In Game 1 and 2, the Blackhawks were outplayed for long stretches, held a one-goal lead in the third period before eventually succumbing to late goals in overtime defeats.
Game 3 had plenty of similarities, but Corey Crawford stood tall in net and led the Blackhawks to a 2-0 victory in one of the better games he’s ever played. His 34-save effort got the ‘Hawks back into the series and gave us all the hope we’ve been looking for after two disheartening losses.
Puck possession and a general presence in the offensive zone were essentially non-existent from about the initial burst in the first period through the final minutes of the third, and the Blues continued to up the pressure and controlled most of the action. These stretches were all too familiar from the first two games in St. Louis, and it seemed the Blues would score that eventual cock-stomping goal we’ve all come to expect.
Crawford played well in Game 1 and admittedly not so well in Game 2, but he was exceptional Monday – and the ‘Hawks needed every last bit of it.
Jonathan Toews was able to slip one past Ryan Miller in the first period, and Crawford made it stand up until Marcus Kruger added an empty netter in the final seconds. It was another up-and-down performance from the ‘Hawks, with plenty of improvement still left in order to even this series Wednesday.
— Sheldon Brookbank played a lot better than I expected and didn’t seem out of place at all filling in for the suspended Brent Seabrook. He made one defensive-zone turnover that had us holding our breath, but other than that he was solid. He even took hit from behind by known piss drinker Maxime Lapierre, who proceeded to act as if he had just been the victim of the world’s greatest injustice. Fuck you, Maxime.
— Remember how so many of us still had confidence because the ‘Hawks played well enough to win the first two games but still lost? That’s exactly how Blues fans feel after Monday, except they are still one game up and have the chance to bury the Blackhawks into a 3-1 hole heading back to St. Louis. Crawford was the difference this time by being basically perfect, but a replica of this Blues performance and one blip of imperfection from Crawford on Wednesday easily could have the ‘Hawks coming up on the losing end.
— Brandon Bollig and Ryan Reaves combined for less than 10 minutes of ice time in Game 3 because they’re both worthless piles of shit who serve absolutely zero purpose yet continued to be dressed.
— Meanwhile, Jeremy Morin sat in the press box – again.
— So, about the power play. St. Louis gave the ‘Hawks four prime chances to provide some breathing room on the scoreboard in the second period, including a brief 5 on 3. The Blackhawks are now 1 for 14 in the series, and it’s starting to become a problem given that the Blues continue to take stupid penalties and the ‘Hawks can’t take advantage. At one point on the 2-man advantage, Patrick Sharp held the puck roughly eight feet from the net for seven straight seconds with nary a shot or pass for absolutely no reason. That type of stagnation, along with trying to generate offense from the point rather than in around the net, isn’t going to get it done.
— Michal Handzus was great on the kill again Monday. He’s still a fart in the wind 5 on 5, and there’s no reason for him to be centering the second line and dragging it down. It’s a tough line to toe when he’s playing so well when the ‘Hawks are shorthanded.
— Toews won 19 of 24 faceoffs. That’s, like, good and stuff.
So the Blackhawks got away with a less-than-stellar effort to get back in the series. Get another one Wednesday – hopefully without giving fans acid reflux – and it will be a best of three. Let’s take this one and move on.
These are the dark times. The Hawks trail St. Louis in the series, 2-0. They lost both games during the final minutes. Seabs is out for three games after trying to end Backes. Bickell somehow escaped sanction after doing his best Dustin Brown impression. If you want a counter-argument to all the Meatball Hawks fans out there always going on about how the Hawks need to be harder, Saturday’s loss is your retort (and you don’t even need shiny stats to make it).
The series resumes at the United Center tonight, the Hawks are 0-2, Brent Seabrook is suspended, Corey Crawford is blaming himself and it’s been nearly 148 minutes of Hockey since a Blackhawks forward scored a goal. How we all doing?
You Should Have Racing Stripes the Way You Keep Me in Pursuit: Overtime Boxing with Blues (4) and ‘Hawks (3) – Blues Lead Series 2-0
You want narratives? OK, I’ll give you narratives.. They’ll make you feel better. Which is good, because these are things you’re going to be hearing from the time you read this Sunday through faceoff of Game 3.
The Blackhawks were down 0-3 to Vancouver in 2011 and pushed the series all the way to overtime of Game 7. The ‘Hawks were down 1-3 to Detroit last season and came back and won the series on the way to winning the Stanley Cup. The Blues were up 2-0 on the Kings last season before coughing up the next four games.
Chicago has been down in a series and won, and St. Louis has been up in a series and lost. Hey! Look at that!
Want to be realistic? Probably not, but I’ll take the unpopular side and be realistic.
None of that shit matters a single bit. Not even one little word of it matters. Different teams, different years, different odds for everything. Different personnel, different opponent. If you want to get caught up in a feel-good narrative, you go right ahead and do that. I’m not going to be the one putting an arm around your shoulders to tell you, “History sides with us! We’re going to win for sure!” I have too much pride and logical thought to do that.
Now, that doesn’t mean I’m standing on the ledge, either. I might have been for the few hours following Saturday’s dick punch of a 4-3 overtime loss, but I’ve brought myself back to Earth a little bit to actually try and discuss some things without simply staring at the DOOM of a 0-2 deficit to those toenail eaters that reside in Chicago Jr.
We can begin anywhere here, so I’m just going to start with another thing you’ll be seeing for the next two days.
— Brent Seabrook’s hit is going to be characterized as dirty and will get him a suspension. There’s no suspense here. That’s what will happen. However, I’m not angry about the severity of the hit – would have probably been different had David Backes been completely upright – or what’s to follow, but rather pissed off that Seabrook put himself in that position in the first place. Up one goal, shorthanded, less than five minutes left in the third period of a playoff game and he’s taking runs at people in the corner. Seabrook would have gotten a charging call regardless of if he hit Backes in the head or shoulder or wherever. It was a hit that simply did not need to be made, and shouldn’t have been made. And then the worst possible outcome happened, and things got doubly fucked.
Not only did he put the Blackhawks in a bad position to have to kill off that major, but now a member of the top defensive pairing will be out likely multiple games in a series they trail 0-2. I understand hockey is a fast-moving, reactionary game, but Seabrook needs to take a split second to think about what the fuck he’s about to do and the situation he’s in.
— Let’s also not sleep on the league possibly taking action with Bryan Bickell, whose blatant knee-on-knee hit on Vladimir Sobotka put the ‘Hawks shorthanded in the third in the first place. He was luck to escape with a minor.
— So Brandon Bollig played a whopping 1:23 after the first period. Essentially, the ‘Hawks played the final two periods and into OT as if he’d gotten a red card (savor the soccer reference, folks). They could have put his sweater on a hanger behind the bench and it would have served the same purpose. I want Q to justify Bollig dressing in Game 3, Game 4 or for the rest of his life, for that matter. There were two guys in the press box that would have gotten more minutes had they just accidentally fallen off the bench and onto the ice.
— Speaking of changes, Michal Handzus 5-on-5 is a complete disaster. He’s as fast as a turtle in quick sand as serves as much purpose as a screen door in a submarine at even strength. Did he play well on the kill? Pretty much, but so did everyone. I would say Peter Regin could have done the same things he did shorthanded while also providing more 5-on-5.
— So, last-second goals were a thing for the Blues, eh? That sure as shit fucking sucked as much as winning a day with an NHL player and having Ryan Reaves show up.
— Lots of blame being placed on Corey Crawford for… everything. I’m sure he’d like to have the OT goal back despite not having X-ray vision to see through five guys and still be able to slow it down, but he’s the reason these games weren’t blowouts. Anyone who can’t see that should be watching an intense battle of team handball or something. That being said, he definitely wasn’t as good in Game 2 as he was in Game 1.
— Positive stuff we’re looking for, right? At least the next two games are played at the United Center. That’s something. The penalty kill has been outstanding and erased eight Blues power plays before falling six second short of killing off over six minutes of penalties to end the game. Also, the Blackhawks weren’t at their best for consistent stretches and could have won each game had it not been for late breakdowns of various kinds. Thing is, the Blues are sitting there saying, “We didn’t play our best either and still won these fucking games.” It goes two ways.
What we’ve gotten so far is the height of playoff competition in the first two games of a series against what has become a bitter rival. It’s going to make us more emotional. I get that. So I need to take my own advice and calm down a bit and see what happens in Game 3. A loss Monday and I’ll be wondering why you’re not panicking along with me.
Oh my. 3OT to start the series. That was a strange but enthralling game last night, and one that could feed any number of narratives; most of them dead wrong. The momentum of the game shifted throughout: the Blues started hotter & hungrier out of the gate and took a lead through Adam Cracknell after four minutes. The Hawks were getting pinned down in their own zone and we feared the worst. However, after Johnny Oduya tied it (on the first of a couple of goals that Miller would like back) the Hawks found their legs and began to dominate. Brent Seabrook and Vladimir Tarasenko exchanged goals before Patrick Kane gave the Hawks the lead with a superb finish on a stretch pass from Toews. That was three goals in seven shots on Miller and we had visions of the hook coming for him and the game turning into a laugher. In fact, I believe that if the Hawks had been able to capitalise on several great chances to extend the lead before the 2nd ntermission, you’d have seen the Blues lose their composure entirely.
And here we go…
The time for talking is almost done and the 1st Round of the Playoffs begins for the defending Champions tonight in Missouri. I know I wanted this matchup, but I guess it’s a “Careful what You Wish For” situation. The Blues look to be returning to (nearly) full health and have had some time to regather themselves after losing the last six games of the season. An awful lot of media outlets seem to be picking the Hawks in six, and such an outcome wouldn’t surprise me but, really, anything goes here.
Your Blues Inspire Our Rock ‘N’ Roll: Cheer the Podcast Ep. 11, CtA Round Table and Playoff Predictions
One year after having to go through their storied rival in the first round to win their second Stanley Cup in four years, the Blackhawks now begin their title defense against a St. Louis team that has taken Detroit’s place as our most-hated franchise in the Western Conference.
Before I go any further, I’d like to point out that the Blues are the only franchise that was part of the 1967 expansion that hasn’t won a Stanley Cup. Ever. Not one. At all. That’s hilarious. Fuck them.
But despite St. Louis pissing down its own leg for the last 47 years, I think we’re all expecting another round of heart palpitations. I explained to Adam and Jim the other day that I’m unexpectedly calm heading into the matchup with St. Louis. It’s not because it comes in having lost their last six of the regular season and blew the division title in hilarious fashion, but more so because I have confidence in this Blackhawks team when at full strength. Once the broadcast starts, though, and I see all those meth-heads waving their towels, I’m going to start getting nervous.
In fact, by the time you read this, I’m sure I’ll slowly be beginning to freak out. Because that’s what I do.
Speaking of Adam and Jim, those bastards decided to record a podcast on a night I had to work, again excluding me from being able to share my feelings “on the air.” Below you’ll find Episode 11 of Cheer the Podcast.
As anyone who has had the misfortune of meeting me knows, I LOVE beer. So much so that I’ve started making my own. We all know about the symbiosis between Hockey and alcoholic beverages so I’ve decided to put two of my favourite things together and come up with a Victory Beer for this postseason.
And so it ends, 82 games down, 3rd in the Central, 5th in the West, 7th in the league. 1st round opponents as yet uncertain (please oh please oh please be the Blues) Anyway, if you’re expecting a serious breakdown of last night, look elsewhere. Just a few bits and bobs to go through on this Sunday morning:
It took 80 games – yes, 80 – but the Blackhawks finally found a way to win in overtime.
Thanks to Jeremy Morin extending his goal-scoring streak to three, Marian Hossa’s tying goal with the extra skater and Patrick Sharp’s tally in OT, the ‘Hawks won their fourth straight by beating Montreal 3-2 on Wednesday night in the final regular-season game at the United Center.
While the Blackhawks’ overtime woes cost them some points in the standings, all it really did was cause some minor frustrations in the grand scheme of things as they prepare to head into the playoffs for another defense of their Stanley Cup title. And with this ‘Hawks team, that’s pretty much what we’ve been looking forward to since this season began, anyway.
Speaking of the postseason, it may be about time Q begins considering dressing Morin over Kris Versteeg as Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are back in the lineup when the playoffs start. It’s been a whirlwind for Morin all season, considering he was unexpectedly sent to Rockford after camp and shuttled to the big club to play 22 games to fill various needs.
But all the kid has done is produce when he’s here and given the ice time. Aside from a rather perplexing dump-in that resulted in icing last night, he put together a solid performance to extend his point streak to four since being a healthy scratch for two games. Morin has four goals and six assists with the ‘Hawks, mostly playing fewer than 10 minutes in each contest. He’s gotten over 12 in each of the last three and scored a goal in each. When he’s on the ice, he does his job, and his game is suited for playing against the up-tempo style of Colorado (if that’s that team the ‘Hawks end up facing in the first round).
Versteeg, meanwhile, has been one of the most frustrating ‘Hawks since he was acquired from Florida. He’s wildly inconsistent, takes shots that simply don’t make much sense and has made so many careless turnovers and incomprehensible decisions that I’m about ready to explode upon hearing his name. Maybe Sharp didn’t see him on Hossa’s goal, but Sharp had Versteeg open for a clean shot on the far side and decided to throw it to Hossa in traffic. Hopefully Q gives Versteeg a seat in the press box come playoff time, though I’m not holding my breath.
Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for tonight. Washington on Friday and then the Preds to finish the season Saturday. Here’s Boxing….
Tonight is the last home game of the Regular Season, it’s against another O6 team and… well. that’s about all that it’s got going for it. The Hawks are, barring the Avs collapsing, locked into 3rd place in the Central and the Habs are in 2nd place in the Atlantic with two points on the Lightning. There is nothing to play for tonight which is reflected in Montreal leaving Price, Moen, Prust, Emelin and Markov out of the lineup. The useless Doug Murray is suspended.
Cheer the Podcast Episode 10 (4.7.14): Jim and Adam host a Bartl-less podcast as he recovers from his vacation exploits. Topics covered include the Toews-Orpik controversy about #grit, the performances of Jeremy Morin and Peter Regin with Bryan Bickell, a few e-mails that include an discussion about hockey and television production, and a look at the Blackhawks blue line going into 2014-15. In the East the guys roast the Leafs and lament the Wings keeping their playoff streak.
Audio after the jump.
I don’t know if Ken Hitchcock was trying to be snarky when he commented on the ‘Workers’ in the Blackhawks lineup today, but it certainly was a case of Power To The People as a Hawks team stripped of some major assets due to injury (and yet another Q “Message” benching in the case of Brandon Saad) rode roughshod over the Blues. St Louis played last night (and got their asses handed to them 4-0 by the Avs) and were certainly showing signs of fatigue. For most of the game they were an offensive non-entity and didn’t even have the energy to indulge in their normal level of asshattery.
Goals from Jeremy Morin, Patrick Sharp, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith gave Chicago the victory that, ultimately, means little in terms of the Divisional race this year but was, nonetheless, pleasing as any victory over St Louis is.
This will be the last time the Hawks see the Blues until the 2nd Round (provided both teams get there, of course). While St Louis have won most of the matchups this year they’ve all been by the narrowest margins. The only blowout belongs to the Hawks, giving them a better aggregate score (thus far). but none of this matters a damn, now. St Louis are locks for the Divisional title and fighting it out with the Bruins for the Presidents Trophy. The Hawks will face Colorado in the 1st round and almost certainly will start on the road. However, anyone anticipating a disinterested game clearly didn’t see the Blues losing their collective minds in the 3rd period of their 4-0 drubbing by the Avs last night. The two teams combined for 120 PIMs in the 3rd Period (with the result no longer in question). Brendan Morrow may be facing Supplementary Discipline for a cross check on John Mitchell and the entire Blues ‘Leadership’ followed Captain manly man David Backes’ example and got themselves tossed from the game. Remarkable (and the Avs contributed their share, it should be added)
Tonight the Hawks edged out the Stars in a game that shouldn’t have been but was closer than that scoreline suggests. The Hawks weathered an early storm that saw the Stars pile on the shots and Corey Crawford make some good saves. Then Dallas were the victim of the first of a long string of weak or poor refereeing calls, losing Cody Eakin on a questionable Goalie Interference call, and the Hawks capitalised with Andrew Shaw scoring an excellent goal while on his knees. The Hawks doubled their lead in the 2nd with a goal that I believe is currently credited to Kris Versteeg. Ryan Garbutt, of all people got one back after a defensive lapse then Duncan Keith saw a long range effort evade Kari Lehtonen for 3-1. Garbutt got it back within one goal in the 3rd when he managed to stuff the puck home of Crawford. With the Stars pressing hard and Lehtonen pulled it appeared that Niklas Hjalmarsson ended it with a shot from dep in his own half, however it was judged to have been touched by Bollig’s high stick at the Blue Line and waved off. Shortly thereafter, however, Marian Hossa bullied his way to the front off a fortuitous bounce (Lehtonen was en route to the bench, assuming the puck was leaving the zone) and iced the game. There was time for some dumbness featuring Bollig and Roussel and the two points went in the bag.
Oh, and some young Finn made his debut tonight, too.. guess we’d better mention that, hey?
The time finally is upon us.
Teuvo Teravainen will make his much-anticipated debut tonight for the Blackhawks as they host the Dallas Stars, and it’s being met with plenty of excitement – much to the chagrin of the beat contingent.
Speaking of, before I go any further I’d like to send my condolences out to to the family of Daily Herald reporter Tim Sassone, who passed away today at the young age of 58. Sassone covered the Blackhawks for 25 years, through the darkest depths and the highest of highs. I’m sure he would have loved to see a prospect like Teuvo. Rest easy, my friend.
The arrival of TiVo – as Q said will be the kid’s nickname – has been met with a great deal of excitement (just listen to Nakis on the most recent podcast) while our friendly neighborhood beat writers have done their best to pump the brakes. And while I understand both sides of the emotional spectrum, it’s time to drop all of it and see what the kid’s got.
Well, tonight was a complete joke from start to finish. The Nashville Predators are a defensively sound team that struggle to score goals (3rd worst in the league) and were at the end of a brutal road trip. Therefore, of course, the Hawks spotted them a two-goal lead that they never looked like relinquishing. Coupled with St Louis winning in Pittsburgh, any hopes of winning the Division are pretty much gone.
Podcast Tuevo Episode 9 (3.21.14): After a religious sabbatical to find Teuvo the guys return to talk about the six week hiatus including brief recaps of the Olympics and The Stadium Series. Kris Versteeg, David Rundblad, the rash of injuries for Saad, Bickell, Kane and Rozsival, & Pirri getting traded while Bollig got extended were Hawks-centric topics touched on. Around the League the guys sacrificed Marty St. Louis at the Altar of Teuvo, talked about the Pacific Division race, the possibility of Detroit not making the playoffs and an out of context Michael Jordan comment is this week’s outro.
Audio after the jump. Teuvo talk begins around 14 minutes.