Friday, March 9, 2012

You think that was exciting? O-du-ya?

Going into tonight's game against the Rangers, Blackhawks fans were very excited for an original 6 match-up and expected a great game. The actual game did not disappoint.

Before the game I said that the Blackhawks would need to strike first if they wanted to win. When the Rangers scored first with less than a minute left in the first period, I was a little worried. In the second period, Shaw scored. The game was tied going into the third period, and that's when things got interesting.

The Rangers scored without 13 minutes left in the game and I, as a stupid fan, tweeted that the game was over and the Blackhawks lost again. Then Sharp made me eat my words with about 8 minutes left in the game by scoring a goal. 62 seconds later Oduya scored to put the Hawks up 3-2. The Rangers pulled their goalie late in the game and Kane scored an empty netter. Unfortunately, the Blackhawks made a mistake again by giving up a goal after scoring the empty netter. The game should've been over, but the Blackhawks gave the Rangers a glimmer of hope. The Hawks did go on to win thanks to Oduya, who was the first star of the game and Kane who got the technical game winner.

Some other things that are interesting to me about the game is that the Hawks were outhit 40-20. The Hawks getting outhit is nothing new, but this shocked me because of the separation. If the Hawks really want to contend, they need to get tougher and start hitting more. There are other aspects of the game that are good, but hitting a little more and being more aggressive will help them against teams like the Blues and Canucks. Bollig fought once again and it was a pretty good one.

News and Notes, Game Preview

Blackhawks fans got a nice treat this morning as they got to watch the Blackhawks morning skate for the first time. It aired online on Blackhawks TV and on the Blackhawks mobile app. Beyond this special treat, Hawks fans got another treat. Jonathan Toews skated with the team for the first time in three weeks. From watching the morning skate, I'd say that he looked great. He was skating up and down the ice quickly and during one drill he skated with the puck and let go of a really nice shot. I wouldn't say the captain is ready to come back in the next few days, but the progression seems to be going great. He skated alone yesterday and with the team today. He also talked to the media about his injury and confirmed what everyone knew, that his upper body injury was in fact a concussion.

In other injury related news, it is now also assumed that the injuries to Steve Montador and Niklas Hjalmarsson were concussions. Hjalmarsson will be back in the lineup tonight against the Rangers and is expected to be in the third defensive pairing with Olsen. Montador is said to have experienced a setback today. Sami Lepisto is out indefinitely after injuring his left leg in the game on Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues.

The final injury news is about my favorite player and current Blackhawks prospect in Rockford, Ben Smith. Smith suffered a right hip labral tear and hernia. He will undergo surgery and be out for four months. He played 13 games with the Blackhawks this season recording two goals and. In 38 games with the IceHogs, he had 15 goals and 16 assists for 31 points. Smith is known best for his game 6 goal against the Vancouver Canucks during last year's playoffs. I hope for Ben to have a full recovery and come back even stronger for the 2012-2013 season.

Game Preview
Tonight the Blackhawks play the Eastern Conference leading New York Rangers. It should be a good game as John Scott comes back to Chicago for the first time since the trade right before the deadline. The Rangers are a very good team and the Blackhawks beat them the last time they played. The Blackhawks won't be as lucky this time as they will have to face Lundqvist in net.

The Blackhawks can win this game, but they'll have to play tough. This seems to be a big problem for the Hawks as fans saw on Tuesday against the Blues. The Blackhawks had good games against both the Senators and Red Wings in the past week and will have to play like they did in those games in order to beat this good Rangers team.

Goaltending will be key. Ray Emery will be in net and after giving up a couple weak goals in St. Louis, I'm not sure that I feel safe with him for the game tonight. If he can play like he did prior to the St. Louis game, it should be fine. The Blackhawks will have problem against Lundqvist, because he is one of the best goaltenders in the league but if they get after him early they have a good chance of scoring some goals.

This is going to be a hard fought game and the Blackhawks will have to be ready and play aggressive early. The Hawks can win, and a win would be huge. The Blackhawks are currently 6th in the standings and would love to move higher in the standings to be in a better position come playoff time.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Blues beat the Blackhawks 5-1 and much more

First thing's first, the Blackhawks lost tonight. They played the Blues in St. Louis and the Blues played a great game. They did everything that you want a hockey team to do in a game. They played good defense, got a couple gimme goals, got a power play goal, and got a shorthanded goal. Halak was outstanding in goal and the only goal he allowed was a nice redirect by Andrew Brunette who was alone in front of the net.

Now that I've established the nice game the Blues have, let's look at the play by the Blackhawks. None of the forwards looked especially good. Hossa and Kane were trying to show off their moves so much that they ended up turning the puck over quite a few times. Sharp was extremely unlucky multiple times. The biggest problem that stuck out to me was either the terrible defense by Dylan Olsen or the bad goaltending by Ray Emery.

I'll start with Emery. The first goal was extremely weak and set the tone for the rest of the game. If he makes that stop, maybe the outcome of this game is different. Then he gives up a weak goal on the Blackhawks power play which gives the Blues a 3-0 lead. Finally, in the last 30 seconds a Blues player has the puck in front of the net and Emery doesn't even try to make the save. At least show some effort. That wasn't very veteran-like of him to just turn and look at the puck as it went straight into the net.

Olsen was another big problem for the Hawks tonight. I have never thought that he was ready for the NHL, but tonight just insured that I was correct in feeling that way. His first mistake was terrible defense on the Blues PPG and actually kicking the puck in during that play. There were no other major mistakes, but plenty of minor ones. A couple bad plays at the point and some mishandled pucks made him look like an amateur out there, which he is. I don't think he should be in the NHL, but I don't hate him. Give him another couple years in Rockford and then let me see what he can do.

The final thing I want to address about the game is the fight between Bollig and Reaves. We all knew that Bollig would get in a fight considering St. Louis is his hometown and fighting is what he's known for. The fight was probably the best fight I've seen in awhile. It lasted really long and despite Reaves being a great fighter, I'd have to say that Bollig won.

Aside from just commenting on the game, I have some other things to say. I haven't been blogging as much recently and I have decided that I am going to start being more regular from now on. Going to the game tonight made me realize how much I love hockey and writing, so I decided to come back to blogging. Therefore, don't judge me from this post because it's been awhile since I've written a blog post.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Chicago Blackhawks Year in Review

2011 was a pretty good year for the Blackhawks. There were things they did well and things that they could've done much better.

The first memorable part of 2011 for the Blackhawks was Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, and Patrick Kane making the All-Star game. Patrick Sharp was a write-in and won the MVP trophy for the night by getting four goals.

The next memorable part of the year was the Blackhawks final day of the season. If they beat their bitter rivals, the Red Wings, they would be in the playoffs. They failed to do so, however, and had to wait and see if the Minnesota Wild would be the Dallas Stars. The Wild ended up winning and the Blackhawks made it to the playoffs. They would be playing the Vancouver Canucks, a team they had played the two previous playoff years.

The first three games of the series were lazy, unphysical, and plain bad. In the next three games, the Hawks were much better. Game 5 was probably the best game for the Hawks in the entire series. Game 6 was won by a Ben Smith overtime goal. As Blackhawks fans, including myself, celebrated I secretly thought to myself that the Blackhawks had hit their peak in the series. Game 7 started bad as the Blackhawks gave up an early goal. They stayed behind the whole game until with about a minute and half left, on the penalty kill, Hossa and Toews lead a little breakaway and Toews came up from lying on the ice shot the puck in, fell again, and then got up and celebrated. It was a true showing of what the Blackhawks captain can do. Unfortunately, the Blackhawks would not win the game despite Corey Crawford being fantastic in overtime.

Next was the long summer, something that the Blackhawks hadn't experienced in two summers. Players like Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith appreciated the rest and stepped up their game. New players were added including Steve Montador, Jamal Mayers, Daniel Carcillo, Sami Lepisto, and Sean O'Donnell. Crawford, Frolik, and Stalberg were all re-signed. It was a good offseason for Stan Bowman and the Hawks were ready for a good 2011-2012 season.

The season started okay, but got much better as the first month passed by. The Blackhawks not sit atop the standings and were the first to 50 points. Crawford and Emery are both playing fantastic. Toews, Sharp, and Hossa are among the top goal scorers in the league. The Blackhawks are doing great and have a ton of room for improvement. 2011 was nice, but 2012 has a chance to be great.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Blackhawks win 5-1

With Sharp's baby girl in attendance, the Blackhawks bounce back from a loss with a big win at home. The first period was good hockey and neither team could pot a goal. The second period started bad as the Hawks had a bad penalty kill and gave up a power play goal. Later in the period Brunette circled around the back of the net and tried to dish to an open Toews, but Toews never touched it and Brunette got the goal. 21 seconds later Sharp led a breakaway, faked the shot, skated forward and shot the puck into the back of the net. This was the turning point of the game. Stalberg would score a third goal in the third period, then Toews scored the empty net goal to win the game. With about 30 seconds left, Stalberg led a breakaway and passed to Bickell who scored. It was a great game for the Hawks all around and a great way to bounce back from a disappointing loss in Pittsburgh. Corey Crawford was great in net today and got the first star of the game. 

Brandon Pirri was recalled from Rockford and centered Sharp and Hossa the entire game. He got penalty kill and power play time and proved that he deserved it. He had no points, but played a very good game. He will probably stay up as long as Kruger is out with a concussion and maybe longer if he continues to play so well. 

Now that Crawford had a fantastic game it will be a tough decision on whether Emery will start or Crawford will start on Monday. Coach Q has a lot of time to decide, but it will be a tough decision. 

Stalberg was good again tonight. This is his second good game in a row. Coach Q said that he moved him from the top line to see if he could help get the third line going. It worked as him and Bickell both had goals and Stalberg had two assists. It's nice seeing him succeed and hopefully he continues to play well on Monday.

Canadiens @ Blackhawks Preview

The Blackhawks play their second game in that many days tonight. Last night did not go very well, but hopefully tonight will be different. Montreal has a new coach and have not won since he started coaching. Corey Crawford is back in net for the first time in six games. Emery was having a great couple weeks, but with two games in two nights, Crawford will get the start against his hometown team. The defense was bad last night, but hopefully they play better for Crawford tonight and help him get the win. Chris Campoli returns to play at the United Center for the first time since playing for the Hawks last year. Hossa has a 6 game point streak and looks to continue you that tonight.

I think the Hawks can win this game. The Habs are struggling. The Blackhawks offense showed some fire and finesse last night in the third period, if that continues through tonight the Blackhawks can easily get a win. Crawford will have to be solid in net tonight, and I think he will because he showed last year that he was better when it seemed like he was losing his job. A good team effort in all three periods is what the Blackhawks need to win tonight. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Blackhawks win third period, lose game.

The Blackhawks ended their five game win streak with a loss against the Penguins in Pittsburgh. The first two periods were the most frustrating and aggravating periods of hockey that I have ever watched. (This is excluding losses in the playoffs the last three years) The Blackhawks actually came out and were playing hard and well in the first ten minutes, and then something happened. Kruger got destroyed by an illegal hit that was not penalized. John Scott came to his rescue and got in the a fight and made Engelland bleed. He received a minor for instigating and a 10 minute misconduct. This lead to a power play goal for the Penguins and they didn't ever look back. The Hawks continued to take stupid penalties and play terrible defense. Emery was fantastic, but was not helped at all by the defense. The offense wasn't much better either, not capitalizing on power plays. After two periods, I was absolutely done. I wanted to turn the game off, but I couldn't because it was the once a month occurrence that I actually got to watch the Hawks on TV and I couldn't pass that up.

The Hawks came out firing in the third period and scored early. The captain got the goal even though it was meant as a pass to Stalberg. Then Stalberg got a real goal which was set up by some great passing from Kane. So, pretty much, Stalberg was the MVP of the game for the Hawks. That doesn't happen often. After those two goals, the Hawks were still behind one and had so many chances in the second half of the third period, but none of them went in. Fleury was fantastic and even with a power play to end the game, the Hawks couldn't score.

This game was pretty pathetic for the Hawks. The defense was terrible and Keith was forced to play 30 minutes including 7 minutes of penalty kill. The Blackhawks still have a game tomorrow against a struggling Montreal team. They should be able to get the win. Crawford will be back in net and maybe the defense will decide to actually play well in front of him. Despite being the best team in the NHL just a night ago, they have many things that need to be fixed. Kruger is hurt for an indefinite time period and that leaves the second center spot open. Kane can probably go there for awhile because he played well at center, but that's still a hole in the team. The Hawks could also use another defenseman.

The Blackhawks are a long way from the Stanley Cup. They were on a five game win streak, but Pittsburgh kindly exposed that the same problems from the beginning of the season are still there.