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My Heart & The Real World: Hawks 5 Devils 3

chicago-blackhawks-v-jersey-devils-20140104-020117-225

Friday night in Jersey, Patrick Sharp has a Hat-Trick, the Hawks score five and take the two points. All is well with the world, right? No, not so much as it happens. There was plenty last night that warrants some questioning, and we’ll get to that in the bullets. As it was, Sharp opened the scoring early in the 2nd Period with a mean snap shot after a nice feed from Toews. Greene tied it up for New Jersey a minute later, after a thorough blowing of defensive assignments, and that was it until things went beserk in the 3rd.

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Viet Nam: Isles Recap, Hawks @ Devils Preview

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Let’s rapidly consign that farce last night to the garbage can of history, right next to the hopes of anyone who wanted the Hawks to grab the Terminally Useless Zenon Konopka off Waivers.

 

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There Ain’t Shit On TV Tonight: Hawks @ Isles Preview

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Last time we saw the Isles it was back in October. Nordstrom got his first goal, the Hawks blew a 1st Period lead and in the end made heavy work of a 3-2 win. Back then the Islanders were expected to be a playoff contender in the East, building off their previous season. Instead they now find themselves propping up the Godawful Metropolitan Division and third-from-bottom in the league.  Which is to say, they suck.

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Political Song For Michael Jackson To Sing: Kings 0 Hawks 1

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That wasn’t so bad now, was it? After the fretting about this trio of games against upper-echelon Western Conference teams, the Hawks have come away with five out of six points available, both wins coming in regulation.  After the goal-fests against Colorado and St Louis, this was a horse of a different colour: Playoff Hockey in December against the ever-punishing Kings.

The hits came hard and fast, mostly from LA and the margins for error were thin indeed. The tone was set when Colin Fraser dumped Michael Roszival over the boards between the benches. LA are one of those select few teams where leading in hits does not equate losing the possession battle: the Kings had the edge in Corsi 55%-45%. Duncan Keith was called upon to have another standout game, ending up 2nd star of the night.

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It’s Expected I’m Gone: Kings @ Hawks Preview

 

The last time the Kings came to West Madison Street the Hawks were seething after a pantsing in Toronto and made them pay the price. That 3-1 beating was somewhat deceptive, though: the Kings were at the end of a four game road trip and looked tired & disinterested. They have plenty of reason to be motivated tonight, though: they’re coming off two straight losses to the Stars and Preds, are 3rd in the Pacific and must be casting nervous glances at Vancouver steaming up behind them.  Jon Quick is nearly ready to return but it’ll likely be the excellent Ben Scrivens in net tonight.

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Calloway Me A Cab

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Cheer the Podcast: Episode 3

Cheer the Podcast Episode 3 (12/29/13): The Blues and Packers continue to make us miserable but we soldier on to talk about the top six make up among Blackhawks forwards, World Junior Championship hockey, the Ducks on the rise while the Wild swoon and answer a few e-mails. We also share our thoughts on the Blackhawks Stadium Series jersey choice.

Click below to listen through WordPress’ media player, and the iTunes link can be found here. Be sure to subscribe, rate and review us on there while continuing to fill our mailbag at cheerthepodcast@gmail.com

Chicago Blackhawks v St. Louis Blues

A Pain Merely Temporary: Blues 6, Blackhawks 5 (Shootout)

Chicago Blackhawks v St. Louis Blues

I specifically waited until this morning to put together a recap because I was so pissed off last night that I knew everything I wrote would be pure emotional rage with very little logic sprinkled in. The Blues fans on meth reading this know what I’m talking about.

The Blackhawks entered last night’s showdown in St. Louis with a 17-0-1 record when scoring at least four goals, with the lone defeat being that 6-5 OT loss to Tampa Bay way back on Oct. 24. I was doing nothing short of dreaming up ways to make fun of the Blues after the ‘Hawks went up 2-0 and 3-1 in the first period, figuring they’d tack on a couple more and send Nakis to the St. Louis-area bars with insults in tow. It looked much like the Colorado laugher from the night before.

Then the first two-goal lead evaporated. Brandon Saad and Brent Seabrook gave the ‘Hawks another, but they blew that, too. What was even more enraging was how quickly it happened, with Tarasenko and Berglund scoring goals they probably shouldn’t have.

Antti Raanta in a shootout? We can only hope we don’t have to see that happen again. To say he’s bad in the tiebreaker would be as nice as telling Ken Hitchcock he looks fine the way he is. And just like that, the Blackhawks pissed away three separate two-goal leads and handed two points to the hated Blues, who have won four straight in the series.

But that’s where I’m going to draw the line right now when it comes to these two teams. I’m going to jump ahead to May, because we all know there’s a good chance the Blues and ‘Hawks will be battling it out in the playoffs.

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The Other Six: Conference III’s Coaches

We all know about Joel Quenneville and his various qualities. However there are six more guys out there in Conference III, coaching their teams for better or worse (much, much worse in some cases). Here’s a quick guide, at this halfway point of the Season, to how they’re doing and whether or not they should have U-Haul on speed-dial. 

 

Mike Yeo: Minnesota Wild

Appearance: Like a High School Social Sciences teacher who has just been hit on the back of the head with a condom.

How Is He Doing?: Not so good. The Wild are now firmly on the Playoff bubble and have hit a serious skid of late, exacerbated by goaltending problems that absolutely no-one could have foreseen except people who know about “Serious Illness” “AHL-Level Goalies” and “Nik Backstrom is Old & Bad”.  Likely to be made the scapegoat for some pretty bad Front-Office decisions.

Who’s His Boss?: Chuck Fletcher, who spent 196m of owner Craig Leipold’s last remaining dollars on two players, thus necessitating the Lockout so that the poor man could afford to feed his family (of gold-plated lemurs that he keeps in the spare bathroom on his 2nd-best yacht). So not to blame for the mire that they find themselves in, at all.

Job Security: May have been fired by the time you read this.

 

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300 Level & Sinking 12/28/13

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Killing Two Birds?

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Blackhawks 7 – Avalanche 2: Mountain of Madness

Photo credit: Bill Smith, NHL.com

Well, that was certainly fun.

After 20 minutes of play tonight you pretty much knew where this was going. Three goals, one on the man advantage, and Patrick Sharp was just one goal away from a hattie on his birthday. He completed the trick barely 30 seconds into the 2nd period and the Hawks never let up the remainder of the way. Fuck, Michal Handzus scored a goal tonight because Patrick Kane put up a point in his 13th straight. Whitewashing. By the end, I’d run out of words to describe the thing.

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Chicago Blackhawks v Colorado Avalanche

Mr. Narrator..

Chicago Blackhawks v Colorado Avalanche

(Credit: Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

 

Tonight sees the Blackhawks returning to action, after a three-day break over the Festive Period, with the first of three tricky games in four nights. First up the Colorado Avalanche, former Western Conference high-flyers and still a formidable opponent, come to the UC; then Saturday sees a short trip to the Scottrade to take on another heavyweight in the St Louis Blues. There will then be a Sunday “Break” where we get to chew our fingers to the bone over Bears/Packers before the Los Angeles Kings make their second trip to West Madison. All three of these games are against Western Conference contenders of one stripe or another and all three will present stiff challenges to be surmounted.

 

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(Scott Strazzante/Tribune photo)

An Evening With El Diablo : Blackhawks 5 – Devils 2

(Scott Strazzante/Tribune photo)

(Scott Strazzante/Tribune photo)

Sincerest apologies for the late recap….

I’m still not sure I quite understand how it’s possible New Jersey only managed twelve shots on goal in a professional hockey game. Obviously everybody knows that the Devils play a very conservative style, but this was dreadfully boring even for them. How lopsided was the possession game? Only seven face-offs the entire game took place inside the Blackhawks zone. SEVEN! There were forty six total in the contest. You can’t spend that much time in your own zone against a team like the Blackhawks and expect to have any sort of chance to get even a point. I don’t care who you are or what your philosophy is – you have to score some goals when you’re playing a team like the ‘Hawks.

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300 Level & Sinking 12/23/13

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Hello, Calgary

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300 Level & Sinking 12/22/13

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Think I’ll go out to Alberta, weather’s good horrible there in the Fall Winter

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You’re Tired and You Don’t Show It: Shootout Boxing with Canucks (3) and ‘Hawks (2)

(Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

(Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune)

You’ve likely read most everything regarding last night’s 3-2 shootout loss to the hated Canucks, so I’ll try and be brief throughout some points and into Boxing.

– With Vancouver playing the second of a back-to-back – three in four nights overall – and the ‘Hawks coming off three days rest, the first period went about as expected. The Blackhawks outshot the Canucks 10-3 and, as evident by the chart seen below via Extra Skater, they pretty much dominated the play. Kris Versteeg got the ‘Hawks on the board with a deflection of Patrick Kane’s shot for the period’s only goal.

Fenwick chart for 2013-12-20 Canucks 3 at Blackhawks 2 (SO)

– As you can see, though, Vancouver turned it up a notch after a period of finding their legs and held the ‘Hawks relatively at bay, save for Kane’s goal less than five minutes into the second. The Canucks tightened up and clogged the neutral zone, allowing them to put more chances on net before tying the game.

– Antti Raanta could’ve been better, but each of those goals came off deflections. Kassian’s goal deflected in off Brent Seabrook’s inner leg and changed the puck’s trajectory. Raanta made a valiant effort on the second goal to go post-to-post, but Sedin got enough lift on a loose puck to get it off Raanta’s shoulder and into the net. Shit happens.

– That shootout was fucking agonizing and I hated every second of it. Especially when Lack somethefuckhow was able to snatch Kane’s backhand. I read Kane’s lips on TV and he explained it perfectly: “No fucking way.”

– The Blackhawks failed to score on the power play after going the last 10 games with at least one power-play goal. Kane said he thought the PP let the team down, but Vancouver has killed off 29 of their last 30 penalties and leads the NHL with a 90.2 PK percentage. Something had to give, and it so happened to be the ‘Hawks PP.

– Adam, Jim and I would like to thank Piece in Wicker Park for their hospitality while we were easily the most animated people in the place watching the game.

– Losing to Vancouver is never fun – at all – and it’s especially frustrating when blowing a two-goal lead to those assholes, but, well, whatever. 5-1-1 over the last seven ain’t so bad. Just pound the Devils on Monday.

Brief Boxing…

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300 Level & Sinking 12/21/13

 

 

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Alberta or Bust after the jump

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Theatre Is The Life Of You: Canucks @ Hawks Preview

Bob appears to be enjoying this a little too much..

These guys again, hey?

Last time out the Hawks escaped the Rogers Arena in Vancouver by the skin of their teeth, thanks mainly to an outstanding performance from Corey Crawford who withstood a late Nucks siege after the Hawks scored twice in nine seconds to erase an early 5-on-3 goal from Ryan Kesler. Since then both team have been hot as hell, with a successful Circus Trip for the Hawks leading onto a series of 6-goal games. The Canucks also went on a hot streak, winning 7 in a row until they lost in a Shootout to Minnesota and then got walloped by the Stars last night. Obviously, the Hawks had their own unhappy landings against Minny, Anaheim and Toronto. They also don’t have Crawford and Antti Raanta makes his 8th consecutive start tonight.

 

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300 Level & Sinking 12/20/13

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Progress is made after the jump

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300 Level & Sinking 12/18/13

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More on PlAstiKK D’avE’s Dead Pool after the Jump

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Cohesion: Hawks 3 Preds 1

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How Bryan Bickell stayed in shape

 

The Good News: The Hawks returned to the scene of their worst performance of the year and came out with a modicum of pride restored and, more importantly, two points

The Bad News: There are still four more games against Nashville this season.

 

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Cheer the Podcast: Episode 2

Cheer the Podcast Episode 2 (12/16/13): Topics covered include 24/7′s HBO coverage of the Maple Leafs-Red Wings Winter Classic, Bryan Bickell’s return to the Blackhawks lineup and its implications on the rest of the roster, plus reader e-mails and a look into the close of the calendar year for the Blackhawks schedule.

Click below to listen through WordPress’ media player, and the iTunes link can be found here. Be sure to subscribe, rate and review us on there while filling our mailbag at cheerthepodcast@gmail.com

 

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300 Level & Sinking 12/16/13

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Unexpectedly Expected: Blackhawks 3 – Kings 1

Jon Toews recalling what it was like to be placed on a line with #GorillaSalad last season (photo credit: Jonathan Daniel, NHL.com)

Now, admittedly I did not watch last night’s contest against the Leafs due to a prior engagement (it’s still on my DVR, I might watch it just to make sure it really happened) but the type of play tonight at the United Center is what I would have expected against that Toronto team, not these Kings. Conversely, I would not have been surprised if the 7-3 drubbing came against Los Angeles. But in a complete role reversal, the Blackhawks absolutely dominated possession, out shooting LA 40-22, and were responsible for about two-thirds of any shot attempt directed towards either net. The Kings never mounted anything resembling an offense and were lucky to not be the first shutout victim of the 2013-14 season for the Blackhawks tonight.

So I say it again… just what the hell happened exactly in the Air Canada Center on Saturday?

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