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Blackhawks DL - A Chicago Blackhawks blog | Page 24

Superstitioulisticexpialidocious-ness: Just Checking In On You

Written by ChiBlackhawks on .

This is not a preview. Andrew's gonna come by later with one for you guys. but hey, how's everyone doing today? Good? Not so much? Nervous? Yeah, I can see why.

Razzberry from SecondCityHockey made a comment last night that kind of encapsulates how I feel about today's game:

It feels like the night before Christmas, but if there was a real possibility that Santa might shit in your stocking.

Granted, we're not quite in that territory yet, but as Chicago sports fans I do think there's two sides within us at war against each other-- on one hand, the part that's, well, a Chicago fan, and on the other, the part that's seen the Blackhawks through their renaissance.

I personally like to hope for the best but expect the worst, with a strong tendency to lean very heavily towards pessimism, but with this team it's just so hard to do that! And when I do, when I catch myself thinking "what if" and when people start asking me "IF [event name redacted] happens, when WOULD [event name redacted] happen?", I scramble to find some way to counteract this shamed "entitlement" (although it is never asked, um, entitledly) with some sort of offering to the hockey gods. (For the record, I have no idea what to do to appease them for what the Chicago media has decided to come up with. We're f*cked.)

Speaking of the hockey gods and superstitions-- can I just say that I wish I could be as "stitious" as Andrew is? This morning I woke up in a panic, because I had no idea where I would be watching the game, and the thing is, the haze of being in the Stanley Cup Finals has kicked in so much that I couldn't even remember where I was when I watched the sixth games of the first two rounds. All I remember was being in a bar with people, but everyone I knew had different ideas about where they wanted to go.

At least I knew what I was going to wear, regardless, but with the way I packed my red Toews jersey (hah, can you say 'bandwagon'?) and "Win it for the Ginger" shirt you'd have thought I was performing the tea ceremony or something. There were also five minutes spent agonizing on which "lucky" underwear to wear (Really wish I'd kept a chart of their win-loss records...) and another 2 minutes contemplating just wearing them all (I don't even know)-- but then, what about for the things that I don't normally have a set routine for on game days? Yeah, I nearly didn't eat breakfast because I didn't know what mini-cereal box was "Blackhawks-y" enough (settled on the box of Froot Loops because it was red...) and to think: it's only 9:06 am as I type this.

Before you call the funny house on me, here's my disclaimer: I know none of what I do will make one whit of difference on the outcome of tonight's game. I know that those of you with superstitions of your own (and feel free to share them!) know that too. Yet I can paralyze myself by thinking "Hey, what if this is bad luck?" just as easily as I can by conjuring the numerous statistical data that will tell me the Hawks won't win tonight-- just as easily, I'm sure, as I can do the opposite. And then there's that thing that's at the back of my head (what's the rule about jinxing things? Do you keep it from happening if you say it or does that only work if it's things like "SHUTOUT" and "HAT TRICK" and you're talking about your team? Should you say it if you don't want it to happen? Do you see what I mean now about paralyzing myself? What the hell, I'll just say it.) where since the revival of the franchise, the Blackhawks have never gone through a game 7. I've seen what the Hawks are like in game 6s (and their record is 4-0 since the 2009 postseason) but going into a seventh is unchartered territory, and quite frankly, territory I'd rather not charter for now.

Though really, when all is said and done, tonight is still unchartered territory for most of us. There's not much that we can do except watch the clock as it counts down to puck drop.

And remember to breathe.

There's No Place Like Home, There's No Place Like Home: Blackhawks Lead Stanley Cup Finals Series 3-2 Versus Flyers

Written by ChiBlackhawks on .

There were eleven goals tonight. ELEVEN. Seven for the Hawks, four for the Flyers. That's pretty crazy hockey right there, and even more bizarrely, this is the second eleven-goal game of the Stanley Cup Finals series.

A Couple of Very Nice Numbers:

  • The Blackhawks ended each period with a 3-goal lead. While the Flyers battled, they never got within more than 2 goals.
  • Chris Pronger ended the night with a -5. He was on the ice for 6 Blackhawks goals and in the box for 1. He wasn't on the ice for any Flyers goal.
  • The line of Bolland, Versteeg, and Byfuglien (let's call them Trade Bait Line) ended the night with +3 ratings and 9 points total.
  • Brent Sopel ended the night with a +2, but he got that from 3:21 minutes of ice time in the first.
  • The Blackhawks went 2-for-4 on the power play.
  • Didn't matter who the goalie was, tonight-- the Blackhawks scored thrice on Leighton, thrice on Boucher, and even once on the empty net.

A Couple of Random Observations:

  • It's a little worrying that the Blackhawks let in 4 goals tonight, but it's also a little hard to pin them all on Niemi. Sure, he should have seen the puck for that first goal, when Hartnell just poked it in after he failed to cover it up, but at least two of the other goals scored against him (I unfortunately don't have the benefit of instant replay) were based off defensive breakdowns. Both teams have been guilty of them.
  • I'm not sure what it was that made Buff play the way he did tonight, but Pronger was still out there skating with him and that line produced anyway. I thought it would be Toews or Kane producing with Pronger out of their space, but hey, I'll take it.
  • Similarly, Kane and Sharp are back together and they continue to make beautiful hockey music. Sharp's goal late in the third was such a typical Kane-Sharp play that I knew he'd get that in before it did. Hot damn, the two of them play so well together.
  • However, I'm not sure what's going on with Toews or Hossa. They're both clearly trying, but for some reason Hossa's a -3 tonight. He had a couple chances too-- good ones, as well, not garbage shots that pad stats or anything-- but no dice. There's a few ways to look at it, but I'll choose to go with this: the Blackhawks are up 3-2 and our best players have yet to be our best players.
  • We're starting to see more of the team that we've seen this season. The Blackhawks came out very strong right off the bat and dominated major portions of the game. More of this and maybe the Flyers don't come back to Chicago. Yes, please.

Game 5 Preview (With A Little Help From John Wooden)

Written by Andrew Bernier on .

I'm sure during the course of a season, you hear a lot of people say "this is a big game for the Hawks."  Well, this one puts all those other ones to shame.  This is easily the biggest game for the Hawks in the past decade.  Bold statement? You betcha. But its the truth.  This is the first of a 3 game series for the Stanley Cup.  The Hawks need to be focused and fast right from the beginning.  Margin for error: paper thin.  I usually try to be a calming voice, but I'm just about ready to go out and buy a package of Depends.

In honor of the late legendary coach John Wooden, I'll apply three of his quotes to the three keys to the Hawks success tonight.

  1. "Be quick, but don't hurry." Game 4 saw the Hawks come out slow. The Flyers got all the momentum early and it netted them two very easy goals.  The third Flyer goal came from a lack of back-checking which pulled Sopel out of position, leaving a Flyer wide open in front of Niemi.  The Hawks need to play fast today.  It is their strength.  Don't rush and make stupid mistakes, just play at the highly-skilled fast pace that they're capable of and it will be enough.
  2. "Things turn out best for people who make the best out of the way things turn out." Game 4 sucked. The refs haven't been good all series. Get over it.  The series is tied at 2.  If Pronger is going to get away with penlties, then there's nothing the Hawks can do about it except fight through it.  Make good on whatever chances you can get.  Capitalize on opportunities and the refs won't matter.
  3. "The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team." A lot has been said about Kane, Toews, and Byfuglien not scoring.  When players hit slumps or get shut down by an overpowering defense, its time for the support guys to step up.  Look for big games from Bolland, Versteeg, and Brouwer if the Hawks want to win.
  4. "Failing to prepare is preparing to fail." Watch for how Coach Q sets his lines today.  Simply throwing a random group of players on the ice will not win the game.
Failure is not fatal, but failure to change might be.  If the Hawks want to win tonight, let's hope they're prepared to change the way they played in Philadelphia.  Let's Go Hawks.

Short Sucky Game 4 Recap

Written by Andrew Bernier on .

Quick summary here:

Hawks came out flat (http://twitpic.com/1kowlj). The Flyers came out...well...flying.  Hjalmarsson whiffed twice and those led to goals.

Both teams kinda floated through the second, although it was much more tightly checked.

In the end, Hawks mounted a comeback but fell short.


  • Even though the Hawks played like complete dogshit, once they got some power plays and created some chances, they turned it into a one goal game.  Momentum between games is complete bullshit, so we'll have a clean slate tied at 2s going into game 5.  Its a 3 game series for the cup.  Honestly, I like the Hawks' chances.

Hawks Memorabilia and The Make A Wish Foundation

Written by Andrew Bernier on .

Hey Hawks fans.  I know a lot of you who visit here are really great people and that you're all pretty big Hawks fans.  That's why I'm very happy to pass along this really awesome piece of memorabilia that you can all buy, with the proceeds of it going to the Make A Wish Foundation of Chicago.  So here's what it is: (Click Here for the Full Story)

We Ain't Seen Nothing Yet: Blackhawks vs Flyers Game 4 Preview

Written by ChiBlackhawks on .

The Blackhawks face the Flyers tonight for Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Finals, with an eye towards regaining momentum after the OT loss in game 3 last Wednesday. Up 2-1 in the series, the Hawks are hardly in what you'd call a "do-or-die" position should they let the Flyers even the series tonight, but winning the game tonight is-- understatement of the year ahead-- important. The Flyers are a relentless team intent on following Rocky's footsteps. The Blackhawks are no pushovers, but it's time for them to step up and answer the bell, and knock Rocky out-- he can wait until the sequel to win.

A few thoughts heading into tonight:

  • Can we please stop making Chris Pronger a bigger villain than he already is? No, really. It isn't that I'm sick of the press, or that I like the guy as a player-- there's a sliver of truth in both, but the attention Pronger the Villain is getting reminds me a lot of the Vancouver series when everything we read or saw seemed to be about Byfuglien. It doesn't matter much, I guess, what fans think of the opposing team's players, but it's when you get your own team involved that a problem could begin to emerge. The Hawks can't focus on just Pronger. They can't let him get the better of them. We've seen how this can throw an entire team off its game, and you know what, the Hawks have to be better than that. Byfuglien can't be taking penalties like the one he took, despite how weak the call.
  • Speaking of penalties, it would be nice to score on the power play this series. The Flyers' PK is strong, but our PP just sucks too. But the PP isn't the only problem either-- the Flyers were able to capitalize on 2 of their 3 power play chances the other night. What's up with that? Our PK team should tighten up, but I guess that's what happens if you're constantly having to play down a man.
  • To line change or not to line change? After a season of teeth-gnashing and hair-tearing because of Quenneville's propensity to switch his lines up, the game 3 loss has paved the way for a couple of fans calling for Q to do a little bit more of his mix-and-match magic. The thing is, though, I'm not entirely sure his lines have worked as well as they should in the last few games against Philly to begin with, despite the 2-1 series lead, so maybe that wouldn't be such a bad idea. I've liked what I've seen of Eager on the top line, even though it is an admittedly small sample size (hey, two out of two times resulted in a Hawks goal...) but Brouwer could be killer there as well. I'm not sure how Buff would fit on the other lines, though. It would be nice to get Ladd back as well, because I'm not really sure what Burish is doing out there lately. He hasn't done much wrong, but he's been barely noticeable. (Hardly a complaint, but if you've got better players, why not take advantage of the depth?)
That's really all I've got-- everything else right now is a little immaterial. I still don't think we've seen the best of the Blackhawks-- whether that's because they just need to find their game or because the Flyers match up well against them, however, remains to be seen. Hopefully we find out by Sunday, but for now, let's take the split we wanted to take in Philly soil and get the hell out before we start stinking of cheesesteaks.

FTL: Hawks Lose 4-3, Lead Series 2-1

Written by Andrew Bernier on .

Hawks lost 4-3 even though the goal horn went off around 35 times last night.  Let's take a looksie:

Things That Sucked:

  • Regular season Byfuglien showed up last night.  Ineffective, floating, taking stupid penalties.  It felt just like November!
  • The power play.  Remember when we were complaining about Sharp on the point a few months ago? Yeahhhhh.... bout that.... The power play looked like hot garbage.  Seriously, I'll draw some stuff up. Just give it a try.  Don't like it? Fine, go back to the crappy power play that already isn't working.
  • The Wachovia Center goal horn man.  The tweet of the night came from @Kurtenblog: "The Philly goal horn guy should not be allowed near nuclear missile launch buttons."  He was a bit trigger happy.
  • Versteeg.  Again, felt like November!  Kid needs to stop skating through 4 defensemen.
  • Refs, but it doesn't matter if the Hawks aren't going to capitalize on the power play, so there's no need to gripe.
Note: If you're viewing this on the front page, click Read More down to the bottom right of this post to finish reading.

It Isn't a Series Until You Lose at Home: Blackhawks at Flyers Game Three Preview

Written by ChiBlackhawks on .

It's amazing what kind of stories come out when there are only two teams left in the Cup Finals and everyone has an extra day to recoup. Between Chris Pronger's puck thievery, his gamesmanship, his asshattery, the multitude other ways that he's a big jerk, and how the attendees at Wachovia Center are apparently all ex-convicts (wtf, Chicago radio station?), you'd think Pronger himself, leading his army of hardened Philadelphians, caused global warming, the BP oil spill, and murdered Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and a couple dozen unicorns while they were at it.

I don't even know. Maybe that's just what I've managed to filter through-- I can't exactly say I have had a good handle on what's being talked about lately. I spent most of Memorial Day Weekend not inebriated, as I'd hoped, but gallivanting all over Chicago trying to find a decently priced 2-bedroom that didn't cost more than an arm, had at least well-lit streets for walking back from Hawks games late at night, and was at least a little wider than the gap between Duncan Keith's teeth. Or something. But I'm going off-tangent. (Not really-- if you know a place, let me know! Please?)

As I was saying. Maybe there are other stories out there. Maybe there was more to the Cup Finals coverage than a little bit of Puck Daddy reading and both DGB and Intent to Blow articles on Pronger. Maybe Jesse Rogers can write more than one-liner articles that basically say the same thing their headlines do. I am not in any position to really know right now.

What I do know, of course, is that Pronger can't be bigger than what all the write-ups are making him out to be. He's been effective at neutralizing the top line of Toews, Kane, and Byfuglien, but he's skating on a team with 18 other men, goalie included. And tonight, they're playing for their home crowd.

Andrew Ladd may be back in the line-up tonight, though I have nothing more to go by other than Jesse Roger's tweet saying he's out on the ice with the Hawks for morning skate (albeit running drills with healthy scratches, so who knows). We'll see where Quenneville decides to put game-winning-goal-scorer Kopecky with Ladd healthy. (Or maybe he doesn't. Who knows. You gotta be happy with the team you have if you don't know where to insert Andrew Ladd in the lineup.)

Aside from this, there's also the issue of neutralizing all of Philadelphia's three lines. Richards, Carter, and Gagne (reunited halfway through game 2) were able to break their "slump" last time, and no doubt Briere's and Giroux's lines are determined to cause havoc for the Hawks once again. As much as Niemi's been tremendous for the team, it's time for the Hawks to assert themselves in this series. Match-ups could be interesting in this regard-- Sharp's line has so far been the most dangerous for the Blackhawks, and with Laviolette enjoying the benefit of last change he would be able to decide which of his lines to match up against Sharp's.

The Flyers are 7-1 at home. The Blackhawks are 7-1 on the road. Something's gotta give, and hopefully that something is wearing orange and black.

Ready for Another Heart-Stopper? Blackhawks vs Flyers Game Two Preview

Written by ChiBlackhawks on .

Couple quick thoughts heading into tonight's game:

  • I don't think we're going to see another high-scoring game tonight-- or at least, I hope we don't. We didn't see the best of either team in the first two periods of game one but things sort of settled by the third period, so we might be seeing more of that instead. We'll see if the teams' defense decide to get themselves sorted out.
  • The big story of game 1 was how the depth players all scored a point while both top lines remain quiet. Call me naive, but do you really think that top lines consisting of either Richards or Toews will let this happen for the entirety of the series?
  • I actually wonder if maybe this would be a good time to match top line to top line. Bolland's line against Giroux's may do some damage... but the opposite can be said just as easily, can't it?
  • Laviolette is playing Leighton in goal after all, despite saying in a presser that he doesn't know who will be in net. I think this is the right choice but I also don't think Leighton should have been pulled in the first place. Can't tell what that does to a goalie's confidence, which according to the pre-game view we got of him, didn't look like much.
  • The Flyers scored 5 goals, took no penalties, and faced a Blackhawks team that didn't play well until the third. Unfortunately, they still lost. Here's to hoping they don't catch as many breaks as they did in game one.

Unexpected Start: Blackhawks 6 - Flyers 5

Written by Andrew Bernier on .

My, oh my what a surprise start to the series.  We get all ready for a defensive matchup featuring some of the best defensemen in the NHL...and then things happen to make writers look really stupid.  As long as the Hawks win, though, I'm not complaining.

Instead of simply telling you all what you watched with your own eyeballs last night, let's take a deeper look and form some opinions on the game, shall we?

  • Remember when we were all worried that Bolland's back surgery had pretty much ruined him?  Well, Bolly now has the exact same number of points in this year's playoffs as he did in last year's (both in 17 games).  The kicker there is that he has 2 more goals this postseason and is a +6 instead of a -1.  That has come against players such as Joe Thornton, Dany Heatley, Thing 1 & Thing 2 (also known as the Sedin twins), and currently, Carter, Gagne, and Richards (the trio who went scoreless in game 1 for the Flyers).  In the three games since Joe Thornton said Bolly was too small to be effective, Davey has 2 goals, 6 points, and is a +3, all while getting big PK minutes.  Score one for the little guys.
  • Flash back to July 1st, 2009.  On that day, if I were to tell you the Hawks would win game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, who would you predict would score the game winner?  Yeah, I would've been wrong too.  But now, think of your answer on January 1st.  Still wrong?  April 11th? Okay, for real this time: at 7 PM on May 29th.  That, my friends, is why I love this game.  Just when you think you've looked at every angle and scenario that could play out in a series, Tomas Kopecky fills in for an injured Andrew Ladd and makes your head ASPLODE.
  • I'm not one to go about and question the decisions made by an NHL coach, but I'm a blogger...so yes I am absolutely one to question decisions made by an NHL coach.  Peter Laviolette made some poor decisions for the Flyers in game 1.  Ryan Parent was on the ice from 7:05 to 7:46 in the first period for a grand total of 41 seconds of ice time.  Nothin like trying to shut down the fastest team in the NHL by using 5 defensemen.  Seriously, even if you have that little faith in the guy, throw him out on his own blue line and make him just stand there while the puck is in the offensive zone so someone can get a break or something.  Or hell, dress me instead! No paycheck needed. I'll just stay quiet, sit on the bench, and watch the game.  Ben freaking Eager got more ice time than that, and most of the time he's out there he's dreaming of going back to the sandbox to play with his toys!
  • Usually there are two reasons to pull a goalie. 1: He isn't playing well, yet you're still in the game and you think the backup will give you a better shot to win. 2: Your team is getting blown out and you want to rest him.  Well, the Flyers were still in the game, so Petey over there on the bench must have looked at Boucher and thought "Hey...that guy can win a Stanley Cup Final game for us." Hahaha no.  Our friends over at The Goalie Guild were baffled by this decision and said only bad things could come of it.  It wasn't like Leighton was playing himself out of the game, and now you have to deal with a goalie with confidence issues (Welcome to the Cristobal Huet School for Rattled Goaltenders).  To make matters worse, Laviolette wouldn't name his starter this morning after practice and both goalies said they didn't know who would start game 2.  There's a vote of confidence if I've ever seen one!
  • There were three players who were minus for the Hawks: Kane, Toews, Byfuglien. Ouch.  In other news, Depth at the forward position!
  • The Hawks won 62.5% of the faceoffs.  In the words of Gary Bettman, "Bizonkers."  Leading the ridiculous onslaught from the dot was Toews, who went 18 for 24, good for 75%.
  • Tough night for Nemo.  He was slightly off his angle on the goal from Betts and got beat moving to his right on the one timer from Asham.  The other three were all loose pucks that he left in front of him.  That area has to tighten up.  Rebounds are the most highly converted shot in hockey.  Can't be giving up a whole lot of those.  I'm glad he averted disaster when he made the really dumb play coming way out of his net.  He isn't as big of a liability playing the puck lately, but holy cow what in the name of sweet baby jesus was he doing there?
  • I'm still trying to understand how Brian Campbell got called for a penalty that he didn't commit, and the Philadelphia Flyers didn't get a "Two Minutes For Having A Reputation That Was Set For You In 1975 By The Broad Street Bullies."