Kukla's Korner

Talk'n Hawks

Category: Chicago-Blackhawks

The Hawks (DVR….failed to record)

Last season I watched every minute, of every preseason, regular season, and playoff game except for one. I went to the Rockford Ice Hogs game, and due to a power failure in my neighborhood, missed that event. On Sunday, my son and I attended the Ice Hogs game (vs. the Charlotte Checkers, Carolina’s affiliate) and I guess for old times sake, history repeated itself. This time however, there is no explanation. Oh well, whattaya gonna do? More on the Hogs in a minute.

Looking up the recap of the Hawks game, it was a pretty good one to miss. The Canucks beat the Hawks at the United Center 6-2. Vancouver converted five of six power plays, enough said. The Hawks had been hanging around the 90+% rate in the P.K. for the last couple of weeks up until then. Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger scored the Hawks 2 goals.Chicago, conversely, went 0 for 5 on it’s Power Play, a new team record. This has been a major problem all of this early season, and can no longer be overlooked! As a side note, Duncan Keith missed his third straight game (hand injury - day to day). It was also the first time this season that the Hawks failed to pick up at least a point at home.

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Road Trip, Part 2

It was part 2 of the Father’s Florida road trip (see previous blog entry for part 1). The Hawks (8-2-2) went up the state to Tampa Bay (5-2-2) after last nigh’ts shoot out victory against the Panthers.

Ray Emery (2-0) started tonight against Dwayne Roloson (2-3-1). Would you believe you’d have to go all the way back to 1978 to find the last time a Hawks goalie started a season 3-0? The Hawks used the same lines and defense men as they did the night before. Duncan Keith (upper body - day to day) sat out another game. 

The first period started with a very fast pace for the first 6 minutes of play. The Hawks out shot T.B. 4-0 during that stretch. Nine minutes into the period, the Hawks once again, showed why they have a 29th place, 8.7% Power Play, by coming up empty. The Hawks were 0-19 during the previous 5 games. Shortly after the failed opportunity, Emery came up with a BIG save on an open Stamkos, who went forehand, backhand. Toews caught a puck in the face and left the ice (and the bench) for the rest of the period. Viktor Stalberg put one off the post on a 2 on 1 breakaway pass from Dave Bolland. The Hawks out shot the Lightning 15-8 in the period. No score.

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Florida Road Trip, Part 1

It was part one of the “Father and Son” road trip to Florida Thursday night. The Hawks have scheduled Dad/Mom road trips the last couple of years, chartering a private jet for all.

The Florida Panthers have former Hawks Skille, Versteeg, Kopecky and Campbell (plus Dale Tallon). Versteeg and Campbell, by the way, are tied for the team lead in points. The Hawks, so far this season have been basically injury free, played without Duncan Keith. Keith suffered an upper body injury (hand) last game. Other than Keith, the only other injury problems have been Ben Smith (preseason concussion) playing right now in Rockford and Hossa. Hoss had his first of his usual injuries which plague him every season.

Corey Crawford faced the 21 year old rookie, Jacob Markstrom (2-2) in net. As for the Hawks line ups, Stalberg remained on the first lime while the returning Carcillo (2 game suspension) dropped down to the fourth line. Defense wise, all the match ups were affected and shuffled through out the game.

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A “Happy” Halloween

The Hawks, playing their third game in four days, found a way to beat Nashville Monday night. Corey Crawford was back in net for Chicago, going up against Pekka Rinne (for my money, the toughest goalie the Hawks faced during the ‘10 playoffs). The Hawks entered the game with a league leading, 94% penalty kill. Conversely, they were a ridiculous, 27th place in the league on the power play. Their PP percentage was 10.5% heading into the game, and were 0 for 11 in the last 3 games. Caoch Q has been trying every combination to try and snap them out of this.The problem, as I see it is, the inability to pass cross ice and set up the one timer. They have had great success with this in the past, but what do I know.

The game had an inauspicious start, 26 seconds in. Crawford mishandled the puck, after the Hawks failed to touch for icing, and the Preds jumped on it for an early 1-0 lead. The Hawks power play was tested 3 times in the first period, including once when they had a 2 man advantage for 19 seconds. Unfortunately, their percentage dropped even lower as they came up empty. But, for once, it was the Hawks who scored with less than a minute left in the period, on a shot by Patrick Kane. The game was tied 1-1 after the first period. Nashville out shot the Hawks 9-8.

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Hawks Down Ducks

The Blackhawks have now picked up at least a point in 7 straight games after beating the Ducks in a shoot out last night. Corey Crawford was one shoot out save better than Jonas Hiller to put the Hawks in first place in the Central. Patrick Kane, who didn’t have a point in the last 3 games, had 2 assists and the shoot out winning goal.

Coach Q used the same line up and lines again (a record for him I can assume) to start the game, that he has used for the last several games. Nick Leddy (who I admit, I wasn’t much of a fan of last year) has really improved. Paired up with Keith, he has learned to use him body and stick very effectively this season. The Ducks, coached by Randy Carlyle - and his new 3 year deal- went on the power play first in the game. The Hawks, with their 2nd league best, 94.1% penalty kill, fought them off. There was no score after the first period. The Hawks out shot Anaheim 11 - 5.

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Av’s Fall To Hawks

Colorado, who came back to town after winning 5 straight road games (a franchise record, the last time they won 4 in a row they were in Quebec) lost to the Blackhawks on Thursday. They remained perfect at home, 0 - 2, with what has to be a won - lost record that is strange, to say the least. Some new Av’s faces included Varlamov (from Washington, a LOT more on him later), Jan Hejda via free agency, and the kid Landeskog, the overall number 2 pick in the NHL 2011 Entry Draft.The Av’s came into the game 2nd in the league in face off percentage. That’s always an pretty good indicator as to how well your team is doing.

The first period (heck, the entire game) was a goal tending seminar by Varlamov and Crawford. The period was very fast paced and presented good scoring opportunities for both teams. Each time had a power play chance in the first half of the game, but came up empty. The first goal was scored by the Hawks with around 4 minutes left. Carcillo set up Toews who elevated a back hand (I love that shot) to find the back of the net. The Hawks had another power play and came up short. The Hawks, 3 out of 22 on the PP, entering the game got no help from a VERY aggressive Colorado penalty kill. The Av’s out shot the Hawks in the first 13 - 6.

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First Road Win

It was a classic battle of the 2 -1- 1’s Tuesday. The Hawks beat the Coyotes, on the road, to get their first road victory ( 1 - 1 on the season.).  Hossa returned to the line up, teaming back up with Kane and Carcillo.

I’m really liking what I see from the “Car Bomb”. He brings great energy to that line, and is more than willing to finish a check. All of the Hawks lines seem to be pretty set, as well as the defensive match ups. O’Donnel and Montador are fitting in nicely together. It will be interesting to see where Ben Smith ends up once he returns. He was assigned to Rockford to get his legs back after that preseason concussion during the Wings game. Sometimes, unfortunately, other injuries come up with the answers for you.

On to the game. The Hawks entered the game 2 for 17 on the power play, an 11.8 percentage. They ranked 20th (or 21st, depending on which game graphic you believe). This is a little disturbing considering that it is basically the same power play line up since the ‘10 Cup team. Hossa made his return a success by scoring the first goal, on a nice pass from Sharp. The Hawks on the power play. had a 2 man advantage for 68 seconds, when the Hoss cashed in.  Other than the Hawks out shooting the Yotes 15 - 4 during the first period - a trend that would continue all game - there’s not much to say about the opening.

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‘10 VS. ‘11

The 2011 Stanley Cup Champion Boston Bruins beat the 2010 Cup Champs in a shoot out at the United Center. It is the only time (regular season) that the two clubs will see each other this year. A couple of interesting notes before we get to the scoring.

Hossa was out for the game. I originally heard upper body injury - here we go again with this guy missing games with an injury. However, during the TV broadcast, they said there was no official word on why, so we’ll see. Viktor Stalberg, back from his injury, replaced Hoss on the Kane line with Carcillo. I have liked what I’ve seen from Carcillo so far this year It’s nice to see a guy finishing checks, something I RARELY saw anyone do last year. I (unofficially) had him for about 8 hits in the game. John Scott played wing on the 4th line. With the NBA being in lock out mode, it was good to see a couple of 6 ft. 8 in. guys (Chara) at the U.C. One other side note, the CBOE seats (the Hawks auction off the area between the 2 benches, with 2 seats, on every home game) have undergone a change. The glass (speaking of Zdeno) is now rounded off between the two benches. There are no longer any corners, it is almost bubble shaped, if you can picture that.

Anyway, on to the game. If you bet the over on off sides and icings, you won last night. It seemed like there was a whistle every couple of minutes. The first period was a chess match between the two coaches, changing the match ups constantly. There was also a real playoff atmosphere in the first couple of periods. Brian Bickell started the scoring in the first period. He took away the puck and went 5 hole on Thomas.

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Jets Return to Chicago

The Winnipeg Jets, with former Hawks Cup hoisters, Ladd and Byfuglien, came to the United Center (the only time these two teams will play, regular season, this year) and fell 4 - 3.  Before we get into the actual play, here’s a couple of side notes. Sean O’Donnell turned 40 years old, one of only four players currently in the NHL. He became the oldest Hawk skater to wear the sweater. Only Tony Esposito played at an older age for the Hawks. For his birthday, the players left a walker at his locker. Patrick Sharp said that he would give Sean all of the phone numbers of the parents of the players so that he would have some one to talk to.

Dan Carcillo played his first game with the Hawks after sitting out the first 2 games serving a suspension from last year with the Flyers. The “Car Bomb” started on the second line with Kane and Hossa, fitting in pretty well, while picking up his first point as a Hawk. The defensive match ups remained the same, as did the 1st and 3rd line.

The scoring began with the Jets, Slater scoring twice within the first 8 minutes of the 1st period. Both goals were on close in redirects, making it a tough start for Emery. The Hawks then bounced back in the second period scoring twice. The First goal was on a power play. Patrick Kane took the puck from deep in his own zone and stick handled down to the Jets goal drawing the tripping penalty. Brunnette scored from right in front of the crease to put the Hawks on the board.

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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.

T

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