Kukla's Korner

Talk'n Hawks

Hawks Win at Home

The Hawks rose to 1 - 1 on the season with a 5 - 2 victory over the Dallas Stars, completing the home and home series. It’s great to start off win a win since the team had a pathetic home record last year. The Hawks were ranked 17th in total points, at home last season. More on the actual game in a minute.

Before the game, in the usual grand fashion of the organization, the team arrived via “Red Carpet”. As each player arrived, they were announced by radio play by play man John Weideman. The carpet was located in front of the United Center and the players walked in flanked by the fans on each side.The most noticeable player was Dave Bolland in his bow tie.  The team was introduced on the ice, player at a time, in numerical order. The only exception was the captain, Jonathan Toews, who was introduced last. This was immediately followed by the usual, enthusiastic National Anthem.

Now, to the game. Crawford started in goal against Raycroft, a surprise to me since Kari Lehtonen played magnificent on Friday. The first goal for the Hawks was scored by Andrew Brunnette right in front of the crease. Bolland had 2 goals (keep the bow tie?) including an empty netter from an unselfish pass by Frolik. Toews scored coming out of the penalty box (on a suspect slashing call) on an excellent 100 foot pass by Seabrook. Sharp also added a goal on a delayed penalty.

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Missed Opportunities

Missed opportunities. The title says it all, as the Hawks fall in the season opener at Dallas, against the Stars. Dallas, with their new head coach, Glen Gulutzan, and minus ex star Brad Richards (UFA who went to the Rangers) beat the Hawks 2 - 1.

In the first 2 periods, the Hawks did everything right except put the puck in the back of the net - an obvious key to victory. 4 straight unsuccessful power plays, fanned shots,  and a couple of open net scenarios early, seemed to set the tone.The fourth power play was interrupted by a Hawks penalty. Dallas scored their first goal early during the four on four.  Corey Crawford was outstanding during the first period, stopping everything he faced. Stars goalie Lehtonen, however, was great throughout the contest.


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Here’s a couple of more loose odds and ends as we wait for the season to start tomorrow for the Hawks.

They open with a home and home Friday at Dallas and then again on Saturday, at the United Center against the Stars. First off, the Hawks have announced a 3 year contract extension to Vice President and General Manager Stan Bowman. He will remain with the organization through the 2015-2016 season. No surprise here considering the job he has done, both with The Cup and the locking up of the Hawks key players. President and CEO, John McDonough had this to say,

“I am very proud of the direction that Stan has taken our hockey operations group in from the moment he took over the role. Stan’s leadership and collaboration with the entire hockey operations group has developed a strong foundation and gives us the continuity we need as we strive for consistent excellence.”


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Roster down to 26

The Blackhawks have announced their roster is now down to 26. This includes 16 forwards, 8 defensemen, and two goaltenders. Yes, 2 goaltenders…and the winner is..both, sort of. The Hawks have agreed to terms with Ray Emery, and have assigned Alexander Salak to Rockford. Ray Emery has signed a one year contract—lot’s of those with the Hawks this year. The details are one year at $600K. Salak will be the Ice Hogs number one goalie, for now. General Manager and Vice President,  Stan Bowman had this to say,

“We’re in the fortunate position to have to make a difficult decision on two netminders that impressed throughout our entire training camp, Having both Ray Emery and Alexander Salak as a part of the Chicago Blackhawks organization makes us stronger in both the short-term and long-term.”

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Even More Bits & Pieces

Here’s a couple of more things that are worth mentioning. The suspension to B. Smith on the Detroit Red Wings, on the head hit to the Hawks Ben Smith has been handed down from the NHL. He will be suspended for the rest of the preseason, and will be suspended for the first 5 games of the regular season (should he make the team). If he is sent to the AHL, they have the right to decide what punishment should be dictated. If he ever returns to the NHL, he will have to serve the 5 game suspension. While listening to Edzo during the Hawks game against the Pittsburgh Penguins tonight, he has an interesting idea. He thinks that when a player is suspended, that the roster spot should remain vacant for the length of the suspension.

The Hawks lost to Pittsburgh 4 - 2 on Friday. The highlight was, of course, Brandon Pirri scoring 2 goals. This kid, along with Brandon Saad, (the only player to be in every game this preseason), continues to shine. Dan Carcillo (first game at the United Center as a Blackhawk) had a couple of good hits during the game. Emery let in 3 goals, one on a weird power play pass from the netminder, off the boards that was shot pass him and Seabrook (the fourth an empty netter).

Patrick Sharp participated in the morning skate around for the first time since his emergency appendectomy on September 12.

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More Odds & Ends

The Hawks continue their pre-season schedule tonight with a home game at the United Center. The game against the Pittsburgh Penguins will begin at 7:30 (Central). It can be seen locally on CSN-Chicago as well as being heard on WGN radio, 720. Ray Emery is expected to be in net for the entire contest as the battle for Corey Crawford’s back-up continues. Both Emery and Alexander Salak have played well, but I still give the edge to Salak being younger and actually having a contract. (Emery is here on a try out basis) Being a home game, we should see most of the starters - who aren’t injured, (more on that in a minute). Hossa and Kane made their debut against Detroit, at home, on Wednesday, with both contributing a goal in the 4 - 3 win.

Currently out is Patrick Sharp, (out since September 12, emergency appendectomy), who is rumored to start practicing today. Viktor Stalberg left the game against the Wings with a lower body injury in the first period and will likely miss three weeks according to Quenneville.

“Stally’s looking at three weeks. He seemed okay this morning, but that’s probably what we’re looking at.

“He had a great camp.  He was skating well and had a little something going there on Johnny’s line. We don’t expect him to be too far away from coming back in terms of conditioning (once he recovers)”, Coach Q said yesterday.

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More Camp News

The Hawks made more roster cuts in the last couple of days.They have assigned forwards Kyle Beach, Jimmy Hayes, and Peter LeBlanc, and defensemen Brian Connelly and Joe Lavin to the Rockford Ice Hogs. (I have tickets for a couple of games in October and November and I’m really looking forward to seeing a lot of these guys in person)

The Hawks training camp roster now stands at 33 active players, which includes 21 forwards, 9 defensemen and three goaltenders. As always, the full roster can be found at chicagoblackhawks.com. Among those still around is Brandon Saad, the kid I’ve been talking about all of camp. After the first time I saw him play, I wrote that he had the potential to be “a dark horse” that seems to emerge during most training camps. Apparently Coach Q agrees, saying, “If he keeps playing that way every day we’ll probably be talking about him the next day. This is not something we envisioned. But every training camp there’s someone who gets your attention and captures it, makes you look at the case differently. He’s done that.”

For those who aren’t familiar with him, Saad is an 18 year old Pittsburgh area native. He was the Hawks second round (43rd overall) pick in the 2012 Draft.

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  Tags: brandon+saad, patrick+kane

Halfway There

It seemed like I was waiting forever for training camp to start. Now, game wise, we’re half way through it. The Hawks fell to 1 - 3 yesterday losing to Detroit. More about that in a minute.

Before camp started I was hoping for a “dark horse” to have a chance to make the team through skill and effort. We may be looking at more of a “stable” than just one horse.

Horse number one (almost literally) is Jimmy Hayes. The 6 foot 5 inch, 210 pound winger has made his presence known. Jimmy was the 60th overall pick in the 2010 draft. He was acquired by the Hawks this March, 2011 from Toronto. The former Boston College player played well again, getting 2 points against the Wings. A goal, with a nifty fore hand, back hand maneuver close in, and a game tying assist in the third period.

Horse number two is Brandon Saad. Sound familiar? I’ve talked about him before. The 18 year old, second round, 43rd overall player picked in the 2012 Draft, is the youngest Hawk still on the roster. (The roster should be down to under 30 later on today, btw)  Saad who also wears number 43, (coincidence?)  has played consistently well through the preseason. Lokk for both of them to be up and down from Rockford should they not make the final cut.

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Hawks 2nd Preseason Game

Before we get into the Hawks second preseason game (and loss) I’d like to mention a couple of things. First, the Dallas Stars have given Mike Modano a one day contract so that he can officially retire as a Star. This is always a class move by a pro franchise and, of course, in this case well deserved!!! Secondly, the NHL has already given out at least 2 suspensions (as of this writing) through out the rest of the preseason and into next season for hits on players. Personally, I’m still a little confused on illegal hits and finishing a check. Shots to the head and other obvious ones I have no problem with. However, like the NFL, I’m still not clear on some calls which just look like hard play to me. Lastly,  Hossa has joined the team and has begun to skate with them,

Anyway, on to the game. The Hawks lost 4 - 1 in Pittsburgh last night. Let me first say that I really can’t remember being able to watch the first two preseason games…. ever! Tuesday’s game was shown on the internet, and last night was shown on the NHL Network (best sports package cable deal I ever got). This may seem like no big deal to some of you, but you have to remember, as a Hawks fan, I JUST started to get to see Hawks home games on TV a couple of years ago. The first period was a real yawner, with the Pens getting 5 shots on goal to the Hawks 3. Each team had a power play opportunity.

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Preseason Game 1 / Kaner Progress

The Hawks took the ice last night for their first preseason game. They played the Edmonton Oilers in Saskatchewan, with a very limited regular season crew. The game was streamed live via the internet on chicagoblackhawks.com, sort of. I missed the first 5 minutes of the game while foolishly clicking on the the page that said “Watch it here live”. I thought I was an idiot, until I got several phone calls (at the same time) from my friends basically all asking the same thing, “Where the hell is this game?” Eventually I found it by going to Blackhawks TV, and in the lower right hand corner, clicking the half an inch square that in size 1 font said, watch live. Several times during the broadcast the video and or audio was overlapped by the Oiler feed and the Hawks telecast, but what the heck I got to see the game.

Both Emery and Salak split goal tending duties. (It was kind of funny seeing both teams change their goalies at the same time, but thus is preseason hockey) I thought both played very well. It’s gonna be a tough decision to see who gets the number 2 spot behind Corey Crawford.

It was also cool seeing the Toews brothers, Jon & Dave, on the ice together at the same time. David wears number 26 for those who watch future broadcasts. The last time they were on the same team together, Jon was 6 and Dave was 4, according to the Hawks captain..

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