On the Bob Probert episode we chat with Sirius Chicago Blackhawks correspondent Al Cimaglia about the Hawks’ recent slide. We try and understand the roster construction, where blame should be placed, and what can be done to get the Blackhawks back to being a perennial powerhouse. Jim’s computer dies.
I was entertained. If you weren’t please seek medical attention immediately.
It felt like the Chicago Blackhawks controlled this contest tonight for the better part of 45 minutes of game action. The thing is, they really didn’t though. The Red Wings seemed to get their legs underneath them in the final frame and it was the right time considering the game was tied heading into the that last period of play. This game was pretty much flipped on its head. Even the shot totals reflected that with the Blackhawks hammering Detroit 17-6 in the first period, an 8-8 even second period and the Wings having an 11-7 advantage in the last period.
But back to how I opened this: this was a hell of a hockey game and it really is a shame we only play these guys twice a year anymore.
It’s the Kris Versteeg episode of Cheer The Podcast. The guys discuss the past week of Hawks games, whether or not they have enough depth to compete in the Western Conference, and the moves that have already been made by Nashville.
We all wanted Hossa to be a hero. He didn’t need to score the winning goal against Vancouver. He sent the game to overtime. That was enough. We hailed him for it.
Then, early in OT, Sedin offered a silent objective rebuttal to homophobes and ingrates. The Hawks lost. Hossa got a loser point and a fine harangue. We’ll call him a fucking hero.
All around the league losses are rotting on the ice. Points left behind. Some days we anoint heroes. Other days we damn them all. Who is just a loser? Who is a fucking hero.
We decide, based on nothing. Hossa is a fucking hero. Hossa still lost. So did the whole team. They all lost.
Maybe you claim Hossa as a hero because you need something beautiful to cling to in the wee hours. Maybe you claim Hossa–especially in the aftermath of embarrassing defeat–because simply accepting that even the best teams skid sucks the meaning away. I know I do.
No matter what your reason, it is selfish. It means nothing. The Hawks still lost. They still left two points rotting on the ice. But he’s a fucking hero.
And now what? After the Canucks game, Teuvo earned a ticket to Somewhere in Illinois that is Not Chicago. LIke I said in our Round Table, even the Pope admits he can’t explain how his supposedly loving God permits the suffering of innocents. Where does that leave Hawks fans, drenched as we are in pride and avarice? It leaves us with our Golden Boy clipping coupons for the Olive Garden.
Which begs the question: do we try and force meaning into this game tonight? We can hue and cry but we cannot affect the front office. We can contort a February skid into a narrative of challenge and grit. We can write off losses to a bored team that maybe, just maybe, isn’t placing hockey at the top of its daily To-Do list.
Whatever path you choose, know that it is meaningless. The season will grind on, wins and losses accumulating whether we swear blind allegiance or boycott, the end result of countless events too obscure to measure. We are powerless to affect change.
So I choose to rage against the heavens. I don’t want a fucking hero. I want a team. I want Carcillo and Shaw off my team. I want Teuvo back from Nebraska or wherever the fuck they sent him. I want whatever happened one spring evening at the penalty box door in Detroit two years ago. I will not be happy until this team’s name rings from the throats of choirs raised in triumphant measure.
You keep your fucking heroes. I want a fucking team.
Coming up a fraction of an inch short of taking all six points on a three-games-in-four nights stretch probably should feel better than it does. But when the Blackhawks fail on four power-play chances – including a 4-on-3 in overtime – and take a dumb penalty that gives an inferior opponent a chance to swing the momentum, it becomes a little more difficult to swallow.
The no-call on the ice is what put the ‘Hawks at a disadvantage even before the video review, and to me the more disheartening fact of that same sequence was Brandon Saad hitting the crossbar that would’ve made the puck that toed the line moot. Antti Raanta ended up getting out-classed in the shootout, Mike Smith decided not to completely suck for a night and the Blackhawks dropped the first of an eight-game homestand, 3-2 to Arizona.
With Kris Versteeg about to make his return against Vancouver on Wednesday, the focus now shifts to who will be sent down to Rockford to open up a roster spot. Will it be Teuvo? Nordstrom? We’ll find out soon enough.
But let’s take a quick look at some points from this loss…
- As close as Shaw was to getting credited for the winning goal, he was just as close to blowing the whole thing. A bonehead turnover in his own zone led to a breakaway that Raanta was able to stone. I’d seriously like to know why this guy doesn’t catch more flak from the beats and why Q continues to put every ounce of trust in giving Shaw power-play time and minutes in big situations. I know us here at CtA have harped on this topic plenty, but it deserves mentioning as long as it continues happening. In his defense, he won 12 of 15 at the dot.
- Speaking of problems, Ben Smith continues to be terrible. His gaffe led directly to Arizona’s second goal, and he spent most of his nearly 12 minutes on his ass. Also, Johnny Oduya was #bad again after a solid showing against St. Louis.
- Patrick Kane cannot take that penalty. I’m guessing he was voicing his displeasure over an offsides call, but that’s no excuse to be sent to the box for only the second time this season. The mistake ended up in the back of the net, and the Hawks were caught in a tie game despite owning most of the contest up to that point.
- To speak on more positive notes, the Saad-Toews-Hossa line was fantastic. I’m convinced Toews listened to the podcast, because even he would admit the bit of ribbing we gave him for his recent play was warranted. He had an extremely solid all-around game and assisted on both of Hossa’s goals. Saad drew the penalty on Erat in overtime and created the opportunity on the delayed call.
- Staying with Hossa, let’s keep this little run going, shall we? He’s scored each of the Blackhawks’ last four goals after netting the final two in Sunday’s win over the Blues. He scored four goals in his previous 16 games combined.
Oh, let us know what you think about Teuvo…
Everything else I have is in Boxing….
Cheer the Podcast Episode 22 (2.8.15): A week after dropping two of three in California the guys reconvene to discuss coming away from three divisional games with four points. Other topics include the upcoming eight game homestand, the impending return of Kris Versteeg as it relates to Brad Richards and inexplicably somehow talk of the Calgary Flames making the playoffs shoehorns its way into this one. Of course, plenty of Teuvo too.
Audio after the jump.
The Blackhawks have been reeling for a few weeks and we haven’t seen their best hockey since before Christmas. One of the prevailing excuses for why that is has been that this is the mid-season doldrums. Maybe the Hawks have been bored. They know they’re almost guaranteed a playoff spot if they play mediocre hockey until the end of the season. But something about that seemed like too easy of an out for a team that’s struggled to score goals lately.
Today, we had ample opportunity for some evidence for that theory. A rivalry matinee game with a STL team that has been pummeling opponents lately, all coming after an OT win on Friday night. How would the Blackhawks play?
Well, they played well enough to beat the Blues on the road. A disgusting one-timer from Brandon Saad to Marian Hossa in the third period put the Hawks in the lead for good after blowing two leads throughout the game.
At moments, they looked like a team with Stanley Cup aspirations. At others, they looked like the pedestrian team that gets manhandled by Minnesota. The good news is that those moments were fleeting and the mistakes the Hawks made were mostly because the Blues are a damn good team. They force their opponents to make mistakes and Chicago showed enough resilience and effort to overcome them.
We’re podcasting later, so let’s get a quick breakdown… More >
Now Rise, Chicago
We tithed to them when poor
We tithed to them when weak
We tithed to them in honor’s name
To lift up the arctic’s meek.
Gen’rous host, a role we played
By the Lake or River’s shore,
Bound for glory we did know
Three games we could afford.
Without a thanks they took them
And turned upon us swift.
No honor have the ‘Peggers
Who spurn such gracious gifts.
The time has gone for charity.
The time has gone for grace.
The time has come to show them
Their proper lowly place.
Now Rise Chicago, cast aside
Your kind and gentle heart.
Unsheathe your sword and bellow
Like the God of War thou art.
Now Rise Chicago, do not rest
Until the light bleeds red.
Now Rise Chicago, do not rest
Until their dreams are dead.
There are plenty of things that piss me off. Like traffic, people who are too lazy and ignorant to clear the pile of snow on the top and back of their vehicles and let it blind other drivers on the expressway, and those who say, “Yuck, this tastes disgusting. Here, try it.”
You can add the Blackhawks playing like dog shit during a long, important road trip to that list. They squandered two points against the Kings, dismantled a flawed Ducks team, failed to do much of anything against the Sharks and then looked rather disinterested against the Wild in a game where getting a pair of points was pretty much necessary.
Each player we consider bad was downright awful, and the ones we count on for production weren’t very good either. Corey Crawford was probably the best Blackhawk on Tuesday. Too bad he didn’t get any help, as the ‘Hawks were blanked for the first time in consecutive games for the first time since 2006.
I break down most everything in Boxing, but here are a couple of points:
— In the CtA text thread during the game, a solid point was brought up. The Hawks simple have too many “just guys,” i.e. players who simply put on a uniform, skate around, do essentially nothing and head back to the bench. Joakim Nordstrom, Ben Smith, Andrew Shaw, Bryan Bickell, Michal Rozsival and Johnny Oduya were discussed. The fourth line as a whole basically has been terrible. Why Shaw continues to get minutes on the first power-play unit and in important situations when a goal is needed simply defies logic at this point. His bonehead penalty seconds after the ‘Hawks were awarded a power play is a prime example.
— Pat Foley reminded us again how Coach Q consistently makes the point that the team that comes out better after a 5-on-3 situation usually seizes momentum and wins the game. Well, the ‘Hawks had a great kill of such a situation and turned away the rest of the penalty … then still gave up 24 shots on goal in the period and came away with zero points. Thanks.
— Did Teuvo play all that well? Not particularly, especially on the third goal. Is he being used properly? No, of course not. His time with Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp had little to do with Teuvo and everything with Brad Richards being so bad that Q had no choice but to make the switch.
— And hey, this road trip gets more fucking terrible. Winnipeg on Friday and an afternoon tilt with St. Louis. The Hawks have two points out of eight possible so far. At this point, getting at least to overtime in both games would be a victory.
Cheer the Podcast Episode 21 (2.1.15) – We wrap up the California trip, bring on our first guest, ESPN.com’s Corey Pronman, to discuss the Adam Clendening-Gustav Forsling deal and the Blackhawks’ prospect pipeline, and we talk about the second half of the lengthy Hawks’ roadie.
Some have suggested that, when examined in the cold hard light of arithmetic, Patrick Kane is nothing special. If you look at how he affects his linemates’ possession metrics, he is revealed for what he truly is: a scion of the eye test. Patrick Kane shines in the mind’s eye, his exploits better suited for hockey’s chansons de geste than for the slogging accumulation of shot attempts at the commodified game’s industrial heart.
Last night, in the second period, Patrick Kane exposed the limit of this kind of thinking. He’s done this before – a certain playoff hat-trick comes to mind – but last night’s coup de grace was more poignant for its utter banality. Three points is three points, even for two teams firmly assured of playoff berths, but the contest lacked any utilitarian drama. What interest attended the game came only from larger metaphysical questions. Not that we’re supposed to care about these things anymore. Just rack up the points, shift-by-shift and possession-by-possession. Until, that is, Patrick Kane receives a pass from Patrick Sharp and cracks the game open in an instant.
There is no point describing the interval, reducing the moment to a set of actions that anyone, reading them after the fact, could convince themselves lay within their grasp. They do not. Because Patrick Kane is beautiful.
He is not pretty. He is not a physical presence. He is an aesthetic moment on the ice. And Anaheim possesses no counter.
That was the answer to Anaheim’s pre-game pondering. Can they compete against the league’s elite? The Blackhawks are not pretenders. This core has won the Cup twice, in campaigns demanding a tithe from every account, tangible and intangible. Just last year they skated within one bad bounce of returning to the Final in a series that promptly etched itself in folklore.
And what of the metrics for that? Who cares. They are legend. They are beautiful.
And the Ducks? After last night, a certain thought must be gaining volume. They are losers.
The smart take is patience. The smart attitude is to understand one January game in the context of an eighty-two game campaign, exhale slowly, and place both Wednesday’s loss and tonight’s affair in perspective. This isn’t the Premier League. What matters is making it to the post-season and winning sixteen games. It doesn’t matter if you win sixteen in a row, start as a wild card, or win in some ungodly L.A.-sanctioned combination.
Who cares. I spend my days apart from my wife and son, churning through business, rushing to be back in their arms, worrying about status and accomplishments and money and things, wanting only to bask in their love without a care, all against a barely contained roaring dread that at the end I will know with certainty that I could have made a greater mark on the world if only I had actually studied for the fucking SAT. To get through life with any semblance of happiness, I exercise the smart take. I am patient. I don’t expect perfection.
From my hockey team? Fuck perspective. I don’t want fifty-five solid minutes squandered in the final engagement, a good job good effort handshakes for everyone. I don’t want enough wins.
I want all the wins.
And I feel this need more keenly tonight. Some say we should bask in this golden age of Blackhawk hockey. Cups are now a real possibility every year, rather than a dream aching in the chest. But I do not want to bask.
I can glimpse the twilight in the offing. All is temporary. And just as I clutch my son tightly at night in the knowledge that one day too soon he will spurn my embrace and one day more, but not enough, distant I will be unable to hold him, I cannot simply enjoy this moment. In the near future the glory will lapse. The Hawks will be nothing more than a decent hockey team.
So I want more than a win tonight. I want vengeance. I want to scrub the coppery taste of loss from my mouth. I want Toews to take a moment this evening, look out at the executives and middle managers clinging tightly to a sepia-tinted fiction of Blue Collar America while they CHEER THE ANTHEM and toss a one-liner to Hossa. Then unleash hell.
After all, Ducks are disgusting creatures: http://www.nature.com/news/2009/091223/full/news.2009.1159.html
Woof. The Blackhawks blew three leads last night against a struggling Kings squad en route to a 4-3 loss. A controversial Tyler Toffoli goal tied it with under 7 minutes left in the third and a few minutes later Jake Muzzin ripped a shot that deflected past Hawks goalie Corey Crawford to seal the deal.
Chicago got off to a good start, with a blast from David Rundblad getting blocked right onto the tape of Patrick Kane who buried less than two minutes into the game. Jeff Carter returned fire to tie it later in the period on a wrister that Crawford should have had. But the Blackhawks Patrick Sharp buried on the power play to send the visitors to the locker room ahead 2-1.
The only tally of the second was Jeff Carter again and, again, one that Crawford should have stopped.
Andrew Shaw also scored for the Hawks in the third period to make it 3-2. A nifty play from Teuvo Teravainen made that happen.
And so it begins: the Hawks head out on the annual Western swing, a road trip that is overblown in importance (points are points) but nonetheless throws up enough quality of opponent to keep the players interested (until they get bored and inevitably lose to the Jets). It’s a shorter trip this time, only playing the Californians with no jaunts to Arizona or Western Canada before heading back to Central opponents in Minnesota, Winnipeg and St Louis. Last time out the Hawks clocked the Kings and Ducks yet barfed one up to the Yotes before heading to Sochi. The year before saw the first dropped points of the season to the Wild and the Nucks and, of course, a sweep thereafter. 2012? Let’s not go there.
We’re coming off the All-Star Break and gearing up for a swing out West. Since there’s little to write about right now, here’s an article I wrote for the print edition of The Committed Indian a few weeks ago, concerning another NHL gimmick and what might not be a bad idea for its future. As ever, thanks to Sam and the guys for letting me contribute and you can subscribe to the digital version right here. Or just pick it up at the UC on game nights. Do yerselves a favour, innit?)
The Blackhawks made news today by recalling Ice Hogs center Dennis Rasmussen from Rockford ahead of their six game road trip which starts in Los Angeles on Wednesday night. The Hawks placed the surprisingly productive winger Kris Versteeg, who has been out since being injured during the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, on LTIR to make room for the 6’3 Swedish forward. The beats indicated last week that a forward would likely be recalled in wake of Dan Carcillo’s six game suspension, which was handed down by the league last Tuesday. Rasmussen has 8 goals and 8 assists in 44 games so far in his first North American season. He signed with the Hawks as a free agent in June.
Cheer the Podcast Episode 20 (1.23.15): Well, we finally talk Teuvo, hate on Tim Erixon, wonder what the hell is wrong with Johnny Oduya, question the use of Andrew Shaw, and discuss whether or not David Rundblad is any good. Listen up:
Now that we’re back to getting some regular content on the site, we’ve decided to re-introduce every staff member with our opinions on some Blackhawks issues as the NHL takes a break from games that count.
Feel free to tell us how stupid we are and voice your gripes in the comments or on social media. Let’s get after it then, shall we?
Oh, also, Sellers’ answers are the best. I mean it’s not even close. OK, now let’s get after it….
The Blackhawks are 7-5-0 since Christmas and are tied with St. Louis (Blues have a game in hand) behind Nashville in the division. How do you account for the recent slip in their play?
Nakis (@JimNakis): It’s undeniable that the Blackhawks started coming back to earth after Corey Crawford took a fall at that Enya concert. I think it’s some combination of general fatigue, substandard defensive play from Oduya, Rozsival and Rundblad and Crawford trying to rediscover his pre-injury form. All things considered, I’m not super worried about the state of this hockey team.
Adam (@SouvenirCity): The Jets are no longer a punchline and two of those losses came at their hands for starters. Losing to the Stars isn’t wholly unexplained neither. That team is good and merely took some time to figure out a few things. Defensively they’re going to remain a mess more likely than not, but Dallas scoring 6 goals? That’ll happen with the kind of firepower they have up front. The only losses that really pissed me off were the WC and the Oil. The Winter Classic was a tough one to swallow given how it happened. I don’t fancy the Capitals much and that’s twice now the Hawks have dropped games to them. 0 points vs. WSH is not a good look. The Oil are the worst team in the league and it’s no longer a loss I can laugh off. Stop losing to them. Crawford was out for the beginning of that stretch I believe and our third pairing doesn’t give me much, if any, confidence.
Mighty Mike (@brightblack76): Combination of things, really. There’s the standard winter doldrums, where they seem to lose interest for a bit. There’s also been some rank bad luck (see Avalanche, Colorado for a prime example). The various injuries and suspensions and general Q line-juggling have disrupted the flow a bit as well. And yes, Crow hasn’t been imperious since his stage-dive went wrong. Nothing to worry about, really, although I’d like to see them push for the Division so that they avoid having to go through the Preds AND the Blues (although getting the Kings in the 1st Round would hardly be a walk in the park either).
Tom (@ThomPauly): The snooziness of January. Probably not what people want to hear, but these games are boring for good teams. They mean very little when you’re virtually guaranteed a playoff spot. And with the runs of success the Hawks have had in the past, it’s understandable that they’ve been just okay since the mid-December. I’m not, by any means, suggesting that it’s acceptable, but take a look at the January record for the Hawks last year. They were 5-2-6 to start the year last year. That’s not too good for any team, much less one that expects to compete for a Stanley Cup.
Sellers (@lexpatriate): These are clearly not champions. Champions don’t take breaks. A champion would have seized the opening and pressed the advantage and initiative and no letting up on the gas. A champion would have championed.
Bartl (@BartlSTATS4): Let’s take a look at the losses since the holiday break. Outdoors in the final seconds in Washington. Varlamov’s stellar 54-save shutout. At Edmonton in the second of a road back-to-back. A home to loss to a legit Winnipeg team that has owned the ‘Hawks. And a flat stinker against Dallas, which happens. I mean I’m not trying to make excuses, but I’m simply not getting worked up, especially after dominating Arizona and winning at Pittsburgh before the break.
It always feels good to beat the Penguins, but something about it feels so much better when they’re wearing the sweaters that the franchise wore while they swept the Blackhawks in 92.
Another shootout victory this year has them 6-1 in the skills competition, a far cry from a lot of losses and few wins last season. With that said, the journey to get there was both good and also frustrating.
Before Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews scored and Corey Crawford stopped both Pens shooters, the Blackhawks blew a two-goal lead as snipers Zach Sill and Steve Downie would rally to get Pittsburgh a point. What a shitty sentence to have to type. Those two guys suck.
Really this was a tale of two halves of hockey. Chicago absolutely owned the first period. There were numerous stretches of play (minutes at a time) in the Pens zone but only one goal to show for it – a bomb by David Rundblad after Marian Hossa walked Sidney Crosby at the blue line.
The first part of the second period saw the Blackhawks score on the power play! Hossa put a laser beam inside the far post while Bryan Bickell put on a good screen in front of Marc-Andre Fleury.
The wheels fell off then for awhile in the second period. A dogshit, brutal turnover by the WWF jobber tag-team of SHAWZY AND ROZY allowed former Blackhawk Andrew Ebbett to find a wide open Zack Sill for a one-timer. That was Sill’s first goal this year in 32 games. Some folks will point to Sill being Teuvo Teravainen’s man, but in reality, he was providing low support on former Blackhawk superstar Craig Adams because Michal Roszival is terrible.
A short time later another bum-ass turnover by Roszival and poor low-zone coverage from Brad Richards allowed Steve Downie to bang in a rebound and tie it at two. Blech.
We better break this thing down before I start vomiting about Roszival…
I’m not sure when or why it happened.. it may have been the Yotes beating the Hawks in the 1st round in 2012, maybe it was the Torres hit on Hossa and the idiotic attempts to defend it.. more likely it was the complete inability of their oversensitive fans to take a joke about moving to Quebec. Then there’s the flopping and histrionics of Mike Smith. Maybe it’s the intense jealousy because the “AAAARRRROOOOOO” goal celebration has been rightly restored to Chicago. Whatever, in recent years the Coyotes have gone from “Minor Irritant” to “Douchenozzles” and are now sliding back into irrelevance again.
Hanging six on the Yotes, especially with the aforementioned Smith in goal for all of them, was fun at any rate.
Happy new year to you and your family from Cheer The Anthem!
The Winter Classic, at its best, is an outstanding event showcasing hockey. Last year at the Big House we saw two iconic teams, Red vs. Blue, snow falling all around the stadium, and it was a grand spectacle. It was exactly what the marketers and money people for the NHL and sponsors wanted to see. Hell, I’m so sick of the Maple Leafs and I loathe Detroit and I was glued to my television. And granted, I’m not the person the NHL is marketing this game to. I’ve watched Edmonton play Arizona this year so I’m watching no matter what, but man, the presentation of last year’s Classic had everything for good television watching.
This year, the Winter Classic was the worst of any they’ve had. More >
Cheer the Podcast Episode 19 (12.26.14): We’re posting this a few days after the fact but you’ll forgive us as certain life events have made podcasting a bit more sporadic this season. Jim and Adam sit down to discuss the Blackhawks as we near the midpoint of this season and the Winter Classic is on the horizon. We look back at what we missed and hit on in our preseason predictions. Our mea culpa for Kris Versteeg being a primary tenet there. Oh, and those Stanley Cup Champion Dallas Stars, too. After a little bit of a bumpy start there’s almost nothing to complain about and we try not to do just that.
Audio after the jump.
I’ve got a test on Aggression for my Social Psychology module on Friday, so I spent a lot of today watching videos of chimps killing each other and Nazi propaganda films, also reading about the Rwandan Genocide, the Stanford Experiment and Abu Ghraib. Reckoned that sitting through an hour of the Devils skating around couldn’t be any worse, so you’re stuck with me for the recap. No Fatso, of course, but Jaromethuselah Jagr was there to bring the average age up by 3,619 years. Jaromethuselah has been very quiet against the Hawks of late, getting zero goals in the 2013 playoffs as a Bruin and recording exactly one shot in the Hawks’ two games against him last year. So, how did it all pan out?
A satisfying beat down of the Blues happened Wednesday night. It was 1-1 heading into the third period until Kris Versteeg buried a Jonathan Toews pass at the 59 second mark. The floodgates opened after that as Patrick Kane added two more tallies (both assisted by Versteeg). There’s not a whole lot to discuss with this one, it was a systematic ass kicking. Just a couple of points in the breakdown: More >
I assume one of the guys has recap duty.. so wait for them for “intelligent” analysis.
I’ma go wit this
Can’t wait for California to slide into the ocean. Fuck the Ducks, the Kings and (sorry, pals) the Sharks.
Love, kisses and apocalypses