Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks-Predators Precap!

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…..

Go Hawks.

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Do The Jerk: Blues 3 Hawks 3 (Blues Win SO)

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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..

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Where Is The Love, People? Blues @ Hawks Preview

 

 

So, the St Louis Blues are in town tonight. This is an occasion that has, traditionally, led to an outpouring of emotion from the Chicago fanbase like this, this and, oh, Dear Lord, this.

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

StL sky

 

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April, Fools: Shootout Boxing with Blackhawks (3) and Predators (2)

"Yes, as a matter of fact, I am this good." (Chicago Tribune)

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I am this good.” (Chicago Tribune)

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…

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Good Friday… Ducks 2 Hawks 1

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Well, then.

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.

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How To Tell If Your GM Is About To Screw Up A Trade

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”

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks

So Close : Ducks 4 – Blackhawks 2

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks

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.

Coffee is for Closers: Blackhawks 5 – Avalanche 2

Two for Flinching

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.

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One Bad Frame: Oilers 6 – Blackhawks 5

You Again?

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.

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Brandon Bollig recalled from Rockford

This means a sick, cruel joke was played on all of us yesterday. Get well soon, Michael Frolik.

"This sweater looks much better on me, doesn't it guys?"

Blackhawks send Bollig to Ice Hogs

"This sweater looks much better on me, doesn't it guys?"

“This sweater looks much better on me, doesn’t it guys?”

I’ll tell ya where he’ll go. Someplace warm. A place where the beer flows like wine. Where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I’m talkin’ bout a little place called… Rock-ford.

No word yet on a possible call up. Does this mean Jimmy Hayes or Ben Smith comes up? Is Steve Montador actually going to play hockey again? We have no idea.

So, what was your favorite memory of the Brandon Bollig era?

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Streakin’ Gone Wild: Boxing with Blackhawks (5) and Wild (3)

Credit: Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune

Credit: Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune

“I’m running out of words to say here. I don’t know how many ways I can describe this 10-game winning streak. It’s exciting. We’re having fun.” – Jonathan Toews

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

The Streak hit 23 games – how awesome is it to see 20-0-3?! – and the streak within The Streak hit a franchise-record 10 straight victories with Tuesday’s 5-3 win over Minnesota. Are there enough positive adjectives to describe this run? I think everyone is running out of them.

And how fitting is it Marian Hossa scored on the night the ‘Hawks honored him for playing in his 1,000th career game Sunday?

(Quick note on that: Here’s where I have issues with the separation between the regular season and playoff statistics. Hossa also has played in 130 postseason games, which weren’t taken into account. If he played a game in the NHL, he played a game in the NHL. I think all of them should be recognized. Just my opinion.)

Some quick thoughts before Boxing…

— The third line guys – Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Viktor Stalberg – came through again. Bickell scored twice, though one came with Brandon Saad delivering the pass you see in the picture above. Bickell’s first goal had him being in the perfect place at the right time, with Shaw and Stalberg picking up assists.

— Brandon Saad. That is all.

— Patrick Kane came through with another clutch goal, scoring on one of the only four shots the Blackhawks had in the third period. And to that point…

— The whole let’s-sit-back-and-just-ride-this-thing-out mentality when the ‘Hawks get a lead of two goals or more nearly came back and bit them in the ass for the fifth time this season. If there’s one thing to change when it comes to this team, it’s that.

The Blackhawks are so successful because of their puck position and the aggressiveness that comes with it. That’s where their talent shines. However, when they decide to sit back and let the game come to them, things nearly unravel. Here’s a quick snippet of the other times that’s happened this season:

Opponents-Comebacks

Solution? Stay aggressive. Role the lines until the final horn sounds and keep attacking. The Blackhawks are being outscored 19-18 in the third period this season.

The rest is in Boxing. Right-click on the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…

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NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Detroit Red Wings

Heart Attack Hockey : Blackhawks 2 – Red Wings 1

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Detroit Red Wings

Sorry for the delayed recap. Sometimes it’s just your mom’s birthday. Let’s get to it because it’s late and I’m pining to watch ‘The Walking Dead’ tonight. Somthing actually has to happen this evening after the snoozer last week, right? *Update: Solid episode.

What. A. Game. The Blackhawks were awarded two points for their efforts. The Red Wings got one. But the real winners today were anyone who watched this game and the game of hockey in general. Holy shit. While the game was largely irrelevant in the grand scheme of things for the Blackhawks, every single point these days matters for Detroit. I’m glad the ‘Hawks were able to rob them of at least one. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t depressed we’re not going to be able to witness these games six times each season anymore. Re-alignment blows. To the fun stuff.

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19-0-3

We’ll be around later tonight with a recap. For now, just take some time to reflect on what an awesome hockey game you had the privilege of watching this afternoon.

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Minimum Payment: Blackhawks 4 – Blue Jackets 3

Viktor Stalberg: Swedish Limbo Champion (photo credit to Jonathan Daniel, NHL.com)

I’ll be honest with you all in saying that I definitely missed the first goal of the game. While driving to the destination that I was watching last night’s game, we had a little user error and had to listen to the first five minutes on the radio. I did rewatch the game today so now that I’ve seen it twice I feel I can competently comment on what transpired.

That was about as bad as I’ve seen this team look this year and still get a win.

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CHI v EDM

Prerequisite: Blackhawks v. Oilers Pregame Warmup

Nail Yakupov Shortly After Opening N64 on Christmas

And the beat goes on… Just 24 hours after shutting out Columbus and extending their points streak to 18 to open the lockout abbreviated campaign, the Blackhawks once again go to the ice at the United Center against a bottom 5 team in their conference. A game the Blackhawks would like to have prior to heading on to proper competition in St. Louis on Thursday. The Oil have been a bit of an up and down group, something you’d expect out of a young team like this. Tonight they’ll be without Taylor Hall after his indefensible knee dust up with Cal Clutterbuck. It’s the last game he’ll miss before returning to action.

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Jannik Hansen Suspended 1 Game for Hit on Marian Hossa. Yep, 1 Game. That’s It.

There’s the video from Brendan Shanahan, who may have been drunk when levying this suspension.

Jannik Hansen getting only one game for a deliberate elbow to the back of Marian Hossa’s head is unbelievably pathetic, especially given the penalties he’s handed out. How Hansen’s actions are somehow viewed as less threatening than what Duncan Keith got a whopping five games for last season when he hit Daniel Sedin is absolutely amazing to me.

Let’s just hope Hossa is OK.

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So It’s Like That, Eh?: Boxing with Blackhawks (4) and Canucks (3)

(Credit: Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune)

(Credit: Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune)

Sorry for the delayed wrap, but by now I’m sure you all know the Blackhawks (13-0-3) tied the NHL record by acquiring at least one point in the first 16 games of the season.

What we don’t know are two important things: 1) The status of Marian Hossa after he left the game when Jannik Hansen hit him with a deliberate elbow to the back of the head, and 2) What kind of disciplinary action, if any, has been handed down to Hansen by Brendan Shanahan.

There is a hearing schedule with Hansen for 2:30 p.m. CST, so we will be back after we get updates on Hossa and Hansen. Until then, here’s Boxing to help recap the rest of last night’s contest…

Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge:

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Photo by Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune

Blackhawks Look to Make History Against Canucks

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The Chicago Blackhawks look to make history Tuesday night as they host the Vancouver Canucks. Should the Blackhawks win this game, they will tie the NHL record for the longest point streak to open a season. The current record of 16 games is held by the 2006-2007 Anaheim Ducks.

All indications are that long-time Chicago laughing target Roberto Luongo will not get the start tonight. It appears we have bruised his ego enough for one career. Cory Schneider will get the nod tonight. Schneider has been one of the most up-and-down goalies in the league this season. His GAA’s over his seven starts are as follows: 11.27, 1.85, 0.00, 4.00, 1.00, 1.01, 4.08. A lot of this can be attributed to some absolutely embarrassing defensive play in front of him.

Look for a newly invigorated Vancouver team, enjoying the energy of a returning Ryan Kesler. Despite their OT loss against the Blues on Sunday, the Canucks have been playing high quality hockey lately.

As always, look for everyone’s favorite “tough guy” Kevin Bieksa to try some of his trademarked pathetic chirping and then cower by the refs once he gets the attention of one of the bigger guys.

Alex Burrows is still a tool.

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Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Too Fasth: Blackhawks Drop a Shootout to the Ducks

Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Photo by Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Is anyone else sick of the damn shootout?

Everyone would have liked to see the Hawks take two points in their first game back at the United Center and they were just a hair away from getting it done. The good news is, the Hawks are 13 games into the season and have gotten a point in each of the games. The bad news is, they should have had two tonight.

There were definitely good things to take away from this game. This was perhaps the most physical game the Blackhawks have played all season. Bryan Bickell throwing his weight into Ryan Getzlaf was beautiful. When you’re a big body guy with decent speed, you need to hit people. It was nice to finally see him doing that to one of the Ducks’ core guys. It seems the team has been playing with a bit of an edge ever since Jamal Mayers’ scrap with Raffi Torres.

The Blackhawks’ penalty kill continues to shine. They play with active sticks and are more aggressive on the penalty kill than I’ve seen in years, leading to an important 5 on 3 kill tonight. Credit to Niklas Hjalmarsson, Michael Frolik, and Marcus Kruger for their newfound PK skills. I know I wasn’t the only one cussing these guys out last year; their turnaround is nothing short of a Chicago miracle.

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It's there for the taking, let them self-destruct

Roughness Unnecessary: Blackhawks @ Coyotes Warmup [UPDATE]

It's there for the taking, let them self-destruct

It’s there for the taking, let them self-destruct

It’s been covered ad nauseum by beat writers and bloggers alike so I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time on the topic du jour, Raffi Torres. He’s a fourth line player and comparatively we don’t spend a whole lot of our thoughts on Jamal Mayers anymore. Matt McClure wrote a thoughtful piece at The Committed Indian on retaliation and I’d encourage reading that if you’re so inclined. Otherwise, this will be the last I mention of #37 in burgundy and white.

Onto the actual hockey game being played in Glendale tonight.

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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Sunday Funday?

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)


As a fan, you can be forgiven for looking past last night’s game with the most insignificant hockey club since the California Golden Seals to the tilt with 100% unmitigated evil this evening.

The game last night may not have been very fun or interesting, but it was the fifth straight victory for the ‘Hawks since the season began, matching a feat not seen round these parts since the 1971-1972 season. Tonight, the Blackhawks can make history by making it six straight.

But these goddamn Red Wings can always be counted on to spoil a good time, can’t they? Remember the banner raising ceremony opening night in 2010-2011? You sure do. Contests like the game tonight are what these rivalries are built on. You probably don’t want to miss this one.

Despite their fairly impotent (2-2-0) start, Detroit still possess all sorts of weapons the ‘Hawks will have to account for up front. The combination of Henrik Zetterberg and Damien Brunner will be dangerous, Pavel Datsyuk is going to be Pavel fucking Datsyuk, Johan Frazen will punch Patrick Kane in the head while moving slowly around the ice and guys like Dan Cleary, Mikael Samuelsson, Justin Abdelkader and Todd Bertuzzi will aggravate the living hell out of you. These aren’t ’07-’08 Red Wings – but they aren’t the Blue Jackets, either. If you let them fuck around in your zone, you will pay.

The issues with Detroit this year are almost entirely on their blue line (and that’s before you even look at all the injuries). After Niklas Kronwall, they’ll depend on Ian White, Kyle Quincy and Jonathan Ericsson (who returns tonight). If that isn’t awful enough, White and Ericsson have been hurt and they’ve been forced to lean heavily on youngster Brendan Smith and some guy named Brian Lashoff. How bad a defense are we talking here? Kent Huskins improved it. Q’s message to the ‘Hawks forwards need not be complicated tonight – get the puck deep and keep it there. It shouldn’t be a problem with this, uh, “defense” that Mike Babcock rolls out this season.

While Q has said he doesn’t like tinkering with the lines while the ‘Hawks are winning, one can reasonably expect the return of Michael Rosival and Brandon Bollig – which means you’re likely to get a Bollig-Jordin Tootoo bout at some point. As of this writing no starting goaltender had been announced, but with the Blackhawks off until Wednesday it stands to logic that Q gives Corey Crawford the crease again. It’s imperative the Blackhawks roll four lines and six defenseman tonight. Detroit has been off since Friday and the Blackhawks had to work a little harder than any of us expected in Ohio last night. There’s no need to overload anyone in the early going here, even if you are reaching for history.

You can probably disregard Chicago being the better team on paper. It’s the Blackhawks. It’s the Red Wings. It’s going to be a good game. Enjoy it.

Cheesy Toews-Kane Kit Kat Commercial to Follow

Style Points Not Required: Blackhawks 3 – Blue Jackets 2

Cheesy Toews-Kane Kit Kat Commercial to Follow

Cheesy Toews-Kane Kit Kat Commercial to Follow

Not exactly the demeanor in which we’d like to see a win in Columbus but no one is going to turn down two points, short season or not. The Hawks came out with cement skates in the first ten minutes of the game being outshot 8 to 1 before finally breaking open the smelling salts. Mark Letestu’s goal came after two Crawford saves. Keith, Seabrook or Dave Bolland need to clear the crease in that instance. Patrick Kane made a nice play at his own blue line to evade a pinching Jacket defender and was then aggressive in his play to the net. He wasn’t able to beat Mason but left a juicy rebound for Dave Bolland who was wise to follow 88 to the net. Tied after the first 20 minutes.

The 2nd period was mostly controlled by the Hawks despite being unable to cash in on 2 Jacket penalties. Bryan Bickell made a nice play to prevent a clearing attempt and then went straight to the net to provide a nice screen/tip in front of Steve Mason for the Hawks 2nd goal. They would lead the rest of the game thanks in large part to a botched interference call that disallowed a Columbus tying goal on a powerplay later in the period.

Mark Letestu scored the early goal for the Jackets but he’s also responsible for the dagger that won the game. A failed clearing attempt that was picked off by Patrick Kane who then set up the Captain for a pretty goal. Two games in a row the Captain has converted a big goal in the final frame. The Jackets made it close late in the 3rd on a goal that was the result of a 2nd lost board battle by the Hawks top defensive pairing. On the plus side, it’s a positive to see Q throw out both Toews and Kruger for the defensive zone draw that preceded the goal. It was one of the few faceoff loses for the Captain tonight.

Five straight to start the 48.

    Observations

– Speaking of powerplays, it’d be great if CSN Chicago could show us how much is time is left in a shorthanded situation. Your graphic guys should not be ITT Tech graduates. Please and thank you.

– Corey Crawford was excellent tonight and we may as well continue to give Quenneville credit in this shortened season for his roster decisions as they’ve worked out well. Brookbank’s limited minutes and effectiveness were put out against an inferior team so that (hopefully) Rozie skates tonight against Detroit. Same thing can be said about Crawford as he was needed to make some saves that I think it’s safe to say would likely have gotten past Ray Emery. The saves after Patrick Kane’s turnover on a 2nd period powerplay stick out big time tonight.

– 0 for 4 on the powerplay. It was bound to happen at some point. 5 for 5 on the kill, however, is great to see from a much improved penalty kill unit (even if they did get lucky but we’ll get to that later). Let’s try not to march to the box that much and test our luck though.

– Good on Jamal Mayers to stick up for Kruger after Jared Boll ran him into the boards. The instigation penalty, not so much. Especially in a 2-1 hockey game. Nothing wrong with finding Boll on his next shift and settling the score at that point.

– Hawks caught a MAJOR break on the goal that was wiped away. That wasn’t interference on Crawford and it sure as hell wasn’t a high stick. Take ‘em when you get ‘em.

– Chicago was outhit 24-12 tonight. They won. Get used to it.

– Dave Bolland’s double minor was inexcusable. Good on Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp to negate half that but if the Rat is gonna rat, he needs to do it in a less debilitating way. This is also a reason why the Jackets are top candidates for the #1 pick as well. How do you blow a 4 minute powerplay in the 3rd down two goals?

– Could be worse. We could have lost to the Wizards tonight like the other United Center tenant. Onto the AARP Wings squad tomorrow.

CBJ Looking Ahead

Wipe Your Feet: Blackhawks-Blue Jackets Preview

Scott Howson in his natural habitat of failure

Scott Howson in his natural habitat of failure

Go ahead and accuse me of looking past a team and jinxing the Blackhawks but I’m not buying it. The Columbus Blue Jackets, ever the doormat of the Central division, did little to improve their already pathetic hockey team during the lockout. Gone is Rick Nash to the Rangers in return for Brandon Dubinsky, who many wanted in an Indian Head during Chicago’s struggles to fill their gap on the second line down the middle. Dubinsky has yet to dent the scoresheet in four games in a Columbus uniform; in fact the two NHL ready players the Jackets received for Nash have a total of one point through the young season.

Make no mistake about it, the Blackhawks should walk out of Nationwide Arena today with two points and not think twice.

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Credit: USA Today

Better Late than Never: Overtime Boxing with Blackhawks (3) and Stars (2)

Credit: USA Today

Credit: USA Today

Through four games, the Blackhawks have won in seemingly every way possible.

They’ve dominated (Kings), simply outscored the opposition in a game with shoddy goaltending (Coyotes), jumped out to a big lead and held on for dear life (Blues) and battled back from a multiple-goal deficit – the latter being a 3-2 overtime win over Dallas on Thursday night.

Patrick Kane, who continues to play out of his mind, made a beautiful backhand pass to a waiting Marian Hossa for the winner to complete the comeback from two goals down.

The ‘Hawks have won their first four for the first time since the 1973-74 season and aren’t showing any signs of slowing down. I saw a tweet during the game that the Blackhawks were showing signs of fatigue due to the condensed schedule, and I don’t believe that’s true for a minute.

Sure, Michal Rozsival farted away a puck in his own zone that led to an easy goal that put the ‘Hawks behind 2-0, and Patrick Sharp wasn’t exactly thinking straight when he blindly fired the puck to center ice that led to a late penalty that could’ve cost the ‘Hawks the game. But tired? I saw jump all night.

And how good were the special teams? The Blackhawks went 3 for 7 with the man advantage, marking the first time they’ve scored three power-play goals since going 4 for 9 in a 4-2 win over Calgary on Dec. 5, 2010.

We saw very little standing around and plenty of puck movement, as evidenced by Sharp’s feed to Jonathan Toews for the equalizer in the third, followed by the Kane-to-Hossa masterpiece.

Other stuff…

Corey Crawford was taking a beating on social media after allowing that first goal, and then again after Duncan Keith saved his ass at the end of the second period. While there aren’t many excuses for letting that puck trickle through his legs on the second instance, Crawford deserves credit for making the initial stop with a man bearing down on him full speed on a breakaway. He stopped a penalty shot and made a key save on a redirected puck in OT with the ‘Hawks a man down. Not sure what else everyone is expecting from the man.

— Speaking of Keith, he played a fabulous game tonight and has been extremely solid through four. Brent Seabrook on the other hand? He’s just not looking very sharp yet. The penalty shot was his fault after he took his eye off the puck and let it slip under his stick.

Nick Leddy is playing good hockey, and he would’ve gotten much more praise tonight had Hossa been able to beat Kari Lehtonen – who stood on his head most of the night – off Leddy’s great feed. Leddy’s one-man charge into the zone on the power play was a thing of beauty, and his pass to Hossa was a great find. More of this, please.

Onto Boxing. Click to enlarge…

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