So the Teuvo thing is probably overdoing it a lot of bit, but the outlook tonight as opposed to the afternoon the Blackhawks beat the Bruins back in January is astoundingly different, isn’t it? It’s not that the Blackhawks aren’t still a very serious threat to win the Stanley Cup, but they’re now facing the very real possibility of having to march through Colorado, St. Louis and either San Jose or Anaheim without home ice in any series. Sure, the playoffs were always going to be a hideous slog no matter where they finished, but going on the road for the duration seems like a tall order for even the best of teams. Prior to the Kings (who won it all) in 2011-2012, six teams have advanced to the Stanley Cup finals without having home ice through the playoffs: the 1980-1981 North Stars, 1990-1991 North Stars, 1993-1994 Canucks, 2002-2003 Ducks, 2005-2006 Oilers and the 2009-2010 Flyers. None of those teams went on to win the Stanley Cup. The point is not to dampen your enthusiasm about the Blackhawks this year, but it’s become apparent that the Blues are out of reach and the mission is to avoid opening up on the road against Colorado. Who knows what will happen out in the Pacific, but the Sharks and Ducks would open at home against the Hawks in the Western Conference Finals if the season ended today and the Hawks advanced that far. The Avs lost tonight and share 93 points with the Blackhawks, but they remain ahead in the standings due to their five additional regulation victories. Each team has thirteen games remaining. Fun!
Let me begin by stressing that this is not meant to be a serious statistical study of these matchups, nor is meant to be any sort of indication as to how the Post-Season will go this year: the sample sizes are way too small and there are too many variables, as, for instance, in the number of games in a Season series. This is purely out of interest and was sparked off by our good friend @BvrlyBrewmaster asking about it on Twitter. So take all of the following with a large helping of salt. All numbers were reached by me manually adding up stuff on NHL dot com, so (as my High School Maths Teachers could attest) there is ample scope for error, and please point any out so I can fix them.
First off, apologies for the lack of content on the site lately. Not only has Mighty Mike D had some internet issues over Ireland, Nakis is currently in NOLA for his bachelor party and I just returned from a two-week stint in Hawai’i for my honeymoon (I’m sure you feel sorry for me). Needless to say, we’ve had some shit going on.
Secondly, apologies for the lack of Boxing due to the same reasons listed above.
OK, onto Sunday.
That Marian Hossa guy is pretty good at hockey. After sitting out five games with an upper-body injury suffered in that snowy mess at Soldier Field, Hossa returned to score a beautiful goal before adding an assist on Jonathan Toews’ late shorty that iced the Blackhawks’ 4-1 win over Detroit on Sunday.
It was the only visit of the season for Detroit, which sent their asshole fans who bolted the bankrupt city to live in a real place like Chicago because they know its superior to a place riddled with boarded-up whore houses.
Hossa’s goal was all kinds of disgusting, as he essentially as blew past every Wing and then put one right past Jimmy Howard. Hoss was a beast all night on both ends of the ice, and it’s no secret the ‘Hawks missed him. They had scored two goals in three straight and four of their last five before Hossa sparked them.
A couple notes before Boxing…
* Brandon Saad played only a little over six minutes before leaving with an injury, sort of tainting the victory if he misses some time. The Blackhawks have to face a hot Philly team on Tuesday before asshole Blues come to town Wednesday. With an offense that has overall struggled of late, it likely can’t afford to be missing Saad’s contributions.
* Ben Smith saw significant time at second-line center and didn’t disappoint. He scored a goal from his knees, added an assist on Nick Leddy’s goal and made Howard’s life a living hell all night. The lineup shuffle was even unexpected for Smith, who won 7 of his 10 draws. Does Q put him there Tuesday again? Can’t say I’d argue if he does.
* I don’t like Kris Versteeg. He played all right against Colorado – he played with Toews, so he should have – but other than that I’m just not enjoying anything he’s doing, which isn’t much. One goal in his last 18 games isn’t going to cut it.
* Detroit haha I hate you bye.
We were actually discussing this game as a staff this morning and who would write the recap. I volunteered for it with my reasoning being that the Avalanche just have something about them that makes them punchable. Coming into this season we made a lot of jokes about Patrick Roy and the Feet but after 3/4 of the season I think it’s only we fair we give them credit for just how far they’ve come in a year. This roster is shaped similarly to the rebuild taking place for the 6th straight year in Alberta yet coming into tonight they were just one point behind Chicago in the division.
Coming off a thorough pantsing of the hapless Beej on Thursday, the Hawks have a chance to apply some pressure on St Louis (who are in action against the Wild) by beating up on the league-bottom Sabres in Patrick Kane’s hometown tonight. The Sabres were already awful and spent the Trade Deadline period divesting themselves of as many remotely useful pieces as they could. So it’s a Trap Game, right? I think we can all agree on that?
Now normally I put in the Fenwick chart and some other analytical thoughts in here when I do the recaps but, yeaaaaah, we really don’t need to bother with that type of stuff tonight. The Blackhawks and their new fangled lines put together by Two Time Stanley Cup Winning Coach Joel Quenneville™ absolutely wrecked shop on West Madison Street tonight. So, for your viewing pleasure, I’ve accumulated some GIFs and videos for after the jump. Bartl’s still on his honeymoon and boxing will return when he’s done enjoying some well deserved R&R in Hawaii.
Wrapping up the Stadium Series game about four days after the fact because I’ve been out of town so excuse the tardiness of this post. With that in mind, here’s a video synopsis of what I saw for about four hours last Saturday.
So Brandon Pirri’s Days in the Doghouse are over: the center was traded to the Panthers last night for.. well, not very much. The price for Pirri is a 3rd Round pick in this years’ Draft and a 5th Rounder in 2016 which is chump change for an NHL-ready player who has been tearing the AHL apart when not up at the big club. Clearly the Hawks can’t afford to take on more salary than strictly neccesary, being tight enough to the Cap as it is, but this seems like they took the first deal available to get rid of a player whose face no longer fits. Why this should be, I don’t know.
We’re just a little over 24 hours away from the last Stadium Series game of the NHL season and I’ve got a little crowdsourcing to do in regards to the whole outdoor hockey phenomenon. While I was driving home after the Ranger game last night I had my radio tuned to The Score. In a rare moment of utility, the host whose name I can’t remember sparked an interesting discussion. Has outdoor hockey lost its appeal already and is the NHL overdoing it with now five of these outdoor games in a season?
Well, I’ve finally run out of Minutemen song titles to use in Previews/Recaps.. fitting that this one never made it to future editions of Double Nickels On The Dime (one of the greatest albums ever made), because this game needs to be buried deep where we will never, ever, see or think of it again.
With 10 Blackhawks and 149 NHL players taking part in the Sochi Games, the fellas decided this would be a perfect time to get together for a roundtable “discussion” of the internet variety. I think Mighty Mike is the most excited out of any of us given that he finally gets to watch NHL-level competition without having to stay up until all hours of the night. The rest of us? Well, that’s why they invented DVR.
Let’s get to it:
Who will win the gold medal and why?
Mike: I’m going to make myself popular and say Canada. There’s a shocking amount of firepower there, even without Stamkos, which also extends to their Defensive corps: when you can ice Keith, Doughty, Weber and Subban you are bringing some serious Offensive upside. Obviously Crosby, Toews, Getzlaf, St Louis and Tavares are all-world elite forwards and the supporting cast is terifying too. I’d expect Drinky Price to do the heavy lifting in goal and he’s in wonderful form, despite the Habs’ struggles of late. Bob and Flopper are more-than capable backups. I really don’t think there’s anyone to touch them, if I’m honest. But I tend to get these things wrong, too.
Adam: Canada, because they’re better than everyone else. Their B-Team would probably make it to the medal round. If the Canadians fail to make the gold medal game, it would be a major upset.
Nakis: Canada. This #analysis is based on that fact that their roster seems to have better players on it than any of the other teams participating in the tournament. They’re so deep they aren’t even dressing Matt Duchene. They’re so deep that they literally buried Marty St. Louis. They’re so deep that Roberto Luongo doesn’t even matter.
Bartl: Let’s take a quick look at some of the players left off Team Canada.
Claude Giroux (11th in NHL with 58 points), Joe Thornton (2nd in NHL with 48 assists), Tyler Seguin (24 G, 32 A), Logan Couture (14 G, 21 A in only 43 games due to injury), Eric Staal (14 G, 31 A).
You could create a new country like Peter Griffin, use these guys as five of your top six regardless of position and you’ll have a potential medal contender on your hands. Not to mention, it’s highly doubtful any of them would have been left off Team USA.
I will take Canada.
Cheer the Podcast Episode 8 (2.9.14): As we enter the Olympic break the guys talk about Shaw’s recent march to the penalty box, upcoming Olympic hockey, the playoff races around the league, possible landing spots for Ryan Miller (no, really), another DERP of the week and go off the rails a bit about killer whales.
Audio after the jump.
It’s hard to put a lot of stock in that one. I can’t remember the last time an actual hockey game felt secondary to other external events like this. Patrick Kane’s absence, the Olympic break, Brandon Pirri’s demotion to Rockford and the Peter Regin deal all seemed to converge to make the last game of this road-trip a tedious afterthought.
At the outset of this Road Trip, that we’ve all been nervously eyeing for months, the general consesus was that eight points out of the six games would represent an excellent return. Well, with only the game in Glendale to come, the Hawks are at that mark already and, more importantly, have negotiated the Californians with only a SO loss in San Jose to rue. Granted, it’s helped that the three teams at the top of the Pacific Division have chosen this moment to hit slumps of their own, but it’s with a sense of relief and a hurdle negotiated that the Hawks can turn to Arizona and then either Sochi or nearly three weeks off before they arrive at MSG on the 27th.
Maybe it was the death of his grandfather that motivated him, or maybe it’s just that Patrick Kane is one of the most lethal offensive threats in the NHL, but his performance Monday was one that we’ve been dying to see again.
Kaner scored twice and added an assist in a 5-3 win over Los Angeles as the Blackhawks improved to 2-0-2 on this hell of a road trip. It’s late, so here a couple of thoughts before Boxing…
— The goals aside, Kane’s pass to Bryan Bickell was equally as stellar. Bickell had been scratched for three of the previous four games, and it seemed as if Kane was looking for him the whole way. It was part of a fantastic night just hours after his grandfather passed away.
Kane’s 26th and 27th goals brought him to within three of his career high set in 2009-10.
— After the ‘Hawks largely dominated the first period due to a plethora of Kings penalties, here’s how the rest of the game played out:
Corey Crawford would probably like to have a goal or two back, but his performance in the second and third period helped hold off the Kings attack. It wasn’t his best game, but he made some solid saves to give the ‘Hawks a chance to finally pull away.
— Patrick Sharp took a double-minor high-sticking penalty, and also had a couple of other run-ins. He’s seemed overly frustrated lately and getting into skirmishes, but I think some of the reaction is a bit overblown. He has at least one point in six of the last eight games, so his production is there. If he wants to mix it up a little bit more, so be it. It isn’t quite hurting anyone.
— Another solid game from the fourth line, including the goal from Kruger off of a shot from Leddy, who also had a goal and led the team in Corsi %.
— The Blackhawks allowed their first power-play goal in nine games when Doughty scored in the first period.
Ok, I’m very tired. Here’s Boxing…
The Hawks are having something of a torrid time lately. A “Blip”, a “Stutter”, call it what you will. But if you’re planning on calling it a “Slump” then you might want to take a look at tonight’s opponents and thank your lucky stars, because the LA Kings are having one hell of a slump right now.
If you’ve listened to the latest Podcast (and if you haven’t, why not?) or are misfortunate enough to follow me on Twitter, you may have heard mention of a line of T-Shirt (and other) designs that I’ve come up with and am now bothering innocent people about. Well, here it is.
The store is run & maintained by the folks at Redbubble, who handle all the details
Alternatively, if you let your gaze wander directly above this article, you’ll notice a new button called, of all things, “Southbound To Loop” which is also a link to the store. Do take a look and feel free to let me know what you think.
The plan is to add to this all the time, new arrivals will be posted on my Twitter account
OK. thanks for listening/looking and reading!
Kings preview will be up closer to game time.
Cheer the Podcast Episode 7 (2.2.14): The fellas answer e-mails, mostly pertaining to Bryan Bickell, and add a new weekly segment entitled “Derp of the Week.” They also discuss Mighty Mike D’s new commercial venture, Marty Havlat vs. Marian Hossa, the mid-point of the West Coast road trip and then delve into non-hockey topics Phillip Seymour Hoffman and the Super Bowl.
Audio after the jump.
I’m writing this the morning after and little has changed in the way I feel about this game. Full admission: I tweeted this last night and it actually happened. Upon waking up this morning I found out they the Hawks had failed to get the extra point and had to watch the skills competition on my DVR. That basically encapsulates my feeling about shootouts. That a game like this, while only two goals were scored, was decided by this method is meaningless in deciding who was the better team tonight.
This game was a tie for all intents and purposes.
Saturday in San Jose.. and the part of the Road Trip that we’ve been looking forward to (and/or dreading) kicks in as the Hawks start the first of three dates with the Californian heavyweights. San Jose are one of several teams now right in the Hawk’s rearview mirror, but they’ve hit a bit of a wobble themselves, having dropped the last three games to somewhat temper a recent hot-streak (they are now 6-4-0 in their last 10)
Finally I’m not here talking about a loss. And that’s an even better feeling seeing how the first 16 seconds went Wednesday.
The Blackhawks’ losing streak came to an end with a 5-2 win over Vancouver, scoring five unanswered after falling behind quickly. The ‘Hawks get two days off before they begin a three-game tour of California in San Jose on Saturday.
It’s very late, so let’s get to a couple things quickly:
— Kris Versteeg’s pass to Marian Hossa on the power play was nothing short of spectacular, marking the second straight night – after his feed to Patrick Kane from the behind the net against Calgary – that he made a nifty pass that led to a goal. However, his refusal to make a smart, simple pass to relieve pressure in his own zone led directly to the second Vancouver goal. After losing the puck, he then wandered aimlessly around the ice and was completely out of position chasing the puck, leading to an open man in the slot. His highs are high, but his lows are infuriating.
— The ‘Hawks got hosed 40-23 at the dot tonight. Meh, for now.
— Oh, hello Brandon Saad! Sweet game from the kid, including that redirect off Brookbank’s point shot.
— The fourth line was all over the ice, with Ben Smith sticking out especially. Brandon Bollig put a team-high six shots on goal. MOAR BOLLIG!.
— Corey Crawford haters during and after Sunday’s loss to Winnipeg: DAT CRAWSFORD GUY AIN’T DA GUY FOR DIS TEAM CUZ HE CAN’T STOP ALL DA PUCKS HE’S SUPPOSED TO STOP WHEN DA PUCK IS DER FOR HIM TO STOP! I CAN’T BULLEEF HOW SO BAD HE IS WIT HIS POSISHONING!
Crawford haters after the first goal Wednesday: C? HEAR WE GOES AGAIN WIT DIS GUY!
Crawford haters after playing a stellar game, making plenty of solid saves after the first blip early: OH BIG DEAL! DAS WHAT’S HE’S SOOPOSED TA DOO WIT ALL DAT MONEY WE PAYED HIM!
— The ‘Hawks penalty kill is 19 for 19 over the last seven games.
— The Sharks put 59 shots on net against Edmonton, and Ben Scrivens stopped them all. Ouch.
The rest is in Boxing…
Another bad game against inferior opponents, another OT loss. That seems to be the way of it right now. The Hawks started their Western road trip with an almost immediate goal against and were chasing the game and, indeed, their tails thereafter.
Fans are nervous and unhappy right now, and with good reason. While we can try to be optimistic and chalk it down to tiredness, or mid-season ennui, the Hawks are losing ground in the West, not only to Anaheim and St Louis (who are now level on points but have the ROW toebreaker and three games in hand) but also to San Jose and, for that matter, Colorado. The gaping maw of the West Coast trip is swinging wide open right now and we don’t need much prompting to recall the nine-game losing streak two years ago.
If the Hawks play to their potential then there’s no reason why they won’t be at or near the top heading into the Olympic break. More performances like we’ve seen recently and we could be in for a torrid final six weeks.
Let’s talk about stuff:
With a six-game road trip upcoming before the Olympic break, the Blackhawks headed into their final game at the United Center until March 4 coming off a dismal offensive performance against Minnesota and looking to provide some momentum going into their trip.
And what did we witness? Another dismal offensive performance that left us all scratching our heads and had some trying to place all the blame on Corey Crawford because, well, that’s what people tend to do – no matter what.
The Blackhawks missed open nets and failed plenty of solid opportunities when Glenview native Al Montoya wasn’t standing on his head, and Marian Hossa gift-wrapped Andrew Ladd’s winning goal in the Jets’ 3-1 victory Sunday. It marked the Blackhawks’ first loss in regulation in 27 games when they led after two periods.
The Blackhawks, who have failed to score at least two goals in back-to-back games for the first time since March 23 and 27, 2012, now embark on a trip that includes stops in Calgary, Vancouver, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim and Phoenix before the Olympics.
Bryan Bickell was a healthy scratch, with Q saying “we want more, we need more” from him. Q simply is trying to send a message – he dressed both Kostka and Brookbank – but expect Bickell to be back in the lineup against Calgary.
Some thoughts before Boxing… (Actually, it’s one big thought)
Jim got into it with a few people on Twitter following the game, and it largely had to do with this:
If you’re Corey Crawford, and you want criticism to go away, you have to outplay Al Montoya.
— Jay Zawaski (@JayZawaski670) January 27, 2014
Leave it to Zawaski to try and make a game the Blackhawks clearly lost because of their inability – for the second straight game – to get a second goal by missing many, many chances into something about Crawford to fit his “controversy” narrative. The worst part is that people buy it, and therefore will continue to do so.
Montoya played fabulously and far above his means – he entered having given up 10 goals over his previous two starts – while the Blackhawks failed to convert on the chances Montoya allotted them. Furthermore, the deciding goal came off a horrible Hossa turnover, even before Ladd’s shot deflected in off Keith.
Zawaski continued by saying Crawford “needed to be in better position” and should have “bailed out a teammate.” C’mon guy. I’m sorry, but this loss isn’t on Crawford. And for anyone to say it is, is completely blind to the fact that the ‘Hawks lost because they couldn’t put the puck in the net – again.
In Boxing, I list the recent production from four of the Blackhawks’ top six. It’s pretty pathetic. The ‘Hawks haven’t scored an even-strength goal since Andrew Shaw’s tally in the first period against Detroit. They’re also 1 for 20 on the power play over the last six games.
If you want to place blame, start getting on the Blackhawks’ top players for not producing how they should. Blaming Crawford is a cop out, and someone like Zawaski should know better if he’s going to go by the title of “Blackhawks Analyst.”
Jonathan Toews said the ‘Hawks “just threw away another two points.” And that’s not on Crawford. The ‘Hawks played like a pile of dog shit in the third period at both ends of the ice. That was the problem. They played 40 minutes, not 60.
On that note, be sure to check out our latest episode of Cheer the Podcast. We talk plenty about the doldrums of January and this current slump, even before the loss to Winnipeg.
Cheer the Podcast Episode 6 (1/25/14): We got a new microphone! And have an intro! Once again we begin with reader e-mails as they increase in number, which include topics such as the 2nd line center acquisitions, playoff projections and who the Hawks want/don’t want to play, special teams recent performance, David Bowie and the recent sluggish play. Then we move into the upcoming road trip, Sochi security concerns, Blackhawks Nation’s photoshop larceny and the ever important sixth defenceman.
Audio after the jump.
That’s just your run-of-the-mill, please-get-this-crap-off-my-TV kind of game.
The Blackhawks entered Thursday’s matchup with Minnesota 9-0-3 in the second of back-to-back games, and they nearly pulled another point out of their asses in the final minutes. Alas, their sleep walking through the first 58 1/2 minutes did them in before falling 2-1.
The ‘Hawks have lost nine times in regulation this season. Three of those defeats have came against the Wild. Yes, one-third of the Blackhawks’ regulation losses have come against goddamn Minnesota. Let that sink in for a second.
It’s no secret we didn’t see anywhere near the Blackhawks’ best against Detroit save for the quick two-goal lead they eventually relinquished, but Thursday was just one sad sack of a performance from top to bottom. Q said after the game that no one stuck out, and I couldn’t agree more. Laziness, stupid penalties and missed opportunities all were had throughout the contest, and it grew frustrating to watch.
Having Keith out was another turd we had to swallow.
Thoughts before Boxing…
* So, I understand the bright side of pointing out that the Blackhawks have lost only twice in regulation over their last 18 games. At least they’ve gotten points more often than not. I get it. However, Let’s take a quick look at the seven OT/shootout defeats.
– Dec. 20: Blew two-goal lead at home to Vancouver before falling 3-2 in a shootout
– Dec. 28: Blew three separate two-goal leads at St. Louis, then lost 6-5 in a shootout
– Jan. 2: Lost 3-2 in OT to the New York Islanders. Yes, those New York Islanders.
– Jan. 5: Fell behind by two in a listless performance until the third, tied the game, lost 3-2 in a shootout to San Jose
– Jan. 11: Nothing until the third, then lost 2-1 in OT to Montreal
– Jan. 14: Fell behind quickly 2-0, recovered to tie it, lost in OT to Colorado
– Wednesday: The Detroit debacle
This 9-2-7 stretch hasn’t exactly been pleasant, though the wins over Anaheim and Boston were rather big. But the Blackhawks rarely have played a full game lately, either falling behind early and having to battle back or blowing a multiple-goal lead of their own while leaving an extra point on the table. Thursday was just a crapfest throughout, and I’m not exactly surprised the ‘Hawks played a full stinker given the direction they’ve been treading lately.
* Handzus is getting plenty of blame for lollygagging it back into the defensive end, allowing Pomniville to receive a great pass from Heatley to beat Raanta on the first goal. However, have you seen Bickell in that highlight? He began coasting at the red line. I’ll throw some blame his way as well.
* Anyone else ever think you’d see Hossa demoted/benched for even a single stretch like he was? Not sure if there was a specific message Q was sending, but still surprising. Hossa had a three-game goal-scoring streak snapped despite having a short-handed breakaway chance he failed to convert when the puck took off on him.
* Matt Cooke is still a prick, no matter how much he wants to try and convinced us he’s changed.
* Brandon Bollig. Quality minutes late in the third period of a close game. Again. It’s becoming as painful as brushing your teeth with barbed wire.
* Winnipeg, which had a four-game winning streak snapped with a loss to San Jose on Thursday, visits the UC on Sunday for “one of those great 6 o’clock starts.”