Well, Corey, it looks like it’s your show — for now.
A couple of very solid performances and an overall above-average season so far is good enough in my book to give Corey Crawford the keys to the Blackhawks’ ride. McClure of Second City Hockey said it best: Marty Turco is owed nothing here. He’s a hell of a guy, came here to win a ring and hasn’t played all that bad.
Crawford, a product of the ‘Hawks system who has paid his dues with the franchise, is playing to his capabilities and expectations. His 5-4-0 record may seem modest, but his GAA is a sparkling 2.07 in eight starts and nine total appearances. He made key saves in both games against Anaheim and Los Angeles and didn’t give up a single even-strength goal in either contest.
If Turco gets the start Tuesday, Coach Q should immediately have his head examined. There’s no reason not to go with Crawford.
With all of that said, let’s make this clear: There is no goalie controversy — yet. While Crawford has played well, he’s simply the guy who gives the Blackhawks the best chance to win right now. It’s too early to say he’s the one who gives the ‘Hawks the best chance to win for the rest of the season. Turco still holds that title, in my opinion. It’s not to say that can’t change, but Crawford has to do it for an extended period of time — like Antti Niemi did last season.
If Crawford gets his starts and continues to show he’s the right guy for the No. 1 job, the worst thing that happens is the ‘Hawks have a damn good veteran backup in Turco. That’s a good position to be in, especially given the Cristobal Huet situation in which we thought Dr. Phil would have to intervene.
So, with that being said, I’ll let “Boxing” do the rest of the talking from the weekend. First is the ‘Hawks 2-1 win against the Kings, followed by Friday’s 4-1 victory against the Gordon Bombays.
Click the jump for “Boxing”
The last time we saw the Anaheim Ducks it was less than two weeks ago at the United Center, and it was one of the games we want to remember from this year. Okay, Duncan Keith getting his pocket picked in the deep slot and allowing a goal less than a minute after we had taken the early lead wasn’t highlight-reel material. But the Blackhawks shelled Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller with 43 shots, allowing only 26 against, and Viktor Stalberg gave Corey Crawford the win with a late-OT goal.
It wasn’t perfect, but it was a nice send-off victory for the Circus Trip, as we now pay a visit to the Honda Center in Anaheim to see those same Ducks again. The Hawks are fresh off a loss in San Jose, where a stop-and-start effort ended in a 5 – 2 defeat, the salt in that wound being the name “Niemi” pasted across the jersey of the opposing goaltender. Hopefully the ‘Hawks get angry and hand it to the Ducks for some payback…
NOTE: Boxing with ‘Hawks/Not-so-Mighty Ducks is below
The not-so-hidden mishaps didn’t completely vanish with this victory, but the home losing streak sure did. Take it when you can.
Duncan Keith is still drunk, the ‘Hawks gave up yet another goal within a minute of scoring their own and Tomas Kopecky did his best Nick Boynton impression by taking a horrible penalty in the final minute of a tight game. Some things don’t change.
Thankfully, the result was more pleasant after Viktor Stalberg redirected a Keith shot in overtime to give the ‘Hawks a 3-2 victory against the Anaheim Ducks — their first win at home in five games.
I’m going to admit this right off the bat: When Kopecky went to the box, I figured the game was as good as over. Even if the ‘Hawks killed the remaining 53 seconds of the third — which I wasn’t confident about — no way were they going to kill the 4-on-3 to start overtime. I was just hoping to come away with two points for the weekend after the shootout loss to Nashville on Friday night.
Needless to say, I’m happy I was wrong.
Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist each, and it was a welcome sight to see those two on the scoresheet. Especially Hossa. Kid hadn’t scored in his last seven games.
I’m still having trouble getting over Keith’s turnover which led to Corey Perry’s first of two goals 57 seconds after Kane’s goal. To put into perspective how utterly poorly Keith has been playing lately, here’s the text I got from my Dad — who watches the ‘Hawks on and off, but isn’t invested — after Keith’s brain fart:
“Once a game, he falls asleep and costs his team a goal. This time less than a minute after we scored. I’m watching Andy Griffith.”
Can’t say I blame my Pops.
Other than Keith, Kopecky is off the hook after the ‘Hawks snatched the second point in overtime. Boynton was persecuted after his dipshit delay of game penalty cost the ‘Hawks earlier this season, and Kopecky was right in line to get a proverbial curb stomp if the Ducks netted one on the power play.
OK, OK. Yes, there’s some good. Corey Crawford played outstanding and made some key stops on point-blank chances, including a couple great saves in overtime. We’ve discussed Perry’s goal which Keith left Crawford out to dry, and Niklas Hjalmarsson was caught flat-footed as Perry skated right past him on his second goal. Crawford is going to get a couple of starts on the Circus Trip, and I’m hoping he shows more of what he did tonight.
The passing on the winning goal was fantastic, as Brian Campbell’s fake-shot-pass to Keith froze the Ducks on the far side of the ice, leaving Stalberg time to get into position for Keith’s slapper toward the net.
And speaking of the Circus Trip, this is a good time for all these assholes to get themselves some quality time together and quit telling us how it’s taking time to get the locker room acclimated with each other. I’ll be writing up a more detailed preview of the trip and what it’s done for the ‘Hawks the past couple of seasons, but if these guys come back liking each other more even if they go 2-4 I’ll be a happy man.
So, for now, that gigantic elephant with “YOU GUYS SUCK” written on the side of it that we didn’t want to look at anymore has left the locker room. There’s some tough road games coming up, and what a better way to hit the pavement than with a ‘W’ at home.
Without further ado, here’s a happier version of “Boxing.” As always, there’s two separate images — one for the game summary, and one for the actual box score. Click on the images to enlarge.
Last night’s game was a dramatic improvement over what we’ve seen lately from the Blackhawks. Yes, they let two leads slip away. Yes, they lost in a shootout. Yes, they only mustered four shots on goal in the 3rd.
But the team showed up. Jack Skille broke the jinx, twice. Viktor Stalberg lit the lamp. Defensively we were *far* more competent, only three players ended the night in the minus column. The Hawks were lining guys up, and standing up for their teammates. This was a good effort, and one hopes they can bring their first-period intensity into tonight’s game against Anaheim.
The big news from Duckville is that starting goaltender Jonas Hiller took a shot in the mask at practice on Saturday which resulted in a cut over his eyebrow that required four sutures. His status for tonight’s game has not been formally announced as of this writing, however one expects him to be in civvies for tonight’s tilt. That means Curtis McElhinny will likely be between the pipes tonight.
Which is good news, because the Ducks bring with them a 6-game winning streak. Forwards Teemu Selanne, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Bobby Ryan all have a minimum of 6 goals and 17 points each. They have strong power-play conversion, they’re getting decent goal support from the blueline, and their goaltending has been solid. This is going to be a difficult test for the Blackhawks, even with Schmedley McLosermuffin in goal.
Doubtful that there will be any lineup changes for the Blackhawks, though the latest trade rumor concerning Corey Crawford and Tomas Kopecky might throw a wrench in things. Depends if they pull the trigger before the puck drops or not. Or at all. If anything happens before game time we’ll let you know via Twitter — follow us using the link below.
6:00pm start at the UC. WGN has the TV broadcast, WGN AM-720 for broadcast radio, and channel 204 for XM subscribers.