If we’re all in agreement this season is considered “Stanley Cup or Bust” for the Blackhawks, then I can forget about discussing anything in between.
Playoffs? Expected. Division title? Well, at least home-ice advantage, or the fan base expects doom.
It’s a part of living within a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately society. Winning streaks mean championships, and losing streaks mean fire sales. You’ll have to look fast to find the in between, especially with the come-as-you-are outlets like Facebook and Twitter.
Lately, the cries have been about the goaltending duo of Corey Crawford and Ray Emery, and how the Blackhawks stand no chance to advance in the postseason unless changes are made – no matter how drastic.
If you’ve yet to recognize a trend in the Stan Bowman era, goaltending is not his top priority. And there’s a couple justified reasons for that.
Before everyone goes out to their Super Bowl engagements tomorrow I had planned to write a piece on PDO and who would be a prime candidate for a breakout right now. (Hint: focus was going to be Dave Bolland with a pinch of Bryan Bickell) After only one point gathered out of six over the past week that just didn’t seem like a good idea anymore. Instead, I’m just going to write a short post that sends you off to hopefully your very own snack stadium with just one request.
A first period goal from Olli Jokinen was not a comforting way to start the game. It was a gorgeous slapper to the top the net that surely made some Hawks fans think, “Oh boy, here we go again.”
The Hawks responded in clutch form by knotting it up with 29 seconds left in the first period. Patrick Kane delivered a gorgeous pass Brent Seabrook who buried it in the net to tie it up.
Last second goals like Seabrooks, are huge going into the intermission to grab some momentum back and come out strong in the second, as the Hawks did for the most part.
The Hawks played a fairly solid second period until Michael Frolik took a stupid double minor penalty with 3:24 left in the period.
Jay Bouwmeester capitalized on the back end of the power play scoring with a little over a minute left in the second.
The Hawks played a much more physical second period, going after the body and at least tried finishing their checks, which is more than they do on a typical night. More >
I tell you, the last time I had that much fun, I was getting a barium enema. Last night’s game against Edmonton made my intestines seize up in exactly the same way. Hopefully tonight against Calgary we can maybe back off the severity to manual rectal exam.
The Flames team that we face tonight has a slightly different look than when we visited them back in November. Gone is former Blackhawks power winger Rene Bourque, and in comes former Canadiens’ center Mike Cammalleri. The impact has been minimal so far, with Cammalleri notching 2 goals in the 6 games he’s played with Calgary. Also gone is center Brendan Morrison who was traded to… well, to us! He’ll be taking on his former team for the first time tonight at the ScotiaBank Saddledome.
The Flames are chasing a playoff spot right now, sitting 5 points back of 8th-place Minnesota in the Western Conference. Calgary GM Jay Feaster is trying to make a few last-minute moves to shore up his roster for the push to the finish, though he has stated for the twelve-thousandth time that he is not trading Jarome Iginla. In case you were wondering…
First, I’ll go ahead and preface everything with that I more than agree the Blackhawks need to add depth on defense. Moreover, I believe the ‘Hawks need to simply focus more in their own zone, which goes for everyone wearing the Indian head. I don’t think any of this can be disputed one bit.
But against my own good judgement, I took to Twitter after the game and saw more trading of Patrick Kane. More trading for Tim Thomas. People talking about trading the entire team, with the only untouchable being Jonathan Toews. People ready to fire Joel Quenneville.
I don’t know why I continue to be surprised by this. One game – granted, an extremely bad one that pissed me off royally – and all of the sudden the Blackhawks’ proverbial ship is sinking with 30 games to play while being six points back of the Western Conference-leading Detroit Red Wings. To break it into simpler terms for those who have been following hockey since 2009, that would translate to three games.
If the Cubs or White Sox were three games out of first with 30 to play, would you be calling to trade the entire damn team? Didn’t think so.
There are plenty of things I didn’t like about The Disaster at Rexall Place – Part Duex, but sometimes assholes like Sam Gagner have 8-point nights when a team plays like dog shit on both ends of the ice. Luckily, the Blackhawks don’t lose 20 points for the lopsided 8-4 loss. This isn’t Final Jeopardy, and the ‘Hawks didn’t bet it all and get the question wrong. It simply adds another number under the ‘L’ column, just like the last four.
Am I sugarcoating this defeat? A little. The Blackhawks’ six-game road losing streak is their longest since their franchise-record 19-game skid in 2003-04.
But there are so many meatballs out there forcing me to do it. I don’t want to be the calming voice. I’d much rather rant logically and swear up and down while throwing things at my cat, but as I wrote on Twitter, the Blackhawks have possibly the most bi-polar fan base in all of sports. If the ‘Hawks win their next two games, some of these same people clamoring for wholesale changes will be talking Stanley Cup again. I refuse to pour petrol on that fire.
With all that said, I’m angry about the loss, as I’ll show in Boxing…
November 19th was a low point, to say the least. Allowing 9 goals on 34 shots, the Blackhawks humiliated themselves in front of a giddy Edmonton crowd that, despite the cliche of Canadians’ courtesy and good manners, took to taunting the ‘Hawks in the 3rd period.
Apparently all bets are off when the puck drops.
So thousands of television sets all over Chicagoland were damaged by flying objects hurtled by frustrated fans, and the Blackhawks left Alberta having left their egos, their confidence, and any illusions of dominating Western Conference opponents splattered all over the Rexall Place ice. It took a crime scene remediation team four days to clean it up.
NOTE FROM BARTL: I’d like to welcome our newest member and resident statistician to the staff. He’ll be contributing to Cheer the Anthem when he gets free time. His stuff is good. You’ll read it.
If you’re a Twitter user, you’ve no doubt seen our staff of beat reporters for the Hawks respond to trade ideas from the fanbase. The inherent difficulty here is that most of us that follow the sport are just that: fans. The names that are suggested are more representative of a panicked Yankee fan dialing into WFAN asking if, “we can trade Swishah and a prospect for Longoria and Matt Moowah.”
I like to daydream too. Picturing Shea Weber, Ryan Suter or P.K. Subban in an Indian Head sweater looks great, but it’s simply not plausible. Instead, what I’d prefer to do here is suggest a real option that may not move your needle, but it’ll address a glaring weakness that the Blackhawks are currently saddled with. More after the jump.
Is that sour taste out of your mouth yet? Yeah, it’s not out of mine either. Losing to the fucking Canucks is the absolute worst. If you’ve been a Blackhawks fan since the early 90′s, you’ve sort of been conditioned to expect losses in games with Detroit. Sure it sucks, but you knew it was coming. When they lose to the Blues, you can at least be reasonably sure they will kick the shit out of them next time – because they are the lowly Stanley Cup trophy-less St. Louis Blues. But losing to Vancouver? Goddamn it stings quite a bit. The worst part about this loss is that there won’t be a chance at revenge until March 21st, when the two teams face each other for the final time of the season at United Center. The last time Vancouver beat us, the Hawks only had to wait 10 days to see them again.
The Blackhawks battled their asses off last night, but ultimately fell short in overtime when nobody seemed to notice Thing 1 (or was it 2?) costing right into the wide open slot. Not scoring in the 2nd period (which they absolutely dominated) proved to come back and bite the Hawks right in the keister. An unbelievable goaltending performance by Cory Schneider and one bad giveaway by Viktor Stalberg were the keys to the Canucks victory. It’s as simple as that.
NOTE: Having trouble with the box score tonight, so no Boxing. It’ll be back after the Edmonton game – hopefully.
Any loss to Vancouver rivals a complete rectal examination, though I came away somewhat pleased overall after the ‘Hawks fell 3-2 in overtime Tuesday.
Basically, I saw plenty more good than bad out there, which is all you can ask for after a week off, thrusting a new player into a big role and beginning a nine-game road trip.
♦ Seeing Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp on the ice was a positive, though Sharp wasn’t himself and Toews ended up missing a few shifts in the first period. I wouldn’t be surprised if one or both of them took off Thursday’s game in Edmonton.
With that said, Toews’ unbelievably stellar move in the OT nearly won the game if it weren’t for Cory Schneider playing to puck so well. The hand/wrist/whatever didn’t seem to bother him there.
♦ #ShawFacts – The love and affection for Andrew Shaw has worn off, and now we’re simply expecting him to be an NHL contributor if he’s going to play with the big club.
And so, it begins: the home stretch of the regular season, kicked off by a 9-game road trip over the next 20 days, during which we take on 8 different Western Conference opponents starting tonight with our old friends the Vancouver Canucks.
So how have LuLu Belle and the Tampon Twins been lately, anyhow?
Well, LuLu is playing so well that his coach doesn’t trust him to play the Big Bad Blackhawks who made him cry; and just before the All-Star break the Tampons were held to a single point, going minus-4 between them against the one-point-out-of-last-place Lightning. Not exactly what you call inspiring performances.