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Monday, September 30, 2013

These Are Your 2013-14
Chicago Blackhawks

"Dawn Of A New Day"


We all knew there might be a surprise or two with the Blackhawks this season. Thankfully we can all just be glad that all of the changes are on the bottom lines. The top six and all of the defensive pairs will be returning this year. Stalberg, Mayers, Frolik, Bolland, Carcillo, and Emery are replaced with Hayes, Smith, Nordstrom, Kostka and Khabibulin.

The biggest roster swing would be the decision to carry 8 defensemen rather than a 10th forward. Michael Kostka has become Quenneville's newest pet, because he can play forward in a pinch; I guess. I know, where have we seen this sad story played out before, right? Hello, John Scott! Hello, Steve Montador! Hello, Jordan Hendry! You get the hint.

Joakim Nordstrom with be the other "surprise" coming out of camp. He was slated as a depth guy in Rockford but, apparently, his forechecking, penalty kill prowess and Quenneville's favorite quality, diversity won over Dr. Lineblender. He can play all three forward positions, and he has played responsibly. It'll be interesting to see how long he sticks.

Ben Smith has been all over the lineup, including special teams, which will only help him. He's filled in the top six for Hossa, and would also fit on either of the bottom two lines. As far as locks go, he's my lock to stay for good. Jimmy Hayes has the size and skills to play full time in the NHL, he just needs to continue to produce. I'd like to see him throw his body around a little bit, because he could intimidate people with that large frame, otherwise he becomes the next kid to draw comparisons to Eric Daze. The BAD Eric Daze.


Centers

19 JONATHAN TOEWS "C"
26 MICHAL HANDZUS
16 MARCUS KRUGER
65 ANDREW SHAW

Wings

88 PATRICK KANE
81 MARIAN HOSSA
10 PATRICK SHARP
29 BRYAN BICKELL
20 BRANDON SAAD
22 JIMMY HAYES
28 BEN SMITH
42 JOAKIM NORDSTROM
52 BRANDON BOLLIG

Defense

2 DUNCAN KEITH "A"
7 BRENT SEABROOK
4 NIKLAS HJALMARSSON
27 JOHNNY ODUYA
8 NICK LEDDY
32 MICHAL ROZSIVAL
17 SHELDON BROOKBANK
6 MICHAEL KOSTKA

Goaltenders

50 COREY CRAWFORD
39 NIKOLAI KHABIBULIN

Until tomorrow night, enjoy these videos as the Blackhawks begin their 2013/14 title defense:



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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Preseason: Blackhawks vs. Capitals
OT Win Recap

"Path to Prevail"


The Blackhawks were at home Saturday night to close out the preseason against the Washington Capitals. This is the same Washington team that they will face on Tuesday, to raise the 2013 banner. This would be the last chance some of the kids have to impress the Blackhawks brass. No need to bore you with a preseason preview.

The Hawks opened up a 1-0 lead in an unusually penalty filled first period, on twelve shots. In turn, they held the Caps to only 4 shots. It certainly seemed like the Caps had more, but that's what the scorer says.

The Hawks had an even better second period, despite giving up a goal. The Blackhawks out shot the Caps once again, 14-5 and matched the Caps goal with one of their own.

The third period was bit of a shit show, with the Hawks giving up 2 goals on 5 shots and scoring one of their own. Not the tightest defensive period, to say the least. Nonetheless, the Hawks were headed to overtime with the Caps.

The Hawks didn't look pretty doing it, but they pulled out a 4-3 overtime win.

The Good

  • Shooter set up our very own mouth breather for a Hawks 1-0 lead with 6 minutes gone in the first period to open up the scoring. Sharp wormed his way all the way around the Caps zone, and once he shed two defenders, he dished the puck to Leddy. Leddy just snapped the puck past Holtby's glove.
  • Leddy scored his second of the game with 12 minutes remaining in the second period. Two Hawks were screening Holtby and he really didn't have much help.
  • About 7 minutes into the third period, Jimmy Hayes and Brandon Saad came in on a 2-on-1 that Hayes kept to himself and snapped by Holtby to take the lead back for the Hawks. That's exactly what an NHL player SHOULD do, give the time and space. Glad to see Purple Hazer getting on the board.
  • Andrew Shaw continued to just come up huge when needed, picking up a Brookbank rebound and stuffing it past Holtby two minutes into the overtime. Queue up the Daggar.
  • The Hawks actually clowned another team at the dots to the tune of 61%
  • Marcus Kruger really had a good game playing with Smith and Sharp. It could only get better with a weapon like Hossa on his side. Considering that Handzus won't be able to make it through 82 game much less the playoffs, they'll need someone that can step in.
  • Brandon Bollig actually looked like a force against the Caps Cajkovski. In the preseason I can deal with a silly fight.
The Bad

  • About halfway through the first, the Hawks had a goal negated when Kruger plowed into the crease and interfered with Holtby. Not only did they lose a goal but they drew a penalty for goaltender interference.
  • A great save by Braden Holtby at the Caps end turned around and into a half breakaway by Grabovski and a Caps goal. Sharp had a great backdoor chance that Holtby slickly kicked away and before the Hawks knew it, they were chasing Grabovski and picking the puck out of the net.
  • Johansson caught Khabibulin over pursuing the play to his right and tied the game up with almost 5 minutes spent in the third period. This was only the Caps 11th shot of the game. I'll give Khabby the breakaway goal, but this was one he needed to make. Johansson was at a sharp angle, and should have had nothing to shoot at. Khabibulin will need to be much tighter than that, this year.
  • The Caps Joel Ward got position on Keith and tapped in a Chimera pass to tie the game up once again, five minutes remaining in the third period. Clearly not a fuck was given, and Keith was phoning this one in. More on that later...
The Ugly

  • Keith and Roszival were a combined minus 6. That's all you need to know about that dynamic duo.
  • Powerplay...

The Lines

Kane-Toews-Bickell
Sharp-Kruger-Smith
Saad-Shaw-Hayes
Bollig-Pirri-Nordstrom

Keith-Roszival
Oduya-Kostka
Leddy-Brookbank

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Sunday, September 22, 2013

Preseason: Blackhawks at Detroit - Win Recap

"Summer Breeze"


I guess the schedule makers didn't get the memo that the Wings were moved to the Eastern conference, with the Hawks facing the Wings twice in the first 4 preseason games. Oh joy. Better than terrible Chicago baseball, that's for sure.

The first period was fairly entertaining with the Hawks scoring two goals on 8 shots, and the Wings scoring one goal of their own, on nine shots. Sloppy hockey, for sure, the goals kept it entertaining.

The second period was much less exciting, with no goals scored. Preseason...Blah.

The Hawks opened up a big lead, in the third, scoring 2 goals fairly quick, but surrendered 2 late goals, as well. When all was said and done, the Hawks held on for a 4-3 road win despite a late flurry from the Wings.

The Good

  • Just two minutes after the Tatar goal, Byron Froese stuffed a Dylan Olsen rebound right between Howard's legs to tie the game up. Nothing really pretty about the play, especially since Howard really let the rebound get away from him. Froese just spun around and threw the puck at the net, beating Howard.
  • Joakim Nordstrom put the Hawks up 2-1 late in the first on a beautiful forechecking play. He caught Alexei Marchenko deep in the Wings zone with his back to the play, and Marchenko completely shit himself. He turned the puck over and Nordstrom drove it to the net. Nordstrom pulled a nice toe drag around the other defender, and beat Howard. Nordstrom also had a nice shorthanded breakaway in the second period, which he didn't do much with it, but half the battle is being in the right place.
  • Garrett Ross put the Hawks up 3-1 shortly into the third period. Jimmie Howard played the puck around the boards to his defender. The defender missed the puck and Ross was sitting along the boards waiting for it. Ross quickly beat Howard back to his far post for the goal.
  • Fifty six seconds after the Ross goal, Froese scored his second of the game in front of the net, on a nice feed from Seabrook. Froese had gotten position on Ericsson and was rewarded with a goal. That ended Howard's night.
  • Datsyuk and Zetterberg were a combined minus 4. Booyah!
  • Brad Mills was a plus 3. Yes, I said BRAD FUCKING MILLS.
  • I know it's preseason and the competition has been "subpar", but Nordstrom, Dahlbeck and Olsen all looked really good. Olsen is skating with confidence, which is something he hadn't had in a while.
The Bad

  • Apparently Quenneville's memory is very short, because he didn't remember the Steve Montador and John Scott at forward abortions. THIS time he lined up future Ice Hog Michael Kostka at forward. What could possibly go wrong? I guess they didn't have enough other forwards on the roster, eh?
  • Tomas Tatar opened up the scoring almost halfway through the first period. Dahlbeck got caught reaching at the Wings forward and Tatar was allowed far too much room. The puck was fed from behind the net and right to a wide open Tatar, who chipped it up and over Crawford's glove, who was still looking over his right shoulder.
  • Tatar scored his second goal of the game on a late penalty as a result of a Jimmy Hayes penalty. Nyquist took a shot from the left circle and Tatar redirected it from about 10 feet out between Olsen and Dahlbeck.
  • Jonathan Ericsson put a late slapshot past Crawford, with 41 seconds remaining, which made it interesting.
  • As has become the norm, the Hawks were schooled at the dots, to the tune of 39%. El Capitan and Froese each went 5 of 13 at the faceoff dots.
The Ugly

  • The announcers, clearly from Detroit, were fucking deplorable. They didn't mention who scored the first Hawks goal until they had played a full minute after. How hard it is to watch the replay and match up the number? They also questioned a non icing call when the Hawks were shorthanded. To finish it off, they gave Nordstrom shit for getting hurt while blocking a shot, by announcing "I don't know why you wouldn't wear pads there". Like no player ever got while blocking shots and wearing pads. How much padding can you put on the inside of the skate? So much elitist asshurt from those fucking clowns!
  • Brandon Saad took a Brendan Smith shot right in the glove and immediately went off the ice. Not good.

The Lines

Saad-Toews-Smith
Ross-Leblanc-Hayes
Bollig-Kruger-Nordstrom
Kostka-Froese-Mills

Keith-Seabrook
Roszival-Svedberg
Olsen-Dahlbeck

Whenever the NHL straightens out their video embedding issue, we'll be including game highlights.
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Friday, September 20, 2013

Preseason:Blackhawks at Washington
Shootout Win Recap

"Tripping Over Tombstones"


After the previous night's shootout loss at home to Pittsburgh, the Hawks wasted no time heading to DC to face the Caps. Nothing like the hair of the dog, to lick their wounds. Not much need for a preview, other than this being the first extended look at Antti Raanta. On with the hockey goodness....

It didn't take long for the Hawks to surrender a lead, but came back later and tied the game up. The Hawks also out shot the Caps 12-7, which made for a pretty good start.

The second period opened up offensively, with the Hawk potting 3 goals on 8 shots and the Caps netting 2 of their own, on 11 shots. A one goal lead going into the third, would be interesting, and short lived.

The only goal in the third was from the Caps. That was enough to send the game to overtime and, eventually, a shootout. This time the Hawks were able to come up with a different result and win the game 5-4.

The Good

  • Dylan Olsen tied the game up at 1 with about 6 minutes remaining in the first period. Olsen trailed the play and had about 6 days to pick his spot. The result was Olsen nicely beating Neuvirth. That's the kind of play the Hawks have been looking for.
  • Jeremy Morin put the Hawks up 2-1 about 4 minutes into the second period with a pretty rush right through the middle of the neutral zone that was almost a full end to end rush. He fought through 2 defenders and snapped a long wrist shot past Neuvirth.
  • Veteran camp invitee Brad Winchester blew a shot past Neuvirth just past the halfway point of the second period to put the Hawks back up by one, 3-2. The goal was pretty brutal and from a really tight angle but, hey, we'll take it. That ended Neuvirth's night.
  • Brandon Bollig scored his second goal in as many nights, late in the second period, to put the Hawks up 4-2. Hartman and Clendening worked a nice passing play, and Bollig snapped one past an out of position Leggio. Welcome to the show, kid!
  • Raanta didn't have a bad game. Three of the four goals left him hung out to dry. I'd like to see more of him with something actually resembling defense in front of him.
  • Olsen had a goal and an assist, which is promising. He really needed to turn his play around.
  • After seeing two games of Ryan Hartman, I have to say he doesn't look terribly out of place. I would have expected some more young mistakes, and I didn't see that.
The Bad

  • The Stanton/Brookbank shitshow continued in the second, shortly after the Morin goal. Toews won a faceoff deep in the Hawks zone, and the wonder twins got caught in below the goal line. The puck worked it's way over to Burakovsky, who just one touched it to Tom Wilson. Wilson somehow pounded it past Raanta, tying up the game
  • Just over minute after the Bollig goal, Eric Fehr, Jason Chimera, and Joel Ward just worked through the Stanton/ Brookbank shitshow. 4-3 Hawks late in the second.
  • Captain Tramp Stamp tied the game back up at 4-4 about half way through the third period, on the powerplay. Leaving number 8 on the backdoor for a one timer is a bad idea. Write that one down, Baby Blackhawks.
  • El Capitan was the only Hawks center over 50%, which is pretty much the "same ol, same ol".
The Ugly

  • The Hawks gave up a 1-0 lead not even 1:30 into the game, as Backstrom, Ovechkin, Carlson and Johansson put on a clinic around Stanton and Brookbank. Stanton was caught high in the Hawks zone, chasing the puck around like a puppy, and Raanta had no chance whatsoever to stop the backdoor play. Slick start, there, boys. Stanton gave another prime chance to Johansson later in the first. Not a good period for Stanton
  • Dylan Olsen gave Nick Leddy a suicide pass behind the Hawks net 6 minutes into the game, and Leddy was absolutely ragdolled by Chimera. Olsen needs to pony up a few dinners after that one, because Leddy's eggs was damn near scrambled.
  • Stanton and Brookbank got fucking CLOWNED all night. They were a combined minus 6. I'm not a Brookbank fan, so I couldn't care less if he was around. There are plenty of other kids that could fill that spot.
  • Kyle Beach's only contribution to the game, was a late him check on Wilson that incurred a kerfuffle, and got Beach a bloody nose.

The Shootout

  • Chimera met Raanta's glove.
  • El Capitan schooled the hell out of Leggio
  • Ovechkin was beaten by Raanta's 5-hole.
  • Hartman had Leggio beat, but couldn't stuff it in.
  • Raanta stopped Backstrom to win the game.

The Lines

11 MORIN - 19 TOEWS - 25 WINCHESTER
12 BEACH - 14 LeBLANC - 15 McNEILL
24 DANAULT - 42 NORDSTROM - 22 HAYES
52 BOLLIG - 16 KRUGER - 38 HARTMAN

17 BROOKBANK - 55 STANTON
8 LEDDY - 34 OLSEN
44 DAHLBECK - 49 CLENDENING
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Preseason: Blackhawks vs. Penguins
Shootout Loss Recap

"For Those About to Rot"


Just like that, Blackhawks hockey is back. Honestly it's kind of hard to get excited for a preseason game. Even though the first game against Detroit, on Tuesday, was not on TV or proper radio, I'm TOLD it was played. It still amazes me that in this digital age, they can't even manage even an internet video feed. That's not why we're here though. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (because these rosters very vaguely resemble the NHL rosters) made their way to Chicago for an early preseason tilt. Chances of seeing the big name players was pretty slim, especially with the more recent injuries putting players at risk. This was a good chance to see some young and future Blackhawks stars in action. Live from the stadium formerly known as the Madhouse on Madison, it's baby Blackhawks and the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Pens.

The Blackhawks took a pretty fast 1-0 lead in the first but surrendered two goals, which left them down 2-1 going into middle frame.

Each team scored goals in the second period, which took a 3-2 score into the final 20 minutes.

The Hawks were able to tie the game up late in the third period, and the game ended up going into extra time.

Fans were able to snore through an uneventful overtime, which then led to the ever exciting preseason shootout. The Pens pulled out the extra point, with a 4-3 win, as no Hawks scored on the shootout.

The Good

  • With just 5 minutes gone in the first period, Drew BlahBlah picked up a turnover, created by Ben Smith deep in the Pens zone, and dished it off to Shooter for a 1-0 Hawks lead. The goal was a result of some terribly sloppy hockey in the Pens end. The Hawks were buzzing in the Pens end for the entire first 5 minutes, and it was just a matter of time before they opened up a lead.
  • Adam Clendening looked pretty good quarterbacking the powerplay with Sharp, Kane, Saad, and Bickell. Then again, when you have those guys out out on the ice with you, they can make you look really good.
  • Teravainen made a couple of beautiful moves that left the Pens players swiping at air. He is going to be really good some day. Even his shootout move was really nice.
  • Agent Smith woke up the UC crowd picking Derrick Pouliot's pocket in the Pens zone, while the Hawks were shorthanded. Smith cut straight to the net and put a nice little move on Vokoun. This brought the Hawks back within one goal, about half way through the second period.
  • Once again, I love seeing the Jolly Swede Giant, Viktor Svedberg, playing out there. He didn't look over matched, but Rockford is the best place for him. Nice depth guy with great size.
  • With just under 7 minutes left in the game, Brandon Bollig continued his hot play on a feed from this year's first rounder, Ryan Hartman. There was a scrum in front of the net and Vokoun was stuck on the ice. Hartman dug the puck out and shoveled it over to Bollig, who had a fairly open net.
  • Ben Smith looks like the new Frolik, as he was thrown out there with Kruger for the PK, and looked very comfortable doing so.
  • The Hawks out shot the Pens 33-30, but that's still more shots than they should be allowing. Preseason...meh.
The Bad

  • The Pens took advantage of the Brookbank instigation penalty, and tied the game back up, about halfway through the first period. The Pouliot shot was deflected by the Hawks Svedberg and past Khabibulin. Not much Khabby can really do on that one.
  • The Pens took a 2-1 lead with just over 3 minute remaining in the first period. Deryk Engelland rushed up the ice and took a long shot on Khabibulin, but Khabibulin left a juicy rebound. Joe Vitale knocked the rebound into the net, to put the Pens up.
  • I'm not going to rag on the powerplay too much, because the lineup was a fraction of the actual players you're going to see on the season opening powerplay.
  • Sid Crosby took a Kunitz feed, after a bad Marcus Kruger turnover, and didn't miss a gaping net. Sid's goal gave the Pens a 3-1 lead just a couple of minutes into the second period.
  • Johnny Oduya was a Blackhawks low, minus 2, on the night.
The Ugly

  • Sheldon Brookbank took exception to a big Robert Bortuzzo hit on Pat Kane, and took few hammers to the dome. Wake me up when it's over.
  • Teravainen was the only Hawks center that had a faceoff percentage over 50%. Same old, same old. The Pens Zach Sill clowned the Hawks centers, going 8 of 11 at the dots.

The Shootout

  • Kane never really got a shot off, with his slow approach
  • Bennett beat Khabby glove side.
  • Teuvo was beaten by Vokoun's glove
  • Sid Crosby waited too long, and Khabby made the save
  • Drew BlahBlah missed the net.

The Lines

Kane-Teravainen-Bickell
Sharp-Leblanc-Smith
Broadhurst-Saad-Hayes
Bollig-Kruger-Hartman

Oduya-Hjalmarsson
Stanton-Brookbank
Clendening-Svedberg
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Title Defense Begins
2013/14 Season Preview


It's hard to sum up the 2013 Stanley Cup run into words. As fans, we went from disappointment and dispair to the ultimate fangasm of euphoria in just 6 months. In January everyone, including myself, was talking about canceling the season, and look what ended up happening. Aren't we all glad that didn't happen, now? I digress. With little rest, and tasks at hand, the Blackhawks start their title defense just shy of three months after hoisting the silver chalice. This is the beginning of the new dawn...


This summer was relatively quiet be the summer following a Stanley Cup win. At least from what we all witnessed the summer of 2010. Dave Bolland was traded to Toronto for three Toronto draft picks, Michael FrolĂ­k was traded to Winnipeg for two draft picks, and Ray Emery signed in Philly. The buyout's of Rusty Olesz and Steve Montador were hardly a ripple in the pool. Thanks about all she wrote for depatures, which is a stark contrast from 2010, when half the supporting cast ended up in Atlanta. Let's all breathe a sign of relief.

And lets give a moment of silence, or absolute joy, that Stan was able to get anything for Dan Carcillo's useless rotting carcass. That was a day that will live in infamy! RIP Gorilla Salad.


The new players coming in, really aren't much of anything. Nikolai Khabibulin is back for his second stint as a Blackhawk, but this time strictly as a rarely used veteran backup. This is insurance, in case Antti Raanta pulls his best Alex Salak impression and flakes out. Michael Kostka, and Theo Peckham were brought in for depth, but that depth will probably be at the AHL level. The rest of the arrivals will be Blackhawks prospects that we're all fairly familiar with. Ben Smith will probably be the most prominent addition to the roster, but we could see Jeremy Morin, Jimmy Hayes, Brandon Pirri and Drew Leblanc, as well. Pirri, and LeBLAH will be fighting for the ever vacant second line center center spot, but I'll dive more into that later. At this point the Blackhawks have won two Stanley Cups with a revolving cast of characters in that slot, so who am I to criticize?


Lets work our way down the lineup, and take a look at just what Dr. Lineblender has at his disposal, but lets be completely honest, he has quite an impressive assortment of weapons at his disposal.

CENTERS

19 - JONATHAN TOEWS
26 - MICHAL HANDZUS
16 - MARKUS KRUGER
65 - ANDREW SHAW
14 - DREW LEBLANC
37 - BRANDON PIRRI
24 - PHILLIP DANAULT
15 - MARK McNEILL
23 - TEUVO TERAVAINEN
62 - ALEX BROADHURST
58 - BYRON FROESE
68 - DAVID GILBERT
42 - JOAKIM NORDSTROM
51 - BRAD MILLS

The collective work of Centers looks promising. When you start a list with Jonathan Toews, you're starting with one of the elite centers in the entire NHL and one of the top two in Blackhawks history. The problem is that there is a drop off in talent and NHL readiness. Handzus is old and busted, Kruger is a solid bottom 6 center, and Shaw isn't really a center. This isn't to say Shaw didn't do exceptionally well, but you have to think they would prefer him at the wing, where he can cause holy hell as a first forechecker. I always envisioned Kruger as the replacement for Bolland with Shaw and Saad flanking him. Again, we may very well see Shaw open up at #3 again, and Kruger on the checking line. As far as the ever contested second line, Brandon Pirri and Drew Leblanc will get first crack at it. Pirri is in the last year of his entry level deal that would pay him $67K in Rockford ($870K NHL), and Leblanc has a 2 year deal that would pay him $110K and $600K in Rockford ($575k NHL). If that doesn't tell you who holds the lead right off the bat, then you're as dull as a butter knife. There was hinting and speculation that Brandon Saad would get a shot at the spot, but that makes no sense to me. Why take a rookie that faded down the stretch and put him in a position he's not comfortable with.

After the initial NHL group you have the top prospects from the last two drafts in McNeill, Danault, and Teravainen. Nothing replenishes a thin position like 3 straight first round draft choices. Each player brings their own unique qualities to the table. Danault seems to be the closest to NHL ready, which suffice to say, is still a ways away. Teravainen is a wild card because he's been playing against, at least, AHL caliber talent since he was 17. He seems to have the most NHL upside, if he can continue to keep from having his head knocked off. Mr. Kane can help him in that category. He's probably going back to Finland for one more year of seasoning, before he comes to Rockford next season. McNeill seems to be third in line, and there has been talk that they Hawks may move him to Right Wing. He's more of a power forward that would be good for digging out pucks in front of the net. All 3 could be good Blackhawks players in the next few years. Broadhurst, Froese, Gilbert, Nordstrom and Mills are all nice players, but the chance of seeing them playing at the UC are extremely slim. Weirder things have happened, though.

WINGS
88 - PATRICK KANE  
81 - MARIAN HOSSA  
10 - PATRICK SHARP
29 - BRYAN BICKELL  
20 - BRANDON SAAD  
28 - BEN SMITH  
52 - BRANDON BOLLIG  
11 - JEREMY MORIN  
22 - JIMMY HAYES  
12 - KYLE BEACH  
56 - TERRY BROADHURST  
61 - GARRET ROSS  
46 - MAXIM SHALUNOV  
38 - RYAN HARTMAN  
25 - BRAD WINCHESTER
5 - WADE BROOKBANK
47 - PAT MULLANE

Moving on to the wingers, the Blackhawks have some of the best in the league. Kane, Hossa and Sharp will be nothing but what they always are, consistently excellent. Bickell looks like he might have finally figured out just what he's good for in the NHL, and he better have, because the Blackhawks are paying him like he has. Saad is a calder nominee, that will only get better with age. Ben Smith is one of the hardest working players the Hawks have in their system and will be a nice replacement for Frolik. Bollig....pass. He is what he is. Quenneville has shown that he requires at least one slobbering cement head on his roster at all times, and at least he's not Gorilla Fucking Salad.

The next level forwards are a talented bunch, with edgy Jeremy Morin and big Jimmy Hayes, and the continually disappointing Kyle Beach. We WILL see Hayes and Morin playing with the big boys this season, and Beach would be a great 4th line grinder if he could just ratchet that 10 cent head on long enough to do something productive. This contract is clearly his last chance to make something of himself in Chicago. The other Broadhurst, Terry, has some potential, but as with his brother, they are very thin for NHL standards.

Garret Ross has been on my radar, because he is basically Andrew Shaw 2.0 with more scoring touch, but still not NHL ready. Shalunov might be a solid AHL guy with his size. Hartman is far from NHL ready after just being drafted in June. Winchester and Brookbank are veteran face punchers that will play in Rockford, and Pat Mullane is a free agent prospect invitee.

DEFENSE
2 - DUNCAN KEITH
7 - BRENT SEABROOK  
4 - NIKLAS HJALMARSSON  
8 - NICK LEDDY  
27 - JOHNNY ODUYA  
32 - MICHAL ROZSIVAL  
17 - SHELDON BROOKBANK  
55 - RYAN STANTON  
34 - DYLAN OLSEN  
49 - ADAM CLENDENING  
6 - MICHAEL KOSTKA  
70 - THEO PECKHAM  
44 - KLAS DAHLBECK  
43 - VIKTOR SVEDBERG
64 - TRAVIS BROWN  
45 - DILLON FOURNIER  
48 - JOE GLEASON
57 - JARED NIGHTENGALE
59 - BOBBY SHEA

The Blackhawks back end is pretty solid and spoken for, as well. Keith, Seabrook, Hjalmarsson, Oduya, Leddy and Rozsival are your top 6, with Brookbank being the swing man and resident press box lurker. You won't see much deviation from that crew, unless someone gets hurt. If there is an injury, I would expect to see Stanton, Olsen, Kostka or Peckham. Just a hunch but unless Clendening is absolutely blazing though the AHL this season, I don't think the Hawks want to rush him up for any reason. No need to rush him. He's progressing nicely, and slipping him in next year as maybe a #6 would work out well for him.

Viktor Svedberg has always been a guilty pleasure of mine, since I saw him at prospect camp 2 summers ago. He's enormous at 6'8' and from the lineage of Swedish defensemen, which teach exceptional fundamentals. He has a chance to be a total Bowman steal. Don't be surprised if he eventually gets an NHL deal, because he's only 22 and a solid prospect.

Dahlbeck is a stay at home defender that could fill a spot, in a pinch. He won't do much on the offensive end, but he won't be a liability. Brown is a green prospect, Fournier is going to be a good one. He has very good hands for a young defender, but he is green as well. Cleason, Nightengale, and Shea are FA invitees that are just filling spots.

GOALTENDERS
50 - COREY CRAWFORD  
39 - NIKOLAI KHABIBULIN  
31 - ANTTI RAANTA  
40 - KENT SIMPSON  
60 - MAC CARRUTH  
53 - BRANDON WHITNEY

Last but not least, the Goalies. The Blackhawks goalies are going to be the "Bears QB" controversy of the Hawks. The Backup will always be the fan favorite, because the meatballs are, well, meatballs. Crawford is the man. He will continue to be that man, in theory, for the next 7 years. Antti Raanta might have something to say about that, but for the moment, Crawford is THE man. Khabby is back, for a year, as an insurance policy. Raanta can write his own story, and that story will begin shortly in camp. Simpson and Carruth are the next generation of Hawks goalies, and both had excellent years with their respective teams, last year. I like Carruth better, but Simpson has more experience, playing a few games with Rockford last year. Carruth was in Portland all season with Mr. All American Seth Jones. Whitney came out of the draft very highly regarded, and has great size. He's the least experienced, and youngest, of the crop.
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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Getting the Band Back Together
Hjalmarsson Next To Extend


The Blackhawks continued their latest surge to re-sign potential supporting cast players by announcing that Niklas Hjalmarsson agreed to a 5 year extension, reported to have an annual value of just $4.1 Million. This would be just a $600k raise from his previous deal that Bowman was forced to over pay for.


For all of the slimy, creepy crawlies that the Hjalmarsson contract caused in the first place, courtesy of Doug Wilson, this extension absolves just about every iota. By the end of this current deal, which is this season, Hjalmarsson ended up being a steal. He had a rough time the first couple of seasons, but rebounded last season in a "crow eating" fashion. I was a harsh critic of the money he was eating up, but he shut up all critics. The best part of this deal is that the Blackhawks could easily unload him at any time, if a youngster moves up the depth chart. Teams are always looking for affordable, experienced defensemen. One with two Stanley Cups would be even more desirable.

For all the grief that Stan Bowman has gotten about the alarming length and swolled dollars of the Crawford deal, he hit a home run on this extension. Low risk high reward, in my opinion.

TOFTBO...JOKKMOKK!

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Monday, September 2, 2013

Blackhawks Extend Corey Crawford For Additional 6 Years


Just when we all have the situation figured out, the Blackhawks decide to throw a wrench into the mix. On Labor Day, no less.

Leave it up the the Hawks to announce a fairly surprising deal on a national holiday. The Crawford deal is a reported 6 year extension, following the 2013-14 season, and it is reportedly worth $36 million. After his very affordable $2,333,333 cap hit, this new $6 million hit will tighten things up a bit for the Blackhawks next season. The salary cap is expected to go up fairly considerably next year, but it is still going to .

I have been a Crawford supporter since 2009, but I'm not sure I'm entirely on board with giving a goalie a fairly lucrative 6 year extension. Based on recent history, long term goalie deals are extremely risky, and this one is no exception. This is not to say that he isn't a very good goalie, but the chance that Corey Crawford will be able to play out a 7 year deal (6+1 remaining year) is highly unlikely. The lower bodies of butterfly goalies take a terrible beating and they just can't hold up at an NHL level that long. Crawford will turn 29 years old on New Years Eve, and he is in what would be the the bottom end of his career. The idea of a 35 year old backstopping the Blackhawks just doesn't seem realistic.

Another subplot of this deal, is the status of new Blackhawks goalie Antti Raanta. He, no doubt, signed in Chicago to have a shot at the starting job when Crawford's deal was up next July. The chances that will happen just became exponentially lower. Raanta is going to need to blow the minds of the Hawks brass for a solid chance at a starting job anytime soon. The saving grace of this deal is that, thus far, there is no mention of a no trade clause, so the Blackhawks could move him if things go south.

All that being said, it's nice to have too much goaltending in Chicago for once. Let's enjoy it.

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