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.