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Boys In The Bubble: A Look at the Western Conference Playoff Picture

 

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As the Regular Season enters its final 10 days, there are some teams sitting home, hosed and focusing on Seedings for the Playoffs. There are also those who are All-But-A-Meltdown away from clinching their berth in the Post-Season. Some are out and awaiting the embalmer already. For them, the fight is over.  However, the West being the West, we’re left with a number of teams currently in and and around the final Playoff positions, teams who’s fans are nervously eyeing the standings and schedule, feverishly calculating “Magic Numbers” and “Four-Point Games” while keeping tabs on ROW and GD tie-breakers.

BOY does it feel good to not be among those those teams!

The Hawks position ,having clinched about five minutes after the Lockout ended, allows us to cast a jaded eye over the unfortunates currently engaged in the re-enactment of the Battle of the Marne that’s happening further down the table. I suppose I should sympathise, as there, but for the Grace of Hoss, go the Hawks (as I’m sure we all remember from the last couple of seasons). But, on the other hand, I could make a bunch of jokes and take some cheap shots at the contenders… Choices, choices..

So without further ado. here’s your handy Cheer The Anthem Guide To The Bubble. Teams are listed with current Pos/GP/P

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The Mellow Hoss of Texas (sorry) Dallas 2 Hawks 5

 

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Well, I took a pre-game nap that overran slightly so watched a lot of this match-up from a slightly dazed viewpoint. Whether that enhanced my Critical Faculties (yeah, right) or impeded them, I know not.

What I saw was a Hawks team that is playing it smart: content to mooch along doing what they do until it’s neccessary to suddenly up the intensity and blow the opposition out of the water. Which worked out quite nicely.

This was an effective performance by the Hawks and stretches their current streak to 6 games. Dallas and Phoenix losing, combined with the Beej becoming the 2nd hottest team in the West (4 game win streak) has caused another round of musical chairs around the lower seedings. Be thankful, very thankful that the Hawks are miles above that particular shitfight. It’s going to be very, very ugly.

Anyway, to bullets before I head off to work

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You Ain’t Any Kin To The Snare Drummer Are You?

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Yes, that’s a Stan Freberg quote in the title.  Who’s Stan Freberg you ask? He’s a genius that’s who he is.

Anyway.. tonight the Stars enter the UC tied with the Hawks for “Hottest Team In The West”, their run of 5 straight wins suddenly catapaulting them into the conversation for the last Playoff places.

This is especially notable because Dallas appeared to be blowing off this year by trading away the majority of their geriatrics at the Deadline: Jaromir Jagr was sent to Boston for prospects and a pick,  Brenden Morrow went to Pittsburgh (for Joe Morrow giving headline writers many cheap “Two-Morrow” based puns to work with), Michael Ryder is now raising both the average age and height of the Habs forward corps and the stripling of the group, Derek Roy, got shipped to Vancouver for Kevin Connaughton and pick.

They were the biggest sellers at the Deadline and appeared to be looking at a rebuild (and also trying to offload all those cases of Geritol on the Black Market) And then they went on a tear. Suddenly the likes of the Wild, Wings and Yotes are glancing nervously at this Dallas streak before letting their gaze wander to their golf clubs.

So what to expect tonight? Who knows. Last time out, the Hawks hung 4 on Lehtonen and then did exactly the same to the Running Man Writer.  Lehtonen has had a tendency to turn into a brick wall against the Hawks in years gone by, which suggests he’s due one.  However, as of this writing, word is that Bachman gets the start.

As for the Men Of Four Feathers, no word yet on whether it’ll be Crow or Razor in net (although I have a feeling that, coming off a shutout against the Blues, it’ll be Crawford) and Patrick Sharp is listed as “Doubtful” which is just fine by me. He has more important battles than this to come.

A Hawks win tonight moves the “Magic Number” to clinch the Western Conference to 1. While it would be lovely to get it all wrapped up nearly two weeks early so that they can wrap Kane, Toews and Hossa in bubblewrap for the few remaining games. it’s also not worth getting hurt over.

Staying healthy is the watchword from here on in.

Let’s Go Hawks.

Credit: Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY

Hated Respect for Detroit; Just Hate for St. Louis

Credit: Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY

Credit: Jasen Vinlove, USA TODAY

Winning the last-ever Central Division title has a nice feel to it, especially when the Blackhawks were able to clinch it by coming back Friday against a Detroit team we all love to loathe. And when dessert is a sweet victory over the talentless apes wearing Blues sweaters, well, that makes for a nice weekend in my book.

But after Corey Crawford turned away 30 shots in Sunday’s 2-0 victory in St. Louis, it got me to thinking a little bit about where the rivalries with these teams will stand once Detroit heads East as realignment takes effect next season.

While the Red Wings have always been hated, there’s still a level of respect that goes into watching guys like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk - and going further back to the likes of Nicklas Lidstrom, Dominik Hasek and Steve Yzerman – grace the ice with their play. It just so happened they wore a different sweater.

Granted, those sweaters are evil and ugly and make you want to vomit up the three squares of your day, but any one of us ‘Hawks fans would have liked to have any of them wearing the Indian head. Hell, Hasek may have played most of his career in Chicago had it not been for Ed Belfour.

The Blues? Other than Vladimir Tarasenko, there’s not one breathing pile of diarrhea on skates I would take from that team. Even if any of them wanted to play in Chicago for free, I would have them deported back to that hellhole of a city that shouldn’t be allowed to call itself part of America.

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Hawks @ Blues: Preview Caption Competition

The Hawks head to the Land Of Toasted Ravioli for the penultimate time this season and, let’s face it, on the final day they’re likely to ice a team that consists of Tommy Hawk, an Inanimate Carbon Rod (no Q, Stan didn’t re-sign John Scott) and Nakis; if he shows up at the game with his skates.

Rather than bang on about what an absolute Monsoon of Asshats the Blues are, I’d like, instead, to highlight something warm and fluffy about them.

As reported on Puck Daddy the Blues’ David Backes and Barret Jackman recently took time out from, respectively, making “Tiger Face” in front of a picture of Jonathan Toews and collecting roadkill to make a delicious stew, to appear at a Charity Event, Adopt-A-Pet’s “The Great American Pooch Smooch & Kitty Kiss”., which is used to encourage people to overcome the various stigmas associated with rescue animals.

 

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All very worthy, and well done them etc. Seriously. Rescue Animals are awesome.

However, the photos from this event are.. well.. they’re Comedy GOLD. Manna from Heaven to snarky assholes like me.

So, without further ado, I’d like to invite a bit of Audience Participation (God Help Us All)

This picture of Barret Jackman getting to 1st Base with a dog led to me suffering a bout of “Too.. Many.. Jokes” syndrome, leaving me temporarily incapable of coming up with les mots juste for the image.

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However, I’m sure some of you Evil Swine can come up with something to caption this picture. How does Sparky feel? Is Jackman aroused? Did mentioning “Jackman” and “Aroused” in the same sentence put you off your breakfast?

Here’s a couple of examples, I’m sure you can do much better..

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Feel free to post your Captions in the comments, on Facebook and either @cheertheanthem or @brightblack76 on Twitter. I’ll photoshop up the best ones and display them here..

 

Have at it!

And if you’re in need of a pet, try your local shelter. There’s nothing wrong with the animals they put up for re-homing, it’s frequently just their previous owners who should be euthanized.

Let’s Go Hawks!

 

 

 

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Detroit: The Meaning Of Pain

Here we are, then.

The last waltz is playing, the house lights are coming up, Kyle Wellwood in Drag is preparing to give us a song..

The Inter-Divisional rivalry with the Wings is about to come to an end. I feel like a few words are in order

However, to paraphrase a smart old English dude called Bill,

“I come not to praise Detroit, but to bury them”

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The shadow of that winged wheel has been cast over the Hawks for a long, long time. In fact, talk to a Detroit Fan (do go and  talk to them: the men and women in our Prison System benefit from contact with the outside world) and they are likely to include the question “How many Cups have you won?” every third sentence.

And they have a point (no, not that shiv they made from a spoon)

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The Wine Cooler, Presented by Bartl and James – Episode 3: OMG GOALIE CONTROVERSY!

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In Episode 3, Bartl and James talk goalie “controversy,” Dave Bolland pretty much sucking and what Q will do when he returns, plus Bowman’s so-far-solid acquisition of Michal Handzus. We also look ahead to Friday’s tilt with Detroit, which could possibly be a first-round playoff preview – and that bugs the shit out of us.

Listen here:

Listen to internet radio with The Wine Cooler on Blog Talk Radio

 

If that doesn’t work, follow this link to the show page.

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III is a Magic Number.. CtA talks to III Communication

 

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For most of the Hockey world, next year’s realignment is something in the background while the dramas of the Regular season unfold. We’ve really only paid a lot of attention to it when playing “Final” games against former rivals now bound for pastures new.

Not so for a pair of writers in Nashville, however: for the last month or so the brand new site “III Communication” has been evangelising the forthcoming, as yet unnamed, Conference that the Preds, along with the Hawks, Blues, Avs, Jets, Wild and Stars will be playing in next year. They’re really excited about it and you will be too. Using a innovative mixture of humour, insight and general knowledge, III Communication has previewed and reviewed everything that occurs to the seven teams, handed out awards (for Threero of the week) and extracted pure gold (well, sort of) from Sports Yapper so we don’t have to.

JRLind and TMurda are the shadowy geniuses behind the site and they were kind enough to answer a few questions for me last week.

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With Fire From Above: Hawks 1 – Wild 0

(Jim Mone/Associated Press)

(Jim Mone/Associated Press)

So this game was a lot more one-sided than the scoreboard indicated when the final buzzer sounded. The Blackhawks completely dominated a scoreless first period and had the best of the play the final two periods as well. In a perfect world the Marian Hossa goal which was called back would have counted. Whatever, they survived.

The first half of the second frame was rather calm until the Hawks claimed the momentum and the only goal when Marian Hossa blasted a slap shot through the five hole of Niklas Backstrom following a hysterical Clayton Stoner giveaway. Hossa winding up and firing away in the slot is just a joy to watch. We saw it against St. Louis in the shootout last week, we saw him beat the Blackhawks this way in 2008, and we saw it again tonight. Keep it coming, Marian.

The rest of the affair was mostly dominated by Chicago, with the Wild really never getting it together to make that final push. Emery made the saves he had to and the Hawks were able to avoid the 3rd period blues they’ve dealt with the past month or so.

It’s getting late and I have actual real life work to do so lets get right to it, shall we?

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Blackhawks-Predators Precap!

So I watched this snoozefest at home recovering from a late night out and I’m pretty sure the pace of this one put me to sleep for certain stretches of this game. This one will be quick:

* You might disagree, but I can’t be the only one who feels like this year is starting to drag a bit? I know it’s a shortened season and it’s probably largely due to the Hawks clinching around the 10th game. Playing a team as boring as Nashville four times over nineteen days definitely isn’t helping. Bring on the playoffs.

* Everybody’s new favorite shit-stirrer Ray Emery had 20 saves, a few of which were spectacular. Good on him.

* The Blackhawks have a good penalty kill. #analysis

* Michal Handzus and Bryan Bickell was the tallest 2 on 1 combo ever. Even giant Pekka Rinne was intimidated. Nice pass by ‘Zus.

* Daniel Carcillo played and didn’t suck. We’ll see if that was enough to get him out of Q’s doghouse.

* We’re still seeing Marcus Kruger take some draws even when ‘Zus is on the ice. Is this a confidence thing?

* On Saturday night at Lottie’s, a few of us caught Bartl singing along to ‘Somebody That I Used to Know’ by Gotye. NEVER LET HIM FORGET THIS. There is surveillance video of this and I intend to acquire it.

* Like I said, this game was boring as hell.

With tonight being the second night of a back to back, you’d have to guess Corey Crawford will get the call (UPDATE – Emery in goal) between the pipes. I really do fear the Twitter consequences of a loss. Goaltending controversies tend to bring out the worst in people. Take the bull by the horns, Corey.

As of this writing, there was no word on the Hawk lineup. Logic would dictate Michael Rozsival would be back on the blue line with Brookbank headed to the bench. But you never can tell with Q.

It’s hard to imagine the offensive lineup changing much if Bolland and Sharp still aren’t ready to go.

Anyway, I’m off to the Cell with Bartl. My quest to make a Sox fan out of him continues…..

Go Hawks.