Kukla's Korner

Talk'n Hawks

Category: Chicago-Blackhawks

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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Saad should make you Happy

My son was just asking me the other day about what ever happened to Brandon Saad. Saad was the 43rd overall pick in last years Draft The 2nd rounder, ^ foot, 180 pounds has been playing in Saginaw. The left winger was one of the last couple of players cut in the pre-season.  Here’s an update on him via the Hawks’ website.

Blackhawks prospect Brandon Saad has been burning up the Ontario Hockey League as of late. In 16 games through January and part of February, Saad has put up 32 points (11G, 21A), contributing to his lofty total of 54 (21G, 33A) in 30 appearances. He is currently working on a 12-game point streak, the last 11 after he was named Saginaw captain on Jan. 17, and is averaging a team-best 1.8 points per game, good for the second highest scoring rate in the OHL behind Sarnia’s Nail Yakupov, who is likely to be taken first overall in this summer’s NHL Entry Draft.

After Saad’s two-game stint with the Blackhawks at the start of this season, he was sent back to the Saginaw Spirit and made it clear from the outset that he had benefited from his time in Chicago. Three games into his OHL season, Saad recorded five points (4G, 1A) against the Brampton Battalion, marking the beginning of an offensive surge that would produce 18 points in eight October appearances

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0 - 8 - 1

The title says it all. The Hawks have now only taken 1 of the last available 18 points. This is beyond “skid”, “bump in the road”, or whatever else you want to call it. The most frustrating and aggravating thing about watching it, is that they are actually trying. If it’s from lack of hustle, or taking shifts off, that’s one thing. But this is just plain old getting beat, mixed in with giving games away.

This time it was Nashville, who were 14-4-2 in their last 20 games (again) beating the Hawks 3-2. Emery (11-6-2) got the start against the always tough Rinne (30-12-6). Problem area. The Hawks STILL are the only NHL team to not shut some one out. It appears that we have 2 back ups, and not a #1 who is going to steal a game. Emery played well, but we NEED above well right now. If the defense was up to par and we were scoring the 4 goals a game that we were close to averaging for a while, the goal tending would not stick out as much.

The lines saw Sharp, Toews & Kane on the first unit. The rest were juggled, also. There is a different healthy scratch or two every game these days. Last night, Scott in, Frolik out. Bickell in, Morrison out. There is not a lot of movement D-wise, with Montador placed on the I.R and Hjalmarsson out due to injury.

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Hawks Skid Continues

I don’t even know where to start? I have a lot of notes, but none of them are good. Oh well, the title says it all…. The Hawks fell to Colorado at the Pepsi center on Tuesday night, 5-2. Both teams entered the contest with a 0-4-1 record in their last 5 games. During that stretch, the Hawks had 10 goals for, and 22 goals against. That should tell you something right there. The team (except, of course Carcillo) is in tact, so injuries cannot be used as an excuse. I do, however, doubt that Toews is anywhere near 100%. He just doesn’t seem right.

It looks like it’s Ray Emery’s job to lose in the net. Emery (11-4-2) got his second straight start. He faced Giguere (12-9-2).  It is easy to blame the goalies - Hawks with 163 goals against, second worst in the West. Only Columbus is worse. But, last night’s game featured at least 7 odd man rushes for the Av’s with 5 or 6 of them being 2 on 1’s!  I don’t recall the Hawks having any.

The line ups were announced as 1) Shaw, Toews, Kane (which I liked but rarely saw).  2) Sharp, Bolland, Hossa 3) Kruger, Morrison, Stalberg 4) Brunette, Mayers, Frolik. For once, I was surprised NOT to see Bickell. I thought he had a pretty good previous game. Leddy continues to be paired up with Montador on the 3rd D-line.

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Gagner, Oilers Slam Hawks

In 2 games at the Rexall Center, in Edmonton, the Hawks have given up 17 goals. No, this is NOT a misprint, for anyone reading this and thinking, “Well that can’t be right.” It isn’t right, but it IS correct. The last time the boys went out there (November 19) they fell 9-2. This time it was 8-4, so I guess things are improving….. In all seriousness the first one was a true blow out, with the Oilers leading 5 - 1 after the first period. In last nights game it was the opposite. The Hawks basically dominated the action in the first half of the game. They scored first, 17-3-2 this year while doing so and led after the 1st period, 15-1-2 this year in that category. That is what is so aggravating about this game. They had a 2 - 0 lead (look back and see how many times I have blogged that 2-0 always worries me) and then fell apart.

Some roster notes before we start. Frolik was bumped for Bickell (2 penalties, his contribution) and Scott again replaced Montador. Crawford (18-12-5) went up against Dubnyk (8-11-1). I will really be surprised if Cro gets the start tonight, but what do I know. He let in one of the softest goals I have seen in a while. It was a pretty routine glove save that went passed him. Immediately I wrote down “enter Emery” on my notes with out even looking at the TV.

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Canucks Beat Hawks in OT

The Hawks lost in overtime, in Vancouver, to the Canucks on Tuesday night. It was the first, in what I predict, will be many 3 point games for the top 8 western Division teams. The good news, however, was the return of Toews & Sharp. Sharpie had missed the previous 8 games with a wrist injury. Toews, only one. The All Star break could not have come at a better time for both of them. With the two stars back in the line up, plus the addition of center Brendan Morrison, the lines looked like this. 1) Kane, Toews, Stalberg.  2) Hossa, Morrison, Sharp 3) Kruger, Bolland, Shaw   4) Brunette, Mayers, Frolik. On defense, Scott returned for the first time in a while & was paired up with Montador. As the game progressed however, we saw less and less of Big John. Bickell, Lepisto, & O’Donnell were “healthy scratches” as they say. I would still like to see either Bickell, Frolik, Lepisto, and or Kruger traded for another D-man. I want to see Jimmy Hayes (assigned to Rockford) remain up with the club. Crawford (18-12-4) matched up against Schneider (10-5-0). Crawford is now 4-5-3 in his last 12 games. Not good.

In the first period, the Hawks went on the Power Play four and a half minutes in. A clipping call (the crowd strongly disagreed)  on a low hit to Shaw. The Hawks 8th in the P.P. at 19%, could not convert. Vancouver went up 1 -0 after a Kesler shot was inadvertently re directed by Keith. Mayers answered to make it 1 - 1,  at 11:11. The period ended that way. Both goal tenders played well as the pace was very quick moving. The Canucks won the face off battle, a ridiculous 19-4.

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Toews, Sharp, Return Against Canucks

Both Toews & Sharp will return to the line up tonight as the Hawks kick off their long road trip in Vancouver. The Hawks will play 9 straight road games, and will not return back to the United Center until February 19. With the two Hawks stars returning to the line up, and the addition of center Brendan Morrison, roster moves must be made. (Morrison was acquired from Calgary in a trade which sent AHL All Star defense man Brain Connolly to the Flames organization.) From what they have updated so far on their website, it looks like Jimmy Hayes & Ben Smith will remain in Rockford - a move made during the NHL All Star break. Either player would be more welcome than Bickell, but I guess we’re stuck with him for now. Andrew Shaw will remain in Chicago. It will be interesting to see how Coach Q lines them up. Crawford is slated to go up against Cory Schneider. Personally, I’d RATHER see Luongo. The Hawks seem to be able to break him down easier than Schneider, especially in the mental game.

These next 3 weeks, should we remain healthy, should say a lot about where this team is headed. I still think we need on more D-man, with an offensive mind set. Loosing both Brain Campbell, and his mini clone, Chris Campoli, has made a difference. Keith and Seabrook continue to log many game minutes. Hjalmarsson is solid, but Nick Leddy has become far too inconsistent. Montador & O’Donnell are OK, for a 3rd pairing.

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Hawks - Pro’s, Con’s & Tweeners - Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of the 3 part series. Just to recap. I am breaking down the Hawks season, up to the All Star Break, into 3 parts. The Pro’s, Con’s, and Tweeners (subjects, that fall in between the pro & con). I do it by subject and then by individual players.. In Part One, I took on the con’s of the team so far. In Part 2, let’s go with the Tweeners, and end Part 3 on a positive note. For all statistical categories, I basically used this as a guideline. With 30 teams being in the league, I looked at where the Hawks ranked. 1 - 10, I called good (pro), 11 - 20 tweeners, and 21 - 30 bad (con). Again, this was a guide line only. Don’t waste your time telling me that 11 isn’t between 1 -10, or whatever. The sequel now begins…..

GOALTENDING
I put this as a tweener for a couple of reasons. I had Crawford as a let down in Part 1, and will have Emery as a plus in Part 3. Average them out, you got a tweener. The 2 goalies combined have a 2.82 goals against average for the season, making them the 19th place team in the league. Although the net minding has been Ok, for the most part, that’s just it. It is just OK. The Hawks, as I have mentioned several times, are still the only team in the NHL who has not shut any one out this season. Crawford and Emery have both played well, but neither, in my opinion, have “stolen” a game.

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