Wednesday, May 27, 2015

PLAYOFFS: Blackhawks vs Ducks
Game 6
5-2 Win Recap

"War Is All We Know"

by Gatekeeper

The Blackhawks were back home, at the United Center, to face the Ducks for game 6, Wednesday night. The Ducks were coming off an overtime win which put them in position to close the series out Wednesday. The Blackhawks were starting to look like they were at the end of their life span, and desperate measures were in full effect. David Rundblad was in the lineup for Kimmo Timonen which was an ever so slight upgrade. On to the game...

The first was a lot like most Blackhawks periods in these playoffs. They started out fast and furious but petered out towards the end. The Duck led in shots 10-6, but no shots ended up in the net. The later the game went without the Hawks taking a lead, the more tense Hawks fans got.

The second period was quite the period for the Blackhawks. They led in shots 13-9 and out scored the Ducks 3-1. There was still plenty of time to go, but the Blackhawks finally looked like the team we knew they were. Funny what happens when you ice 18 players that can actually skate AND play.

The third period was surely tense. The Blackhawks were out shot by a large margin, 13-4, but they were able out score the Ducks 2-1. That was the game. This "bend but not break" defense seems to be working. Bring on game 7 in California.

Since I recapped all the series wins, thus far, I'll see you all Saturday night.

The Good
  • Early on the Blackhawks powerplay looked better than it has, but still no success. There was a lot of quick passing, which is what I have been screaming for all year. Quick, short passes to open up lanes.
  • The Hawks won the first 14 faceoffs of the game en route to a 15-4 advantage after 20 minutes and were 33-17 for the game. 66% is fine by me.
  • Bryan Bickell actually looked like he gave a shit. Nice of you to join the playoffs, ya dopey Gorilla. He had 3 hits in one shift and 5 total. How does that even happen?
  • Half way through the second period, Brandon Saad got a step on Hampus Lindholm and ended up on a partial breakaway. The future very wealthy man beat Andersen five hole, and the Blackhawks had a 1-0 lead.
  • Two minutes and eighteen seconds after the Saad goal, the Blackhawks smelled blood. Duncan Keith held the puck and faked what seemed like 5 shots, drawing all the attention. Hossa slid out to an open spot on Andersen's back side, and Keith hit him with a pass and he had a wide open net. 2-0 Blackhawks
  • A minute and seventeen seconds after the Hossa goal, Patrick Kane put a magical stick handling clinic on the Duck defense and ended up beating Andersen for a 3-0 Blackhawks lead.
  • Duncan Keith was playing some next level hockey. He was actively involved in all of the first three second period goals.
  • Late in the third period Andrew Shaw did some Andrew Shaw shit scoring the final 2 goals of the game. One was an empty netter, but the 4th goal was a hard nosed Andrew Shaw goal that held off some serious Ducks pressure.
  • Cumiskey and Rundblad didn't kill the Hawks. Stick with it. They only played a total of 13 minutes, but at least they can both function.
The Bad
  • Shortly after the Kane goal, Brad Richards took a lazy hooking penalty. I'm sure you know how this story ends. Right after the faceoff, that Kruger couldn't win, the long shot from Cam Fowler knuckled its way to the stick of Patrick Maroon and he directed into the net past Crawford. TERRIBLE time to take a penalty.
  • Maroon, Getzlaf and Perry all minus 3. #Clutch

The Ugly
  • Not even two minutes into the game, the Blackhawks had already taken a "Too Many Men" penalty. You have to be kidding me. Of all the bitching Quenneville must do, how does this not get resolved?
  • Just a couple of minutes into the third period Clayton Stoner cut the lead to 1, when Silfverberg interfered with Corey Crawford's glove so he couldn't stop the shot. Of course, they called Desjardins for goalie interference just over a minute later.
The Lineblender


Monday, May 25, 2015

PLAYOFFS: Blackhawks at Ducks
5-4 Game 5 OT Loss Recap


On Monday night, the Blackhawks and Ducks saw their series shift back to Anaheim for Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. Once again, both teams were faced with the task of a quick turnaround following a marathon multi overtime game. Everyone has been asking when the Blackhawks would break due to the long minutes their top 4 defensemen have been logging along with the punishing hits the Ducks have been laying on the Hawks. Would Game 5 start to show signs of the breakdown, or would the Hawks shrug it off again, and defy hockey 101?

The Blackhawks came out on their first shift with some jump to their step and lots of pressure, but couldn't generate a shot on goal. That would be a theme in the period for the Blackhawks. The Ducks would shake off that opening shift by the Hawks, and unload a flurry of goals just past the 5 minute mark of the first period. After failing to win a board battle, the puck found its way to the point, and Cam Fowler fired a slap shot that beat Crawford, who was battling traffic in front. Then just 32 seconds later, Kyle Cumiskey couldn't clear the puck, and a point shot was redirect by Kesler, past Crawford to give the Ducks a quick 2-0 lead. With just over 5 minutes remaining in the period, off a face off win a point shot by Vatanen beat Crawford after Desjardins made a weak attempt to block the shot. The Ducks scoring was one problem for the Hawks, but the other problem was the fact they didn't register their first shot on goal until 5 minutes were remaining in the period. As the horn sounded, the colossal shit show of a period ended with the Hawks facing a 3-0 deficit.

The start of the second period featured a complete 180 in the play. Unlike the first period, the Blackhawks came out with a spirited attack and it paid off early. Teuvo Teravainen was able to beat Andersen with a wrist shot just over a minute into the period to cut the Ducks lead to 3-1. Throughout much of the first half of the period, the Blackhawks dominated the play and held the Ducks shot less. The Hawks momentum started to wane a little bit as they took their dreaded too many men on the ice penalty to give the Ducks a power play. Luckily for the Hawks, they were able to kill the penalty off. Any momentum the Ducks had from their power play opportunity didn't last long. The Hawks simply dominated play in the 2nd period, and it was quite obvious that the Ducks were trying to survive with a 3-1 lead till the intermission. With the Ducks sitting back, Teuvo Teravainen decided to clown the Ducks defense, and fed Brent Seabrook with a nifty pass to cut the Ducks lead to 3-2 with 25 seconds remaining in the period. That late goal from Seabrook would end the scoring for the period, and as the horn sounded the score would be 3-2 in favor of the Ducks.

The third period picked up right where it left off for the Hawks. They simply dominated the play and to say the Ducks were on their heels would be an understatement. The Hawks were handed an opportunity early on to tie the game thanks to a holding penalty by Clayton Stoner. With just over 5 minutes remaining, Patrick Sharp failed to get a puck out along the boards, and it resulted in a tic tac toe type passing play that led to a Patrick Maroon to give the Ducks a 4-2 lead. With their backs against the wall, Jonathan Toews scored not once, but twice in the final two minutes of their period to tie the game at 4. With the game tied at 4, the final 38 seconds featured both teams with a chance to score, but neither could and we would head to overtime.

Unlike the previous overtime games, this one would not take long. It shouldn't come as a surprise either based on how the 3rd period ended. Bryan Bickell decided to do his best Duncan Keith impression and fired a dump in "attempt" right into a Ducks' defenseman's shin pads, which put Ryan Kesler in a two on one. Kesler shot the puck low on Crawford and the rebound was kicked out to a wide open Matt Beleskey and he ended the game just 45 seconds into overtime to give the Ducks a 5-4 win, and 3-2 lead in the series.

The Good
- The bounce back by the Blackhawks after that dumpster fire of a 1st period was another reason why you can't count out a team led by Jonathan Toews. They got one goal early in the 2nd period and it gave them some confidence. They kept building on it and building on it, and frankly the Ducks didn't have an answer for it.
- After the Ducks made it 4-2 it seemed like the game was over, but Jonathan Toews scored two goals in 1:12 in the final minutes of the third to tie the game. Remember when people were complaining about him? Well tonight he showed you why he is a leader.
- Teuvo Teravainen was excellent tonight. He had a sweet pass to Seabrook that led to the Hawks first goal, and also had the Hawks opening goal. In addition to the score sheet he was noticeable on the ice generating chances.
- The Hawks penalty kill came through when needed tonight. They killed off both of the Ducks chances at times when the Ducks looked like they could build some momentum.

The Bad
- None of the 1st period goals by the Ducks were the result of bad goaltending by Corey Crawford. The 1st one was the result of traffic (3 players) in front of Crawford, the 2nd Kyle Cumiskey couldn't clear the puck and a point shot ended up being redirected past Crawford, and the 3rd was a lazy, pansy ass attempt at a shot block by Desjardins.
- Speaking of goaltending, Frederik Andersen certainly looked average at best tonight. The Teravainen goal, and Toews 2nd goal were woof to say the least.
- The Hawks were dominated at the dot tonight, 41-23. One of those faceoff losses led to the Ducks third goal. The importance of a defensive zone draw can't be underestimated.

The Ugly
- Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers, are so magnified at this time of the year. How many times do you recall the old ESPN days and hearing Gary Thorne say "giveaway, shot, SCORE!!!"? I remember those like it was yesterday. Tonight, two of the Ducks goals resulted in turnovers. On the second Ducks goal, Cumiskey couldn't clear the puck, and on the Ducks fourth goal, Sharp tried to get too cute after a pass from Timonen. Keep it simply. Fancy plays bite you in the ass this time of the season.
- Speaking of turnovers, this one deserves its own bullet mark. What the hell was Bryan Bickell thinking in overtime? Your team is trying to make a chance, and you decide to fire the puck in on a slap shot, let alone right into a defenders shin pads. Just a ridiculous play by someone who should know better.
- If Teravainen and Vermette haven't given Q the middle finger salute yet, they should.
- Not surprising either, but the power play went 0 for 2. Its either feast or famine with this bunch.
- That 1st period by the Hawks was embarrassing to say the least. They didn't register their first shot until the 15 minute mark of the period and ended the period with 3 shots.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

PLAYOFFS: Blackhawks vs Ducks
Game 4 Double OT
5-4 Win Recap

"Loose Change"

by Gatekeeper

On a beautiful Chicago Memorial Day Saturday, the sun was out, the smells of grilled meat perforated the air and the Blackhawks were at the United Center to attempt to avenge their disappointing loss to the Ducks in game 3. Quenneville pulled his head out of his ass long enough to ice a reasonable lineup, and fans were eyeing up some revenge. The Blackhawks were either heading back to California down 3-1 or tied 2-2. They held their own fate in their hands.

The Blackhawks opened up the first period on fire, which is something we've seen plenty of times with mixed results. The led the shot total 14-6, and the score 1-0. This was a really good start, but one goal would never be enough to go the distance.

The second period did not go as well for the Blackhawks. The shots and score were almost the polar opposite of the first period. The Ducks led 13-6 in shots and 1-0 in score, to set up quite a third period. Nothing was coming easy in this series.

The third period lived up to the hype. The Blackhawks took an early 3-1 lead and promptly gave up 3 goals in 37 seconds to surrender the lead. Shots were 13-13. They fought back to tie the game back up, but were not able to win it in regulation.

The first OT wasn't how the Blackhawks would have liked, but they made it out without surrendering the game winning goal. Even though they had an OT powerplay they were only able to manage 5 shots to the Ducks 17.

Even though the Blackhawks didn't get much pressure in the second OT, they were able to eventually pull out the win. They're going back to Anaheim tied at 2 games.

The Good
  • The Hawks were all over the Ducks the entire first 10 minutes of the game. They didn't get any goals but controlled the play.
  • Late in the first period, while killing a terrible Brent Seabrook, Brandon Saad took advantage of a pick by the official, and found himself in alone on a shorthanded breakaway. He fought off a diving defender and bet Andersen stick side. Saad ended up with 3 points. Stan Bowman is going to pay dearly for this kid.
  • Forklift at Hockeenight started #CoreyPerryFacts during the first period, and the entire Blackhawks twitterverse joined in. Good times.
  • Johnny Oduya got beat by Andrew Cogliano and was able to make a successful last second diving attempt to knock the puck away. Excellent play.
  • Jonathan Toews grabbed the lead back early in the third period on excellent plays by Duncan Keith, Brandon Saad and Marian Hossa. First of all, Keith was able to make a difficult play to keep the puck in the zone. Even though Keith made a bad pass to Saad, he was able to kick the puck to Hossa. Hossa was left wide open, but couldn't get his shot through. The rebound landed back on his stick and he passed across to a wide open Toews. Toews waited out Andersen and roofed the puck from a bad angle.
  • About halfway though the third period, the Toews/Hossa/Saad line stepped up big once again. They controlled the puck down low and it was eventually worked around into the slot, where Seabrook stepped up and unloaded a cannon past Andersen.
  • Not to be denied, after the Blackhawks gave up a 3-1 to go down 4-3, a Blackhawks powerplay resulted in Patrick Kane tying the game back up. Who would have thought that a powerplay lineup change would result in success?
  • I've come to the realization that Cumiskey is definitely the best choice for a #5. Rundblad plain fucked himself, and Timonen is terrible in every way. I watched Timonen's gap increase every time he faced a rush. By the time OT hit, he was backing into Crawford.
  • The game winner was nothing special. Sharp found Vermette in the slot and his shot was blocked. The puck hit him in the chest and dropped to his stick. Andersen committed to the initial shot and left the entire net for Vermette to hit.
  • Contrary to what some may thinks, none of the goals were solely on Corey Crawford's shoulders. He ended up with 47 saves and has now been unscored upon in almost 5 overtime periods. Hate him all you want, but he's been pretty clutch.
  • No shock that the Blackhawks were dominant at the faceoff dots. Toews and Vermette were both over 65%, and the team was at 55%.
The Bad
  • Brad Richards had an uncontested change late in the first, on a nice saucer feed from Bickell, and could not figure out what he wanted to do with the puck. Eventually, he was too close to do anything, and really didn't get much of a shot off.
  • Late in the second period, The Ducks were able to tie the game after they had about 3 minutes of solid pressure. It was only a matter of time before the puck ended up in the back of the net.
  • Teravainen hit Patrick Sharp in the end of the first OT for a breakaway and was not able to beat Andersen.
  • Vermette and Bickell ended up playing the least of all forwards. Chateau Bow Wow.

The Ugly
  • Almost half way through the first period, Duncan Keith sent a suicide pass to Hjalmarsson who was way too blase and Corey Perry picked it off Hammer's stick. Crawford bailed Hjalmarsson out big time.
  • Anaheim scored 3 goals in 37 seconds right after the Seabrook goal. All the plays were bad coverage or terrible turnovers. I'm not even going to break each one down, but they were all terrible. Vermette and Timonen fucked themselves on one, Keith let Corey Perry in behind him for two chances on another, and Ryan Kesler was left wide open to one time the puck through Crawford.

The Lineblender


Thursday, May 21, 2015

PLAYOFFS: Blackhawks vs. Ducks 2-1
Game 3 Loss Recap

Man In The Box
by Patrick Stankus

Just 42 hours or so after their marathon Game 2 ended, the Blackhawks and Ducks found themselves back on the ice for Game 3 of their series. With the series shifting to Chicago, a lot of emphasis was placed on the importance of the matchups and the advantage shifting towards the Hawks. And as luck would so have it, we were treated to a lineup surprise from Quenneville which we'll get to a little later on.

As the game got underway, it was pretty apparent that the Ducks were doing their best to hand this game to the Hawks on a silver platter. The sloppy, careless play by the Ducks gave the Hawks two power play opportunities in the first 10 minutes of the game. However, what is one of the worst kept secrets, the 1st power play was lifeless, while the second one was negated by a Marian Hossa holding penalty just after a minute of power play time. After pissing away the power play chances, the Ducks used theirs to their advantage and cashed in on a Patrick Maroon redirect past Crawford to give the Ducks a 1-0 lead. Just a couple minutes later, the Ducks would again find themselves in the penalty box as Jakob Silfverberg took a 4 minute high sticking penalty. Unable to capitalize on any of these opportunities, the Hawks handed some momentum to the Ducks. With just under a minute remaining in the period, Patrick Kane made an appearance and beat Andersen with a sick backhander to tie the game at one. After 20 minutes of play, that's where we'd stand on the scoreboard.

The second period appeared to get underway with the Blackhawks hitting the snooze button on the intermission horn. Anaheim dominated the play early on in the period, but were unable to get a puck past Crawford to increase their lead. As the period went on, the Hawks seemed to find their legs, and at least looked to be drawing even with the Ducks. One thing was clear, both teams looked like they were laboring from fatigue. Unlike the first period, the play in the second period wasn't as sloppy, and that showed up on the scoresheet as no penalties were called. Just when it looked like the game would head into the 2nd intermission tied, Simon Despres one-timed a shot from the left circle that beat Crawford to give the Ducks a 2-1 lead after two periods.

As was the case with the first period, the third period saw sloppy play dictate the play of the game early on. Just past the 5 minute mark, the Blackhawks were handed another power play chance, but as was the case with the first four, couldn't generate anything. For the most part of the third period, the Hawks had dominated the play and had the Ducks on their heels, but Andersen stood on his head down the stretch, not to mention, stopped Patrick Kane on a mini breakaway with 8 seconds left to preserve a 2-1 win for the Ducks, and give them a 2-1 lead in the series.

The Good
- Frederik Andersen was fantastic for the Ducks in net. In all he stopped 27 of 28 shots, flashing the leather several times.
- Patrick Kane had the lone Hawks goal, but despite that he had a fairly good game. He was generating chances, which for Patrick Kane is key, and had a bit of jump to his step. Hopefully Kane can build on this game for Game 4 on Saturday.
- Jonathan Toews was the only Hawks center interested in winning draws tonight. In the end he was 78% at the dot.

The Bad
- In their one opportunity to kill off a penalty, the penalty kill wasn't able to come through when needed. At least they weren't as bad as that other group of special teamers.
- Shaw (36%), Richards (25%), and Desjardins (31%) all struggled at the dot. You can figure out why I put Shaw first on this list.
- The Ducks blocked 27 shots tonight. Its nice to know the Hawks were finding the open shooting lanes.
- Patrick Kane was hit hard into the boards, and was slow to get up. It caused everyone to hold their breath for a moment or two.

The Ugly
- WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT LINEUP???!!! In what world does this appeal to you? Lets scratch Vermette and Teravainen in favor of Versteeg and Nordstrom. I think I have a concussion from banging my head off the wall.
- Andrew Shaw has been effective as a winger on the 4th line, so what the hell, lets move him to center, where everyone knows, he struggles. Bravo.
- Lets pull Corey Crawford with two minutes remaining, and use KRIS VERSTEEG as the extra attacker. I literally could not stop laughing when I saw this.
- No one on the "4th line" had more than 9:20 of ice time, and that was Desjardins.
- Oh what a night for the power play. Talk about a momentum killer. At the end of the night the power play was a stellar 0 for 5. To modify a line from Major League; And for the Blackhawks 5 power plays and one shot. That's all they got? One goddamn shot?!
- Pray to God it doesn't happen, but you know its coming.........The return of Gorilla Salad.

Puckin Hostile Shoutcast Episode 30

In this Western Conference Final "Alain Chevrier" episode of the Shoutcast, Pat, Harms and Gatekeeper close out the Minnesota Wild. We discuss the first two games vs the Anaheim Ducks. Pat joins us after returning from his gender reassignment surgery, and followup bout with the plague.

This get off the rails real fast when Pat is forced to deal with his veiny throbbing man crush for Marcus Kruger.

Oh, right...there was a triple OT Western Conference Final game to discuss, as well.

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