A Handsome Season: Patrick Sharp

There’s no question Patrick Sharp is a very handsome man. His numbers this season were awfully attractive as well.

With secondary scoring taking a hit due to departures during the offseason, Sharp provided the Blackhawks with a boost through to his unfortunate injury toward the end of the regular season. It was evident how valuable his presence was during the stretch run, when the ‘Hawks had to fight to the final day for a playoff spot.

Here’s what Sharp did this season:

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What Happened? The Sinking of the Defensive Corps

Photo: Rich Lam/Getty Images

For the longest time the Blackhawks drafted players backwards. The foolishly misguided ‘Hawks brass went into each draft looking for defensive forwards and offensive defensemen. One by one the picks were wasted on players that had barely a snowball’s chance in hell of making the team. Dumbest thing I’ve ever seen, and it was a key reason for the Blackhawks missing the playoffs so many years in a row.

The Blackhawks have very few of the remnants of that offensive defensemen draft strategy with the team now. What we do have is a defensive corps that went from having arguably the most effective top-four D-men in the league last year, to a group of four underperforming and disjointed blueliners this year — without losing a single member of their top-four. Making matters worse, the bottom pairing went from bad to worse to downright heinous before two additions to the team stabilized the situation — albeit way too late.

This, more than any other area of the team, was a disappointment for the Blackhawks and their fans during the 2010-11 season, and we’ll take a look at all of the culprits one by one.

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Season Review: Blackhawks Forwards

For all the deficiencies of the Blackhawks’ defense – which Tim will get to tomorrow – the offense actually played pretty well. Scoring didn’t seem to be the issue, as the ‘Hawks finished fourth in the NHL with 252 goals – just six behind league-leading Vancouver.

Jonathan Toews (76), Patrick Kane (73) and Patrick Sharp (71) each put up a good amount of points, but neither of those three will be on today’s list. The three who made up the top line for a good part of the season – plus Marian Hossa - will be reviewed on their own in the coming week.

Here’s a look at the rest, with a 4-Indian Head grade being the best.

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Bye Bye, Stanley: Upcoming Schedule of Blackhawk Up Season Reviews

The Chicago Blackhawks’ defense of the Stanley Cup ended a bit more prematurely than we wanted, but the wild ride had to come to an end at some point. Fortunately for you, loyal reader, the site must go on. And us idiots aren’t done yet.

Tim and I have put together a schedule of what’s to come over the next week as we review each player through different types of posts. That means we will be forcing our opinions on you for the next week – like it or not.

The forwards and defensemen will be handled with separate posts including our grades. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford and Marty Turco will be featured in separate, in-depth reviews.

Here’s the upcoming schedule for reviews over the next week for you to keep track:

Tuesday:   Forwards
Wednesday:   Defense
Thursday:   Sharp (morning), Seabrook (evening)
Friday:   Kane (morning), Hossa (evening)
Saturday:   Turco (morning), Crawford (evening)
Sunday:   Off day
Monday:  Keith (morning), Toews (evening)

As you have all season, hopefully you continue to check in with us idiots as we break everything down and spark some discussion amongst you folk. Also, if anyone is interested in live chats on the site for those of you following those day’s games as the playoffs continue, let me know. I’ll also post a feeler on the Facebook fan page.

Thanks again for everyone who made this such a great season by following along with us. We’re not done yet.

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Despite Criticism, Bowman Got it Right Choosing Crawford Over Niemi

When Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman decided to let Antti Niemi walk rather than match his arbitration award, the fanbase held its breath collectively.

How could Bowman not lock up the only Blackhawks goaltender in 49 years to lead the franchise to a Stanley Cup and turn to a netminder past his prime? Forget the salary-cap constraints, fans said, Niemi is the backbone the ‘Hawks needed to make another run.

Bowman instead signed Marty Turco to take Niemi’s spot in goal, though Bowman’s decision wasn’t as black and white as the critics made it seem. He didn’t choose Turco over Niemi, he chose Corey Crawford – and rightfully so.

Supposedly hamstrung after matching San Jose’s four-year, $14 million offer sheet for Niklas Hjalmarsson, Bowman simply couldn’t afford the $2.75 million salary due Niemi following the hearing. Bowman insisted he made multi-year offers to Niemi and his agent following the Cup run, but Niemi’s camp never bit and took the Blackhawks all the way to the end.

And that may have been Bowman’s plan all along.

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Sofa King Depressing: Stanley Cup Defense Ends in Game 7

 

UPDATED APRIL 27 @ 10:47 A.M. with Henrietta Sedin’s asshole comment

(Chicago Tribune)

The Chicago Blackhawks’ defense of the Stanley Cup ended just as it began — with an overtime goal no one saw coming. Fittingly, the Blackhawks’ season ended on an in-zone turnover, which has plagued them all season.

If you’re looking for any “Rah-rah! They came back from 0-3 and that’s great in itself!”, then go somewhere else. You’re not going to find that here. At least not yet. The ups and downs of tonight’s game have put me into a state of depression only alcohol can lift me from. And even that didn’t do much help tonight.

It’s going to take some time for me to gather up any rational thoughts regarding the Game 7 overtime loss, so your best bet is to check back later. I’m in no mood, and I can’t guarantee when I will be.

Not one thing is screaming positive to me, and rather than put up another post like the one I did in last year’s playoffs, I’ll just concede to the night and bury my thoughts deep inside one of the worst sports moments I’ve ever experienced in my 29-plus years on this earth.

UPDATED, APRIL 27 @ 10:47 A.M….

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With Our Heads Held High: Game 7 Tonight

Photo: Getty Images

First thing’s first: We’ve already won. Win or lose tonight, the Blackhawks have scored a victory. After falling behind 3 games to none, they have fought their way back in a manner worthy of the defending Stanley Cup Champions. They have played hard, they have given their fans a thrill second only to the Cup victory last year, and they have overcome significant adversity in doing so.

The Chicago Blackhawks, and their fans, can accept the outcome of tonight’s game with our heads held high. It’s been a fantastic series, and it will be coming to an end tonight.

That having been said, let’s go out there tonight and demolish those whiny, overrated choke-weasels.

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‘Hawks & ‘Nucks Bloggers, Mano a Mano!

UPDATE: The Pulse Network’s hosting service is having difficulties, so this a broken link for the time being. When the interview is re-posted I will link it again.

The Pulse Network’s “Sports Buzz” show was nice enough to invite us on again to talk about the Blackhawks vs. Canucks game 7 tonight. Joining us was Larenzo Jansen, blogger for The Canuck Way blog, our evil-ugly-red-headed-step-sister blog out of Vancouver on the Fansided Network.

Don’t worry, I was nice.

Thanks again to host Tyler Pyburn and producer Phil Dimartino for the gracious invitation, and to Larenzo for agreeing to come on despite the fact that I was going to be on with him. :0)

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The Day-After Calm: Blackhawks Haven’t Won Anything Yet

Credit: Nuccio DiNuzzo, Chicago Tribune

I know first-hand the excitment everyone is feeling after the Game 6 overtime victory, which forced an improbable Game 7 on Tuesday in Vancouver. Battling back from 0-3 to force a deciding game is an accomplishment in itself – and a rather exciting one to boot.

After Ben Smith flipped the winner over Roberto Luongo, I was so excited I couldn’t be cooped up in a cab or on the bus. I live two miles north of the United Center up Damen Ave. in Wicker Park, and I walked every step of the way home. I even stopped in a couple bars to have a celebratory drink.

Some gloating and a nice sleep later, I’ve finally come back to Earth to realize the most important thing: The Blackhawks haven’t won anything yet, and they may have put us fans in a worse position to suffer heart failure than if they were simply swept away.

The roller coaster ride of this series resembles the entire 82-game season nearly as much as the Sedin twins do each other – and it’s been nearly just as ugly. Injuries, storylines, depths of despair, moments of hope, more painful miscues, then a rise to get us all back on the teeter-tottering bandwagon named “Repeat.”

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‘Vigneault’ Is French For ‘Wussy’

Photo: Vancouver Sun

We were all blissfully confident that we knew who was going to lead the Canucks out of the tunnel on Sunday night. Vancouver Coach Alain Vigneault was adamant in his response to a reporter’s question following his team’s game 5 loss: Roberto Luongo would start. Call it stubborn, call it stupid, call it Shirley. Whatever you call it, everyone was on the same page.

So when the reports from the United Center started blazing across the Twitterscape that Cory Schneider was leading the team on to the ice for warm-ups, heads spun around. What happened? Was Luongo hurt? Did Vigneault get overruled by the Canucks’ General Manager? Did Luongo chicken out? Or was this some calculated move on Vigneault’s part intended to make bloggers and the press look like idiots?

Given some time to think about the move to start Schneider instead of the poorly-performing Luongo, it was the desperate move of a coward who cares less about winning than he does about saving his job.

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