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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Teuvo Teräväinen Will Disappoint You All

Great, I got your attention once again!

Almost three years to the day, I put together this little ditty about Marcus Kruger and how he was going to not meet the expectations most delusional fans had, and I was right. Kruger has turned into a real nice defensive center that can be trusted, but he is not the second line center the Chicago fans has been clamoring for since roughly, well, Bernie Nichols.

This is where I tell you that Teräväinen will disappoint you all!

Teräväinen might be closer to the solution, but he is not the solution to the second line, just yet. For those not aware, he a smallish player (listed at 5'11"/170, but that's a farce). While he's fast enough and agile enough to avoid most big hits, it'll take time for him to adjust to a smaller surface, where the big gorillas can corner and trap him easier. That said, he's much more than Marcus Kruger was. There is a reason Teräväinen was drafted in the first round and Kruger in the fifth round. Teräväinen is a special player, but if you are expecting him to do much more than just blend in, you will be sorely disappointed.

Please listen when I ask you all to calm down and have some realistic expectations. He should be able to hide between Toews, Shaw and Kruger while not getting completely decapitated. He should be able to add some offensive punch, especially with one of the most electrifying players in the league on his wing, which brings me to another issue.

One concern is that Teräväinen has, pretty much, been the Patrick Kane of every team he has been on. In Chicago, he will have to take on the role of being the secondary possession player on his own line, much less the entire team. The Blackhawks will not need Teräväinen to come in and light the world on fire, they only need him to be adequate and consistent. Both are more than what they have gotten out of recent second line experiments.

So, while you all wave your Teuvo Towels and sing his praises, please just take it down a notch. He may, and very well could, struggle. Don't be surprised, Folks.


Friday, March 7, 2014

Blackhawks Week That Was - 3/7

3/4 - Blackhawks vs Avalanche
4-2 Loss

  • Another game where the opposing goalie stole the show. Varlamov made 38 saves and kept the Avalanche alive long enough for the Hawks and Crawford to give up some marginal goals, at best.
  • The bright spots were, of course, the Blackhawks goals. The fourth line continued to be under appreciated, and overlooked. Ben Smith and Brandon Bollig worked the corner hard, giving Smith a prime chance to blow the puck by Varlamov. The Toews goal was a beautiful passing play, on the powerplay. Toews, Kane, Keith and Sharp all touched the puck, zig-zagging through the Avs defense, with Sharp finally hitting Toews on the backdoor. That was it for great Hawks moments.
  • Late in the third period, Saad made a rare youngster mistake by trying to walk through the Avs, as the last guy back. He had the puck picked off and Landeskog ended up with a partial break-a-way.
  • Crawford only saw 20 shots and 3 went in. Not his finest performance, by a long shot, but the rest of the team around him wasn't all that impressive either.
  • Duncan Keith had a gorgeous -3 hung around his neck, and Seabrook had himself a -2, so that tells you how the night went.
  • Handzus was eaten alive at the dots, going only 5 of 15.
  • HEY, ERIK JOHNSON! Remember that guy? One of the two guys picked AHEAD of Jonathan Toews? If you thought he was dead or retired, you're not the only one. He actually had 3 assists.
  • It must be nice to be so stacked at Center. The Avs have Duchene, Stastny, MacKinnon, and O'Reilly. All could be in most team's top 6. Throw in Talbot, who would make a nice #3, and you have quite the logjam. Their issue is that they don't have any real stellar wings other than Landeskog.
Here are the video highlights:
3/6 - Blackhawks vs Blue Jackets
6-1 Win
  • Bollig continued his point streak with the first goal of the game.
  • The Blue Jackets goal was horrendous. The Hawks turned the puck over as the defense went for a change, leaving the Jackets 2-on-0 with only Crawford to beat. Somehow, somewhere, there are a group of meatballs screaming, "Fucking Crawford! Worst goalie in the league". Those people would be enormous assholes who should be forced to be Buffalo fans.
  • The first Shaw goal was a great stretch pass from Brookbank, that put Shaw in on a partial break-a-way. Shaw finished with a little finesse and the Hawks never lost the lead. Shaw had himself a nice little night with 2 goals.
  • The first Toews goal was completely set up by Brandon Saad, weaving right through the Jackets defense, and finally hitting Toews, who was standing wide open on the back door. This Saad kid might have a future. After a not so impressive debut, as Hossa's fill in on Tuesday, Saad was like a man possessed in this one.
  • The Hawks were dominating at the faceoff dots as well. They won an incredible 69% of their draws, with Ben Smith and Handzus winning a combined 17 of 20.
  • Keith and Seabrook rebounded from a less than stellar game against the Avs, with a +4 and +3 respectively.
  • Brandon Dubinsky was credited with nine hits. NINE! Most stupid stat ever.
Here are the video highlights:

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Blackhawks Trade Deadline Ticker

Here is a running ticker of Blackhawks deals for this deadline:

David Rundblad and Mathieu Brisebois from the Phoenix Coyotes in exchange for a second-round selection in the 2014 Draft.
On Rundblad courtesy of EliteProspects.com:
Rundblad is an offensive minded defenseman with very good size and puck skills. He has impressive vision and likes to move the puck into the offensive zone with slick stickhandling and good speed. Handles the puck with confidence and has very good poise. A great option from the blueline, where he releases a fairly accurate shot and also find his teammates with tape-to-tape passes. Size and strength is good.

In his own end, Rundblad tends to not play it simple enough at times. He is a tad too creative and could also be more aggressive and determined in his play. If he develops his defensive game, he will be a high-scoring two-way defenseman. If not, he will still be a capable power play quarterback, but a potential liability in his own end.

Courtesy of Hockey's Future:
Rundblad is an offensive-minded defenseman with good size and excellent skills. He has good vision and carries the puck with confidence. A top notch player on the powerplay, Rundblad’s best attribute is his ability to distribute the puck quickly and efficiently while also being able to launch a hard point shot. Rundblad's defensive game was formerly a weakness but he has made great strides since joining the AHL and looks more and more comfortable with each passing game.

On Brisbois courtesy of Hockey's Future:
An offensive defenseman, Brisebois is a shifty skater and has great puckhandling skills. Eager to jump up and join the rush, he has learned how to pick his spots better as he has matured. He has great vision in the offensive zone and moves the puck well, as well as displaying a great shot and the patience to get it on net. Only average sized for a defenseman, he will also need to improve his skating to improve his play in his own zone.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Everyones 2nd Favorite Meatball Joint
- NHL Trade Deadline -

With the Olympics winding down and the NHL firing back up, the Blackhawks and the rest of the league gear up for the second silliest time of the year for league transactions, the trade deadline. This year is unlike most years past and, most likely, the years to come because the salary cap was dropped to a very restrictive level which will handcuff several of the leagues top teams. The Chicago Blackhawks are one of those extremely restricted clubs.

Every GM would love to improve his team with a blockbuster deadline deal, but the fact of the matter is that most teams that would be buying, simply don't have the room to add a significant player without moving a large salary out. Any GM would be lying, if they attempt tell you that they wouldn't love to add a big name player to their lineup. Every team has needs.

The world of the internet is both a wonderful tool, and a devious curse. Every person with an internet connection wants to speculate their team's potential targets, and most people have no understanding of a salary cap. The salary cap is the equivalent of quantum physics to the average meatball fan, which makes for some hilarious questions and speculation.

The first problem for the Blackhawks is that teams will want something of substance in return. Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman already unloaded a fourth round draft pick to the Islanders, on February 5th, for Pierre-Marc Bouchard and Peter Regin, while also trading a second round pick this June for David Rundblad and Mathieu Brisebois today. Based on past experience, it has become evident that Bowman loves to horde all the draft picks he can and built the franchise from within, which would lead one to believe that there are not be many draft picks that Bowman be willing to part with, especially ones that are actually worth some merit. Prying something like a 1st or 2nd round pick from Bowman will be like prying one of his children out from his arms.

Consequently, the players that the Blackhawks might offer in return, would not necessarily be enough to acquire such names. Nick Leddy, Johnny Oduya, or Jeremy Morin might not be enough to pry a high profile player from these teams.

I have seen fans float names like Blackhawks 2012 1st round draft pick Teuvo Tervainen as trade bait which is, honestly, laughable. Teravainen is probably the top prospect in the Blackhawks system, so to send him away for a rental or aging player would be counterproductive to Bowman's style. The Blackhawks are not a team that feels that they are desperate so giving away a prized prospect will not happen, especially for any player the Blackhawks could afford, which brings me to the Hawks second problem: the Salary Cap.

According to CapGeek.com, after today's deal, the Blackhawks will have roughly $52,000 to play with at the deadline, which is peanuts. For salary to come in, salary needs to head out, and the Blackhawks are in no position to be able to unload any significant salary.

The Blackhawks, today, traded one of their precious draft picks for a guy that is basically a much cheaper Nick Leddy. I may be reading too much into this but there is no need for 3 powerplay quarterbacks (Keith, Leddy, Rundblad) on the roster with another one sitting in the AHL (Clendening). This could be posturing for another deal at the deadline, or this summer. I see Leddy, or Oduya or both expendable with this deal. Both is a little extreme, but The Hawks have mammoth Notre Dame D man Stephen Johns on the horizon, and Adam Clendening rapping at the doorstep as well. We will see how this plays out.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Chicago Stadium Series Game
Blackhawks vs Penguins at Soldier Field
5-1 Win

"Better Than You"

The Hawks took on the Penguins in one of the last two Stadium Series games Saturday night. Due to the weather, the game was about as slow as any hockey game I've ever seen. Not only the foot speed, but the game itself. There were several extra stoppages for the shovelers to clear off the ice, which was saturated with snow. The game was sloppy, hokey and commercialized but it helped fans forget about the last Hawks outdoor game.

The Good

The Bad

  • Hossa took some contact in the first period and didn't return. Hopefully it's not another concussion issue. Word has it that he actually had a shoulder issue.
  • The snow slowed a little in the second period and the powerplays ruled the first half.
The Ugly

Here are the video highlights:


Blackhawks Week That Was - 2/28

2/27 - Blackhawks at New York
2-1 Loss

  • The First Rangers goal was total clusterfuck by the one player you'd least expect a lazy turnover from. El Capitan. Toews had plenty of time and room to clear the zone, and coasted at the top of the circle with the puck on his stick long enough to have his pocket picked from behind. From that point it was full on panic, with Crawford making the first save. The rebound ended up going right to Derick Brassard, who pumped it by Crawford, who had gotten slightly out of position with the initial stop. This one was all on Toews.
  • So soon we forget the pointless blind backhand Kris Versteeg passes to no one; but let's all wet ourselves because of his stupid rap 4 years ago. I hate people.
  • The more I see Brandon Bollig on the powerplay, the more I contemplate dousing puppies with gasoline and lighting them aflame. I get the fact that he is playing admirably, but one the powerplay? Come on now. Quenneville is just jerking our chains now.
  • The Rick Nash goal was just as big of a cluster as the first goal. The Hawks actually made a nice play to keep Nash to the outside, after turning the puck over at center ice, but then let Nash pick up the puck again. He skated right between all 5 players and snap off a shot that beat Crawford. How does one player get a shot off like this, in the middle of FIVE players?
  • This is only a sample size, but Peter Regin and Ben Smith look like they might have a little chemistry. The Regin goal, to break the shutout with 11.6 left, was a nice give and go play.
  • Cam Talbot had himself a nice little game. Thirty one save and the last goal was really not his fault.
  • The Rangers blocked 17 shots to the Hawks 5, while the Hawks out shot the Rangers 32/24. Shots definitely weren't the problem.
  • The Hawks were good at the dots, with Regin and Toews taking a lot of the load. Those two, alone, won 20 of 31 faceoffs.
Here are the video highlights:

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