Chris “Stache” Deme’s Q&A With Blackhawks Fans

Photograph by: Jamie Squire, Getty Images

A thought crossed my mind last week.  We sit here writing about this and that, and our readers loyally glance over our opinions and our pieces each and every day, but we (or at least I) have never opened up the floor to the fans to ask questions.

Earlier this week, I posted an update on Joel Quenneville’s Mustache giving fans an opportunity to ask any questions they want about the Blackhawks, hockey, or life in general.

I spent the next few days answering some of these questions, and picking a few of them to share with the world on Cheer the Anthem.  So, without further ado, here are your questions:

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Man Advantage Advantage: Hawks 2 – Senators 1

Behind the Net: Where stats come from

Here’s your CORSI and shift charts to start. We begin there because it’s the first thing I noticed when watching the game. I didn’t even really need to look at the charts tonight because Joel Quenneville kept his hand off the lever and maintained a very consistent lineup throughout this entire game. We’ll get back to that in our quick hits but it had to be mentioned first and foremost since it’s not something that happens, well, ever.

The first period was pretty much one of consistent movement as there were very few stoppages. The Hawks were controlling the pace and the puck for the vast majority of the first 20 minutes. They played a simple game, one that involved a single premise. Get the puck on the net. Instead of moving the puck around the perimeter once they gained the zone, Chicago stuck to one or two passes and then immediately tried to put the puck on the net. Most of the Hawks chances came between the circles or right at the goal mouth. To be perfectly honest, it was a pleasure to watch that first period despite going into the intermission down 1-0. Speed to the outside, center the puck to the trailer and fire it at the net. That’s JMH hockey porn right there. My only complaint was the standstill nature of the powerplay once again.

In the second period it was again the Hawks controlling the pace and outshooting the Senators 17-7. Patrick Sharp got a penalty shot opportunity early in the period but failed to convert. Sharp went wide, made one move and then tried to go glove side high but Lehner simply beat him. About 3 minutes and change later, the Hawks got on the board with Bryan Bickell’s goal on a delayed penalty. If the Blackhawks could treat that man advantage like they treat their powerplays (two skaters in front, work the puck behind the office and center it) our powerplay probably wouldn’t have a 38 chance drought. [looks at score sheet] HOLY SHIT WE SCORED A POWERPLAY GOAL LATER IN THE PERIOD. And would you look at that… two skaters in front, Hossa gets a rebound and takes it behind the office to get a wraparound.

The third period was a frustrating 20 minutes of the Hawks turtling and being outshot 10-5. It was also Joel Quenneville sending Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook out there for nearly 12 minutes each. Dylan Olsen and Sami Lepisto recorded three shifts each while Leddy and Oduya picked up nine respectively. The last two minutes were skittish but the Sens really only mounted a couple solid chances in the final frame.

  • I’m probably reaching apologist status with Corey Crawford but I’m in agreement with Q. This is Ray Emery’s crease to lose right now. I still think we’re going to see a lot of juggling of the goalies because I’m not sure Razor’s hip can handle the constant work but I’ll refrain from delivering a backhanded compliment here. Ray Emery made key stops tonight and was very good. Own that blue paint, Razor. The deed is yours now.
  • Consistency! Joel Quenneville! He did it! Take a look below as I’ve organized the shift charts by line. Look how they all line up!

Click to Embiggen

  • The powerplay, oh my, the powerplay. The first one sucked because there were five statues with Indian Heads out there but after that, it was all movement. Behind the office, two skaters in front, wristers or slap shots from the point. Even on the delayed penalty we saw this and it resulted in Bickell’s goal. Baby steps and I will take it. Keep it up, boys.
  • Seabrook and Keith still skated nearly half an hour tonight. I know it’s a one goal game but I think you can trust Leddy or Oduya a bit more in the 3rd. Even the 3rd pairing. Still, a win so I can’t complain much here. 27 minutes and change isn’t that bad.
  • Nice save in the 2nd period, Johnny Oduya. Razor was on his stomach and had no idea where the puck was. Hopefully they give you a save at hockey-reference.
  • Andrew Shaw is getting a bit more disciplined but I still don’t want him on anything but the 4th line. Jimmy Hayes seems to make more sense on a checking line that places an emphasis on defense and positioning.
  • Viktor Stalberg committed a penalty in the third period and actually saw the ice after it. More Quenneville progress.
  • Going to need you all to sit down before reading this next point. Seated? Good. Nick Leddy led all Blackhawk skaters with a +8 CORSI.  Only Jason Spezza and Milan Michalek were better overall.
  • I think we need to find a way to keep Andrew Brunette in the top six after Toews gets back. That Brunette-Kane-Hossa line was generating chances all night long. Perhaps it’s time Bruno came back up top with the Captain and Kaner?
  • How the hell did Matt Gilroy miss that open net on the Sens 3rd period powerplay?
  • One more time, for emphasis. Take a gander at where the majority of our chances came from. Circles and slot. Only 8 of 37 from the halfboards around the point area.

Click to Embiggen

  • Get well soon, Cap’n.

Capitol Punishment: Blackhawks Visit Streaking Senators

Photo: Associated Press

Like the Blackhawks, the Ottawa Senators sit in sixth place in their conference. The difference is, Ottawa has won 6 of their last 7; Chicago… hasn’t. The Senators are on a tear, and they’re looking to repeat their filibuster of Boston when the Blackhawks take the ice tonight.

What has caused this surge? The main reason for it is a name you likely have never heard before: Erik Karlsson.

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Full Disclosure: Guess What? Too Bad.

Anyone who has paid attention to my moan-and-groan missives and incessant grousing over the last 2 years with Cheer The Anthem knows that I am one of the most vocal opponents of the “lower body injury” non-disclosure standard. It’s ridiculous, it’s insulting to fans, and it prevents a vitally important function of the media at large: namely, being the watchdog on behalf of the fans and players to ensure that the teams aren’t rushing players back on to the ice before they are fully healed.

When I get a bee in my bonnet like this, I go hunting in search of evidence to support my conclusion — like any hot-headed blogger would do. Don’t confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up! But occasionally, I find out that I’m wrong. This is one of those times.

Under the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996, it is a violation of Federal law for a sports team to disclose the health information of one of their players (pronounced: “employees”) to anyone without the employee’s consent.

So if we want full disclosure, guess what? Too bad.

For those of you who are able to endure the lengthy explanation of the specifics, there are some idiosyncrasies about this law as it pertains to sports teams below the jump…

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Scouting Johnny Oduya with Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press

Both Ed and I had planned to get this to you before Johnny Oduya suited up in a game, but his schedule dealing with the trade deadline and a game that same night kept him from getting back to me at lightening speed. I know, how dare him focus on his beat writer job for a team currently fighting for a playoff spot.

Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press again was gracious enough to take time out to help us get a look into Oduya’s time in Winnipeg. He played his first game with the Blackhawks last night after Stan Bowman sent a second- and third-round pick for the upcoming unrestricted free agent at Monday’s deadline, playing nearly 20 minutes.

Here’s Oduya’s career breakdown:

Shortly after sending my his answers while I was sitting in my seat at the UC, Ed sent me an email saying, “Ouch. Looks like Oduya was a -3 in that period.” Luckily, it got better.

Here’s what Ed had to say, and thanks again to him for taking the time…

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Winning By Default: Boxing with Blackhawks and Maple Leafs

"Increase my killing power, eh?" (Chicago Tribune)

I guess that’s what you get when pitting a struggling team against another whose name isn’t even grammatically correct.

Luckily for the Blackhawks, they got their suck out of the way in the first period before Toronto melted down and allowed the ‘Hawks to come away with a 5-4 win at the United Center on Wednesday night.

I’ll save you the goal-by-goal rundown and give a couple of quick thoughts:

♦   Johnny Oduya ended up even after going a minus-3 in the first period, including a goal that came on his first shift wearing the Indian head. However, Brent Seabrook didn’t do him any favors on the first two goals with misplays that led to Leafs goals.

I traded emails with Ed Tait of the Winnipeg Free Press regarding Oduya, and I’ll post his thoughts this afternoon, so check back later.

♦   Patrick Kane was solid all night and gave the ‘Hawks a spark with his play at center. His goal came on some clean up around the net after a Sami Lepisto shot. More of this please. Like, you know, always.

♦  Nice to see Andrew Shaw get on the board in his first game back, fighting off a check before circling to the near post and potting one. Also, his goaltender interference call followed by a roughing penalty was complete and total horseshit. Shaw’s rush to the net was aggressive and forced Jonas Gustavsson to move out of the crease, causing a collision with Shaw that was the result of aggressive play by both players. After that dog shit call, the refs gave Shaw a roughing call despite simply defending himself against Luke Schenn, who came from about 20 feet away from the play to blatantly attact Shaw behind the net.

♦   After the ‘Hawks tied it, Patrick Sharp committed a hockey sin by taking a horrible hooking penalty in the offensive zone before Chelsea Dagger finished playing after Shaw’s goal. Roughly 28 seconds later, the Leafs regained the lead.

♦   The importance of Marcus Kruger’s goal at the end of the first period may be overlooked the way the ‘Hawks were able to charge ahead through the rest of the game. His tally cut the lead to 3-2 and shifted momentum. Without the goal, the Leafs head into the second period with a two-goal lead and pretty much in control.

♦   That goal may have been especially important for the team’s psyche given Coach Q replaced Corey Crawford with Ray Emery to start the second period. Crawford allowed three goals on 10 shots, while Emery came in to make 24 saves over the last 40 minutes. You’ve got to think Emery is going to be the starter moving forward, and there’s no telling what’s going through Crawford’s head right now after being pulled in two straight.

With 17 games remaining now is the time to commit to the goaltender not hurting you the most, as sad as that sounds. It seems Emery is the one at this point. Someone needs to take the reigns heading into the postseason, and Razor is the closest thing the ‘Hawks have to a playoff goalie. Not to say he’s the answer given his struggles this season, but no team heads into the stretch run and into the playoffs using a pair of goaltenders – unless you’re St. Louis with Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott. Emery has to be the one Q commits to now, in my opinion. We’ll see what happens, though.

All right, here’s Boxing….

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Sinking Fast: Slumping Blackhawks Host Nose-Diving Maple Leafs

Photo: Associated Press

In a perfect world, Mikhail Grabovski would be skating out on to the ice at the United Center on Wednesday night wearing the Indian Head sweater. Such is not the case, as Chicago failed to acquire the playmaking forward that it needs at the trade deadline. Chicago fans will get a chance to see Grabs, however: he and the Leafs will be making a rare appearance at the UC, their first since November of 2009.

The bad news is that Toronto has been a team that, like the ‘Hawks, has had streaks of unstoppability during the season. The good news is, now is not one of those times. The Leafs have notched a win only once in the last 10 games, a losing streak severe enough to drop them to 10th place in the East and out of playoff contention.

Those familiar with the Maple Leafs are aware that February is usually when any successful Leafs squad starts to implode, and this year is no exception. They have wheeled the defibrillator and the oxygen cart into Damien Cox’s cube at the Star.

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Hawks Acquire Oduya : Scott To Rangers

Who farted?

Well, the trade deadline came and went today without the Blackhawks making the major splash many of you probably hoped for.

Stan Bowman decided the rent was too damn high and sat on his hands for the most part instead of going out and getting the 2nd Center and shutdown defenseman that this team so desperately needed. He had plenty of cap space to make just about any deal he wanted happen – but the opportunity simply didn’t present itself.

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To Hell We Ride : Hawks Drop Two in California

( Kelvin Kuo-US PRESSWIRE, US PRESSWIRE)

What a disaster.

The Blackhawks travled to California this weekend with a chance to build some momentum after going 4-1 in their last 5 games. Sure, they blew a 3rd period lead against Dallas on Thursday, but considering they won their 4 previous games after a horrible losing streak, a split in California would have put the Hawks at 5-2 since the end of the losing streak and the Blackhawks still could have been viewed as a team on the rise. It wasn’t to be. They got annihilated in Los Angles and the result tonight wasn’t much better.

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No Joy In Mudville: Another Game Without Toews In Anaheim

Photo: Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Having endured one and a half periods of the festering colostomy bag that was last night’s game against Los Angeles, I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty about being in a bitter and sardonic mood as we approach the puck drop for the Blackhawks’ tilt against the Anaheim Ducks. Gordon Bombay’s squad is 7-1-2 in their last 10 games, pushing 5 of those tilts to overtime (and prevailing in 3 of them). Anaheim has climbed out of the laughing-stock category with Columbus and Edmonton, and is just 6 points out of a playoff spot as today’s action begins.

All things considered, I think I’d rather have the ‘Hawks playing the Sharks.

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Strapping it Down: Boxing with ‘Hawks and Stars

(Credit: Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune)

“When they got that first one, we need to stay the course and for whatever reason we seemed to get away from our game. We didn’t manage the puck well in the third, and as a result we lose the game.” – Jamal Mayers

This one is tough to be angry about. It’s just damn annoying.

Not only do we have to listen to reports and read official statements about the possibly concussed Jonathan Toews getting into a car accident in the morning, we’re treated to a game in which the ‘Hawks looked… blah.

The Blackhawks’ 3-1 loss to Dallas on Thursday at the United Center looked pretty good for about 50 minutes, with the ‘Hawks controlling much of the game and seemingly dictating the pace – not that it was all that exciting to begin with.

Corey Crawford was playing well and making the necessary saves on the few lapses in front of him, and he seemed on his way to helping record the team’s first shutout.

Then a string of unfortunate bounces and a relaxed style of play did the ‘Hawks in, as three deflected goals got past Crow to send them to their first loss in regulation when leading after two periods this season.

Going to get straight to a couple things here…

♦   Seven times the Blackhawks have put five or less shots on goal in the third period, with Thursday being the only time they lost. Basically, Coach Q and the gang decided the one-goal lead was enough and took down the firing squad to play a prevent-type D.

I don’t care what team you’re playing in this league, a one-goal lead with 20 minutes to play is not safe, and to think and/or play otherwise is just not smart. Add that onto the fact something named Richard Bachman was playing his ass off for the Stars all night, he’s still a backup goaltender. Attack him, disrupt him – like how they did on Marian Hossa’s goal and what they did against Detroit the other night – and get a goal or two to put it away.

Instead, the ‘Hawks took their foot off the pedal and it cost them in a four-point game.

♦   Dallas, meanwhile, did exactly what the Blackhawks were doing the past few games to get back on track – put people in front of the net and get dirty goals. Steve Ott and Michael Ryder scored on deflections, then Brent Seabrook’s skate got an assist on Loui Eriksson’s tip-in. Crawford had no chance on any of them. Sure, there were some minor blimps on the ‘Hawks end that kept the puck in their own zone, but the results are more telling than what led up to them. Dallas was attacking, the Blackhawks were tightening up. Game over.

♦   John Scott played 2:22 and had five shifts. Dallas came into the game ranked 21st in the NHL in fighting majors, making Scott’s presence damn near worthless – again.

♦   Bryan Bickell was probably the most noticeable forward for the ‘Hawks tonight. Pretty solid game all around.

♦   Power play: 0 for 31 over the last 12 games.

♦   Interesting trend: There were nine games on the NHL schedule Thursday, with seven road teams picking up wins.

♦   With the accident this morning and all the concussion rumors, it will be interesting to see if Toews makes the trip out west to face the Los Angeles Kings – with the newly acquired Jeff Carter – and Anaheim.

Here’s your Boxing…

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Jonathan Toews’ Car Has Difference Of Opinion With Immovable Object

Just kidding, this isn't his car...

Following yesterday’s media feeding frenzy over reports that Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews may have a concussion, he was unfortunate enough to be the center of Twit-rumor-ligula after photos surfaced of his black AMG Mercedes having had words with a steel support for the L train on Lake Street. The car got the worst of that disagreement, and witnesses claimed to see Tazer climb out of the car and receive attention from EMT’s who had arrived on the scene.

The Blackhawks released the following statement regarding the injury:

Jonathan Toews was in a minor one-car collision this morning in downtown Chicago while driving himself to the United Center. He was not injured.

So you can just imagine the insanity that broke loose on the Twitterscape, as the Blackhawks PR department (who would have known about the incident hours before the photos surfaced online) twiddled their thumbs while speculation about everything from the severity of Toews injury, to his level of sobriety, to Patrick Kane being in the passenger seat, to whether the Canucks had installed the bridge support there overnight ran rampant through the social media sphere.

Hint for next time fellas: ostriches with their heads in the sand just THINK they’re safe.

Anyhoo, Tazer is fine, he did apparently get a ride to the hospital in an ambulance as a precaution and at the behest of the team’s medical staff. The Tribune contacted him by text when the story started to get legs and his reply was, “I’m good.” From the looks of the photos, the airbag likely deployed. So Tazer’s ears are gonna ring a little while, and he’ll be sore in the chest for a day or two. Those things save your life, but they’re not pleasant to be around.

Toews was not slated to play tonight anyhow, he missed the game against Detroit with an upper-body injury as well. So, move along people, nothing to see here. Though I would bet that Toews’ insurance agent is not having a particularly good day. If the frame’s bent, they’ll total that puppy. An AMG SL65 coupe lists for around $200K. Ouch…

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Proverbial Cheese Sandwich: Dallas Visits The UC

Photo: The Associated Press

It’s easy to forget about Dallas, mainly since the Blackhawks haven’t seen them since splitting a home-and-home with them to open the season in October. But also because in terms of the standings, the Stars haven’t been a factor. They’ve been cruising around in bubble-team land for most of the year, currently hovering a game back of the 8th spot in the Western Conference.

Then one remembers who tends goal for them, and you get that knot in your stomach. Kari Lehtonen, who fought off 37 shots in his team’s winning effort against Chicago to start the year, has always been a serious pain in the ass to get a puck behind. Going back to last season, when Chicago managed to drop 3 games to Dallas, the Blackhawks did a fine job of humiliating themselves twice on the visitor’s ice — the first by blowing a 3-0 lead and managing to lose 4-3 in a shootout, the second by getting shut out 5-0 while Lehtonen barely broke a sweat at the other end of the rink.

No matter where they sit in the standings, the Stars always give the ‘Hawks trouble. Tonight should be no different.

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Blackhawks Blackjack: Splitting Aces, Not 10s

I never really cared for Peaches and Herb, did you Dunc?

Do you like to gamble? Me too. I’m sure you’ve been at a Blackjack table when someone has split 10s and wanted to hit them upside the head with your shoe. On the other hand, there’s one card that you always want to split. Aces. Well, after four wins and five games with Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith being split up, I’m starting to think that Joel Quenneville would be that guy splitting 10s if he reunites them. He needs to treat them like aces. The status of Niklas Hjalmarsson is still up in the air and Nick Leddy has really improved his play when skating with Brent Seabrook. The Hawks have allowed 2, 1, 1, and 1 in their four wins and even the three goal game in Nashville was a good effort. It was also Sami Lepisto’s first game since the Kennedy administration.

This mostly relates to even strength play. The penalty kill has seen Keith and Seabrook together with Sean O’Donnell getting time with Leddy. Hjalmarsson can take Leddy’s time on the PK when he returns, or even Dylan Olsen who has been seen there.  I’d rather not even begin to talk about the powerplay because there’s still a forward on the point there.

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Back in the Swing of Things: Boxing with Blackhawks and Red Wings

I laughed. (Credit: Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune)

No Jonathan Toews. No Pavel Datsyuk. Still, the same ol’ gritty rivalry.

The Blackhawks and Red Wings gave us another entertaining battle on both ends of the ice, and Corey Crawford beat Jimmy Howard in a fantastic goaltending dual as the ‘Hawks held on for a 2-1 victory Tuesday night at the United Center.

Jimmy Hayes was rewarded with a goal after working in front of the net, then assisted on Marcus Kruger’s tally with some nice board work and a charge to the back of the net, as Kruger tipped in an Andrew Brunette shot that bounced off Howard.

You know the basics, so let’s get to some other stuff…

♦   It obviously wasn’t ideal to have Toews out of the lineup with the always-vague upper-body injury, though there weren’t many points in the contest I was screaming for Toews to be there. The final minute sticks out, when The Captain would’ve been on the ice for in-zone draws as the Wings had the extra skater, and Dave Bolland lost two to give Detroit a couple more shots at Crawford as the clock ticked away. Other than that, the ‘Hawks keep the Red Wings at bay and Henrik Zetterberg damn near invisible.

♦   Patrick Kane was solid tonight, and it was only for a spectacular Howard save on Patrick Sharp that Kaner didn’t register a point. Kane took the puck on the far side and circled toward the center of the ice while the ‘Hawks were on the power play. He skated the puck to the near side and went right at Justin Abdelkader, who had lost his stick. Kane was able to move in and create a passing lane to get the puck to Sharp camping in front of the net. Howard went post-to-post and stuck out his left pad, snuffing out the chance. Nonetheless, a smart, heads-up play by Kaner. He was all over the place and seemed to step up his game with Toews out.

♦   Speaking of the power play: 0 for 30 over the last 11 games, with the last PP goal coming when Bolland beat Pekka Rinne in a 3-1 home loss to Nashville on Jan. 24 – the last game before the All-Star break.

♦   Crawford’s play wasn’t stellar, but his saves were not exactly routine. I saw far less rebounds than in the previous games during his current stretch of four straight games with one GA. Him staying in the blue paint more often than not has seemed to pay off, and his run has quelled the talk of trading for a goaltender – for now.

♦   When a goaltender is on like Howard was tonight, garbage goals are necessary to grind out a win like this. The ‘Hawks got them with the help of some aggressive play in front of Howard, taking advantage of a couple loose pucks and pounding them home. This seems to have been lacking recently.

♦  Going 28 for 54 at the dot without Toews is definitely a victory on that end. With that being said, here’s to hoping Toews doesn’t have to sit out Thursday against Dallas.

Here’s Boxing…

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This Is OUR House, Bitches: Blackhawks Host Red Wings

Photo: Associated Press

Yes, Detroit (*spitting noise*) has won 23 straight at home; and yes, that is an all-time NHL record — which will continue to grow until they lose. But they have a problem.

They’re in OUR house today, and the Blackhawks are on a winning streak of their own. So if they think they’re going to have an easy time of it this evening, they came to the wrong place. December 30th ring a bell, bitches?

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Thank You For That: Blackhawks Dominate Blue Jackets, 6-1

"We won a game yesterday. If we win one today, that's two in a row. If we win one tomorrow, that's called a winning streak. It has happened before."

No matter how terrible the Blackhawks were during their nine-game road trip, at least we have the Columbus Blue Jackets to thank for being only slightly better than a drunk men’s league team.

Following up on their 4-2 slump-buster over the New York Rangers at MSG on Thursday, the ‘Hawks crushed the BJs 6-1 behind solid efforts from nearly everyone.

The victory marked the Blackhawks’ first back-to-back road wins since taking five straight from Nov. 25-Dec. 14.

After Sami Lepisto made every ‘Hawks fan replay Chris Campoli’s turnover in Game 7 against Vancouver in their minds 300-400 times, it was all Chicago.

Jonathan Toews made a hard move to the net and slid it past Steve Mason to tie it up, and Viktor Stalberg netted his eighth goal against the BJs this season just over four minutes later for what proved to be the game-winner.

Patrick Sharp took a great feed from Patrick Kane and one-timed it past Mason in the second before Kaner chased Mason through the five-hole less than two minutes later.

Marcus Kruger and Lepisto added the insurance in the third.

Hell of a game to write about in my first post in a long time. Moving and being without internet couldn’t have come during a better couple weeks so I didn’t have to talk about the lumps of shit that happened previously.

A few quick thoughts…

♦  Note to Lepisto: Never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever make a fucking mistake. Ever. Next time, Q won’t just bench him, he’ll call Bowman from a cell on the bench and have him cut. Granted, Lepisto’s turnover was absolutely brutal, but he hasn’t been playing all that terribly lately. After the Jackets’ goal, Lepisto didn’t see another shift until he scored his goal, playing 5:59 for the game.

♦  Here are the Blackhawks’ numbers, with the “core” players highlighted:

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Will You Smile Again For Me? : Hawks Win 4-2

Let it all out, Hoss ( Bruce Bennett, Getty Images)

Maybe Alicia Keys (note: I do not listen to Alicia Keys ) knew what she was talking about in that one Jay Z song?

The Blackhawks rolled into New York and played absolutely inspired hockey all night long. The Hawks threw 4 first period goals past a stunned Martin Biron and that’s all they would need to beat the best team in the Eastern Conference. While things got a little bumpy at the end of the 2nd period, the outcome was never really in doubt after the forth Blackhawk goal – which came just under 10 minutes into the contest.

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The Glitter Rubs Right Off: Blackhawks Look For A Win On Broadway

Photo: AP

This date has been looming large on the horizon ever since this road trip began. New York Rangers franchise goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, arguably the best goaltender in the league since the new year, would likely be the most impenetrable netminder the Blackhawks faced on this road trip. And as the games — ok, let’s call them what they are… the losses — drew us nearer to today, Lundqvist kept getting better. In his last 8 games he has 7 wins, including 2 against Philadelphia and capped with a shutout of Boston on Tuesday. In that stretch of 8 games he has 3 shutouts and has let in a total of only 9 goals.

The way this was looking, the Blackhawks may as well have been shooting at a net protected by a force field.

But then, through some quirk of fate or coincidence, the darkness lifted, the clouds parted, and for the first time since before the All-Star break, the Hockey Gods smiled on the Chicago Blackhawks…

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Don’t Worry, She’ll Hold Together

Brohug? BROHUG!

Hear me, baby? Hold together.

Not only am I a stat wonk but I have a bit of an affection for using Star Wars to explain everything. The Blackhawks have lost lateral controls on their 2011-2012 campaign but the ship is still flying. If you’ve given up hope on this season, and I know for a fact that some of you have, no worries. It’s just hockey. I’m not going to question your fandom (which is stupid), call you a bandwagon jumper (equally unintelligent) or ask that you please turn in your Indian Head sweater along with your keycard on your way out. There’s some flaws that probably won’t be fixed on this roster, even after the February 27th trade deadline that is quickly approaching. What there is, however, is a window that’s very wide for this team in the future.

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Misery : 0-8-1

( Christian Petersen -Getty Images)

0-8-1. That is worse than the start the Columbus Blue Jackets got off to at the beginning of the season. I hope all the jerks taking their kids to Disney on Ice are having a great time – because its killing the Chicago Blackhawks.

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Talk Is Cheap: Blackhawks Look To End Losing Streak In Nashville

Photo: Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

The Blackhawks play Nashville tonight, and it’s my job to tell you about what we can expect during the game. So here’s the obligatory paragraph about the Predators before we talk about the Blackhawks’ 8-game losing streak.

Nashville is 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, most recently losing in a shootout to Boston. They’ve always been a defense-first team, but this year they are doing well in both categories — just outside the top-10 in both goals-for and goals-against. They can kill you from many, many angles: 9 players have 11+ goals, 9 players have 29+ points. Goaltender Pekka Rinne continues to shine, his .924 save percentage ranks among the league’s top-10. Neither Ryan Suter nor Shea Weber has been traded, and likely won’t be before the puck drops this evening. So that’s bad for us.

Will that work? Okay. On to business.

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No Rest For The Weary: Coyotes Host Blackhawks

Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images

I’m sure we’d all like to call a “time out” and give the Blackhawks a week off where the team, coaches, and management get to assess what’s wrong, figure out how to fix it, and get this train back on the tracks again. But there’s no rest for the weary, as Chicago is back in action tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes.

The bad news: Phoenix is on a 4-game winning streak. The good news: they have the second-worst power play in the league. So maybe if Coach Joel Quenneville gets his head out of his ass and leaves Nick Leddy on the bench during the penalty kill, we’ll have a shot tonight. More on that in a few moments…

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Marco? Marco? Fish Out of Water! Sharks 5 – Hawks 3

I agree Johnny. Chain him to the net.

Let’s get something out of the way first. Yes, I am about to subscribe to your Fire Coach Q newsletter but I haven’t quite put my credit card number in yet.

Here are your shift chartsCORSI and I tried to get the line combinations however LwL doesn’t have them available yet so I’ll be going from memory on those. At first glance, the CORSI makes it look like a game that a puck possession team should have won. Vlasic and the tank known as Dougie Murray were out leading their team in keeping pucks away from Antti Niemi which helped San Jose’s cause. We outshot the Sharks by five but once again that doesn’t matter when the Hawks defense looks like it did last night.

The first two goals I’m hesitant to place the blame on Corey Crawford. How many times did we have to see Eddie Olczyk diagram that first powerplay goal and put the blame on Marian Hossa though? As can be taken by my handle here, I’m a pretty big Hossa fan. I think Hossa covered his assignment and was heading for the shooting lane to block the shot. Crawford came out to challenge on Burns’ shot from the point and as we’ll discover later, a common theme arose from that. The puck went wide, Leddy got worked physically in front and Corey never regained his spot in the crease. The second goal I will just consider a wash because the fact the Hawks were shorthanded after Joe Thornton punched Jonathan Toews in the face and removed his helmet is something not even Ed Hochuli could explain clear enough for me.

Still, the Hawks were able to scramble back and get two goals from an unlikely source in Marcus Kruger. Both were nice net crashing plays by Umlaut, especially the 2nd where he went backhand on a rebound. That goodwill was soon spoiled by, no NOT Viktor Stalberg, but Duncan Keith’s inability to not only retain Vik’s pass at the blue line but coming back on the break and never getting into position. He seemed to give up and assume that the 2 on 1 break would result in a goal. Dylan Olsen got back, Keith never did. By the time he got back he never got in proper position and Thornton was able to bank one in off of Crawford.

We wouldn’t see Stalberg on the ice after that incident and I’ll be addressing that in the bullets.

The final period was marred two goals where Corey Crawford once again left his crease only to not return in time as hockey puck, party of two, had taken his reservation there. Someone please chain him to the net because the book is out and I’m tired of reading it. You get Crawford down, away from the net and he can’t scramble to get back in time. Now, let’s get some bullets in here.

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Fresh Chum For The Sharks: Chicago Visits San Jose

Photo: AP

It’s difficult to believe that less than a month ago, Chicago took down the San Jose Sharks at the United Center; and furthermore that the game was our second straight victory over San Jose this year. The only game we lost to the Sharks was in the Tank back in November on the Circus trip, and that was a 1-0 loss.

We can skate with this team. Well… we could skate with this team. Of late we can’t skate with Edmonton, or Colorado, or any one of a host of other teams that we should skate circles around. We’re having trouble beating the bottom feeders these days.

The Sharks are in first place in the Pacific Division. Oh Nellie, here we go…

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