This Is Not the Trap Game You Are Looking For: Blackhawks @ Predators Warmup

One half of 21 years and almost $200M of the Preds’ defense

It’s been over two weeks since the Hawks have seen home ice and this will be the last time they don their white sweaters until the final day of February. Having already gathered 8 of 10 points on this road trip, the Blackhawks could come away with nothing in the Music City tonight and still consider this trip quite a success.

And that’s what worries me.

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GrumpToews-Saad

Road Kill: Boxing with Blackhawks (6) and Coyotes (2)

#GrumpyToews (Credit to Nakis for snapping the original photo off the TV)

#GrumpyToews (Credit to Nakis for snapping the original photo off the TV)

One can only wonder what the Captain was so pissed about considering the curb-stomping they gave the ‘Yotes.

Patrick Kane continued lighting up the scoreboard, Jonathan Toews completely undressed Oliver Ekman-Larsson and five players finished with multiple points as the Blackhawks improved to 9-0-2 by dismantling the future Quebec Nordiques 6-2 on Thursday.

It was another late finish, so I’ll get to some quick things before Boxing…

– I was really happy the inevitable fight for the douchebaggery of Raffi Torres came quickly, as Jamal Mayers stepped up to the plate as soon as Torres hit the ice for his first shift. We heard so much before the game about what could possibly happen that you’d think the hockey world was promoting UFC 156,972. Each got in a couple nice licks, the benches stood and knocked their sticks against the boards and all was settled for Torres being a giant piece of shit. Now, I’m sure he’ll continue to be a giant piece of shit, but at least we can get past the entire thing now.

– Also lost in all that shit and the, you know, scoring by the ‘Hawks is that Ray Emery got the nod in net ahead of Corey Crawford despite there being a day off between games. Emery had another solid performance, as the ‘Hawks goaltending once again allowed less than three goals. Their combined 2.09 GAA ranks fourth in the league right now.

– HOODA THUNK DAT PATRIK CAIN GUY WOOD BE PLAYIN SO GOOD CUZ HES ALWAYS DRINKIN DA SAUCE INSTEAD OF PLAYIN DA HOCKEY BUT GLAD WE DIDNT TRADE HIM TO ANUDDER TEAM YET BUT WE SHOOD TRADE HIM NOW FOR SOME UDDER GOOD GUYS BEFORE HE STARTS TO STINK AND WE CANT GET NUTTIN FOUR HIM!

– Watching that giant jagoff Mike Smith get scored on mercilessly makes me smile.

– Of course Torres would score an annoying goal at the end. Asshole.

– Check out #GrumpyToews on Twitter to see some of the other memes made from Nakis’ picture. Some good ones in there. Also, hope you enjoy Tim’s changes to the site’s look, which I find to be awesome.

All right, the rest is in Boxing. Right-click on the image and click view to enlarge…

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It's there for the taking, let them self-destruct

Roughness Unnecessary: Blackhawks @ Coyotes Warmup [UPDATE]

It's there for the taking, let them self-destruct

It’s there for the taking, let them self-destruct

It’s been covered ad nauseum by beat writers and bloggers alike so I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time on the topic du jour, Raffi Torres. He’s a fourth line player and comparatively we don’t spend a whole lot of our thoughts on Jamal Mayers anymore. Matt McClure wrote a thoughtful piece at The Committed Indian on retaliation and I’d encourage reading that if you’re so inclined. Otherwise, this will be the last I mention of #37 in burgundy and white.

Onto the actual hockey game being played in Glendale tonight.

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"I love you THIS much." (Credit: Kelley L Cox, USA TODAY)

Keep Rollin’: Boxing with Blackhawks (5) and Sharks (3)

Credit: Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images

Credit: Thearon W. Henderson, Getty Images

Who expected that after the frantic start?

The matchup between the top two Western Conference teams on the young season lived up to its billing, as the Blackhawks came away with two more points after erasing an early two-goal deficit to beat the Sharks 5-3 – hopefully before the Chicagoland area headed to bed.

That’s exactly where I need to be, so this will be pretty short before Boxing.

Corey Crawford got the start despite Ray Emery’s 45-save effort against Calgary – as he should have – though he wasn’t even close to the top of his game at the start. The third goal was pretty awful, and I think everyone this side of the Black Hole thought Coach Q was going to turn to Emery for the rest of the evening.

Crawford, though, rewarded his coach with a solid effort over the final 49 minutes, making some huge stops – including the point-blank save on Patrick Marleau. Hopefully he’s not as shaky at the start Thursday.

Patrick Kane is all over the ice, and I’m loving every single second of it.

– Finally, Brandon Saad’s hard work shows up on the score sheet after he netted his well-deserved first NHL goal. He’s been extremely active on both ends of the ice, and it was great to see him pot one.

– Very sweet of Duncan Keith to come to the defense of Jamal Mayers, but like Lou Brown said to Willie “Mays” Hayes in Major League, “Don’t ever fuckin’ do it again.” The last thing this team needs is for its top defenseman to get hurt in a fight. And on top it, the hit turned out to be pretty clean. Shoulder-to-shoulder contact, and I don’t think Andrew Desjardins left his feet, either.

Jonathan Toews’ robbery of Douglas Murray is just one of many examples he’s provided for why the ‘Hawks have gotten off to such a fantastic start. Kane’s “Nice fucking pass!” that was caught on camera said it all.

– Apparently Joe Thornton is some sort of hockey player guy that plays for the Sharks. You wouldn’t know it by watching this game.

– The fact Dave Bolland ended up winning seven faceoffs came as a complete shock to me. I felt like he lost every one of them – just like Marcus Kruger did on all six of his draws. However, Kruger may have played his best game since… well I can’t remember when.

All right, Boxing time. Right-click the image and click ‘view’ to enlarge…

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Get on your Hossa

Yep, That Actually Happened: Hossa, Emery Help Blackhawks Steal 2 Points From Flames

Get on your Hossa

Firstly, I’d like to thank the fellas over at Hockee Night – Forklift, CT and Morph – for putting together an awesome fundraiser over at Galway Bay last night. Not only are they fun to drink and watch hockey with, they’re also fantastic people.

And because I did my share of drinking – I mean, they would have been insulted if I didn’t get my money’s worth – this probably will be the shortest recap in this site’s history.

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Credit: Rich Lam, Getty Images

Moving On: ‘Hawks Drop Shootout in Vancouver, Head to Calgary

Credit: Rich Lam, Getty Images

Credit: Rich Lam, Getty Images

Few things are more frustrating than watching the Blackhawks struggle to get one past Roberto Luongo, but such was the case last night.

On the bright side, the one that did get past him – Patrick Kane’s tally off a beautiful feed from Andrew Shaw in the third period – gave the ‘Hawks another standings point. Two straight shootout losses won’t blow anyone’s skirt up after six straight wins, but how many of you would complain if you were told the Blackhawks would be 6-0-2 after their first eight games?

Tonight, it’s onto Calgary to try and ended a four-game losing streak at the Saddledome and capture two points with Ray Emery in net. But first, some thoughts from Friday night’s game…

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Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn, USA TODAY

Point Taken: Shootout Boxing with Wild (3) and Blackhawks (2)

Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn, USA TODAY

Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn, USA TODAY

For the 84th consecutive season, the Chicago Blackhawks will not go undefeated. Darn.

While the shootout loss is disappointing, the all-important standings point – they’ve earned 13 out of a possible 14 – came with it. And on top of it, the ‘Hawks had a very solid all-around effort to begin a six-game road trip – at the end of which they’ll have already played nearly half of their road games for the entire season.

Lots of good in this one. The ‘Hawks made it clear they were going to pressure Josh Harding and the Minnesota defense from the get-go, and it led to a goal from Andrew Shaw that was made possible by Bryan Bickell’s rush to the net.

Jonathan Toews then caught Harding five-hole from the left wing, forcing Niklas Backstrom into action early.

The penalty kill was stellar again, snuffing out another 3-on-5 disadvantage and four short-handed situations in all, including one to end the third period to preserve the point. Oh, and Corey Crawford. He made three saves before the ‘Hawks lost Matt Cullen on the game’s first goal and can’t be blamed for raging douchebag Cal Clutterbuck’s redirection in the second period.

Then there was this save on the 5-on-3:

While the ‘Hawks obviously controlled possession for most of the final two periods – the Wild had only two shots in the third – most of their shots weren’t off quality chances. The aggressiveness and bull-rushing of the net we saw early on faded and Backstrom wasn’t challenged to make many tough saves.

Though Patrick Sharp hit the crossbar in regulation and again in the shootout, I don’t think he played his best game. He seemed a step slow all night, and he was flat-footed when Mikko Koivu, I believe, skated into the zone right past Sharp, forcing him to take what could have been a costly penalty at the end of the third.

And Dave Bolland lost 14 of 20 faceoffs. Holy shitball does that need to stop, and fast. That’s way too many possessions behind given up for the second line.

On to Boxing. Right-click the image and select ‘view’ to enlarge…

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Jimmy holds grudges.

Like a Broken Record: Overtime Boxing with Blackhawks (2) and Red Wings (1)

Yep, that's Jimmy's water. (Credit: Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune)

Yep, that’s Jimmy’s water. (Credit: Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune)

Never have the Blackhawks won their first six games. And there’s little better than watching them set that franchise record by beating hated Detroit – in overtime, no less.

Nick Leddy’s tally in OT was the difference in a 2-1 victory that seemed far-fetched given the way the ice was tilted for most of the contest. Luckily Corey Crawford was on our side.

Crawford and some stellar penalty killing helped snuff out Detroit’s six power plays, which including a 5-on-3 in the second period. Between Michael Frolik being extremely active on the kill, Crow making some tough saves and the Wings shooting themselves in the foot, Detroit’s in ability to get more than one through on numerous chances proved to be the difference.

Other stuff…

– This is the shit part of only playing Western Conference foes in a shortened season: Every OT game hands over a point that could prove to be crucial in the division race and battle for playoff seeding. With Detroit unable to find its scoring touch, a regulation victory was there for the taking, but …

– … they looked completely gassed in the third period on the end of a back-to-back. That’s understandable, especially given they played most of the second period shorthanded. Though it’s frustrating to give up a point to the Red Wings, the flip side of that is the ‘Hawks got two points when they didn’t appear they’d even snatch one at times.

– I think I’ve figured out why Pavel Datsyuk is so annoying. It’s because he doesn’t do anything to annoy me except consistently play well against my favorite team while wearing that uniform. That’s it. Nothing else. He’s one of the best players in the world, does it with class and has a game I wished he had played all these years wearing the Indian head. When he went 1-on-4 through the ‘Hawks with sick puck-handling before nearly beating Crawford with a backhand, I about shit myself.

– Speaking of Crawford, his second-period performance was fantastic. To face a 3 on 5 and five other short-handed situations on the end of a back-to-back and help turn them all away can’t be discounted, even if he didn’t even see the third-period goal that slipped through five-hole. Again I’ll ask: What more do you want from him at this point?

– Now comes a six-game road trip, beginning with new-look Minnesota on Wednesday. We’ll be back to preview that journey, which includes paying a visit to those assholes in Vancouver on Friday and the Feb. 5 tilt with undefeated San Jose.

Now for another edition of Boxing. Right-click on the image and click view to enlarge…

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(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Sunday Funday?

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)


As a fan, you can be forgiven for looking past last night’s game with the most insignificant hockey club since the California Golden Seals to the tilt with 100% unmitigated evil this evening.

The game last night may not have been very fun or interesting, but it was the fifth straight victory for the ‘Hawks since the season began, matching a feat not seen round these parts since the 1971-1972 season. Tonight, the Blackhawks can make history by making it six straight.

But these goddamn Red Wings can always be counted on to spoil a good time, can’t they? Remember the banner raising ceremony opening night in 2010-2011? You sure do. Contests like the game tonight are what these rivalries are built on. You probably don’t want to miss this one.

Despite their fairly impotent (2-2-0) start, Detroit still possess all sorts of weapons the ‘Hawks will have to account for up front. The combination of Henrik Zetterberg and Damien Brunner will be dangerous, Pavel Datsyuk is going to be Pavel fucking Datsyuk, Johan Frazen will punch Patrick Kane in the head while moving slowly around the ice and guys like Dan Cleary, Mikael Samuelsson, Justin Abdelkader and Todd Bertuzzi will aggravate the living hell out of you. These aren’t ’07-’08 Red Wings – but they aren’t the Blue Jackets, either. If you let them fuck around in your zone, you will pay.

The issues with Detroit this year are almost entirely on their blue line (and that’s before you even look at all the injuries). After Niklas Kronwall, they’ll depend on Ian White, Kyle Quincy and Jonathan Ericsson (who returns tonight). If that isn’t awful enough, White and Ericsson have been hurt and they’ve been forced to lean heavily on youngster Brendan Smith and some guy named Brian Lashoff. How bad a defense are we talking here? Kent Huskins improved it. Q’s message to the ‘Hawks forwards need not be complicated tonight – get the puck deep and keep it there. It shouldn’t be a problem with this, uh, “defense” that Mike Babcock rolls out this season.

While Q has said he doesn’t like tinkering with the lines while the ‘Hawks are winning, one can reasonably expect the return of Michael Rosival and Brandon Bollig – which means you’re likely to get a Bollig-Jordin Tootoo bout at some point. As of this writing no starting goaltender had been announced, but with the Blackhawks off until Wednesday it stands to logic that Q gives Corey Crawford the crease again. It’s imperative the Blackhawks roll four lines and six defenseman tonight. Detroit has been off since Friday and the Blackhawks had to work a little harder than any of us expected in Ohio last night. There’s no need to overload anyone in the early going here, even if you are reaching for history.

You can probably disregard Chicago being the better team on paper. It’s the Blackhawks. It’s the Red Wings. It’s going to be a good game. Enjoy it.

Cheesy Toews-Kane Kit Kat Commercial to Follow

Style Points Not Required: Blackhawks 3 – Blue Jackets 2

Cheesy Toews-Kane Kit Kat Commercial to Follow

Cheesy Toews-Kane Kit Kat Commercial to Follow

Not exactly the demeanor in which we’d like to see a win in Columbus but no one is going to turn down two points, short season or not. The Hawks came out with cement skates in the first ten minutes of the game being outshot 8 to 1 before finally breaking open the smelling salts. Mark Letestu’s goal came after two Crawford saves. Keith, Seabrook or Dave Bolland need to clear the crease in that instance. Patrick Kane made a nice play at his own blue line to evade a pinching Jacket defender and was then aggressive in his play to the net. He wasn’t able to beat Mason but left a juicy rebound for Dave Bolland who was wise to follow 88 to the net. Tied after the first 20 minutes.

The 2nd period was mostly controlled by the Hawks despite being unable to cash in on 2 Jacket penalties. Bryan Bickell made a nice play to prevent a clearing attempt and then went straight to the net to provide a nice screen/tip in front of Steve Mason for the Hawks 2nd goal. They would lead the rest of the game thanks in large part to a botched interference call that disallowed a Columbus tying goal on a powerplay later in the period.

Mark Letestu scored the early goal for the Jackets but he’s also responsible for the dagger that won the game. A failed clearing attempt that was picked off by Patrick Kane who then set up the Captain for a pretty goal. Two games in a row the Captain has converted a big goal in the final frame. The Jackets made it close late in the 3rd on a goal that was the result of a 2nd lost board battle by the Hawks top defensive pairing. On the plus side, it’s a positive to see Q throw out both Toews and Kruger for the defensive zone draw that preceded the goal. It was one of the few faceoff loses for the Captain tonight.

Five straight to start the 48.

    Observations

- Speaking of powerplays, it’d be great if CSN Chicago could show us how much is time is left in a shorthanded situation. Your graphic guys should not be ITT Tech graduates. Please and thank you.

- Corey Crawford was excellent tonight and we may as well continue to give Quenneville credit in this shortened season for his roster decisions as they’ve worked out well. Brookbank’s limited minutes and effectiveness were put out against an inferior team so that (hopefully) Rozie skates tonight against Detroit. Same thing can be said about Crawford as he was needed to make some saves that I think it’s safe to say would likely have gotten past Ray Emery. The saves after Patrick Kane’s turnover on a 2nd period powerplay stick out big time tonight.

- 0 for 4 on the powerplay. It was bound to happen at some point. 5 for 5 on the kill, however, is great to see from a much improved penalty kill unit (even if they did get lucky but we’ll get to that later). Let’s try not to march to the box that much and test our luck though.

- Good on Jamal Mayers to stick up for Kruger after Jared Boll ran him into the boards. The instigation penalty, not so much. Especially in a 2-1 hockey game. Nothing wrong with finding Boll on his next shift and settling the score at that point.

- Hawks caught a MAJOR break on the goal that was wiped away. That wasn’t interference on Crawford and it sure as hell wasn’t a high stick. Take ‘em when you get ‘em.

- Chicago was outhit 24-12 tonight. They won. Get used to it.

- Dave Bolland’s double minor was inexcusable. Good on Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp to negate half that but if the Rat is gonna rat, he needs to do it in a less debilitating way. This is also a reason why the Jackets are top candidates for the #1 pick as well. How do you blow a 4 minute powerplay in the 3rd down two goals?

- Could be worse. We could have lost to the Wizards tonight like the other United Center tenant. Onto the AARP Wings squad tomorrow.