As we approach the All Star Lame - not a typo, you look at the rosters this year and tell me I’m wrong. There’s no doubt that the game sucks (Only the NFL Pro Bowl is worse) but can be slightly tolerated by watching the Big Names share some ice time together. And DON"T even suggest that you pull a baseball and make the game mean Finals priority. I do like the mixing of the players from the leagues….. but I digress. Anyway, I am going to review the season so far, in 3 parts, as stated in the title. We’ll go with the Con’s as Part 1, the Tweeners (can’t call it one way or another) Part 2, and end positive with the Pro’s, Part 3. In the words of Pee Wee Herman in the basement, “Let’s begin, shall we.”
The Hawks have for months now hovered around 78% and in the 26th to 28th spot. It’s hard to believe that they had one of the best Penalty Kills in the league for the first couple of months. All of that changed early in November when the boys gave up 5 Power Play goals to Vancouver at a home game in the United Center. I can’t believe that one bad game would still linger and be the problem, so let’s examine. The Hawks play a much better PK when they are aggressive. We saw quite a few short handed coals in years past. I believe that when you start to doubt your goal tending (from coaches to players) to tighten up a little too much. The goalie, as they say, is your 5th Penalty Killer. Also, to many tap in goals, which leads to my next subject…..
As we head into the All Star break, it is a log jam in the Central Division. With 4 teams at 60+ points, and 3 points separating them, it should be a very interesting second half of the season. Shoot Out wins, (ROW) which I was warning about as far back as October and November, may prove to be what separates the Hawks from the others, when all is said and done. The Central is the only division with more than 2 teams at 60 or more points. And if that’s not enough, the Hawks do not return to the United Center until February 19!
In the previous match up, we saw Crawford start the game and Emery come in with 4 minutes left in the 2nd period. A one hopper from center ice got past Cro, to make it by far the softest thing to go past him this year. Although we’ve seen pretty solid goal tending out of both net minders, we have not seen one of our guys STEAL a game. Chicago still remains the only team in the NHL not to shut some one out. Hossa scored twice as the Hawks dropped the first match up 5-2. The problems also continue with letting players stand, not bothered , in front or side of the net. There have been far too many tap in & rebound goals. Quality shots, or for that matter, any shots are becoming a problem, also. The Hawks took only their second shot on goal in the game with less than 5 minutes left in the first period.
Buffalo came into the United Center (how many home games do we get this season?—just wait, 9 in a row out of town soon) on Wednesday night. You really hate to see a team that seems to be looking forward to the off season BEFORE the All Star break, but you get that feeling watching the Sabres right now.
The Hawks won 6-2, and by the way, STILL remain the only team in the NHL without a shut out. I know that “they don’t ask how, they ask how many”, but seriously, we’re 47 games in. As a side note to the game, there was a goal that was disallowed in the game. Shaw knocked down the puck with his hand, to his stick, passed it to Kruger, who knocked it in. The goal was immediately waived off. The officials met, skated to the head set for about 5 seconds and then they played on with no explanation. A few minutes later, Edzo explained that the whistle hand blown due to a hand pass, (wrong call) which was passed on to him by a friend in Toronto. I can live with wrong calls, and I usually never even mention them. It is part of every sport. However, if that’s the call, EXPLAIN on the ice to the crowd & those who are watching at home. You can’t hope that Eddie O. calls every game & uses his connections!
It was Crawford (17-10-4) against not Miller (yes, I was a little disappointed, I still like to watch him) but, Enroth (8-8-3). As for the Hawks line, the “Kid Watch” continued with Shaw on the second, Hayes on the third, and Smith on the fourth.
Before we talk about last night’s match up, the game tying goal that was originally credited to Hossa against the Wings in the previous game, was changed to Toews, for those who missed that (like I did).
The 2nd in the league in face offs, Sharks, came to the United Center to play the 3rd in the league, face off leaders, the Hawks last night. Why did I mention that? I’m not really sure, so lets move on..Crawford (16-10-4) was in net against Niemi (19-7-5) . There were a couple of line jiggles, 2nd) Hossa, Shaw, Kruger 3rd) Hayes, Bolland, Brunette 4th) Frolik, Mayers, Bickell. The 3 “D” pairing seem to finally be set, with Montador & O’Donnell playing together, once again. San Jose came into the contest having taken 14 out of their last 16 points.
Back to last night. In the 1st period, Sean O’Donnell and Winchester dropped the gloves early. O’Donnell took exception to the activity around Crawford in the crease. It’s about time that we saw some one from Hawks get physical in front of the net, defensively! Both players left the ice for the usual 5 minute fighting penalties.
The Blackhawks played the Red Wings for the 3rd time in 16 days, this time at the Joe in Detroit. Judging by the previous two games, you knew a couple of things for sure. One that it was going to be a great game, and secondly that it would probably be a close score. It didn’t look that way at first, by any means, but it would end up that way. More on that later. Crawford (16-10-3) was in net for Chicago against Howard (25-10-1). For Chicago, Ben Smith was sent back to Rockford on the return of Marcus Kruger. The slight line changes were, 2nd line- Frolik, Bolland, Hossa, 3rd line- Kruger, centering Brunette & Shaw, 4th- Bickell, Mayers, Hayes.
The 1st period was a nightmare for Hawks fans. In the first 7 minutes it was all Detroit, out shooting the Hawks 10-0! Crawford was tested right from the start. In a game that saw only a few penalties, the Hawks were on the Penalty Kill first. The Wings took full advantage of it, on a redirect from Holmstrom. Hey, if you’re getting killed 5 on 5, what chance do you have short handed. Bertuzzi put the Wings up 2-0 on a break away. When all was said and done, the Hawks were fortunate to only be down 2 - 0 going into the locker room. Detroit out shot Chicago, a ridiculous 21-4.
Before we talk about the game last night between the Hawks and the Wild at the United Center, congratulations are in order. Three Hawks (so far) have been named to this year’s All Star squad. Marian Hossa will make his 5th trip to an All Star game, receiving the news yesterday on his 33rd birthday.—As a side note, I was wondering & would like your opinion on this. Hossa has over 400 goals. Do you think that 500 goals is an automatic trip to Toronto and the Hall of Fame or just a ballot opportunity. Another words, is that number losing the magic it once had? Just curious.—Toews & Kane will both be making their 3rd trip. I say so far because there still may be a shot for Duncan Keith, I feel. As always, time (and unfortunately injuries, will tell). Patrick Sharp, last years All Star game MVP is out due to injury (3-4 weeks, wrist). Sharpie, with 20 goals & 20 assists would have most likely made it 4 Hawks. Too bad.
On to the game. It was Ray Emery (9-3-2) against Josh Harding (8-4-2) in the nets. A couple line shake ups worth mentioning were, the 2nd line with Hayes, Bolland, and Hossa. I always thought that the Hawks needed a 2nd line center and perhaps they always had one who was on the 3rd line. We’ll see. The line certainly did well yesterday. Shaw centered Brunette & Frolik on the 3rd line. Bickell slipped down to the 4th line (it would NOT surprise me to see him go in some sort of package deal, down the line) with Mayers & Smith.
Viktor Stalberg collected his first NHL Hat Trick last night to help push the Hawks past Columbus, 5-2. I know that I have dogged Stalberg in many a blog this season and during the off season. Because of that, this is were a lesser man would mention that the 3rd goal was into an empty net, and that it was against the WORST team in the NHL, but I am above that. He also scored goals number10, 111, & 12 last night. 7 of the 12 goals he has scored this season have been against the Blue Jackets. I’m just say’n. Either way, the Hawks DESPERATELY needed a win, so congratulations to the kid.
In the net for the two teams was Crawford, 15-10-3, and Curtis Sanford, 6-8-3. I really didn’t know much about Sanford before this game. However, this kid played great for the first 2 periods. It has been a while since an opposing goalie has stolen a game from Chicago, and I thought that this was going to be it. The Hawks also faced a coach in his first game, Todd Richards. This seems to happen every time a team changes coaches.
Ben Smith (my man) was called back up from Rockford to replace Sharp (3-4 weeks, wrist). The lines were, 1) Stalberg, Sharp, Kane 2) Hossa, Bolland, Hayes (my other man) 3) Mayers, Bickell, Smith 4) Shaw, Frolik, Brunette. Montador & O’Donnel were the #3, D pairing.
It’s hard to believe that only a couple weeks ago, that the Hawks had the BEST record in the NHL and the BEST home record. However, when you only pick up 3 out of the last possible 12 points, with 5 of those games being at the United Center, things are sure to change. The Hawks are now in 5th place (In late October I posted that Shoot Out points are nice, but too many of them will come back to haunt you in the ROW -Regulation / Overtime wins-column). The Hawks, Blues, and Red Wings, all have 53 points, but it’s the ROW that drops the Hawks down to 3rd in the division..
Since the last time I wrote, the boys lost to the Av’s 4-0 and then lost in Overtime to Detroit last night, 3-2. The reasons are simple and I am truly getting tired of writing the same thing over and over, but here we go.
1) Leaving guys open and untouched in front of the net. The goalie should not have to make 2 or 3 saves (I know, control rebounds, but that’s not always possible) especially on the same player, while no one touches him.
2) Failure to score on the Power Play. You have basically 5 All Stars on the first unit, what’s the problem?
3) The inability to hold on to a lead AND starting & finishing periods. By that I mean allowing goals in the 1st and last minute of a periods.
4) And finally, dumb turnovers in your own end.
The title says it all. It was a really fun game to watch for 59 minutes, but the Hawks came up empty. It was the first time back to the Wells Fargo Arena since the Cup was hoisted back in 2010, as the Hawks fell to Philly 5-4. The reasons for the loss have pretty much become a theme. Leaving guys open in front of the net and being scored on in the last minute of periods. Read back to the blogs that I have written when the Hawks lose, and you will see those same words over and over.
For the game, Chicago called up forward Andrew Shaw and d-man Dylan Olesen from Rockford. Shaw-2011, 5th round pick & Olesen—2009 ist rounder made their NHL debuts for the game. Along now with Smith, Morin, Pirri, and Hayes, Coach Q shows that he is not afraid to sit regular players to take a look at the AHL hopefuls.
The line ups looked like this; 1) Sahrp, Toews, and Shaw. 2) Stalberg, Kane, Hossa. 3) Bickell, Bolland, Brunette. 4) Frolik, Mayers, Hayes (my favorite 4th line in a couple of years, by the way) Defensively, the kid Olesen was paired with Sean O’Donnell. Emery got the start in net against the off season acquisition, Bryzgalov.
Daniel Carcillo, as every one expected has been suspended by the NHL, Here’s a quote I got from nhl.com.
NEW YORK – Chicago Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo has been suspended for seven games and will forfeit $66,158.54 in salary for boarding Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tom Gilbert during NHL Game #571 in Chicago on Monday, Jan. 2, the National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced today.
Carcillo, who was suspended on Nov. 28, 2011, is classified as a repeat offender under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Accordingly, he forfeits his salary based on the number of games in the season (82), rather than the number of days (185). The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
The incident occurred at 7:23 of the second period. A major penalty for boarding and a game misconduct were assessed on the play.
Carcillo will miss games Jan. 5 at Philadelphia, Jan. 6 vs. Colorado, Jan. 8 vs. Detroit, Jan. 10 vs. Columbus, Jan. 12 vs. Minnesota, Jan. 14 at Detroit and Jan. 15 vs. San Jose. He will be eligible to return Jan. 18 vs. Buffalo.
Note that Carcillo is undergoing tests on his knee and would not start serving the suspension until he is considered healthy.
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