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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Game 89. See You There, Vancouver: Boxing with ‘Hawks/Canucks, Game 6

Looks familiar. (Chicago Tribune)

Epic.

Game 6 had it all. Pregame storylines, dismay, euphoria … then overtime, with the Blackhawks season either continuing or crumbling with the next goal.

Alain Vineauglt displayed his 10-pound sack by benching Vezina Trophy finalist Roberto Luongo in favor of 25-year-old Cory Schneider in a game Vancouver absolutely needed to head back home happy. And even the most daring of moves left Luongo skating off the ice with his hair gel being the only thing waiting at his locker not passing judgment.

Much like the ‘Hawks have been doing thing this entire series, they fought from behind. Down 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2, the Blackhawks tied it each time. Then Ben Smith flicked the end of Game 88 past a sprawling Luongo to guarantee a win-or-go-home Game 89. While Blackhawks fans are celebrating just getting back into this series, hoping to complete a historic comeback in Game 7, Canucks fans are already sending out their mourning letters to their beloved squad, demanding – not hoping for – a victory before all faith is lost.

There’s plenty of bad we can go over. Farting pucks all over the ice, the three third-period shots – two if you don’t count Michael Frolik’s penalty shot – the Canucks seemingly dominating most of the game, and the heart-wrenching which goes along with overtime playoff hockey knowing your team will meet its demise with the opponent’s next goal.

Things need to be fixed before Tuesday, and part of me believes the Blackhawks were lucky to get out of Chicago with a victory knowing Vancouver played nearly its best hockey of the entire series. On top of that, 1:43 of 5-on-3 went to waste, with the kick in the dick coming when Coach Q used his only timeout to draw up a bunch of shit which obviously didn’t work. The fact the Blackhawks’ only lead came after Smith’s goal is indicative of how a good portion of Game 6 played out. While it feels good to celebrate now, Game 7 won’t go as well if the same screw-ups happen as they did Sunday.

For the second time in this series, each member of the Dave Bolland line notched a goal. Bolland played a key role in two, destroying Dan Hamhuis to force the turnover on Bryan Bickell’s goal, then potting his own off Kaner’s feed from Schneider’s piss-poor clearing attempt.

The Blackhawks still will be facing elimination in the next game. But so will Vancouver, which seems improbable after the first three games of this series. The pressure is still on the Canucks, who need to avoid a collapse of epic proportions and the most embarrassing “History Will Be Made” video ever.

I’ll do the rest of my talking in Boxing…

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Seabrook Back, Luongo Starts: Game 6 Preview

Phot: Getty Images

Short one here before game time, as Chez Currell is a bit chaotic this afternoon.

Brent Seabrook passed his NHL concussion protocol late this morning, and will be dressed and ready to help this freight train deliver a win to the Blackhawks’ faithful at the Madhouse tonight. Canucks fans seem to think this spells doom for Chicago, since Seabrook has been the team’s rallying cry these last two games. Let’s let them keep thinking that, shall we?

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Norval Nelson, 92, to be honored during Game 6 National Anthem

D-Day veteran Norval Nelson, 92, will be honored during the National Athem on Sunday at the United Center prior to Game 6. (Photo courtesy of Jennifer Ciepley)

Taking part in the National Anthem tradition Sunday at the United Center will be a bit more special for me after receiving a message from loyal reader Jennifer Ciepley.

Mr. Norval Nelson, one of the last surviving U.S. Navy divers from the D-Day invasion of Nazi-occupied France on June 6, 1944, will be next to Anthem singer Jim Cornelison while more than 20,000 fans at the United Center celebrate the tradition.

Mr. Nelson, 92, is the grandfather of Jennifer’s husband.

“He really is an amazing man and at 92, still is bright and quick to smile and he loves this country,” Jennifer said. “Can you imagine the changes this man has seen in his lifetime?”

Mr. Nelson was 26 years old when he and 199 other divers — or “frogmen” as they were called — crossed the English Channel on D-Day. Though suffering five combat injuries in six days, he was one of only 17 divers to survived the invasion. Nelson is one of only four divers still alive today.

Hungry and seemingly terribly injured, Mr. Nelson said, “I asked God, ‘Please let me die.’”

Mr. Nelson was one of 199 members of Navy Combat Demolition Force O, which had the duty of blowing up obstacles the Germans put on the beach to prevent landings of allied forces. The naval demolition units were precursors of the Navy SEALs.

Westminster Christian High School in Elgin raised money through its basketball team’s Free Throws for Heroes movement to send Mr. Nelson to Fort Pierce in Florida, where he trained before the war and always wanted to visit.

Upon his arrival, he was honored with a celebration.

The Chicago Blackhawks will help provide Mr. Nelson with an experience he and his family likely will never forget, as the United Center cheers during the National Anthem prior to Game 6.

Hopefully the Blackhawks give Mr. Nelson something to cheer about as well.

Thanks again to Jennifer Ciepley for providing the photo and information

Tim’s Bits: Back To The Madhouse!

Thanks to Rich Lindbloom

Some notes for you to mull over as we get ready to welcome our Blackhawks back to the Madhouse on Madison tomorrow night.

In Thursday’s post-game press conference, Vancouver Coach Alain Vigneault was asked if Roberto Luongo would start game six. The reporter didn’t even finish the question before Coach Pouty-Face snapped, “Yes.” Pride goeth before destruction, methinks.

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BlackhawkUP on The Pulse Network

We were lucky enough to be invited to join Butch Stearns on his show “Sports Buzz,” which happens live on The Pulse Network every day from 9am to 11am Chicago time. Tim drew the short straw, changed out of his jammies and brushed his teeth, then went on live via Skype to talk about the Blackhawks’ maybe-it’s-a-comeback the last two games.

Click on the video link below to view the segment, which lasts about 15 minutes. Enjoy!

Thanks to Butch and producer Phil Dimartino for giving us the opportunity, and we hope to be on again — talking about game six!

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Too Many Men on the Site

The Daily (Weekly) Phil Esposito (4/22/11)

"Suck it Phoenix"

Photo: zimbio.com

Its been a while for the Espo. Between schoolwork and the lack of games being done in the playoffs I figured its easier that we do a multiple of days so we can get some content in these posts.

On Monday there were ten former Blackhawks to take the ice. One was a goalie who stepped in relief earlier in the series is continuing his great playoff series with a win. There was one point scored which was an assist by Radim Vrbata.

Tuesday saw just four ex-Hawks take the ice. They all were part of the same game in L.A. where the Sharks competed an amazing comeback, coming back from 4-0 deficit to win in OT. In that game the one point from the former Hawks game from the L.A. centerman who helped to get Niemi pulled early.

Wednesday there were eight former feather heads to play. There was a total of one goal and four assists for five points between the seven skaters. The goalie played a great game but picked up a loss.

Finally last night which was phenomenal after that amazing win by our boys, saw eight former Hawks to play scoring three points which were all from Habs. The one goalie played a decent game to pick up a win.

The Three Stars of the last four days are:

1st Star – Danny Cleary – one goal, two assists
2nd Star – Radim Vrbata – two assists
3rd Star – Brian Boucher – One win, 63 saves in two games

Enjoy!

Click the jump for updates from the m/d/11 games

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5-OH!: We’ll-See-You-in-Chicago Boxing with Blackhawks/Canucks

"All right, first one to get the whole stick up his ass gets the window seat on the way back to Chicago." (Scott Strazzante, Chicago Tribune)

And just like that, it’s a series.

Go ahead, lie to me. Tell me you saw this coming. I just may be gullible enough right now to believe you.

Thursday night’s 5-0 bitch-slapping of the Canucks in Vancouver was about as beautiful of a performance as … well, as Tuesday night’s. The back-to-back wet farts by Roberto Luongo with his team a single victory away from eliminating its arch rivals is a classic occurrence from a guy who can’t seem to keep himself composed.

Luongo took off his “Oh Shit” face long enough during interviews Tuesday night and Wednesday to tell everyone how calm he was, how he was going to leave the 6 GA branded on his ass in his rear-view mirror. Then he came out Thursday looking like an AHL castoff. He would have had a better chance stopping pucks if he stood up his tube of L.A. Looks hair gel in the crease.

Much like we were asking where the Blackhawks were the first three games of the series, Canucks fans have to be wondering where the living hell the composed, fluid, throat-grabbing Canucks have disappeared to during the last two. It’s been a meltdown of epic proportions, resorting back to being thugs in the face of adversity.

Alain Vingeault looked up to the scoreboard so damn often I simply thought he slept funny and his neck was stuck. It ain’t gonna change, buddy. You’re still getting your ass kicked. And on top of that, he couldn’t keep his players composed.

Notorious assholes Kevin Bieksa and Alexander Edler decided to forget they were playing hockey in order to get chippy, and things just got worse for the Canucks. Once again, it was phenominal to see. I wrote over and over again this Vancouver team was different from the past two postseasons. Apparently I was wrong. Get this team down, and they fold up quicker than one of those slap braclets many of you are too young to remember.

When Vancouver wins this series (keeping with tradition, so you can breathe now), we’ll at the very least be able to look back at these performances and say, “OK, at least we made a valiant effort to defend the Stanley Cup.

But that flight to Chicago for Game 6 – can you believe it; Game Fucking 6?! – for the Canucks will be so tight they may crumble with a minor bout of turbulence. There may not be as much laughter and tomfoolery as there was on the trek between Game 2 and Game 3.

It’s back to Chicago and the raucous United Center for a game I never thought would come. It seems a while ago I walked past Canucks fans holding brooms heading into the UC from Game 4. Now I hope the ‘Hawks bring me a step closer to shoving them directly up their asses.

A few thoughts before Boxing …

How many of you thought the ‘Hawks were completely screwed after Brian Campbell took that penalty 16 seconds into the game? (/Bartl raises his hand)

Duncan Keith was an ass hair away from a hat trick, as Patrick Kane nipped the puck on past Luongo to put the ‘Hawks ahead 3-0

Although the Blackhawks were 1 for 273 on breakaways Thursday, Marian Hossa made the one look damn sexy. Luongo looked like he was trying to figure out his ride home while Hossa skated in.

How do Canucks fans decide which Sedin jersey to buy? “I’m just gonna get the one for the guy who’s better loo… no, they both look the same. OK, I’ll get the one of the guy who’s got the most career poi… well, that’s pretty much the same, too. Hmm, how about I get the one of the guy who has the least amount of leadersh… well, that’s pretty damn similar, too. Just give me the one of the guy with red ha… damn it, they both have red hair. All right, give me the one of the biggest headcase … (Clerk says) Here’s your Luongo jersey, sir.”

Edler’s elbow to Brouwer was such a bush-league play that he should get a suspension purely based off the fact that he’s a gigantic piece of shit.

Oh, and Corey Crawford had a 36-save shutout. Boo-ya-ka-sha!

OK I’m done. Here’s Boxing:

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Game 5, Still Alive: Blackhawks Get Another Shot At Canucks

Photo: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Blackhawks fans went to the United Center on Tuesday, hoping with all their might that the fate of their team would be different that the previous three games. Hoping that some spark would be lit under the Men of Four Feathers. Hoping that whatever magic the Blackhawks had conjured from time to time during the regular season would waft through the rafters at the U.C. again.

And sweet barking cheese, did they get what they came for.

Bryan Bickell began the fun less than two minutes into the game, and the Blackhawks’ faithful were treated to six more blasts of Chelsea Dagger before the night was over. It was nearly everything they could have asked for, and everything Canucks’s fans were dreading: a monumental and embarrassing collapse that thwarted their team’s progression to the second round.

So the question now becomes, what were the ingredients of this victory, and how can they do it again in the hostile confines of GM Place tonight?

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