In the past these previews have been about the opposing team and any personnel changes we expect to see from the Blackhawks. So here goes. We’re playing the Columbus Blue Jackets, and they suck. They are without leading scorer Rick Nash and #1 goaltender Steve Mason, so this should be an even easier game to win. No lineup changes for the Blackhawks, Corey Crawford starts.
Now let’s talk about what everybody’s interested in: the playoff race, and the Blackhawks’ chances.
Some teams have clinched Division titles or playoff spots, so they aren’t relevant. Neither are the teams that are (for all practical purposes) mathematically eliminated from the race in the West. That leaves the following teams:
4th: Phoenix (95 points, 4 games remaining, 37 non-shootout wins)
5th: Los Angeles (94, 5, 35)
6th: Nashville (94, 4, 36)
7th: Anaheim (93, 5, 40)
8th: Chicago (90, 6, 36)
9th: Dallas (87, 6, 33)
10th: Calgary (87, 4, 29)
Now, I’m not a stats wonk, I don’t do probability calculations and all of that nonsense. So I’m just going to run down the rest of each team’s season and lob my guesses at where we may end up.
Phoenix will likely beat Colorado, lose in OT with the Kings, and split the last two against the Sharks. That gives them an extra 5 points, total of 100.
LA has suffered significant injuries in the last week, I’m going to say they beat the Coyotes in OT, push the Ducks into OT once and fall in a shootout, and then lose the rest. 3 more points, total of 97.
Nashville will lose to Detroit, but win out their last 3. 6 points, total of 100.
Anaheim will split with the Sharks, lose to the Stars, and beat the Kings twice, once in OT. 6 more points, total of 99.
Chicago I’ll save for a minute.
Dallas will beat both the Kings and the Ducks, I’ll say they split against the Avalanche, and beat Columbus and Minnesota. 10 points. 97 total.
Calgary will lose to Vancouver, but take their other 3. 6 points, total of 93.
If that proves out (HA! Yeah, right…) the standings (minus Chicago) will look like this:
4th: Phoenix (100 points, 39 non-shootout wins)
5th: Nashville (100, 39)
6th: Anaheim (99, 40)
7th: Dallas (97, 38)
8th: Los Angeles (97, 36)
9th: Calgary (93, 32)
So now, to the Blackhawks.
Remaining games: Blue Jackets, Lightning, Canadiens, Blues, and Detroit (*spitting noise*) twice.
We have to beat Columbus. Hear me guys? WE HAVE TO BEAT COLUMBUS! We pushed the Lightning to OT in their building last time, I think we’re going to pull it out this time. We will beat the Canadiens, they’re sliding of late. 6 more points, 3 more NSW. That would put us at 96 points, 39 NSW. Not good enough.
We’ll need another win from among the last three against the Blues and Red Wings. And this is what it all comes down to.
In the next ten days we will find out who is going to be playing for the Blackhawks next year. Who is going to step it up when we’re down two goals early in the 3rd in a possibly-season-ending game? Who is going to dog Henrik Zetterberg until he goes to the bench and cries? Who is going to back-check the Wings so hard they can’t tell which goal they’re supposed to be shooting at? Who is going to knock Todd Bertuzzi out of the game and into the hospital in the first minute of the first game of that home-and-home? Who is going to take the punishment in front of the net and notch a tip-in goal for every bruise they get across their backs? Who is going to block shots like he’s protecting a 5-year-old girl wearing street clothes in the net behind him? And who is going to absorb 35, 45, 55 shots and THEN win it in the shootout?
We all know the names of the guys who will be there. But who will join them? Bryan Bickell? Troy Brouwer? Viktor Stalberg? Jake Dowell? Ryan Johnson? These guys all have the mojo, they just haven’t found it the last 20 games. If it shows up between now and April 10th, we have a shot at this.
If not… well, this post-season will be difficult to watch without a team to cheer for.
6pm puck drop tonight out in Columbus. Comcast SportsNet has the TV coverage, broadcast radio is WGN AM-720, and XM subscribers can hear the game on channel 204.
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The former Blackhawks came to play last night. They scored a total of twenty three points with twelve goals and eleven assists. April fools.
Now that we got the childish games out of the way, there were actually nineteen former featherheads to take the ice last night. Two of goalies combined for two wins, a shutout and 67 saves while the other lost his league leading thirty-first game of the season (That Drunk Guy). The sixteen skaters combined for three points including two goals and one assist. Two big games for teams in the West and the outcomes both favored the Hawks. However the one game that didn’t saw the Predators defeat the Avalanche for their eighth win in their past ten games.
Click the jump for updates from the m/d/11 games
There were seven former Blackhawks to take the ice last night. They were all skaters and the four points they produced were all assists which came in the same game. There was a big game that affected the Western Standings which was the Ducks vs. the Flames, and there was also a humongous blowout. Read ahead for the details on how those two games affect the Blackhawks.
Click the jump for updates from the 3/30/11 games
On Monday there were two former ‘Hawks who took the ice and didn’t do jack shit. Hence why yesterday there was not an Espo.
Last night however there were twenty four former Hawks to take the ice amassing four points on zero goals and four assists. The Hawks lost ground on a couple teams but luckily they didn’t fall out of the top eight because they couldn’t. Thank god… Lets go get the Blue Jackets…
Click the jump for updates from the last two day’s games
You had to know this was coming.
It’s not as if the ‘Hawks haven’t played back-to-back games before – in fact, they came into the game 8-3-1 in the second game of back-to-backs this season – but it was pretty evident the Detroit game took a ton out of the Blackhawks. The Boston Bruins dictated the pace and took it to the ‘Hawks in a 3-0 shutout from Tim Thomas.
Jonathan Toews ended up a minus-3 for only the fifth time in his career as the Blackhawks mustered only five shots on goal in the first period, giving Thomas basically 20 minutes off to start the game. There was basically zero energy, and Corey Crawford gets the credit for the ‘Hawks coming out of the first unscathed.
Boston simply played its game, and there was nothing the Blackhawks could do about it, even though they literally tried to rip off the Bruins’ faces in the process. Shawn Thornton needed 40 stitches after Fernando Pisani’s skate cut him across the forehead.
(Quick sidenote: Any chance this heats up the NHL’s talks of mandating visors? I say yes.)
Dallas lost to Phoenix in a shootout, meaning they’re six points back of the eighth-place Blackhawks. Chalk Tuesday up as tough loss, and move onto Columbus on Friday fresh and ready to go.
Here’s your Boxing…
The guy you’re looking at here is the leading contender for the Vezina trophy, given to the league’s top goaltender. He won the title back in 2008-09, had a startlingly bad year in 2009-10, and has now come back just as strong as he was two seasons ago. He’s big, covers a lot of the net, but is also mobile. It’s as if his hands are magnets: the pucks are just drawn to them. 32 wins, 2.00 goals-against, and a .939 save percentage. And he’s just now starting to hit his stride.
Vezina… You know, if you replace the ‘ez’ with ‘ag’ it— never mind…
Marian Hossa deserves every bit the credit for this victory, and not just because he scored the game-winner.
The Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime victory Monday against Detroit came to fruition mainly because of Hossa’s 23:54 of purely superb play on both ends of the ice. I’ve said it over and over again, but watching this guy play is a thing of beauty and we’re lucky to be able to witness it.
If Hossa had scored on that breakaway after jabbing the puck off the boards between two Red Wings, we may be talking about this being his best game of the season. It would have been nice to see him put more of a move on Joey MacDonald, but it shouldn’t take away from the original play he made to get into that position.
Hossa’s overtime winner was more than deserved after Patrick Kane fought off the entire communist party to control the puck then drew the penalty from Henrik Zetterberg at the end of regulation.
Oh, and I hope Todd Bertuzzi is having his toenails ripped out one by one with metal tongs while having farts blown in his face by Yokozuna as Failure to Launch plays on loop in the background. Ultimate torture.
Here are a few more thoughts before Boxing…
↔ To state the ridiculously obvious, the two points earned are insanely important. However, they became a hell of a lot more important when the Ageless Wonder Teemu Selanne decided to net an effing hat trick in Anaheim’s 5-4 win against Colorado later in the evening. A Blackhawks loss in the OT would have put them two points back of the Ducks for 7th. Despite the victory, the ‘Hawks are stuck in eighth.
↔ MacDonald played a hell of a game, don’t get me wrong. My issue with what most have deemed an exceptional performance lies in the fact the Blackhawks were rather non-existent around the net on point shots. MacDonald had clear looks at nearly every shot put on him. The one time someone made him smell their ass, Toews was the culprit and the puck sneaked through on a Brent Seabrook shot and hit the post. If the ‘Hawks put more traffic in front, MacDonald may not have had the performance everyone is lauding.
↔ Niklas Lidstrom may play until his 84 years old — and everyone would still fear him.
↔ Bertuzzi’s hit was unquestionably a scumbag move from a scumbag player who’s been a scumbag for his entire career. If you think I’m overreacting because Ryan Johnson played the duration of the game and still was a factor at center, look at the replay. Bertuzzi came at Johnson with his elbow up and no regard for the consequences of his actions. There was no “hockey play” made. Will he be suspended? Probably not, since he’s been somewhat clean for the past couple of years. However, the NHL is doing everything possible to rid the league of hits such as these. They need to do something about it.
And with that, here’s Boxing…
With eight games remaining and the Blackhawks clinging to eighth place, they’ve managed to put themselves in one of the most hated positions any of us could possibly dream: The Red Wings will be a major hurdle in the ‘Hawks chances to make the playoffs.
Tonight begins the first of three meetings against Detroit before the regular season ends. That’s about as appetizing as a shit sandwich topped with wet farts.
Just for some quick added pessimism, the last Stanley Cup champion to miss the next year’s playoffs was the 2006-07 Carolina Hurricanes.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, here’s a positive: Pavel Datsuyk won’t play tonight, and Johan Franzen sat out Saturday’s 4-2 Wings win against Toronto. Jimmy Howard is day-to-day after injuring his shoulder against the Maple Leafs, and with Chris Osgood on long-term IR, it looks as if Jimmy MacDonald will be in net tonight.
Six former Hawks took the ice on Friday with one of those being a goalie who recorded his second shutout of the year. The other five who were skaters provided two points, one of each a goal and an assist.
Saturday we had A COLIN FRASER SIGHTNING! as well as 22 other former featherheads to take the ice. The one goalie came away with another win helping his team stay in the top three in the west and the skaters scored two goals and two assists for a total of four points. Two injuries happened in games that could potentially help the ‘Hawks down the road. Keep your fingers crossed!
Last night there were ten former Blackhawks to play. Two were goalies with one losing on in regulation while the other lost in a shootout. The other eight skaters provided three points on one goal and two assists.
Let’s hope that the Hawks rebound tonight and stay tuned for Tim’s preview of tonight’s game.
Click the jump for updates from the weekend’s games
There are three stories of interest coming out of Anaheim these days. The first is that Teemu Selanne, in the words of one sports reporter, refuses to act his age. The second is the eruption of winger Corey Perry, who has 15 points (including 11 goals) in his last 8 games. And finally is a goaltending conundrum that has three brand-name goaltenders struggling to put two wins together as the team claws towards a playoff spot.
The Ducks and the Blackhawks have both won 3 of their last 4 games, they are both locked in a tight battle for a playoff spot (the ‘Hawks in 7th, the Ducks in 8th in the Western Conference Standings), and they are both handing bonus points to opponents by allowing games to be pushed into overtime. Neither team can lose this game — but somebody will.