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Friday, September 22, 2017

Blackhawks vs. Red Wings
6-1 Win Recap

"Explosive First Night Back in the UC"

Tonight we saw the Preseason home opener versus the Detroit Red Wings. Once again in the preseason, we had an offensive explosion mainly led by the returning Brandon Saad. In his first game at the United Center back in a Blackhawks sweater, Saad led the 6-1 victory with a Hat Trick! We also saw some combinations out of the line blender that looked very promising.

The scoring of the game was started by sophomore Ryan Hartman. Patrick Sharp sent a nice pass cross-ice to Tanner Kero who let go a wrist shot, Hartman would be in front of the net and tipped it in off his skate. The ‘Hawks would also kill 4 penalties in the first period.

Brent Seabrook would add the second goal and only power play goal of the night. After Schmaltz skated around the defender he sent a perfect pass that Seabrook would slap past the netminder. The rookie DeBrincat would get on the score sheet a little over two minutes later in the game. Schmaltz skated over the blue-line dropping a pass to Panik who would find DeBrincat between the circles, he would let a wrist shot go past the stick side of Petr Mrazek. As the explosive second period continued Saad would get his first goal of the night. Jordan Oesterle sent a long pass up ice to Panik who let go of a shot, Mrazek blocked the shot but gave up a big rebound Saad would put top shelf past the sprawling netminder. While originally the play continued no one realizing the puck had gone in, the play would be later be called a goal.

Detroit would score their only goal of the night. Michael Rasmussen would poke check the puck away from Duncan Keith drive to the net, squeezing between Corey Crawford and Connor Murphy with a diving shot. Saad would score his second of the night after grabbing his own rebound and sending it past Mrazek. While not as bad as the first period the ‘Hawks killed off another three penalties in the second.

The third period would start with a goalie change, Collin Delia would come in to finish the game. Saad would finish his hat trick with help from a familiar pair. Skating down the right-hand side Panik would send a backhand pass to Oesterle, who would then backhand across the slot to Saad who would jam the puck home. Delia would finish the game perfect with 8 saves.

The Good
  • Schmaltz continues to prove he should be the second line center. Highly improving to the dot winning 78% of his draws, Schmaltz also showed his playmaking ability again adding two assists. Schmaltz also saw time on both the power play and penalty kill.
  • Saad showed a side of the game we truly have been lacking. Saad was around the net all night picking up and finishing second-chance opportunities.
  • Sharp is also looking like he has found his form again. Although time will tell if he can continue, Sharp put up two more assists and helped play the point on the top power-play unit.
  • DeBrincat looks promising, he has eyes for the puck and can shoot the puck. On the puck, he is strong but still gets bullied a bit, with some work and experience in the league he may be able to keep a roster spot. 

The Bad
  • The Penalties! This game saw in total 13 penalties while no Face-Off infractions, the new slashing rules were on display.
  • The Blackhawks players need to to be careful with the new slashing rules, although hitting the opponents stick may disrupt a play it is up to the referee's discretion.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

PreSeason: Blackhawks at Columbus - 5-2 Win Recap

"Youth Gone Wild"

by Gatekeeper

Do you hear that faint sizzle in the background? That is the Blackhawks buzz getting warmed up. Tonight the Blackhawks officially kicked off game action with their first preseason tilt, in Columbus. If you looked at the roster they sent, you might be asking yourselves one important question:

Alas, there is still hockey, and it involves players wearing Blackhawks uniforms. That's about the best I can say about it. I'm not sure why they risked Joel Quenneville having an aneurysm with this lineup, but they rolled the dice.

Forget the period by period rehash. It's the preseason:

The Good
  • The first Blackhawks goal was on a 2 man power-play by Cody Franson, and he later added an assist. I really like what Franson brings to this team. He's big, intimidating, confident, and experienced. He has a cannon for a shot and isn't shy about unleashing it. You can't say that I didn't warn you all about Franson when he's signed to an NHL deal and plays 70 games.
  • Laurent Dauphin was the second Blackhawks player to get a goal, when Tomas Jurco was able to spring the puck loose from behind the net to Dauphin, who was completely wide open. Dauphin beat Korpisalo with a kind of feeble little backhand, but it was a goal. Not only did Dauphin score, but his prowess on the penalty kill was very noticeable, blocking several shots with no regard for his safety.
  • Another impressive Blackhawks debut was from defenseman Jan Rutta. He looked comfortable and composed. He snuck in and activated on an early powerplay, and scored the third goal of the game. It wasn't a pretty goal at all, but it all looks the same on the scoreboard, I guess.
  • Nick Schmaltz was the fourth Blackhawks goal scorer, just 38 seconds after Rutta's goal. I'm not sure what Korpisalo was doing, but Schmaltz beat him cleanly with a sneaky little snipe. This kid finally grew a set of coconuts this summer and came in with a swagger that he can actually backup.
  • Vince Hinostroza threw his hat in the ring, and scored a 5th Hawks goal that actually stayed on the board. He took some silly penalties too, but with 17 total, who didn't?
  • A guy who will never get a fair shot is Matthew Highmore, but he had a pretty good prospect camp,
    tournament and was noticeable in this game, as well. He could be a very useful mammal in Rockford, this year. He tied for the team lead with 3 shots on net.
  • Anton Forsberg's composure and smooth movement really impressed me. He held the Jackets scoreless through the first two periods, until the Blackhawks lost interest. My first impressions are that he should be able to easily handle NHL talent. Thirty eight saves in your debut, on the road, is commendable. Preseason or not. We'll see what Glass and Berube show in coming games.
The Bad
  • The enforcement of of rules that already existed, but are finally being called made for a total mess of a first period. There were 7 penalties in the first period alone, and one resulted in a Blackhawks powerplay goal. there were SEVENTEEN penalties called in this game. That is WAY too much.
  • It took the Jackets until the third period to break the shutout, but they eventually did. Forsberg was late tracking a shot that went off the end boards and right to the stick of Seth Jones,
    and Jones beat him.
  • I know it's really being picky, but getting out shot 40-26 is a little much.
The Ugly
  • Lance Bouma ran his own goalie in his second shift of 2017-18. It's going to be a long season.
  • The stupid goaltender inference rule came into play again when it looked like the Hawks had scored their fourth goal of the second period. Graham Knott definitely made contact with the Columbus goalie, but it really had nothing to do with the goal. Call it a pity, makeup call.
  • Lumbus goalie Joonas Korpisalo was pretty brutal, giving up four second period goals, which should have been five. I'm not sure why they didn't replace him in the second, but it worked out in the Hawks favor. You think CBJ fans were looking to have Anton Forsberg back?
The Lineblender
Left Wing - Center - Right Wing
Dauphin - Schmaltz - Jurco
Miller - Kampf - Hayden
Bouma - Mitchell - Baun
Highmore - Knott - Hinostroza

Jokiharju - Stuart
Kempny - Rutta
Forsling - Franson


Let the Blackhawks Belly Aching Commence

by Gatekeeper

Geetings, Blackhawks and Hostile fans! First of all, I want to formally welcome you back, and thank you for joining us again. Those of you who are newer to what goes on around here, we want to thank you for taking some time to investigate our niche little website.

Tonight begins the 8th season of Puckin Hostile Blackhawks coverage, with their first pre-season game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The summer went by way too fast, but it's that time of year where it starts getting dark earlier and Blackhawks games take over our electronic devices.

As we begin this 8th season of Hostile coverage, we want to keep the podcast and content momentum from this past year. Last season was our best, by far, and we have more to give you. As you will see, we will have a few new contributors providing recaps. The Fatrick Twins and I cannot thank them enough for volunteering to help us take the load off. We have big plans for 2016-17, so stay tuned.

That being said, there are the usual training camp minutia stories, but there are a few early surprise developments. Hidden behind the fluff of the Tour De Debrincat, there are some actual real stories about how this team might shake out opening night. The fact of the matter is that no one can know, for sure, what the team will look like. Just last week, everyone had Michal Rozsival penned in for the 7th or 8th defense spot. As little as that spot may mean to this team, the fact that Rozsival has not passed his physical means that an additional player that we had not counted on will now make the team. This is just one instance. An injury to, say, Daniel Carcillo once opened the door for a rookie named Brandon Saad to play more, and look where we are years later. These are a few items to keep an eye out for:

As I just mentioned, Michal Rozsival did not pass his training camp physical, and it has been reported that he is still experiencing side effects from the Nick Ritchie sucker punch late last season. We hassle Rozsival a lot, but no one wants to see a player have to hang it up because of concussion issues. We all hope he can work through this, and I look forward to the day he formally becomes an assistant somewhere in the organization. That said, this development helps the team add some more talented depth on the blue line to open the season. Michal Rozsival is "ok" for about 15-20 games, but he was not at the point in his career where he would have been able to log long stretches of minutes.

Who replaces him? You have to think that there are a few spots nailed down already. Duncan Keith, Connor Murphy, and Brent Seabrook are slam dunks. Unless something drastic happens, Michal Kempny and Gustav Forsling will probably open the season in Chicago, as well. This leaves one, probably two, slots open. I'm thoroughly convinced that Cody Franson is essentially already signed to and NHL deal, pending the LTIR cap space from Marian Hossa and, now, Michael Rozsival. When you break it all down, this leaves a couple of big question marks on defense. Who will be the 7th defenseman, and will they carry 8? Based on the make up of the training camp roster, Jan Rutta is my early pick to get the 7th spot with Jordan Oesterle on his heels, and a possible Mark Stuart formal contact as my dark horse. With youth being so prevalent on the forward lines, I honestly don't think that Joel Quenneville and Ulf Samuelsson want to toy with a lot of inexperienced defensemen. Otherwise, I feel like that even if they have a good camp, players like Luc Snuggerud, Robin Press, Robin Norell, Carl Dahlstrom, Victor Svedberg, Erik Gustafsson, Ville Pokka, and Darren Raddysh are already pencilled in for Rockford. If the choice were up to me, and they have the LTIR cap room to play with, this is how I break it down:

Keith - Murphy
Kempny - Seabrook
Franson - Forsling
Oesterle - Rutta

This way they have several options, without sacrificing the development of youth. If they choose to carry only 7 defensemen, I think Rutta hangs. Oesterle will have to go through waivers, along with Pokka and Svedberg, but I really don't think that they brought Rutta in to play in Rockford. Rutta is 2 years older and bigger than Oesterle, as well as being right handed. The Blackhawks also only have Rutta for this season, while Oesterle is signed through next season, as well. The only two factors that weigh in Jordan Oesterle's favor are that he's cheaper and Rutta is waiver exempt, so he can be sent down without being exposed to waivers. This decision will come down to the preference of the coaching staff, because I cannot see either pulling away in this race based on a handful of pre-season games.

The second underlying story is the insertion of Nick Schmaltz into the second line center spot previously held by Artem Anisimov. Granted, assuming that this won't change tomorrow, is just naive, but clearly Joel Quenneville is using this as a tryout for Schmaltz to upgrade that second pivot. The adjustment is no knock on Anisimov, because he has been more than any of us might have originally imagined. He has his limitations, though, and these limitations work both for and against the other skillsets on that line. Anisimov is big and lumbering, which worked out well in front of the net when you had perimeter players like Artemi Panarin and Patrick Kane dancing around. On the other hand, you aren't going to see Anisimov leading many rushes up the ice, and he is almost useless at the faceoff dot. So much so that Craig Tabita at Puckbase.com shared a model called "Net Shots Post-Faceoff", where they measured the shots-for and shots-against for the ten seconds following a faceoff, and Anisimov was the worst in the entire league.

I'm not saying that the Blackhawks didn't do well with Anisimov, nor will I say that they even NEED an upgrade. I'm just pointing out possible justification for this early camp Nick Schmaltz tryout. Schmaltz is younger, cheaper, faster, and has much more offensive upside. By all accounts, the organization has been grooming him to be the second line center of the future. The final factor stacked against Anisimov is the 4 years remaining on his contract at $4.5 million per season. He DOES have a full no movement clause that recently kicked in, but they can be waived. Anisimov can certainly make a perfectly fine third line center, but at his salary he becomes a potential target for a future salary dump. Even if he sticks with the team for the entire season, you have to investigate clearing that space. You can find much cheaper options on your third line.

Schmaltz brings that play maker element into the top 6, which is probably what they ideally see for the future. Schmaltz sticking, however, keeps this line primarily as a perimeter line, which was a big problem last April against the Predators. Maybe Patrick Sharp can provide more presence in the slot, maybe he can't.

The last piece of business is the recently resurfaced rumor regarding Matt Duchene. Yes, it has been reported that Bowman probably inquired. He would be stupid not to inquire. Most likely, this conversation stopped at "What is your asking price?", and there is probably a less than 10% chance that anything will actually happen. For arguments sake, If they can make a reasonable deal for Matt Duchene they need to pull the trigger right now (or the day after the season begins). Duchene is a legit top 6 all-star caliber player that can play wing or center. Not only is he versatile, but he also brings something they have struggled mightily with which are top 10 faceoff numbers. I certainly realize that the Blackhawks have a tight cap, and Duchene is a $6 million player. If you can find a way to get Anisimov to waive his NMC, that knocks $4.5 million right off the top. You have Hossa's LTIR space, and Bowman would be sure to have to package one, if not both, of Forsling and Debrincat who combine for roughly $1.5 Million. I'm no math whiz, but by my lizard brain calculations, those 3 players equal $6 million without Hossa's LTIR taken into account. You'll have to replace at least one of those spots with a Rockford player, but that is still less than $1 million.

Again, I see this as a highly unlikely scenario, but not completely impossible. This move would make them better to-mor-row, and their ever so slight remaining cup window is this season, and maybe next season. Their cup window won't be three years down the road when Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are quickly approaching their mid 30s, while Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford are officially hitting their late 30s. Worry about the future, in the future. Just don't run to Vegas and bet on this happening.

Enjoy the game tonight, and look for the season's first game recap shortly thereafter.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Blackhawks: Champs of Suplex City

The Blackhawks wrapped up their annual rookie summer trip to northern Michigan, last night, with an exciting overtime win in the championship game of the Traverse City tournament. There is certainly some over inflated interest in this, so called, tournament but hockey in early September is few and far between. Let us call this event what it really is, a prospect showcase. This is an excuse for teams to showcase their prospects and see them perform against actual opponents. Most of these players will be in juniors, college, or the minors for a majority of the season, but there are a few that will see NHL time this year. By "few" I mean 3-5 per team, or roughly 40 of the 200 plus players. Each team not only has their prospects, but a few free agent invitees, which can dilute the waters a little, as well. This parade was one step above the summer prospect camp that we saw in early July. At least a healthy portion of these players will be playing for Rockford this season, for new coach Jeremy Colliton, so this was a great opportunity for him to get to know his team.

The young Blackhawks started off really slow, against the Rangers on Friday, giving up 3 goals in the first half of the game. Goalie Collin Delia fell victim to some deflections and sloppy play. The Blackhawks came back furiously in the third period, but simply ran out of time to complete the comeback. The final score read 3-2, with Blackhawks goals from Alex Debrincat and defenseman Calle Dahlstrom. Despite the final score, the young Blackhawks team out shot the Rangers 30-26. This game also featured a rumored Blackhawks free college agent target, Neal Pionk.

On Saturday, the Blackhawks fared a little better. Goalie Matt Tomkins got the start in net and fared a little better than his netminding partner the day before. It still took a comeback by the Blackhawks squad to squeak out a 4-3 win, but it was a win nonetheless. The Hawks got goals from free agent invitee Mike Cramarossa, Darren Raddysh, Calle Dahlstrom and the game winner by Alex Debrincat, with under five minutes remaining in regulation. Tomkins stopped 23 of 26 shots en route to an important win, which set the Blackhawks up for a chance at the Championship game on Tuesday.

Taking Sunday off turned out to be a very good thing for this Blackhawks rookie squad, as they came out Monday evening and took a lead 37 seconds into the game, and never looked back. Head Coach Jeremy Colliton went back to Collin Delia in net, and it turned out to be the right move. The Blackhawks ran out to a 3-0 lead before the Hurricanes team was able to beat Delia, and up 7-1 before they were able to beat Delia again. Working with a huge lead had to be comforting to the California native, and the Hawks cruised to a decisive 9-2 thrashing. Defenseman Luc Snuggerud was the big point producer in this contest, scoring 2 goals and adding 3 assists. Alex Debrincat extended his goal scoring streak to 3 games with his tally 37 seconds into the first period. He was otherwise held under check. The Hurricanes had prime chances to stay in the game with eight powerplays, but were only able to capitalize on one in the second period. Delia finished with 26 saves, and the Blackhawks put themselves into the Championship game Tuesday night.

For the third time in four games, the Blackhawks rookies started out less than desirable. Just 5 minutes into the game, they were already chasing a 2-0 Blue Jackets lead, and weren't showing any signs of life, either. In fact, the Hawks didn't register their first shot on net until after the halfway point of the first period. Once the young Hawks finally broke the ice, they controlled the action. Radovan Bondra opened the Hawks scoring with a real nice shot from the slot, just over five minutes into the second period, which clearly had the CBJ rookies on their heels. In stepped Alex Debrincat, once again, with 31 seconds remaining in the second period. He caught a lackadaisical Jackets defenseman by surprise, stripped the puck and sniped the Columbus goaltender Kulbakov over the blocker, tying the game. The third period went scoreless and the Championship was headed to overtime. In overtime, Debrincat took advantage of a crazy bounce, off a Luc Snuggerud shot, that missed the net but hit the end boards, popped up in the air and right back out in front of the net. Debrincat was in the right place at the right time and swatted it out of mid air to clinch the championship. Impressive for this class of rookies, and for brand new Rockford head coach Jeremy Colliton.

A few notes on the weekend:
  • Alex Debrincat, yes I know. He finally showed what everyone had been waiting for these last 14 months, the ability to produce outside of just the OHL. He amassed 5 goals in four games, including the game winner Tuesday night. Granted, 90 percent, or more, of these guys will not be in the NHL this season. This level of competition was certainly higher than the kids he was bum slaying for the last 2 seasons so, promising, yes. He still has a while to go, though. Lets see him produce in an actual NHL training camp before we raise number 12 into the United Center rafters. This is a positive step, for certain. The collective meatballs will drone on for the next week about a bunch of unreal expectations, so just sit back and listen to them waste their time and energy. He is still better off starting in the AHL, and I stand by this. None of that means anything negative, either. Let the damn kid develop. If you listen to his quotes after the game, he specifically mentions, "Rockford could be pretty good this year, but we’ll see what happens". I believe that it has already been conveyed to him that unless he has an insane training camp, which is unlikely, he will start in Rockford, as he should. Let him settle in under the radar and re-evaluate what you have after he gets his feet wet in the professional pool. If this is me being a hater, then so be it. I don't care.
  • Since the meatballs are more than willing to crawl up and nest in Debrincat's crotch, they should be cupping Luc Snuggerud's manhood equally, as well. But he's not the golden child, so there is no Snuggerwagon. He was just as successful this past weekend as Debrincat, he was just doing so from a different position. Does this mean he should be an early season favorite for the Norris Trophy? No. This means that the Blackhawks have yet another defensive prospect in the system that could add depth, and might develop into a nice NHL player. He is going to Rockford, as he should, where they can develop him further and let him log big minutes. Notice a pattern? DON'T RUSH KIDS FOR THE SAKE OF UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS! He could turn out to be a fine player, and I really hope he does.
  • I brought this up the other night, but all this stupid Debrincat-mania is burying the lead on so many other stories, like the young goalies. Matt Tomkins and Collin Delia had great weekends. Tomkins went 2-0 with an .884 save percentage, while Delia went 1-1 with a .907 save percentage. They both showed that, with JF Berube and Jeff Glass, the Blackhawks organization actually addressed a huge need this summer acquiring some depth in net. Some of this might have just been dumb luck, since the Washington Capitals were reportedly eyeing Delia pretty seriously, and Tomkins was the last remaining feasible goaltending prospect that they still held the rights for. Wouter Peeters is still years away, and Ivan Nalimov is banished somewhere in Siberia.
  • Two other stories that developed were that of David Kampf and Calle Dahlstrom. Both players I mentioned as "under the radar" players to watch, just a week ago. Kampf took hold of the center spot next to Debrincat, and never relinquished it. He looks like a good player that could turn into a Kruger type with some more offensive upside, even if only in the AHL. Dahlstrom has had a contentious Blackhawks career thus far, but showed improved foot speed and a knack for creating a little offense on the other end. I'm a big fan of his size, so I hope to see him in an expanded role this coming season for Rockford. I hope the change in Rockford's staff and the addition of Ulf Samuelsson really bring him along, because this team needs size on defense and Brent Seabrook won't be around forever.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Puckin Hostile Shoutcast
Episode 89

In this Puckin Hostile Shoutcast Episode 89 (the Sam Gagner episode) Gatekeeper, is actually able to round up two of the other three clowns for reunion gig. Fatrick, and Norton reconvene to light that Blackhawks fire, once again.

The topics discussed include:
-Gate invades Canada, and lives to talk about it
-NHL 18 and their top rankings
-Blackhawks legend Pierre Pilote passes away
-The Blackhawks rookies play in the Championship game in Traverse City
-A few stories emerge from Traverse City but people are still fixated on Alex Debrincat
-The Hawks training camp roster released and there are a few surprise PTOs
-Will Butcher signs in NJ (much to the dismay of Aaron Goldschmidt)
-Listener/Reader questions.
-As usual, many inappropriate joke and references

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

You can find the Shoutcast on Google Play Music here:

You can listen to the episode on Stitcher here:

Get the Shoutcast directly though Soundcloud here:

For all your custom jersey needs visit Black and Tan Sports at:

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Blackhawks Under the Radar

As we fly through the summer, and get within that 20 day window of hockey activities, the Blackhawks universe has more questions than anyone can remember in this era. It is very well possible that there will be open competitions for several forward spots, and possibly as many as three spots on defense. Hell, Stan Bowman might have said otherwise, but the spot behind Corey Crawford isn't as nailed down as he wanted us to think, in June. We have all seen the articles about the big name young players, but there are a few "under the radar" players that could turn into this year's "out of left field" name. It is more likely that these names could never amount into anything, but what else do we have to discuss in late August? Deep dive time:

David "Mein" KƤmpf
With all the action this summer it has been, sort of, forgotten that the Blackhawks signed this Czech center to a deal "way back" in May. At first glance, this move seems a little like the Martin Lundberg signing, two years ago, until you look a little deeper. This signing could have a little more substance than originally perceived. Kampf is considerably younger (22) and slightly taller (6'2") than Lundberg (25 when signed, and 6'0"). He was a former assistant captain on the Czech U18 team, which could show that he has some leadership qualities, as well as confidence and added responsibilities from his former coaches. Kampf was also a team mate of other Blackhawks signee, Jan Rutta in the Czech league. With other Czech players Michal Kempny and Michal Rozival on the roster, Kampf could conceivably sneak in as that fourth line center if Joel Quenneville decides that Nick Schmaltz is better suited with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov to start the season. Theoretically, Tanner Kero would move up to the third line which would open a spot for a more defensibly responsible, and possibly versatile, player on that fourth line. This also brings me to my next player...but first, here are some Kampf highlights:

Laurent Dauphin
Dauphin was, what seemed to be, a "throw in" for the Hjalmarsson/Murphy deal, but he was thought of pretty highly in his draft year, reportedly, by this very Blackhawks front office. He was a high second round pick (39th overall), in 2013. Also, a player that held a captain's letter with his amateur team, Dauphin has has a little more scoring ability than Kampf did, but is rumored to be a little weak on the puck. While junior stats can certainly be deceiving, 75 points in the QMJHL and back to back 10+ goal seasons in the AHL as a 20 and 21 year old are nothing to dismiss. If I had to guess, based on scouting reports, I would give the edge to Kampf for a 4th line role. Dauphin has a little more offense to his game, which Quenneville doesn't seem to be as worried about in his fourth liners. By all reports, Dauphin sounds like a more "Phillip Danault" type player, while Kampf seems more like a "Marcus Kruger" type. Neither is bad, they just fit in different spots of the line-up. After a nice little breakout season last year, Tanner Kero seems to have the edge over both players at this point in time, but that can change pretty quick. Here are some World Junior Highlights of Laurent Dauphin:

Ville Pokka
Pokka has been the brunt of many jokes here at Puckin Hostile, but the Blackhawks are keeping him around for something. The knock on him is that his skating is just not up to NHL standards, and he may be a bit of an adventure in his own end of the ice. One thing that is not questionable, though, is his ability to create offense. He was voted the Rockford Icehogs best defenseman in 2015-16, and played in the World Cup of Hockey for the Finnish team last summer. He undoubtedly has a great shot that he loves to use, and can be an asset on the offensive side of the ice. You can't completely overlook those assets but, then again, TJ Brennan am I right? Where will Ville Pokka fall in Blackhawks lore? My impression is that he's gone the way of the way of Morin and McNeill, but he could have worked on his skating and have a breakout camp. Let us be reminded that this kid is still only 23 years old. If that were to happen, everyone wins. It is certainly true that Gustav Forsling has leapt over him on the depth chart, but that doesn't mean a mid-season call up is out of the question. Hell, if nothing else, the Blackhawks could showcase him for a team that needs some more offense cost effective from their defense.

Carl (Calle) Dahlstrom
I certainly have my reservations about Dahlstrom's skating ability, but he is still only 22 years old and he's a big guy. One attribute the Blackhawks lack in their system is defensemen with size, and something the Blackhawks seem to love are Swedish defensemen. Dahlstrom checks both boxes at 6'4" and 230 lbs. If he could actually lose the Frankenstein boots, he has some physical assets that are rare. Some of the reasons that the Blackhawks Michal Rozsival is that he has size, physicality and can make a pass. His mobility, or lack thereof, sure isn't the reason. In 2015, Chris Block went into depth about the disconnect between Dahlstrom and the Hockey ops staff, and I fully trust he was right. We are now two years down the road, though, and Dahlstrom has hung around like a good soldier. Hung around to play 70 AHL games last season. There have also been changes in the organization and another big (at the time), tough (often dirty) Swedish former NHL defenseman was added to the coaching staff, in Ulf Samuelsson. I think you see where I'm going with this. If he plays his cards right, Dahlstrom could gain favor and get a legit shot on the depth chart. Of course, this might only be solid minutes in Rockford, but it wasn't all that long ago that another fairly immobile defenseman with size named Viktor Svedberg saw 27 games with the Blackhawks. That was with a more decorated group around him. If you look at Dahlstrom's stats last year in Rockford, they look paltry, but you have to also remember that the team was in total disarray. The golden pony, Gustav Forsling, only had 8 points in 30 games. So, keep an eye out, and have an open mind. The Blackhawks need some surprises this year, if they want to compete at that high level.

Robin Press/Robin Norell
Press was the most experienced defenseman in Blackhawks prospect camp, in July. Aaron from Blackhawk Up, Mario from Second City Hockey and I noticed the bigger Press and he did nothing to hurt his stock. He has above average size, and looks comfortable with the puck on his stick thanks to the fact that he is a converted forward. He won't get manhandled too often just based on his size alone. His biggest asset might be that he is right handed. That is something that not only the Blackhawks covet. Press is on an AHL deal, but that can easily be converted.

Norell is a smaller Swedish defenseman but, again, a Swedish defenseman. He is actually the smallest of the Swedish triumvirate (Dahlstrom, Press, and Norell) from the 2013 draft, but don't sleep on him. He could also sneak in some playing time this season, because all bets are off, thanks to the uncertainty of the depth chart and Quenneville's seemingly unpredictable magic 8-ball. Like Dahlstrom, he played over 60 games in the AHL, so he's not entirely inexperienced.

Jean-Francois Berube
I've mentioned his name a couple of times, and I believe he's still a good goalie with pro potential. Berube did take a strange path to the Blackhawks, though. He was drafted by the LA Kings in the 4th round of the 2009 draft, was claimed off waivers by the Islanders in 2015, was drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in June and then signed with the Blackhawks July 1st. At the time Islanders claimed him, he was coming off a 37-9-4 regular season with a 2.18 GAA and a .913 sv%, along with a Calder Cup championship. Sound a lot like another goalie in the Blackhawks system, just one year later, eh? The Islanders are basically where goalies go to die, but he still had decent numbers in 2015-16 between the AHL and NHL despite getting injured in late November and being on IR for a good portion of the season. The tire fire Islanders extended him for 16/17, and he was thrown to the wolves as part of a stupid 3 headed goalie monster with Thomas Greiss and Jaroslav Halak which, like the Islanders arena problems, went badly. Alas, though, one bad season does not a goalie make, right? He has a fresh start, in a new organization, with a new goalie coach. I really see him having a good season, and possibly pushing Anton Forsberg for the backup job. Both goalies are on 2 year deals with very little salary difference ($50,000), and both would have to go through waivers to get to Rockford. Don't be surprised if the race is closer than the organization wanted you to think after the Panarin/Saad trade. Atdding Berube to the mix was a sneaky good move by Stan Bowman. At the very worst, Berube is a solid number 3 that can log a lot minutes in Rockford and usher in Matt Tomkins and Collin Delia.

Notice who his first NHL game was against, and who the first highlight includes.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Gatekeeper Invades "The Biscuit"
and Previews The 2017 Blackhawks

I had the pleasure of returning the favor to William "Animal Mother" Bartrum, last night, as we talked about Heavy Metal, Columbus Blue Jackets Hockey, our mutual dislike of the Penguins, reminding the Blues fans that they have never won the cup, how the Puckin Hostile Shoutcast sound board came to be, what happened to the Blackhawks against the #PERDS, my predictions for 2017-2018 season, and much more on The Biscuit Podcast.

You can find the episode at all of these locations:

iTunes Link

Google Play Music

Buzzsprout Player

Stitcher Player:

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Puckin Hostile Shoutcast
Episode 88

In this Puckin Hostile Shoutcast Episode 88 (the "player who shall not be named" episode) Gatekeeper is running solo but joined by multiple time returning guest and www.hockeybuzz.com writer Double J, John Jaeckel, as well as first time guest but long time friend of the site from The 312 Podcast Matt Zawaski.

The topics discussed include:
-Ric Flair falls ill
-Potential T-Shirt campaign
-Gate fleeces the Aurora Blackhawks store, and so does Fatrick, apparently
-Listen to The Biscuit podcast this week, if you can actually tolerate Gate twice this week.
-Edzo announces that he has Cancer
-Hawks signed Collin Delia, and you know who was on this first
-Defensive issues, and prospects are injured
-Everyone hates Corey Crawford (except us)
-Will Butcher chronicles continue
-Stupid top 10/20 lists
-Listener/Reader questions.
-Much less inappropriate jokes than usual...until Fatrick shows up

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

You can find the Shoutcast on Google Play Music here:

You can listen to the episode on Stitcher here:

Get the Shoutcast directly though Soundcloud here:

For all your custom jersey needs visit Black and Tan Sports at:

Friday, July 28, 2017

Blackhawks Sign Hostile Favorite
Goalie Collin Delia

The Blackhawks announced this morning that they had finalized a deal to bring former Merrimack junior goalie Collin Delia in to the Blackhawks organization and goalie fold. As one might expect, I was absolutely delighted to hear this, because I have been singing the song of Delia for about 12 months. Last summer, when he was coming off a visit to the Ducks prospect camp, he caught my goalie eye. Even though he went back to Merrimack for his Junior season, he attended Capitals camp this summer, as well, and was invited back to Blackhawks camp. Seeing a free agent two years in a row, in the same team's camp is rare. NHL organizations were taking a long hard look at this California kid, and with the house cleaning the Blackhawks performed this spring/summer another solid goalie in the pipeline is never a bad problem to have.

Ever since I saw Delia play during the prospect camp of 2016, I was intrigued with his style and very calm demeanor. He was coming off an injury plagued sophomore season, that saw his stats dip, after an impressive freshman nine game look the season before. Even though he didn't miss much time, his goals against went up by over a goal a game and his save percentage went down by .050, as a result. Just watching Delia play, though, it was hard to not be impressed. He has decent size at 6'2" and roughly 200lbs, but he's no physical giant like Scott Darling. The first thing that really caught my eye, though, was his smooth fluid movement sliding side to side. Look, it's not easy to master sliding side to side on ice without some little imperfections, but Delia looked to have his weight distribution locked in. He makes it look so simple, which takes exceptional bio-mechanics to accomplish. Not only does he move very smooth, but his natural reflexes were on display both this year and last, more specifically, his glove hand. Delia has a low compact stance, which allows him to explode in any direction quick and efficiently, and he's also very flexible. He came back this summer healthier, and better overall, after getting back on track with a very respectable 2.15 goals against average and .927 save percentage, while being named Hockey East Third Team All-Star and the league’s Stop It Goaltending Champion. It is easy to see why Blackhawks goalie specialists Jimmy Waite, and Peter Aubry were licking their lips. He came into prospect camp and stole the spotlight from camp vet and former draft pick Matt Tomkins, which led GM Stan Bowman to personally pull Delia aside to acknowledge his great week at camp.

With Friday's signing, the Blackhawks now have six goalies under their umbrella in one fashion or another. Delia will, most likely, attend the Traverse City Rookie tournament with the Blackhawks rookies, later this summer. He will also attend the pro training camp in September, when all but Corey Crawford's starting job could be up for grabs. Goalie Matt Tomkins signed an AHL deal just before prospect camp, but with JF Berube and Jeff Glass signed to NHL deals, Tomkins looks to be all but Indy bound. This leaves Delia on the cusp of Rockford and Indy. Anything can happen, and given Jeff Glass' age, Delia could push for a backup spot in Rockford with strong training camps.

Peripherally, I am still not sold on Anton Forsberg as Crawford's backup, and JF Berube could surprise people, as well. Most likely, the depth will play out with Crawford/Forsberg in Chicago, with Berube/Glass in Rockford and Delia/Tomkins in Indy. Don't be surprised of you see Berube and/or Delia make some waves and force the Blackhawks to make some more complicated decisions, though.

Here are some videos I took last week, at prospect camp, of Delia and his stats:

Goalie Collin Delia finishes with a first big glove save #Blackhawks @collindelia @fire_cycle

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Goalie Collin Delia finishes with a second big glove save #Blackhawks @collindelia @fire_cycle

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Collin Delia with the windmill glove. #Blackhawks @collindelia @fire_cycle

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Delia makes a nice save with the blocker. #Blackhawks

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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Puckin Hostile Shoutcast
Episode 87

In this Puckin Hostile Shoutcast Episode 87 (the Sidney Crosby of episodes) Gatekeeper is running solo but joined by returning guest and www.BlackhawkUp.com writer Aaron Goldschmidt as well as first time guest www.SecondCityHockey.com writer Mario Tirabassi for three more hours of Blackhawks hockey talk.

The topics discussed include:
-Couple of new reviews.
-Fatrick doesn't even make it to the starting line, and neither do the other two Puckin clowns.
-Brian Campbell retires.
-Johnny Oduya finds a new home
-Blackhawks prospect camp comes and goes. The Blackhawks blogging "wolfpack" spent a lot of quality time together, and spend a good deal of time on camp.
-Team Delia,and #DealForDeals.
-Blackhawks convention also came and went.
-Listener/Reader questions.
-Much less inappropriate jokes than usual.

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

Get the Shoutcast directly though Soundcloud here:

For all your custom jersey needs visit Black and Tan Sports at:

Shoutcast Player


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