The Daily Phil Esposito (3/25/11)

"I'm Ugly"

There were twenty three former hawks to take the ice last night. The three goalies went 1-1-1 while the skaters only recorded three points, one was a goal the other two assists. Andrew Ladd had that goal. The games all went against the favor of the Hawks… Great. The ‘Hawks are now back to seventh in the West, the only good news is that they have played less games than all the teams in front of them

Click the jump for updates from the 3/24/11 games

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The Daily Phil Esposito and a little more (3/24/11)

"Is he dead?" "I dunno poke him with a stick"

Photo: espn.go.com

There were six former Blackhawks on the ice last night. One was a goalie who picked up his 3oth win of the season, the other five were skaters. They were only able to muster up three points, one goal and two assists. The goal was from Rene Bourque while the assists came from Danny Cleary and Benny Eager.

Jack Skille continued his suckfest as well. Great to see that on the ice at the UC. The Hawk’s played great last night, and it all looks promising… well it does right now.

There are three games tonight which can affect the Hawks in the standings. The biggest one is between 7th place Nashville and 8th place Anaheim. The winner jumps up to 5th place in the standings knocking the Hawk’s down to sixth. Hopefully this is only a two point game and the other team doest pick up a point. It’s a seven team race for the last five spots and 4th to 10th place are only separated by 6th points. The other games that affect the ‘Hawks tonight have the Blue Jackets taking on the Phoenix Coyotes in Arizona while the Sharks take on the Kings in LA. A King win moves them back ahead of the Blackhawks as well.

The only good news coming out of this is that all the teams besides Dallas will have played more games than the Hawks after tonight leaving some leeway. The Hawks have played 73 while the Kings, and Ducks will have played 74, the Preds will have played 75, and the Flames and the Coyotes will have played 76. The Hawks can catch all the teams in front of them, and will have the chance to put more points on them and finish in 4th. That’s if they come out and continue this dominating play. Big “IF”. Well without further a due, your daily Esposito.

Click the jump for updates from the 3/23/11 games

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Nine more lives: Boxing with Blackhawks/Panthers

"With Sharp gone, I can get used to being the most handsome guy on the ice." (Chicago Tribune)

It wasn’t exactly the entertainment I was accustomed to during my five nights in Las Vegas, but I’m not going to complain about two much-needed points.

The Blackhawks welcomed me back home with a 4-0 snoozer I largely blame on the Panthers being, well, bad. With that, the ‘Hawks are now tied for 5th in the West with nine more games which will be much tougher and more exciting than Wednesday’s.

Against Florida, the ‘Hawks got away without needing a Dave Bolland nor a Patrick Sharp nor a 100-percent healthy Brian Campbell. Don’t get used to it with Anaheim, Detroit and Boston looming. Pardon the pessimism, especially knowing each game is a must-win given the standings, but the Blackhawks will need more against those squads.

With that said, the defense played like they should have in a home game against a team looking up at New Jersey and the New York Islanders in the East. Corey Crawford did what he needed to, aside from re-enacting Al Pacino’s scenes from Scent of a Woman each time he touched the puck.

A couple other quick thoughts before Boxing:

→   I was very impressed the way Viktor Stalberg responded to the top line promotion, playing actively and drawing a penalty by taking it hard to the net on the first shift of the game. He later took a feed from Jonathan Toews on the doorstep for a goal in the first minute of the third period. Sweet.

→   Did anyone else have heart failure when Marian Hossa went back to the locker room after taking a spill?

→   For the first time all season, the idiots at the UC who constantly yell “SHOOOOOOOOT” each time a Blackhawk has the puck were right to direct it at Nick Leddy.

→   Not sure what the hell happened to Tomas Vokoun when he went ice fishing along the boards on the Tomas Kopecky goal, but that net couldn’t have been more wide open. Hossa, to Michael Frolik, to Kopecky on a great passing play started by Brent Seabrook, who can’t get credited for an assist unfortunately.

→   Speaking of Seabrook, he played a hell of a game which included the rocket that ended up being the game-winner.

→   Oh, and the Captain did his thing again.

Onto Boxing …

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Let’s Try This Again, Shall We? Hawks/Panthers

A little over two weeks ago, a cocky Blackhawks team took their 8-game winning streak for a little sun and fun in Miami, and promptly got their asses handed to them in a 3-goal first period melt-down that resulted in a 3 – 2 loss to the team sitting 26th out of 30 in the league. It was the anemic start to a dismal 3-game road trip that yielded a mere two out of a possible six points. Humiliating. Eye-opening. Infuriating.

It’s time to get some payback, gentlemen.

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The Daily Phil Esposito (3/23/11)

"I bring back all my shitiness! Yay!"

Photo: zimbo.com

There were twenty former ‘Hawks to take the ice last night. The one goalie came on in relief and shut the other team down for the most part but lost in a shootout. The other nineteen skaters were able to produce three goals and three assists to score six points on the day.

Oh also we had a Jack Skille sighting! Stay tuned for Tim’s preview of tonight’s game against Florida! Enjoy! LETS GO HAWKS!

Click the jump for updates from the 3/22/11 games

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Tim’s Bits for Tuesday

Fairly large amount of news coming out of the Blackhawks’ practice today, so I thought I would pass it along. This is, more or less, a good-news/bad-news situation, so bear with me.

First of all, Patrick Sharp’s knee injury is ~not~ season-ending. That’s the good news. The bad news is that he will miss several games. This puts the Blackhawks down two top-six forwards as we hit the final 10 games of the season. More on that in a minute.

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The Daily Phil Esposito (3/22/11)

Hopefully we knock the Red Wings out like little old "Danny Boy" Cleary was on this hit.

Last night there were just two hockey games, which doth went to a shootout. This was very damaging to the Blackhawks because of the four teams that played, three were Western Conference teams and they all received at least one point in the standings.

Between the two games there were only four former featherheads to take the ice. They were able to tally three points on one goal and a pair of assists. All three points came from the same game which played out to be a very interesting game as well. The Hawks hold their fate in their own hands right now, hopefully they can get the job done over the next two weeks. Check for Tim to have an update on the severity of Patrick Sharp’s injury later on. Keep your fingers crossed that it isn’t too serious…

Click the jump for updates from the 3/21/11 games

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Safety, Practicality, Heresy

Photo: Eric Bolté 24H MONTREAL/QMI Agency

I have an idea, but you’re not going to like it.

You must have been locked in your room listening to your Justin Bieber CD’s if you didn’t see the uproar caused by Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara’s hit on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty. Pacioretty’s head smacked into the stanchion supporting the glass at the end of the bench (see photo above), and he is now home from the hospital to continue his recovery from a broken neck as a result of the incident.

Now, I’m not going to open up the discussion about the hit, the league, the decision not to suspend Chara, or those who think that Chara should be waterboarded. Somebody else can beat that dead horse, my arms are tired.

But one of the subjects that didn’t get a lot of attention at the time was the safety of the rinks themselves. NHL Commissioner Gary “Napoleon” Bettman ordered an engineering review of all NHL rinks in the wake of this crisis, then galloped off to invade Portugal. But I would like to throw a simple, albeit unusual idea out there so at least somebody has said it. To some, this will be just common sense; to others, pure heresy.

Close in the benches with safety glass like the rest of the rink.

This would solve the problem of people’s heads slamming into the stanchions: there would be no stanchions. One additional benefit would be a reduction in the number of pucks going out of play and into the benches. And there would be no guys flying over the boards from enthusiastic checks.

Plus, closing in the benches would also eliminate the type of hit that knocked the Blackhawks’ Fernando Pisani out for several weeks. The whiplash effect from having your torso stop at the boards and your head and neck proceed at a jaunty clip another foot into the bench area would be a thing of the past.

There is a lot to like here, but the down side is going to make hockey fans’ stomachs churn. Closing in the benches with safety glass would mean that players could no longer hop over the boards during a line change, they would have to enter and exit the ice surface through the doors. I know more than a couple of hockey fans that will dismiss the suggestion outright for that reason alone. And frankly, I’m not sure I can blame them. In fact, I may eventually be one of them!

The practicality of this needs to be assessed. The penalty boxes are closed in, and guys can get onto the ice quickly from there. But would that necessarily be the case on the benches with 14 other guys sitting next to you? Would the existing doors need to be widened? Would there need to be a design change to facilitate faster opening and closing? Would there need to be an additional door installed? I have no idea. These are all questions for guys who have quadratic equation solution races against each other on weekends.

But despite the potential complications, I don’t think this should be summarily dismissed. The league and the fans are reluctant to let go of certain traditions, and rightfully so. However, we need to ensure that we are weighing the benefits the game could realize by doing this, as this suggestion could solve a number of problems — many of which have an impact on player safety. The league is saying that the safety of the players is their top priority. If they’re serious, they need to give this more than a passing look.

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The Weekend Phil Esposito (3/21/11)

They should have just stayed like this all game, because the Hawks had them bent over at the knees.

Photo: Brandon Spinner (Yea I took it)

Hey Ya’ll! Hope your weekend went well and you were able to enjoy a reglation win last night.

On Friday  there were six former ‘Hawks on the ice scoring five points, two goals and three assists.

Saturday saw eighteen former featherheads suit up to score one goal and nine assists for ten points. The two goalies went 1-0-1.

There were twelve former Blackhawks to play on Sunday scoring three goals and three assists for six points. I’d say overall the former ‘Hawks played pretty damn well lately. Good to see the current ‘Hawks pull out a game against a good Western Conference opponent. Enjoy!

Click the jump for updates from this weekend’s games

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Hawks Beat Dawgs, Possibly Losing Sharp

Photo: Getty Images

The two points we needed. The injury we didn’t.

As is frequently the case, Blackhawks’ fans are faced with a good news/bad news headline following an important game against a Conference rival. The Blackhawks played a tight game, allowing only 23 shots on Corey Crawford in a 2 – 1 victory over Phoenix, but suffered what may be a back-breaking loss in Patrick Sharp if his injury proves to be serious.

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