Game 6 had it all. Pregame storylines, dismay, euphoria … then overtime, with the Blackhawks season either continuing or crumbling with the next goal.
Alain Vineauglt displayed his 10-pound sack by benching Vezina Trophy finalist Roberto Luongo in favor of 25-year-old Cory Schneider in a game Vancouver absolutely needed to head back home happy. And even the most daring of moves left Luongo skating off the ice with his hair gel being the only thing waiting at his locker not passing judgment.
Much like the ‘Hawks have been doing thing this entire series, they fought from behind. Down 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, the Blackhawks tied it each time. Then Ben Smith flicked the end of Game 88 past a sprawling Luongo to guarantee a win-or-go-home Game 89. While Blackhawks fans are celebrating just getting back into this series, hoping to complete a historic comeback in Game 7, Canucks fans are already sending out their mourning letters to their beloved squad, demanding – not hoping for – a victory before all faith is lost.
There’s plenty of bad we can go over. Farting pucks all over the ice, the three third-period shots – two if you don’t count Michael Frolik’s penalty shot – the Canucks seemingly dominating most of the game, and the heart-wrenching which goes along with overtime playoff hockey knowing your team will meet its demise with the opponent’s next goal.
Things need to be fixed before Tuesday, and part of me believes the Blackhawks were lucky to get out of Chicago with a victory knowing Vancouver played nearly its best hockey of the entire series. On top of that, 1:43 of 5-on-3 went to waste, with the kick in the dick coming when Coach Q used his only timeout to draw up a bunch of shit which obviously didn’t work. The fact the Blackhawks’ only lead came after Smith’s goal is indicative of how a good portion of Game 6 played out. While it feels good to celebrate now, Game 7 won’t go as well if the same screw-ups happen as they did Sunday.
For the second time in this series, each member of the Dave Bolland line notched a goal. Bolland played a key role in two, destroying Dan Hamhuis to force the turnover on Bryan Bickell’s goal, then potting his own off Kaner’s feed from Schneider’s piss-poor clearing attempt.
The Blackhawks still will be facing elimination in the next game. But so will Vancouver, which seems improbable after the first three games of this series. The pressure is still on the Canucks, who need to avoid a collapse of epic proportions and the most embarrassing “History Will Be Made” video ever.
I’ll do the rest of my talking in Boxing…
And just like that, it’s a series.
Go ahead, lie to me. Tell me you saw this coming. I just may be gullible enough right now to believe you.
Thursday night’s 5-0 bitch-slapping of the Canucks in Vancouver was about as beautiful of a performance as … well, as Tuesday night’s. The back-to-back wet farts by Roberto Luongo with his team a single victory away from eliminating its arch rivals is a classic occurrence from a guy who can’t seem to keep himself composed.
Luongo took off his “Oh Shit” face long enough during interviews Tuesday night and Wednesday to tell everyone how calm he was, how he was going to leave the 6 GA branded on his ass in his rear-view mirror. Then he came out Thursday looking like an AHL castoff. He would have had a better chance stopping pucks if he stood up his tube of L.A. Looks hair gel in the crease.
Much like we were asking where the Blackhawks were the first three games of the series, Canucks fans have to be wondering where the living hell the composed, fluid, throat-grabbing Canucks have disappeared to during the last two. It’s been a meltdown of epic proportions, resorting back to being thugs in the face of adversity.
Alain Vingeault looked up to the scoreboard so damn often I simply thought he slept funny and his neck was stuck. It ain’t gonna change, buddy. You’re still getting your ass kicked. And on top of that, he couldn’t keep his players composed.
Notorious assholes Kevin Bieksa and Alexander Edler decided to forget they were playing hockey in order to get chippy, and things just got worse for the Canucks. Once again, it was phenominal to see. I wrote over and over again this Vancouver team was different from the past two postseasons. Apparently I was wrong. Get this team down, and they fold up quicker than one of those slap braclets many of you are too young to remember.
When Vancouver wins this series (keeping with tradition, so you can breathe now), we’ll at the very least be able to look back at these performances and say, “OK, at least we made a valiant effort to defend the Stanley Cup.
But that flight to Chicago for Game 6 – can you believe it; Game Fucking 6?! – for the Canucks will be so tight they may crumble with a minor bout of turbulence. There may not be as much laughter and tomfoolery as there was on the trek between Game 2 and Game 3.
It’s back to Chicago and the raucous United Center for a game I never thought would come. It seems a while ago I walked past Canucks fans holding brooms heading into the UC from Game 4. Now I hope the ‘Hawks bring me a step closer to shoving them directly up their asses.
A few thoughts before Boxing …
How many of you thought the ‘Hawks were completely screwed after Brian Campbell took that penalty 16 seconds into the game? (/Bartl raises his hand)
Duncan Keith was an ass hair away from a hat trick, as Patrick Kane nipped the puck on past Luongo to put the ‘Hawks ahead 3-0
Although the Blackhawks were 1 for 273 on breakaways Thursday, Marian Hossa made the one look damn sexy. Luongo looked like he was trying to figure out his ride home while Hossa skated in.
How do Canucks fans decide which Sedin jersey to buy? “I’m just gonna get the one for the guy who’s better loo… no, they both look the same. OK, I’ll get the one of the guy who’s got the most career poi… well, that’s pretty much the same, too. Hmm, how about I get the one of the guy who has the least amount of leadersh… well, that’s pretty damn similar, too. Just give me the one of the guy with red ha… damn it, they both have red hair. All right, give me the one of the biggest headcase … (Clerk says) Here’s your Luongo jersey, sir.”
Edler’s elbow to Brouwer was such a bush-league play that he should get a suspension purely based off the fact that he’s a gigantic piece of shit.
Oh, and Corey Crawford had a 36-save shutout. Boo-ya-ka-sha!
OK I’m done. Here’s Boxing:
If that was the last time we see the Blackhawks on the United Center ice this season, what a way to go out.
Tuesday night’s 7-2 demolishing of Vancouver in Game 4 might have been the most fun I’ve had watching something I couldn’t muster the excitement for all day. For one night – and hopefully not the only night – the ‘Hawks took it too their opponent in a fashion which we’ve all been dying to see.
And it came without Brent Seabrook, who sat out due to the douchebaggery of one Raffi Torres.
Tuesday, the Canucks were the ones missing passes, not staying in position and chasing the entire game. Vancouver was out of its game, and it was extremely pleasant to witness.
Oh, so that Dave Bolland guy came back. Yeah, it took him all of two periods to become the Blackhawks’ leading scorer in the playoffs. His line completely hampered the Sedin Twins defensively, then took it the Canucks offensively as him, Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik ended up a plus-4.
All three scored a goal, and Bolland and Frolik combined on a couple superb plays. Bolland’s goal was all Frolik’s doing, as he skated into the zone and forced the turnover Bolland cleaned up. Bolland then took the hit to make a beautiful pass, springing Frolik for the breakaway and de-pantsing of Roberto Luongo.
From there, Vancouver did exactly what they’ve been avoiding all series and decided to get chippy rather than play hockey. It’s what we’ve seen the past two postseasons from the Canucks, and it’s amazing how quickly they can get back to their bad habits when the ‘Hawks took it to them. Will it carry over to Game 5? Who knows. But despite holding a 3-1 series lead, it sure seems they were so rattled they couldn’t control their emotions on the ice.
From a team we’ve seen so poised through the first three games, it was shocking Vancouver didn’t just take its beating and stayed within themselves. Instead, the Canucks may have given the Blackhawks even more momentum heading to Vancouver. We’ll see if that’s true or not.
And how nice was it to finally get to Luongo. I respect the hell out of him and think he’s an all-world goaltender, but damn to see that guy skating off the ice with his tail between his legs is an awesome site – more because of what it did for the Blackhawks and the fans, especially.
We’ll see if any of the Canucks fans who have been chiming in on the site use the strained back muscle or whatever it was as an excuse, but if it was that bad then he should have sat. Again, take your beating and move onto Game 5 rather than risk it. Instead, he came out, got lit up, then hit bench with a 6 tattooed on him.
I’m not going to sit here and write the Blackhawks are going to come back and win this series. I still don’t believe it will happen. But a win in Game 5 will get me – and Canucks fans alike – thinking heavily about it.
Tuesday was the Night of the Living Dead. The Blackhawks are staggering, but they’re not gonna give it up that easy.
I’ll just go ahead and discuss the rest in Boxing. Enjoy – even if you’re a Canucks fan.
I know what you optimists are thinking, and you can stop right now. The Blackhawks are not the 2010 Flyers, and these Canucks are not the Boston Bruins. It ain’t gonna happen.
Even when the ‘Hawks were at their best in this series, it wasn’t enough. Vancouver took advantage of the few opportunities they were given to beat the Blackhawks 3-2 and pull within one victory of ending their rivals’ season.
This series may not end Tuesday, but it likely will be the last time you see the Blackhawks play at the United Center this season. Pardon the utter lack of faith, though I cannot fathom how you could disagree. The Canucks didn’t play their best game, and they still beat the Blackhawks when they played, well, a lot better than they had. It’s tough to argue with that.
A few thoughts before Boxing …
I’d first like to throw out a shit sandwich to anyone who believed dressing John Scott was a good idea. A dipshit penalty, one horrendous decision by Coach Q to put him out for nearly an entire power play, and 5:20 of ice time later, Scott sat the bench for the rest of the game. That should be the last time we see Scott in an Indian-head sweater.
Although the Blackhawks didn’t convert on 1:17 of 5-on-3, I wouldn’t say they pissed that time away. Roberto Luongo made two terrific saves on Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane at the doorstep to snuff out the Blackhawks’ attack. Though it would have been nice to go up two goals at that point and create some sort of cushion, it’s probably the best the power play looked in the series aside from …
Duncan Keith scoring off the draw five seconds into the first power play of the night. It marked the Blackhawks’ first lead of the series and last of the night, which makes me want to cause physical harm to myself.
Even though both ‘Hawks goals came on the power play, they finished 2 for 7 and couldn’t take advantage of Vancouver consistently taking penalties.
We all wondered where the Blackhawks’ “stars” were the previous two games. Keith scored, Toews had two assists and Kane added another. Marian Hossa? Well…
Here’s your Boxing:
The Blackhawks are doing just enough to piss off everyone. There’s hope, then it’s ripped away. And with the glimmer flickering its last gasps, it’s all over.
Vancouver 2, Blackhawks 0. The way things have gone, I implore you to find a reason it will change on home ice.
The obvious fact: The Canucks are flat out better than the Blackhawks. That wasn’t a state secret coming into this series. The not-so-obvious fact? Vancouver has put together a fantastic gameplan to slow down the Blackhawks and take away their speed. The Canucks have controlled the neutral zone, taking away the ‘Hawks’ ability to skate into the zone with much threat for most of the series.
Vancouver’s aggressive forecheck has done the ‘Hawks in on numerous occasions, forcing the Blackhawks into turnovers and rushing the decision-making while keeping the ‘Hawks’ speed at bay. On top of that, notice how the Canucks clear the puck from their zone. It’s flipped into the air into the center of the ice, avoiding icing and making the Blackhawks chase. More often than not, the puck is not rung around or banged off the side boards to simply clear the line.
The puck floats, bounces harmlessly into the Blackhawks’ zone waiting for a defenseman to finally get his stick on it. This time is allowing the Canucks forwards and defensemen slip into the neutral zone and set up. This might as well be 1989, because the Blackhawks haven’t been able to complete a two-line pass with any sort of efficiency. The ‘Hawks are being shut down and taken out of their game.
And that’s the reason the fourth line came up with all three goals Friday night. The ‘Hawks skilled players are being neutralized by Vancouver, and that’s the reason you’re not seeing Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, etc., do anything of substance in this series. If the Canucks are allowing goals to only the fourth line – which sees limited minutes – against their bottom six, Vancouver seems to feel its in good shape. And its the correct gamplan, seeing as the Canucks hold a 2-0 advantage heading to Chicago.
Not to take anything away from Ben Smith, who played an outstanding game. The same goes for Viktor Stalberg, who not only scored but after 84 games decided it was time to be a bit physical. Kane looks scared shitless, and only for the last six minutes of the game decided to fight through checks. Toews? Hossa? Sharp? Coach Q needs to watch some tape and figure out how to get these guys in position to score against Vancouver’s aggressive – yet very skilled – play.
Enough can’t be said about Corey Crawford. He is facing the Dustin Byfuglien treatment the Blackhawks laid on Roberto Luongo the last two postseasons. The Canucks are parking people in front of the net and disrupting Crawford’s line of site through the first two games. But he stoned the Sedins on a 2 on 0 and faced enough odd-man rushes to make my farts seem pleasant, yet stood tall and kept the ‘Hawks in the game the best he could.
The rushes came from the ‘Hawks using their defenseman to pinch more frequently and carry the puck into the zone as often as possible in order to put some sort of pressure on Luongo. Problem was, it didn’t work. Vancouver broke free for numerous scoring chances, and luckily they took 400 offsides penalties or this game might have ended 10-3.
Friday’s game was lost in the second period. Sharp’s retaliation trip led to Vancouver’s power-play goal in the first minute, then a deflection goal with 13 seconds remaining took away the momentum after Smith pulled Chicago to within one.
There’s a whole ton of shit that needs to be figured out in two days, and it’s going to be a chore to actually do it. My feeling is the Blackhawks are going to need more than just the motivation of the home crowd, because the Canucks seem confident enough not to give a rat’s ass what color the jerseys are.
With all of that said, this series is far from over as much as it may seem like it. There’s still a decent amount of positives to take from these two games. If the top six show up, there’s a lot that can be done.
Onto Boxing, if you can stomach it.
This seems fitting, doesn’t it? Granted Daniel and Henrik Sedin look much more alike than Schwarzenegger and DeVito, but this seems a pretty good movie to help with the breakdown.
The Blackhawks and Canucks split four regular-season meetings with each winning once each at home and on the road. Here’s a quick snipit of team statistics from each contest.
The most glaring aspect — which Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun pointed out yesterday in our Behind Enemy Lines interview — is the Blackhawks were just 1 for 20 on the power play through the four games. The Canucks went 5 for 16. Ziemer said this series could come down to special teams, and he may be right.
Much like I did during last season’s playoffs against San Jose, I’ll breakdown each regular-season game relating to a quote. This edition, we’ll rely on Twins to provide us the memorable banter. And if you were lucky enough to get Boxing after one of these games, you’ll be able to take another gander at that as well.
And ….. go.
Pure disgust to utter elation in a matter of four hours.
And now, back to reality.
Sunday was a microcosm of a Blackhawks season which had people jumping off cliffs, then scaling the mountain again in hopes of reaching the top. The Red Wings came into the United Center and farted all over the Blackhawks’ playoff hopes with a 4-3 heartbreaker.
Then, the Minnesota Wild brought the Febreeze with a 5-3 win against Dallas, sending the Blackhawks to the playoffs for the third straight season.
It’s pretty much pointless to discuss the Red Wings game in detail. That was in the prior season, the regular season which doesn’t matter anymore. To piss ourselves off about the fact the ‘Hawks came into the game with everything to play for and the Wings entering the game with nothing …. wait, I just said I wasn’t going to do this.
Our dear friends – the Vancouver Canucks – await in Round 1. Dustin Byfuglien’s fat ass won’t be around to wave in Roberto Luongo’s face again this year. And if you’re happy to see the Canucks simply based off the fact the ‘Hawks have won two straight playoff series against them, dig deeper. These are two very different teams. Let’s just hope Luongo is still the same postseason goaltender.
Wednesday at 9 p.m. CST, it’s on. Hopefully the Sedin Sisters just keep spooning each other and miss puck drop because they got caught up watching Junior while attempting to make the plot come to real life.
You can check the schedule here for the first-round series, and we’ll be back each day with a more detailed breakdown of the series.
Until then, here’s a very special edition of Boxing detailing the only thing that matters… More >
Sorry to tease you a bit here, but there’s a bit of an issue loading up the Boxing images. That should be corrected by about lunch time, so I just wanted to get this up to let you know to check in around then.
I’ll be updating this post with the images. I don’t know what the damn problem is, but I’m getting it sorted out.
See ya back here soon, and sorry for the delay.
Much ado is made about whether or not the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks will qualify for the postseason. But let’s ask ourselves an important question:
If the ‘Hawks do make the playoffs, would it be worth the inevitable embarrassment of getting bitch-slapped by Vancouver? Because that’s what’s going to happen – especially with efforts like Sunday’s.
The 2-0 loss to Tampa Bay is a microcosm of what the Blackhawks are going to be as postseason participants. We’ve been waiting all damn season for the ‘Hawks to live up to their “talent,” and through 78 games we’ve been mostly disappointed. Is there any sign of this being a different team when the Blackhawks hit the ice for the first-round series against the Canucks?
The answer is no. Sunday proved there’s going to need to be a lot of prayer to whatever higher power you answer to in hopes said higher power just ordered a Jonathan Toews FatHead.
Go ahead, call me pessimistic. You’d be 100 percent correct. But if you’re in any way optimistic following Sunday’s wet fart of a performance, get your head examined.
Here’s what the West standings look like heading into Monday:
Yes, I’m aware a series with the Canucks is not a sure thing and the Blackhawks can move up. And I’m also aware the ‘Hawks have had their way with Vancouver in previous postseasons. This isn’t previous postseasons.
On top of that, what makes anyone believe the ‘Hawks can beat Detroit or even San Jose if they can move up to 6th or 7th?
The effort against Tampa Bay was that of a team not realizing the magnitude of what’s happening. The Blackhawks treated all 60 minutes like a Sunday morning drive to church – relaxed, while hoping some figment of their imagination will make everything sweet and wonderful. Forget putting a foot on the gas pedal, because the Blackhawks were taking a handsome cab ride with Rusty guiding the way.
Mike Smith (yeah, I know, Mike Smith) wasn’t in the least bit challenged the entire night, and an early power-play goal off Niklas Hjalmarsson’s dipshit delay-of-game penalty culminating with Brent Seabrook thinking about the next episode of Chicago Code as Vincent Lecavalier converted did the Blackhawks in.
And before you say anything, I don’t care if Dave Bolland and Patrick Sharp are out. It’s no excuse. The effort put forth Sunday wouldn’t have beaten the Charleston Chiefs.
Onto Boxing, if you dare …
You had to know this was coming.
It’s not as if the ‘Hawks haven’t played back-to-back games before – in fact, they came into the game 8-3-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season – but it was pretty evident the Detroit game took a ton out of the Blackhawks. The Boston Bruins dictated the pace and took it to the ‘Hawks in a 3-0 shutout from Tim Thomas.
Jonathan Toews ended up a minus-3 for only the fifth time in his career as the Blackhawks mustered only five shots on goal in the first period, giving Thomas basically 20 minutes off to start the game. There was basically zero energy, and Corey Crawford gets the credit for the ‘Hawks coming out of the first unscathed.
Boston simply played its game, and there was nothing the Blackhawks could do about it, even though they literally tried to rip off the Bruins’ faces in the process. Shawn Thornton needed 40 stitches after Fernando Pisani’s skate cut him across the forehead.
(Quick sidenote: Any chance this heats up the NHL’s talks of mandating visors? I say yes.)
Dallas lost to Phoenix in a shootout, meaning they’re six points back of the eighth-place Blackhawks. Chalk Tuesday up as tough loss, and move onto Columbus on Friday fresh and ready to go.
Here’s your Boxing…
Marian Hossa deserves every bit the credit for this victory, and not just because he scored the game-winner.
The Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime victory Monday against Detroit came to fruition mainly because of Hossa’s 23:54 of purely superb play on both ends of the ice. I’ve said it over and over again, but watching this guy play is a thing of beauty and we’re lucky to be able to witness it.
If Hossa had scored on that breakaway after jabbing the puck off the boards between two Red Wings, we may be talking about this being his best game of the season. It would have been nice to see him put more of a move on Joey MacDonald, but it shouldn’t take away from the original play he made to get into that position.
Hossa’s overtime winner was more than deserved after Patrick Kane fought off the entire communist party to control the puck then drew the penalty from Henrik Zetterberg at the end of regulation.
Oh, and I hope Todd Bertuzzi is having his toenails ripped out one by one with metal tongs while having farts blown in his face by Yokozuna as Failure to Launch plays on loop in the background. Ultimate torture.
Here are a few more thoughts before Boxing…
↔ To state the ridiculously obvious, the two points earned are insanely important. However, they became a hell of a lot more important when the Ageless Wonder Teemu Selanne decided to net an effing hat trick in Anaheim’s 5-4 win against Colorado later in the evening. A Blackhawks loss in the OT would have put them two points back of the Ducks for 7th. Despite the victory, the ‘Hawks are stuck in eighth.
↔ MacDonald played a hell of a game, don’t get me wrong. My issue with what most have deemed an exceptional performance lies in the fact the Blackhawks were rather non-existent around the net on point shots. MacDonald had clear looks at nearly every shot put on him. The one time someone made him smell their ass, Toews was the culprit and the puck sneaked through on a Brent Seabrook shot and hit the post. If the ‘Hawks put more traffic in front, MacDonald may not have had the performance everyone is lauding.
↔ Niklas Lidstrom may play until his 84 years old — and everyone would still fear him.
↔ Bertuzzi’s hit was unquestionably a scumbag move from a scumbag player who’s been a scumbag for his entire career. If you think I’m overreacting because Ryan Johnson played the duration of the game and still was a factor at center, look at the replay. Bertuzzi came at Johnson with his elbow up and no regard for the consequences of his actions. There was no “hockey play” made. Will he be suspended? Probably not, since he’s been somewhat clean for the past couple of years. However, the NHL is doing everything possible to rid the league of hits such as these. They need to do something about it.
And with that, here’s Boxing…
It wasn’t exactly the entertainment I was accustomed to during my five nights in Las Vegas, but I’m not going to complain about two much-needed points.
The Blackhawks welcomed me back home with a 4-0 snoozer I largely blame on the Panthers being, well, bad. With that, the ‘Hawks are now tied for 5th in the West with nine more games which will be much tougher and more exciting than Wednesday’s.
Against Florida, the ‘Hawks got away without needing a Dave Bolland nor a Patrick Sharp nor a 100-percent healthy Brian Campbell. Don’t get used to it with Anaheim, Detroit and Boston looming. Pardon the pessimism, especially knowing each game is a must-win given the standings, but the Blackhawks will need more against those squads.
With that said, the defense played like they should have in a home game against a team looking up at New Jersey and the New York Islanders in the East. Corey Crawford did what he needed to, aside from re-enacting Al Pacino’s scenes from Scent of a Woman each time he touched the puck.
A couple other quick thoughts before Boxing:
→ I was very impressed the way Viktor Stalberg responded to the top line promotion, playing actively and drawing a penalty by taking it hard to the net on the first shift of the game. He later took a feed from Jonathan Toews on the doorstep for a goal in the first minute of the third period. Sweet.
→ Did anyone else have heart failure when Marian Hossa went back to the locker room after taking a spill?
→ For the first time all season, the idiots at the UC who constantly yell “SHOOOOOOOOT” each time a Blackhawk has the puck were right to direct it at Nick Leddy.
→ Not sure what the hell happened to Tomas Vokoun when he went ice fishing along the boards on the Tomas Kopecky goal, but that net couldn’t have been more wide open. Hossa, to Michael Frolik, to Kopecky on a great passing play started by Brent Seabrook, who can’t get credited for an assist unfortunately.
→ Speaking of Seabrook, he played a hell of a game which included the rocket that ended up being the game-winner.
→ Oh, and the Captain did his thing again.
Onto Boxing …
Finally, the Blackhawks got to Antti Niemi.
The 6-3 win Monday night boosted the ‘Hawks up to the 4th spot again in the West and ended a three-game losing streak which had many talking “Must Win” against San Jose. I don’t care how bad ass or bleak things look, every game is “Must Win.” Get used to it.
Patrick Sharp had four assists in the second period alone, tying Jim Pappin’s franchise record set in 1973 – with two of them coming on the power play to Marian Hossa, who put both through Niemi’s five-hole. Hossa’s goals gave him at least 20 for the 11th straight season. Boom.
And who better than Jonathan Toews to provide the goal which ran Niemi. The Captain seems to have his hand in everything, setting a career-high with 71 points in the victory.
Seeing Niemi trudge toward the bench was bittersweet, in a way. Him getting the hook tonight gave me little satisfaction. Yes, it was nice to get back at him for the three defeats earlier this season. However, I would’ve felt the same way if it was Antero Niittymaki getting pulled. Going out for revenge at this point in the season is senseless. Sharp admitted it was nice to get to Niemi, but everyone made a point to say the win is what matters. There’s just always going to be a soft spot for a guy who really, truly wanted to stay in Chicago.
Speaking of goaltenders, Corey Crawford gets yet another win despite pretty much everyone lobbying for him to get a rest. Though he got the W tonight, he’s given up 16 goals in the last five games. And if he lost to Niemi, wouldn’t you believe Crawford’s confidence would have been completely shot, especially heading into the playoffs? Well, David Haugh sure as hell believes it.
Here’s what sent me into a rage:
Yet of all the Hawks, rookie goaltender Corey Crawfordperhaps can benefit most from having success on a night defined by Niemi’s failure. Crawford was coming off one of his roughest weeks mentally. Had Niemileft town with a 4-0 record against the Hawks, Crawford could have spent the next month awaiting the playoffs suffering by comparison.
(Begin rant)Want to talk about suffering? How about seeing Haugh’s byline next to anything Blackhawks-related. When you’re being read simply so people can laugh at whatever loads of bullshit you want to make up that day, that’s when you need to stop writing about a sport you know nothing about. (End rant)
Patrick Kane hit a milestone with his 100th career goal, Viktor Stalberg even got in a nice whack in to contribute.
And with that … BOXING:
Once again, Jonathan Toews summed it up:
“That’s two overtime losses in the last couple of games. We can’t be happy with just getting one point in each of those games. If you look at the games ahead and we keep getting to overtime, it doesn’t do us any good. It’s just about getting beyond that point of satisfaction and finding a way to win.”
And just like that, the Blackhawks are back down to 7th in the Western Conference - one point up on eighth and two up on ninth – after a 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals. Games like this aren’t going to cut it. And the fact of the matter is that the ‘Hawks were lucky enough to salvage that one point on a 6-on-4 power play with an empty net.
We can make excuses. No Dave Bolland. Limited action from Brian Campbell. But the ‘Hawks gave up a short-handed goal and got pretty damn lucky with good bouces on all three of their goals. The Capitals scored on defensive breakdowns and were much more solid the entire day.
Oh, and the Blackhawks didn’t get ONE SINLGE SHOT on net in nearly four minutes of overtime. Crap.
I’ll send you on your way to Boxing with this thought: Please, for the love of God, play Marty Turco tomorrow, Q. Please. Crow needs a break heading into another two-game trip. The game is too big and means too much to be strolling out a tired goaltender. It won’t mean you’ve lost faith in Crow, Q. It means your guy needs a break. Give it to him.
If I could do some hockey betting on this, I’d say Q still starts him. Damnit.
Well, what are you gonna do? Shit happens, move on and be done with Tuesday.
Everyone knew the Blackhawks were going to lose, and sadly I said before this past weekend even started this will be the game it happens. I’m not trying to show off, but it’s a game like this streaking teams often fall victim to.
3-2, Panthers. Onto Tampa Bay.
Corey Crawford needed the entire night off, not just the last two periods. I’ve been clamoring for this, and if he starts Wednesday I’m going to sic Jack Klompus on Coach Q. While each goal can be attributed to a defensive lapse, Crawford gave up a couple of juicy rebounds which he normally snags. The game was lost too quickly for me not to believe Crawford’s start tonight was the major contribution to it.
Marty Turco got a nice easy go of it as Florida sat back with the lead and proved why it has the 3rd-ranked penalty kill in the NHL. When I say Turco should start, it’s because he’s the next in line and not because I’m licking his bunghole over a few saves. If what’s left of Rick DiPietro’s rotting corpse was wearing the baseball cap, I’d be asking for him to start. Crawford needs a break.
Speaking of goaltenders, Tomas Vokoun withstood a two-period barrage from the Blackhawks and he deserves a ton of credit for nearly single-handedly winning the game for the Panthers.
Boxing will do the rest. Enjoy
My best bud sent me a text during an intermission: “Jonathan Toews is on a drug. It’s called ‘Jonathan Toews.’”
I couldn’t have put it better myself.
The addiction has seem to spread to the Blackhawks, who are playing their best hockey of the season following a 6-4 win against Calgary on Wednesday. The best part? The Flames were just as good. There’s no question the better team won.
Both of Toews’ goals were gorgeous, with the first even more handsome after Patrick Kane hit Patrick Sharp cross-ice, leaving Toews wide open in the crease. The second? Just the captain being the captain.
Marian Hossa capped it with a goal in his fifth straight game.
There was plenty more in between, including a mini-breakdown at the beginning of the third period, but Boxing will do the rest of my talking. Have at it:
You just can’t make it easy can you, Blackhawks?
When Tomas Kopecky decided to be, well, Tomas Kopecky, and flick the puck over the boards for absolutely no justified reason, I thought for sure the league’s 26th-ranked penalty was going to let Minnesota tie it.
It was a welcome surprise to not only see a solid kill, but then have Jonathan Toews make a perfect pass to Marian Hossa for the game-clinching shorty.
From 9th to 5th in a matter of a couple hours. Five straight wins allows for such things. Most importantly, Monday’s 4-2 victory against the Wild came in regulation to avoid handing over an extra point to a team the Blackhawks are fighting in the constantly fluctuating Western Conference standings.
I’m very tired tonight, so I’m going to let Boxing do most of the talking. Enjoy, ya’ll.
The funny thing is the points awarded to each the Blackhawks and Coyotes somewhat relates to the scoring of a boxing match.
The Blackhawks won periods one and three, dominating like we haven’t seen nearly enough of this season. Phoenix took the second period when the ‘Hawks left their talent in the locker room.
Two points for Chicago, one for the Coyotes.
I guess the main point, however, is that we need not necessarily worry about HOW the points are earned right now – just that they’re earned. Obviously handing over a point to a team we’re chasing in the West isn’t anywhere near ideal, but progress was made – even if it’s not the amount we really wanted.
Oh right, the astoundingly good things. Well, I’d like to know how many true fans of other teams can look at one player on their roster and say, “I know that he’s not going to let me down tonight,” each time their team hits the ice. Blackhawks fans are fortunate enough to have Jonathan Toews be that guy. It never gets old to praise the Captain, and he proves worthy of it each night. The fact that he’s not discussed more is a testament to just how ridiculously solid he has been this season, almost as if he’s willing this team to get into the playoffs.
Oh, and Marian Hossa is once again nearing man-crush status. He’s scored a goal in three straight games for the first time since Oct. 15-18.
♦ Fels already beat me to it, but I was thinking the same thing as him when Jordan Hendry went down: Stan Bowman is most likely going to overpay for a defenseman today. It’s going to happen, we just have to hope it’s no one like a Troy Brouwer who will be the price. I never, ever, ever, ever in a million years thought I’d say this, but releasing Nick Boynton may have come at the wrong time. While I absolutely and genuinely think he brings nothing positive to the ice, it would be nice to have that extra defensive body who has at least had experience playing with these guy be available. If Bowman ends up farting away a top-6 forward or harming the future by dealing a top prospect for a rental defenseman, The Curse of Nick Boynton will continue …
♦ Hi, penalty kill. Any chance this improves in my lifetime? Combine the extreme problems the ‘Hawks had tonight – which all but led to them blowing a pair of two-goal leads – with Hendry’s injury, and Bowman has 60 minutes of film to justify being as desperate as virgin one-legged midget come the deadline. It’s going to take some restraint from him to not make a reaction trade to tonight’s events. Hopefully he slept on it rather than making calls immediately after the ‘Hawks left the ice.
♦ Corey Crawford is second in the NHL in goals-against average. If any of you out there, even those who believe Crawford was ready to play in the league, say you believed this would happen this year, you’re lying and it’s not funny.
Boxing will take you from here ….
Put a log on whatever fire is currently lit under the Blackhawks’ collective ass.
The Blackhawks finally realized that a regulation NHL hockey game lasts 60 minutes, rather than pretending this was Kindergarten and there was nap time after the milk gets passed out.
A few thoughts before we get into Boxing:
♦ You’ll hear this a lot, I’m sure, but Duncan Keith played his best game of the season. I’d love to know why he decided to save it for this long, but we got back our Norris Trophy winner for a night. Keith was all over the place, made smart passes and looked more aggressive and smart than I’ve seen him in awhile.
♦ Niklas Hjalmarsson played only three minutes in the third period after suffering an upper-body injury.
♦ Hi, Marian Hossa, I like when you’re awesome. Pekka Rinne may as well have been Ray Charles on that breakaway, because he had no chance. I like this Hossa. I want more of this Hossa. Please can I have more of this Hossa?
♦ No more bitching about calls from that Vancouver game a few weeks ago. I’ve heard people bring it up once a week since how the Blackhawks got hosed. That makes two phanton goaltender interference calls that negated goals for the opposition, and we won both games. We’re all even. Drop it now.
♦ Why Viktor Stalberg continues to see less than 10 minutes per night boggles my mind. What’s he done so wrong? This looks like another instance similar to when Q got something in his head about Jordan Hendry and he got scratch more than an instant lotto ticket for two months.
♦ Corey Crawford played very well tonight, and his save on Martin Erat right off the initial faceoff to open the game kept Nashville from taking early momentum. If that goal goes in, I might be writing something completely different tonight.
And now, Boxing:
Apparently, Jonathan Toews agrees with Blackhawks bloggers and tells the team things the beat writers should be asking about.
After a rather horrible first period, The Captain did his job and spoke up. The result? Four points in roughly 24 hours and a five-way tie for the No. 7 seed. Here’s what he had to say, according to the Chicago Tribune:
“Maybe I got after the boys a little bit too much, but we saw the guys responded to it,” Toews said after the Hawks’ 5-3 victory Monday over the Blues.
“What’s frustrating (is), we say things before the game that we have to do and we go out there and play the way we did in the first 20 minutes. It was unacceptable and the leaders in the locker room held the rest of the team accountable and everyone stepped up to the plate in the second 20 (minutes).”
Here’s what Bartl said in “Boxing”
Click the jump for Boxing with ‘Hawks/Penguins/Blues
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Coming home for the first time in three weeks, having their coach in the hospital and sitting in 11th place in the Western Conference after winning the Stanley Cup a year prior seemed enough to motivate the Blackhawks on Wednesday night.
It’s about time.
At this point, whatever it takes to get the job done is fine by me. Granted, no one wants to see Joel Quennivelle in the hospital. We can bitch about how he’s handled the team all season, but his absence was still missed.
The Blackhawks’ 3-1 win against the Minnesota Wild was the resurrection of sorts in a few different ways. The ‘Hawks played to their talent, beating a team they needed to beat despite getting hit in the jaw through the first 20 minutes. Marian Hossa was an absolute beast on the ice, and was simply stoned by Jose Theodore to keep him from netting a goal. Some of the shaky goaltending we’ve seen? Not tonight, as Corey Crawford single-handedly kept the ‘Hawks in the game and up a goal in that first period.
Despite all that, the Blackhawks are still four points behind eighth-place Calgary, which beat Dallas 4-2 last night. That may seem pretty bad upon first hearing that, but there’s good news. They’re also only four points out of fourth, as the No. 4 seed and No. 8 seed are all just a single point behind third-place Phoenix.
That’s tighter than Alyssa Milano during her “Who’s the Boss?” days.
And with that, I present your latest edition of “Boxing.” Get well, QStache.
Click the jump for Boxing with ‘Hawks/Wild
EDITORS NOTE: Tim and Bartl put together a combo post here. Tim has the commentary, Bartl has your shortened version of Boxing from both the Stars and Coyotes games where he breaks down the summary. Enjoy, ya’ll.
Okay, so the characterization in this article’s title is not entirely accurate. Or is it? The ‘Hawks let two points that they could easily have taken from Dallas and Phoenix slip through their fingers. They ended the road trip with two wins, two outright losses, and two shootout losses over the six-game span. That’s not going to do it, folks.
If the Blackhawks continue this level of performance — one period of coordinated hard work and 40 minutes that look like five guys who only met each other when they took the ice six seconds ago — they are going to find themselves searching for Saturday tee times before the grass in Chicago is really even green.
Click the jump for Boxing with ‘Hawks/Stars/Coyotes
QStache said it. I’ve heard and read others say it….
If the Blackhawks play this way the rest of the season, the playoffs will be a lock and they’ll make some noise on top of it.
Me? I’m not buying that for a second.
The problem with that statement is that we’ve said it way too often. There’s a consistent thought among us fans that we need to take the positives out of a season like this, especially knowing how embarrassing it will be for the ‘Hawks to miss the playoffs after winning the Stanley Cup just last season.
Click the jump for Boxing with ‘Hawks/Canucks, 2/4/11
Hey, did anyone realize it’s snowing outside? I wasn’t sure until every single person’s Facebook status told me. My windows that are clear and easy to look out of must be broken.
At least the Blackhawks got their six-game road trip off to a good start, even if they didn’t play like they’ll need to Friday in Vancouver.
The penalty kill continued to shine, the ‘Hawks actually took advantage of a 5-on-3 and Jonathan Toews was, well, Jonathan Toews. The 7-4 victory wasn’t always a walk in the park, but Marty Turco’s big stop on Jakub Voracek to keep the game tied 3-3 was all I needed to validate a rather surprising start.
I’m going to let Boxing do most of the talking tonight, as it makes it’s triumphant return. Without further ado…
Click the jump for Boxing with ‘Hawks/Blue Jackets, 2/1/11
As usual, Mondays after two weekend games gets you a double dose of Boxing. Boom
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.
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