I know there’s a lot of hate going around from Blackhawks fans towards the St. Louis Blues. Sure, it’s becoming a nice rivalry, but sheesh. I find it pretty astounding, actually. I really don’t mind them.
For instance, look at that picture up there of David Backes making out with Ryan Reaves, who is being held by the lovely Barret Jackman. It’s quite obvious how much they care about each other and support each other. They always have each others’ backs and have great chemistry, especially Jackman and goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
Jackman catches a lot of flak, but he’s actually a very classy individual. I remember that one time he tried to have a nice, calm, intelligent conversation with the Blackhawks bench last season. I’m sure he wasn’t complaining or acting like one of those cracked-out menopausal homeless women that sleep under the Arch whom he has sex with on a regular basis. He was simply trying to say, “Hello, how are you?” And look how he was treated:
And all that talk about how the Blues take cheap shots at people? Especially against the Blackhawks? C’mon. Backes is the epitome of a captain and great teammate. I remember that time when he simply tried to give Jonathan Toews a pat on the back for a job well done, and then Toews just flipped out for absolutely no reason. I mean, of course Backes is going to try to defend himself.
And who can say enough about their coach, Ken Hitchcock. Despite playing stout defense that by no means features a bunch of thugs on skates trying to make up for their lack of skill like everyone claims, he quite obviously has them all under control.
St. Louis is a high-end organization from top to bottom. They’re so very welcoming to everyone, especially Blackhawks fans. Sure, they have that new ticket policy to try and prevent ‘Hawks fans from getting tickets to games at that luxurious stadium of theirs, but can you blame them?
Why would they want us unruly Blackhawks fans mingling with dedicated Blues fans like these:
No wonder they don’t want us idiot ‘Hawks fans there. The people of St. Louis are some of the smartest in the country:
I mean, look at how much there is to like.
Apologies for the late and likely abbreviated recap, but as much as I love hockey there were just way too many compelling things going on in the world of sports this evening for me to focus on the Hawks and Bolts tonight (jNWU not closing vs OSU, Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander dueling… also about 7 delicious pumpkin beers etc.). Anyways, let’s get to the hockey game from West Madison Street tonight.
First of all, the whole staff here at CtA would like to thank everyone who participated in the Community Rankings. We really value your input and think this should be, at the very least, an interesting feature going forward. We’ll not only compile the results for this post, but we can also revisit them when we do previews for opponents later in the season. I’m also personally compiling a spreadsheet of the stats, both advanced and standard, for each player from each game. While I’m still not sure exactly what I’m going to do with those, I’ve got a few ideas rolling around in my head.
All the stats below the players are derived from the NHL.com box score and ExtraSkater.com’s advanced box. If you would like more information on the advanced stats, I encourage you to visit ExtraSkater’s glossary or Arctic Ice Hockey. Right, let’s get to the results.
It’s funny, really. For months, I had been looking forward to a new hockey season and anxiously awaiting the Blackhawks to begin their title defense and quest for a repeat. But the irony is that I had a difficult time letting go of last season and the memories that came with it.
As I watched the video montage on the ice, I couldn’t help but think of the not so distant past, sitting at a little dive bar in the Chicago suburbs, listening to my Dad say, “Good. Now score again, and break their fucking hearts,” after Bryan Bickell’s goal in Game 6 before Dave Bolland obliged 17 seconds later. I wasn’t thinking about the game that was going to be played minutes later and the reality that came with it.
It didn’t take long to get back into the mode of worrisome fan, though. The Blackhawks didn’t make it easy on themselves, but they came away with a 6-4 victory over Washington in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup title defense.
A couple quick things…
– It’s the first game of a long season. Some of the play was sloppy and there are kinks to be worked out, and that’s likely what you’re going to see for a few more games.
– With that said, also don’t read too much into the Blackhawks sagging back on the penalty kill. While it was frustrating to see Mike Green stand in the middle of the ice and score a goal while also having one of his shots deflected in by Mikhail Grabovski, the ‘Hawks quite obviously were more concerned with preventing cross-ice passes while not over-committing to Green, Nicklas Backstrom, or Alex Ovechkin. Granted, Ovi scored and the Caps finished with three power-play goals, but that’s one tough unit. I wouldn’t expect to see the ‘Hawks employ that strategy very often.
– Along the same lines of not overreacting, let’s not start getting on our knees in front of Brandon Bollig because he scored a goal. I’m sure the MOAR BOLLIG! people are salivating right now, but maybe we should let things play out. Like, for instance, realizing that his offensive-zone penalty gave his goal right back 6 1/2 minutes later. I’m interested to see where he winds up in the Community Player Ratings.
– Michal Handzus’ pass to Brandon Saad was beautiful.
– How about that new hybrid icing, eh? If I’m not mistaken, I don’t think there was a single icing call the entire game.
– Braden Holtby played like dog shit. Thanks.
– Here is the first edition of Community Player ratings for you readers to share your opinions on how things went last night. I’d like to make a very important point: All of your responses are anonymous. We have no idea which person casts which vote. So, if you rate Bollig a 10, you won’t have to personally deal with any of us at CtA or any of your fellow readers chastising you.
We will leave the voting open for 24 hours, and then we will post the results Thursday to show how you collectively rated everyone’s performance. Happy voting! Boxing after the jump…
Puck Drop: 7:05 p.m. CST (with the banner, folks are saying 7:28 p.m.)
Where You Can Find It: NBC Sports Network (174 on Comcast, DirecTV 220, 1640 AT&T U-Verse)
If Time on Ice gets itself together, I’ll post the CORSI/Fenwick link at game time.
You made it! We ALL made it!
With the lockout extending last season late into the summer our wait wasn’t quite as long this summer as previously, but I’m just as ready as the rest of you for hockey season to begin. Tonight on West Madison Street the Chicago Blackhawks will put 2013′s abbreviated campaign behind them by raising four new banners to the rafters before taking on the Washington Capitals. It’ll be a sweet taste of euphoria that reminds us just how high the highs can be in the NHL, but as I’m sure the players will relay to each other, that feeling must be short lived in order to focus on the task at hand. That task, being the 2013-14 NHL season.
We’ve finally arrived at the Division you all really need (want) to know all about: the plainest sounding goddamn division in the NEW AND IMPROVED NHL. We’re going to assume that you mostly know what’s going on with the Blackhawks. Jimmy Hayes, Ben Smith and the intriguing Joakim Nordstrom made the team while Jeremy Morin and Brandon Pirri find themselves back in Rockford yet again. Once can’t help but feel a little sorry for Morin and Pirri, in the weeks following the Stanley Cup, it seemed most people just assumed they’d both be Blackhawks this year. They’ll probably get a look at some point down the line, but it can’t bode very well for either of them that they’ve been passed over yet again.
Joel Quenneville has decided to keep eight defenseman to start the year. Mike Kostka beat out the now Vancouver Canuck Ryan Stanton for the last spot. Sheldon Brookbank is still around in the 7th slot.
That’s where the Blackhawks are at. What about the other teams in the Central?
Going from Coast-To-Coast to the most confusing of the new Alignments, the Atlantic. That contains exactly none of the Old Atlantic Division teams (all in the Metropolitan Division). Also, teams from Ontario & Michigan, which are land-locked (and in Detroit’s case over 600 miles from the Ocean). The Atlantic isn’t the first body of water you’d associate with Buffalo, either. Anyway, it’s a strange mix of old North Eastern teams with a couple of terrible Floridians from the South East and an escapee from Western time-zone tyranny in the Red Wings.
Let’s take a quick look at the Realigned Divisions, starting with the Westernmost, the excitingly-named “Pacific” (or “Pacific + Bits of the old NW”)
This looks like being a very hard-fought (if not especially exciting) Division: Four of the Seven teams made last year’s Post-Season, Anaheim finished Second in the Western Conference for the Regular Season and LA went to the Conference Final. Phoenix were on the Playoff Bubble and hope to be back there again. The less said about the Albertans the better.. and then there’s the Curious Case of the Canucks, of which more in a moment.
Battle Of California
The three Californian teams will all be spoken about as contenders this year. Anaheim, whose remarkable run last year was ended by a fairly heavy regression to the mean, traded away the permanently disgruntled Bobby Ryan, picking up a decent return from Ottawa in highly-rated young winger Jacob Silfverberg, 1st round pick Stefan Noesen & a 1st rounder next year. Teemu is, of course,back and Dustin Penner has crawled wheezing from LA to Orange County. Their Blue Line looks like a problem area, with Beauchemin dinged up, Sheldon Souray out for at least a couple of months and after that.. Mark Fistric? Luca Sbisa? Yuck. Luckily their cup runneth over in goal with Hiller in a contract year, Fasth building on his breakout season and that John Gibson hovering in the wings.
San Jose.. It’s hard to know what to make of the Sha-Arks, as ever. Thornton & Marleau are in the last years of their deals and not getting any younger. However, if Pavelski & Couture can repeat their form of last season that’s still a potent line up. Hell, maybe even Marty Havlat will stay healthy for longer than ten minutes? Sadly, they haven’t bothered with any defense again this year which means Antti Niemi will need to be on top form, again.
Meanwhile, in a certain smog-choked hellhole, the Kings are already being picked by many as this year’s Champions. They have changed little on their roster, save shipping off Dustin Penner to Anaheim and taking Gorilla Salad off the Hawks’ hands in return for some magic beans. There’s little doubt that, if they play to their strengths, they are one of the best teams in the League. Their big weakness is their Ent-Like defense with Willie Mitchell & Robin Regehr lumbering around behind Drew Doughty. They continue to praise Slaya Voynov to the heavens, but from what I’ve seen the kid still has a great deal to learn about play in his own end. (Hell of a shot, though). And Jon Quick is Jon Quick.
Dead Men Walking
Phoenix finally resolved their ownership issue and future location for
once and all five years. They will be hoping for a return to the post season after missing out last year. They can keep on hoping. Their only “major” addition has been Mike Ribeiro, for four years at $22.5 M which, were it not for Toronto & Philly, would likely be the laughing-stock deal of the summer. Ribeiro was at a Point-Per-Game last year, for the first time since 2007-08. He was also on the Caps PP with Ovechkin and Backstrom. Good luck with Radim Vrbata, Mike. Shane Doan is another year older and slower and more elbow-y. The rest of the Yotes are made up of the usual collection of pluggers and plodders. One feels that, unless Mike Smith has one of his “Outlier” years, this will be a tough season for the Desert Dogs.
Edmonton re-upped Jordan Eberle (for way too much money) and RNH (see above, though more justifiable in the Nuge’s case). These sort of shenanigans now mean that the Oilers have less Cap Room than the reigning Champions. Sam Gagner’s fresh new broken jaw will sideline him indefinitely so they had better be praying that Hall, RNH, Yakupov et al can stay healthier than they have been in recent seasons. Not that it will do Edmonton any good: they have no defense or Goaltending and will be aiming at the Draft Lottery again. As for Calgary… Just close the door and walk away, sadly shaking your head. Full-on Tank Mode for the Flames with Jay Feaster likely to be out of a job by Christmas and Brian Burke embarking on a long-overdue rebuild.
Diving For Dear Life
That leaves us with the ever-beloved Canucks and, for me, the most interesting storyline in this Division: namely, is this the year the Nucks miss the Playoffs? I would hazard a guess that it could be: we all know about the Presidents’ Trophies and exaggerated seedings won by beating up on a piss-weak NW Division. Last year we saw the Wild make a much better fight of it and the Nucks swept out of the 1st Round. This year they are going to be fighting hard with the formidable trio of Californians for the three automatic spots and they may well find themselves lacking.
What they’ve mostly got this summer is older. The Sedins are starting to show their age (although still a force to be reckoned with) Ryan Kesler and David Booth can’t stay healthy, they still think Kevin Bieksa is a top-pairing D-man, Luongo’s mind may well have been snapped by the goings on and they’ve got noted Locker-Room-Unifier John Tortorella behind the bench. There’s still plenty of threat there if it all comes together. If not, I believe the Canucks may well find themselves on the outside looking in when the Post-season starts, which will cost Mike Gillis his job and instigate a crisis in Vancouver where they have no Cap-Space or Prospects.
While we all stand back and chuckle, of course
Oh, hello there.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this here website. In fact it was probably the pep talk before Game 4 against Detroit in the Western Conference Semi-Finals. Baseball kinda takes over my life after hockey so you’ll have to excuse me for not being around much (read: at all). However! I had been looking around these here internets for something to give our readership base (that’s you!) a bit more ownership heading into the upcoming season. Comment sections are nice but not everyone feels comfortable putting their name on something. So, with that, I introduce you to the following idea.
We’re going to be introducing Community Ratings this season which allows you, the reader, to rate each and every player after each game (or weekly, we’re not sure yet). The system will be powered by Google Drive and I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank the guys over at Black Heart Gold Pants for helping me out with this, especially RossWB. They’ve been doing this for football, which is actually considerably more difficult because there’s so many players. The idea originated with some footie blogs over on SBNation that do it for soccer games. It’s a bit easier to pull off with that sport since there’s only 14 players maximum they’d need to rate.
For our purposes we’re going to give you the ability to rate the players, the mustache and the special teams units. After you do so, I’ll gather the responses and upload them into Excel to produce some nice charts and graphs that show how everyone feels. If you’re lucky, maybe even a pie chart (mmmmmmm, pie). It’s a work in progress so if you have any ideas on other things we can add to this, please pass them along. You can leave them in the comments, tweet at me, the blog or e-mail us. Below is what we’ve got so far and it’s pretty self-explanatory. So take a look-see and give us your feedback.
Do you like this? Do you not like this? What could we do better? Scale back on? Let us know.
Season Previews are like Assholes: Sports Blogs are full of them (you sure about this? .ed).
Nailing your colours to the mast as to how teams and players are likely to perform over the coming year is a risky business and leaves one open to the mockery of your peers when, inevitably, the Hockey Gods make sure that all your confident predictions go horribly wrong.
Therefore, we here at Cheer the Anthem have decided to skip this potential public shaming and would much rather that you do it instead: here is a comprehensive preview of all the other 29 teams in the League. All you have to do is fill in the blanks and you’re on the Path to Hockey Guru Status/Hiding Under A Rock .