Back For More, Eh? Blackhawks Host Vancouver

Photo: AP

We tend to scoff at the Canucks in general, because we have Roberto Luongo’s number and we tend to knock them around like a piñata pretty much every time we see them, especially at the United Center. But we had better take the game more seriously this time: the Canucks come in fresh off a 7 – 2 win over Calgary. That game included a noteworthy hat-trick from Mason Raymond — one tally on the power play, one at even strength, and one shorty. Not often you see that.

So you can bet the Canucks will be feeling their oats and itching for a scrap when they hit Chicago tonight, especially after the bitch-slapping we gave them in GM Place the week before last. We showered the Vancouver net with 41 shots, chased Bobby Lu before the end of the 2nd, and walked out of there with a 7-1 victory. They will be looking for some payback. Expect Vancouver’s Tanner pain-in-the-Glass to be the latest fool to challenge — and get bludgeoned by — John Scott early on.

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The Daily Phil Esposito (12/3/10)

This is a new quick-hitting feature I hope to publish each morning updating a good majority of former Blackhawks playing around the NHL with their performances the night before.

Why the name?  Phil Esposito was traded to the Boston Bruins in 1967 in one of the most lopsided trades in league history. Seems fitting to honor one of the most famous former Blackhawks who had his best years while not playing for the franchise. Hope you enjoy.

"I don't drink ALL the time. Assholes."

A pretty slow night for the former Four Feathered Men, who combined for one goal and one assist. However, a drunk guy stopped a bunch of shots.

Click the jump for updates from 12/2

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End The Controversy: A Tale of Four Goalies

Photos: TSN.ca

The Blackhawks’ rookie goaltender Corey Crawford came off the Circus Trip with three starts, three wins, and a GAA hovering just below 1.00. The calls went out for a third straight start after his wins over the Ducks and Kings, and he got it on Tuesday night against St. Louis. He came away with another win, but I think he showed us exactly why doing a flip-flop for the starting role with Marty Turco is a mistake.

Before we get into that, I want to take you back ten years and revisit the story of two young goaltenders in the Blackhawks organ-eye-zation. Michael Leighton and Craig Anders(s)on — I really should tell that story about the extra ‘s’ — were both drafted by Chicago and came into the AHL in 2001. They played as a tandem in Norfolk, which was then the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, and over the next three years started to gain confidence at the pro level.

Here and there they would get the occasional call-up, mostly to sit on the bench at the UC and watch Steve Passmore flop all over the ice and get his ass handed to him. Then, disaster struck. Blackhawks’s starting goaltender Jocelyn Thibault injured his hip, underwent surgery and was to miss a total of 60 games during the 2003-04 season.

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Boxing with ‘Hawks/Blues (11/30/10)

All right, it’s really late so you’re not going to get any analysis from me tonight other than what’s in the “Boxing.” However, be sure to check out today’s Daily Esposito below this post to catch up on your former Blackhawks.

Click the images to enlarge and, as always, I hope you enjoy it.

Click the jump for the BOX SCORE

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The Daily Phil Esposito (12/1/10)

This is a new quick-hitting feature I hope to publish each morning updating a good majority of former Blackhawks playing around the NHL with their performances the night before.

Why the name?  Phil Esposito  was traded to the Boston Bruins in 1967 in one of the most lopsided trades in league history. Seems fitting to honor one of the most famous former Blackhawks who had his best years while not playing for the franchise. Hope you enjoy.

"See? I told you I was good." (SI.com)

Well, the meatballs would have a good case tonight. Three Stanley Cup-winning former Blackhawks combined for two goals and three assists. And there’s other stuff.

Hit the jump for udpates from the 11/30 games

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Please, Enough Drama Already! Blues Visit Chicago

SAN JOSE, CA - NOVEMBER 24: Corey Crawford  of the Chicago Blackhawks warms up before their game against the San Jose Sharks at HP Pavilion on November 24, 2010 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

It’s been an exciting few days for Blackhawks fans, as we wound down the Circus Trip with four wins, our star winger got injured at practice, and the phrase “goalie controversy” threatened to rear its ugly head again. But we’ll get to that in a minute. The task at hand are the boys in blue and gold, and game time is not even 12 hours away.

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The Daily Phil Esposito (11/30/10)

This is a new quick-hitting feature I hope to publish each morning updating a good majority of former Blackhawks playing around the NHL with their performances the night before.

Why the name? Phil Esposito was traded to the Boston Bruins in 1967 in one of the most lopsided trades in league history. Seems fitting to honor one of the most famous former Blackhawks who had his best years while not playing for the franchise. Hope you enjoy.

Nothing that will blow your skirt up over last night’s performances. Eight former Blackhawks combined for one point, a minus-4 and a made-up drunken-driving offense.

Click the jump for updates from 11/29 games.

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“It’s not rocket surgery”: Crawford to start, Boynton hurts Hossa

"I got this." (Chicago Tribune)

The clamoring for  Corey Crawford to get the nod in net Tuesday has come to fruition. Unfortunately, so has the official confirmation that  Nick Boynton is a worthless piece of shit.

CSN’s  Tracey Myers (@TramyersCSN) reported a couple of nuggets on her Twitter account today. First, Boynton and  Marian Hossa collided in practice and Hossa was sent back to the locker room to be looked at. No word yet on Hossa’s condition. However, if Hossa is out for an extended period of time yet again, Boynton and his lisp are going to be swinging from a building somewhere.

Myers reported later that Crawford will get his third straight start Tuesday night against St. Louis. He’s 4-0-0 with a 1.23 GAA in his last four starts, including three road victories. Giving the kid a start at home riding a hot streak should’ve gone without saying, but it was good to see  Joel Quenneville announce it early.

The only time Crawford faced the Blues was Feb. 2, 2006 in a 6-5 shootout loss. Crawford gave up five goals and made 34 saves in a brief call-up.

It should also go without saying that Q needs to ride Crawford as long as possible with the way he’s been playing. A loss shouldn’t immediately relegate Crawford back to the bench if he plays well. For a Blackhawks team seemingly lacking a spark, Crawford resembles the closest thing to a pick-me-up at the moment.

And on top of all that,  Marty Turco is the class act we all knew he was. According to Brian Hamilton of the Trib:

“Corey’s going to play, I think, and he should,” Turco said. “He’s been playing great, he’s been playing great all year, has won a few in a row. We want to get on a roll. I’m here to win, no matter what.”

Either Tim or I will have updates on the Hossa injury as we get them. Check our Facebook fan page or our Twitter for the the quickest info.

End of the Circus: Boxing with ‘Hawks/Ducks and ‘Hawks/Kings

Hey dude. You're, like, bleeding and stuff. (Chicago Tribune)

Well, Corey, it looks like it’s your show — for now.

A couple of very solid performances and an overall above-average season so far is good enough in my book to give  Corey Crawford the keys to the Blackhawks’ ride. McClure of Second City Hockey said it best:  Marty Turco is owed nothing here. He’s a hell of a guy, came here to win a ring and hasn’t played all that bad.

Crawford, a product of the ‘Hawks system who has paid his dues with the franchise, is playing to his capabilities and expectations. His 5-4-0 record may seem modest, but his GAA is a sparkling 2.07 in eight starts and nine total appearances. He made key saves in both games against Anaheim and Los Angeles and didn’t give up a single even-strength goal in either contest.

If Turco gets the start Tuesday, Coach Q should immediately have his head examined. There’s no reason not to go with Crawford.

With all of that said, let’s make this clear: There is no goalie controversy — yet. While Crawford has played well, he’s simply the guy who gives the Blackhawks the best chance to win right now. It’s too early to say he’s the one who gives the ‘Hawks the best chance to win for the rest of the season. Turco still holds that title, in my opinion. It’s not to say that can’t change, but Crawford has to do it for an extended period of time — like Antti Niemi did last season.

If Crawford gets his starts and continues to show he’s the right guy for the No. 1 job, the worst thing that happens is the ‘Hawks have a damn good veteran backup in Turco. That’s a good position to be in, especially given the  Cristobal Huet situation in which we thought Dr. Phil would have to intervene.

So, with that being said, I’ll let “Boxing” do the rest of the talking from the weekend. First is the ‘Hawks 2-1 win against the Kings, followed by Friday’s 4-1 victory against the Gordon Bombays.

Click the jump for “Boxing”

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When You Strike At A King: Blackhawks End Circus Trip in LA

Photo: Yahoo! Sports

Since the LA Kings visited the United Center on October 27th, the Kings went on a tear. Los Angeles won six in a row, followed by a six-game stretch in which they allowed the opposing teams to take 11 of the 12 possible points from them. The Blackhawks arrive in Los Angeles on the occasion of that 13th game, wondering if the Kings will break their streak of bad luck, or start a new one.

The teams that de-throned the Kings in that stretch were nothing to sneeze at, including Columbus and Montreal, both in the top four teams of their respective conferences. But the key to these wins appears, statistically at least, to be dependent on two players. With rare exception, the following maxim is true: if Jonathan Quick plays, LA wins. If Jonathan Bernier gets the start, LA loses. Chicago faced Bernier in their game at the United Center.

Tonight, the Blackhawks will face Jonathan Quick.

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