That was… effective, I guess. The Wild, as in the previous game, came out flying around the ice trying to hit anything that moves and throw the Hawks off their game. Again, it worked to a degree: this game was closer than the scoreline suggests and Corey Crawford had himself a mighty fine night. But the upshot? Goal in each period, a shutout and an increased likelihood that the only shiny metal things in the hands of Zach Pari$e and Ryan $uter this year also have the word “Slazenger” on them.
Also have to mention the first exit of the Post-Season as the Canucks were swept by the Sha-Arks. I had the series down as a battle of two teams that had probably missed their Cup-window, but I certainly thought that the Nucks were still closer to their peak than San Jose. Plus the whole “Choking” thing. I was wrong, as usual. I don’t think there can be any doubt that there are going to be big changes in Vancouver in the new season. I would guess that Vigneault will be gone soon, but the biggest question there is what to do about Honk & Donk. That team is built around them when, arguably, it should be built around Kesler. Anyway, I digress..
- The Miracle Of Childbirth seems to inspire Patrick Sharp. Remember this? That handsome, handsome man got himself a pair (and came damn close to a hat-trick) as team-mate Duncan Keith rejoined the side after attending the birth of his son, Colton (impressively ‘Canadian’ name there, Duncs)
- Corey Crawford had himself a shutout and some great frigging saves. He flat out robbed Zach Parise (again) and generally looked like the happy, aggressive, confident Crow we all know and love. Although he did go a-wandering to play the puck a few times. Let’s keep that to a minimum, hey?
- Subject of goalies, Josh Harding got hurt in a collision with the Captain late in the 1st Period. He played on in clear discomfort and did not return after the intermission. The current word is “Lower Body Injury” which, obviously, tells us nothing. Darcy Kuemper came in as relief and.. well.. I believe the expression rhymes with “Ticked The Frog”. Wild fans that I know have a high opinion of this kid, and I’m not going to dump on him here.. but boy he had a night to forget. He had to have both of those goals and turned into a rebound machine.
- Bingo Bickell got his 3rd goal of the Playoffs on a shot from an acute angle that I’m sure even he didn’t expect to go in. They all count, though, and more please. If his swansong in an Indianhead involves lifting another Cup (with his name actually going on it this time) then so be it.
- Patrick Kane is a fucking genius. Every time he touched the puck I got tense in anticipation. He appears to be using some sort of Matrix-style bullet-time that isn’t available to mere mortals. Saw a lot of time with Toews tonight. I like.
- Marian Hossa gave us some Beast-Mode, too, especially when picking off a Koivu attempt to spring Pari$e to start the rush that led to the first goal. Toews was getting stuck in but is still pointless.. then again we saw practically nothing out of the Wild’s top line either so there’s a cancelling-out element going on there.
- On the subject of “Pointless”, GorillaSalad’s TOI: 3.55 PIM: 2.00. Can we please have Ben Smith now?
- And while we’re talking about turds, Cal Clutterbuck (or David Schwimmer: The Porn Years) is a worthless POS. Someone on Twitter used the unfortunate expression “You’ve Been Clutterbucked” after another of his John Woo style leaping elbows. Which makes sense. His borderline hitting reminds one of Detroit’s Finest Ass-Tick. I think he had 1,736 hits last night according to the Wild’s scorer, although I may be out by 50-60.
- Ryan $uter has the slit-like eyes of a lifelong glue-sniffer.
- The PK was nails, again. But 6 penalties? This is not a recipe for success against teams that are actually good at Hockey. Please to be cutting that shit out.
- Finally, how about those fans? Most of the Wild fans that I know are reasonably level-headed (by Hockey Fan standards). What to make of the mistimed booing, “Craaaaw-fuuuurd” chants and general asshattery last night? No idea, but then I remember that these are likely many of the same idiots who booed Harding when he came in cold during the Edmonton shellacking. So screw ‘em.
We’re back in Chicago tomorrow night with the “Who gives a fuck about the West” start time of 8.30 Central (2.30am here.. hooray) and the chance for a handshake line. Last time we were on the right side of one of those? I’m sure you all remember.
That’s more like it, hey?
After Game 1 being a close run thing, the Hawks simply placed a skate on the neck of the Wild tonight and never really took the pressure off. It was a game more one-sided than the scoreboard suggested and a welcome display of superiority pretty much everywhere on the ice.
Josh Harding got his second straight start and once again had a fine game, which he needed to have, as his “Defence” allowed 48 shots. Getting outshot almost 2-1 is never a recipe for success and, sure enough, the Wild came unstuck under this relentless barrage. Two goals from Michael Frolik and Patrick Sharp plus an hilarious ENG from Wild-Killer “Bingo” Bickell (stick tap to JR Lind) were enough to get the Hawks there. Setoguchi managed his standard “Annoying Playoff Goal” and something called Scandella also scored for the Wild but it never felt that they were in it. Bullets? Bullets
- On a night where (Sharp aside) the Hawks’ superstars were kept off the scoreboard, it came down to the supporting cast to get it done. And they did. That third line of the Hawks just looks better and better with every passing game.
- Who was that standing there with his thumb up his ass while Frolik scored shorthanded? Was that Ryan $uter? It was. His (and Brodin’s) ice-time stayed below 25 minutes. Which is a good thing, I guess. Didn’t matter.
- On the subject of Reasons Why The Lockout Happened, that sequence where Zach Pari$e took approximately 398 shots from both sides of the net while Corey Crawford soaked it all up with a smile was absolutely hilarious. In a close game I’d be questioning why someone wasn’t clearing out the crease, but in this context it’s just funny.
- That pass from Kane to Sharp for the 4th goal? That’s how you make a whole bunch of big guys protecting their crease completely irrelevant in a split second. Patrick Kane, folks. He’ll be here all week. Try the veal.
- Andrew Shaw was a wonderfully itchy rash on the taint of the Wild all night. I think I love that horrible little thug.
- Mikko Koivu decided that the best way to motivate his team was a Backes-Style march-to-the-box. Pointless, a -3 on the night and 6 PIMs out of his team’s total of 10. That’s Leadership right there, folks.
- Bickell and Stalberg may indeed be pricing themselves out of town with their play so far in this series, but you know what? Who cares. I’m sitting back and enjoying the ride.
So it’s off to Minnesota for Game 3. I’m interested to see what Mike Yeo does in terms of line matching. Does he let his top people get neutralised by the Hawks stars while the likes of Bickell and Stalberg run riot on the “Bum Of The Month Club” that is the Wild’s supporting cast? Or does he try to shut down Toews and co. with his 3rd line? The results of which should be predictable and hilarious.
I don’t believe in jinxes but I know that some of you do.. so I won’t use the word itself. Let’s put it this way. It rhymes with “Weep”. Which a lot of people in Minnesota will be doing over the next few days.
Well done, Blues, well done. You saw the cream of the Just-Outside-The-AHL-Playoffs tonight, but you didn’t flinch and ground out a gritty victory. I hope you enjoyed it. Hard Times are a-coming.
In other news, The Wild will be the Hawks first-round opponents.. but more o’ that later. Hope those who went to Gonna Drinken 2 aren’t suffering too badly this morning and we’ll be back with much, much more before the Real Fun begins.
(The quote above comes from the TV show Brass Eye. If you don’t know what that is, fix it. )
Anyway, the Hawks round off their Regular season with the always delightful trip to Missourah. As of this writing (wee hours of the morning for you nice folk in the US) we’re anticipating a team full of Black Aces to give the top guys a breather and keep important craniums away from wandering elbows, sticks, pads and knees.
Could make for a torrid introduction to the NHL for some of these lads.. the Blues will likely Hulk Out because
a) They always do. They know of no other way. This is what happens when you ice a team that has the collective restraint, sense of fair play and intelligence of a rabid Hyena that’s has been licking the lead paint off a wheelbarrow full of pig shit.
b) The Blues actually do have something to play for: they currently squat in 4th, but could end up, depending on tonight’s game with the Hawks and the Battle Of California in LA, as low as 6th. Which, obviously, runs the gamut from “Home Ice against San Jose” to “Heading out West to play the Kings”. Or, of course, the one we’re all hoping for: Vancouver.
The sheer Shitbaggery that would surely dominate that series would provide us with many, many chuckles along the way. While, sadly, they can’t both lose, I’m sure that a nightmarish 7-gamer with lots of 4OT would leave the winner looking like those skidmarks that Roman Polak just can’t eliminate from his undies, however hard he wipes (tip for Roman: try using TP rather than a dead rat)
So how does this hilarious situation come about?
A Hawks win coupled with San Jose beating LA in either OT or SO drops the Blue Notes to 6th. It’s a bit of a long shot, I know. I’m not expecting much from the Hawks players, except trying to fend off whichever Blue is gnawing on their coccyx all night. Staying healthy is more important than fucking up the Blues post-season. They’ll have plenty of opportunity to do that themselves.
I’ll be back with a recap after the dust settles.. just hope there’s nothing to make me angrier than I normally am after having to watch Backes, Reaves, Jackman, Polak et al trying to set the Cause of Quality Hockey back a couple of generations.
Also make sure to keep an eye on events in Dallas, Denver and Columbus. The Wild pissed on their chips last night to the tune of a 6-1 shellacking at home by the Oilers, therefore setting up a day of hellish twists and turns in the race for 7/8th seed. Enjoy their pain.
Let’s Go, Hawks
Tonight the Blackhawks arrived at the United Center and competed in a contest they couldn’t have possibily cared less about. Despite the games meaninglessness, they managed to walk away with a 3-1 victory. They finished 18-3-3 at home. They are 18-3-2 on the road. They will have home ice throughout the playoffs. What am I getting at here? YOU SHOULD ENJOY IT. Really, think about it – the Toews/Kane era may be as good as it ever gets. After the sour note we ended last season on, it was goddamn satisfying watching them put everything together to dominate the Western Conference this year. This was the type of season we envisioned this team having once it became clear THE CORE was truly something special. Are they head and shoulders above the rest of the NHL? Absolutely not… but I can’t help but feel that optimism should carry the day here.
Things that happened during this mandatory attendance game:
Tonight, for the final Home game of the 2012-13 Regular Season, the Blackhawks host the Calgary Fla.. oh, fuck it.
The Flames are dead and buried, the Hawks are home and hosed, there is nothing to care about and we don’t even get to gaze adoringly at Iggy and heave deep, heartfelt, sighs. Ryan Stanton is up , the rest of the Black Aces will get the call tomorrow. And St Louis, of course. There’s always them.
So, rather than make (redundant) jokes about Jay Feaster, I thought I’d take a quick look at the final days of the Season for the three teams fighting it out for the last two Playoff places in the West. Or, as I call it
There are many, many different permutations and combinations that could see some of these teams either finish as high as 6th or hit the golf course early. It’s exactly the sort of Bowel-Loosening situation that I, for one, am glad the Hawks avoided entirely this year. I still flinch when I think back to two years ago. I won’t try to elucidate every potential outcome, just a few of the more intriguing possibilities. One of these bunches of schmucks are going to be the Hawks’ first-round opponent, after all.
One of the less-remarked upon aspects of the waning days of this oh-so-brief Regular Season is that, possibly as soon as later tonight, all of the Original 6 teams could well end up in the Playoffs.
“Pshaw” you say, “Surely that is a frequent occurrence? These Six Teams are from the strongest Hockey Markets, have Storied Histories and a slew of names on the Cup and in the HOF”
You couldn’t be more wrong. And stop talking like Noel Coward. Without looking it up, how often have the entire O6 gotten into the Playoffs together since the ’67 expansion? If you said “Three Times”, have a cigar, you Big Cheater. And the last time this happened? ’95-’96. Twelve Seasons ago (not including the Lost Season)
There are myriad reasons for this being the case. One of which is that several of these teams have gone though years and years of being Terrible. Another is that some of the Expansion teams hit the ground running and either tried to Enchant (’80s Oilers), Maim (’70s Flyers) or Ruin Hockey (’90s Devils) . Various Conference systems have militated against it too. All that could change tonight with a Detroit win against the Kings. The following is by no means an attempt to Jinx them in any way, shape or form. Honest.
The World was a very different place in 1996, and so was the Hockey World. In an attempt to help you to understand the yawning void between 1996 (the year I recorded my first record with my band yet still, somehow, failed to get any Action with the Ladies) and now, (where I write “Comedy” about Hockey and still, inexplicably.. oh.. FML..) I’m going to do some comparisons and contrasts about those years. Hang onto your Hypercolor shirts and Jesus Jones records.. we’re heading back to the ’90s.
Here Come The Nucks..
While they may have gone off the ‘Hawks radar a little this season, there’s no doubt that we’ll all be reminded of just how much we dislike this team tonight, especially as Vancouver will come out all guns blazing to try to thwart Chicago in their pursuit of the Greatest Prize in Sports, the Presidents’ Trophy.
Tonight’s game is in the Rogers so that means
1) A Three-In-The-Fucking-Morning puck-drop for me. Thanks a bunch, Western Time Zone.
2) Lots of towel waving from Vancouver fans.. and on that subject, let’s take a look at our “Friends” in British Columbia in a little more detail.
Canucks fans come in all shapes and sizes.. some are wonderful people, others, less so. Here’s some of the more frequently-encountered types.
Distinguishing Features: Firmly believes that the Canucks have never, ever lost due to being “Not As Good At Hockey” as the Other team. Instead it’s the fault of, in no particular order, the NHL, the Refs swallowing their whistles, the Media, the Refs calling too many penalties, a Top-Secret Cabal made up of Americans and jealous Canadians that is determined to manipulate the entire NHL to ensure that the Canucks never, ever win the Stanley Cup and, possibly, Space Aliens.
Redeeming Features: The lengths that they will go to back up their pet conspiracy theories is highly entertaining, in a car-crash sort of way (like watching Buffalo).
Secret Hope: That one day, while presenting the Cup to yet another undeserving team that only won lots of Games in the Playoffs, Gary Bettman’s mask slips off to reveal that he is, in fact, an alien from the Planet Zanussi, sent here to destroy the minds of Mankind. (Actually, they may be on to something here..)
Secret Fear: That they’re likely to end up as a footnote in some Med-Student’s dissertation on the Long-Term-Effects of Cannabis.
So, Phoenix. Hum.
For a brief period last year they replaced Vancouver, Detroit and even St Louis. as the Hawks’ “Public Enemy #1″. Whether it was Mike Smith’s overreacting to being hit behind the net by Andrew Shaw , Shane Doan showing why he’s the Greatest Captain in the History of Ever by elbowing everything that turned its back on him, or their annoying fans, with their bogus traditions and temper tantrums whenever they were gently ribbed about the team being relocated (ok, maybe showing up at the game in a Nordiques sweater and singing “Do You Know The Way To The Colisee” might have been undiplomatic), they generally failed to win many friends with the Hawks. Oh.. wait, there was another incident wasn’t there? It’ll come to me..
Now, Aucoin, Whitney and Torres are all gone. Smith has shown some sparks of his old Diva ways but has also been decidedly pre-2012-Mike-Smith. Which is to say “Bad”. Shane Doan is still a douche but also hurt. It’s kind of hard to generate any heat, here.
The Yotes are on the brink of elimination from the Playoff race and the Hawks can help to ease them over the precipice tonight, in what could well be the final-ever meeting of these two teams.
Final meeting? Yes.
Because there’s always that elephant in the room when talking about Phoenix. Or a logo that kind of looks like an elephant, anyway.
As the Regular Season enters its final 10 days, there are some teams sitting home, hosed and focusing on Seedings for the Playoffs. There are also those who are All-But-A-Meltdown away from clinching their berth in the Post-Season. Some are out and awaiting the embalmer already. For them, the fight is over. However, the West being the West, we’re left with a number of teams currently in and and around the final Playoff positions, teams who’s fans are nervously eyeing the standings and schedule, feverishly calculating “Magic Numbers” and “Four-Point Games” while keeping tabs on ROW and GD tie-breakers.
BOY does it feel good to not be among those those teams!
The Hawks position ,having clinched about five minutes after the Lockout ended, allows us to cast a jaded eye over the unfortunates currently engaged in the re-enactment of the Battle of the Marne that’s happening further down the table. I suppose I should sympathise, as there, but for the Grace of Hoss, go the Hawks (as I’m sure we all remember from the last couple of seasons). But, on the other hand, I could make a bunch of jokes and take some cheap shots at the contenders… Choices, choices..
So without further ado. here’s your handy Cheer The Anthem Guide To The Bubble. Teams are listed with current Pos/GP/P
Well, I took a pre-game nap that overran slightly so watched a lot of this match-up from a slightly dazed viewpoint. Whether that enhanced my Critical Faculties (yeah, right) or impeded them, I know not.
What I saw was a Hawks team that is playing it smart: content to mooch along doing what they do until it’s neccessary to suddenly up the intensity and blow the opposition out of the water. Which worked out quite nicely.
This was an effective performance by the Hawks and stretches their current streak to 6 games. Dallas and Phoenix losing, combined with the Beej becoming the 2nd hottest team in the West (4 game win streak) has caused another round of musical chairs around the lower seedings. Be thankful, very thankful that the Hawks are miles above that particular shitfight. It’s going to be very, very ugly.
Anyway, to bullets before I head off to work
Yes, that’s a Stan Freberg quote in the title. Who’s Stan Freberg you ask? He’s a genius that’s who he is.
Anyway.. tonight the Stars enter the UC tied with the Hawks for “Hottest Team In The West”, their run of 5 straight wins suddenly catapaulting them into the conversation for the last Playoff places.
This is especially notable because Dallas appeared to be blowing off this year by trading away the majority of their geriatrics at the Deadline: Jaromir Jagr was sent to Boston for prospects and a pick, Brenden Morrow went to Pittsburgh (for Joe Morrow giving headline writers many cheap “Two-Morrow” based puns to work with), Michael Ryder is now raising both the average age and height of the Habs forward corps and the stripling of the group, Derek Roy, got shipped to Vancouver for Kevin Connaughton and pick.
They were the biggest sellers at the Deadline and appeared to be looking at a rebuild (and also trying to offload all those cases of Geritol on the Black Market) And then they went on a tear. Suddenly the likes of the Wild, Wings and Yotes are glancing nervously at this Dallas streak before letting their gaze wander to their golf clubs.
So what to expect tonight? Who knows. Last time out, the Hawks hung 4 on Lehtonen and then did exactly the same to the Running Man Writer. Lehtonen has had a tendency to turn into a brick wall against the Hawks in years gone by, which suggests he’s due one. However, as of this writing, word is that Bachman gets the start.
As for the Men Of Four Feathers, no word yet on whether it’ll be Crow or Razor in net (although I have a feeling that, coming off a shutout against the Blues, it’ll be Crawford) and Patrick Sharp is listed as “Doubtful” which is just fine by me. He has more important battles than this to come.
A Hawks win tonight moves the “Magic Number” to clinch the Western Conference to 1. While it would be lovely to get it all wrapped up nearly two weeks early so that they can wrap Kane, Toews and Hossa in bubblewrap for the few remaining games. it’s also not worth getting hurt over.
Staying healthy is the watchword from here on in.
Let’s Go Hawks.
The Hawks head to the Land Of Toasted Ravioli for the penultimate time this season and, let’s face it, on the final day they’re likely to ice a team that consists of Tommy Hawk, an Inanimate Carbon Rod (no Q, Stan didn’t re-sign John Scott) and Nakis; if he shows up at the game with his skates.
Rather than bang on about what an absolute Monsoon of Asshats the Blues are, I’d like, instead, to highlight something warm and fluffy about them.
As reported on Puck Daddy the Blues’ David Backes and Barret Jackman recently took time out from, respectively, making “Tiger Face” in front of a picture of Jonathan Toews and collecting roadkill to make a delicious stew, to appear at a Charity Event, Adopt-A-Pet’s “The Great American Pooch Smooch & Kitty Kiss”., which is used to encourage people to overcome the various stigmas associated with rescue animals.
All very worthy, and well done them etc. Seriously. Rescue Animals are awesome.
However, the photos from this event are.. well.. they’re Comedy GOLD. Manna from Heaven to snarky assholes like me.
So, without further ado, I’d like to invite a bit of Audience Participation (God Help Us All)
This picture of Barret Jackman getting to 1st Base with a dog led to me suffering a bout of “Too.. Many.. Jokes” syndrome, leaving me temporarily incapable of coming up with les mots juste for the image.
However, I’m sure some of you Evil Swine can come up with something to caption this picture. How does Sparky feel? Is Jackman aroused? Did mentioning “Jackman” and “Aroused” in the same sentence put you off your breakfast?
Here’s a couple of examples, I’m sure you can do much better..
Feel free to post your Captions in the comments, on Facebook and either @cheertheanthem or @brightblack76 on Twitter. I’ll photoshop up the best ones and display them here..
Have at it!
And if you’re in need of a pet, try your local shelter. There’s nothing wrong with the animals they put up for re-homing, it’s frequently just their previous owners who should be euthanized.
Let’s Go Hawks!
Here we are, then.
The last waltz is playing, the house lights are coming up, Kyle Wellwood in Drag is preparing to give us a song..
The Inter-Divisional rivalry with the Wings is about to come to an end. I feel like a few words are in order
However, to paraphrase a smart old English dude called Bill,
“I come not to praise Detroit, but to bury them”
The shadow of that winged wheel has been cast over the Hawks for a long, long time. In fact, talk to a Detroit Fan (do go and talk to them: the men and women in our Prison System benefit from contact with the outside world) and they are likely to include the question “How many Cups have you won?” every third sentence.
And they have a point (no, not that shiv they made from a spoon)
For most of the Hockey world, next year’s realignment is something in the background while the dramas of the Regular season unfold. We’ve really only paid a lot of attention to it when playing “Final” games against former rivals now bound for pastures new.
Not so for a pair of writers in Nashville, however: for the last month or so the brand new site “III Communication” has been evangelising the forthcoming, as yet unnamed, Conference that the Preds, along with the Hawks, Blues, Avs, Jets, Wild and Stars will be playing in next year. They’re really excited about it and you will be too. Using a innovative mixture of humour, insight and general knowledge, III Communication has previewed and reviewed everything that occurs to the seven teams, handed out awards (for Threero of the week) and extracted pure gold (well, sort of) from Sports Yapper so we don’t have to.
JRLind and TMurda are the shadowy geniuses behind the site and they were kind enough to answer a few questions for me last week.
So this game was a lot more one-sided than the scoreboard indicated when the final buzzer sounded. The Blackhawks completely dominated a scoreless first period and had the best of the play the final two periods as well. In a perfect world the Marian Hossa goal which was called back would have counted. Whatever, they survived.
The first half of the second frame was rather calm until the Hawks claimed the momentum and the only goal when Marian Hossa blasted a slap shot through the five hole of Niklas Backstrom following a hysterical Clayton Stoner giveaway. Hossa winding up and firing away in the slot is just a joy to watch. We saw it against St. Louis in the shootout last week, we saw him beat the Blackhawks this way in 2008, and we saw it again tonight. Keep it coming, Marian.
The rest of the affair was mostly dominated by Chicago, with the Wild really never getting it together to make that final push. Emery made the saves he had to and the Hawks were able to avoid the 3rd period blues they’ve dealt with the past month or so.
It’s getting late and I have actual real life work to do so lets get right to it, shall we?
So I watched this snoozefest at home recovering from a late night out and I’m pretty sure the pace of this one put me to sleep for certain stretches of this game. This one will be quick:
* You might disagree, but I can’t be the only one who feels like this year is starting to drag a bit? I know it’s a shortened season and it’s probably largely due to the Hawks clinching around the 10th game. Playing a team as boring as Nashville four times over nineteen days definitely isn’t helping. Bring on the playoffs.
* Everybody’s new favorite shit-stirrer Ray Emery had 20 saves, a few of which were spectacular. Good on him.
* The Blackhawks have a good penalty kill. #analysis
* Michal Handzus and Bryan Bickell was the tallest 2 on 1 combo ever. Even giant Pekka Rinne was intimidated. Nice pass by ‘Zus.
* Daniel Carcillo played and didn’t suck. We’ll see if that was enough to get him out of Q’s doghouse.
* We’re still seeing Marcus Kruger take some draws even when ‘Zus is on the ice. Is this a confidence thing?
* On Saturday night at Lottie’s, a few of us caught Bartl singing along to ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ by Gotye. NEVER LET HIM FORGET THIS. There is surveillance video of this and I intend to acquire it.
* Like I said, this game was boring as hell.
With tonight being the second night of a back to back, you’d have to guess Corey Crawford will get the call (UPDATE – Emery in goal) between the pipes. I really do fear the Twitter consequences of a loss. Goaltending controversies tend to bring out the worst in people. Take the bull by the horns, Corey.
As of this writing, there was no word on the Hawk lineup. Logic would dictate Michael Rozsival would be back on the blue line with Brookbank headed to the bench. But you never can tell with Q.
It’s hard to imagine the offensive lineup changing much if Bolland and Sharp still aren’t ready to go.
Anyway, I’m off to the Cell with Bartl. My quest to make a Sox fan out of him continues…..
Well, that didn’t feel good, now did it? The Hawks’ first loss to a Central Division rival this Season and it had to be the Blues. Never mind that it came at the end of a hard-fought game full of incident, a pulsating OT period and a coronary-inducing six-round shootout, losing to St. Louis always stings. Because they’re assholes. This feels like another one that got away and another example of the Hawks failing to kill off the opposition before the third period when given plenty of opportunity.
After pretty much torching the Blues for the first two periods, the Hawks were 2-1 up going into the 3rd, due to a fortunate goal from Adam (Score Some) Cracknell after a Keith blowout at Center Ice and two in quick succession in the 2nd from Toews and Saad. Then Cracknell got his second of the night (and season) when Seabrook tipped his long shot past Crawford and Noted Manly Man Backuusss popped up from wherever he’d been hiding until then to score from close range. Viktor Stalberg tied it with 4 1/2 to go, overtime came and went in a flurry of Hawks shots, and then the SO marched through joy and despair and back again till Shattenkirk ended it after Handzus missed his shot. Bullets..
There’s a possibility that some of these remarks might be interpreted as being Dismissive, Disrespectful and Downright Unfriendly towards our friends and neighbours from the Show-Me State.
Well, we here at Cheer The Anthem believe that it’s time to Stop The Hurt: we’re bigger and better than that and we’re going to use this Game Preview to take a look at St Louis and the Blues with all the Affection and Respect that they so thoroughly deserve.
And then some.
What you Need to Know about the Foe
As the Blackhawks and Predators were lining up for the third-period faceoff and the ‘Hawks leading 2-0, my buddy Neil leans over to me and says, “All right, let’s not fuck this up.”
The Blackhawks, though, nearly played their own April Fool’s joke on us, blowing the lead on a couple of weak goals before Jonathan Toews and Michal Rozsival (!) went all fuck-this-shit in the shootout to give the ‘Hawks a 3-2 win over Nashville at the UC.
I’m tired, so here’s this stuff before Boxing…
— The first news of the day was on the trade front, as Stan Bowman acquired Michal Handzus – who waived his no-movement clause and agreed to join the Blackhawks – from San Jose for a fourth-round draft pick in order to provide some center depth and win a draw or two. So naturally, Dave Bolland goes out and wins six of the eight draws he takes before getting injured.
Handzus should be able to make his ‘Hawks debut Thursday against the Blues, and we’ll see where Bolland is at at that point. One of the best parts of the trade, though? The ‘Hawks were forced to send Brandon Bollig back to Rockford to make room for Handzus. That in itself is awesome.
— The Corey Crawford haters got a little more ammunition after he allowed a couple of softies in the third period to tie the game. While there’s not doubt he shouldn’t have allowed probably either of those goals, no one can really deny the defenses hung him out like week-old laundry as well. Either way, though, Crow needed to have a better period – but you can also say that about pretty much the entire team.
— Brandon Saad. Patrick Kane. Fuck. And yes.
— So, Q goes with Roszival in the shootout because of how well he’s done in practice. Honestly, that’s pretty damn awesome to pluck a guy, no matter his position or offensive reputation and put him out there in game action during the skills competition. It was a complete surprise, and that could be a good part of the reason the move worked.
And now Boxing. Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…
The guys on this site who actually know about Hockey are all otherwise engaged (something called “Having Lives”.. must look that up) so it’s very much down to me to recap tonight’s action.
Tonight seemed like the flip of the Calgary game: another meaningless mid-season tilt, although this time between two teams whose eyes are fixed firmly on the Playoffs, with the coin landing on the side of the OC Mallards. It was the sort of game that you start forgetting seconds after it ends. The Hawks were not very good tonight but the Ducks were worse.. there is no sign that their regression is going to stop anytime soon, whereas the Hawks will have Sharp & Hossa to call in the near future (unless those rumours of Hoss going on IR are true: which they had better fucking not be)
Anyway, the top two teams in the West went head to head in a battle that will not resound through the ages. First period was even-stevens.. the teams exchanging a couple of chances, Kane hit a post and Brandon Saad showed us all why we love him so much by getting stuck the fuck in. . That kid has wheels, brains and balls. He’s a keeper, despite what Jackass says. Ended up 9 each for shots and, strangely, only 8/7 in favour of the Ducks at the dot.
1) He has a copy of the new CBA on his desk. Next to it he has “The New CBA For Dummies“, “The Simplified New CBA For Dummies” , “How To Use A ‘For Dummies‘ Book, For Dummies” and a Picture Dictionary.
2) When asked at a presser “If he’d ever gazump another GM on a deal at the last second” he answers “Oh, no: there is as much of a code of honour among GMs as there is among Players” and looks hurt when the entire room falls about laughing for a good five minutes
3) He’s on the phone to Aaron Ward telling him “Man, have I got a scoop for you”
4) You’ve caught him doing the Taxi Driver “You Talking To Me?” bit in front of a picture of Ray Shero
5) He appears to have made an awful lot of calls to Mike Milbury in the run up to the trade.
6) He has been downplaying the importance of your veteran Franchise Player while extolling the virtues of College Hockey based on the ten minutes of UMass-Lowell that he caught the other weekend.
7) He’s complaining because he’s sent a MySpace Bulletin about his available players and the only person to get back to him is some guy called “Tom” who he thinks maybe works for the Panthers?
8) His name rhymes with “Way ToomuchpaidtoBouwmeester”
Well, that sucked. The Blackhawks played a (mostly) good game in Anaheim, but another victory just wasn’t in the cards tonight. It’s really late so we’ll get right to it.
Peter Holland opened the scoring just a minute and a half into the game for the Ducks after Brent Seabrook inexplicably failed to clear the zone not once, but twice in the same sequence. Just minutes later, following a (horrible) Brandon Bollig penalty, Jonathan Toews scored on a shorthanded breakaway that won’t soon be forgotten. After blocking a blast off the stick of Sheldon Souray, Toews was off to the races and went forehand, backhand and then back to the forehand, undressing Jonas Hiller in the process. If you missed it, go watch it.
The Hawks were outshot 7-2 through the first 12 minutes, and indeed at times it felt like the Ducks were dominating the play in the opening frame. The Hawks were able to escape the first period ties thanks in large part to the brilliance of Corey Crawford.
The second period was a tale of two Blackhawk power plays. The first came just two minutes into the period. It featured exactly zero shots on net. It was horrific. It made me cry. Ten minutes later, they went back to the man advantage and looked like a completely different team, moving bodies around and getting traffic in front of Hiller. It culminated with a 93 MPH Nick Leddy rocket finding it’s way through traffic and past Hiller. Credit to Viktor Stalberg, who loomed large out in front.
It appeared the Hawks went ahead by two early on in the 3rd when Brandon Bollig directed a puck past Hiller – but the suits in Toronto ruled there was a distinct kicking motion and disallowed the goal. But not to worry – the Hawks were pushing the play. At one point, Steve Konroyd opined the Hawks were playing like they were down a goal. Indeed (early on), it appeared the Hawks would avoid going into their usual shell and keep attacking, but it wouldn’t last.
As the Hawks started to fall back, the Ducks seized the momentum. All of the sudden, the Hawks were on their heels. Bobby Ryan tapped in a fat rebound to tie the game with five and a half minutes remaining. Then, it all collapsed. Ryan Getzlaf moved in on a 2 on 1 with Teemu Selanne, who beat Crawford five hole. It was Selanne’s first goal in 10 games and only his 6th of the year. Sheldon Souray added a late empty net goal. Bah.
Now it’s super late so just a few Bullit Pointz (or whatever):
* Instead of being 7 points up in the Conference, the Hawks are now just 3 points ahead of the Ducks.
* What massive balls the Captain possesses. Sheldon Souray is famous for his cannon. Toews had no qualms whatsoever about stepping in front of it. It lead to a breakaway and a goal. All hail Jonathan Toews.
* Corey Crawford had a fantastic first 55 minutes. The last 5? Not so much.
* Patrick Kane skated 25 minutes tonight. I know they’re far away and have five days off coming up, but if Hossa can’t go on Monday I’d like to see someone from Rockford get called up. If Joel Queneville is only going to let Daniel Carcillo play three shifts and still refuses to dress Jamal Mayers, then why not give him someone he can use in the short term? The Hawks have NHL ready talent in Rockford, there is no need to wear down guys like Kane.
* Tough guy Bryan Allen really showed Marcus Kruger who was boss there at the end of the second period. What a douche.
* Speaking of douches, in the second period Brandon Bollig delayed beginning his backcheck to scream at the official. Note to Bollig: You are not Jonathan Toews. Shut up and get back.
* Quenneville was surprisingly upbeat in his post-game press conference. Not really sure what to make of that. He “hopes” Marian Hossa will play Monday. So do I.
* Brandon Saad had another fantastic game.
* You know you’re pumped for the Kings on Monday. Look out for another CtA podcast on Sunday evening.
This is the type of game you want to see the Blackhawks play against a team that can match them in the speed department. Getting in shooting lanes, not committing penalties, controlling possessions and forcing the other team to either get a goalie win or score more while being outshot by nearly double. There was never a point during this contest where you ever thought Chicago wouldn’t win.
We failed to recap the first regulation loss (my fault) that bucked the point streak to open the season but the difference in both that contest and this one against the Oilers was the same. One bad period where the Hawks surrendered four goals and it put the game out of reach. The difference between Friday and Sunday’s game was that Chicago battled back and nearly completed the comeback against the Oil.