Archive | March, 2012

Blackhawks take down league best Blues in a shootout

30 Mar

Needing a win to get closer to a playoff berth against the team with the most points in the NHL, Chicago turned to Dave Bolland.

Bolland, 0 for 3 in shootouts this season before Thursday, responded with a nice fake before scoring the only goal in the shootout Thursday night as the Blackhawks edged the Blues 4-3.

“You’ve got 20,000 fans screaming,” Bolland said. “You’re thinking of so many moves in your head. For me, it was go down and whatever came to my head, try to put it in. You’re not really sure. Should I shoot? Should I deke? Should I just bury my head and put it through him. Halak’s a good goalie.”

Actually it was 21,659 (109.8% full).

Bolland had been 0-7 in his shoot out career before this 8th attempt of his.

“The extra point was important,” said Hawks coach Joel Quenneville, who took the advice of assistants Mike Haviland and Mike Kitchen to insert Bolland in the shootout. “We … did a lot of good things.”

In regulation, the Hawks got goals from Bryan Bickell, Andrew Brunette and Patrick Sharp and looked like they would cruise to victory before they coughed up a two-goal, third-period lead when Jason Arnott and David Perron scored for the Blues.

The Hawks dominated most of the play but the Blues sure turned it up in the last 10 minutes of the game.  Shots were 40 for the Hawks and 20 for the Blues.  The Blues only had 11 shots after the 2nd.  That’s impressive play by the Hawks to keep the leagues best team down like that.

“We were outplayed bad. I don’t even know how we got a point, to be honest with you,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. “We didn’t compete at a high level. It looked like we wanted the game to be easier.

“We jacked it up for about 10 minutes in the third period and got two goals because of it, but . not going to win many games against that team playing like we’re playing. This is two games in a row in this building where we really haven’t competed for 60 minutes.”

But that 2nd goal.  You just can’t have that.  Crawford fell asleep on that one.  I can’t blame him on the first goal, even though I’d like to.  You really want your goalie to bail you out on that.  You score the first goal of the game and the Blues come down and tie it up 9 seconds later.  9 seconds!!!!  However, it was a hell of a shot.  A fast rising bullet to the top corner.  But that 2nd one.  Come on.  That’s garbage.  The third goal was a redirected screen shot.  Can’t fault Crow on that one.  However, if you didn’t let that garbage 2nd goal in we probably would not have seen OT or the shoot out.

But the Hawks got the 2 points.  If Phoenix would have lost last night in regulation the Hawks would have clinched a playoff spot.  But the San Jose Sharks (who were playing against Phoenix)  lost…in a game they HAD to have.  How could they?  What is with that team?  I’ll tell you what is with them.  Mike Smith.  He has been a nightmare for the Sharks this year.  He has beaten them 5 times out of 6 and shut them out 3 times.  Quebec City should love this team.  The loss dropped the Sharks to 9th in the Western Conference standings.  They were in 3rd a couple days ago.  Tight race.

Back to the Hawks.  Strong games from Stalberg, Sharp and Leddy.  Leddy is looking better and better the last few games.  Stalberg has really been rounding out his game.

Only 2 more games left in the suspension on Keith and Toews has been saying all the right things about coming back.   He has been practicing with the team and says he “feels great right now”.  We will see, he has not been cleared by team doctors for anything.

Next up for the Hawks.  Saturday night in Nashville.  The Predators have pretty much had their way with the Hawks this year.  The last time they met was at the United Center and the Preds won 6-1.  You have to think the Hawks will want to send a message.  It’s very possible the Hawks will see Nashville in the playoffs.

Until then,

TTS

Brodeur leads Devils past the Hawks in a shoot out

28 Mar

Marty was hot in net last night.  He might be getting up there in age but he still has plenty left in the tank.  He kept the Devils in it last night and allowed them a chance to win.

Sure the Hawks were terrible in the first period.  Bottom line, they were not good enough.  Not if you want to win in the NHL.  However they rebounded quite nicely and really took it to the Devils in the 2nd and 3rd.

15,074 (85.5% full) watched this game and there were plenty of Hawks fans in the building.  How bad would the attendance been if the Hawks didn’t have their faithful cheering them on?

But the story isn’t attendance.  It’s about the Hawks getting a very valuable point on the road.  They came back, against Brodeur on the road and that’s not bad.

New Jersey sits in 6th place in the East and the Hawks maintain their spot at 6th in the West.

What you really want to know is that this was a much much better effort then the other night against Nashville.  Don’t forget the Hawks are still missing Keith and Toews.  So that road point picked up looms even larger.  The IR list got shorter as Montador and Kruger returned to action.

Frolik, Hayes and Morrison were healthy scratches.

One other note I would like to point out is that in the third round of the shoot out the Hawks had to score to stay alive and Patrick Sharp nailed it.  Love to see that.  In the 5th round of the shoot out Travis Zajac scored a beauty.  Up for the Hawks is our favorite, Andrew Shaw, who actually beat Brodeur but hit the post and it didn’t go in.  Game over, Devils win.  That’s ok.  The Hawks picked up a tough road point and they looked so much better then they did against Nashville.  While missing 2 of their best players.  Not bad.

How was the Hawks power play you ask?  They went 0-4.  They also had a 5-3 for just over a minute.  ppffttt.

Next up for the Hawks- Thursday night showdown against the Blues.  Tough test.  They better be ready to play at the start of the game or it could be a long night.

TTS

Hawks get their butts kicked by Predators

26 Mar

Not much to write about.  The team didn’t look good.  I could say that going 0-4 on the power play was the down fall.  True, it did kill any chance of turning around the momentum.  Worse is the fact that they didn’t generate a single shot on goal during those man advantages.

But it’s more than that.  The team didn’t look good at all.  They looked like they did when they went on their 9 game losing streak.  There was nothing.  It was dead.  No life in the team at all.  Sure missing Toews and Keith is a big blow but I think it’s more than that.

Hopefully it’s just having so many days off after such an emotional battle against the evil empire…aka the Vancouver Canucks.  Too much time off and then you have to play without Keith, a stud defenceman who leads the team in ice time.  Let’s just write this one off and expect a better effort on Tuesday when they travel to Newark to face the Devils.

You guys know the rules, per TTS policy when the Blackhawks play so poorly that no one deserves to get their picture up then hot chicks go up instead.  Enjoy.

Notes: Former Blackhawks G Ed Belfour was honored by the team. He spent parts of eight seasons with Chicago during a 20-year NHL career and had a Blackhawks’ franchise-record 43 wins in 1990-91, his first full NHL season. His play helped the Blackhawks make the Stanley Cup finals in 1992. He also played for San Jose, Dallas, Toronto and Florida and was inducted into the Hall of Fame last November. He finished with a 484-320-125 record. … The Preds’ Jordin Tootoo, who was involved in a fight with Chicago’s Brandon Bollig early in the game, didn’t return after the altercation in which he was knocked to the ice. He was said to have an upper-body injury.  Bollig kicked his butt!

TTS

Keith and Hawks – Preds preview

25 Mar

5 games seems a bit excessive.  After all precedent has been set.  Shane Doan, a repeat offender mind you, was suspended for 3 games for an elbow to the head.  3 games!  This was the day before Keith was suspended.

What happened the next day?  Did the marketplace establish a new price on elbows to the head?

Keith is a first time offender.  Usually the league shows a little lenience on first time offenders.  Not this time.  Even though they have shown that a REPEAT offender gets 3 game for an elbow to the head, they decided to suspended Keith for 5 games.

Typical NHL.  No consistency at all.  Of course there are some special circumstances.  This is an American based club against a Canadian based club.  Who is going to get the preferential treatment?  As we’ve seen time and time again, the Canadian club gets things their way.  If you try this argument against a Canadian they will strongly refute it but you know what?  Actions speak louder than words.  Pay attention and you’ll see, they league will always give a better ruling to a Canadian based club.

When you have this situation, and a club that cries and whines louder than any other team in the league, and they will get what they want.  I guess the squeaky wheel gets the oil.  3 games for Doan a repeat offender and the very next day Keith- a first time offender gets 5 games.  Both suspended for elbows to the head.  Makes perfect sense. In the words of Homer Simpson – ppffttt

Look I’m not saying he shouldn’t have been suspended.  He should have.  He temporarily let his emotions do his thinking for him.  You can’t do that.  But remember he had only 22 penalty minutes last year (that’s lady bing material) and this year only 42.  Not much.  But it’s hard to keep your cool when the Canucks repeatedly take cheap shots at you.

In Other News:

Toews skated for a 5th straight day and is encouraged by his progress.  He is tempering his enthusiasm as he has been here before only to have another set back in his recovery from a concussion.  Jeez Toews has a concussion that will cause him to miss his 16th straight game.  No suspension for Joe Thorton.  I guess the Hawks don’t whine enough.

After the last meeting between Nashville and Chicago, a 3-2 loss on Feb 14th, Predators coach Barry Trotz told reporters several Hawks were “cheating” defensively with their positioning and not playing a full 200-foot game.

“Kane had no speed and thank God because when he gets rolling he’s hard to stop,” Trotz said Feb. 17. “I was actually happy that he was cheating.”

“When it first comes out you’re kind of taken back by it a little bit because of the success we’ve had as a team the past couple of years,” he said. “It was almost like (Trotz) was telling us how to play the game. Hopefully, we’ll prove him wrong (Sunday) and show him his words aren’t true.”

Rookie center Marcus Kruger practiced Saturday but won’t play against the Predators because of concussion symptoms. …he was given that injury in the game against the Canucks.  How many Vancouver players were suspended for that?  None?  Hmm, that’s fair.

Veteran defenseman Steve Montador (concussion) has been cleared for contact and is close to a return to the lineup.  He wasn’t playing very well before he went out with an upper body injury” but with Keith out, the Hawks will need his help.

TTS

Justice Prevails – Hawks win and the crybabies lose

22 Mar

“That’s a hockey game” said Patrick Kane being interviewed after the game.

A beautiful site, the Hawks mobbed Andrew Shaw after he scored the game winning goal.  How can you not love this guy?  He will never razzle dazzle you with the puck.   That’s not his game.  He plays hard-nosed, face first, grind it out hockey.  He goes to the front of the net.  Just like coaches and analysts will tell you – go to the front of the net…good things happen.  Shaw did and Johnny Oduya’s shot in over time went off Shaw’s pads past Roberto Luongo and into the net.  Game winner, game over…sorry Canucks.

This game had a playoff feel.  The hate between these teams is genuine.   Plenty of standing room only in this one as 21,715 (110.1% full) saw a great hockey game.  It was intense.

“We have a love hate relationship with those guys”  “You love to play in those games, fans in both cities get up for them and it’s good for the game….at the same time…we hate them.”  Said Brent Seabrook being interviewed in the locker room afterwards.

This game was chippy throughout.

The Canucks scored early, Jannik Hansen scored 27 seconds in on a shot Corey Crawford would love to have back.  To his credit though he buckled down and played great the rest of the way making several key saves to keep the Canucks at 1.  They would not score again.

The Canucks were awarded 3 power plays in the first period but the Hawks penalty killers played great.  Despite have the man advantage 3 times the first period ended 12-6 shots in favor of the Blackhawks.  The Hawks would not give Vancouver another power play.

That’s great special teams.  The frustrating part is still the Hawks power play.  They went 0-5.  Every time the dirty goon squad from Vancouver took cheap shots (and they took many), the Hawks could not make them pay for it.  Give some credit to the Canucks as the Hawks had a hard time generating shots in close and give some credit to Roberto Luongo who played great.  He had many great saves in the game.  He kept the Canucks in the game.

So let’s talk about the hit.  Duncan Keith’s elbow to Daniel Sedin.  Duncan gave Daniel a taste of his own medicine.  Daniel checked Keith in the head, watch the replays and he can see Daniel move upward as he came into contact with Keith, this caused Keith to take a hit to the head.  Specifically the chin area which is a great way to give a guy a concussion.  Funny how the Canucks players, coaches and management had no problem with that.

Then a puck goes near Sedin and bounces off the glass.  Keith saw his opportunity for payback and did exactly that.  Eye for an eye.  I’m sure the league is going to look at this.  You have to with the crybabies.  Alain Vigneault went right to the microphones after the game to demand it.  “Deliberate, principal point of contact, everything you are trying to take out of the game,” Vigneault said. “I expected a major, I got a minor. So we’ll let the league deal with it.”

They had no problem with the head shot on Keith, that’s perfectly acceptable.  They had no problem with the hit that knocked Marcus Kruger out of the game.  That was perfectly acceptable to them.  But when you give it back to them….then they cry like crybabies.  Remember last year in the playoffs when the GM, Mike Gillis, held a press conference to say that the Canucks were not getting the calls and the refs were giving preferential treatment to other teams?  Are you kidding me?  How can this organization consider themselves professionals?  This is the team after all that ended a mans careers.  Remember when Todd Bertuzzi went after an avs player and broke his neck?  Yeah, that’s what they do.  When things don’t go their way they play dirty.  They also cry and whine and pout.  Like little babies.  They pull hair.  Remember when Alex Burrows got into it with Keith a couple of years ago in the playoffs.  What did he do?  He pulled Keith’s hair instead of fighting him like a man.  He pulled hair like a little girl.  God I hate that team.  They represent everything that is wrong in professional sports.  They are a travesty to good sportsmanship.

Defenceman Kevin Bieksa, like so many of his teammates, claimed not have seen the hit. But he took umbrage with a suggestion by a Chicago reporter that the hit was out of character for Keith.

“You don’t watch him too often, do you,” Bieksa said. “I don’t know, I wouldn’t call him a Lady Byng candidate, that’s for sure. You have to watch him a little closer.”

Bieksa said Keith is also known to do a lot of talking on the ice.

“Yeah, I’m not surprised,” he said. “I didn’t hear it obviously, but I’ve heard him say things before. Again, the league will do their investigation and they will deal with it.”

Are you kidding?  This guy?  Talk about the Kettle calling the pot black.  The only guy I hate more than Bieksa is Burrows.  At least Bieksa will fight like a man instead of pulling hair like a little girl.  Bieksa went after Keith the entire game and gave him several face washes during one of the wrestling matches that broke out.  No penalties called on him for that.  I didn’t hear Vigneault complain about that.  They went after Keith the whole game and when he pushes back they cry like crybabies.

“He didn’t continue playing and that’s usually when it’s bad because he likes to play hockey,” Henrik said

That’s not accurate.  His brother came right back out after the hit and finished the period.  He didn’t come back after that.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the Canucks held him out just to make the hit seem worse.  Would you?
So Keith will probably sit for a couple of games.  Maybe the rest will do him good with the playoffs right around the corner?
The NHL Tonight guys were saying after the game “let’s hope they meet in the playoffs”.  I hope so too.
Kane was named the number 1 star, he also had the Hawks only goal in regulation.  That was Kane’s 20th of the season.  He becomes the third player in franchise history to have 20 goals in his first 5 seasons.  The other two are Jonathan Toews and Denis Savard.
Hossa had a strong game as well.  So did Crawford. Crawford has stopped 102 of 105 shots in his last 5 games.
Andrew Shaw kept doing what Andrew Shaw does.
“It hit me in the shin, lucky left foot, I guess,” Shaw said. “They’re going to go off me and in. I just go to the net and work hard.”

Shaw, who has been earning added ice time, has 4 goals and 3 assists in his last three games. In 30 games this season he has 11 goals—including two game winners—and seven assists.

Offensively (Shaw’s) got some nice play recognition and a nice set of hands as well, even if he uses his pads (to score),” Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said. “Whether you use a term (like) fearless or gutsy—you could add some more terms to that—but you appreciate the way he competes for either himself, or his teammates, or his team.

“You seem to use him as the game gets even more important. I don’t think I’ve used him that much in the past in four-on-four but he did a good job tonight.”

After the game some of the Hawks joked that they need to find out what kind of pads he wears.

Let’s also talk about Johnny Oduya.  Sometimes a player and a system are just a good fit.  That seems to be the case here.  The Hawks are 9-1-1 since the trade deadline acquisition of the defencemen.  Hard to argue with that.  He also took the shot in OT that went in off of Shaw’s pads.  He doesn’t give you a ton of offense so when he does it’s a great bonus.  However he sure does solidify things on the back-end.   More importantly he takes pressure off of Keith and Seabrook.  Now they don’t have to do everything.  I think it’s no coincidence that both of their games have picked up since Johnny joined the team.

With the win the Hawks are now tied with the Nashville Predators who sit in 5th place in the Western Conference.  The Red Wings lost in OT but the 1 point earned put them in 4th place.  1 point ahead of the Hawks.  The Nashville Predators have 2 games in hand on the Hawks.  They play tonight against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Good luck with that.  This game will be shown, in the US, on the NHL network.  Tonight should also mark the season debut of Alex Radulov back from the KHL.  His addition should make the Predators, who are already a solid team, even more dangerous in these upcoming playoffs.

Nashville is next for the Hawks as they come to town on Sunday.  By then, both of their games in hand will have been played.  Hopefully they lose both in regulation.  They Hawks don’t play again until then.

TTS


You have a broom I can borrow?

21 Mar

Sweep!  The Chicago Blackhawks swept the season series against the Columbus Blue Jackets.


The Blackhawks listened to their coaching staff again and got off to a fast start.  Andrew Shaw, who is becoming a fan favorite, opened up the scoring 4 minutes in.  After that Patrick Sharp scored from the goal line, a difficult angle and a goal that Columbus goalie Steve Mason can’t let in.

“They just found a hole through my arm there,” Columbus goalie Steve Mason said.

Mason’s trouble didn’t end there.  Brent Seabrook floated a shot from the blue line that went in.  Mason swatted at it with his arm but that was useless.  3-0 Hawks up and they are not even 10 minutes into the first period.  Sure is a lot easier to play hockey with a lead instead of having to play catch up.

Bollig and Boll had a fight before the period was over and I’ll have to give it to Bollig.  He got several shots in on the veterans face.  I’m not sure I saw Boll get one in on Boll.

No scoring in the 2nd period for either team.  The shots were low too.  5 for the Hawks and 3 for Columbus.  Those low totals were assisted by a post shot by Columbus and Viktor Stalberg hit iron twice.  In the same spot!  Too bad because both times he beat Mason.

The third period brought some good news for the Hawks.  37 seconds in Patrick Sharp scored his second goal of the game on a…..you might want to sit down for this….a power play goal!!!!!

I know I can’t believe it either.  But hang on, it gets more shocking.  Marion Hossa scored another power play goal 3 minutes after that!  2 power play goals!  No I’m not lying, I promise.  The Hawks went 2-2 on the power play.  Amazing!  I was suspecting that the Hawks were allergic to power play goals.

In addition to that astonishing special teams play the Hawks went 2-2 on the penalty kill too.  Columbus is good for the Hawks.  Too bad they don’t play them anymore this year.  They out scored Columbus 31-10 in 6 games.

Sharp’s second goal got his season total to 30.  Nice job.  Marion Hossa had a 2 points which brought his career total to 900 points.  900 points is pretty spectacular.  Nice job Hoss!

Duncan Keith had a career best 4 point night with 4 helpers.

That’s the first time the Hawks have swept a division rival since the 1971-1972 season when they did that against the St Louis Blues.

Next up for the Hawks (play the music below before proceeding)

The Vancouver Canucks are in town for a battle tonight.  The rivalry heats back up this evening at the United Center.  The Canucks arrived in town a couple of days ago after their 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild.  They’ve been in town enjoying this incredible weather we have been having.  They practiced at the Hawks practice facility, Johnny’s Ice House west.  Alain Vigneault indicated that Roberto Luongo will start in net.  Roberto, being interviewed after practice at Johnny’s said “We love playing in this building”  and “every time we play these guys it’s a playoff like game”  “the guys are jacked up for this game”.  Vancouver is 3-5-2 in their last 10 games.  The Blackhawks are now 8-1-1 in their last 10.

Duncan Keith, being interviewed after last night’s game, was asked if he and the guys get a little more up for the Canucks.  His response “…..yeah”

Can’t wait for this one.  Drop the puck!!!

TTS

Shaw vs. Ovechkin – Shaw wins!

19 Mar

Andrew Shaw is on the third line for the Chicago Blackhawks.  He, along with Dave “the rat” Bolland and Brian Bickell, are on the ice to shut down the other teams first line.  Last night, the other teams first line has a guy named Alex Ovechkin.  Maybe you’ve heard of him?

Last night at the United Center 21,561 (109.4% full) saw the show down and the Hawks third line prevailed.

“There’s a lot of things in his game you admire,” Quenneville said. “You like the way he competes, he’s got some sandpaper to his game, he’s got some nice things offensively that he does.”

Shaw had 2 goals and 1 assist and a +2 for the night on a shut down line and Alex Ovechkin finished with 1 goal zero assists and a -2 rating.

Alex did have a spectacular goal, a highlight reel goal but that occurred when the Kane line was out.

Don’t take that as a bad night for Kane.  He continued his hot play and scored the game winning goal.  Kane has a 5 game point streak, 3 goals and 2 assists.

Chicago out shot Washington 29 to 18.  The Hawks out shot the Caps 12 to 3 in the first period not letting Washington get their first shot until 4 minutes left.  Rock solid for a team gearing up for the postseason.  When you can keep the Capitals high-flying offense to under 20 shots you’re doing things right.  This team is playing well.  Don’t forget this is a team playing without their leader Jonathan Toews.

On the not so good side the Hawks went 0-1 on the power play.  They just don’t want to score power play goals.  That can’t continue in the post season….not if they want to go deep.

Big hit from Brower on Hossa last night.  The former Hawk finished the game with no goals or assists and was a -1.

Viktor Stalberg showed his lighting fast speed on the 2nd goal of the game.  He continues to make Hawk fans ask why can’t he do that on a regular basis?

On a side note:  All four officials wore No. 47 to salute linesman Dan Schachte, who worked his 2,009th and final game. Schachte, who has worked more games than any other American official in NHL history, appeared in his first game on Oct. 6, 1982, at the Chicago Stadium.  Well done.

Next up for the Hawks is a Tuesday night game in Columbus against the lowly Blue Jackets.  The only team in the NHL already mathematically eliminated from the post season.  But don’t think that makes this an easy game.  That’s when a team loves to play the spoiler, especially against a division rival.  You should expect Stalberg to have a huge game.  He has the Blue Jackets number.

TTS