The Daily Phil Esposito (3/25/11)

"I'm Ugly"

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

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The Daily Phil Esposito and a little more (3/24/11)

"Is he dead?" "I dunno poke him with a stick"

Photo: espn.go.com

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

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Nine more lives: Boxing with Blackhawks/Panthers

"With Sharp gone, I can get used to being the most handsome guy on the ice." (Chicago Tribune)

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 …

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Let’s Try This Again, Shall We? Hawks/Panthers

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.

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The Daily Phil Esposito (3/23/11)

"I bring back all my shitiness! Yay!"

Photo: zimbo.com

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

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Tim’s Bits for Tuesday

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.

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The Daily Phil Esposito (3/22/11)

Hopefully we knock the Red Wings out like little old "Danny Boy" Cleary was on this hit.

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

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Safety, Practicality, Heresy

Photo: Eric Bolté 24H MONTREAL/QMI Agency

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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The Weekend Phil Esposito (3/21/11)

They should have just stayed like this all game, because the Hawks had them bent over at the knees.

Photo: Brandon Spinner (Yea I took it)

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

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Hawks Beat Dawgs, Possibly Losing Sharp

Photo: Getty Images

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.

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Blackhawks Visit Hamil— Uhh, Winnip— Err, Phoenix

Photo: US Presswire

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.

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They Had Our Number, And Our Number Was Odd

Photo: AP

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.

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The Daily Phil Esposito (3/18/11)

"Get ready for me Chicago, because I can take a game over!"

Photo: Coyotes.nhl.com

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

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Among The Contenders: Blackhawks Visit Dallas

Photo: Getty Images

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.

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The Daily Phil Esposito (3/17/11)

"I know... I'm worthless."

Photo: www.zimbio.com

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

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The Daily Phil Esposito (3/16/11)

"I don't do this often but I decided to score some points this game"

Photo: thirdage.com

Twenty two former featherheads took the ice last night. Three were net-minders who had a record of 2-1-0 on the night. The one loss came from the goalie playing in Ottawa. The other nineteen skaters scored nine points including three goals and six assists. Couple of guys who normally don’t tally goals scored the goals to get their fifteen second celebrations in. Enjoy.

Click the jump for updates from the 3/15/11 games

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STATS Game: Rest Corey Crawford

What’s the best thing about Corey Crawford starting every game for the past month? The meatballs haven’t been able to voice their blind hatred for Marty Turco.

OK, OK … it’s not the best thing. Crawford’s 10-2-3 record and 2.66 goals-against average takes that title. But despite those numbers, I’m still going to lobby for him to don the baseball cap Thursday in Dallas.

Here’s part of the reason why:

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The Daily Phil Esposito (3/15/11)

"That Hossa guy gives me the hibbi-jibbies... The Smoke Monster..."

Photo: Chicago Tribune

Five former ‘Hawks were in action last night notching just one point on the board which was an assist by Tim Brent. The one goaltender was SHELLED, to say the least, in the 2nd period and didn’t even make it halfway through the game. Very good night for the men in the Red Sweaters.

Oh and at the game last night I counted and the ice crew had a total of 13:36 TOI, which is almost 4x if not 3x the amount of time David Koci averages every night. Haha. So it looks like we has sorted out that ordeal. Hope you enjoy todays edition!

 


Click the jump for updates from the 3/14/11 games

 

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It’s not show friends, it’s show business: Boxing with ‘Hawks/Sharks

"Have a seat, please." (Chicago Tribune)

Finally, the Blackhawks got to Antti Niemi.

The 6-3 win Monday night boosted the ‘Hawks up to the 4th spot again in the West and ended a three-game losing streak which had many talking “Must Win” against San Jose. I don’t care how bad ass or bleak things look, every game is “Must Win.” Get used to it.

Patrick Sharp had four assists in the second period alone, tying Jim Pappin’s franchise record set in 1973 – with two of them coming on the power play to Marian Hossa, who put both through Niemi’s five-hole. Hossa’s goals gave him at least 20 for the 11th straight season. Boom.

And who better than Jonathan Toews to provide the goal which ran Niemi. The Captain seems to have his hand in everything, setting a career-high with 71 points in the victory.

Seeing Niemi trudge toward the bench was bittersweet, in a way. Him getting the hook tonight gave me little satisfaction. Yes, it was nice to get back at him for the three defeats earlier this season. However, I would’ve felt the same way if it was Antero Niittymaki getting pulled. Going out for revenge at this point in the season is senseless. Sharp admitted it was nice to get to Niemi, but everyone made a point to say the win is what matters. There’s just always going to be a soft spot for a guy who really, truly wanted to stay in Chicago.

Speaking of goaltenders, Corey Crawford gets yet another win despite pretty much everyone lobbying for him to get a rest. Though he got the W tonight, he’s given up 16 goals in the last five games. And if he lost to Niemi, wouldn’t you believe Crawford’s confidence would have been completely shot, especially heading into the playoffs? Well, David Haugh sure as hell believes it.

Here’s what sent me into a rage:

Yet of all the Hawks, rookie goaltender Corey Crawfordperhaps can benefit most from having success on a night defined by Niemi’s failure. Crawford was coming off one of his roughest weeks mentally. Had Niemileft town with a 4-0 record against the Hawks, Crawford could have spent the next month awaiting the playoffs suffering by comparison.

(Begin rant)Want to talk about suffering? How about seeing Haugh’s byline next to anything Blackhawks-related. When you’re being read simply so people can laugh at whatever loads of bullshit you want to make up that day, that’s when you need to stop writing about a sport you know nothing about. (End rant)

Patrick Kane hit a milestone with his 100th career goal, Viktor Stalberg even got in a nice whack in to contribute.

And with that … BOXING:

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Fishing For Two Points: Blackhawks Host Sharks

How many times can we use the phrase, “must-win” in a single year? What about “do-or-die?” Or “crunch time?” It seems I’m typing those phrases almost daily now, and this is no exception. With the Blackhawks’ OTL to the Capitals on Sunday, Chicago dropped into 7th in the Western Conference standings, just two points from having to fluff the throw pillows before playoff games.

And look who we’re playing! The San Jose Sharks, who sit first in the Pacific Division, four points ahead of us, and who are looking for a sweep in their season series against the ‘Hawks.

Long and short: if we thought Washington was a hard-fought game, this one is going to be even worse.

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The Weekend Phil Esposito (3/14/11)

Who would you rather have on your team?

OR

Who Gets more Ice time?

Photos: thesportsbank.net, echl.com

Hiya Pals! Lots-o-action this weekend in former Hawkey world.

Friday saw sixteen ex-blackhawks, which were all skaters, take the ice producing one goal and three assists for a total of four points.

Saturday there were seventeen former ‘Hawks who dressed and played. The sixteen skaters scored seven points off of five goals and two assists. Most of the goals coming from unlikely sources, while one goal and assist came from the guy I believe the ‘Hawks are really missing from last year. The one goalie had his second straight loss in a shootout, not saying who it is but hopefully tonight he does the same thing in the UC but its in regulation. (Hint Hint)

Yesterday, Sunday, nine former featherheads took the ice, with the one goalie having a rough outing but didn’t get a decision, and the eight skaters combined for one goal and three assists amounting to four points.

Hope that you enjoyed this weekend and that tonight’s game makes you even happier. If there is anyone going to the game tonight buy the guy wearing the Away Jonathon Toews Jersey sitting in section 327 , row 11 , seat 10, a bud heavy if you so choose and I may even give you a shout out in tomorrow’s post.

Click the jump for updates from the weekend’s games More >

Capital Punishment: Boxing with Blackhawks/Capitals

Credit: Chicago Tribune

Once again, Jonathan Toews summed it up:

“That’s two overtime losses in the last couple of games. We can’t be happy with just getting one point in each of those games. If you look at the games ahead and we keep getting to overtime, it doesn’t do us any good. It’s just about getting beyond that point of satisfaction and finding a way to win.”

And just like that, the Blackhawks are back down to 7th in the Western Conference - one point up on eighth and two up on ninth – after a 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals. Games like this aren’t going to cut it. And the fact of the matter is that the ‘Hawks were lucky enough to salvage that one point on a 6-on-4 power play with an empty net.

We can make excuses. No Dave Bolland. Limited action from Brian Campbell. But the ‘Hawks gave up a short-handed goal and got pretty damn lucky with good bouces on all three of their goals. The Capitals scored on defensive breakdowns and were much more solid the entire day.

Oh, and the Blackhawks didn’t get ONE SINLGE SHOT on net in nearly four minutes of overtime. Crap.

I’ll send you on your way to Boxing with this thought: Please, for the love of God, play Marty Turco tomorrow, Q. Please. Crow needs a break heading into another two-game trip. The game is too big and means too much to be strolling out a tired goaltender. It won’t mean you’ve lost faith in Crow, Q. It means your guy needs a break. Give it to him.

If I could do some hockey betting on this, I’d say Q still starts him. Damnit.

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“Grab Yer SAC!” Umm, no thanks, Bruce…

Any of you who watched the “Penguins/Capitals 24/7″ show on HBO got an earful of Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau hitting below the belt on his team in the locker room following the latest in a string of humiliating losses due to lackluster play. The quote above was the most memorable of the diatribe.

As if getting checked for a hernia wasn’t humiliating enough, now we have this ringing in our heads.

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Who’s Free Monday? We’re Giving Away Hawks/Sharks Tickets!

Once again, the generous folks at StubHub.com have hooked us up ~big time~ with some tickets to a stretch run game against the Western Conference rival San Jose Sharks– and YOU can have a chance to win them!

We’re having a random drawing tonight (Friday) at midnight CST.

All you need to do is: go to our page on Facebook, find the status announcing the ticket giveaway, and “Like” that status. Simple!

Winner will be chosen at random and notified soon thereafter about ticket delivery.

It’s Blackhawks vs. Sharks, Monday night at the United Center. And you could be there!

Big “thank you” again to our friends atStubHub.com for making this possible. Thanks for participating, and good luck!

The Daily Phil Esposito (3/11/11)

"All I needed was a change in scenery."

Photo: blogspot.com

There were seventeen former ‘Hawks to take the ice last night. Of the fourteen skaters there was only one point recorded and that by Shawn Thornton which was an assist. The three goaltenders combined for a 2-0-1 record, with two really good performances and one not so good performance. Oh yea, and Bonehead Boynton made his Flyer debut, lets just say it was nothing special. Enjoy your weekend!

Click the jump for updates from the 3/10/11 games

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