NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks

So Close : Ducks 4 – Blackhawks 2

NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Anaheim Ducks

Well, that sucked. The Blackhawks played a (mostly) good game in Anaheim, but another victory just wasn’t in the cards tonight. It’s really late so we’ll get right to it.

Peter Holland opened the scoring just a minute and a half into the game for the Ducks after Brent Seabrook inexplicably failed to clear the zone not once, but twice in the same sequence. Just minutes later, following a (horrible) Brandon Bollig penalty, Jonathan Toews scored on a shorthanded breakaway that won’t soon be forgotten. After blocking a blast off the stick of Sheldon Souray, Toews was off to the races and went forehand, backhand and then back to the forehand, undressing Jonas Hiller in the process. If you missed it, go watch it.

The Hawks were outshot 7-2 through the first 12 minutes, and indeed at times it felt like the Ducks were dominating the play in the opening frame. The Hawks were able to escape the first period ties thanks in large part to the brilliance of Corey Crawford.

The second period was a tale of two Blackhawk power plays. The first came just two minutes into the period. It featured exactly zero shots on net. It was horrific. It made me cry. Ten minutes later, they went back to the man advantage and looked like a completely different team, moving bodies around and getting traffic in front of Hiller. It culminated with a 93 MPH Nick Leddy rocket finding it’s way through traffic and past Hiller. Credit to Viktor Stalberg, who loomed large out in front.

It appeared the Hawks went ahead by two early on in the 3rd when Brandon Bollig directed a puck past Hiller – but the suits in Toronto ruled there was a distinct kicking motion and disallowed the goal. But not to worry – the Hawks were pushing the play. At one point, Steve Konroyd opined the Hawks were playing like they were down a goal. Indeed (early on), it appeared the Hawks would avoid going into their usual shell and keep attacking, but it wouldn’t last.

As the Hawks started to fall back, the Ducks seized the momentum. All of the sudden, the Hawks were on their heels. Bobby Ryan tapped in a fat rebound to tie the game with five and a half minutes remaining. Then, it all collapsed. Ryan Getzlaf moved in on a 2 on 1 with Teemu Selanne, who beat Crawford five hole. It was Selanne’s first goal in 10 games and only his 6th of the year. Sheldon Souray added a late empty net goal. Bah.

Now it’s super late so just a few Bullit Pointz (or whatever):

* Instead of being 7 points up in the Conference, the Hawks are now just 3 points ahead of the Ducks.

* What massive balls the Captain possesses. Sheldon Souray is famous for his cannon. Toews had no qualms whatsoever about stepping in front of it. It lead to a breakaway and a goal. All hail Jonathan Toews.

* Corey Crawford had a fantastic first 55 minutes. The last 5? Not so much.

* Patrick Kane skated 25 minutes tonight. I know they’re far away and have five days off coming up, but if Hossa can’t go on Monday I’d like to see someone from Rockford get called up. If Joel Queneville is only going to let Daniel Carcillo play three shifts and still refuses to dress Jamal Mayers, then why not give him someone he can use in the short term? The Hawks have NHL ready talent in Rockford, there is no need to wear down guys like Kane.

* Tough guy Bryan Allen really showed Marcus Kruger who was boss there at the end of the second period. What a douche.

* Speaking of douches, in the second period Brandon Bollig delayed beginning his backcheck to scream at the official. Note to Bollig: You are not Jonathan Toews. Shut up and get back.

* Quenneville was surprisingly upbeat in his post-game press conference. Not really sure what to make of that. He “hopes” Marian Hossa will play Monday. So do I.

* Brandon Saad had another fantastic game.

* You know you’re pumped for the Kings on Monday. Look out for another CtA podcast on Sunday evening.

Coffee is for Closers: Blackhawks 5 – Avalanche 2

Two for Flinching

This is the type of game you want to see the Blackhawks play against a team that can match them in the speed department. Getting in shooting lanes, not committing penalties, controlling possessions and forcing the other team to either get a goalie win or score more while being outshot by nearly double. There was never a point during this contest where you ever thought Chicago wouldn’t win.

More >

Boxing3-14Hawks-2-BJs-1Full

Bye, Bye, Bye: Shootout Boxing with Blackhawks (2) and Blue Jackets (1)

Credit: Paul Vernon, AP

Credit: Paul Vernon, AP

At least the Central Division “rivalry” with the Blue Jackets ended in style.

Johnny Oduya scored his first goal of the season on a sick pass from Patrick Kane before Jonathan Toews and Kane scored in the shootout to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 win to kick off their four-game road trip.

Kaner also notched his 400th career point with the assist in his 426th career game.

Thursday marked the final time the ‘Hawks and BJs would meet as division foes due to the realignment that will send Columbus to the Eastern Conference beginning next season. And the Jackets gave the ‘Hawks all they could handle in the four meetings. Each were decided by one goal, with two going past regulation.

And who knows? Maybe that won’t be the last time the Blackhawks see Columbus this season after all. The BJs are making a push for the playoffs after earning a point in their ninth straight game.

They didn’t have enough, though, to get past the ‘Hawks (22-2-3), who had dropped their previous two games following The Streak. It’s late so I’ll just leave you with this before Boxing: One concern? The Blackhawks’ penalty kill has allowed six power play goals in 10 chances over their last three games after giving up another one to Columbus.

Otherwise, Boxing has some more positive stuff. Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…

More >

toews face oilers

One Bad Frame: Oilers 6 – Blackhawks 5

You Again?

We failed to recap the first regulation loss (my fault) that bucked the point streak to open the season but the difference in both that contest and this one against the Oilers was the same. One bad period where the Hawks surrendered four goals and it put the game out of reach. The difference between Friday and Sunday’s game was that Chicago battled back and nearly completed the comeback against the Oil.

More >

Brandon Bollig recalled from Rockford

This means a sick, cruel joke was played on all of us yesterday. Get well soon, Michael Frolik.

Boxing3-6Hawks-3-Avs-2Full

And So It Continues: Dramatic Boxing with Blackhawks (3) and Avalanche (2)

"I AM GORILLA SALAD!!!!" (Credit: Chris Sweda,  Chicago Tribune)

“I AM GORILLA SALAD!!!!” (Credit: Chris Sweda, Chicago Tribune)

Marian Hossa is out. You’re in the midst of an extended stretch without Patrick Sharp and Andrew Shaw due to in-game injuries. Who are you going to turn to for some late-game heroics?

Of course you’re going to go with… Gorilla Salad?!

Yep, Dan Carcillo became the 13th different Blackhawk to score a game-winning goal when he slipped one into the net with 49.3 seconds remaining to give the ‘Hawks a 3-2 come-from-behind victory over Colorado on Wednesday night that UC.

The Streak is now at 24 – Jesus H. Christ, they’re fucking 21-0-3 and haven’t been beaten in actual hockey halfway through the season – and the streak within The Streak is at 11 straight wins.

Shit, even LeBron James is taking notice:

LeBron-Tweet

Quickly before Boxing…

– While Q was optimistic regarding Hossa and Shaw following the game, it seems a near certainty that Sharp will be out at least a few games after taking a hard hit into the boards. The ‘Hawks already have dealt with Brent Seabrook and Dave Bolland missing time, and now Q will have to adjust his lines for at least the near future.

The Bryan Bickell-Andrew Shaw-Viktor Stalberg third line has been fantastic, but there’s a chance Stalberg will be bumped up to play with Bolland and Patrick Kane with Sharp being out. We’ll know more once the call-up is announced – Ben Smith? Jeremy Morin? Jimmy Hayes? – but then again it’s Q, so who really knows what to expect? Gorilla Salad may start in goal for all we know.

– Speaking of Carcillo, he mentioned after the game how he’d “like to be more than just an enforcer on this team.” Hey buddy, thanks for the late goal and the two points and all that jazz, but we’re still not overlooking the fact that you’re, well, not good at hockey. You are what you are, and that’s a below-average player who should spend most of his time in the press box making some expensive suit look as stylish as footy pajamas. Enjoy the moment while it lasts.

– Ray Emery did not have his best game tonight, but who the fuck really cares at the point. He allowed only two goals – again, for Christ’s sake – and set an NHL record by winning each of his first 10 starts to begin a season. His post-to-post movement is suspect, but that’s nothing new. He’s getting the job done when his number is called.

– Thanks, Jamie McGinn, for deciding to try and box out Bolland after you lost your stick rather than attempting to stop a determined Jonathan Toews on his way to a short-handed goal. Yeah, that wasn’t smart.

We get to see the Avs again at their place on Friday night, and Adam will be along with your wrap for that one. For now, here’s Boxing.

Right-click the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…

More >

"This sweater looks much better on me, doesn't it guys?"

Blackhawks send Bollig to Ice Hogs

"This sweater looks much better on me, doesn't it guys?"

“This sweater looks much better on me, doesn’t it guys?”

I’ll tell ya where he’ll go. Someplace warm. A place where the beer flows like wine. Where beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano. I’m talkin’ bout a little place called… Rock-ford.

No word yet on a possible call up. Does this mean Jimmy Hayes or Ben Smith comes up? Is Steve Montador actually going to play hockey again? We have no idea.

So, what was your favorite memory of the Brandon Bollig era?

Boxing3-5Hawks-5-Wild-3Full

Streakin’ Gone Wild: Boxing with Blackhawks (5) and Wild (3)

Credit: Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune

Credit: Brian Cassella, Chicago Tribune

“I’m running out of words to say here. I don’t know how many ways I can describe this 10-game winning streak. It’s exciting. We’re having fun.” – Jonathan Toews

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

The Streak hit 23 games – how awesome is it to see 20-0-3?! – and the streak within The Streak hit a franchise-record 10 straight victories with Tuesday’s 5-3 win over Minnesota. Are there enough positive adjectives to describe this run? I think everyone is running out of them.

And how fitting is it Marian Hossa scored on the night the ‘Hawks honored him for playing in his 1,000th career game Sunday?

(Quick note on that: Here’s where I have issues with the separation between the regular season and playoff statistics. Hossa also has played in 130 postseason games, which weren’t taken into account. If he played a game in the NHL, he played a game in the NHL. I think all of them should be recognized. Just my opinion.)

Some quick thoughts before Boxing…

– The third line guys – Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Viktor Stalberg – came through again. Bickell scored twice, though one came with Brandon Saad delivering the pass you see in the picture above. Bickell’s first goal had him being in the perfect place at the right time, with Shaw and Stalberg picking up assists.

– Brandon Saad. That is all.

– Patrick Kane came through with another clutch goal, scoring on one of the only four shots the Blackhawks had in the third period. And to that point…

– The whole let’s-sit-back-and-just-ride-this-thing-out mentality when the ‘Hawks get a lead of two goals or more nearly came back and bit them in the ass for the fifth time this season. If there’s one thing to change when it comes to this team, it’s that.

The Blackhawks are so successful because of their puck position and the aggressiveness that comes with it. That’s where their talent shines. However, when they decide to sit back and let the game come to them, things nearly unravel. Here’s a quick snippet of the other times that’s happened this season:

Opponents-Comebacks

Solution? Stay aggressive. Role the lines until the final horn sounds and keep attacking. The Blackhawks are being outscored 19-18 in the third period this season.

The rest is in Boxing. Right-click on the image, then click ‘view’ to enlarge…

More >

Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews, Josh Harding

Weather or Not, Here They Come: ‘Hawks Shoot for 10th Straight Win vs. Wild

Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews, Josh Harding

Supposed to get a shitload of snow in March? Why not. It’s Chicago. I’d also like to point out that anyone who mentions how “beautiful” the snow is obviously owns a fucking garage. And tell me how beautiful it is when you take your first giant step into the shit-covered slop that awaits you in the street the next day.

Despite Mother Nature’s continuous attempts to piss us off, we still have our beloved Chicago Blackhawks, who will be going for Jordan in a row for their season-starting point streak when the Minnesota Wild visit the United Center tonight.

While we’ve all basked in the beauty of The Streak, we’ve also been given a mathematical breakdown on just how rare it is.

Oh, and another record-setting streak is on the line, too.

More >