In the past these previews have been about the opposing team and any personnel changes we expect to see from the Blackhawks. So here goes. We’re playing the Columbus Blue Jackets, and they suck. They are without leading scorer Rick Nash and #1 goaltender Steve Mason, so this should be an even easier game to win. No lineup changes for the Blackhawks, Corey Crawford starts.
Now let’s talk about what everybody’s interested in: the playoff race, and the Blackhawks’ chances.
Some teams have clinched Division titles or playoff spots, so they aren’t relevant. Neither are the teams that are (for all practical purposes) mathematically eliminated from the race in the West. That leaves the following teams:
4th: Phoenix (95 points, 4 games remaining, 37 non-shootout wins)
5th: Los Angeles (94, 5, 35)
6th: Nashville (94, 4, 36)
7th: Anaheim (93, 5, 40)
8th: Chicago (90, 6, 36)
9th: Dallas (87, 6, 33)
10th: Calgary (87, 4, 29)
Now, I’m not a stats wonk, I don’t do probability calculations and all of that nonsense. So I’m just going to run down the rest of each team’s season and lob my guesses at where we may end up.
Phoenix will likely beat Colorado, lose in OT with the Kings, and split the last two against the Sharks. That gives them an extra 5 points, total of 100.
LA has suffered significant injuries in the last week, I’m going to say they beat the Coyotes in OT, push the Ducks into OT once and fall in a shootout, and then lose the rest. 3 more points, total of 97.
Nashville will lose to Detroit, but win out their last 3. 6 points, total of 100.
Anaheim will split with the Sharks, lose to the Stars, and beat the Kings twice, once in OT. 6 more points, total of 99.
Chicago I’ll save for a minute.
Dallas will beat both the Kings and the Ducks, I’ll say they split against the Avalanche, and beat Columbus and Minnesota. 10 points. 97 total.
Calgary will lose to Vancouver, but take their other 3. 6 points, total of 93.
If that proves out (HA! Yeah, right…) the standings (minus Chicago) will look like this:
4th: Phoenix (100 points, 39 non-shootout wins)
5th: Nashville (100, 39)
6th: Anaheim (99, 40)
7th: Dallas (97, 38)
8th: Los Angeles (97, 36)
9th: Calgary (93, 32)
So now, to the Blackhawks.
Remaining games: Blue Jackets, Lightning, Canadiens, Blues, and Detroit (*spitting noise*) twice.
We have to beat Columbus. Hear me guys? WE HAVE TO BEAT COLUMBUS! We pushed the Lightning to OT in their building last time, I think we’re going to pull it out this time. We will beat the Canadiens, they’re sliding of late. 6 more points, 3 more NSW. That would put us at 96 points, 39 NSW. Not good enough.
We’ll need another win from among the last three against the Blues and Red Wings. And this is what it all comes down to.
In the next ten days we will find out who is going to be playing for the Blackhawks next year. Who is going to step it up when we’re down two goals early in the 3rd in a possibly-season-ending game? Who is going to dog Henrik Zetterberg until he goes to the bench and cries? Who is going to back-check the Wings so hard they can’t tell which goal they’re supposed to be shooting at? Who is going to knock Todd Bertuzzi out of the game and into the hospital in the first minute of the first game of that home-and-home? Who is going to take the punishment in front of the net and notch a tip-in goal for every bruise they get across their backs? Who is going to block shots like he’s protecting a 5-year-old girl wearing street clothes in the net behind him? And who is going to absorb 35, 45, 55 shots and THEN win it in the shootout?
We all know the names of the guys who will be there. But who will join them? Bryan Bickell? Troy Brouwer? Viktor Stalberg? Jake Dowell? Ryan Johnson? These guys all have the mojo, they just haven’t found it the last 20 games. If it shows up between now and April 10th, we have a shot at this.
If not… well, this post-season will be difficult to watch without a team to cheer for.
6pm puck drop tonight out in Columbus. Comcast SportsNet has the TV coverage, broadcast radio is WGN AM-720, and XM subscribers can hear the game on channel 204.
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The former Blackhawks came to play last night. They scored a total of twenty three points with twelve goals and eleven assists. April fools.
Now that we got the childish games out of the way, there were actually nineteen former featherheads to take the ice last night. Two of goalies combined for two wins, a shutout and 67 saves while the other lost his league leading thirty-first game of the season (That Drunk Guy). The sixteen skaters combined for three points including two goals and one assist. Two big games for teams in the West and the outcomes both favored the Hawks. However the one game that didn’t saw the Predators defeat the Avalanche for their eighth win in their past ten games.
Click the jump for updates from the m/d/11 games
There were seven former Blackhawks to take the ice last night. They were all skaters and the four points they produced were all assists which came in the same game. There was a big game that affected the Western Standings which was the Ducks vs. the Flames, and there was also a humongous blowout. Read ahead for the details on how those two games affect the Blackhawks.
Click the jump for updates from the 3/30/11 games
On Monday there were two former ‘Hawks who took the ice and didn’t do jack shit. Hence why yesterday there was not an Espo.
Last night however there were twenty four former Hawks to take the ice amassing four points on zero goals and four assists. The Hawks lost ground on a couple teams but luckily they didn’t fall out of the top eight because they couldn’t. Thank god… Lets go get the Blue Jackets…
Click the jump for updates from the last two day’s games
You had to know this was coming.
It’s not as if the ‘Hawks haven’t played back-to-back games before – in fact, they came into the game 8-3-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season – but it was pretty evident the Detroit game took a ton out of the Blackhawks. The Boston Bruins dictated the pace and took it to the ‘Hawks in a 3-0 shutout from Tim Thomas.
Jonathan Toews ended up a minus-3 for only the fifth time in his career as the Blackhawks mustered only five shots on goal in the first period, giving Thomas basically 20 minutes off to start the game. There was basically zero energy, and Corey Crawford gets the credit for the ‘Hawks coming out of the first unscathed.
Boston simply played its game, and there was nothing the Blackhawks could do about it, even though they literally tried to rip off the Bruins’ faces in the process. Shawn Thornton needed 40 stitches after Fernando Pisani’s skate cut him across the forehead.
(Quick sidenote: Any chance this heats up the NHL’s talks of mandating visors? I say yes.)
Dallas lost to Phoenix in a shootout, meaning they’re six points back of the eighth-place Blackhawks. Chalk Tuesday up as tough loss, and move onto Columbus on Friday fresh and ready to go.
Here’s your Boxing…
The guy you’re looking at here is the leading contender for the Vezina trophy, given to the league’s top goaltender. He won the title back in 2008-09, had a startlingly bad year in 2009-10, and has now come back just as strong as he was two seasons ago. He’s big, covers a lot of the net, but is also mobile. It’s as if his hands are magnets: the pucks are just drawn to them. 32 wins, 2.00 goals-against, and a .939 save percentage. And he’s just now starting to hit his stride.
Vezina… You know, if you replace the ‘ez’ with ‘ag’ it— never mind…
Marian Hossa deserves every bit the credit for this victory, and not just because he scored the game-winner.
The Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime victory Monday against Detroit came to fruition mainly because of Hossa’s 23:54 of purely superb play on both ends of the ice. I’ve said it over and over again, but watching this guy play is a thing of beauty and we’re lucky to be able to witness it.
If Hossa had scored on that breakaway after jabbing the puck off the boards between two Red Wings, we may be talking about this being his best game of the season. It would have been nice to see him put more of a move on Joey MacDonald, but it shouldn’t take away from the original play he made to get into that position.
Hossa’s overtime winner was more than deserved after Patrick Kane fought off the entire communist party to control the puck then drew the penalty from Henrik Zetterberg at the end of regulation.
Oh, and I hope Todd Bertuzzi is having his toenails ripped out one by one with metal tongs while having farts blown in his face by Yokozuna as Failure to Launch plays on loop in the background. Ultimate torture.
Here are a few more thoughts before Boxing…
↔ To state the ridiculously obvious, the two points earned are insanely important. However, they became a hell of a lot more important when the Ageless Wonder Teemu Selanne decided to net an effing hat trick in Anaheim’s 5-4 win against Colorado later in the evening. A Blackhawks loss in the OT would have put them two points back of the Ducks for 7th. Despite the victory, the ‘Hawks are stuck in eighth.
↔ MacDonald played a hell of a game, don’t get me wrong. My issue with what most have deemed an exceptional performance lies in the fact the Blackhawks were rather non-existent around the net on point shots. MacDonald had clear looks at nearly every shot put on him. The one time someone made him smell their ass, Toews was the culprit and the puck sneaked through on a Brent Seabrook shot and hit the post. If the ‘Hawks put more traffic in front, MacDonald may not have had the performance everyone is lauding.
↔ Niklas Lidstrom may play until his 84 years old — and everyone would still fear him.
↔ Bertuzzi’s hit was unquestionably a scumbag move from a scumbag player who’s been a scumbag for his entire career. If you think I’m overreacting because Ryan Johnson played the duration of the game and still was a factor at center, look at the replay. Bertuzzi came at Johnson with his elbow up and no regard for the consequences of his actions. There was no “hockey play” made. Will he be suspended? Probably not, since he’s been somewhat clean for the past couple of years. However, the NHL is doing everything possible to rid the league of hits such as these. They need to do something about it.
And with that, here’s Boxing…
With eight games remaining and the Blackhawks clinging to eighth place, they’ve managed to put themselves in one of the most hated positions any of us could possibly dream: The Red Wings will be a major hurdle in the ‘Hawks chances to make the playoffs.
Tonight begins the first of three meetings against Detroit before the regular season ends. That’s about as appetizing as a shit sandwich topped with wet farts.
Just for some quick added pessimism, the last Stanley Cup champion to miss the next year’s playoffs was the 2006-07 Carolina Hurricanes.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s a positive: Pavel Datsuyk won’t play tonight, and Johan Franzen sat out Saturday’s 4-2 Wings win against Toronto. Jimmy Howard is day-to-day after injuring his shoulder against the Maple Leafs, and with Chris Osgood on long-term IR, it looks as if Jimmy MacDonald will be in net tonight.
Six former Hawks took the ice on Friday with one of those being a goalie who recorded his second shutout of the year. The other five who were skaters provided two points, one of each a goal and an assist.
Saturday we had A COLIN FRASER SIGHTNING! as well as 22 other former featherheads to take the ice. The one goalie came away with another win helping his team stay in the top three in the west and the skaters scored two goals and two assists for a total of four points. Two injuries happened in games that could potentially help the ‘Hawks down the road. Keep your fingers crossed!
Last night there were ten former Blackhawks to play. Two were goalies with one losing on in regulation while the other lost in a shootout. The other eight skaters provided three points on one goal and two assists.
Let’s hope that the Hawks rebound tonight and stay tuned for Tim’s preview of tonight’s game.
Click the jump for updates from the weekend’s games
There are three stories of interest coming out of Anaheim these days. The first is that Teemu Selanne, in the words of one sports reporter, refuses to act his age. The second is the eruption of winger Corey Perry, who has 15 points (including 11 goals) in his last 8 games. And finally is a goaltending conundrum that has three brand-name goaltenders struggling to put two wins together as the team claws towards a playoff spot.
The Ducks and the Blackhawks have both won 3 of their last 4 games, they are both locked in a tight battle for a playoff spot (the ‘Hawks in 7th, the Ducks in 8th in the Western Conference Standings), and they are both handing bonus points to opponents by allowing games to be pushed into overtime. Neither team can lose this game — but somebody will.
There were twenty three former hawks to take the ice last night. The three goalies went 1-1-1 while the skaters only recorded three points, one was a goal the other two assists. Andrew Ladd had that goal. The games all went against the favor of the Hawks… Great. The ‘Hawks are now back to seventh in the West, the only good news is that they have played less games than all the teams in front of them
Click the jump for updates from the 3/24/11 games
There were six former Blackhawks on the ice last night. One was a goalie who picked up his 3oth win of the season, the other five were skaters. They were only able to muster up three points, one goal and two assists. The goal was from Rene Bourque while the assists came from Danny Cleary and Benny Eager.
Jack Skille continued his suckfest as well. Great to see that on the ice at the UC. The Hawk’s played great last night, and it all looks promising… well it does right now.
There are three games tonight which can affect the Hawks in the standings. The biggest one is between 7th place Nashville and 8th place Anaheim. The winner jumps up to 5th place in the standings knocking the Hawk’s down to sixth. Hopefully this is only a two point game and the other team doest pick up a point. It’s a seven team race for the last five spots and 4th to 10th place are only separated by 6th points. The other games that affect the ‘Hawks tonight have the Blue Jackets taking on the Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona while the Sharks take on the Kings in LA. A King win moves them back ahead of the Blackhawks as well.
The only good news coming out of this is that all the teams besides Dallas will have played more games than the Hawks after tonight leaving some leeway. The Hawks have played 73 while the Kings, and Ducks will have played 74, the Preds will have played 75, and the Flames and the Coyotes will have played 76. The Hawks can catch all the teams in front of them, and will have the chance to put more points on them and finish in 4th. That’s if they come out and continue this dominating play. Big “IF”. Well without further a due, your daily Esposito.
Click the jump for updates from the 3/23/11 games
It wasn’t exactly the entertainment I was accustomed to during my five nights in Las Vegas, but I’m not going to complain about two much-needed points.
The Blackhawks welcomed me back home with a 4-0 snoozer I largely blame on the Panthers being, well, bad. With that, the ‘Hawks are now tied for 5th in the West with nine more games which will be much tougher and more exciting than Wednesday’s.
Against Florida, the ‘Hawks got away without needing a Dave Bolland nor a Patrick Sharp nor a 100-percent healthy Brian Campbell. Don’t get used to it with Anaheim, Detroit and Boston looming. Pardon the pessimism, especially knowing each game is a must-win given the standings, but the Blackhawks will need more against those squads.
With that said, the defense played like they should have in a home game against a team looking up at New Jersey and the New York Islanders in the East. Corey Crawford did what he needed to, aside from re-enacting Al Pacino’s scenes from Scent of a Woman each time he touched the puck.
A couple other quick thoughts before Boxing:
→ I was very impressed the way Viktor Stalberg responded to the top line promotion, playing actively and drawing a penalty by taking it hard to the net on the first shift of the game. He later took a feed from Jonathan Toews on the doorstep for a goal in the first minute of the third period. Sweet.
→ Did anyone else have heart failure when Marian Hossa went back to the locker room after taking a spill?
→ For the first time all season, the idiots at the UC who constantly yell “SHOOOOOOOOT” each time a Blackhawk has the puck were right to direct it at Nick Leddy.
→ Not sure what the hell happened to Tomas Vokoun when he went ice fishing along the boards on the Tomas Kopecky goal, but that net couldn’t have been more wide open. Hossa, to Michael Frolik, to Kopecky on a great passing play started by Brent Seabrook, who can’t get credited for an assist unfortunately.
→ Speaking of Seabrook, he played a hell of a game which included the rocket that ended up being the game-winner.
→ Oh, and the Captain did his thing again.
Onto Boxing …
A little over two weeks ago, a cocky Blackhawks team took their 8-game winning streak for a little sun and fun in Miami, and promptly got their asses handed to them in a 3-goal first period melt-down that resulted in a 3 – 2 loss to the team sitting 26th out of 30 in the league. It was the anemic start to a dismal 3-game road trip that yielded a mere two out of a possible six points. Humiliating. Eye-opening. Infuriating.
It’s time to get some payback, gentlemen.
There were twenty former ‘Hawks to take the ice last night. The one goalie came on in relief and shut the other team down for the most part but lost in a shootout. The other nineteen skaters were able to produce three goals and three assists to score six points on the day.
Oh also we had a Jack Skille sighting! Stay tuned for Tim’s preview of tonight’s game against Florida! Enjoy! LETS GO HAWKS!
Click the jump for updates from the 3/22/11 games
Fairly large amount of news coming out of the Blackhawks’ practice today, so I thought I would pass it along. This is, more or less, a good-news/bad-news situation, so bear with me.
First of all, Patrick Sharp’s knee injury is ~not~ season-ending. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he will miss several games. This puts the Blackhawks down two top-six forwards as we hit the final 10 games of the season. More on that in a minute.
Last night there were just two hockey games, which doth went to a shootout. This was very damaging to the Blackhawks because of the four teams that played, three were Western Conference teams and they all received at least one point in the standings.
Between the two games there were only four former featherheads to take the ice. They were able to tally three points on one goal and a pair of assists. All three points came from the same game which played out to be a very interesting game as well. The Hawks hold their fate in their own hands right now, hopefully they can get the job done over the next two weeks. Check for Tim to have an update on the severity of Patrick Sharp’s injury later on. Keep your fingers crossed that it isn’t too serious…
Click the jump for updates from the 3/21/11 games
I have an idea, but you’re not going to like it.
You must have been locked in your room listening to your Justin Bieber CD’s if you didn’t see the uproar caused by Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara’s hit on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty’s head smacked into the stanchion supporting the glass at the end of the bench (see photo above), and he is now home from the hospital to continue his recovery from a broken neck as a result of the incident.
Now, I’m not going to open up the discussion about the hit, the league, the decision not to suspend Chara, or those who think that Chara should be waterboarded. Somebody else can beat that dead horse, my arms are tired.
But one of the subjects that didn’t get a lot of attention at the time was the safety of the rinks themselves. NHL Commissioner Gary “Napoleon” Bettman ordered an engineering review of all NHL rinks in the wake of this crisis, then galloped off to invade Portugal. But I would like to throw a simple, albeit unusual idea out there so at least somebody has said it. To some, this will be just common sense; to others, pure heresy.
Close in the benches with safety glass like the rest of the rink.
This would solve the problem of people’s heads slamming into the stanchions: there would be no stanchions. One additional benefit would be a reduction in the number of pucks going out of play and into the benches. And there would be no guys flying over the boards from enthusiastic checks.
Plus, closing in the benches would also eliminate the type of hit that knocked the Blackhawks’ Fernando Pisani out for several weeks. The whiplash effect from having your torso stop at the boards and your head and neck proceed at a jaunty clip another foot into the bench area would be a thing of the past.
There is a lot to like here, but the down side is going to make hockey fans’ stomachs churn. Closing in the benches with safety glass would mean that players could no longer hop over the boards during a line change, they would have to enter and exit the ice surface through the doors. I know more than a couple of hockey fans that will dismiss the suggestion outright for that reason alone. And frankly, I’m not sure I can blame them. In fact, I may eventually be one of them!
The practicality of this needs to be assessed. The penalty boxes are closed in, and guys can get onto the ice quickly from there. But would that necessarily be the case on the benches with 14 other guys sitting next to you? Would the existing doors need to be widened? Would there need to be a design change to facilitate faster opening and closing? Would there need to be an additional door installed? I have no idea. These are all questions for guys who have quadratic equation solution races against each other on weekends.
But despite the potential complications, I don’t think this should be summarily dismissed. The league and the fans are reluctant to let go of certain traditions, and rightfully so. However, we need to ensure that we are weighing the benefits the game could realize by doing this, as this suggestion could solve a number of problems — many of which have an impact on player safety. The league is saying that the safety of the players is their top priority. If they’re serious, they need to give this more than a passing look.
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Hey Ya’ll! Hope your weekend went well and you were able to enjoy a reglation win last night.
On Friday there were six former ‘Hawks on the ice scoring five points, two goals and three assists.
Saturday saw eighteen former featherheads suit up to score one goal and nine assists for ten points. The two goalies went 1-0-1.
There were twelve former Blackhawks to play on Sunday scoring three goals and three assists for six points. I’d say overall the former ‘Hawks played pretty damn well lately. Good to see the current ‘Hawks pull out a game against a good Western Conference opponent. Enjoy!
Click the jump for updates from this weekend’s games
The two points we needed. The injury we didn’t.
As is frequently the case, Blackhawks’ fans are faced with a good news/bad news headline following an important game against a Conference rival. The Blackhawks played a tight game, allowing only 23 shots on Corey Crawford in a 2 – 1 victory over Phoenix, but suffered what may be a back-breaking loss in Patrick Sharp if his injury proves to be serious.
With the bulk of the hockey headlines coming out of southern Arizona being about legal battles and ownership changes and Gary Bettman stomping his feet like a child being told he can’t have candy at the supermarket, it’s easy to forget that there’s actually a hockey team there.
A team that is in fourth in the Western Conference, nipping at the heels of Division leader San Jose. A team on a five-game winning streak. A team that has scored the seventh-most goals in the league, yet has not one single 20-goal scorer. Although with two of their players named Lauri and Adrian, I’m not sure how seriously we’re supposed to take them.
Corey Crawford was pulled less than half-way through the game against Dallas, giving up 3 goals on 10 shots. And it wasn’t his fault.
Last night twenty seven former Indian-head sweater wearers took the ice. Of the twenty seven there were three goalies that ended the day 1-1-1. The skaters produced five goals and four assists for nine points. There were three guys who recorded a goal as well as an assist.
Last nights game sucked, end of story, today is a new day and this weekend is a new weekend, forget about it and move on. Enjoy your weekend everyone!
Click the jump for updates from the m/d/11 games
I wish there was more time to celebrate these wins. After handing the San Jose Sharks their jock straps and a bus ticket on Monday night, it would have been great to sit back and savor the moment a little longer than just two days. But alas, there’s business to attend to, and tonight that business is in Dallas.
Very busy night for the former ‘Hawks last night, there was a total of three who took the ice. Of the three, only one scored a point, Tim Brent, which was an assist. He has had a nice little run over the last couple of games. I have included an update on Christobal Huet’s season overseas.
Stick around for Tim’s preview of tonight’s game against the Stars. We win we are golden, we lose, ehhh I don’t even want to think about that. He should have that up this afternoon. Enjoy your day and root on your boy’s in the Indian Head Sweaters Tonight in a “Must-Win” game.
Click the jump for the updates from the 3/16/11