Sod that for a game of soldiers. About the only thing missing from last night’s disaster was someone getting hurt. I’m, sure no-one wants to talk about it, so we’ll get it out of the way quickly & move on to eyeing up LA.
Got that Friday feeling? Good, us too. The Blackhawks are heading into the weekend after a run of three games where they scored at least six goals (and also won by at least four). The mood around Hawks Nation is positively buoyant, after a brief outbreak of DOOM folowing Corey Crawford’s injury. It’s going to be a busy weekend after a few days off; first a trip to the ACC to play the slumping Leafs, a game that, while it will lack the ferocity of the old Norris Division days, is always one to circle on the calendar. The following night sees one of the Western Conference’s genuine powerhouses, the Kings, roll into town for the first time this season. LA have gotten over their usual slow start and are rumbling up the standings on the back of a five-game winning streak.
I won’t go to much into the upcoming games, as each warrants its own preview; instead here are five thoughts that are rattling around in what passes for my brain after the last week of Chicago Hockey. Feel free to debate, debunk & demolish in the comments. You can also call me a ‘Thundering Flangehead’ if you like.
Welp, Philadelphia sure got Phucked.
Trailing 1-0 after 20, the Blackhawks dominated the final 40 and ran away with a 7-2 victory over the Flyers on Wednesday night that had a good portion of the United Center faithful leaving early to beat the traffic.
What they saw before heading out into the penis-shrinking frigid temperatures was a beatdown perfectly suited for an embarrassment of a Philadelphia squad. Seven goals by seven different Blackhawks. They’ve scored 19 goals during their three-game winning streak, making it look so easy that Jonathan Toews literally has goals coming out of his ass.
Our friend Brandon Spinner points out that the ‘Hawks haven’t scored at least six goals in three straight games since Jan. 21-24, 1993.
– The ‘Hawks have six players with at least 10 goals. Six. Andrew Shaw got into double digits with his wrap-around tally past Rey M. Murray. Shaw is Chicago’s third-line center. He has 10 goals. You know how many Flyers have 10 goals? Hint: It equals the same amount of Stanley Cups they’ve won over the last 36 seasons.
– Patrick Kane had two assists, bringing him to within one point of Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead. He has a point in 19 of his last 20 games, yet that didn’t stop the guy in Sec. 326, Row 13, Seat 11 from saying shit like this all night: DAT KANE, WHYS HE ALWAYS LOOKIN FER DA PASS? HE’S NOT DOIN NUTTIN. GOTS NO SPEED. SUMFFINS WRONG WIT DAT KANE GUY TONIGHT. HE DONT LOOK NO GOOD. I hope you’re reading this, too. Moron.
– Patrick Sharp had a goal and two assists, making the handsome one officially on fire. Four goals and four assists during the winning streak. Remember when he used to play for the Flyers? And they gave him to the Blackhawks because they had too many centers and has flourished as a wing? And even played center on the 2010 Cup team at times? Hahahaha. I like that story.
– So, the penalty kill was meh, and the power-play unit gave up a pair of short-handed breakaways. But Antti Raanta was all over those, and he played a pretty solid net overall – especially given he played last night against Dallas. This two-day break should suit him well. Oh, and the ridiculous scoring output is sure helping ease his transition to holding down the fort in Crawford’s absence.
– Nice little tribute welcoming back Emery. He must’ve really missed hearing Chelsea Dagger.
Here’s Boxing. The other idiots will be here with you Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday, as I’m going to be doing plenty of drinking during an extended birthday weekend. You’ll hear me with Adam and Jim on Cheer the Podcast early next week, though.
Well, city of Dallas, thank you for providing us with two teams Chicago can laugh at on consecutive nights.
After the Bears broke open a tight game to rout the Cowboys on Monday Night Football, the Blackhawks scored early and often in a 6-2 domination of the Stars on Tuesday.
Before we go any further – especially since we won’t get to see him again until March 25 – can we all agree that Antoine Roussel is one of the biggest jagoffs this planet has ever seen? Kris Versteeg giving him that little shot as the clock wound down got him all butthurt, but Roussel was a piece of shit all night with his antics. And of course, that asshole scores twice. At least they had little meaning, unlike the last meeting at the United Center. He’s about as much fun as a morning-after-White Castle shart.
On to more important things, the resounding victory was a nice follow after dominating Florida on Sunday, and a solid precursor heading into Wednesday’s tilt at the UC against Philadelphia. Antti Raanta was solid, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Brandon Saad and Duncan Keith all played very well, and the ‘Hawks got a little revenge, too.
A couple things I wanted to point out…
– We’ve all been pretty tough on Brent Seabrook around here, but I thought he played a solid game tonight, including the pass that sprung Kane for his breakaway goal. He played tough along the boards and drew a couple penalties.
– Though the ‘Hawks failed to convert on that early, extended 5-on-3, it wasn’t because they were short on chances. Sure, it stings not to pot one there, but Lehtonen made a couple of nice saves and pucks went just wide. Had they not generated anything, it would be more concerning.
– As Nakis wrote on Twitter, nice goal by Future 3rd-line Winger Michael Kostka.
– Keith’s slap pass to Sharp that led to a breakaway goal was a thing of beauty. By the way, he’s fourth in the league with 24 assists. Not fourth among defensemen, but fourth in the goddamn NHL. That’s neat.
– With the news Corey Crawford will be out three weeks – and I think that’s a gift given how bad he looked coming off the ice Sunday – it’s Raanta’s net. He might even get the call against the Philly as well given that the backup is now something named Kent Simpson. He let in a softy in the second and then one in the closing seconds to Dallas’ resident cocksucker, but he played some solid goal and made 27 saves.
– Jonathan Toews missed a couple shifts and only took 11 draws, losing seven. Hand? Wrist? Just precaution in a blowout? We’ll see.
Before I get to Boxing, I’d like to first apologize for my lack of presence around the site lately. I got married – yes, I actually was able to convince someone to marry me – and have been dealing with a pending move back into the city, so things outside of here have been a bit hectic. I’ll be around a lot more now, especially as we get Cheer the Podcast going regularly.
Here we go….
Among the topics covered are Corey Crawford’s injury in the Florida game and what it means going forward, goaltending contracts in general, the James Neal-Shawn Thornton mess in Pittsburgh and Boston plus some general talk about the East vs. the West stack-up so far. Enjoy! Hopefully next week we’ll be able to deliver on the surprise we mention in the first minute or so.
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The last time the Florida Panthers were in town it required a police escort to get the visitors’ bus to the UC, due to heavy snow. That was in January 2012 and Kris Versteeg spoke of his emotion on his first sight of the Stanley Cup banner that he had helped to win. The Hawks won 3-1 that night.
We’ll that was then and this is now. Versteeg is once more a Hawk and there’s a new Cup banner hanging in the rafters. The Panthers roll into town 3rd last in the Eastern Conference, 12 points adrift of a Wild Card slot. So they’re pretty much dead and buried, then.
Here come the Ducks..
The only team that the 2013 Blackhawks couldn’t solve roll up to the UC tonight in a similar position to last year, with the Hawks at the top of the League and Anaheim being among the leaders of the pursuing pack.
This was a hell of a hockey game. The Wild came out of the gates firing as Matt Cooke dented the twine not even five minutes into the contest on a goal from the slot. Torrey Mitchell’s pass was from behind the goal line in the corner and Cooke put it home. After that it wasn’t until a Wild powerplay late in the 2nd period that the scoreboard operator had to make a move. For the better part of the first 40 minutes, the play was even. Both teams traded chances and Quenneville relied heavily on his top line and pairing.
It is what it is. I’m not going to second-guess this overmuch. These lines probably make the most sense based on the pieces available in St Paul. The fact that there is an NHL-ready (if not 100% yet then learning) Center getting ready for a game in Charlotte with the Icehogs tonight while a winger is the 2nd Line pivot and two players with 8 & 9 NHL games between them are on the 3rd line with a Defenseman is just one of those things that we’re going to have to try to ignore and have faith that Q knows what he’s doing.
Otherwise we might think he’s out of his mind.
As my esteemed colleague JesusMarianHossa pointed out on Twitter, chances are that the erstwhile 3rd line will be more like the 4th, certainly in terms of TOI. This whole “The 4th Line is ROCKIN’” narrative should get put to a stern test because it’s been a possession black-hole and is likely to see some hefty opposition tonight.
Mike Yeo does love his match-ups and obviously has last change. so look for him to get his big guns out aginst them. The Minnesota lines have a slightly makeshift look about them, with Mikael Granlund now out indefinitely with a concussion. They are expected to roll Parise-Koivu-Pominville ahead of Heatley-Coyle-Niederreiter. This could get hairy quite quickly. Apparently Saad could also see some time at Center, too. What is guaranteed is a lot of double-shifting, so it’s a good thing this isn’t the first of a back-to-back with the Ducks coming to Chicago tomorrow, hey?
Anyway, I would expect the line blender in overdrive if things don’t start well tonight.
The Wild are no slouches, as we discovered already this year, outside of the top-tier Parise & Suter, they have Jason Pominville, Coyle & Niederreiter all contributing well. Jared Spurgeon is having an excellent year thus far and of course there’s that goalie. The Wild allow the 2nd fewest Shots Against in the League and Josh Harding has a SV% of .939.
This could be a long night against a genuine Conference III contender.
Of course, it might all click brilliantly, the Hawks annihilate the Wild and Q looks like a genius.
Guess there’s only one way to find out.
Puck drops at 7