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Sunday, April 19, 2015

PLAYOFFS: Blackhawks vs. Predators
4-2 Game 3 Win Recap

Hometown Cookin'
by Patrick Stankus

After a flat out embarrassing performance in the third period of Friday's night game in Nashville, the Blackhawks looked to right the ship during Game 3 on Sunday afternoon in Chicago. Coach Joel Quenneville made the decision on Saturday afternoon to go with #LemontNativeScottDarling as his starting goalie for Sunday. Much has been debated since Game 1 on who to go with in net, but following Sunday, the Hawks may have made their bed, and have to ride a little know rookie for the playoff run.

Sunday's game got off to a somewhat rugged start for the Hawks. Just over a minute in, Kimmo Timonen couldn't keep a loose puck in the zone, and while on the backcheck, took a lazy penalty thus relegating the Hawks shorthanded early on. The struggling of late penalty kill was able to come thru with a huge kill early on to keep the Hawks from digging themselves a bigger hole. With just over 5 minutes remaining in the 1st period, the fourth line delivered a gritty shift, which saw Andrew Desjardins put the Hawks out front 1-0. The lead however would be short lived, as just 31 seconds later, Mike Ribeiro would off a shot from the slot to tie the game at one. That's where we would stand as the horn sounded ending the first period.

The second period would feature a lot of wide open play. The scoring got going early on, as a great backcheck by Jonathan Toews, led to a turnover and a nifty pass to Marian Hossa. Hossa then in turn passed the puck back to Toews who fired a twisted wrister past Rinne to put the Hawks back in front. Much like the first period though, the lead wouldn't last long, as a point shot by Mattias Ekholm tied things up at two. From that point on in the second period, the Blackhawks turned on the overdrive. Less than 3 minutes later a breakdown in coverage, sprung Brandon Saad up the left side into the Predators zone, and blew a wrist shot past Rinne to put the Hawks back in front. The Hawks did catch a break when Patrick Sharp had a blowout and it led to Gabriel Bourque getting a great opportunity, despite beating Scott Darling, he rang the puck off the post, keeping the Blackhawks 3-2 lead intact. Just past the midway portion of the period, a wide open Brent Seabrook fired a puck from the slot past Rinne to put the Hawks up 4-2. Late in the period, the Hawks had the chance to go up 3 on the Preds, but a Brad Richards back hand hit the post. After two periods, the Hawks would lead 4-2.

As much of a run and gun style of play that was going on during the 1st two periods, the third period looked to be a different story. For the most part early on, the Hawks were on the heels, but Scott Darling came up with the big saves the Hawks needed them. Just over 5 minutes in, the Hawks did have a chance to change the momentum, but a lackluster power play killed any hopes of that. As the period went on, the Hawks would weather the storm by the Predators, and end up taking Game 3 by the final score of 4-2.

The Good
- Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa were easily the two most noticeable Hawks this afternoon, and it showed up on the scoresheet. Yes, Hossa took an out of character penalty, but that was the only blemish on either of those two today.
- After being a healthy scratch in the 1st two games, Andrew Desjardins had a really strong game. He had the Hawks opening goal, but all around had a very effective game.
- After recent struggles, it was nice to see the penalty kill have a game where they killed off both power plays that Nashville had.
- Scott Darling was solid in net, stopping 35 of 37 shots. After this kind of performance as a starter, its time that the Hawks just ride with him. Otherwise, if you keep bouncing back and forth, you run the risk of screwing with both goalies' confidence, which at playoff time is something you don't need.
- If we're going to criticize and nit pick when he doesn't play well, then we had better give him credit when he deserves it. Michal Rozsival had a strong game. If you deny that, then you really are hellbent on making him the scapegoat for all of the Hawks problems.

The Bad
- The Hawks had the opportunity to put this game away for good just over 5 minutes into the third period, but as we know all too well, a shit show of a power play couldn't produce.
- Kimmo Timonen wasn't very good today. I'll go as far to say he's teetering on becoming a liability on defense. He took an early penalty, which put a dent in the Hawks momentum, which was also a result of him being beat at the Hawks blueline.
- I still don't understand why Teravainen was a scratch today. What has Versteeg shown that warrants him in the lineup over Teravainen? The answer is nothing. This is a classic example of Versteeg being a "Q Guy."
- Seriously, the overzealous cheering of a save by Darling in the first period was annoying.

The Ugly
- Could we stop being referee experts and instantly criticize refs for blowing the whistle too soon? We have the benefit of seeing on a replay if the puck was still loose, however, if the referee looses sight of the puck he's supposed to blow the whistle. Its a good rule, and one that doesn't need to be reviewed.
- Allowing 37 shots, (17 alone in the 2nd period) is playing with fire in the playoffs. You'd like to see the Hawks clog up more of the shooting lanes, and limit the shots on net.
- In keeping with the playing with fire theme, how about not allowing a goal on the next shift after you score. The Blackhawks did that twice today and got away with it.
- Mike Ribeiro's disgusting Barrett Jackman lookalike face. WOOF.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

PLAYOFFS: Blackhawks at Nashville
6-2 Game 2 Loss Recap

Shell Shocked
by Patrick Stankus

On Friday night, the Blackhawks and Predators continued their series with Game 2 taking place in Nashville. After being pulled in Game 1, coach Joel Quenneville made the "no brainer" decision and went with Corey Crawford in net, causing severe outrage in portions of the meatball area. With all the second guessing going on, Game 2 couldn't get here soon enough to quiet some of that talk, unfortunately with an 8:30pm start, that meant an extra hour of meatballism. Oh goody. Lets just get to the game already.

The Hawks got off to another slow start, that was magnified by a questionable charger penalty to Kris Versteeg just over 90 seconds into the game. With the PK currently struggling, it should come with no surprise that the Preds would cash in and take an early 1-0 lead. Late in the period, during a Harlem Globetrotter-esk shift, Patrick Sharp took a nifty pass from Hjalmarsson, and made a quick move around Pekka Rinne to tie the game a one with just under four minutes remaining. The tie would last long however. In the waning seconds of the period, Roman Josi danced around the Hawks "defense" and beat Corey Crawford on a long wrist shot with three seconds remaining. On the ensuing face off as the period ended, Andrew Shaw felt the need to take out some frustration, and a scrum broke out. While no fighting majors were handed out both Shaw and Bickell received 2 minutes each for roughing, along with Nashville's Paul Gaustad and Taylor Beck.

When the second period began, the Predators looked to feed off the momentum they had built following Josi's last second goal in the first. Just over three minutes in, Gaustad took a double minor for high sticking Michal Rozsival, and it seemed that the momentum would shift over to the Hawks. It turned out to be a different story. During the 4 minute power play, the Hawks managed just one shot, and in turn handed the Preds even more momentum. All was not fine and dandy for Nashville though. Early on in the second, they lost defenseman Shea Weber to a lower body injury and he didn't return. Just past the midway point, the Hawks benefited from a no call of too many men on the ice, which during that sequence saw Patrick Kane tie the game at two. Much like in the first period, the tie wouldn't last long, as just over 4 minutes later, Nashville would tie the game on a goal mouth scramble which saw the Hawks fail to clear the puck multiple times. As the horn sounded, ending the period, the Preds would lead the Hawks 3-2.

Whatever thought the Hawks had of tying the game in the third period were quickly erased by Nashville, and in turn saw the Hawks completely meltdown as the period went on. The bright spot (if you want to call it that) for the Hawks occurred early when they were able to kill off a Jonathan Toews interference penalty, but they weren't able to build on that at all. The train came completely off the tracks just past the midway following an ill advised decision to play the puck to an unsuspecting Duncan Keith. The end result was a tap in goal for Filip Forsberg, and the rout was on. In all the Predators would score 3 goals in 2:19 to completely embarrass the Hawks into an putrid 6-2 defeat.

The Good
- Lets not kid ourselves, this literally was the only bright spot for the Hawks. The shift in which Patrick Sharp scored on, was one of the best shifts I've seen him have in a long time. He danced around several Predators defenders, and undressed Rinne on the goal.
- Seriously, that's it.

The Bad
- I can't believe that I'm saying this, but I am going to defend Michal Rozsival tonight. Yes, I am not a fan of his, nor do I think he's an NHL defenseman anymore. The problem I have is all the bashing and pinning this entire loss all on him I saw on Twitter tonight. We get it, he's a terrible defenseman, but it was a colossal shit show on defense. I really enjoyed everyone blaming him for the Predators 4th goal. Yes, he got beat up the ice, but if Crawford controls the rebound and freezes the puck, the Predators never make it a 4-2 game. If you're going to blame anyone on that, look at the communication, or lack thereof between Duncan Keith and Crawford. I know I'll take heat for defending Rozsival, but whatever, I think its wrong to make one guy the scapegoat when it was quite obvious the ENTIRE team waved the white flag in the third period.
- The lazy lunge at the puck by Hossa on Josi's goal was something out of character by normally a defensively responsible Hossa. Needless to say, it wasn't all him, the entire team just waved their sticks carelessly thinking the period was over. Just rip my eyes out. I can't stand lazy plays like that, play till the damn horn.
- While they did yield one goal, the penalty kill did kill off three penalties. Which if that doesn't happen, then this game is 100 times worse.

The Ugly
- The effort in the last 10 minutes by the Blackhawks was completely pathetic. Their undisciplined play of turnovers, failing to clear the puck, careless play with the puck, and sloppiness all came back to bite them in the ass.
- Versteeg and Shaw certainly took their dickhead pills today and were running around like assholes all night. While Versteeg's third period penalty was a joy to see, I think the highlight was the hissy fit Shaw put on display by shooting the puck away from the linesman. Seriously, grow up. I'm sure the only one who enjoyed that was their fellow dickbag sitting in the press box named Gorilla Salad.
- Corey Crawford was awful in the third period. When the Hawks needed him to make a save, he couldn't delivery. Now one has to wonder which way Quenneville will go when it comes to naming a starter for Game 3. Might as well have a beer and flip a coin.
- Speaking in terms of playing bad, Johnny Oduya was so bad tonight, I had to check and make sure it wasn't Rozsival. But does anyone rip Oduya like they do Rozsival? No, its easier just to pick on one guy.
- The power play went 0 for 3, and while on a 4 minute power play could only muster one shot. That's beyond pathetic.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

PLAYOFFS: Blackhawks at Nashville
Game 1 Double OT
4-3 Win Recap


by Gatekeeper

The last 7 months and 82 games have led to this. The Playoffs. The Blackhawks took to the road in game 1 to face the clearly paranoid fanbase and organization that we affectionately call the PERDS. While the PERDS had a better record, they ended the season blowing a division lead. So PERDS. Not only this, but the Blackhawks fanbase spent the first day of the Playoffs poking fun at the paranoid PERDS fanbase and organization.

The Blackhawks controlled the first few minutes of the series, but that changed when the PERDS took advantage of a terrible defensive period, and very sloppy Blackhawks play to take a 3-0 lead before the first break. It didn't hurt that they out shot the Blackhawk 12-6 either.

The second period was the polar opposite of the first period. The Blackhawks came out with a different goalie and a different attitude. They scored 3 goals, 2 of which were on the powerplay, and could have scored 2 more. The Hawks also out shot the PERDS 11-4. This was shaping up for a hell of an ending.

The third period was more calm and a more playoff-like atmosphere. Neither team scored and there were plenty of chances for the PERDS to win it, but they didn't close the deal. the PERDS out shot the Hawks 15-10 in the third period as well. Game 1 and what else? OVER TIME...

The first overtime was exactly what you expect from playoff hockey. End to end action, questionable calls and, best of all, no goals. The PERDS out shot the Blackhawks pretty significantly, 17-9, but they held tight.

The second overtime is where the magic happened. Whe the blackhawks came out and play wasn't slanted in the PERDS favor, we all thought that we might be onto something. And we were onto something. Just about 8 minutes into the period, an innocent shot eluded Rinne and the Blackhawks comeback was complete.

The Good
  • It took the Blackhawks until the 22 minute mark of the game for anything positive. The Blackhawks used the open ice of a 4-on-4 stretch of play to catch the PERDS running around. Teravainen found a breaking Hjalmarsson, and hit him for a back door one timer.
  • The Blackhawks were the lucky recipients of a 2 man advantage, shortly after they broke the shutout. The usually terrible powerplay turned actually turned into something, with Kane feeding Sharp for the goal.
  • The comeback was complete with yet another Blackhawks powerplay. Jonathan Toews took the puck and just jammed it through Rinne and it was 3-3. WOW, so THIS is the playoffs.
  • During a third period powerplay #LemontNativeScottDarling made a sensational post to post save. Might have been the save of the playoffs, already.

    Scotty D was really phenomenal all night. There really isn't anything I can say that is remotely negative. 42 saves, in what was essentially a shutout for him against his former organization. All this said, enough with the "who will start game 2" stupid shit. Corey Crawford starts game 2. If that game starts with Darling in net, it still goes into the second at least 2-0. Darling held the game together after the ENTIRE Blackhawks team, from the Coach on down, shit the bed in the first period. Teams undecided on their goalies never win the Stanley Cup, so unless Crawford has at least one more bad showing, stick a fucking sock in it.
  • The game winner was nothing special. Blackhawks kept the puck deep after a PERDS icing call. Duncan Keith just let a shot go towards the net through a Jonny Toews screen, and Rinne missed it.
  • Speaking of Keith, he led all players with 9 seconds short of 40 minutes. This cannot continue or they will simply be out of gas come the Conference Finals.
The Bad
  • The Blackhawks took some stupid penalties and also negated a powerplay early, which didn't help their early defensive woes.
  • Rozsival and Timonen barely played in regulation. If they are going to rely on 4 defenders for the playoffs, they will not win a cup. PERIOD. 11:39 in a double overtime game, is almost useless. I don't a rats fat hairy ass what the meatballs think. No team in the modern era has ever gotten away with rolling 4 for the entire playoffs. Someone needs to sit Q down and get this situation UN-FUCKED, like quick.
  • Duncan Keith got away with highway robbery late in the first OT. First of all, the puck bounced over Keith's stick because of the deplorably shitty Nashville ice, and then Beck got a step on him. Keith dragged Beck down with what should have been a penalty shot, and there was no call. The PERDS might have a legit complaint on that one.
  • I picked Bickell in OT and that was a huge mistake. At least he was being physical, which is more than the Blackhawks got out of him in the regular season. If he doesn't get hot soon, it is going to be really hard to unload him.
  • Somewhere along the line Hockey Star Mike Fisher was hurt. I'll be completely honest, I didn't even know he was in the lineup.
  • The Blackhawks were curb stomped at the faceoff dots. 39%. With one of your better faceoff guys in the press box. #2CUPZ! Jonathan Toews won only 10 of 30.

The Ugly
  • The PERDS had an early chance for a Mike Ribeiro breakaway when Hjalmarsson and Oduya got crossed up and almost collided, but the Hawks dodged a bullet.
  • A few minutes after dodging the bullet, the PERDS took advantage of the three thousand year old statuesque relic, Michal Rozsival. Colin Wilson skated right around Rozsival, who was tripping over his own feet, and sniped Crawford. Why the HELL Rozsival is playing with Keith is beyond any rational explanation.
  • Late in the first period, Corey Crawford got stuck behind the net in no-mans-land. Once he got surrounded, the chinese fire drill began. The puck ended up squirting to, of all people, VICTOR FUCKING STALBERG. He easily put it into the net, which had to be easy, because he is a terrible player.
  • In the final minute of the first, the PERDS took a 3-0 lead on the powerplay, when Colin Wilson tipps a long Seth Jones shot past Crawford. What. The. Hell???? Joakim Nordstrom had a chance to clear the puck out of the zone, and failed. Seconds later, it's in the back of the net.
  • When Scott Darling came out for the beginning of the second period and the meatball nation spontaneously orgasmed. Now the world of the cognizant is going to endure 48 hours of barely functional fucking morons asking, "Who will start game 2?" and when they hear the answer, "Corey Crawford", they will ask, "WHY?!?!". Because they are drooling idiots.
The Lineblender


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Puckin Hostile
Blackhawks 2014-15 Report Card

On to parent/teacher conference:

The Pivots

19 - Jonathan Toews
Gatekeeper - This has not been El Capitan’s best season, but that is not to say it has been bad, either. Jonathan Toews is a warrior, and even when he is not showing up on the score sheet, he is leading this Blackhawks team. Sixty something points is pretty good for the face of the Blackhawks, especially when Kane has been hurt. I will probably never have much bad to say about him, because he is future hall of fame player that is a great example of a player that kids should look up to. Signed on forever.
Pat - I’ve always said, never count out a team led by Jonathan Toews. Most thought the season was over when Kane went down, but Toews showed his leadership and stepped up to the plate. He’ll end the season with his point total in the sixty, and while that isn’t an eye popping number, it shows he more than a one dimensional player, and a complete player.
GRADE - A plus

91 - Brad Richards
Gatekeeper - When the Blackhawks signed Brad Richards it was a pretty low risk signing, and there was not much to complain about. He started the year slow and was pretty red hot by mid season. That ended quickly. Very quickly, in fact. Richards has been pushed down to the third line, and even the fourth line at times. Without Versteeg AND Kane on his flank, he is just a guy. Granted, that guy is still better than Michal Handzus, but that bar is low. He can redeem himself with a solid playoff effort, but do not hold your breath.
UFA after the season
Pat - I think we were hoping that when we heard the Hawks had signed Richards, we had hoped it was Mike Richards after the Kings bought him out. Instead with got the other disappointing Richards that was bought out by the losing team in last year’s Stanley Cup Final. It was a low cost, low risk deal, but at first, it was safe to say I was close to having a stroke about the signing. While Richards had a very nice run through November, he faded quickly to the island nation that is Hawaii. Currently, we’re still looking for him to show up for a playoff game, and then disappear again. In the end all he ended up being was the rusty chain that led to the former rusty anchor that was Michal Handzus.
GRADE - C Plus

16 - Marcus Kruger
Gatekeeper - Another player that it is kind of hard to hate on, because he does his job. That job just happens to be hosted by Mike Rowe and is called "Dirty Jobs". He plays the 4th line with a bunch of knuckle dragging buffoons, kills penalties, and takes a lot of defensive zone draws (53%). Not pretty at all. All this being said, he still put up 16 points, which may not seem like a lot, but you have to factor in that his linemates have been Nordstrom, Desjardins, Gorilla Salad, and whatever poor sap has found himself in Quenneville's doghouse. Not the easiest environment to provide offense. I would love to see him turn into a 3rd line center, but it is looking more and more like he could be a 4th line lifer.
RFA this summer
Pat - If you’re looking for the definition of a “Hard Working 4th Liner, that buys into the team concept,” look no further than Marcus Kruger. When Kruger was first brought to Chicago there was hope he maybe the coveted 2nd line center. Well that never materialized, but now Kruger has turned into quite the penalty killer and 4th line center. He often plays with a rotating cast of hacks on the wings, but his ability to adapt makes him an underappreciated player on the Hawks. Yes, his faceoff percentage could use work, especially in critical draws, but this the ultimate team guy. Going into this summer you need to ask yourself (with Kruger being an RFA), who would you rather have? Kruger or Shaw? It could come down to that decision.
GRADE - B Plus

80 - Antoine Vermette
Gatekeeper - Everyone was excited that the Blackhawks ended up with the opportunity to get Vermette at the trade deadline. Who wouldn't be? He has played out of place most of the season in Arizona, and he'd be able to slide in, behind Toews, to immediately thicken up the middle for Quenneville. He has contributed a grand total of 3 assists, in 13 games thus far, and he has been pushed to the wing. Brilliant move for a guy that is one of the better faceoff guys on the team. This needs to change in the playoffs.
UFA this summer
Pat- With Patrick Kane’s injury, the door opened for Stan Bowman to make the moves needed for a deep playoff run. With the door open, Bowman delivered by getting Antoine Vermette, however, at a steep price, a 1st round pick and Kris, I mean Klas Dahlbeck. Vermette’s stint has been nothing but a nightmare. The constant line juggling has killed any chance at him finding consistency. He’s bounced around 2nd and 4th line center, and now to the wing. Awesome!
GRADE - D Plus

86 - Teuvo Teravainen
Gatekeeper - It must have been a frustrating and trying year for "the savior", this season. It was hopeful that he would start the year in Chicago, but that dream was squashed quickly. Early on, it was evident that he would start the year in Rockford when Cam Barker set back his progress with an injury. Then Quenneville gave us that 20-30 games quote, which kind of came and went. He was called up when Versteeg got hurt and sent down briefly in mid Feb, to be called up again later in the month. With all this, he was able to put up 25 points in 39 games with Rockford, and he has 8 points in 29 games with the Hawks. Not terrible stats, but not savior worthy. He has show flashes of dominance, but Q's line games have him in places where he won't succeed, like the 4th line. Based on the situation he was put in, Q gets this grade as much as Teravainen does.
Signed through 16-17.
GRADE - C Minus
Pat- Who wasn’t excited when “Teuvo Time” finally started in Chicago? This guy wasn’t, and my reasoning ended up being correct. With the horrendous mismanagement of prospects by the “coaching” in Chicago, I said it would be a mistake in bringing up Teuvo this year. After bouncing around in the line blender, it seems he’s found a home for the time being on the 4th line. That’s not an ideal spot for developing your best offensive prospect. But when you have a stubborn Ego maniac behind the bench, what do you expect? The euphoria that captivated the UC the night of his first NHL goal has gone quietly into the night. Now he’s an after thought in the line juggling, and struggling to find consistency. Shocking. Oh and did I mention that NOW towards the end of the season he’s seeing limited power play time?
GRADE - C, but coaches’ for developing him - F

The Wingers

88 - Patrick Kane
Gatekeeper - Patrick Kane was robbed. Flat out ROBBED of the Hart and Richard trophies. He was on a pace to win both, when tragedy struck. The Panthers not only take the Blackhawks prospects and team them into useful mammals, but they hurt their star players. With Kane out the rest of the regular season, his dreams of a scoring title went out the window. He's the 1A on this team behind Toews, and had a great season dragging Richards and Versteeg around the ice, and making them look like adequate players.
Signed though forever, also.
GRADE - A Plus
Pat - As someone who’s been critical of Kane in the past, this season he has made me look like a damn fool. That said, he was in the running for the Hart and Richard trophies before a broken collarbone ended his regular season. Those awards would have been nice, but its all about that silver cup at the end of the playoffs that you play for. This was hands down Kane’s best year as a Blackhawk, and has me looking forward to the next couple of years that he’s in his prime.
GRADE - A Plus

81 - Marian Hossa
Gatekeeper - Hoss is just Hoss. The most consistent player on this team. Accepts his role as a secondary star, and continues to teach the young players like Saad. Barring injury (knock on wood) he could finish out that contract with the Blackhawks, which would be a load off their mind, with the cap recapture penalties looming. I would be really sad to see him have to go, at any point. Even at his age, he can be completely dominating, and make players look like talentless goofs. Just having him around the locker room for young players like Teravainen to learn from is infinitely valuable. All hail Hoss. He had a few dry patches, but you can always count on him to resurface with an amazing return.
Signed though his geriatric years.
GRADE - B Plus
Pat - Remember when people questioned why the Hawks let Marty Havlat walk and why they signed Hossa? I do, and its hilarious that we haven’t seen those meatballs since. Hossa is a special player, and his tenure with the Hawks is making you erase the memories of him as a Senator, Thrasher, Penguin, and Red Wing. He’s not as explosive of an offensive player as he once was, but its his two way that is so valuable to the Hawks. He’s an underappreciated leader on this team, and someone who should take an A on his sweater when Sharp is traded.
GRADE - A Minus

10 - Patrick Sharp
Gatekeeper - Like Randall in Clerks, “I’m not even supposed to be here today”. Sharp was supposed to be playing somewhere else this season. It was a slam dunk. He was coming off a career season, and Stan was going to sell him high. Then…
So, the Blackhawks were stuck hanging onto him for yet another season. He has been “OK”. He has also had a black cloud of alleged person problems following him around. All this and a significant drop in his production has everyone asking, “What now?”. The Blackhawks need to unload that salary, and possibly a few others. That aside, Sharp has been average at best. Clearly his skills are diminishing, and he’s getting older. He missed some time with an injury and 40 points isn’t terrible, but it’s not Sharpworthy, nor is it worth a $5.9 million cap hit. His numbers haven’t been this low since 08-09. It’s time Stan.
Signed through 16-17
GRADE - C Plus
Pat - Hands down the streakiest player on the Hawks is Patrick Sharp. That was the dilemma that Bowman faced last summer. Do you sell high on him or keep him for one more run with this current core. Bowman chose the later and it bit him in the ass. As is the case with Bickell the point production for Sharp isn’t worth the cap hit, nor are the personal issues he’s rumored to be dealing with. Its hard to imagine him being here next season, frankly I don’t expect him to be here. It was a helluva run while Sharp was here, and we’ll always be able to troll Flyers fans with Matt Ellison’s name.

20 - Brandon Saad
Gatekeeper - From disappointment to bright futures. Brandon Saad is one of the brightest young stars in this organization. He has grown leaps and bounds each year, and he is a legitimate threat to hurt opponents. Another great thing is that he has clearly been watching Hossa, because he has been a terror on both ends of the ice. He can play all up and down the lineup, but he’s most effective when playing in the top 6. He needs to be more consistent, but that will come. He has had dips in production, but he always resurfaces, too. How Bowman is going to fit him in with this cap situation will be interesting. There is no question that he needs to stay and be part of this next Blackhawks core.
RFA this summer
Pat - We might as well change Brandon Saad’s name to Brandon $aad. This has turned out to be Saad’s breakout year, and of course it comes in a contract year. He’s drawing comparisons of being a young version of Marian Hossa, which is something that shouldn’t be ignored. This kid is a special player. He has the ability to play a 100ft game, something that fits into Q’s system. Its going to be an interesting summer in how Bowman can pay Saad without losing a lot of the supporting cast. Regardless, I’d do whatever it takes to sign Saad, even if it means losing a Bickell and Versteeg.
GRADE - B Plus

65 - Andrew Shaw
Gatekeeper - This kid is frustrating. He might be the most Hot/Cold player on this team. He goes from top line to 4th line sometimes multiple times in games. He takes stupid penalties. He does enough on the powerplay to warrant Quenneville keeping him out there. He is most definitely a necessary evil on this team, especially if we want to keep the slobbering gorillas out of the lineup. Ideally, he should be a third line wing on this team, but whenever Quenneville wants to light a flame under players, he shifts Shaw with them. He does his job, but he also does a lot of stupid things as well.
Signed through 15-16
GRADE - B Minus
Pat - Andrew Shaw might as well be a superball with all the bouncing around he does in the lineup. In a matter of a game Shaw can see time on all 3 lines, plus the power play. However, all that juggling isn’t necessarily a good thing. 9 times out of 10 its because Shaw has been incapable of doing his job or taking a horrendous penalty. Granted its not his fault that this organization is hell bent on playing him at center. In the end, he is a replaceable part on this team, and won’t be shocked if he’s elsewhere next season.
GRADE - C Plus

23 - Kris Versteeg
Gatekeeper - I’ll start off this review the same way I did last year. THIS FUCKING GUY!! He started the year on a tear, and we were all forced to eat crow. Then the Winter Classic happened. Versteeg was forced to sit out with a hand injury and he was replaced with last year’s shitty Kris Versteeg. Just swell. One could be inclined to say that with a cap hit of $2.2 million, this is really nice. But he’s taking time from players like Teravainen, and Quenneville keeps doing dumb things like putting him on the power play and penalty kill. Shoot me now. Just shoot me now.
Signed through 15-16
GRADE - A very generous C
Pat - Talk about flipping a light switch on and off. Versteeg started the season like the Versteeg we knew in 2010. Offensively productive, with some turnovers sprinkled in. Then the calendar turned to 2015 and its been all downhill since. He suffered a hand injury during the Winter Classic, and when he returned, the Versteeg of 2013-14 returned. There aren’t enough antacids in the world that would warrant an argument to keep him around next season.

29 - Bryan Bickell
Gatekeeper - This is what we were all afraid of, but probably expected. Bryan Bickell lights up the playoffs in 2013, and gets an inflated new contract. The next season, he had a rough regular season, but for the second season in a row, he lights it up in the players. Then there is this year. He has had 27 points in 79 games, and has been scratched or moved to the bottom of the lineup several times. I’m off the Bickell Banana Boat. Even if he has a good post season, he is too expensive to be keeping around for just the playoffs. This team will need cap relief. The best thing that can happen for the Blackhawks is that he has another great post season, so some desperate team will take him off their hands.
Signed through 16/17
GRADE - C Minus
Pat - This guy is a complete disaster. Bowman was backed into a corner and had to resign him to a big new deal following the 2013 season to please the meatballs. Well I hope they’re happy. Anyone who still thinks this guy is still worth keeping around for the playoffs is out of their minds. 28 points for a $4 million dollar cap hit isn’t worth it on a cap strapped team. Good riddance Bickell, I’ll be more than happy to drive you to the airport after your trade is announced.

11 - Andrew Desjardins
Gatekeeper - Sure this is a sample size of Desjardins, but I can see what they saw in the guy. He’s kind of big, has experience, can play multiple positions without issue, and most of all; cheap. I cannot hate the the guy, and he is just that; a guy. He will be a free agent, but considering his versatility, he may have earned himself an off season invite back. At a cheap price, he’s better than someone like Brandon Bollig, and can solidify the 4th line with a player that has a 4th line skillset.
UFA this summer
Pat - Acquired in a salary dump of Ben Smith’s contract, Desjardins has grown on me in his brief time in Chicago. He’s been your typical 4th line role player. He’s accepted the role, and so far has executed. He’s nothing special offensively, but he is willing to step in and defend a teammate, something our other “enforcer” doesn’t do.
GRADE - B Plus

42 - Joakim Nordstrom
Gatekeeper - J-Nords has been around for about half the season, which might surprise many. He doesn’t do any one thing particularly well, but he can play on the PK and not kill the Hawks in the process. That said, he has THREE assists this year. That’s it. As a 4th line player, he’s alright. He forechecks pretty well, and you won’t catch him doing a Versteeg on his own end. Like Desjardins, he is a guy. I really wouldn’t care where he ends up. a 4th line of Nordstrom-Danault-Desjardins could be just fine if the Hawks don’t qualify Kruger but, of course, there are going to be better options.
RFA this summer
Pat - At times this season Nordstrom has ridden the now famous “Rockford Shuttle” bouncing back and forth between Rockford and the big club. Much like Desjardins, Captain Nordstrom is a typical role player, with limited offensive capability. Despite the offensive power outage, I would still like to see the Hawks keep Nordstrom even though he is an RFA after this season.
GRADE - B Minus

13 - Dan Carcillo
Gatekeeper - Gorilla Salad. The guy so good that we had to sign him 3 times. Aside from the slobbering meatballs, no one really knows what this guy’s purpose on the Chicago Blackhawks is. After being passed around to 3 other teams after the he was last with the Hawks, Stan Bowman just couldn’t scoop him up fast enough. The joke is on us, because we all laughed when both the Kings and Rangers traded for him, and the Penguins signed him in the offseason, but here he is. Oddly enough, this year’s 39 games is the most he has played since 2010-11 with the Flyers. I have no idea what Bowman loves in this assclown, but we’ve had to endure far too much of his asshole circus stunts. He’s been suspended for injuring other players this year and injured himself in a fight. Can we be done with this guy, once and for all? PLEASE?
UFA this summer
Pat - “Are you fucking kidding me??!!” Those were my exact words when I hear this useless hockey player was signed for a 3rd time in Chicago. Seriously, that’s not a joke. I don’t know what else to say to sum up his season other than Gate’s now classic line when we were at the game against Winnipeg and Gorilla Salad was in the line. “Carcillo’s getting suspended tonight. He’s running around like a chicken with his goddamn head cut off.” Shortly there after we were treated to a dirty cross check that earned him a 6 game suspension. He’s completely useless, other than barely breaking a sweat for 4 minutes of ice time when he’s in the line up. He doesn’t kill penalties, nor is he even a good enforcer.

Hartman, Regin, Danault are incomplete because they were herre for 30 seconds. Morin and Smith were traded.

The Blue Liners

2 - Duncan Keith
Gatekeeper - Keith has had a rough year. With the loss of Leddy on the bottom end, Quenneville has had the defensive pairs all wound up, which takes Keith out of his comfort zone and away from his BFF. Not only that, but he has spent far too much time trying to cover up Michal Rozsival and David Rundblad mistakes. The only guy that really seemed to fit in, was Trevor van Riemsdyk and he was hurt a handful of games in. Keith’s numbers are pretty good for his standard, but a drop off from his Norris Trophy years. At this point we know what we are going to get out of him. consistent play and a lot of shots directly into opponent’s shin pads.
Signed through 22/23
GRADE - B Plus
Pat- If there’s a guy that you ask “how much gas is left in the tank for the season?”, it should be directed towards Keith. As a top 2 guy on this team, Q has played him a lot of minutes, mainly because of talent drop off with the bottom pair. The drop off in performance was expected based on the 5th and 6th defensemen and the expanded ice time Keith would see as a result. Being split up from Seabrook has played a major role. Regardless, Keith had a season that 90% that other NHL defenseman would drool for.

7 - Brent Seabrook
Gatekeeper - I have made no secret that I’m a big Seabrook fans, but he has had his issues. Much like Keith, he has been all over the lineup, and struggled at time. Who can blame him? Overall, he’s had fairly average Brent Seabrook season, nothing more, nothing less. If you’re one of these people that thinks the Blackhawks can afford to dump his salary this year, I won’t even entertain that. With the turnover in this group, you cannot have 3 of your 6 defenders playing somewhere else next season. That would be a recipe for a lottery pick next summer.
Signed through 15/16
GRADE - B minus
Pat - Much as the case with Keith, bouncing Seabrook around the lineup has taken its toll on his performance. In the terms of Seabrook’s career, this was probably a slightly below season for Seabrook. However, any talk of trading Seabrook in the offseason is a huge mistake. If anything, its next summer at the draft where he MIGHT be dealt. Nevertheless, lets not worry about that right now.

27 - Johnny Oduya
Gatekeeper - Oduya may have been the biggest disappointment to start the season. He was pretty bad. Quenneville moved him every which way but loose, and could not get him back in the grove. He was injured in February and came back looking like the old Johnny Oduya. It’s still too early to tell, but the time off combined with being reunited with his partner, Nik Hjalmarsson, might have lit a flame. Unless he took a considerable cut to stay, he is going to be playing somewhere else next fall.
Pat - Entering the final year of his contract, I expected a lot more out of Oduya this year. I was severely disappointed by his play all year long. While he missed some time with an injury, he did return looking like a shadow of his old self, but that shadow quickly disappeared. I don’t see him taking a pay cut to return, because there are some teams that will throw a boat load of money at him to reach the salary cap floor.
GRADE - C Minus

4 - Niklas Hjalmarsson
Gatekeeper - I wrote many years ago that he will never be Niklas Lindstrom, and he won’t. Who will be though? He’s been nothing, if not solid, for this team. He’s probably the number one unsung hero on this team. I love what he does, and the abuse he takes. Even if he falls off, this would be an amazingly easy contract to unload, but the Blackhawks will be best served to hang onto him with this low salary.
Signed through 18/19
Pat - Apparently Hjalmarsson in Swedish means “shot blocking machine” because not only is he the most willing, and best at sacrificing his body at blocking shots, but he also sacrifices himself to make a play. He is an absolute bargain as well when you look at some of the other contracts handed out to defensemen nowadays. He’s not an offensive powerhouse when it comes to production, but its all the little things Hammer does that makes him so valuable.
GRADE - A Plus

32 - Michal Rozsival
Gatekeeper - We now go from the hero to the goat. This has to go down as one of those Stan Bowman head scratchers, right next to Gorilla Salad. Signing Rozsival to a two year deal was an absolute gift. The second year was just maddening, because that are not going to sit a guy making $2 million for long. Rozsival is at his best when he can rest regularly and the Blackhawks did not rest him much this year and, as a result, he has been a smoldering pile of festering garbage for a majority of his games. Not only that, but he seems to have an infinitely long leash which he continuously pisses all over. It’s been discussed at length how often he is on the ice when the puck is in the Blackhawks net, and Quenneville just seems to ignore it. This post season is going to be rough, if we have to watch this guy playing way too many minute, way too often.
UFA this summer
Pat - Hands down the worst contract on the Blackhawks belongs to this man. A two year deal, with a no movement clause basically handcuffed Bowman into trading Nick Leddy. But that was all on Bowman, so he needs to take the blame for having this smoldering bag of dogshit on the ice this season. The constant turnovers, coupled with him being cemented to the ice on defense makes him an eyesore to watch. I didn’t even get to the fact that despite all these mistakes, Quenneville continues to give him near 20 minutes of ice time. Its safe to say, I’m counting the days until RozyBall is gone.
GRADE - D Minus

5 - David Rundblad
Gatekeeper - Another curious case of a Stan Bowmanism. Last year, Bowman traded a second round draft pick for this guy, last year, and Quenneville didn’t play him more than 5 games. This year, based on the late trade of Leddy and injury of Trevor van Riemsdyk, Quenneville was forced to use the bodies he had on hand. In steps Rundblad. SLOWLY steps Rundblad, I should say. He played well enough for us to brand him Adequate Rundblad. as the season has gone on, he has gotten worse and worse. One of the reasons that they took a chance on Timonen was their lack of faith in Rundblad and Michal Rozsival. As far as trades go, at least it’s not as bad as the Morin for Tim Erixon trade, so Stan has that going for him. At least they have been able to get actual playing time out of Rundblad.
UFA this summer
Pat - Oh David Rundblad. I don’t know what to think of him. He’ll give you a few games in a row where he’s adequate, but then follow that up with a performance that has you scratching your head and asking “how the hell is this guy an NHL defenseman?” Under Quenneville, he’ll never get the consistent playing time needed to develop. Never the less, he is a dependable player that can step in if needed. For Christ’s sake he is an upgrade over Rozsival.
GRADE - C Minus

57 - Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Gatekeeper - This was one of the pleasant surprises this season. When Bowman signed TVR last year, it was thought to be another shot in the dark. Matt Carey and Trevor van Riemsdyk. Not only this, but van Riemsdyk was coming off a pretty major leg injury. Sounds a lot like another player that Bowman has taken a chance on, minus 20 years in age. Anyhow, van Riemsdyk came into camp as the last person anyone thought would make the team. He then promptly made the team; without looking terrible, either. After 8 games, most of his season was over. Another major leg injury and a followup wrist injury however finally brought his season to an end. The hopes were high that his return would help solidify the bottom pair, and that might happen next year. He is one of 3 other defenders that will return, which is scary in itself. I hope this kid turns out to be what the meatballs expected.
Signed through 15/16
GRADE - Honorary B (incomplete)
Pat - If there was an unexpected turn of events this season, it was the rise of TVR to the NHL level. He was nothing more than a longshot to make the Hawks roster, but turned out to be in the early staging of being quite the NHL defenseman, until he smashed his knee. Then while on his rehab assignment he wound up under the knife again for wrist surgery, thus ending his season. I had the opportunity to see him play a rehab game for Rockford, and he was everything I expected coming back for a knee injury like that. Any hope people had of him returning to his pre-knee injury for this year were going to be sorely disappointed.
GRADE - A Minus

44 - Kimmo Timonen
The Blackhawks took a chance on a guy that is 40 years old and hadn’t played in a year. With the blackhawks, he finished his regular season hurt. Not enough to judge, but the few games he was in, didn’t impress. Stan Bowman may have whiffed on this one.
UFA and committed to retire this summer
GRADE - Incomplete
Pat - All I can remember hearing when the Blackhawks made this trade is, “they got him for nothing.” Well guess what, the Hawks did get nothing for the draft picks they parted with. Why a GM who covets draft picks would make a deal for a 40 year old who was going to retire and hadn’t played in a year is perplexing. I said this may have been the start of the public feud to the already behind closed doors boiling feud between Bowman and Quenneville. I’d write more, but there’s nothing to add. The ultimate insult of this deal may have been the text message I received from a Capitals fan after this trade was announced, “Are the Hawks going to trade for Al Iafrate next?”
GRADE - F, based on what I saw, and because of what was given up.

Kyle Cumiskey is incomplete. Adam Clendening and Klas Dahlbeck were sent away.

The Netminders

50 - Corey Crawford
Gatekeeper - This has been a year of ups and downs for Crawford. Mostly ups and a brief down period. Crawford was on fire, and rolling along, until a freak injury that may or maynot have been alcohol induced, set him back quite a bit. Lower body injuries, especially to legs, can hamper a gloie quite a bit. That is exactly what Crawford did to himself. When he came back, he was not the same player for quite a while. As his season is closing, he has regained for, but that didn’t stop the asshole meatballs from piling on. We shall see what happens in the playoffs, but he is still the best option this team has. If they are forced to move his salary in the summer, it will be another step backwards.
Signed through 18/19
GRADE - B Plus
Pat - I’m not the biggest Corey Crawford fan, but even I have to admit, despite his time missed from him drunken stumble, he has been excellent all season. Granted it doesn’t change my opinion that he is the Blackhawks version of Chris Osgood, but none the less, when called upon down the stretch, he’s answered the bell. Overall, putting the injury aside, its had to blame any of the Hawks struggles on Crawford.
GRADE - A Minus

33 - Scott Darling
Gatekeeper - Pat and I have pointed this out, but we specifically said that if #LemontNativeScottDarling was playing for the Blackhawks, they were in serious trouble. As it turned out, Scott Darling turned out to be a diamond in the rough, which is awful news for Antti Raanta. Darling made a late push in camp for the backup position and has been all over Raanta’s ass ever since, eventually the #6FOOT6MONSTER overtook Raanta for the backup spot for the Hawks. He’s done pretty much everything that the team has asked him for as well as improving. He is also the prototypical NHL butterfly goalie nowadays. Tall, and yet mobile. He’s a PR golden egg, and the Blackhawks nominee for top comeback player. The marketing department for the organization has to have perma-boners.
Signed an extension through 16/17
GRADE - A Minus
Pat - We can thank Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators for the now Chicagoland famous, #LemontNativeScottDarling. Without Pekka Rinne’s hip injury last year, Darling never gets a chance with Nashville’s AHL team Milwaukee Admirals, thus the Blackhawks Masterson Trophy nominee never happens. Nevertheless, this is a good story that has happened for Darling. He’s basically come out of no where, outdueled the guy who was supposed to be the backup, and now won over the hearts of meatballs everywhere who think he’s a #1 goalie. (Sounds familiar doesn’t it?) He’s been good, but not that good.
GRADE - A Minus

31 - Antti Raanta
Gatekeeper - From feel good stories to feel bad stories. After a strong showing last year, that led to him winning the backup job, this year has been kind of a disaster for DAT RANTER GUY. Raanta hasn’t played bad, either, but he hasn’t played as solid as Darling. When the other guy moves just as well and has 5 inches on you, you might be in trouble. Raanta is a smaller goalie, by recent standards, and he can be overly aggressive, which lands him out of position. They gives Joel Quenneville a “urps”. Since Raanta has another year left, they would be best served to keep him as the #1 in Rockford and show Mac Carruth the way, then maybe trade him to a contender that needs depth, at the deadline. They could also use him as a throw in to sweeten some Capocalypse #2 deals this summer. Either way, I think he can be a good player, but that probably won’t happen here.
GRADE - B Minus
Pat - Despite his dethroning as the backup to Corey Crawford, Antti Raanta is still an NHL goalie in my books. But when your management team drools over pleasing meatballs, you shit out of luck coming back to Chicago when the guy who is now the backup is from Lemont. Raanta is a solid goalie who needs work. In Chicago he’s not going to get that work, so sending him to Rockford wasn’t a bad idea, but then he didn’t play there either. So it begs the question, what the fuck is going on? If you don’t want him, trade him. I think that will be the end result for Raanta. It probably happens this summer and he is packaged to sweeten the deal with Bickell to Edmonton.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Puckin Hostile Shoutcast Episode 27

In this regular season wrap up, Rick Vaive episode of the Puckin Hostile Shoutcast, Gatekeeper and Pat go old school. Bosom Buddies. Starsky and Hutch. Bo and Luke.

or Bozo and Cookie....

Our heroes talk about the end of the regular season, including the final three games against Minnesota, St. Louis and Colorado. The Blackhawks also made some moves, and announced the activation of some kid named Kane. We unveil our first round predictions and talk Dan Akroyd movies.

Who could forget this?

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