Kukla's Korner

Talk'n Hawks

Goaltender of the Future?

I’ve been following the reports of this kid since he joined the Ice Hogs. It’s funny how Alexander Salak has gone from originally being slated as Crawford’s back up with the Hawks, to Hutton’s back up in Rockford. Here’s the story from chicagoblackhawks.com;

The American Hockey League announced on Monday that Rockford IceHogs goaltender Carter Hutton has been named the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week for Week 23 and the period ending Mar. 4, 2012.

Hutton was in goal for all three games for Rockford in Week 23, helping the team pick up five of six standings points (2-0-0-1) while helping pull the club back into the Western Conference Calder Cup playoff race. Overall in the three game week, Hutton turned in a .963 save percentage and a 1.30 goals-against average.

The Thunder Bay, Ont. native opened the week by making 35 saves in Rockford’s 3-2 seven-round shootout loss to Abbotsford on Feb. 29. Facing a pair of critical road tests over the weekend, Hutton then stopped 44 of 45 shots in a big 3-1 victory at Milwaukee on Mar. 2, and registered 24 saves as the IceHogs rallied for a 2-1 win in Peoria on Mar. 3.

Hutton also won the Reebok/AHL Player of the Week for Week 17, becoming the first IceHogs player to win the award twice in one season. Since Jan. 8, Hutton is 12-4-0-2 with a 2.01 GAA and a .928 SV%.

A second-year pro, Hutton has played 29 games for Rockford this season, posting a 15-8-3 record with a 2.50 goals-against average, a .916 save percentage and two shutouts. The 26-year-old made his pro debut with Adirondack (AHL) after completing his senior season at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell in 2009-10, and spent his rookie campaign with Worcester last year. Hutton, who shows a career mark of 27-17-6 with four shutouts in 55 AHL appearances, signed as a free agent with the Chicago Blackhawks on Feb. 23, 2012.

In recognition of his achievement, Hutton will be presented with an etched crystal award prior to an upcoming IceHogs home game.

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Hawks Edge Wings

Yes, this is the third in a row of my “Hawks Edge” series. The two teams again, as they have every time they have faced each other this season, played a game that was decided by one goal. The Hawks took a very hard to get 2 points out of the Joe in Detroit. This is something only a handful of opponents have managed to do this season. Datsyuk & Lidstrom were out for Detroit, and Toews, Hjalmarsson and Montador remain out for Chicago.

It was Emery (13-8-2) in net for the Hawks against Howard (33-13-2). The lines for the Hawks have remained pretty consistent during this 3 game win streak. The D match ups were also unchanged. With both Montador and Hjalmarsson joining the team in morning skates, it will be interesting to see who’s out when they return. I would guess that Olsen will return to Rockford and Lepisto would go back to healthy scratch status, but we shall see.

The first period played out like a typical Chicago / Detroit game, fast moving, big hits, and shots ringing off the posts. The Red Wings were the first to ring iron within the opening minutes. A Hawks Power Play (16.1 %, 22nd in the league) 2 of 7 recently after that awful 1 for 39 stretch, ensued. Sharp got on the board with a shot that appeared to be redirected off a Wing body. Just a few minutes later, Kronwall answered on a shot that may have also been redirected. 1 - 1.

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Hawks Edge Sens

The Hawks picked up a much needed 2 road points against the Senators in Ottawa. Talk about 2 evenly matched teams. They both had the exact same amount of goals, goals against, and number of wins headed into the contest. Ray Emery - again, his job to lose (12-8-2) was matched up against Lehner (3-0-0) who has a 1.33 GAA and a .954 save percentage AND something the entire Hawks team still does not have, a shutout.

The lines (still without Toews, Hjalmarsson, & Montador) looked like this; 1) Brunette, Kane, Hossa.  2) Sharp, Kruger, Stalberg - YIKES!!. 3) Bickell, Bolland, Shaw. 4) Bollig, Mayers, Hayes. The D match ups were, Seabrook / Keith, Oduya / Leddy, Olsen / Lepisto.

Overall, it was a very exciting and well played game by both teams. The Hawks were aggressive the entire game, which I haven’t seen in a while. This even included when they had the lead and on the Penalty Kill. These are two things I have complained about several times in the past. The shots on goal and defense, not to mention goaltending, all played a part. I wouldn’t say that Emery “stole” this game, but it was definitely a “Goalie Win”. The Hawks did a really good job of getting bodies to the net, also.

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Hawks Edge Leafs

Normally, when your team scores an empty net goal, the scoring and game is over, The Hawks can’t even get that right, more on this later….

The Hawks beat the Maple Leafs 5 - 4 at the United Center last night. Chicago has, believe it or not, the 4th most points from home games this season. It was Crawford STARTING in net (22-16-5) against “The Monster” Gustavsson (16-12-2). The Leafs, by the way are the second youngest team in the league.

Johnny Oduya (#27) made his debut with the Hawks last night, He was traded from the Jets for 2 draft picks in 2013. The other move by the Hawks at trade deadline was John Scott to the Rangers for a 2012 draft pick. If anyone is curious why that wasn’t the subject of a blog, what can you say. Those two sentences are the extent of it. It was also Ice Hogs in Chicago night, with 4 Rockford players in the lineup. Shaw, Olsen, Hayes & Bollig.  Brandon Bolling was brought up for the first time this year and wore # 52. Morrison (a wasted trade) and Frolik, were the scratches.

The lines were 1) Brunette, Kane (center), Hossa.  2) Sharp, Kruger, Stalberg.  3) Bickell, Bolland, Shaw. 4) Bollig, Mayers, Hayes. D-wise; Keith /  Leddy, Seabrook / Oduya, Lepisto / Olsen. It will be interesting to see who goes when Hjalmarsson comes back.

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Power Play Woes Continue

The Hawks fell to the Kings at the Staple center by a score of 4 - 0. Quick (24-17-11) got the shutout, his 7th this season . He is now tied for most shutouts in the NHL, with Lundqvist from the Rangers. Quick entered the game with both a league 3rd best 1.96 goals against average & .931 save percentage. I can only wonder what the Hawks record would be this year with a quality goalie of that caliber. Crawford (22 -15-5) started the game and was pulled after the 4th goal in the second period. He was replaced by Emery, who played well. I would be shocked not to see him in net, tonight, against the Ducks in Anaheim. 

It was the same old story on the Power Play for the Hawks. They entered the game, a BEYOND ridiculous 0 for 31in their last 12 games. You can now add 6 more o-fers to that stat, from last night’s game. There was even a 30 second 5 on 3 in the Hawks favor. The shots on goal (zero in their first attempt) were limited. The only scoring during their PP was a short handed goal by the team captain, Brown. This was his 3rd goal of the night and his 3rd career hat trick. If it seems like I’m writing more about the Kings than the Hawks, I am. I have no other choice. The Hawks had only 6 shots on goal in the first period, despite 4 L.A. penalties.The last Hawks PP goal, by the way, was on January 24th.

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Hawks Fall To Stars

It was “Behind the Lens” at Comcast Sports Network last night. The camera’s were turned around to show the inside of the broadcast booth, how the telestrator works, the locker room, inside the control room, and the Jumbo-tron operator. It was actually pretty fascinating. I always like watching the “behind the scenes” operations of a television broadcast. Unfortunately, is was the only thing I liked last night.

The Hawks had a 1 - 0 lead going into the last 10 minutes of the game. They then fell apart, losing 3 - 1.  It was Crawford (22-14-1) against Bachman (6-3-1) in the net at the United Center.. The lines were slightly juggled and were further juggled as the game progressed. It started with 1) Sharp, Kane, Hossa 2) Hayes, Kruger, Brunette 3) Bickell, Bolland, Stalberg. 4) Scott, Mayers, Frolik. It’s amazing how JUST the absence of Toews really shows the lack of quality depth on this team.. On ‘D”, Keith & Olsen, Leddy & Seabrook, Lepisto and the return of Hjalmarsson.

In the 1st period, the Power Play was was given a chance 3 minutes in. Coming into the game, the Hawks were a RIDICULOUS, 0 for 32, in recent chances. They were down to 16% and 20th in the league. Again, the star of the P.P. was Crawford, who was forced to make a save on an Adam Burish breakaway. There would be no scoring there or the rest of the period for either team. The Hawks out shot the Stars 6 - 5. There wasn’t really a lot of scoring opportunities for either side.

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Hawks Win 4th Straight

The Blackhawks now have won 4 in a row, after snapping the long losing streak. Last night it was the Detroit Red Wings who fell to the Hawks by a score of 2 - 1, at the United Center. The Wings, although record breaking at home, are just a .500 team on the road this season. The game was also played missing a key player from each squad. The Hawks were without Toews (day to day, upper body).  Detroit played without Datsyuk who will be out several weeks due to knee surgery.

A player who was back from injury was their goalie Jimmy Howard. He’s been out close to 3 weeks with a broken finger on his blocker hand.  Howard (32-11-1) faced Crawford (21-14-5) in net. You would have never known that Howard missed all that time by watching him play, he came up BIG on several occasions. It didn’t help either that the Hawks managed only a few shots on goal in the first 8 minutes.

The lines for the Hawks, missing their Captain, looked like this; 1) Sharp, Morrison (a healthy scratch for the last week or so) Kane.  2) Brunette, Kruger, Hossa.  3) Bickell, Bolland, Stalberg (I like that combo over the last several games)  4) Frolik, Mayers, Hayes. On “D” it was Keith & Olsen, Leddy & Seabrook, Scott (who saw very few shifts) & Lepisto.. Good news, by the way, Hjalmarsson skated with the team in the morning.

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Hawks Come Back To Win

First of all, I hope every one enjoyed “Hockey day in America”.  I know Hawks fans did. The Hawks came back from a one goal deficit, to defeat the St. Louis Blues by a score of 3 - 1.  It was the first time back at the United Center since the DISASTROUS 9 game road trip.  The Hawks have now picked up a much needed 6 out of the last 6 points.

It was Crawford (20-14-5) again in net for Chicago, against Elliot (20-5-2). It should be noted that between Elliot and Halak, the Blues have 12 shutouts; a truly amazing 6 shutouts for each goaltender. Not to be a “Debbie Downer”, but the Hawks STILL have not shut ANYONE out. They remain the only team in the NHL in that category.

The lines and defensive pairings started the same as last game. Scott played several shifts on defense after beginning the game on the 4th line wing. The Hawks also entered the game with a 9 game streak of not allowing any Power Play goals. The length of this streak goes back several years.

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A Winning Streak!

Yes, indeed, it only takes 2 games for a streak to occur. The Hawks have their first one in quite some time now after beating the Blue Jackets in Columbus by a score of 6 - 1. .The Hawks rattled off 6 straight goals after falling behind 1 - 0.  It was the 5th time they have beaten them in 5 games. There is, of course, one games left between the two teams.

It was Crawford (19-14-5) against Steve Mason (7-20-2) to start the game. Andrew Shaw was sent down to Rockford and Jimmy Hates was brought up. The lines were slightly juggled. The first line of Sharp, Toews & Kane remained in tact, and for the second game in a row came up big. They have 12 points in those 2 games. The rest looked like this; 2) Brunette, Kruger, Hossa.  3) Stalberg, Bolland, Bickell.  4) Hayes, Mayers, Scott.

In the 1st period, a turnover in their own zone, led to a goal by Brassard. Seabrook then saved a 2nd Blue jacket score by clearing the puck out of the crease behind Crawford.  From that point on, however, it would be all Blackhawks lighting the lamp.

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Hawks Beat Rangers (No, really)

The losing streak is over as the Hawks got 2 points for the first time in forever. What better way to end a streak, by beating a really good team. The Rangers (best team in the East by 7 points) lost on their home ice. The Hawks played aggressive in all aspects of the game. It was Crawford (18-14-5) against the VERY capable back up, Marty Biron (10-2-1) in net.

The line ups pretty much remained the same for the Hawks as last game. The effort was certainly there the last couple of games, despite the final score.  John Scott was again on the fourth line, in what you knew would be a physical game. The Rangers lead all of the NHL in hits. The Hawks had had only 17 goals in their last 9 games. A scoring effort would be needed last night, and was.

In the first period, the Hawks were awarded a Penalty Shot just a minute into the game. The puck was gloved in the crease by New York. Toews took it and went 5 hole. ! - 0 Hawks. The Hawks were 17-5-2 when scoring first, entering the game. Quickly, a Leddy slap shot made it 2 - 0. On only their 4th shot of the game, Sharp made it 3 - 0 on a breakaway. This was all in the first 4 minutes!. Now this is where it gets interesting…...

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