Yesterday afternoon 15,004 booing idiots in Winnipeg got an idea of what they can expect for the next decade from their toughest opponent and newest rivals from #CONFERENCEIII and they likely left the arena with a sick feeling in the pit of their stomach. It can’t be comforting to know that the Jets have to face this Blackhawks team six times a year for the foreseeable future. Oh well.
The Blackhawks came out looking rusty after a three day layoff and the Jets actually led this game for a five minute span after Tobias Enstrom opened the scoring with help from a nifty screen by former Blackhawk Michael Frolik. Corey Crawford protested that Frolik interfered with him – but the officials decided the goal would stand after a short discussion. It didn’t really matter though, because Niklas Hjalmarsson tied the game just a few minutes later with a heavy one-timer after Marcus Kruger’s first career face-off victory. The game was tied at one when the first period ended.
Any fears that the Hawks would have a fight on their hands during the first of the back-to-back dissipated when Brandon Bollig, Patrick Sharp and Nick Leddy struck three times in the opening six mintues of the second period. Ondrej Pavelec was pulled and the Jets really never mounted any serious rally. To be blunt, the final thirty five minutes of the game were boring as hell with the exception of a missed Patrick Kane penalty shot.
Ben Smith tallied the lone goal in the lifeless third period which was played only because the rules said it had to be.
All things considered, we’ll take the 5-1 beating.
STARZ TIME! LISTEN UP:
* Nobody has been more dismissive of Bollig over the last year or so than I. That being said, I’d be not to tip my hat to him today. Bollig had the first multiple point game of his career and the wrist shot he unleashed on his goal was spectacular. Over the past few weeks, Joel Quenneville has trusted Bollig on the PK and notably gave him his regular shift with under two minutes to go in the Ottawa game on Tuesday night. Bollig’s carved out a spot for himself on this roster.
* Speaking of Q, earlier this week he was gushing about how well he thought Jeremy Morin had been playing. So why did Morin only get two shifts duirng the first period? Did I miss something in the Ottawa game on Tuesday night? Regardless, Morin got out of the doghouse a bit in the final two periods and didn’t look out of place at all. I don’t get it.
* If you were listening to Pat Foley call Sharp’s breakaway goal you’d think Sharp merely slipped the puck in to an empty net. If you saw the play, you’d know Sharp turned Ondrej Pavelec inside out to create that empty net. Absolutely disgusting move by Sharp. Don’t get me wrong, I love Foley – but he didn’t have his best stuff yesturday.
* I’ll take Nick Leddy teeing up bombs from left point all the live-long fuckin’ day. Keep ‘em coming.
* Crawford settled down and played a real strong game after getting theatrical with the official following the first Winnipeg goal. I didn’t think Frolik interfered with him. Whatever.
* Kane very nearly claimed the shiny new donkey offered by Mr. Burns as a reward for the head of Colonel Montoya. Damn crossbar.
* Jets fans didn’t endear themselves at all today to Chicago hockey fans. They booed Patrick Kane. They booed Corey Crawford. They booed Corey Crawford when he was hurt. They booed Jonathan Toews. By the end of the game, you guessed it, they were booing the Jets. Odd bunch up there in Winnipeg.
* Really sit back and enjoy the Calgary game this evening because you know the Bears/Packers game tomorrow night is going to be like pulling teeth. Ugh.
I was supposed to recap the Hawks/Sens game but real life got in the way. However, the main talking point has been the performance (or lack of same) of a certain bibulous backup. Such ineptitude can really only be expressed through the medium of verse and, considering its Halloween and all… I give you
Those of you who play Fantasy Hockey may be familiar with this feeling: when a player that you have high, high hopes of, a player that’s slipped under other’s radar, falls to you in the Draft and you rub your hands with glee; thinking about how smart you are, about how your secret weapon is going to propel you to glory and then… pfffft… not a disaster but nothing special either. Know that feeling? Do I?
After a harrowing 5-3 loss to Minnesota at the UC on Saturday, the Hawks headed for the Twin Cities for a second go-round with one of the hottest teams in the league. The first game was one where it felt that every single rub of the green went against Chicago, coupled with a goalie standing on his head. Tonight it was very much the reverse.
I planned to do Boxing tonight, but I ended up having to watch the game at work and couldn’t get around to it. Plus, there are some things to talk about that can’t be done through Boxing. I will do it after Thursday’s game against the ‘Ning. I think. I hope.
Taking at least a point in eight of the first nine games is something that should be celebrated. Not in the NHL-record-24-straight-games-to-start-a-season sort of fashion, but it’s definitely impressive – even for a team coming off its second Stanley Cup title in four years.
But there’s no doubt there’s some uneasiness resonating within the fan base about the Blackhawks’ inability to find twine in the third period this season, leading to some unnecessarily uncomfortable outcomes. Such was the case Tuesday, as the ‘Hawks blew a 2-0 lead in the final period before Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp scored in the shootout for a 3-2 win over Florida.
I know it seems like the easy way out, and I’m probably in the minority, but paint me unworried – which is precisely the stance the Blackhawks are taking. It’s October, and they’ve ended up with two points more often than not.
”We’re not happy with giving up leads in the third period,” Sharp said. ”We’d like to close teams out by scoring in the third period and get out of here, but when the games get tight we seem to play better and that’s important. It would be a lot worse if we were coming away with no points instead of two.”
”I don’t think we’re playing any different than the first two periods. I don’t think we’re sitting on leads,” Quenneville said. ”We’re not complaining, let’s put it that way.”
Here we go then: the Hawks head away from the UC for the first (sort of) extended trip away and it’s off to the Sunshine State with Mothers in tow (which should at least spare us the endless golfing anecdotes from Pat & Eddie later on). Not that Florida is the sort of place I’d care to take my own mother.
Rumour has it that the real reason that Joachim Nordstrom was sent back down to Rockford is that the Hawks did not feel that an impressionable young Swede should be exposed to Florida or, at least, not until he’s warmed up with a couple more trips to St Louis.
Before I start looking ahead, I wanted to take a look back at Saturday’s 3-1 win over the Leafs, when Dave Bolland made his first trip to the United Center as a visitor and the whirlwind of emotions that went along with it.
We’ve been through this before when key members of the 2010 Cup team returned to the UC after being jettisoned, but Bolland hitting the ice in a Leafs sweater felt very different – for me, at least. Him being dealt on draft night probably was the least surprising transaction Stan Bowman has made after Bolland had a rather disappointing 2013 regular season.
He battled injuries – which was becoming all too familiar – and his inability to supplant himself as a consistant second-line center who could win draws became tired. There’s no question Bolland is talented, and his playoff performances from seasons past along with his lively personality kept some on his side. But when it came down to it, we all knew he had to go. It was merely a formality.
Had Bolland not scored the clinching goal in Game 6 against Boston, which may end up going down as the most famous goal in Blackhawks history – surpassing that of Patrick Kane in 2010 – due to the situation, the sadness we felt watching him go likely wouldn’t have reached the heights it did. But he did work his ass off to get in front of the net and beat Tuukka Rask 17 seconds after Bryan Bickell’s equalizer, and he did give us that famous celebration of tossing his gloves to the ice before Frolik jumped into his arms. We’re not going to forget that. Ever. And that’s why seeing him on the ice Saturday wearing Toronto colors felt more strange than maybe it should have.
Does that video tribute get played, sans the goal obviously, had he not delivered one of the greatest moments in franchise history? Doubtful. The standing ovation that followed? Maybe, but I can’t imagine the game is stopped to give him that much attention. The fact is, his 399 games donning the Indian head, including the playoffs, will be defined by the last few seconds he wore it.
That’s all well and good, and he gave us one of the best sports memories of our lives, but we have to realize his previous deficiencies were what sent him packing for Canada. It was tough Saturday, and I’m glad it’s finally over.
Now, for the week ahead….
These are never easy to write. It’s one thing losing to a strong St Louis team after a close, hard-fought game. That stings. Losing after a close, hard-fought game where the Blues also got away with behaving like meth heads fighting over the last rat roasting on the garbage fire? That really hurts. But that’s not the worst of it..
At the moment no one in St Louis gives a shit about the Blues. Now they know how the rest of the NHL feels, all the time. The Best Fans In Baseball are too busy laying in the meth and practicing pushing wheelchair-bound ushers down stairs ahead of Saturday’s playoff game to expand their precious bender-scratch on Hockey. (It’s a meaningful Playoff game, too, with the StL side not being the ones facing elimination, a situation entirely alien to Blues fans.) Luckily this game is in Chicago so Hawks fans are supposed to outnumber Blues supporters.
Time for more fun with numbers and your views on proceedings in sunny Carolina the other night.