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Thursday, October 23, 2014

Blackhawks at Nashville
3-2 Loss Recap

"Skeptic"


The Blackhawks traveled to Nashville, Thursday night to face the Preds, who were looking for revenge after the Blackhawks overtime win the previous week. This time around it was the Blackhawks who were icing their backup goalie, rather than the Preds.

The first period was controlled, mostly, by the Preds, who out shot the Blackhawks 14-6. Even with that shot differential, the Blackhawks went up 1-0, but surrendered the tying goal with just under a minute remaining in the opening twenty minutes.

The second period was much better for the Blackhawks as far as shots, but the Preds won the second period with the only goal of the period, thank to some sloppy play in the Blackhawks zone.

The Blackhawks fell victim to more sloppy play in their own zone and some exceptional play by the Nashville netminder, which pretty much spelled the end of their undefeated season.

The Good

  • Just over halfway though the first period, the Blackhawks fourth line took a 1-0 lead. Marcus Kruger wrapped the puck around Rinne's left post and the puck laid in the crease long enough for Agent Smith to slam it past Rinne in typical grinding fashion.
  • The Blackhawks second period power play didn't earn them a goal, but the first powerplay unit looked like we expect it to. They were dominant and had the Preds running around for almost the entire 2 minutes.
  • Andrew Shaw took the puck to the net all by himself like a bull in a china shop with about seven minutes remaining in the game. Even though Rinne saved the initial shot, Shaw spun and whacked the rebound out of the air and into the net past the down goaltender.
  • Blackhawks were solid at the dots, winning 55%. Richards was the only one that was under 50%.
  • TVR is listed as having 4 blocked shots in only 13 minutes of ice time. He did nothing to tell me he didn't deserved more time.
The Bad

  • Didn't take long for Versteeg to get demoted to the third line with Richards and Bickell. Shocking. It got better in the second period, when Versteeg was dropped to the fourth line with Gorilla Salad and Kruger. Just when it didn't seemed like it could get any more weird in the third period, if you can imagine this, he was moved up with Kane and Toews, and essentially double shifted.
  • James Neal beat Raanta with just under a minute remaining in the first period, just after Mike Ribeiro went on a first period douche bag crime spree. Ribeiro help the puck long enough, in the neutral zone, for the Pred to make a line change, and Neal came screaming off the bench. He drove to the dot and beat Raanta cleanly on the stick side.
  • Two minutes into the third period, James Neal earned the natural hat trick when Raanta kicked a rebound right to Neal's stick and he chipped it into a gaping net. Seabrook was guilty of not tying Neal up enough to bail out Raanta.
  • The more I watch Raanta, the more his over aggressiveness and lack of rebound control becomes more glaring.
The Ugly

  • The Preds took a 2-1 lead late in the second period after Brandon Saad basically put the puck on a platter for James Neal to zing a shot past Raanta. Not a good goal at all, and not the way Saad is going to earn his way back to the second line.
  • Oduya and Hjalmarsson were combined minus 3 and both had minus 7 or worse Corsi.
  • Gorilla Salad barely played more than 6 minutes and Bickell only played 9:30.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Raanta-nomics


I feel like it is time to throw a bucket of water on this smoking ember before it becomes a raging inferno. There is no, nor will there be, a starting goalie change for the Chicago Blackhawks. The faster you get that through your heads, the less silly you are going to make yourself appear.

I will be completely honest, I like Antti Raanta. He is a talented guy, happy to play, and the Blackhawks are damn lucky to have him as their backup netminder. I have nothing against him; I truly don't. The problem that the Blackhawks have is that they have two GOOD goalies. Not GREAT goalies, but GOOD ones. There is a difference between the two, though, and it needs to be hammer through some thick sculls.

We have all seen that Corey Crawford can give up the aggravating soft goal, and being a similar type of goalie, I can totally understand. Silly bounces can handcuff you, and sometimes they look terrible. That is not an excuse. He needs to improve on those types of gaffes. You have goals, like the one in the Nashville game the other night. A deflected laser from one of the two hardest shooters in the NHL, from 35 feet away. He had no chance, but if you look at the stats, it looks terrible.

The difference is that Raanta will sometimes turn routine saves into circus stunts with things like lack of rebound control, and over aggressiveness. My point being that Raanta sometimes digs himself a hole that he then has to bail himself out of.

First case in point was last night. One of Raanta's early saves was a simple low shot from a tight angle. Raanta went down into the butterfly to stop, but instead of directing the puck into the corner, the puck flipped end over end, into the air because he had his stick at a poor angle. This caused an all out panic situation, almost resulting in a goal. Raanta was beat, but the puck hit the post. Shutout preserved.


This is an additional case of a routine save turning into a Chinese fire drill, because of very poor rebound control. Shutout preserved.

Second case was this play, where he was WAY too aggressive and slid completely out of position. Had Vorachek not mishandled the puck, this was a simple goal. It is not often you see Crawford slide this far out of position. Shutout preserved.

Third case is this play, which was one of the first of the second period. Raanta was indecisive, and he froze. This put him in and extremely vulnerable position which forced him to make a much more difficult save. Generally, Crawford would have intercepted that puck on the initial dump in, or kept it from coming back out over the goal line. Shutout, again, preserved.

All this being said, again, I like Antti Raanta. Just to show I'm not picking him apart, these are two VERY good saves worth noting:




When all is said and done, I'm just pointing out that Raanta made some glaring gaffes against a very bad hockey team, and got away with it. He is simply not as composed as Corey Crawford at this point in time. These are all things that are able to be fixed, and probably will be. Do you really want to burn in an inexperienced goalie, in what may be the last hurrah for this special group of players? I sure don't and neither does anyone in the Blackhawks front office. There simply isn't anything close to a problem with the current setup. Be happy with the boring, safe, occasionally awkward starter that the Blackhawks have. Be happy that they don't have Ondrej Pavelec as their starter. Corey Crawford is far from perfect, but he's the best option the team has at this point in time. Learn to accept it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blackhawks vs Flyers
4-0 Shutout Win Recap



Antti, Antti, Antti


Philadelphia is known for the little guy who comes out of no where, and captures the emotion of a city. And after one game in net for the Blackhawks this season, Antti Raanta has won over the hearts of the meatball coalition. Raanta posted a 32 save shutout en route to the Blackhawks 4-0 win over the Flyers. It was a surprise start for Raanta as starter Corey Crawford was ruled out for the game late this morning with an upper body injury. Raanta to his credit was ready to play when called upon, something that cannot be understated for a backup goalie. It remains to be seen how long Crawford will be sidelined, but lets make one thing clear. Corey Crawford is the starter for the Chicago Blackhawks. As much as the meatballs would want to create a goalie controversy, there is none. Once Crawford is healthy, its his net. So in the meantime, lets allow Raanta to bask in his Rocky Balboa moment, because its going to be short lived.


With the offense sputtering of late, we all knew it was coming. It just took Dr. Line Blender an extra game to get fired up. Heading into tonight's game, the Blackhawks found themselves with different line combinations. For now it was a nice spark to jolt the offense, as the Blackhawks came out flying. Something that has been screamed about before is the lack of the net front presence other than Andrew Shaw. Tonight we finally saw what crashing the net can, as that was a direct result of Brandon Saad's opening goal. Another touchy subject amongst Blackhawks fans has been the Power Play and the play of Bryan Bickell. In the first period we got to see a sighting of both, as Patrick Kane tallied the 2nd goal of the night on the Power Play (courtesy of a bad Flyers penalty), and Bryan Bickell capped the 1st period scoring by adding his 1st goal of the season. All in all, we saw the Blackhawks offense explode for 3 goals in just over 2 minutes. Its that kind of outburst we've been waiting to see.


The second period featured the Flyers taking undisciplined penalties, but the Blackhawks were unable to add another Power Play goal. Raanta saw 10 shots in the period, and turned them all aside. Early in the third period Patrick Kane was able to beat Steve Mason again for his 2nd goal of the game, and 2nd Power Play goal of the night for the Blackhawks. All in all, this was the type of game we expect the Blackhawks to play against a subpar opponent. Next up for the Blackhawks is a trip to Nashville on Thursday night.


The Good

- I mentioned it earlier, but Antti Raanta was fantastic in net
- Patrick Kane scoring two goals on the night, both Power Play goals
- Trevor van Riemsdyk, he keeps getting more confidence, and more comfortable
- Net front presence from Saad and Bickell
- Dan Carcillo for drawing penalties, and actually having hockey sense and not retaliating

The Bad

- Kris Versteeg returned (I had to put something in the bad category)

The Ugly

- Zac Rinaldo and Michael Raffl for being certified dickbags. But as a Blackhawks fan, I'm not complaining the dumb penalties they took.


Puckin Hostile Shoutcast Episode 13


Gatekeeper and Pat finally have some regular season hockey to talk about, whether it be the terrible Sabres, Oilers, and Avs, or the surprising Islanders.

They also have a chance to discuss the Blackhawks "earning" 7 of 8 points, as well as the surprises and disappointments thus far.

For all your custom jersey needs visit Black and Tan Sports at:
http://www.facebook.com/BlackAndTanSports

Check out Mike Figueroa at:
http://www.figsigarts.com
http://www.facebook.com/FigSIGArts
Portions of his profits go to the Ronald McDonald House Chicago.

You can find the episode on iTunes by following this link: iTunes

Puckin Hostile Shoutcast - Episode 13 MP3 Download

You can listen below on the Talkshoe player:

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Blackhawks vs Predators
2-1 OT Win Recap

"The Chase Is Better Than The Catch"



The Blackhawks welcomed the Nashville Preds to the United Center Saturday night. This game featured former Hawks Viktor Stalberg and Carter Hutton, but the bigger story was new coach Peter Laviolette's debut in Chicago as the new coach of the Preds.

The Blackhawks took a lead early in the first but then surrendered the lead on the powerplay, even though they out shot the Preds 12-2 for the entire period. Blackhawks controlled a majority of the play clearly.

The second period was generally very boring. The Blackhawks out shot the Preds once again, 11-4 for the period, which left the Blackhawks leading overall, 23-6. This, of course, didn't translate to goals, for the second game in a row.

The third period ended up being a lot more of the same as far as boring play goes. Both teams had
11 shots, but neither was able to break the tie. Once again, the Blackhawks were going to need more than 60 minutes to decide their fate.

Despite having two kill a penalty, the Blackhawks were able to take advantage of a great buonce and win the game in overtime.

The Good

  • The game wasn't two minutes old and Johnny Oduya beat Carter Hutton for a 1-0 Blackhawks lead. A neutral zone turnover was quickly turned around. Oduya just skated over the blue line and blew a clapper right through the ex-Icehogs netminder.
  • The Preds had Crawford dead to rights about six minutes into the third period, with a 2-on-0 chance in front of the Hawks net. Colin Wilson made the pass to Craig Smith, and Smith helped Crawford out, by shooting the puck low enough for Crawford to kick the chance away.
  • With the Blackhawks killing a Patrick Sharp tripping penalty, they were able to kill off a majority of the powerplay, until Jon Toews was able to put pressure on the Nashville defender at the point. Toews was able to get the puck to squirt loose for shorthanded breakaway, and El Capitan did what he does. Game over.
  • This is the second game in a row with over 35 shots and giving up under 20. You can't ask for more.
  • I hate to say it, but Gorilla Salad hasn't been as awful as he could be. This isn't to say he was been good either, but I'll accept "not bad" at this point. He'll fuck this up, he always does.
The Bad

  • Not too long after the Blackhawks took a lead, they looked like they were in good position, drawing a Shea Weber penalty. Then they proceeded to take two quick penalties. You can all imagine where that was going to end up. Shortly after the Preds penalty and the first Hawks penalties wee over, Weber blew a slapshot past Crawford and the game was tied.oh, and this was the Preds first shot of the game.
  • Shea Weber led all players with 28:21 of ice time. That won't wear him out by April, at all.
  • The Hawks were pretty brutal at the dots, only winning 44%. Brad Richards won only 1 of 6 draws. That said, Marcus Kruger won two big faceoffs while the Hawks were killing the Sharp OT penalty.
The Ugly

  • Early in the second period Blackhawks castoff Viktor St-LOL-Berg took a really stupid offensive zone penalty. Some things never change.
  • I know Deuce is playing fairly well and all but, once again, he had 5 of his shots blocked. This is the Keith we saw 3 years ago, when he struggled.
  • The Blackhawks powerplay looks like a steaming pile of camel dung. 0-5 and very little pressure. It's getting worse rather than better. There is far too much talent on their roster to be this bad.
  • Any time Brad Richards wants to add something would be fine by me.