Chicago Blackhawks

The Ras Man (PicAgency)

Blackhawks recall Rasmussen; Place Kris Versteeg on LTIR

The Ras Man (PicAgency)

The Ras Man (PicAgency)

The Blackhawks made news today by recalling Ice Hogs center Dennis Rasmussen from Rockford ahead of their six game road trip which starts in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. The Hawks placed the surprisingly productive winger Kris Versteeg, who has been out since being injured during the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, on LTIR to make room for the 6’3 Swedish forward. The beats indicated last week that a forward would likely be recalled in wake of Dan Carcillo’s six game suspension, which was handed down by the league last Tuesday. Rasmussen has 8 goals and 8 assists in 44 games so far in his first North American season. He signed with the Hawks as a free agent in June.
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Cheer The Podcast: Episode 20

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Cheer the Podcast Episode 20 (1.23.15): Well, we finally talk Teuvo, hate on Tim Erixon, wonder what the hell is wrong with Johnny Oduya, question the use of Andrew Shaw, and discuss whether or not David Rundblad is any good. Listen up:

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And ladies and gentlemen, the kitchen is closed: Hawks 3 Pens 2 – SO

Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

It always feels good to beat the Penguins, but something about it feels so much better when they’re wearing the sweaters that the franchise wore while they swept the Blackhawks in 92.

Another shootout victory this year has them 6-1 in the skills competition, a far cry from a lot of losses and few wins last season. With that said, the journey to get there was both good and also frustrating.

Before Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews scored and Corey Crawford stopped both Pens shooters, the Blackhawks blew a two-goal lead as snipers Zach Sill and Steve Downie would rally to get Pittsburgh a point. What a shitty sentence to have to type. Those two guys suck.

Really this was a tale of two halves of hockey. Chicago absolutely owned the first period. There were numerous stretches of play (minutes at a time) in the Pens zone but only one goal to show for it – a bomb by David Rundblad after Marian Hossa walked Sidney Crosby at the blue line.

The first part of the second period saw the Blackhawks score on the power play! Hossa put a laser beam inside the far post while Bryan Bickell put on a good screen in front of Marc-Andre Fleury.

The wheels fell off then for awhile in the second period. A dogshit, brutal turnover by the WWF jobber tag-team of SHAWZY AND ROZY allowed former Blackhawk Andrew Ebbett to find a wide open Zack Sill for a one-timer. That was Sill’s first goal this year in 32 games. Some folks will point to Sill being Teuvo Teravainen’s man, but in reality, he was providing low support on former Blackhawk superstar Craig Adams because Michal Roszival is terrible.

A short time later another bum-ass turnover by Roszival and poor low-zone coverage from Brad Richards allowed Steve Downie to bang in a rebound and tie it at two. Blech.

We better break this thing down before I start vomiting about Roszival…
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Washer: Yotes 1 Hawks 6

 

I’m not sure when or why it happened.. it may have been the Yotes beating the Hawks in the 1st round in 2012, maybe it was the Torres hit on Hossa and  the idiotic attempts to defend it.. more likely it was the complete inability of their oversensitive fans to take a joke about moving to Quebec.  Then there’s the flopping and histrionics of Mike Smith. Maybe it’s the intense jealousy because the “AAAARRRROOOOOO” goal celebration has been rightly restored to Chicago. Whatever, in recent years the Coyotes have gone from “Minor Irritant” to “Douchenozzles” and are now sliding back into irrelevance again.

Hanging six on the Yotes, especially with the aforementioned Smith in goal for all of them,  was fun at any rate.

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Dusseldorf: Hawks 3 Devils 2 (SO)

I’ve got a test on Aggression for my Social Psychology module on Friday, so I spent a lot of today watching videos of chimps killing each other and Nazi propaganda films, also reading about the Rwandan Genocide, the Stanford Experiment and Abu Ghraib. Reckoned that sitting through an hour of the Devils skating around couldn’t be any worse, so you’re stuck with me for the recap. No Fatso, of course, but Jaromethuselah Jagr was there to bring the average age up by 3,619 years.  Jaromethuselah has been very quiet against the Hawks of late, getting zero goals in the 2013 playoffs as a Bruin and recording exactly one shot in the Hawks’ two games against him last year. So, how did it all pan out?

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Smell The Glove: Blackhawks (4) Blues (1)

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Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

A satisfying beat down of the Blues happened Wednesday night. It was 1-1 heading into the third period until Kris Versteeg buried a Jonathan Toews pass at the 59 second mark. The floodgates opened after that as Patrick Kane added two more tallies (both assisted by Versteeg). There’s not a whole lot to discuss with this one, it was a systematic ass kicking. Just a couple of points in the breakdown: More >

Don’t the sun look angry?

I assume one of the guys has recap duty.. so wait for them for “intelligent” analysis.

I’ma go wit this

Can’t wait for California to slide into the ocean. Fuck the Ducks, the Kings and (sorry, pals) the Sharks.

 

Love, kisses and apocalypses

 

Midtown: Hawks 1 Canucks 4

 

Funny old game, Hockey.  Also occasionally deadly boring and generally forgettable. Last night was a prime example of this. Once upon a time, a game in Vancouver would have been circled on the calendar in red ink with “Buy moar booze” written underneath it. Now, however, it’s just another late night. Let’s talk about it a little, shall we, and then get on with our lives.

 

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Capocalypse Soon

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This article originally ran in the Committed Indian a couple of weeks ago. In light of the recent news that the salary cap may not rise as expected next year, it seems apposite to share it with you. But you should still subscribe to the Committed Indian here

 

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Gameday Preview: Caps v. Hawks

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CHICAGO — Jeremy Morin sat on his haunches at the back of the cage. Every muscle tensed. His fists were clenched, held stiffly in front of his shins. When I happened to make eye contact with him, he let out a low growl. The young man’s rage distorted the air around him.

Bryan Bickell, on the other hand, slept soundly in the next cage over. Whenever Morin wasn’t growling, Bickell’s soft snoring filled the room. A snapshot of Bickell’s baby was taped to the wires beside his head.

Contrary to popular belief, Joel Quenneville’s “dog house” is more than a metaphor. Never before glimpsed by anyone outside the Blackhawks organization, there is a bona fide detention center. It is a small, dead-end cinder block hallway buried deep in the United Center’s bowels.

Several years ago (no one will specify when), an equipment manager heard that an animal testing lab at the University of Chicago was upgrading its enclosures. He bought seven cages destined for the scrap heap, brought them to this hallway, and bolted them to the wall. According to unconfirmed reports, Joel Quenneville smiled.

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Morin and Bickell were not alone on the day I was granted access. Brad Richards occupied a spot down the hall. He sat against one side of his cage, watching pensively as a handler showed me the water bottles and feeding trays. Brandon Saad was on “part-time” – he could roam freely between practice sessions, but had to return immediately after dinner.

I tried to speak to Richards several times, but my handler wouldn’t allow it. The old timer’s eyes were hollow and doubtful. He seemed more rueful than angry.

“I think it’s good for them,” my handler was saying. “It shows them what Q’s looking for. Sometimes, they need this kind of motivation.”

It was then that I noticed small notes taped to the cage doors. They were titled “Requirements for Release.” I hurried closer to read them but each simply said “More.”

I turned to ask about the vagueness of this when Quenneville himself entered the hallway. Morin’s rage evaporated. His body uncoiled. He slumped into a heap and turned towards the wall behind him.

Quenneville merely grunted. Walking past, he motioned for me to follow. At the end of the hallway he pressed a single cinderblock, causing a hidden door to swing open with a loud hiss.

“Are you sure, Q?” asked the handler. Q said nothing. I followed him through the doorway.

We were in darkness. Then the lights snapped on and a gleaming contraption of steel, tubes, wires, gauges and switches loomed before us. My handler scurried in, rounded the machine’s base, and began pressing buttons. Steam hissed. Beeps and bloops and whirring echoed off the walls.

I asked what this monstrosity was. “Machine,” replied Quenneville.

“What does it do?” I asked.

“Machine,” said Quenneville. “Kiwi fruit.”

The machine was thirty feet tall and twice that at its widest. It took my handler several minutes to power it up. When he was done he was out of breath. He came back to stand beside me.

“Some of those gauges are hard to turn,” he said, panting.

“What is this thing?”

“It’s the Blender.”

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We Got the Narrative You Want: Hawks 5 – Canadiens 0

IMG_6003Editor’s Note: Like all self-respecting operations, this story was written prior to this evening’s contest, and edited for accuracy upon completion of the festivities.

HAWKS 6 5 – CANADIENS 1 0 [SOOOO CLOSE!]

Late Sunday night, after the shutout loss to the Winnipeg Jets, Corey Crawford [SHUTOUT] called his mother. He had an unusual request. “You and the other moms still have those minivans, right?” he asked. “Can you get everyone together and meet us at the border? We don’t want to take the plane to Montreal.”

Crawford mère was confused but she didn’t let on. Of course everyone still owned their minivans. Of course they could rustle up une petit caravanne, drive down to the New York border, and ferry a professional hockey team to its hotel. It would be a great way to spend some extra time with her son [SHUTOUT] and his teammates.

Corey [SHUTOUT] told his mom to figure out the details, except for one thing: “Shawzer said it can only be hockey moms.”

Crawford mère nearly pointed out that Mr. Shaw’s request was superfluous. There is not a mother in Châteauguay who was not, at some point, a hockey mom. Then she thought better of it. The emotions roiling Mr. Shaw were obvious, even third-hand.

[STET] Mr. Shaw needed his mom. Like the rest of his team, Mr. Shaw has been playing far below expectations. Asked to fill the “2C” role on a Stanley Cup favorite, Mr. Shaw has run into the natural limits of his game. He loses the majority of his face-offs. Defensive responsibility baffles him. Playmaking ability taunts him from just beyond his grasp. [STET]

Tonight was different. [SHUTOUT] The Blackhawks dominated the Canadiens in every respect. [Well, Except the 1st Period.] Brad Richards opened the scored [!!!!] , putting in a rebound on his eighth attempt. Patrick Kane tallied a natural hat-trick, including the game winner. Marian Hossa and Brandon Saad also joined in the fun. [Sigh. But Versteeg scored twice! My son’s faith is rewarded! Rundblad had TWO assists!]

Looking at those relaxed, happy faces in the visitor’s dressing room tonight, it seems that Crawford [SHUTOUT] was right. This team needed a few hours nestled in the supportive bosom of les mères de Châteauguay.

Captain Jonathan Toews™ [Who did score] told the press scrum that Les Mères “helped us remember why we play the game.” Captain Jonathan Toews™ channeled those memories into four points, all assists. He went on, saying “We needed to remember our love of this game, to play with our heart, not our heads. We needed to relax. Try not to force things. Canada. Moms. Hockey moms. Hockey moms Canada this game is in our blood it is character we have character goals will come goals heart.”

Patrick Kane tallied a hat trick, including the game winner. He paid Les Mères their due respect. “I think every kid growing up playing hockey . . .” he began, then trailed off. Captain Jonathan Toews™ leaned over and finished his sentence: “remembers those van rides to games, how your Hockey Mom would center you.”

Yeah,” Kane continued. “I also watched my favorite highlights of myself, but Canada Hockey Moms.”

Asked what inspired his life coaching breakthrough, Crawford [SHUTOUT] told the press corps it was “empathy.” After the Winnipeg loss, Corey sensed the rising tide of self-doubt in his teammates. He remembered all the times growing up that he doubted his own ability. He thought about the off-season following the Blackhawks’ first round exit against Phoenix. What did he do then? He called his mom. [SHUTOUT]

[Go fuck yourself, Emelin.]

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Toast: Maple Leafs (3) Blackhawks (2)

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Peter Holland scored 2 minutes into the third period to put the Leafs ahead for good 3-2 on Saturday night. It was Holland’s first goal on the season and it helped to set up the real story of the night’s contest: James Reimer was sensational. Optimus Reim stopped 45 of 47 shots, including 26 (!!!) in the third period. The telling statistics to gauge the Hawks’ effectiveness in this game, though, are going 2-4 on the power play (good) and not scoring on 36 even strength shots (bad).

This game was the same story of domination without anything to show for it on the scoreboard. It’s incredibly frustrating to be on the short end of a goalie win, it’s even more frustrating when it happens seemingly every loss. The Committed Indian posted a pretty relevant tweet last night talking about the sustainability of the opposition’s SV%. And, while true, the Hawks are unfortunately not playing the same opponent every night. It’s not just one goaltender that has Chicago’s number. We’re looking at 4 or 5 in this short season so far. Yes, we should still expect the floodgates to open, but we’re 11 games in, it needs to happen soon.

Let’s break it down…

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Thanks for the memories, Jared

The Hack, the Hoss & the Hall Of Fame

Thanks for the memories, Jared

Thanks for the memories, Jared

 

In the happy glow surrounding Marian Hossa’s 1,000th NHL point, we should really have been bracing ourselves for the Hot Takes on his HOF candidacy from the Hockey Meeja. Sure enough, The Hockey News’ Blowhard-In-Chief, Ken Campbell, was quick to get the crayons out today to let us know that he has his doubts.

 

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Mr. 1000: Blackhawks (5) Team O (4)

Patrick Sharp’s nifty backhander in the shootout sealed the 5-4 W up for the Blackhawks last night. Good. But this game shouldn’t have gone to a shootout. Despite being about a billion times more exciting than the muck and grind 1-0 loss on Tuesday, there are still some deficiencies that Chicago needs to address.

Who cares about that crap, though? Marian Hossa scored his 1000th career point on a goal in the third period! He should be in the hall of fame, his 81 should be raised in Chicago, and there should probably be a parade for him. He’s the best. I love Marian Hossa. I hope he plays forever.

Let’s break this thing down…

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How did that go in? A breakdown of Jaskin’s GWG

We mentioned in the St. Louis game recap that the Blackhawks either set up a dumb, chase-Oshie-around box-and-one type of coverage or Jonathan Toews got lost on Dmitri Jaskin’s game winner last night. Take a look at what actually happened on Jaskin’s second career NHL goal:

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This is simple enough. The Blues had been making some changes: a D-pair (Bouwmeester and Pietrangelo) has just entered the surface to hold the puck in the zone, and a new forward (Jaskin) is waiting at the bench. Bouwmeester flips the puck to the net, and the Hawks have the Blues outnumbered down low 3 v 5. However, as Toews is sucked deep to the front of the crease, attacking the same forward (Patrik Berglund) as Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya floats comfortably behind the four battling in front. TJ Oshie is wide open, and (yes, goaltending experts) good rebound control by Antti Raanta puts the puck safely into the corner. Both wingers are properly set up at the top of the circles.

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Here is where the breakdown begins. Toews, for reasons unknown, skates behind the net. The puck stays with Berglund along the near-side boards. Schwartz heads to the bench for a line change. The box-and-one seems kind of evident now, as you see Toews is nowhere close to being in position, while the other four players are in a box. Coverage is not bad here because the Blues are still in the process of making the change, leaving Toews’s responsibility safely to the outside. But then…

IMG_0011 Berglund rims the puck around the boards. Toews shifts to the front of the net, and both Saad and Oduya chase to the far-side boards. If this is a true box-and-one, Oduya should stay at home picking up Oshie, and Saad should bust it to the boards to battle and try and get the puck out to Toews, who should be in the slot at this point. Kane properly moves towards the top of the circles to get after his point man. Berglund floats back to the front of the net. Even on a rim-around pass to the opposite point, the likelihood of Oduya tracking this puck down is low. He makes a mistake, but the opportunity to take a chance exists because it looks as if Toews is going to stay home in front of the net. The breakdown continues as neither Oduya nor Saad win the race to the puck and Pietrangelo fires it on goal…

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As the puck is shot on goal, Jaskin enters the picture right off of the bench. Saad and Kane both have their point men pretty well-covered (yes, Kane is not RIGHT ON TOP OF HIS MAN, but Ol’ Jabe is not open). But now, we see Toews chase Oshie into the corner. Again, a mind-boggling play considering that Oshie has one point on the year, an accidental assist from earlier in the game, and he can’t score from there with 7.6 seconds left. He’s not dangerous in that position. Hjalmarsson has Berglund covered in front just fine, but Oduya does not pick up Jaskin.

Let’s go even further into this and say that Toews is marking Oshie. Let’s say Oduya picks up Jaskin and the play goes on the same way. TJ Oshie scores here. Toews is two steps behind the man he’s covering, and Oshie is looking to get to the front of the net. It’s bad coverage either way by the captain, and I think he and Oduya confused each other.

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And here’s the goal. Jaskin is wide open. It’s clear Oduya never looked at him and tries to go back to his place in the box on D. Hjalmarsson does see him, but it’s too late when he releases from Berglund. Jaskin skated by Kane, who had an obligation to grab Bouwmeester, thinking his center would cover the slot area. Saad is in the right spot. But we see Toews, again chasing behind Oshie. This time, stick up in the air and straight legged. I’m convinced that if Jaskin doesn’t get that rebound, Oshie does. And if Raanta miraculously stops a shot here, Patrik Berglund is wide open in front too.

All in all, absolutely miserable defensive zone coverage late in the period. The Blackhawks need better from Toews in his own end. He can help make up for Oduya’s deficiencies by being in the right spots.

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Ew Gross: Garbage 3 Blackhawks 2

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Dmitri Jaskin’s goal with 5 seconds left in the second period ended up being the game winner as the Blues took down the Hawks on Saturday night. Another comeback attempt in the third failed for Chicago as they couldn’t quite figure out Brian Elliott. Again.

Alright, look, St. Louis is a good team. They will make you pay for mistakes. The Blackhawks are lucky they didn’t pay for more mistakes. But the defensive tire fire that led to Jaskin’s goal can be directly attributed to Jonathan Toews chasing TJ Oshie around the zone. That freed up Johnny Oduya to attack the puck on the far side boards with Brandon Saad, but unfortunately, neither one of those guys decided to pick up Jaskin coming off the bench. Game over. With 5 seconds to play in the period, there’s no reason to play some kind of aggressive box-and-one defensive coverage that marks a guy who has one point on the season. It’s absurd. And if that wasn’t the set up, then the captain went for a swim, which he did a half dozen times last night.

Let’s break it down…

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Like BTO: Chicago 4 Orange Cones 0

We’ve been waiting for a dominating win like this one. The Blackhawks were rewarded for being better than and outplaying the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night. Considering the ways Chicago has won this year, it was a relief to see them get out to an early lead and not let up for a full 60 minutes. It’s weird to say this after watching him give up four goals, but Steve Mason was the reason this game wasn’t a dozen to nil. The Flyers defensemen are awful and the Blackhawks made them pay.

Let’s break down this beating, shall we?

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Hot Mess: Hawks beat Preds 2-1 (OT)

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I was not prepared for this shit. I didn’t bring my golf shoes. I wanted to tell you what the Hawks did wrong, did right, and what piled up into the great big heap of action we fork over to the Hockey Gods.

But I can’t. The game was a fucking mess. Oduya scored early; Andrew Shaw waved his stick over the dot because he is supposed to do that, not because he could win a draw; Weber did a Weber on a 4 on 3; the clock tick-tocked while I muttered “What the fuck?” under my breath into some very nice cask conditioned ale; an obsequious Florida State fan cheered at the TV behind me; Toews forced a turn-over, created a break away, and potted a short-handed game winner in OT that I had to watch six times to understand; then I walked home trying to figure out why that was my reward for spending the day excited about this game.

The Hawks got away with this one. They won. They dominated possession (58.18% Fenwick For at 5v5). But they still went to OT. They still gave up a point in Conference III. You can’t do that in this division. You can’t do that with the Kings.

And that’s the thing. That’s what’s burning me, even after a long walk in the cold tonight. I still feel that puck knocking off Leddy and knuckling past Crow. I still see Drew Doughty’s chinless face in my dreams. I want the Hawks to read “It’s a marathon” op eds for losers and sneer and put on that sweater and knock the shit out of every team in the league.

I don’t want perspective. We kept our perspective all last year. Look what it got us.

If tonight’s game was the Hawk’s response to Q’s “let’s not be cute” speech, get fucking cute again right now.

And get Shaw off the dot.

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Blackhawks Gameday Illustrated: Hawks v. Perds

Perds141006The Hawks play Nashville tonight. I don’t know what to tell you. The Hawks need to . . . This is the fourth game of the season, folks. It’s Nashville, and a Nashville without Pekka Rinne. So pour it on, Blackhawks.

Aw Nuts: Flames 2 Hawks 1

Welp. The Blackhawks dominated Calgary in just about every facet of the game except for the one that counted. Credit to Jonas Hiller for keeping this game from becoming a 10-1 domination. The Flames’ netminder was fantastic, making some huge saves and getting bailed out by some Blackhawks blunders on the doorstep. If every Hawks loss this year looks like that one, we won’t have too much to complain about.

Actually, there wasn’t much to complain about other than going 1-7 on the power play. Even with that atrocious percentage, the Hawks power play had scoring chances and just couldn’t finish.

Anywho, let’s hit up some talking points and get back after it on Saturday night.

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Killing All The Flies: Sabres 2 Hawks 6

 

While it’s always good to see the Hawks dishing out a thumping to one of the league’s basement dwellers, it’s worth bearing in mind that this is likely going to be the worst team to visit the UC this season. Buffalo, despite some unconvincing talk about how they’re ‘not in the business of tanking’ this year, are terrible. That said, there’s enough promise in some of their young players that they’ll not be that way for all that much longer. Their time will surely come, but that time is not now.

Six different Blackhawks got their names on the scoresheet and yes, one of them was Gorilla Salad, which has surely got the droolers yelling “TOL YA SO, DAT CARCILLA IS GRATE AND HAS HEART AND GRIT”.  The fact that he scored by going to the net had Edzo in raptures and likely in need of drycleaning his suit.

Anyway, there’s not an awful lot more to say about last night, so let’s get to some talking points and you can all go back to your Sunday hangover.

 

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CtA’s Season Predictions & Over/Under Picks

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With the 2014-15 campaign set to start tonight the staff got together today (read: we sent an e-mail because we’re at work and needed a distraction) to try their hands at prognosticating the upcoming season. Go ahead and bookmark this so you can make fun of us in April when the Washington Capitals somehow win the President’s Trophy or something. Without further needless introduction, here’s what we came up with for the coming hockey season.

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Dysfunction

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Well then, that was quite the 48 hour period, wasn’t it? With a devastating left/right combo the Hawks’ management landed a knockout blow square on the chin of any fans who had lingering hopes that this was the most progressive organisation in hockey. Dan Carcillo is back, Nick Leddy is gone, Peter Regin is on his way out via waivers and two of the brightest prospects are back in the AHL. And now? Now the Hawks are finally cap-compliant, but at what cost?

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