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Friday, October 31, 2014

Blackhawks at Ottawa
5-4 Shootout Win Recap

Big Night For Big Hoss

For the second time in five nights, the Blackhawks found themselves playing their season series with the Ottawa Senators. This time however, the Blackhawks were the ones traveling as they start a quick two game road trip to Ontario.

The first period was a track meet. It featured end to end action, and countless scoring opportunities for both teams. But at the same time the game also took on a sloppy, careless tone, with five penalties tallied. The Senators found the net within the opening three minutes. The Blackhawks to their credit, bounced back and managed to take a 2-1 lead at the end of the 1st period.

The sloppiness carried over into the middle frame as both teams took two penalties each. The Senators were able to tie the game just under three minutes into the 2nd period while on the power play. Despite both teams tallying double digit shots, the pace of the game slowed dramatically.

Once again, the Senators were able to net the first goal of the period, as Bobby Ryan scored just 30 seconds in. Later on El Captain tied the game at three, for his second goal of the net. In what looked to be the cliché storybook ending, Marian Hossa scored to give the Blackhawks the 4-3 lead late in the 3rd. For Hossa it was a significant goal, as he reached the 1,000 career point milestone. Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, much like we saw last year, the Hawks blew a late lead, as the Senators tied the game.

Overtime wasn't much fun, because the Blackhawks found themselves on the power play, and lets be honest, pulling wisdom teeth is more enjoyable than watching the Blackhawks power play. So then it was onto the glorified skills competition that is, THE SHOOTOUT. SNORE.

Darling stopped all three shooters he faced, while Toews was stopped, Kane hit the post, and finally Sharp ended the All Star Game festivities.

Bottom line, the Hawks escaped with two points tonight. It was ugly, but I'll take it.

The Good

- Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist, and reached the 1,000th career point milestone. Well gone Big Hoss.
- Our #1 superstar on the Hawks, Kris Versteeg had a nifty goal, that made Erik Karlsson look silly.
- The Blackhawks once again were strong at the faceoff dot, winning draws 34 to 25
- Once again the Hawks peppered the opposing net, this time with 39 shots, but unlike before found the back of the net more than twice. Baby steps people, baby steps.

The Bad

- This probably shouldn't be in the "bad" category, but Scott Darling was alright tonight. He made some nice saves, but at the same time allowed a goal or two that he might want to have back.
- Trevor van Riemsdyk was caught out of position, and allowed Mark Stone to get inside the dots, thus leading to a redirect and an early Senators goal. Its a work in progress with van Riemsdyk, but he'll learn.
- To me, Patrick Kane looked lazy. I noticed him gliding towards the puck instead of skating more than a couple of times.

The Ugly

- Start the clown music, the power play was a big 0 for 5. Need I say more?
- Three 3rd period penalties. If you told me the Hawks would win after taking than many penalties late in the game, I would have told you, no way. But hey, I was wrong. Either, clean up the sloppiness.
- The "Three Headed Monster" goalie tandem that was in Ottawa. Crawford was the backup, while Raanta was in the press box. Just pick a backup already. Stop making it more complicated than it has to be.
- Jeremy Morin and Bryan Bickell. Just as you give these two guys praise a game or two ago, they go and do something stupid, and they wind up stapled to the bench. Hard to break a sweat when you only play just over 6 minutes isn't it?

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Blackhawks vs Ducks
1-0 Shutout Loss Recap

Die, Die, Die, My Darling

The red hot Anaheim Ducks came to Chicago to face the Blackhawks, Tuesday night. In sort of a surprise move, the Blackhawks decided to give Scott Darling his second start in a row against Ducks rookie John Gibson, which I was vehemently against. How would it work out...

The first period was fairly slow and methodical, but it really didn't yield many chances for either team. The Blackhawks threw 9 shots at the net and the Ducks took 10, but there wasn't many quality chances, overall. This was probably fortunate for both rookie goaltenders.

The second was just a continuation of the first period, with a slightly less methodical pace, but the same result. The Blackhawks ended up with 11 shots on net, and the Ducks had 9, for a total of 20 shots for both teams.

And the third period was dominated by the Blackhawks, out shooting the Ducks 18-4, but it was the Ducks who took advantage of a huge Hawks mistake to score the only goal of the game.

The Good

  • About halfway through the second, Saad muscled his way into a partial breakaway, and not only got a shot off, but got a few whack at a rebound. The play was a great display of his pure strength.
  • John Gibson made a helluva save on Toews early in the third period that will be shown on highlights for quite a while. Solid play. I really like this Gibson kid.
  • Scott Darling played pretty well, and rightfully deserved a shutout. I'm still not anointing him the new starter, or even the new backup, but he's given the Hawks some hope in the system. That's where this should sit for the moment.
  • Jeremy Morin was the best Blackhawks player on the ice for the entire game. If this doesn't earn him a longer look from Quenneville, the world is not right. And the world is rarely right in this fan base. All that said, he the only players to play less than him were Tim Jackman and Emerson Etem.
  • The Blackhawks were absolutely dominant at the faceoff dots, winning 61% of their draws. Kesler was just worked, winning only 7 of 22 draws.
  • Did Corey Perry or Ryan Getzlaf even play, because I sure didn't notice them. Perry, especially, was held in check pretty well by the Hawks defense.
  • It was nice to see Bickell with some speed, going end to end, but he needs to finish.
The Bad

  • The Hawks powerplay, in general, failed them once again. This time, they had a full 2 minute 6-on-4 and could barely get shots to the net. That is a scenario when there should be an easy slam dunk somewhere.
  • Dany Heatley, oh how the mighty have fallen.
  • The amount of Hawk defensemen's shots that are blocked is seriously alarming. According to the official scorer, the Blackhawks defensive corp had 9 blocked. I would challenge that, and say they had at least a dozen blocked.
The Ugly

  • The embellishment call against Andrew Shaw in the first period was brutal. He WAS hit in the face, and anyone who gets hit in the face with the shaft of a stick will throw their head back.
  • The Blackhawks second powerplay unit failed Scott Darling, once again, with about 8 minutes remaining in the game. Seabrook got handcuffed with a bouncing drop pass at the Ducks blue line after dropping to his knees to stop prevent the puck from leaving the zone and blew a tire, not once, but twice. The puck rolled away and Devante Smith-Pelly was off to the races. Darling got a piece of Smith-Pelly's shot as Saad raced back and tried to get a stick on him, but it trickled through Darling's legs and into the net. Not on Darling at all.
The Lineblender


van Reimsdyk-Roszival

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Blackhawks vs. Senators
2-1 Win Recap

"Sweet Home Chicago"

Much has been made in the past week of the Blackhawks goaltending situation since Corey Crawford went down with an upper body injury. On Tuesday Antti Raanta pitched a shutout in his season debut, and thus by the meatball coalition was anointed the new starting goalie. Fast forward a few days, two straight losses, and facing the second game of a back to back, we now have a new favorite goalie in town. His name is Scott Darling and he hails from Lemont, IL. So not only is he a "hometown hero," but he is now in the category of a winning Blackhawks goalie. Enjoy it while it lasts, because in a few days when Crawford is back, Darling will be on the I90 Express to Rock Vegas.

The game itself started out fairly sloppy and undisciplined for both teams. In the first period we saw two sequences of 4 on 4 hockey, which is the only time we should see it, after offsetting penalties. Darling to his credit held his own in net, facing 12 shots, and stopping them all. After one the game was scoreless.

There's been a lot of talk on how the Blackhawks haven't scored a 2nd period goal all season, but The Captain ended that just 21 seconds into the 2nd frame on a nice wrap-around goal. Later in the period, while on the Power Play, Brad Richards allowed a bad bounce of the puck off the ref to get the best of him and led Ottawa to a 3 on 1. Needless to say, Darling had a slim chance, and the Sens tied the game at 1. Just past the midway point in the 2nd period, a blast from Brent Seabrook found the back of the net and gave the Blackhawks a 2-1 lead.

The third period saw a lot of shots for both teams, but neither could find the net. Aside from the shot attempts, it was a ho hum period to say the least. All in all, it was a solid effort from the Blackhawks which saw Scott Darling get a win in his NHL debut. Despite that, there is no goalie controversy folks. Next up for the Blackhawks is a meeting at The UC on Tuesday night with the Anaheim Ducks.

The Good

- Scott Darling was good in net, its nice to finally have a goalie in the system who is taller than 6' 5"
- Bryan Bickell deserves some credit for finally doing his job, going to the front of the net, which led to Seabrook's goal
- We had a Jonathan Toews sighting
- Finally a good nice at the faceoff dot for the Hawks winning 39 draws

The Bad

- The spattering of ice time throughout the lineup was headscratching to say the least. One the 2nd of a back to back the 3rd pair of Rundblad and van Riemsdyk saw 6 and 7 minutes a piece.
- Once again it sounds like a broken record. The Hawks draw 6 Power Plays, but only can score on one of them

The Ugly

- I think Brad Richards is still cemented into the ice in the same spot, bitching about the puck bouncing off the ref. How much longer of Richards on the point of the Power Play are we going to take? Yes, he did have the nice keep in that led to Seabrook's goal, but right now he's a liability on the point.
- This was Jeremy Morin's best game by far. He was generating chances, and was all over the ice, yet Q felt the need to only give him 7:19 of ice time. At this point Morin looks more like the kid who won a contest to sit on the bench with the team than being an actual hockey player, since he sees such little ice time.

Blackhawks at St. Louis
3-2 Loss Recap

To The Rats

The Blackhawks took the trek down Route 66 to smelly, St. Louis last night, to face the disgusting farm animals known as the Blues. These are teams that don't like each other at all, and don't hide it. This was a great way to spend a warm October Saturday night.

The Blackhawks came out with some fury in the first period, but when the game finally settled in, the Blues controlled a majority of play. This was evident by the shot total of 16-9 in favor of the Blues.

The second period was a little slower and slightly more even, until the final minute, but the Blues doubled the Blackhawks shots once again. After two very late Blues goals, the Blackhawks dug themselves a very deep hole in hostile territory.

The Blackhawks woke back up from their mid-game nap in the third period, but it was too late. They out shot the Blues 10-4 but they weren't able to tie the game.

The Good

  • Within the first 1:02 of the game the Blackhawks drew a penalty from their aggressiveness, drew a second retaliation penalty from a big Andrew Shaw hit, and scored a powerplay goal. That's what I like to see. Shooter scored a pretty easy backdoor goal on a feed across the goal line with one of the Blues best penalty killers in the box.
  • I'm not sure that I've ever seen the Blackhawks come out with this kind of controlled aggression. Shock-n-Shaw was the catalyst of this, and if he can keep this up without killing himself, fans are in for a treat.
  • Early in the third period, the Blues left Kris Versteeg wide open in the slot and he beat Elliot to bring the Blackhawks back within one goal. Q put the line of Sharp, Richards, and Versteeg together to try and make something happen and something did happen, even if it was brief.
The Bad

  • The Hawks got caught running around in their own end very late in the second period, and Dmitrij Jaskin gave the Blues a 3-1 lead with just 5 seconds remaining. He jumped off the bench, took a pass, and beat Raanta. The momentum change after Roszival's colossal fuck up is completely maddening.
  • Carcillo took an awkward hit to the right leg in the third period and took a long time to get off the ice. As much as I don't like the guy, I'm not really sure what we would have to accept as an alternative.
  • The Hawks were beat at the faceoff dots, 37-43.
  • There is a lot of talk about starting Scott Darling on the ass end of the back-to-back tonight, but I couldn't disagree more. The Blackhawks have lost 2, division games, in a row. Throwing a rookie AHL quality goalie in the net, even against the Sens, puts the Hawks at much higher risk for a loss. Then Tuesday, they face the Ducks, which might be their toughest game to date. I don't buy into this "plan" that a young goalie can't play two straight games. The plan changes when Crawford goes down with an injury. If you absolutely need to give Raanta a game off, do it when Crawford comes back or Thursday vs the Sens again. Whichever comes first.
The Ugly

  • The Blues tied up the game with just under 8 minutes remaining in the first period. The puck was rattling around in the slot and Jaden Schwartz just chipped it towards Raanta, who just simply missed it.
  • In the middle of the second period Brent Seasbrook had a brain fart and decided it was a good idea to chip the puck from his own corner to the slot area in front of the Hawks net. Kruger tried to intercept it, and only made matters worse. Jaden Schwartz nearly came up with his second goal of the game, but Raanta bailed out his teammates.
  • Can I just tell you what a piece of shit Barrett Jackman is? He's a complete cheap shot artist, and shame on the officials for letting him get away with his crap. He cross checked Richards, from behind, in the Blues corner, right in front of the refs and no call.
  • I'm not sure what Michal Roszival thought he was going to accomplish, trying to stickhandle through the Blues forecheckers at his own blue line, but it ended up a goal for the Blues and swung the momentum fully in the direction of the Blues. I still don't think there isn't a single camera angle that conclusively shows the puck cross the line, but after a long look from the war room in Toronto, they decided that the puck crossed the line. Worthless piece of garbage Ryan Reaves was given credit for the goal.
The Lineblender


van Reimsdyk-Roszival

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Blackhawks at Nashville
3-2 Loss Recap


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.