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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.


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Blackhawks vs. Flames
2-1 OT Loss - Recap

The Return



For most of the meatball coalition, Wednesday night at the UC was the much anticipated return of Stanley Cup hero Brandon Bollig. Unfortunately for the meatballs, we did not see the overhyped, never going to happen bout between useless hockey players in Bollig, and new facepunching hero Dan Carcillo. Or are does he prefer the formal, Daniel? But we were treated to a sight Blackhawks fans are all too familiar. Bollig's highlight of the game occurred in the 1st period, when just like old times, he took a lazy, dumb penalty in the offensive zone. Luckily for Bollig he's with a team where there are no expectations, so the careless play warranted him more playing time, much to the delight of the puck bunnies in the 100 level.

Now onto more important things, like the actual game.

From the drop of the puck, it was clear that the Blackhawks were an NHL team and the Flames were an AHL team. The Blackhawks dominated the Flames in the offensive zone, outshooting the Flames 18-2 in the 1st period. However trouble seemed to be on the horizon as, despite the drastic difference in shots, and puck possession, we were scoreless after one. Furthermore, the real trouble started to brew as the Blackhawks went 0-3 on the Power Play in the 1st.

With the Blackhawks still dominating the play in the 2nd, it was the Flames who would strike first on the scoreboard. Dennis Wideman fired a slapshot, that was redirected off of Trevor Van Riemsdyk,  past Crawford. The Blackhawks found themselves with several scoring opportunities, and 2 more Power Plays, but were unable to solve Jonas Hiller.

In the 3rd period, the Blackhawks were finally able to beat Hiller. On their 7th, yes, 7th Power Play of the night Andrew Shaw redirected a slapper from Patrick Sharp, to tie the game at 1. Despite a few more chances, the Blackhawks couldn't beat Hiller, and the game headed to overtime.

Before we get to the overtime frame, I must say the dry scrape is a sight to see. You must see it for yourself.

The overtime period featured open end to end action, with both teams registering 3 shots. Unfortunately for the Blackhawks they found themselves on the short end of the stick as Mikael Backlund beat Corey Crawford with 24 seconds left, and the Flames went onto the 2-1 victory.

In the end, this is a game that the Blackhawks should have won. There's no excuse. Instead of grinding out a win, they tried their best to wow the home crowd with several fancy plays, that wound up biting them in the ass. Its a good thing this was only the 3rd game of the season, but then again you can look back and say this was a great opportunity at 2 points, and they pissed it away. Plain and simple.


The Good

- Giving credit where credit is due. Jonas Hiller was fantastic in net for the Flames. Regardless the Blackhawks didn't make it overly difficult, Hiller still faced 50 shots, and stopped 49.

-  Andrew Shaw once again made his presence felt in front of the net. Now if Bickell could only learn.

- Who didn't enjoy that penalty Bollig took?

The Bad

- Bickell's missed chance at an open net. Yes, there was a defender in the neighborhood, but no excuses, use your side to your advantage.

- Trevor Van Riemsdyk was alright. However if you're going to block a shot, block the shot. Don't stand there and allow the puck to redirect off your stick.

The Ugly

- Dan Carcillo. Period. Dan Carcillo. He somehow managed to miss two glorious scoring opportunities that any real hockey player would have scored. Hell the cardboard bubble hockey player would have scored both.

- The Power Play. 1 for 7 speaks for itself.

- Brad Richards playing the point on the Power Play. Once again a bobbled puck lead to a breakaway for the opposition. Richards is one rusty link on the chain closer to becoming the new boat anchor