Kukla's Korner

Talk'n Hawks

Category: Chicago-Blackhawks

Hawks Sweep Rangers

Sure, they only played 2 games this season, but still it’s a sweep. The Hawks took the second of the two meetings, this time at the United Center and beat New York, 4 - 3. It was Emery again, (14-9-2) against Vezina hopeful Lundqvist (31-13-5). This marks the 7th straight season of 30 or more wins for the King. His 8 shoutouts leads the league. He also has a .937 save percentage and a 1.84 goals against average. Quite the year.

The Lines for Chicago reamined close to the same, with Coach Q loading up Sharp, Kane & Hossa on the first line several times through out the game. Hjalmarsson returned (hopefully to stay this time) to the line up. It was Keith / Seabrook. Oduya / Leddy, and Hjalmarsson / Olsen, for the “D” pairings.

The 1st period began like the last time the Hawks played the Rangers (4 goals in the first 10 minutes) but with out the scoring. 15 seconds in Hossa had a breakaway and was stopped by Lundqvist.  Unfortunately, the Hawks reverted to their “pass up an open shot to try & squeeze in the ‘perfect pass’” mode. They managed only 4 shots on goal in the first 15 minutes. The NHL leading Rangers in the hits department (over 700 more than the Hawks this season), played their usual physical game. A successful Hawks Penalty Kill (78%, tied for 26th) ensued Then, you guessed it, the thing that has been a HUGE problem with this team, the Rangers scored with 46 seconds left to go. New York was 30-2-3 when having the lead after 1 period.

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Ben Smith Out For Season

Those of you who read me on any kind of regular basis, know what a fan I am of Ben Smith (#28). A quick refresher, or for you first timers, Ben came up at the end of last season (from Rockford)  with about 4 or 5 games left. He did such a great job that he stayed on the roster for the 7 game playoff series against Vancouver, spending quite a bit of time on the first line. When the preseason started, things were going well for him until another B. Smith (Detroit) knocked out with a concussion on a head hit. In my opinion, he never really fully recovered. He was up and down a couple of times this season. Well now there’s this news form a Rockford Ice Hogs press release.

The following statement was issued today (Thursday) by Chicago Blackhawks Head Team Physician Dr. Michael Terry:

“Ben Smith has suffered a right hip labral tear and a hernia. He will undergo endoscopic surgery next Thursday (March 15) to repair both issues. We anticipate a full recovery in approximately 16 weeks.”

Smith, 23, has recorded two goals in 13 games with Chicago this season. Additionally, the Avon, Connecticut, native ranks third on the American Hockey League’s Rockford IceHogs with 15 goals, including a team-high eight power-play markers, and ranks fourth with 31 points in 38 AHL tilts.

Good luck kid!! I wish the best for you.

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Injury Updates

Here’s some updates on injured Hawks players that I greceived from chicagoblackhawks.com.

I you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I only write on information, injury wise, that I get form the official site. I will never spread information just because someone else, blogged, over heard, or speculated. The injured in question are, Toews -who has missed the last 8 games (upper body), Hjalmarsson (upper body), who was out for 7, came back for 1, and was out again for 6 games, Montador, who has missed several weeks, and Lepisto ,who left during The Blues game.

First, the Captain. Toews skated before practice, while working out with Goodman (Strength & conditioning coach). He will still be listed as day to day.

Coach Q said, “He felt good. That’s….a big first step, seeing him out there.”

Duncan Keith added, ” It was good to see his face all red and sweating… Hadn’t seen that in a while, so it was nice to see.

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Blues Out-Everything Hawks

Yes, to be sure. Shots, hits, hustle, special teams, you name it.Ok, in fights, perhaps a split decision.  It was a surprisingly, very flat effort put out by the Hawks yesterday as they played the Blues in St. Louis.  5 - 1 was the final as the Blues took over the number one spot in the West. Vancouver, Detroit, and Phoenix also lost, by the way.

In net, it was the #3 NHL Star of the Week, Ray Emery (14-8-2) against Halak (21-10-5) - who, with Elliot, are the best combo in the league. The lines remained pretty close to the same as the last couple of games, with Morrison & Frolik being the Scratch Brothers. No word on Toews, but Montador & Hjalmarsson are skating. This is going to be needed if Lepisto’s leg injury was as serious as it looked. He left during the second period and never returned.

In the first period, new call-up Brandon Bollig and Ryan Reaves threw down the gloves at center ice with the puck deep in the zone. About a two and a half minute slug fest occurred until they both called it quits.  Less than 2 minutes later a TJ Oshie redirect made it 1 - 0 Blues.  The only real run of the game came with around 7 minutes left in the period.  An organized attack, featuring Sharp going of the post was about it. There was an unsuccessful Power Play (16%, tied for 22nd), the first of MANY.  There was also a Penalty Kill (78%, 26th) that kept the score the same. Then, with 27 seconds left—how often have we seen this—a shot off of Olsen’s skate made it 2 - 0 going into the locker room. The Hawks managed only 4 shots on goal to the Blues 14.

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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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