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
King me, please.
The Blackhawks completed a four-game season sweep of L.A. with a 4-3 victory that came with a few surprises, including:
» The sweep itself. Who the hell saw that coming, especially with the ‘Hawks struggles
» Jonathan Toews’ early – and welcome – return from injury
» Jake Dowell being scratched with no explanation yet if it relates to his 3rd-period benching against the Ducks
» Patrick Sharp’s fifth career two-goal game against the Kings. That’s, like, a lot.
The Captain’s return proved to be not only timely, but also not rushed. Most of us were worried about whether or not he’d be fully ready to go, and he quelled those worries with a solid performance. Toews’ “lucky” goal that bounced in off an errant clearing attempt by Drew Doughty happened because he was in front of the net like he should have been.
Sharp had another very handsome night, potting a goal on the power play and adding another off an aggressive forecheck by him and Tomas Kopecky. Nifty passing on the PP goal, as Kane made a nice pass across while Marian Hossa baited Jarrett Stoll into sinking toward the net, opening the passing lane.
Cash. Money. Hoes.
The Blackhawks did everything they could to attempt to lose this game, however. They were outplayed in the first period until Hossa tied it late, then took three shitty penalties in a row in the third period. The too-many-men call is flat out stupid, Duncan Keith was sleep-skating on his dipshit toss over the boards, and Toews’ high-stick shouldn’t have happened. It led to the equalizer until Toews’ shin scored the winner.
A few more thoughts here:
» Patrick Kane is still being bothered by his injury, I’ve decided. I came to this conclusion when he skated in with Dave Bolland on a 2-on-1 and did not once even consider putting the puck on net. Confidence? Well, maybe, given that he’s still getting back in the groove after sitting out eight games. More importantly, he looks a bit shaky on his skates, and I believe it may hurt him to plant and twist that ankle in order fire off a decent shot. Kane glided into the zone and looked at Bolland the whole way. Kane is a scorer, and that’s what we need from him. The cute pass on an odd-man rush is not what anyone wants to see. If it’s the ankle like I believe it is, maybe a night off for Kane would do some good.
» Brent Seabrook did his best Nick Boynton impression by making a blind, dipshit clearing attempt that resulted in a turnover and a Kings goal. Overall, he played like a pile of shit.
» Corey Crawford got another win, but hopefully he made out with the posts on the Staples Center nets after the game. Those red, iron bastards sure helped deflect the pucks outwardly. I’d count and tell you how many posts the Kings hit in the game, but my calculator is broken. However, he made a great save on Anze Kopitar’s chance with under a minute left and Jonathan Quick on the bench in favor of the extra man.
» The minutes of Jack Skille and Viktor Stalberg were next to nothing after a decent night in Anaheim, when QStache benched Dowell. Skille and Stalberg rode the pine most of the game, and Dowell watched from the press box as a healthy scratch. Granted, Skille did have a turnover that led to a Kings goal, but it would be nice if people with credentials would ask some questions about all this.
And now for Boxing. Click the images to enlarge:
Click the jump for Boxing with ‘Hawks/Kings
This time, the Blackhawks’ mothers got to witness the ‘Hawks fall into a last-place tie in the Central Division. How sweet of the kids.
The Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks offered some good things to take away from it. However, despite the fact the ‘Hawks outshot the Ducks 40-19, that disparity is a bit deceiving.
Yes, the ‘Hawks controlled the puck for damn near all of the third period when they held a 19-2 shot advantage. The problem is that most of those 19 shots didn’t offer many quality chances. Rather than being impressed with the ‘Hawks puck possession, I’m inclined to give the credit to the Ducks being able to keep the ‘Hawks from the net for most of the period.
Viktor Stalberg had the game tied when he put a wrister toward an open net from just a few feet out with Jonas Hiller sprawled across the crease. Then Dave Bolland, who saw Hiller down and watched Stalberg get ready to put the puck on the net, decided an attempt at a re-direct to fool the goaltender who wasn’t there. I can understand Bolland being in the moment, but I can’t remember the last time I saw someone attempt to re-direct a shot taken from that close. Stalberg put his arms up thinking it was a sure goal, then realized what happened. That fucking sucked.
To the ‘Hawks credit, they tried to do everything they could to get another one past Hiller, who played outstanding. Hiller even made a ridiculous initial save on Bryan Bickell’s goal before Bicks poked it through.
As you’ll notice in Boxing, the ‘Hawks were murdered at the dot. The chance of Jonathan Toews playing against the Los Angeles Kings becomes much more needed after witnessing that shit show.
There’s a mystery why Jake Dowell got benched in the third period, and hopefully Q gives us an explanation. Not a mystery? Tomas Kopecky has been playing like a pile of dog shit.
The Blackhawks’ 20-17-3 record puts them at exactly .500 and in last place while the rest of the division has games in hand. The official midway point of the season is tonight, and the ‘Hawks are currently looking up the ass of 10 teams in the Western Conference. I’m not going to hop in front of a Blue Line train just yet, but it’s also time to start realizing our Stanley Cup champs have to fight for a playoff spot in the second half.
Hey, at least we got a break from the sack of nipples that is Nick Boynton.
Without further ado, here’s Boxing. Click the images to enlarge
Click the jump for Boxing with ‘Hawks/Gordon Bombays
Before Corey Crawford’s bandwagon breaks an axle, I’ll get it out of the way that this post isn’t me clamoring for Marty Turco to get more starts in net. However, this is me solidifying my position when I state fans shouldn’t immediately gasp when he gets the nod.
Turco’s 26-save effort in the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win against the Columbus Inappropriate Acronyms won’t earn him any Vezina votes, but I also have a strange feeling it won’t get him any more beats from the fading hearts of his naysayers. It’s unfortunate, though most likely true.
While Turco sat on his ass as Crawford won over the fanbase in a city so fond of the “backup,” he maintained his stance of being a consummate professional in every sense of the label. He’s said and done all the right things while he watched a kid outplay him and take a job he specifically came here to do and succeed at.
That may not seem valuable to those who kill themselves with each loss and resurrect with the smallest glimmer of hope. What’s lost is that Turco’s professionalism, patience and team-first attitude specifically led to his performance in net Sunday night. That, and a better defensive effort in front of him.
Keep in mind, Turco has face 107 more shots than Crawford in only three extra starts. Though Crawford has indeed played better than Turco, being outplayed isn’t so bad considering the facts.
Click the jump for more recap and Boxing with ‘Hawks/Inappropriate Acronyms
Three straight wins, two against opponents above the Blackhawks in the Central and another against a team the ‘Hawks should have fits with.
Oh, and all that was done without Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane.
Wednesday’s win against Nashville wasn’t exactly exciting — is anything against Nashville ever exciting? — but it’s two more points heading into a short Christmas break earned without two of the Blackhawks’ best offensive weapons. Pretty impressive to say the least.
Remember last season when the ‘Hawks were playing well around Thanksgiving and Hossa returned with a two-goal performance? A new season, a different holiday and another return is coming up. Would be nice to have a repeat of that shit.
One quick note: Jack Skille and Dave Bolland each played a hell of a game. (Bartl limbers up, sits back, takes deep breath, inserts foot directly into mouth.)
And onto Boxing we go…
Beating a bitter rival rather convincingly while undermanned is one thing. Following up that performance two nights later against another contender is downright beautiful.
Without Marian Hossa and Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks have held their own through a stretch when points in the competitive Central Division are becoming a necessity. The ‘Hawks gained four points on Detroit this weekend after the Communists fell to Dallas on Sunday night.
The ‘Hawks have a golden opportunity to continue picking up points on the division when Nashville visits Wednesday, but we’ll get into that over the next couple of days.
After three straight losses and picking up only a single point against Western Conference foes San Jose and Colorado, the Blackhawks needed to respond with the Communists and Kings visiting the United Center — where they’ve played like dog shit at times this season. They’re now 6-2-0 in their last eight at home and giving the crowd something to cheer about after losing four of five at the UC previous to this stretch.
Jonathan Toews continues to play like an animal. Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith are playing better, and Corey Crawford keeps impressing. It’s a shame Crawford’s success is linked with the meatballs’ version of Mary Turco’s so-called failures because Crawford is making a hell of a name for himself with his play this season. I wish we could all just shut up and be happy the Blackhawks have two solid goaltender to go to at any given time, but I keep forgetting this is Chicago. Silly me.
Going along those lines and knowing there’s no in between when it comes to either jumping from the Whatchu Talkin’ ‘Bout Willis Tower or celebrating like the ‘Hawks have repeated already, I’m taking this weekend in stride and sitting in the middle like I’m hoping most of you are.
Two wins against top conference contenders are fabulous, especially because the Blackhawks continue their dominance of the Kings this season. However, there’s still those farts against the Sharks and Big Falling Snow Pile that resonate. Much like I didn’t down a bottle of Advil following those losses, I’m not going to start having celebratory sex with Kaner’s leftovers. I’m strapping in for the rest of the homestand and preparing myself for a more thorough evaluation after the 1st of the year.
With that being said, here’s your “Boxing” from the weekend. First, it’s ‘Hawks/Wings. Then, scroll down for ‘Hawks/Kings. Click the images to enlarge. For those viewing on the iPhone, attempt to enlarge your screen with your fingers like you would for anything else. The reason I say this is because Spinner got an email regarding this, and I want to make sure I can help those out having trouble viewing. If you are, comment here and I’ll figure something out for you.
Click the jump for Boxing with ‘Hawks/Wings and ‘Hawks/Kings.