(Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune)

Going Going, Back Back to Cali Cali: Blackhawks 5, Kings 4 (2OT) – Kings Lead Series 3-2

(Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune)

(Scott Strazzante/Chicago Tribune)

Couldn’t say it any better than Notorious BIG.

Game 5 was, without a doubt, the most nerve-wracking hockey I’ve watched since overtime of Game 7 against Detroit last year. And that’s probably only fitting given that the Blackhawks need to overcome the exact same deficit they faced in that series.

From up two goals (twice), to farting away the lead, to an absolutely intense first OT to the winner by Michal Handzus, it brought out every emotion humans are capable of showing. I can’t imagine that Game 6 will be any different.

Rather than writing about the Blackhawks’ playoff demise, we’re able to get to some analysis ahead of the return to the Staples Center on Friday. Here’s what I’ve got…

More >

CubanKing

Western Conference Final Game 5 – Do or Die

CubanKing

bicks

Slipped In The Shower Stall: Hawks 2 Kings 5 (LA Leads 3-1)

bicks

So, here we are.  For the first time since the 2nd Round against Detroit last year, the Hawks are staring down the barrel of an elimination game on Wednesday. Things are prety grim right now and if folk are feeling les-than-chipper about the Hawks prospects, well, can’t say I blame them.

More >

(Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

When We Gave it Away For the Sake of a Dream: Kings 6, ‘Hawks 2 – West Final Tied 1-1

(Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

(Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

When the fan base was weighing in on the better matchup for the Blackhawks in the Western Conference Final, it seemed the majority chose the Kings over the Anaheim Ducks.

The third period of Game 2 showed why a series with the Kings wasn’t something I wanted to go through.

After the ‘Hawks controlled the majority of the first two periods, Los Angeles took advantage of a couple of early power plays in the third on its way to a five-goal period to even the series heading to Hollywood for Game 3 on Saturday.

The Blackhawks capitalized on a pair of timely changes, as Nick Leddy took an outlet pass and put a nifty backhand past Jonathan Quick before Ben Smith scored merely seconds after he got on the ice to give the ‘Hawks a 2-0 lead into the final two minutes of the second. Brent Seabrook had a prime chance to put them up three, but Quick’s sliding save across the crease kept L.A. within a pair.

Justin Williams had a puck go off his sake and trickle past Corey Crawford near the end of the second, and from there it was all Kings.

The Kings’ explosion shouldn’t really surprise anyone. This a team that stormed back from 0-3 down to San Jose to win the series and 2-3 against the Ducks before dominating Game 7 on the road. As much as we commend the Blackhawks for never being out of a game, series, whatever, L.A. has the same pedigree – and maybe even more dangerous when backed into a corner.

More >

photo (10)

Game Day Illustrated: Kings v. Blackhawks Game 2

photo (10)

no goal

Pinwheels: Kings 1 Hawks 3 (Hawks lead series 1-0)

 

OK.. one down.. and a strange one at that. The stats suggest that the Hawks were totally outgunned by the Kings, with the LA team having a 26-20 advantage in shots and a 57.4% Corsi share. Sure didn’t look like that, though. In my opinion, the Hawks played a smart, speedy game, keeping the Kings from their usual “Monstrous Forecheck=Pucks Played Into Space” method. The Kings were scrabbling and attempting long-range and half-chance efforts almost all night. Meanwhile, the Hawks were a continual threat to break at speed and in numbers. making sure that the Kings were defending in their own zone rather than 200 feet away.

More >

Southern Pacific: Hawks/Kings WCF Guest Preview

Due to their series going to seven games and the short turnaround time between the end of the 2nd Round and the Western Conference Final, it was unclear whether the Hawks would be playing the Los Angeles Kings or the Anaheim Ducks for the privilege of a second successive SCF appearance. Therefore, when coming up with this preview, I decided to play it safe by enlisting the help of a couple of people who have good knowledge of, and a healthy disdain for, both teams.  Here are our good buddies (and San Jose Sharks fans)  Staci from the Canafornians and Derek from Fear The Fin , answering some questions about the Hawks formidable opponents.

 

More >

Cheer the Podcast Episode 13

Cheer the Podcast Episode 13 (5.18.14): The Minnesota Wild are now in the rear view and the Kings are the only obstacle between the Blackhawks and a 2nd straight Final appearance. The guys reflect back on the Minnesota series and it taking more than originally thought while looking ahead to those LA Kings. Brandon Bollig’s social media escapades get a brief mention, and the role we hope to not play again in those. We also delve into the unpredictable happenings of the Eastern Conference playoffs, basically going as far to say that the West Finals are for the Cup.

This weeks outro may prevent Jim from ever running for President.

bolligface

Brandon Bollig You Are a Majestic “Lion”

bolligface

Brandon Bollig is a great hockey man, said no one ever. Some would consider him a real key to a great team. If you do, your strategy may look a bit like this:

 

More >

PM Sellers, folks. He's the best.

Among The Pines: Blackhawks 2 Wild 1 (Hawks win series 4-2)

PM Sellers, folks. He's the best.

PM Sellers, folks. He’s the best.

I should really be sitting here writing about the Hawks’ prospects in Game 7 against the Wild, trying to cheer you (and myself) up with the record at the United Center and assuring you that the next one will be different.  Instead we’re eyeing up the Kings and Ducks and hoping for 5OTs before the Hawks head to California. Funny old game, Hockey, eh?

 

More >

photo (8)

Interregnum Illustrated: Hawks-Wild Game 5

photo (8)

Boxing Wild Game 5

High Five: Boxing with Blackhawks (2) and Wild (1) – ‘Hawks lead Series 3-2

(Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune)

(Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune)

 

The last three games of this series have helped produce enough stomach acid to make Tums become a midday snack. The first 10 minutes provided some worry before it was Jonathan Toews to the rescue with a third-period goal that would stand up for a 2-1 victory in Game 5 as the ‘Hawks held serve at the United Center.

The penalty 31 seconds in, combined with the bad bounce that slipped past Corey Crawford and the pair of posts the Wild hit in the first period made for an uncomfortable beginning to a game the Blackhawks needed before heading back to Minnesota. They gradually began dominating the possession into the second period and final got the final nail on a play that Patrick Sharp made the smart move to fire the puck at the net for a waiting Toews.

I’m sure most of us predicted when the series began that we’d be seeing some handshakes tonight, but at least the ‘Hawks were able to rebound from a pair of stinkers up north to apply the right amount of gas to get them through an important game in the latter part of a series. They have a tendency to do such things.

I’ve very tired, so just a couple of things….

*  Despite years of wondering what kind of lineup Q will ice from shift to shift, I still was bewildered at what I saw in Game 3 and 4 and the matter of putting Kris Versteeg on the top line to start Game 5. What’s even more mind boggling is that when Q puts together the combinations that seem to be the most logic, the ‘Hawks produce. Yet, Q continues to roll questionable lines when it seems completely unjustified.

For instance, is it any surprise the Blackhawks’ game picked up when he put Toews, Sharp and Marian Hossa together tonight? The Red Wedding line that produced so well during the regular season? Is it any wonder that when you put Bryan Bickell in the right spots with the right people that his game goes up a notch? Or when Peter Regin is dressed like everyone had been clamoring for and he puts in solid work on the bottom six despite not having played since April 12?

These are things I’ll never understand about Q and his propensity to change lineups for the sake of change and nothing else. Instead, we had to suffer through Game 3 and 4 and part of tonight wondering when the hell he’s going to stop trying to out-think himself.

*  Crawford didn’t have his best in Game 4, but as has been the case for years, he puts his balls on the ice when the tough really gets going. He had a near-perfect performance in Game 5 and helped the ‘Hawks weather the storm when the Wild were pushing hard for the tie.

*  Woof, did Duncan Keith have a couple of bad turnovers or what? At least twice I remember him hitting the meet of a Wild stick on a pass attempt he had no business making.

*  Nick Leddy struggled all night, basically looking nervous and apprehensive. His confidence seems shaken, which is what happens when you are a healthy scratch in your hometown for a playoff game. Still, he needs to get his shit together before Game 6.
Hopefully we get a handshake line on Tuesday. Here’s Boxing…

 

More >

Bite The Hand: Hawks 2 Wild 4 (series 2-2)

look at this prick

Good morning. I’m sure you want to read about that pile of crap as little as I want to write about it, but that’s what we’re all here for, so I’ll get to it.

This is going to be brief as we’ve all got better things to be doing.

 

More >

photo 5

Cartoon Recap: Blackhawks – Wild Game 3

BHGD_WildGame3

Welcome to the FIRST EVER Cheer the Anthem Cartoon Recap, where we’ll delve into the slimy contours of last night’s “hockey” “game” between the Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild.

I was really hoping to have an exciting victory to start this. But, as I’ve said many times:

photo 2

Pregame

photo 3

The relationship between Q and Blackhawks media (bloggers, twitter, and beats alike) has turned into the Oracle of Delphi. I’ve given up trying to understand these things ahead of time; just take them as they come and hope for the best. Yesterday’s killed me, though: Leddy out; Beat Hero Zus still in; and welcome back, Bollig.

 photo (6)

First Period

photo 1 (1)

Second Period

photo 2 (1)

Have you looked at last night’s Fenwick chart? Do you remember who was in net for the Wild? I know the CNBC crew fully committed to making sure Bryzgalov’s confidence stayed topped up throughout the game, but he was not doing anything crazy good. The Hawks were just toothless.

And then Bollig got his moment.

photo 3 (1)

This is why he’s the Whack-a-Can constant, people. I know, I know, his passing lane to Kane was shut down but god dammit Bollig! How do you have a 2 on 1 and not put the shot on net.

photo 4

Third Period

photo (7)

photo 5

 

remember me

Wild 4 – Blackhawks 0: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Remember Me?

Recapping the first 40 minutes of this game seems like a great way to get you to click on the ads (do we have ads?). The last 20 minutes were where all the action took place and none of it was beneficial to the Chicago Blackhawks. I wrote down some bullets before I slept on this last night and after reading them this morning I don’t feel too different. Let’s get to them.

More >

BHGD_WildGame3

Blackhawks Game Day Illustrated – Let’s Do It Again!

BHGD_WildGame3

pickle

Sweet Smell: Wild 1 Hawks 4

pickle

 

When we look back on this game, years from now, the scorecard will suggest that it was a 4-1 ass-kicking.  Having just watched said game, however, we all know that that is far from the truth.

 

More >

Boxing Wild Game 1

Calmer Than You Are, Dude: Game 1 Boxing with Blackhawks (5) and Wild (2)

(Chris Sweda/ Chicago Tribune)

(Chris Sweda/ Chicago Tribune)

 

Apologies for the (very) delayed recap, but sometimes Friday nights turn into Saturday mornings very quickly. I’ll be pretty brief, as I’m sure you’ve read mostly everything you need to know. Just a couple of highlights.

Patrick Kane’s disgusting backhand flip of a game-winner has deservedly been played all over since it happened, along with his yelling of “Showtime!” celebration. The guy just seems to be in the right spot at important moments, and even when he’s not in the right spot, he gets himself there by improvising as he did on the backhand goal. He and Marian Hossa also showed that good things happen when you have your stick on the ice, as they accepted feeds from Ben Smith and Brandon Saad, respectively, to pot goals in open nets.

Corey Crawford was again spectacular, snuffing out numerous Wild opportunities in the first and second periods before being the victim of a couple bad bounces and overall shitty play from….

Brandon Bollig. Another awful night. On the second goal, he turned the puck over at the center line leading to a Wild possession. Bollig then got beat badly to the net by Brodziak, who had a clear shot past Crawford. I hope Bollig stubs his toe so badly that he cannot play another game for the rest of the playoffs.

That’s it for now, he’s Boxing. I’ll be back with another edition after Game 2. GO ‘HAWKS!….

More >

Motherland: Wild @ Hawks Preview

After what seems like ages (and also no time at all) the Hawks start their 2nd Round tonight, at home this time, thanks to the Wild knocking out the Avs.  I’ve still not really got an opinion on which matchup I’d have preferred, but let’s have a look at the hand we’ve been dealt.

 

More >

beer 2 001

Playoff Beered Update!

REPEATER

OK, for those of you who don’t know;  I’m not growing a Playoff Beard (already got one) and am instead brewing a Playoff Beer.

I brewed this Oatmeal Stout two weeks ago, before Game 1 against St Louis. It’s been bubbling away happily to itself for the duration. By happy coincidence, it finished fermenting and was ready for bottling today, on the eve of Round Two.

More >

Cheer The Podcast: Episode 12

Cheer the Podcast Episode 12 (4.30.14): With the Blues vanquished the guys reconvene to discuss the Game 7s in progress as they ‘cast, bury the Blues, see what lies ahead in Round 2, answer a few e-mails (including a special local country club celebrity, allegedly), check in on everyone’s favorite stairwell pooper and this episode’s outro involves Craig Berube and Jeremy Roenick.

Audio after the jump.

More >

backeraptor

Things To Do In St. Louis When You’re Dead: 2014 Edition

St Louis Dead

 

If this seems familiar , then yes, you’re right. Once again, the Blues are out of the Playoffs; having let down themselves, their fans and the legions of sports “experts” who picked them as Winners.

Far better people have eulogised their failure, so we here at Cheer The Anthem are just going to speculate on exactly what various personnel from the Blues will be getting up to during their long, long summer vacation.

(Through the medium of remedial-level photoshops, of course).

 

More >

photo (2)

Let Us Take this Blackhawk Sabbath Day

photo (2)

Thank you, Boys, for slamming the door shut and setting fire to the place on your way out of that series. I know that many Hawks fans are already turning their eyes to the Avs-Wild series and our eventual Second Round match-up, but let us take this Blackhawks Sabbath Day. Savor the victory: we dispatched the Blues with four straight wins. In the First Round. That feels goooooood . . .

photo (3)

We should also take a moment to remember what losing that series would have meant. Sure, we’ve all been there before – a first-round exit after winning the Cup is bad, no matter what. Losing to the Blooooooos, though? During this entire series, the potential to lose bubbled up inside me, crowding out any rational thought, any notion that I should keep this game in perspective. How could I? These people eat kittens. They traded for Steve Ott.

photo (4)                               photo (5)

But we didn’t lose. We defeated them. Those cretinous pretenders-to-the-throne return to their rightful place, complete with Mr. Big Time Deadline Acquisition. The Spirit of Chicago flies on.

Chi_STL_G1

CT ct-spt-0428-blackhawks-blues-nhl-playoffs-016.JPG

Who’s Next?

Good morning.

 

Now that the Blues have been safely despatched, the burning question for Hawks fans is the identity of their 2nd Round opponents. Will it be the young, speedy and bloody lucky Avs with their stellar goaltending, or the tenacious, gritty and annoying Wild with their.. uh, goaltending? Which is the more desirable matchup?

A question of this magnitude is beyond the feeble minds of this blog, so we’ve enlisted one of our celebrity pals to bring his unique point of view and razor-sharp insight to the matter.

 

Over to you, Jay

More >

Boxing Blues Game 6

Off You Go: Game 6 Boxing with Blackhawks (5) and Blues (1) – ‘Hawks win Series 4-2

CT ct-spt-0428-blackhawks-blues-nhl-playoffs-016.JPG

(Scott Strazzante / Chicago Tribune)

All right, full disclosure: After Game 2, I had a meltdown. Nakis and myself were cursing the world and couldn’t see the Blackhawks winning this series. I calmed myself a bit and rested my DOOM to look forward to Game 3.

Win.

Then Game 4 happened. Win.

After Jonathan Toews scored in OT of Game 5, I had made a complete 180 and went from completely despondent to a no-way-the-‘Hawks-lose mentality. I should have known, should have looked back to last year’s Red Wings series and even the 1-2 hole in the Cup Final against Boston. I should have taken stock in the Blues blowing that 2-0 lead to the Kings. I didn’t, and I’m so happy that the Blackhawks proved Nakis and myself wrong. Every bit of it is glorious.

What makes it even better? The fact that the Blues have basically become the Cubs of the NHL. I don’t feel sorry for them in the least bit. And even though I thought they were better than last year, they never cease to amaze with their ability to completely fold. After Patrick Sharp’s goal to make it 3-1 on Sunday, I sat in my seat at the United Center and felt a breeze from the Blues bench all the way up in the 300 level from the wind being blown out of St. Louis’ sails. The Blues weren’t able to crush the ‘Hawks spirit like they’d hoped, and now the Blackhawks are moving on to Round 2, while the Blues are heading back to Meth Country.

Let’s talk about a couple of things…

*  I’m going to start with Corey Crawford first, because he’s fucking deserves it. As the ‘Hawks continued with their conga line to the penalty box in the second period, Crawford continued to turn away the Blues and wound up helping the Blackhawks kill 10 minutes of shorthanded time. It was the type of performance Crawford deserves much, much more credit for than he’ll ever get in this town, and it’s a goddamn shame. Not only should he have won a Conn Smythe for his balls-to-the-wall effort in leading the ‘Hawks to last year’s Cup, he played pretty outstanding in five of the six games of this series. And this is from a guy who already got his new paper, with his contract extension yet to even kick in. He deserves more patting on the ass, not this kind of shit I see on Facebook immediately following another stellar effort:

Crawford Hate*  Crawford’s efforts had plenty to do with the ‘Hawks killing 27 of 29 penalties in the series. And though the PK was nails, the ‘Hawks need to stop parading to the box when Round 2 begins.

*  Coach Q said Duncan Keith may have played his best game since Q started coaching in Chicago. It’s pretty difficult to argue with that assessment. Keith was the one who saved a clearing attempt on Toews’ goal, and his shot may have gone in even if Andrew Shaw didn’t deflect it. Then, he got one of his own. No, you shouldn’t win a Norris Trophy for your offense, but Keith had two goals and five assists in the series and played out of his mind in the defensive zone as well. And remember, he played with Sheldon Brookbank for three games while Brent Seabrook was suspended, even though some didn’t think Keith could survive without his buddy.

 Keith

*  When Toews decides it’s time for him to take over, the opponent is generally fucked. Three goals and four assists in the series, OT goal in Game 5, game-winning goal in the Game 6 clincher. The Captain had three goals in the entire playoffs last season and totaled just three assists in the first nine games – and the ‘Hawks still won the Cup.

*   Barret Jackman showers in Ryan Reaves’ pee stream.

*  I went to St. Louis one time and walked into a tavern. I noticed everyone was slurping a variety of liquids off the bar. A man and woman sitting at a table nearby had their waitress come over and pour a bucket of beer down in front of them, and they proceeded to put mouth to table and drink it up without batting an eye. Though I felt this was all very strange, I sat down and ordered a Bacardi and diet. The bartender came over, poured a can of diet coke and some Bacardi simultaneously on the bar in front of me, stirred it around with a straw and then told me the price.

“OK man, I’ve got to ask – why is everyone just slurping their drinks off the bar.”

The bartender replied, “Sorry, we don’t have any cups in St. Louis.”

*  Enough jokes. On to Round 2 we go. Here’s Boxing…

More >