More >

164966781_slide

Good Friday… Ducks 2 Hawks 1

164966781_slide

 

Well, then.

The guys on this site who actually know about Hockey are all otherwise engaged (something called “Having Lives”.. must look that up) so it’s very much down to me to recap tonight’s action.

Tonight seemed like the flip of the Calgary game: another meaningless mid-season tilt, although this time between two teams whose eyes are fixed firmly on the Playoffs, with the coin landing on the side of the OC Mallards.  It was the sort of game that you start forgetting seconds after it ends. The Hawks were not very good tonight but the Ducks were worse.. there is no sign that their regression is going to stop anytime soon, whereas the Hawks will have Sharp & Hossa to call in the near future (unless those rumours of Hoss going on IR are true: which they had better fucking not be)

Anyway, the top two teams in the West went head to head in a battle that will not resound through the ages. First period was even-stevens.. the teams exchanging a couple of chances, Kane hit a post and Brandon Saad showed us all why we love him so much by getting stuck the fuck in. . That kid has wheels, brains and balls. He’s a keeper, despite what Jackass says. Ended up 9 each for shots and, strangely, only 8/7 in favour of the Ducks at the dot.

More >

Boxing3-26Hawks-2-Flames-0Full

Iginla’s Audition?: Boxing with Blackhawks (2) and Flames (0)

Holy Toews Face. (Credit: Chris Sweda,  Chicago Tribune)

Holy Toews Face. (Credit: Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune)

The worst-kept secret in the NHL is that Jarome Iginla has submitted a list of teams he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause for by the April 3rd trade deadline, and the Blackhawks are one of them.

While Iginla didn’t exactly shine in Tuesday’s visit to the United Center with his awful team, count me in as someone willing to part ways with a couple of second-tier prospects and a pick to bring him to Chicago as a rental. The main reasons? Dave Bolland is beginning to infuriate me, and the thought of Iginla in a Hawks sweater gets me more excited than a 13-year-old boy seeing his first set of tits. He’s got plenty left in the tank.

The Blackhawks ended their two-game “losing streak” by holding woeful Calgary to just 16 shots in a 2-0 victory, making an easy night for Ray Emery as he set an NHL record by winning his first 12 starts of the season. Miikka Kiprusoff helped out by allowing Nick Leddy’s weak shot slip through before a Brent Seabrook shot was deflected off Iginla’s stick for the other goal.

Patrick Kane assisted on each score and played another stellar contest. If not for a guy named Crosby, the Hart Trophy likely would be coming to Chicago for the first time since Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita each won back-to-back awards from 1964-68.

A couple quick thoughts before Boxing…

— Seriously, what in the flying fuck is going on with Bolland? I am going to admit that I’ve never been his biggest fan and always felt he was a bit overrated. But man, he’s just not getting it done. Besides being ridiculously injury prone at the age of 26 (he’s missed seven games this season, six the year before, 21 in 2010-11 and 42 in the Stanley Cup season), he’s a second-line center who can’t win a fucking draw to save his life. Bolland went 8 for 22 at the dot Tuesday, dropping him to 44.6 percent on the season. He needs to get his shit together, and quickly, because his awful percentage at the dot is keeping the puck off of Kane’s stick.

— Only in Chicago would meatballs begin thinking there’s a goaltender controversy. I saw posts on social media to the tune of, “WHYS DAT EMERY GUY NOT DA FULL-TIME SHARTER IN THE DA NET FOR DEM HOCKS? DAT CRAWFORD LET IN GOALS DE UDDER NIGHT AND EMERY DIDN’T LET ANY GO IN DA NET SO HE SHOULD ALWAYS BE IN DA NET. CRAWFORD SUCKS, MY FRENTS!” Crawford has a 2.02 GAA and .922 save percentage, while Emery sports numbers of 2.09 and .920. What the fuck is wrong with simply having two goaltenders who are both playing fantastically? Just shut the fuck up and appreciate it. Thank you.

Right, Boxing. Right-click the image and click ‘view’ to enlarge…

More >

Coffee is for Closers: Blackhawks 5 – Avalanche 2

Two for Flinching

This is the type of game you want to see the Blackhawks play against a team that can match them in the speed department. Getting in shooting lanes, not committing penalties, controlling possessions and forcing the other team to either get a goalie win or score more while being outshot by nearly double. There was never a point during this contest where you ever thought Chicago wouldn’t win.

More >

Boxing3-14Hawks-2-BJs-1Full

Bye, Bye, Bye: Shootout Boxing with Blackhawks (2) and Blue Jackets (1)

Credit: Paul Vernon, AP

Credit: Paul Vernon, AP

At least the Central Division “rivalry” with the Blue Jackets ended in style.

Johnny Oduya scored his first goal of the season on a sick pass from Patrick Kane before Jonathan Toews and Kane scored in the shootout to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 win to kick off their four-game road trip.

Kaner also notched his 400th career point with the assist in his 426th career game.

Thursday marked the final time the ‘Hawks and BJs would meet as division foes due to the realignment that will send Columbus to the Eastern Conference beginning next season. And the Jackets gave the ‘Hawks all they could handle in the four meetings. Each were decided by one goal, with two going past regulation.

And who knows? Maybe that won’t be the last time the Blackhawks see Columbus this season after all. The BJs are making a push for the playoffs after earning a point in their ninth straight game.

They didn’t have enough, though, to get past the ‘Hawks (22-2-3), who had dropped their previous two games following The Streak. It’s late so I’ll just leave you with this before Boxing: One concern? The Blackhawks’ penalty kill has allowed six power play goals in 10 chances over their last three games after giving up another one to Columbus.

Otherwise, Boxing has some more positive stuff. Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…

More >

toews face oilers

One Bad Frame: Oilers 6 – Blackhawks 5

You Again?

We failed to recap the first regulation loss (my fault) that bucked the point streak to open the season but the difference in both that contest and this one against the Oilers was the same. One bad period where the Hawks surrendered four goals and it put the game out of reach. The difference between Friday and Sunday’s game was that Chicago battled back and nearly completed the comeback against the Oil.

More >