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.
So the Teuvo thing is probably overdoing it a lot of bit, but the outlook tonight as opposed to the afternoon the Blackhawks beat the Bruins back in January is astoundingly different, isn’t it? It’s not that the Blackhawks aren’t still a very serious threat to win the Stanley Cup, but they’re now facing the very real possibility of having to march through Colorado, St. Louis and either San Jose or Anaheim without home ice in any series. Sure, the playoffs were always going to be a hideous slog no matter where they finished, but going on the road for the duration seems like a tall order for even the best of teams. Prior to the Kings (who won it all) in 2011-2012, six teams have advanced to the Stanley Cup finals without having home ice through the playoffs: the 1980-1981 North Stars, 1990-1991 North Stars, 1993-1994 Canucks, 2002-2003 Ducks, 2005-2006 Oilers and the 2009-2010 Flyers. None of those teams went on to win the Stanley Cup. The point is not to dampen your enthusiasm about the Blackhawks this year, but it’s become apparent that the Blues are out of reach and the mission is to avoid opening up on the road against Colorado. Who knows what will happen out in the Pacific, but the Sharks and Ducks would open at home against the Hawks in the Western Conference Finals if the season ended today and the Hawks advanced that far. The Avs lost tonight and share 93 points with the Blackhawks, but they remain ahead in the standings due to their five additional regulation victories. Each team has thirteen games remaining. Fun!
Let me begin by stressing that this is not meant to be a serious statistical study of these matchups, nor is meant to be any sort of indication as to how the Post-Season will go this year: the sample sizes are way too small and there are too many variables, as, for instance, in the number of games in a Season series. This is purely out of interest and was sparked off by our good friend @BvrlyBrewmaster asking about it on Twitter. So take all of the following with a large helping of salt. All numbers were reached by me manually adding up stuff on NHL dot com, so (as my High School Maths Teachers could attest) there is ample scope for error, and please point any out so I can fix them.
First off, apologies for the lack of content on the site lately. Not only has Mighty Mike D had some internet issues over Ireland, Nakis is currently in NOLA for his bachelor party and I just returned from a two-week stint in Hawai’i for my honeymoon (I’m sure you feel sorry for me). Needless to say, we’ve had some shit going on.
Secondly, apologies for the lack of Boxing due to the same reasons listed above.
OK, onto Sunday.
That Marian Hossa guy is pretty good at hockey. After sitting out five games with an upper-body injury suffered in that snowy mess at Soldier Field, Hossa returned to score a beautiful goal before adding an assist on Jonathan Toews’ late shorty that iced the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win over Detroit on Sunday.
It was the only visit of the season for Detroit, which sent their asshole fans who bolted the bankrupt city to live in a real place like Chicago because they know its superior to a place riddled with boarded-up whore houses.
Hossa’s goal was all kinds of disgusting, as he essentially as blew past every Wing and then put one right past Jimmy Howard. Hoss was a beast all night on both ends of the ice, and it’s no secret the ‘Hawks missed him. They had scored two goals in three straight and four of their last five before Hossa sparked them.
A couple notes before Boxing…
* Brandon Saad played only a little over six minutes before leaving with an injury, sort of tainting the victory if he misses some time. The Blackhawks have to face a hot Philly team on Tuesday before asshole Blues come to town Wednesday. With an offense that has overall struggled of late, it likely can’t afford to be missing Saad’s contributions.
* Ben Smith saw significant time at second-line center and didn’t disappoint. He scored a goal from his knees, added an assist on Nick Leddy’s goal and made Howard’s life a living hell all night. The lineup shuffle was even unexpected for Smith, who won 7 of his 10 draws. Does Q put him there Tuesday again? Can’t say I’d argue if he does.
* I don’t like Kris Versteeg. He played all right against Colorado – he played with Toews, so he should have – but other than that I’m just not enjoying anything he’s doing, which isn’t much. One goal in his last 18 games isn’t going to cut it.
* Detroit haha I hate you bye.
We were actually discussing this game as a staff this morning and who would write the recap. I volunteered for it with my reasoning being that the Avalanche just have something about them that makes them punchable. Coming into this season we made a lot of jokes about Patrick Roy and the Feet but after 3/4 of the season I think it’s only we fair we give them credit for just how far they’ve come in a year. This roster is shaped similarly to the rebuild taking place for the 6th straight year in Alberta yet coming into tonight they were just one point behind Chicago in the division.
Coming off a thorough pantsing of the hapless Beej on Thursday, the Hawks have a chance to apply some pressure on St Louis (who are in action against the Wild) by beating up on the league-bottom Sabres in Patrick Kane’s hometown tonight. The Sabres were already awful and spent the Trade Deadline period divesting themselves of as many remotely useful pieces as they could. So it’s a Trap Game, right? I think we can all agree on that?
Now normally I put in the Fenwick chart and some other analytical thoughts in here when I do the recaps but, yeaaaaah, we really don’t need to bother with that type of stuff tonight. The Blackhawks and their new fangled lines put together by Two Time Stanley Cup Winning Coach Joel Quenneville™ absolutely wrecked shop on West Madison Street tonight. So, for your viewing pleasure, I’ve accumulated some GIFs and videos for after the jump. Bartl’s still on his honeymoon and boxing will return when he’s done enjoying some well deserved R&R in Hawaii.