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That’ll Happen: Boxing with Canucks (3) and Blackhawks (1)

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I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have a feeling this was coming, with the Blackhawks playing their third game in four nights and all. I just didn’t think they’d get smoked for roughly 45-50 minutes.

A loss to Vancouver is never exciting and always annoying, but the Blackhawks’ 3-1 defeat in America Jr. marked only their sixth of the season in actual hockey. Out of 45 games. That’s, like, good and stuff.

A couple things before Boxing …

♦   The first person to ever use the phrase, “He’s a giant rectal wart who washes his vagina with a Brillo Pad while listening to Bette Midler’s Greatest Hits and eating a dog’s asshole,” when referring to a human in a derogatory manner must’ve been thinking of Ryan Kesler. Oh, wait, I’m the first person to ever use that particular phrase? OK. Yeah, I was thinking of Ryan Kesler.

♦   Dave Bolland left with a groin injury, per Q. I’m completely over this guy. He can’t stay on the ice because he’s constantly injured, and when he is on the ice he’s awful. I give up.

♦   Ryan Kesler snacks on used diapers. Regularly.

♦   If not for Corey Crawford, the Blackhawks would have been down 8-0 at the end of the first period. He played a fantastic game and bailed the ‘Hawks out with a stellar save on numerous occasions. The Blackhawks played horribly in front of him. He’s the only reason the Blackhawks had any semblance of a chance before Daniel Sedin - brotherfucker – put a great move on Crawford on the breakaway at the end of the second period.

♦   Gorilla Salad scored the Blackhawks’ lone goal. Ouch. Cory Schneider snuffed out some great chances from the ‘Hawks in the third, but he was nice and rested for most of the first two periods as the Blackhawks mustered just four scoring chances through 40.

♦   Q said Michal Handzus being scratched was a “coach’s decision.” My guess is because the Canucks can keep up with the Blackhawks speed-wise and Handzus can’t beat a snail in a 40-yard dash.

All right, I’m done. Here’s Boxing. Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge….

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The Five Types of Vancouver Fans.. Hawks @ Nucks Preview

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.

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Canucks fans come in all shapes and sizes.. some are wonderful people, others, less so. Here’s some of the more frequently-encountered types.

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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.

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A Demain, Yotes.. a Preview Of Sorts

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“last one to the Finish has to kiss Backes”

 

 

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.

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Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune

So, About that Power Play…

 

Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune

Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune

Editor’s Note: This column appears in tonight’s edition of The Committed Indian. Help Sam Fels feed his drinking habit by purchasing one outside of the United Center for $3, or sign up for a digital copy on the website. Don’t be cheap.

Second Note: This was originally written for Friday’s Indian, but Sam had to push it back to tonight’s issue. So, this obviously doesn’t include the Blackhawks going 2 for 3 on the power play against Nashville. Stats in the column are as of Thursday afternoon.

There aren’t many secrets here. It’s not like Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff are holding on to some sort of magical strategy while purposely sending the players out on the ice at a disadvantage, only to later surprise everyone with a full-proof plan that results in unlimited goals with the man advantage.

The Blackhawks’ power play sucks, and there’s no amount of high-sucrose recipes in this world that can sugarcoat it enough. They’ve gone 0 for 19 over their last nine games and haven’t potted a power-play goal since Patrick Kane’s tally in the third period of a 2-1 loss to Anaheim on March 29.

At the time of writing this Thursday afternoon, the ‘Hawks are tied with the New York Rangers for 20th in the league converting just 15.4 percent of their power-play chances. Take out the Blackhawks scoring six power-play goals through the first four games, and the percentage drops to 12.9 since Jan. 26.

And we’ve seen everything, too. The constant inability to enter the offensive zone while the other team has one fewer guy can make anyone’s urge to kill rise dramatically. Once in the zone? Who knows. Gaining possession after a dump-in hasn’t exactly been something of a regular occurrence. And if that does happen, you can usually count on a lack of movement as the Blackhawks wait for that back-door pass through the crease to open up. The problem is that it rarely ever does, yet that doesn’t stop them from attempting to pass through opponents’ sticks that unfortunately aren’t invisible.

This isn’t exactly new. We watched the Blackhawks do much of the same last season when they finished 26th in the league with a similar 15.2 percent conversion rate.

Yes, there’s been plenty that’s frustrating about watching the ‘Hawks blow chance after chance with the man advantage, and the popular notion is that this ineptitude while cause more harm to the Blackhawks when they get into the playoffs against better competition and need to convert on these prime opportunities. However, based on the power-play statistics of some recent Stanley Cup winners, that may not exactly be the case.

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Boys In The Bubble: A Look at the Western Conference Playoff Picture

 

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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

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The Mellow Hoss of Texas (sorry) Dallas 2 Hawks 5

 

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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

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You Ain’t Any Kin To The Snare Drummer Are You?

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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.

Credit: Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY

Hated Respect for Detroit; Just Hate for St. Louis

Credit: Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY

Credit: Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY

Winning the last-ever Central Division title has a nice feel to it, especially when the Blackhawks were able to clinch it by coming back Friday against a Detroit team we all love to loathe. And when dessert is a sweet victory over the talentless apes wearing Blues sweaters, well, that makes for a nice weekend in my book.

But after Corey Crawford turned away 30 shots in Sunday’s 2-0 victory in St. Louis, it got me to thinking a little bit about where the rivalries with these teams will stand once Detroit heads East as realignment takes effect next season.

While the Red Wings have always been hated, there’s still a level of respect that goes into watching guys like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk - and going further back to the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom, Dominik Hasek and Steve Yzerman – grace the ice with their play. It just so happened they wore a different sweater.

Granted, those sweaters are evil and ugly and make you want to vomit up the three squares of your day, but any one of us ‘Hawks fans would have liked to have any of them wearing the Indian head. Hell, Hasek may have played most of his career in Chicago had it not been for Ed Belfour.

The Blues? Other than Vladimir Tarasenko, there’s not one breathing pile of diarrhea on skates I would take from that team. Even if any of them wanted to play in Chicago for free, I would have them deported back to that hellhole of a city that shouldn’t be allowed to call itself part of America.

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Hawks @ Blues: Preview Caption Competition

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.

 

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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.

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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..

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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!

 

 

 

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Detroit: The Meaning Of Pain

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”

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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)

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The Wine Cooler, Presented by Bartl and James – Episode 3: OMG GOALIE CONTROVERSY!

Bartels&Jaymes

 

In Episode 3, Bartl and James talk goalie “controversy,” Dave Bolland pretty much sucking and what Q will do when he returns, plus Bowman’s so-far-solid acquisition of Michal Handzus. We also look ahead to Friday’s tilt with Detroit, which could possibly be a first-round playoff preview – and that bugs the shit out of us.

Listen here:

Listen to internet radio with The Wine Cooler on Blog Talk Radio

 

If that doesn’t work, follow this link to the show page.

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III is a Magic Number.. CtA talks to III Communication

 

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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.

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With Fire From Above: Hawks 1 – Wild 0

(Jim Mone/Associated Press)

(Jim Mone/Associated Press)

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?

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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

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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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Easter Funday: Boxing with Blackhawks (7!) and Red Wings (1, Ha)

Credit: USA Today

Credit: USA Today

Man was that fun. Well, unless you’re a Red Wings fan – meaning you had already gone through life without a soul before Sunday’s beatdown, so maybe you felt no emotion anyway.

For the Blackhawks, elation ensued throughout most of the day as they went into MoTown and penis-slapped Detroit 7-1 in front of a stadium full of people ditching church on Gordie Howe’s 85th birthday “celebration.”

I’m not going to recap each of the seven goals that helped lead to Jimmy holding grudges, but here’s a few things before Boxing …

— HAHAHHAHAHAHA Jakub Kindl HAHAHAHAHA. What a fucking awful play to put the puck in his own net to help Dave Bolland end a 14-game goalless drought. Bolland would go on to score one of his own later, proving he actually does have some sort of worth left in him after dragging his ass up and down the ice and constantly losing draws for most of the season.

— Welcome back to the big club, Jeremy Morin. Scoring on his first shift was a hell of a way to get going donning the Indian head.

— Brandon Saad is the fucking truth, and that’s all there is to it. Jonathan Toews said after the game that Saad is getting better with each shift, and there’s really no better way to say it. Saad for Calder?

— Speaking of Toews … Boom. A goal and two assists, and he won 14 of 19 draws, which is just flat out disgusting. The Captain has won 60.3 percent of his draws this year.

— I CAN’T BELIEF DAT CRAWFORD GUY COULDN’T GET DAT SHUT’EM OUT. DA EMERY GUY COULDA HAD DAT LAST SHOT CUZ HE’S DA WAY BETTER GOALIE MAN AND I TINK HE WINS DA CONTROVERSY WE GOTS A BREWIN’ ‘ROUND HERE CUZ HE STOPS MORE SHOTS AND WINS BETTER DAN DA CRAWFORD GUY WINS.

— So Q decided to switch up the defensive pairings, going with Keith-Hjalmarsson, Oduya-Rozsival and Seabrook-Leddy. Q downplayed the changes by saying he was simply testing things out, but maybe he’s finally have enough of the underachieving Keith-Seabrook pairing to send a message. I’m assuming these won’t be long-term changes, but after the dominating performance Sunday there’s a chance Q sticks with these Monday versus the Preds.

Here’s 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”

Iggymugshot

Iggy: A Morality Play

That’s right, CtA now has a Photoshop/parody guy. We are more than excited to welcome Michael Devine, who will be posting as regularly as he would like on this site and gracing us and you readers with some hilarity.

Firstly, go follow him on Twitter @brightblack76. Then, double-check to make sure you’re following him, because you’re missing out if you’re not. He already has some stuff up here for you to check out when you get the chance.

Michael, who also has gone by mightymikeD, describes himself as such: “Irish, lives in London and goes through horrific sleep-deprivation to watch Hawks games at Ass O’Clock in the Morning!”

And you thought YOU were a die-hard fan.

Have you been wondering how Stan Bowman is “wooing” Jarome Iginla to come to Chicago? Well, without further bullshit, here’s Michael’s first contribution to CtA:

“Iggy: A Morality Play”

Iggymugshot

Scene: Morning. A luxury Chicago hotel room. Jarome Iginla wakes up. He appears to be in the bathtub. His head is pounding and there is a funny taste in his mouth. He groans and looks at his watch, realises, with horror, that he is late for his flight and tries to climb out of the bath.

Iggy: “Oh, heck, Bob’s going to kill me. Without me being there the guys will just be milling around aimlessly in the terminal and Kipper has probably got himself deported!”

He catches sight of himself in the bathroom mirror and freezes in horror.

Iggy: “What in the fudge? Why am I wearing make-up? What are these bruises on my arms? WHY DO I HAVE “PK RULEZ YO” WRITTEN IN LIPSTICK ON MY CHEST??!?”

There is a loud knocking at the door. Iginla hurries to get dressed. His clothes appear to be missing except for his suit pants, although they have been cut off inexpertly at thigh-height, and his tie; which has some odd stains on it.

Iggy: “I’m coming, I’m coming. Oh, fiddlesticks, where is my shirt?”

The knocking continues, louder and more insistent. Iginla gives up and opens the door.
Stan Bowman stands there, smiling strangely.

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Boxing3-26Hawks-2-Flames-0Full

Iginla’s Audition?: Boxing with Blackhawks (2) and Flames (0)

Holy Toews Face. (Credit: Chris Sweda,  Chicago Tribune)

Holy Toews Face. (Credit: Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune)

The worst-kept secret in the NHL is that Jarome Iginla has submitted a list of teams he’d be willing to waive his no-trade clause for by the April 3rd trade deadline, and the Blackhawks are one of them.

While Iginla didn’t exactly shine in Tuesday’s visit to the United Center with his awful team, count me in as someone willing to part ways with a couple of second-tier prospects and a pick to bring him to Chicago as a rental. The main reasons? Dave Bolland is beginning to infuriate me, and the thought of Iginla in a Hawks sweater gets me more excited than a 13-year-old boy seeing his first set of tits. He’s got plenty left in the tank.

The Blackhawks ended their two-game “losing streak” by holding woeful Calgary to just 16 shots in a 2-0 victory, making an easy night for Ray Emery as he set an NHL record by winning his first 12 starts of the season. Miikka Kiprusoff helped out by allowing Nick Leddy’s weak shot slip through before a Brent Seabrook shot was deflected off Iginla’s stick for the other goal.

Patrick Kane assisted on each score and played another stellar contest. If not for a guy named Crosby, the Hart Trophy likely would be coming to Chicago for the first time since Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita each won back-to-back awards from 1964-68.

A couple quick thoughts before Boxing…

— Seriously, what in the flying fuck is going on with Bolland? I am going to admit that I’ve never been his biggest fan and always felt he was a bit overrated. But man, he’s just not getting it done. Besides being ridiculously injury prone at the age of 26 (he’s missed seven games this season, six the year before, 21 in 2010-11 and 42 in the Stanley Cup season), he’s a second-line center who can’t win a fucking draw to save his life. Bolland went 8 for 22 at the dot Tuesday, dropping him to 44.6 percent on the season. He needs to get his shit together, and quickly, because his awful percentage at the dot is keeping the puck off of Kane’s stick.

— Only in Chicago would meatballs begin thinking there’s a goaltender controversy. I saw posts on social media to the tune of, “WHYS DAT EMERY GUY NOT DA FULL-TIME SHARTER IN THE DA NET FOR DEM HOCKS? DAT CRAWFORD LET IN GOALS DE UDDER NIGHT AND EMERY DIDN’T LET ANY GO IN DA NET SO HE SHOULD ALWAYS BE IN DA NET. CRAWFORD SUCKS, MY FRENTS!” Crawford has a 2.02 GAA and .922 save percentage, while Emery sports numbers of 2.09 and .920. What the fuck is wrong with simply having two goaltenders who are both playing fantastically? Just shut the fuck up and appreciate it. Thank you.

Right, Boxing. Right-click the image and click ‘view’ to enlarge…

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The Wine Cooler, Presented by Bartl and James: Episode 2 – Gettin’ Iggy with It

Bartels&Jaymes

Nakis and I give you plenty of Jarome Iginla trade discussion as well as a brief look ahead to Monday’s tilt with the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center. Mainly Iginla talk, though. Like, a lot.

30 minutes. Aaaaand go …

Listen to internet radio with The Wine Cooler on Blog Talk Radio

If the embeded link above doesn’t work for you, click here to listen.

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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