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.

Sunday Matinee: ‘Hawks-Red Wings Primer

Jimmy holds grudges.

Jimmy holds grudges.

As Adam wrote in his wrap Friday night, the streaks inside the streak get lost on us – and understandably so.

The Blackhawks will be going for a ninth straight victory for the first time since Dec. 7-28, 2008 – the year hockey was invented, according to some of the fanbase. It’s easy to forget this team has picked up two points in each game for as long as they have when The Streak simply focuses on gaining at least one.

And that’s one of my problems with the streak, as I’ve mentioned before. There’s so much more going on with this team than just that arbitrary streak. The stars are playing like stars, the bottom six is contributing more than anyone expected, and both goaltenders are thriving when their number is called.

Does it get better than this? Yes – by extending The Streak with a win over those douchenozzles up north (or northeast, as some have liked to point out).

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hawks toews fans

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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Boxing-Blues

A Cool 20: Boxing with ‘Hawks (3) and Blues (0)

Credit: Jeff Curry, USA TODAY

Credit: Jeff Curry, USA TODAY

I saw a bunch of “experts” predict the Blackhawks’ record-breaking streak would end in St. Louis, because apparently they need to be tough with their Blues-are-my-favorites-to-win-the-Stanley-Cup-so-I-need-to-pick-them-in-every-game mentality.

Well, they can all eat shit.

Jonathan Toews delivered the Death Blow a mere 12 seconds in, and the ‘Hawks ran their record to a disgusting 17-0-3 by shutting out Chicago Jr. 3-0 on Thursday night.

Ray Emery completed the shutout after Corey Crawford suffered what is said to be an upper-body injury after appearing woozy heading to the locker room after the first period. The team is saying Crow is day to day at this point, so hopefully we’ll get an update soon.

And even if it is Barry Melrose, it’s still pretty awesome to listen to him on Sportscenter calling the Blackhawks the best team in all of sports.

I’m tired, so the rest is in Boxing. Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…

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Boxing-Oilers

Extra Special: Overtime Boxing with Blackhawks (3) and Oilers (2)

CT Hawks05998.JPG

The one thing I don’t like about this streak is the waiting. We all know, at least those of us who are logical and realistic, that the Blackhawks eventually are going to lose in regulation. And the past two nights, there were points in time I felt it was going to happen, and it almost was a relief to know it would finally be over.

I hate writing that as much as you likely hate reading it, but discussing an ultimately arbitrary record is somewhat taking away from what we need to focus on moving forward this season and into the playoffs. I actually found myself thinking against Columbus, “Well, if the BJs score here at the end, at least we can get a point and keep the streak going.” Then versus the Oil I thought, “Cool, at least if they lose in OT the ‘Hawks get a point and the streak hits 19.”

I became sick to my stomach after each of those thoughts, because that’s simply not looking at the bigger picture. After this streak is over, I won’t be thinking like that anymore. I’ll go back to being pissed off about some little mistake that cost them points. And honestly, I prefer not to think of this team as being perfect – because it’s not.

But with all that said, I can’t help myself. The streak is fantastic, and it’s clear this team is on a fucking mission and the rest of the West is just tagging along. No matter the ‘Hawks seemed to be cruising and just waiting for the perfect moments to come to them, the excitement after Hossa potted the winner in a 3-2 OT win over Edmonton was through the roof. Simply awesome.

Some thoughts before Boxing…

– I saw a tweet after the game suggesting a possible goalie controversy. Jesus Christ, please stop trying to create drama. Just accept the fact both goaltenders are playing well, be happy with who played well that given night and move on. Let it play out. This should be the least of anyone’s concerns right now.

– Seeing Carcillo on the top line makes me want to inflict pain upon myself. In fact, I’d rather sit around all day and smell Oprah’s farts than watch that asshole skate with Toews and Hossa. I understand Saad didn’t play his best game and took a couple bad penalties, but it wasn’t all Saad’s fault the ‘Hawks were down a goal heading into the third. Please, Q, stop this. Stop it now.

– Sharp deserves as much credit for the winner as Hossa. Strong move to the net, stuck with the rebound and let Hoss clean it up. Boom.

– Did I mention watching Carcillo on the top line is vomit-inducing?

– While I mentioned a part of my just wants this streak to end so we can get back to normal, if that happens in St. Louis on Thursday I may have to punt my cat. And my fiance’s cat.

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

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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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Boxing2-24Hawks-1-Jackets-0Full

That’s Just Enough: Boxing with Blackhawks (1) and Blue Jackets (0)

Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune)

Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune)

Firstly, I’d like to apologize for not having a recap up after the Blackhawks set the NHL record for best start to a season with Friday’s win over San Jose. I received a few emails wondering why the hell I didn’t put up a post, but the fact is I simply didn’t have the time this weekend. I should have mentioned something ahead of time, so it falls directly on me. To the loyal readers who thought enough to drop a line, I’m sorry and we’ll do our best from here on out to make sure we at least get something up for you.

Well, no one said they’d all be pretty.

Corey Crawford posted his second shutout of the season in his first game in nearly two weeks, Andrew Shaw scored the lone goal despite a nut shot from known fuckbag James Wisniewski and the Blackhawks extend their NHL-record start with a 1-0 win over lowly Columbus.

It’s a lazy Sunday night so tonight’s recap will all come in Boxing. Despite Crawford’s solid performance, I’d have to guess Ray Emery is back in net to face the Oil, with Crawford starting the front of another back-to-back at St. Louis on Thursday.

JesusMarianHossa will be along in the afternoon with your preview of the Edmonton game, but here’s Boxing for now. Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…

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toews-thornton-fight

History in the Making? Hossa, Seabrook to Play as Blackhawks host Sharks

toews-thornton-fight

Tonight, as you all know by now, the Blackhawks will attempt to set the NHL record for most consecutive games with at least a point *to start the season (edited to reflect reality). It’s cool factoid, yeah, but ultimately it means very little if a Cup doesn’t accompany it.

First, the Sharks. It’s been something of a strange season so far for this bunch. After starting out as one of the hottest teams in the NHL, the Sharks have cooled considerably. Just 1-4-3 in their last 8 games, the Sharks will look to recapture some of their earlier momentum and avoid a season sweep against a suddenly and unexpectedly healthy Blackhawks team.

San Jose plays some of the best defensive hockey in the league, but can’t seem to find the back of the net consistently. The Sharks rank 22nd in the NHL is goals scored, averaging just 2.5 goals per game.

The Sharks will roll with the following tonight:

There is good news, fantastic news and awe-inspiringly splurgtastic news tonight for the home team.

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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.

Boxing2-19Hawks-4-Canucks-3Full

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

hair pull-thumb-572xauto-90254

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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Boxing2-17Hawks-3-Kings-2Full

Crown Their Ass: Boxing with Blackhawks (3) and Kings (2) – Plus Bonus PUCKCAST!

Seabrook feeling much better than he would later. (Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune

Seabrook feeling much better than he would later. (Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune

It’s been a long day, so I’ll offer most of what I have in Boxing below. At this point, you’ve probably read everything else anyway.

– The next time you say or hear anyone else utter the words, “Man, I would give my left nut for (insert wish here),” you better think of Brent Seabrook. It’s not like they had hookers back in the locker room ready to massage the twig and berries that were in the exact air space of a Drew Doughty slap shot. He headed off the ice because the extreme pain felt something like getting an underground sex change operation from Edward Scissorhands.

And thanks to the refs, he got to lie there with his face on the ice for about 15 seconds while sharp blades passed right by his nose because they jammed their whistles up their asses. Act like you’ve never been hit in the nuts, assholes. Seabrook’s first star was well deserved, and not just because of his goal and assist.

Marcus Kruger and Michael Frolik simply are playing fantastic hockey. I bitched at Kruger once from the 300 level to get it deep as he lost the puck trying to enter the zone through two Kings, but other than that they continued playing at a level I don’t think any of us expected.

– The Blackhawks have allowed three goals in regulation twice all season – at Phoenix and at San Jose. Their plus-22 goal differential is by far the best in the NHL, and their 28 non-shootout goals allowed are second to Nashville’s 25. Ray Emery wasn’t outstanding, and I’m hoping Corey Crawford is healthy enough to go Tuesday, but both of these guys simply are getting the job done to this point.

– You’ve heard by now: If they ‘Hawks win or get to overtime Tuesday versus Vancouver, they tie the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks for the NHL record of earning a point in the first 16 games of a season. I’m not one for celebrating shit like this knowing it means nothing come playoff time, but there’s no arguing that would be pretty damn sweet.

– Nakis and I appeared on the HOCKEENIGHT Puckcast following the game, discussing a plethora of topics ranging from meatheads to Tecmo Super Bowl. I had to take off about an hour in because of work-related shit, but Nakis stuck around for the full 90 minutes. It’s not like you do any work on a Monday anyway, so have yourself a listen and get paid to waste company time.

I’ll leave you with Boxing, which won’t appear again until Friday. Nakis will be by with your Vancouver preview, and JesusMarianHossa hopefully will be recapping another victory. Right-click the image and hit ‘view’ to enlarge…

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Credit: Jim Young, Reuters

After Dominating Sharks, Blackhawks Look to Keep Rolling Against Kings

Credit: Jim Young, Reuters

Credit: Jim Young, Reuters

Let’s start this out with a quick stat.

The Blackhawks’ 14-game point streak to begin a season is tied for the third longest in NHL history with the 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens, behind only the 2006-07 Anaheim Ducks (16) and 1984-85 Edmonton Oilers (15).

As for the other three teams mentioned? They all went on to win the Stanley Cup.

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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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Boxing2-10Hawks-3-Nashville-0-Full

Old Country Way: Shutout Boxing with Blackhawks (3) and Predators (0)

Chicago Blackhawks v Nashville Predators

The Iron Sheik (@the_ironsheik) often explains humbling people “old country way,” so make sure you give that crazy asshole a follow.

Corey Crawford helped pitch the Blackhawks’ first regular-season shutout since people were still bitching about trading Dustin Byfuglien, making 17 saves to back goals from Marcus Kruger, Jonathan Towes and Patrick Kane in Sunday night’s victory down south.

First, an admission. I told the other CtA fellas I believed the point streak would end tonight. We agreed, for the most part, Nashville was going to present a difficult challenge despite an overtime loss at Minnesota the previous night. But Pekka Rinne had that night off and was going to be fresh for a ‘Hawks team that was concluding a six-game road trip.

Needless to say, I’m happy to be wrong. A couple things before Boxing…

– The Blackhawks won’t see Nashville again until April, when they face the Predators four times in 2 1/2 weeks with three matchups coming at home. The joys of the lockout-shortened schedule keeping division rivals away from each other for a month in a three-month season. Because that makes sense.

– The ‘Hawks last blanked a regular-season opponent March 23, 2011, when Crawford made 23 saves to beat Florida 4-0. However, their last shutout actually was a 5-0 win over Vancouver in Game 5 of the 2010-11 playoffs, as Crawford made 36 saves.

– Make it a five-game goal-scoring streak for Kaner, whose nine goals and 10 assists trail only Buffalo’s Thomas Vanek (11 goals, 12 assists) for the NHL’s points lead. And he’s doing it all without a chewed-to-shit mouth guard.

– My God with the turnovers, Johnny Oduya.

– So, a 4-0-2 road trip before playing seven straight at home? Yeah, that’s like, good and stuff. Next up is surprising Anaheim for a showdown featuring two of the West’s top teams.

But first, here’s Boxing. Right-click and hit ‘view’ to enlarge…

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This Is Not the Trap Game You Are Looking For: Blackhawks @ Predators Warmup

One half of 21 years and almost $200M of the Preds’ defense

It’s been over two weeks since the Hawks have seen home ice and this will be the last time they don their white sweaters until the final day of February. Having already gathered 8 of 10 points on this road trip, the Blackhawks could come away with nothing in the Music City tonight and still consider this trip quite a success.

And that’s what worries me.

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GrumpToews-Saad

Road Kill: Boxing with Blackhawks (6) and Coyotes (2)

#GrumpyToews (Credit to Nakis for snapping the original photo off the TV)

#GrumpyToews (Credit to Nakis for snapping the original photo off the TV)

One can only wonder what the Captain was so pissed about considering the curb-stomping they gave the ‘Yotes.

Patrick Kane continued lighting up the scoreboard, Jonathan Toews completely undressed Oliver Ekman-Larsson and five players finished with multiple points as the Blackhawks improved to 9-0-2 by dismantling the future Quebec Nordiques 6-2 on Thursday.

It was another late finish, so I’ll get to some quick things before Boxing…

– I was really happy the inevitable fight for the douchebaggery of Raffi Torres came quickly, as Jamal Mayers stepped up to the plate as soon as Torres hit the ice for his first shift. We heard so much before the game about what could possibly happen that you’d think the hockey world was promoting UFC 156,972. Each got in a couple nice licks, the benches stood and knocked their sticks against the boards and all was settled for Torres being a giant piece of shit. Now, I’m sure he’ll continue to be a giant piece of shit, but at least we can get past the entire thing now.

– Also lost in all that shit and the, you know, scoring by the ‘Hawks is that Ray Emery got the nod in net ahead of Corey Crawford despite there being a day off between games. Emery had another solid performance, as the ‘Hawks goaltending once again allowed less than three goals. Their combined 2.09 GAA ranks fourth in the league right now.

– HOODA THUNK DAT PATRIK CAIN GUY WOOD BE PLAYIN SO GOOD CUZ HES ALWAYS DRINKIN DA SAUCE INSTEAD OF PLAYIN DA HOCKEY BUT GLAD WE DIDNT TRADE HIM TO ANUDDER TEAM YET BUT WE SHOOD TRADE HIM NOW FOR SOME UDDER GOOD GUYS BEFORE HE STARTS TO STINK AND WE CANT GET NUTTIN FOUR HIM!

– Watching that giant jagoff Mike Smith get scored on mercilessly makes me smile.

– Of course Torres would score an annoying goal at the end. Asshole.

– Check out #GrumpyToews on Twitter to see some of the other memes made from Nakis’ picture. Some good ones in there. Also, hope you enjoy Tim’s changes to the site’s look, which I find to be awesome.

All right, the rest is in Boxing. Right-click on the image and click view to enlarge…

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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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"I love you THIS much." (Credit: Kelley L Cox, USA TODAY)

Keep Rollin’: Boxing with Blackhawks (5) and Sharks (3)

Credit: Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images

Credit: Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images

Who expected that after the frantic start?

The matchup between the top two Western Conference teams on the young season lived up to its billing, as the Blackhawks came away with two more points after erasing an early two-goal deficit to beat the Sharks 5-3 – hopefully before the Chicagoland area headed to bed.

That’s exactly where I need to be, so this will be pretty short before Boxing.

Corey Crawford got the start despite Ray Emery’s 45-save effort against Calgary – as he should have – though he wasn’t even close to the top of his game at the start. The third goal was pretty awful, and I think everyone this side of the Black Hole thought Coach Q was going to turn to Emery for the rest of the evening.

Crawford, though, rewarded his coach with a solid effort over the final 49 minutes, making some huge stops – including the point-blank save on Patrick Marleau. Hopefully he’s not as shaky at the start Thursday.

Patrick Kane is all over the ice, and I’m loving every single second of it.

– Finally, Brandon Saad’s hard work shows up on the score sheet after he netted his well-deserved first NHL goal. He’s been extremely active on both ends of the ice, and it was great to see him pot one.

– Very sweet of Duncan Keith to come to the defense of Jamal Mayers, but like Lou Brown said to Willie “Mays” Hayes in Major League, “Don’t ever fuckin’ do it again.” The last thing this team needs is for its top defenseman to get hurt in a fight. And on top it, the hit turned out to be pretty clean. Shoulder-to-shoulder contact, and I don’t think Andrew Desjardins left his feet, either.

Jonathan Toews’ robbery of Douglas Murray is just one of many examples he’s provided for why the ‘Hawks have gotten off to such a fantastic start. Kane’s “Nice fucking pass!” that was caught on camera said it all.

– Apparently Joe Thornton is some sort of hockey player guy that plays for the Sharks. You wouldn’t know it by watching this game.

– The fact Dave Bolland ended up winning seven faceoffs came as a complete shock to me. I felt like he lost every one of them – just like Marcus Kruger did on all six of his draws. However, Kruger may have played his best game since… well I can’t remember when.

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

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Get on your Hossa

Yep, That Actually Happened: Hossa, Emery Help Blackhawks Steal 2 Points From Flames

Get on your Hossa

Firstly, I’d like to thank the fellas over at Hockee Night – Forklift, CT and Morph – for putting together an awesome fundraiser over at Galway Bay last night. Not only are they fun to drink and watch hockey with, they’re also fantastic people.

And because I did my share of drinking – I mean, they would have been insulted if I didn’t get my money’s worth – this probably will be the shortest recap in this site’s history.

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Credit: Rich Lam, Getty Images

Moving On: ‘Hawks Drop Shootout in Vancouver, Head to Calgary

Credit: Rich Lam, Getty Images

Credit: Rich Lam, Getty Images

Few things are more frustrating than watching the Blackhawks struggle to get one past Roberto Luongo, but such was the case last night.

On the bright side, the one that did get past him – Patrick Kane’s tally off a beautiful feed from Andrew Shaw in the third period – gave the ‘Hawks another standings point. Two straight shootout losses won’t blow anyone’s skirt up after six straight wins, but how many of you would complain if you were told the Blackhawks would be 6-0-2 after their first eight games?

Tonight, it’s onto Calgary to try and ended a four-game losing streak at the Saddledome and capture two points with Ray Emery in net. But first, some thoughts from Friday night’s game…

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Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn, USA TODAY

Point Taken: Shootout Boxing with Wild (3) and Blackhawks (2)

Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn, USA TODAY

Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn, USA TODAY

For the 84th consecutive season, the Chicago Blackhawks will not go undefeated. Darn.

While the shootout loss is disappointing, the all-important standings point – they’ve earned 13 out of a possible 14 – came with it. And on top of it, the ‘Hawks had a very solid all-around effort to begin a six-game road trip – at the end of which they’ll have already played nearly half of their road games for the entire season.

Lots of good in this one. The ‘Hawks made it clear they were going to pressure Josh Harding and the Minnesota defense from the get-go, and it led to a goal from Andrew Shaw that was made possible by Bryan Bickell’s rush to the net.

Jonathan Toews then caught Harding five-hole from the left wing, forcing Niklas Backstrom into action early.

The penalty kill was stellar again, snuffing out another 3-on-5 disadvantage and four short-handed situations in all, including one to end the third period to preserve the point. Oh, and Corey Crawford. He made three saves before the ‘Hawks lost Matt Cullen on the game’s first goal and can’t be blamed for raging douchebag Cal Clutterbuck’s redirection in the second period.

Then there was this save on the 5-on-3:

While the ‘Hawks obviously controlled possession for most of the final two periods – the Wild had only two shots in the third – most of their shots weren’t off quality chances. The aggressiveness and bull-rushing of the net we saw early on faded and Backstrom wasn’t challenged to make many tough saves.

Though Patrick Sharp hit the crossbar in regulation and again in the shootout, I don’t think he played his best game. He seemed a step slow all night, and he was flat-footed when Mikko Koivu, I believe, skated into the zone right past Sharp, forcing him to take what could have been a costly penalty at the end of the third.

And Dave Bolland lost 14 of 20 faceoffs. Holy shitball does that need to stop, and fast. That’s way too many possessions behind given up for the second line.

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

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Jimmy holds grudges.

Like a Broken Record: Overtime Boxing with Blackhawks (2) and Red Wings (1)

Yep, that's Jimmy's water. (Credit: Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune)

Yep, that’s Jimmy’s water. (Credit: Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune)

Never have the Blackhawks won their first six games. And there’s little better than watching them set that franchise record by beating hated Detroit – in overtime, no less.

Nick Leddy’s tally in OT was the difference in a 2-1 victory that seemed far-fetched given the way the ice was tilted for most of the contest. Luckily Corey Crawford was on our side.

Crawford and some stellar penalty killing helped snuff out Detroit’s six power plays, which including a 5-on-3 in the second period. Between Michael Frolik being extremely active on the kill, Crow making some tough saves and the Wings shooting themselves in the foot, Detroit’s in ability to get more than one through on numerous chances proved to be the difference.

Other stuff…

– This is the shit part of only playing Western Conference foes in a shortened season: Every OT game hands over a point that could prove to be crucial in the division race and battle for playoff seeding. With Detroit unable to find its scoring touch, a regulation victory was there for the taking, but …

– … they looked completely gassed in the third period on the end of a back-to-back. That’s understandable, especially given they played most of the second period shorthanded. Though it’s frustrating to give up a point to the Red Wings, the flip side of that is the ‘Hawks got two points when they didn’t appear they’d even snatch one at times.

– I think I’ve figured out why Pavel Datsyuk is so annoying. It’s because he doesn’t do anything to annoy me except consistently play well against my favorite team while wearing that uniform. That’s it. Nothing else. He’s one of the best players in the world, does it with class and has a game I wished he had played all these years wearing the Indian head. When he went 1-on-4 through the ‘Hawks with sick puck-handling before nearly beating Crawford with a backhand, I about shit myself.

– Speaking of Crawford, his second-period performance was fantastic. To face a 3 on 5 and five other short-handed situations on the end of a back-to-back and help turn them all away can’t be discounted, even if he didn’t even see the third-period goal that slipped through five-hole. Again I’ll ask: What more do you want from him at this point?

– Now comes a six-game road trip, beginning with new-look Minnesota on Wednesday. We’ll be back to preview that journey, which includes paying a visit to those assholes in Vancouver on Friday and the Feb. 5 tilt with undefeated San Jose.

Now for another edition of Boxing. Right-click on the image and click view to enlarge…

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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.