Waiting Game: Blackhawks’ playoff fate rests in hands of Minnesota Wild

Bend over, boys. (Chicago Tribune)

Here we go. It’s Dallas vs. Minnesota to save an erratic and inconsistent regular season. Dallas wins in regulation, the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks will be watching the playoffs from their couches.

4-3, Detroit. Goddamnit.

In roughly three hours from the time of writing this, the Blackhawks will know whether or not they’ll have a chance to defend their Stanley Cup. It’s absolutely unbelievable, if you ask me, that it’s come down to this.

And since I’m a nobody, how about we ask Jonathan Toews.

“It’s so frustrating it has come down to this. I’m pretty much speechless. When it’s the culmination of an 82-game season and you’re sitting here in this situation, after working so hard for such a long season, and with the group that we have, it’s unreal to be here. The fact that we’re completely at another team’s mercy right now. … I can’t believe it.”

I’ll leave you with my column from The Committed Indian, which was sold outside by Second City Hockey’s Sam Fels before the loss to the Red Wings.

What a difference a year makes, eh?

Sam gave me this space for the last regular season game of 2009-10, though the situations are much different. Last year, I wrote about the Blackhawks overcoming injuries and adversity to have a shot at the No. 1 seed.

I also wrote the ‘Hawks looked like a Stanley Cup contender for years to come. While dynasties are rare and down seasons will happen, this Blackhawks team taking the ice in front of you today has made sure Game 82 means everything – and not for the better.

No matter your thoughts on the moves this past offseason – though they were completely necessary – I don’t believe any of us thought the Blackhawks could miss the playoffs this season. Yet a loss in regulation today against hated Detroit and a Dallas victory of any kind later tonight against Minnesota means the ‘Hawks will be watching the postseason from their couches.

How bad do those two home losses to Edmonton look? Or the loss to New Jersey on Nov. 3 when the Devils entered the game 2-9-1? Losing seven of the first 11 at the United Center? The wet fart that has been the penalty kill?

The aforementioned deficiencies in performance have contributed to making Game 82 matter for a much different reason than last season. We’ve all tossed around the term “must-win” since February, and we’re unfortunately still saying it in April – before the postseason.

Today is the ultimate “must-win” – or at least “must-not-lose-in-regulation” – game. Have we all decided to drop our standards and justification for excitement because the situations have changed since last season? I’m having a hard time deciding whether I’ll be happy the ‘Hawks made the playoffs or be upset they barely qualified.

However, celebrating last season’s Stanley Cup victory was one of the greatest moments of my life. The only way I’ll have a chance of that repeating come June is if the Blackhawks get into the postseason. Philadelphia – and the rest of the Eastern Conference, for that matter – proved in 2010 that getting in is all that matters. Anyone can win it all by getting hot at the right time.

I hope the Blackhawks fit that bill.

Jonathan Toews has almost single-handedly brought the ‘Hawks to the brink of the postseason. Without him, this column would be more of a eulogy. With the Captain on our side, you have to believe the Blackhawks can beat anyone in a seven-game series, simply based off the fact Toews won’t let this team fold up.

Corey Crawford has been a pleasant surprise this season, and has been a huge reason for a good chunk of victories.

It’s the shell of Duncan Keith that worries me. It’s the stupid penalties that get me flustered. And it’s the lack of urgency which resonated for most of the latter part of the season that makes me wonder if the ‘Hawks can compete with a much better Vancouver team than they beat the past two postseasons.

It’s unfortunate Game 82 has become so important. But if the Blackhawks can survive to see Game 83, anything can happen.

It All Comes Down To This: Wings/Hawks, Part I

Photo: The Province

This was what we were all dreading. Scrambling for a playoff spot against the hated Detroit (*spitting noise*) Red Wings in the last two games of the season. Shame on the Blackhawks for letting it go this far. Shame on the players, the coaches, management, and everybody else for putting themselves, and their fans, in this position. That game you all took the night off back in November? It matters now. That night in January when you couldn’t hit the net with a grenade launcher and 10 minutes to aim? It matters now. That third-period breakdown in March? It matters now.

I’m saying this so maybe you’ll remember in November of this coming season, in January of 2012, in March next year when you think back on how big of a pinch you put yourselves in back in 2011. Because two points is two points no matter when you earn them, and now you REALLY have to earn them. If you don’t, you’ll be the laughing stock of the league — winning the Stanley Cup one year and playing golf in April the next, justifying every sore-loser idiot whiner who accused the club of “buying” the championship last summer.

So gentlemen, suit the fuck up, and by God if I see one smile on that bench I’m going to wipe it off your face permanently. It’s time to go to work. Tonight. Sunday. Detroit. Four points — and by God, we will need every one of them. Get your shit together, and make it happen.

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The Daily Phil Esposito (4/8/11)

"Ha, I have more goals than Patrick Kane."

Photo: http://www.boston.com

There were eight former Blackhawks to take the ice last night. One was a goalie who picked up a nice win against a division rival. The other seen skaters were able to tally three points, one was a goal and two were assists. We also had an Adam Burish siting! Hopefully his presence doesn’t help the Stars past the ‘Hawks.

Big two points tonight with the Red Wings, Tim will have your preview later one! Enjoy

Three Stars

1st Star – Andrew Ladd – 28th goal of the Season
2nd Star – James Wisniewski – Two assists
3rd Star – Craig Anders(s)on – Second straight win.

Click the jump for updates from the 4/7/11 games

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The Daily Phil Esposito (4/7/11)

Moral Win against the Flyers on Tuesday

There were fourteen former Blackhawks to take the ice Tuesday night. The one goalie picked up a win, while the thirteen skaters only produced two points which were both assists.

Three Stars:

1st Star – Craig Anders(s)on – Win against the Flyers
2nd Star – Andrew Ladd – Assist and Plus two
3rd Star – Craig Adams –  Assist

Last night there were thirteen former ‘Hawks to take the ice. The drunk goalie lost his league leading 32nd game while the skaters amassed three goals and two assists for five points.

The ‘Hawks got a big win which they needed and may have gotten some help for the two games against Detroit this weekend with one of their big guns doubtful after suffering an injury in last nights action. Find out who later on.

Now for the three stars of last night.

1st Star – Sergei Samsonov – Two Assists in a loss to Washington
2nd Star – Rene Bourque – Goal in a rout of Edmonton
3rd Star – Benny Eager –  Goal

Enjoy.

Click the jump for updates from the last two night’s games

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Captain Rights the Ship: Eventual Boxing with Blackhawks/Blues

(Chicago Tribune)

Sorry to tease you a bit here, but there’s a bit of an issue loading up the Boxing images. That should be corrected by about lunch time, so I just wanted to get this up to let you know to check in around then.

I’ll be updating this post with the images. I don’t know what the damn problem is, but I’m getting it sorted out.

See ya back here soon, and sorry for the delay.

Playoffs On The Line: Lose to the Blues, it’s Curtains

Photo: Getty Images

Okay, here’s the problem. I said a long while ago that we had better have ourselves a nice cushion before these last three games, because it would take a miracle to get points out of any of them. Remember that?

Start praying for a miracle.

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Will They Bring The “Give-A-Shit”? Hawks & Habs Tonight

As the anthem is sung, the whistle is blown and the puck is dropped, we all sit back and wonder which Blackhawks team will take the ice. That’s basically what it comes down to this evening against Montreal: will they bring the “give-a-shit” tonight? Or are they going to lose to a clearly-inferior team — again?

We saw this earlier in the season, and we just wrote it off. Now, it’s the playoffs on the line. It matters. The question remains because the ‘Hawks haven’t answered it convincingly enough, consistently enough, all year. Tonight we will ask the same question. Only the Blackhawks know the answer.

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The Daily Phil Esposito (4/5/11)

"You guys let go of the wrong guy to the Sharks..."

Photo: zimbio.com

There were four former Blackhawks who played Monday night. The one goalie was Antti Niemi who recorded another win making his record 34-17-6 on the season. The other three skates didn’t really do much, but Michael Handzus scored the only point with a second period goal on Niemi.

The Three Stars I guess look like this:

1st Star – Has to be Antti Niemi with his 34th win of the season
2nd Star – Michael Handzus had the only point
3rd Star – Ben Eager for not sucking.

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

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November Flashback: Proving 2010-11 Expectations Were A Bit Overblown

Back on Nov. 7, I wrote a column for Sam Fels’ wonderful creation The Committed Indian before the Blackhawks dropped to 7-8-1 with a 2-1 loss to Edmonton.

In my column titled, “10 Reasons Why the Blackhawks Can Repeat,” I shared my optimistic viewpoints skewed by a Stanley Cup run last season. I’ve decided to go back and breakdown what I wrote in November to what’s actually happened so far in 2010-11.

If you hate my guts, you’re going to want to share this with any and all of the electronic options available to you at the end of the post. I was wrong way more than I was right, though I don’t feel I’m anywhere near alone in most of these thoughts dating back five months.

Below are each of the reasons I wrote Nov. 7, with a detailed explanation and update to current times.

Have a blast.

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The Weekend Edition of the Daily Phil Esposito (4/4/11)

"You guys miss me in Chicago yet?"

Photo: http://www.gritsandpucks.com

On Friday, eight former featherheads took the ice. The only point was a goal scored by Sammy Pahlsson against the Blackhawks in that pitiful effort of a game against the Jackets.

Saturday had nineteen former Blackhawks taking the ice scoring four goals and two assists for six points. The goalies went

There were also eight former ‘Hawks who played on Sunday scoring just one goal as the only point of the day. That came from Bryan McCabe.

Something new which I will be including into my posts from now on will be the Three Stars of the Night Former Blackhawk Style. This post will have the Three Stars of the weekend.
1st Star – Dustin Byfuglien – Reached a Career High in Goals this weekend.
2nd Star – Danny Cleary – Game Winning Goal in overtime Saturday.
3rd Star – Tuomo Ruutu – One assist and all around good play over the weekend.

Enjoy!

Click the jump for updates from the weekend’s games

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