Friday, October 31, 2008

Game Preview: Stars at Hawks

We'll just let the inaugural issue of The Committed Indian tell the story: As always, click to enlarge.

Kane > Crosby

According to Alexander Semin of the Capitals anyway...

In an interview with Puck Daddy Semin had this to say:

What's so special about [Crosby]? I don't see anything special there. Yes, he does skate well, has a good head, good pass. But there's nothing else. Even if you compare him to Patrick Kane from Chicago ... [Kane] is a much more interesting player. The way he moves, his deking abilities, his thinking on the ice and his anticipation of the play is so superb.

Next step is just to get 120 points in the season and the Hart Trophy.. he's already got the Calder that Crosby missed out on...

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Winter Classic Info

Finally - some news about the Winter Classic tickets - From the Sun Times:

Blackhawks’ season-ticket holders finally got the word on tickets for the Jan. 1 Winter Classic matchup with the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field on Tuesday.

They’re being offered tickets in three price categories -- $75, $225 and $325. Season-ticket holders, of which there are about 14,000, will get first crack at tickets to the outdoor game and Wrigley Field is expected to accommodate 41,000.

The NHL is planning to release additional ticket information no later than Monday.

If those tickets are going to be standard for all - that's a hell of a lot less than expected.

As of right now the cheapest tickets on StubHub are $330 while the most expensive are $10,000. I'd still be interested to see what Season Ticket holders are told exactly about where their seats will be.

UPDATE: Puck Daddy has a great breakdown of what's going on so far.

3's are wild

Hawks are back to a perfect .500 now, 3-3-3.

Sharp and Keith continue to be the all-stars of this team as both played solid games and scored the two goals for the Hawks. The fourth line continues to play well - hitting hard and not committing too many mistakes... Hell even Havlat is playing pretty well.

But there's still way to many fuck ups to really compete in the league, especially in the tougher Western Conference. Campbell's guarenteed spin-o-rama move came in the 2nd period and while of course it looks fun when it's done right it looks pathetic when you get knocked over trying it and the other teams scores on the turnover. Quit the cute moves and just play.

Toews continues to be snakebit.. He's playing pretty solid, even though his -2 last night doesn't really look great, he's making good moves and taking plenty of shots but just can't finish anything.

It was good to see the Hawks shooting more last night, although I'd have taken less shots overall if they had just been better quality. No one is just crashing the net and screening the goalie - and a player like Backstrom isn't going to give you anything cheap.

The Hawks looked tired out there tonight - there's 3 days of rest before the Stars come to the UC. Lets hope it helps.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Your Red Wings review and Wild Preview all in one..

Here's the review part - it sucked.

Hawks came out in the third and gave away 3 goals in the opening 10 minutes only to (thankfully) tie it with a two man advantage. They were lucky to get the one point out of the game since they let the game get away from them after outplaying Detroit for most of the game.

The Hawks failed again in the shootout - I don't know what happened with Kane but last year he was almost automatic in the shootout but hasn't put one in yet this year.

Sopel still sucks but Havlat continues to play great - including another pretty goal in the second.

As was mentioned in the comments in the last post - there were a lot of "Lets go red wings" chants going on. While they were constantly shouted down with the "detroit sucks" response it was a very unwelcome sound to hear the Wings fans be so loud. In my section there was an entire row of them sitting behind me. However, since none of them actually were wearing any Wings gear, and couldn't even bother to wear anything red, I have to say I'm thinking they were nothing more than fair-weather fans coming out since the Wings won the cup. Fair enough, but they probably won't be back unless the wings repeat - which they could very well do.

So now the preview:

The biggest news for this game is obviously the changes made. Hendry and Hjalmarsson have been sent down - Barker is called up. They aren't losing much since Hendry's only impact on stats has been 4 PIM and -1. I can't say he's really stood out in any of the games. Hjalmarsson was only able to play in one game so far before being injured.

Barker meanwhile has stepped up and has 5 points in 7 games down in Rockford.

The Wild have yet to lose in regulation and only one OT loss but like the Hawks they've been shakey in the 3rd period lately. The Hawks will need stay strong and not have as many mistakes late in the game. Otherwise, they've actually been playing pretty well. They've looked bad, but they still have points in the last 6 games.

The game tonight is on Versus too - so I guess that counts as "nationally-televised" but how much of the nation really gets Versus is still up to some debate.

Also, Pensblog is gambling on the game, but they took the Wild to win. Check it out if you want an explanation on how to bet on hockey. Lets hope they end up losing some money tonight.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


One of the best parts of last year was clearly how well the Hawks handed Detroit their asses. The come from behind win in the home opener was some of the most fun I've had at a hockey game.

So lets hope the Hawks can continue, because Detroit somehow got even better than they were last year.

Well.. not somehow.. they got Hossa.. that's how. They took a loaded team and added a ringer.. what a bunch of pricks.

No surprise that the Wings have started they season well and probably won't give up their spot at the top of the division for the year but a win in regulation tonight will put the Hawks only one point behind them. Khabby is starting in net coming off a decent game where the defense played solid for him..

The Wings haven't lost on the road yet.. so they're due right?
The Hawks are 3-0-1 at home.. so there's that

It should be a fun game...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Hear Mindless Noise, Rozner Must've Had a Thought

We here at Here Come The Hawks love it when Barry Rozner vomits up something for the Daily Herald, makes us feel a whole lot better about who we are as people. He was at it again today:

Time is right for Tallon to make big move

Dale Tallon's up to something.

At least, that's the feeling you get with the NHL GMs meeting right here in town.

We didn't know that all the GM's being in one place meant that something would happen. Is that a universal law? Here we thought they were discussing rules changes and possible expansion. But no, they've all come to help Dale Tallon!! What a bunch of guys!

The Blackhawks' general manager looked like a beaten man during the news conference announcing a coaching change, but his demeanor has since improved, and he's got a great opportunity now to make something happen and save his own hide.

No move would be bigger, or have more impact, than subtracting goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin from the roster.


It would please boss John McDonough to no end, as McDonough pushed for the signing of free agent Cristobal Huet based on what he saw in net last season, and while new to hockey even McDonough knows you can't have $12 million, or 21 percent of your cap, in goal.

God are we tired of this. John McDonough is a lot of things. Good at his job, determined, communist, porn star, but he's NOT STUPID. Because of this, we think it's extrememly unlikely, even laughable, that McD would push for any hockey decision. Or as Rozner says, being new to hockey, McDonough knows to NOT INTERFERE.

Getting rid of Khabibulin and his $6.7 million salary would be a miracle, but the best way to make it happen is for Khabibulin to play well, and that's almost certainly why he's still playing.

If Tallon pulls it off, and doesn't have to pay too much of Khabibulin's salary, it would free up cap space to add some size on defense. Someone like Chris Pronger, who played eight seasons for Joel Quenneville in St. Louis, might be available in a month or two if the Ducks can't right the ship.

Khabby is still playing because it's the only option, isn't it? Well, actually, it wasn't. But it's the only one a balls-less Tallon could choose. The minors would have worked, and sitting him on the bench also was a choice, but both could have resulted in a sulking, angry Khabby, being a distraction.

But our favorite part by far is the "doesn't hav eto pay too much of Khabibuulin's salary...". Um, Barry, you're not allowed to pay salary to someone on another team, like baseball or basketball. Only if he's claimed on re-entry waivers. Did you mean that? That wouldn't be a trade then, would it? Seeing as how a trade, as we understand it, though we haven't read a book in a while, is when someone gives you something they have for something you have.

Pronger? He makes exactly half-a-million less than Khabby, and is signed through next year. He's 34. How does that solve a #2 center? And instead of paying 12 million in goal, you want to pay 13 for two d-men? Really? That's how you want to go about it? I don't think government bailouts are spreading to sports, much less hockey, Barry.

Or the Hawks could add some goal scoring. There will be plenty of names available come January and February, and keep in mind that McDonough expects the Hawks to make the playoffs this season.

Yes, McDonough's the only one. Rocky and Bowman expect nothing. They're nihlists.

Equally important is for Tallon to begin moving some kids before they're exposed, though that is already occurring.

The Hawks had an excellent chance over the summer to get a No. 1 center and take some pressure off Jonathan Toews, but they passed on Olli Jokinen as he went to Phoenix.

Cam Barker would have likely been part of any deal with Florida, and the jury's still out on the young defenseman, though he has been unimpressive at the NHL level thus far. It doesn't help now that he's stuck at Rockford because of cap restrictions.

So you've just said the Hawks kids are proving to be uneffective outside of Toews and Kane and then wonder why they couldn't put together a package for Jokinen? And you complain that Barker hasn't been impressive in the NHL, which really isn't totally true, and then lament that he's not here. What color is the sky in your world, Barry?

There will be tagging issues in the years to come, and Toews and Patrick Kane will be receiving their monster contract extensions, so this will only get more difficult.

Good thing you've just advocated picking up a 6 million dollar, 34 year old defenseman when you're already loaded there, or a 5.5 million dollar #2 center. That's fancy math!!

Right, enough. My brain hurts. I'm sure Barry's does too.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

It's Easy When You're All Alone: Hawks 3, Whatever It Was Wearing Oilers Jerseys 0

We discovered tonight that hockey is an incredibly easy game when your opponent doesn't bother to show up. The Hawks were more than grateful, and put this game away about the time Aaron Johnson hit the twine. (Quick note on Johnson: Is he Jordan Hendry 2? He's hardly let anyone down, been very solid.) After that is was a simple task of negotiating not fucking up, and the Hawks did it masterfully, as the Oilers only managed one or two good chances all night. Khabby should have broken out a bong halfway through the 2nd.

Real star tonight was the PK. Not only a shorty, but nullified what had been a red hot Oilers power play into nothing more than a confused board meeting. Oilers couldn't muster any momentum off their man advantage, and thus the Hawks never lost it. The Men of Four Feathers also took it to the Oilers physically all night, and the Oiler D looked slow all night. Hey, I think Ales Hemsky is offsides again.

Get it in the fucking zone already!

Game 7 Preview: Oil Spill at Hawks

I'm sure I'm not the only one, but the Oilers have always been a second favorite team for me. Partly because I feel for any fandom that lives in a place so fucking cold, partly due to their hilarious upset of the Wings a few years back, but mostly because they're the hockey version of the Oakland A's. They're always young and cool, and fast, though the A's are rarely fast, so I guess for this metaphor to work fast in hockey would have to translate to patient at the plate in baseball. Does that work? No, not in the least? Yeah, well, we're stuck with it.

Anyway, this Oilers team is no different, in fact it's bursting at the seams with speed and skill. However, every expert on the planet has been lining up to pick the Oil to win the Northwest this year, and I'm not so convinced, merely because last year seems a mirage, with 14 shootout wins. Half that and this team would have been swimming near the dredges of the conference. They are certainly better than last season's version, but how much and what that means, I couldn't tell you. But they've certainly gotten off to a flyer this season, winning their first four, and attempting to win their first five of a season for the first time in 23 years.

The Oilers have the oddity of two D-men leading their scoring, in Souray and Grebeshkov. which might explain why their PP is clicking at about 30 percent. Or maybe it's the other way around. Either way, it's not good for the Hawks. You wouldn't be out of your mind to expect a repeat of the 6-5 OT orgy of madness that was these two teams' last meeting, and that's the game the Oilers want to play. Chicago's going to have to repeat their showing from Sunday, their most disciplined and responsible performance of the season. Give this Edmonton team any space and Khabby is going to be looking behind him an awful lot.

Monday, October 20, 2008

My Baby's on The Level: Hawks 4, Children of The Corn 2

Back to .500 is what that title refers to, I think. Anyway, a solid if not spectatcular effort from the Hawks last night. After the 10-minute mark in the first, after they had shaken out the legs from playing the night before, the Hawks were pretty much the better team from there on out, scoring 4 straight goals before one half of the corn twins netted for the final score of 4-2.

Game started out as they usually do versus the Canucks-who-now-resemble-the-Whalers, with Vancouver pretty much pushing the smaller Hawks all around the ice, not creating many chances themseleves, and whatever shots the Hawks do get are easily snuffed out by Captain Marvelous in net. Game was actually quite chippy throughout, many board meetings after whistles and a couple fights, where Burish and Eager got the worst of it, and that's being kind. Though Burish seems to enjoy getting punched in the face. Like it gives him power or something. Like Albert Pujols eating mentally-challenged kids for baseball power. Oh, he says he cares for them, but do you ever seem them again? No, you don't.

Hey, look, a power play! Two goals? You're allowed to do that? It has to be said that one came right after a Hawks penalty ended causing a brief man-advantage, but that's just efficient I suppose. Coach Q is obviously trying to figure out what works and who goes where, as both units were constantly in flux. Sometimes Sharp at the point on Unit 1, sometimes Buff, Bolland got a look there on the second unit, Ladd was on it once, then wasn't. Also, as some have pointed out, Captain Fantastic Toews isn't killing penalties at the moment. We'll see how long that lasts.

Not easy to score twice in a game when you don't provide the final touch on either goal, but Patrick Sharp turned that trick, once netting from a charitable Mattais Ohlund stick and another from a swinging Luongo skate to tap in a post-rebounding shot. It's almost laughable people are criticizing Sharp at center. Yes, he's better on the wing, but he hasn't let anyone down in the middle, in fact, name a better Hawks player over the whole of this season. Don't worry, we'll wait.

If you said Patrick Kane, we'd accept that, too. Another multi-point night for the boy who provides us with Scorpions songs, and how can you not love that? His pass to Sharp for the 4th was fit through an area so tight he could have been charged for statutory rape. Nice to see him carrying the load while Toews struggles, though pretty soon he's going to have a highlight goal to match the one from last year, as he's attempted about 3 or 4 this season that have only been lacking a finish. Soon enough.

Solid. And solid, for now, we'll do.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Game 6 Preview: Ca-schmucks at Hawks

I can't really explain what it is that's so detestable about the Canucks, but there's something. They look like they all watch "Friends" together, as do their fans. And despite their size, they pretty much play like the Hawks. But they've given the Hawks fits over the years, probably because when the Canucks discover a team they outsize by such a large margin, they actually grow some balls and play like they should. That, and Roberto Luongo. Never been able to solve him.

Anyway, Vancouver's off to a solid start, more so considering they've had just one home game. They've been scoring for fun, 19 in 5 games, though two games were played against the Flames. who have more leaks than the Boston PD in The Departed. But they've been horrific in their two losses, which have come against teams with speed like the Hawks, in the Caps and Sabres, so hopefully that's what we'll see tonight. Though Vancouver's blueline has a decent amount of size, it's not terribly mobile or imposing, so maybe our forwards can find some joy.

Be interesting to see how the Hawks bounce back after a tough loss, though last night's was an effort you can build on. They'll have to be better, and much so, on face-offs, as once again they got bent over a chair like a freshman girl pumped full of roofies in that category last night. For a team that is still suspect in its own zone, at least until Q sorts that out, and isn't big or strong enough to win board battles, starting without the puck is not a plan for victory. We'd like to see Huet start tonight and play real well, but I'd also like to see Marissa Miller in my living room. Who knows if I, or we, will?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Game 5: Fire Quenneville!

I was disappointed that the Blues didn't wear their third jersey in this game... These sweaters are awesome...

Off the start Toews centers a line with Kane and Versteeg on the wings... And it works... As we saw in the Capitals game, the Hawks are able to take advantage of a team right away. Versteeg brings the puck across the line and takes a shot from about 40 feet out. Manny gives up a big rebound... Brewer doesn't see the puck and Kane is able to go hard to the net and knock in the puck for the lead just 40 seconds into the game...

I wrote in some notes I was taking that "Sopel continues to fucking suck" but I can't remember exactly what he did.. I think it was giving up the puck behind the net...

Hawks had a good chance on a turnover by McDonald but the two on one that resulted was Burish and Fraser... They get a shot off but the refs kill any chance of it by losing sight of the puck and stopping play despite it being loose still...

Hawks get a power play but don't convert at the end of the 1st.. still get 30 seconds or so to start the second..

Kane is interviewed between periods and is able to make it through any questions about Savard without crying.. good for him.

Hawks fail to score in the opening of the second.. Keith is able to break up a dangerous play by tying up a stick... nice play

Kane gets the puck to Campbell who brings it over the line with support on both wings.. rather than get the puck to the side Campbell takes a quick wrister from around 40 feet out and it looks like it surprises Manny... Hawks lead 2-0

Hawks kill their first penalty even though Bolland was without a stick for most of it up front. I don't know if any of the shots the Blues take even get through to Khabby. Hawks are blocking all passes and shots.. great kill

A 2 on 1 with the one being Sopel looks like trouble.. but he does the only thing he's good at and lays out to take away the pass and the shot..

An icing call about 17 minutes in keeps some tired hawks on the ice and it pays off.. they get the faceoff to the point.. take a shot and Porter puts in the rebound.. 2-1

Losing faceoffs is another theme of this game it makes the Hawks pay.

End of the second...

I fucking hate Comcast.. the third period starts off with some weird strobe, bad digital feed.. the image is choppy and it's damn near impossible to pick up the puck...

Kane takes a good drop pass from Campbell works his way down and wrists one top shelf over Legace to retake the two goal lead on the power play... Great game for Kaner..

Hendry takes a stupid penalty where it looks like he decides to ball tap Perron.. it ends up in a double major... 4 minutes is way too long to give a team this good so far on the extra

Not the prettiest kill but it works... 4 minutes killed by the Hawks

8 minutes in the picture is finally better.. good job comcast...

Oshie to Tkachuk for a one timer point blank and Khabby doesn't have a chance... 3-2

Kane breaks through the blue line even though 4 Blues are standing right on it and draws a penalty...

Good to see Buff in front of the net on the PP... that's exactly where he needs to be with a midget like Legace in the net but the Hawks are still unable to get anything in the net..

Khabby is making Tallon look like a moron with how well he's playing right now... great saves to keep the lead with 4 minutes left

Blues pull Legace with 90 secs left... and keep him off except for a faceoff in the neutral zone..

Due to the icing.. Hawks can't change players.  Which means Burish has to take the faceoff.. which means Blues score with the extra skater and only 13 seconds left...

Overtime was uneventful except for Toews getting beat off the face off again and getting frustrated and hooking Tkachuk... Hawks still kill

We go to shootout...

McDonald goes first for Blues... and totally fucking chokes... completely beats Khabby and pushes it right across the crease

Kaner... does his normal deke routine... tries to elevate the backhand but Manny gets it

Boyes.... goes gloveside.. Khabby gets a piece of it but it goes in..

Toews... goes five hole and ties it up... simple but it works

Kariya... 50 % conversion... but Khabby keeps it out..

The game falls on Versteeg's shoulders... but he misses

Extra Innings...

Oshie... great move by Oshie to get Khabby to commit to one direction and go for the poke as he brings the puck across wraps it around Khabby...

Havlat... looks like he goes in too far.. doesn't elevate.. stuffed... game

Faceoffs were a huge factor in the game with the Hawks losing 35 of them... two of which lead directly to goals for the Blues... Quenneville will probably want to work on that.. and might ask for a better second line center.. or maybe he really thinks Burish is a good center to put out there with the game on the line... Fuck

Hawks come home tomorrow to face a rested Vancouver...

Game 5: Hawks @ St. Louis

Odd coincidence that Quenneville's first game as head coach for the Hawks will be against St. Louis. The last time the Blues were any good, Quenneville was running the bench for them.

It's hard to predict how the team will react to Q as the new coach and especially hard to guess how it will impact tonight's game. They've only had one practice with Q so there can't have been too many changes into the system (if there ever was much of a system). Khabby is going to start in net, which negates all the message board gossip that has been flying around that says Savard was fired for sticking with Khabby over Huet.

Khabby will be facing a Blues team that's played a hell of a lot better in the early games than they should be. Surprisingly, they're actually on top of the central division at the moment. A regulation win though will put the Hawks just one point behind them. The biggest area the Hawks will have to focus on is special teams.

The Blues are working an unbelievable, and unsustainable, 50% on the power play. In the small sample size, they've gone 9-18 and Tkachuk has 4 goals with the advantage. All this after being last in the league last season scoring only 14% of the time. It's about time for their average this year to start evening out.. So stay out of the box Seabrook. On the kill the Blues have also been good, running out the penalty 94.1% of the time.

Teams can come together after a coaching change - the Hawks went on a run right after Savvy was named coach in '06 so lets hope they can do it again.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Another addition...

Apparently, the Blackhawks weren't done with their changes behind the bench and added another assistant coach. They also finally caved in to Tallon's constant requests to add a coach who wears even stupider fucking glasses than he does.

Bergevin will be a new assistant coach for the team after being in the Hawks organization for 3 years. Bergevin played for Quenneville when they were both at St. Louis so they should know how to work together already.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Right Move, Bewlidering Timing

When I first saw the subject line on the thread on The 300 Level, I thought it was a joke, but soon realized the surprising news was in fact that, news. The timing is just so odd, but ultimately, probably the right decision. There was a post on the 300 Level, I don't remember by who, but I thought it summed it up best. The gist was that Scotty Bowman was brought in to survey everything, and at some point he must have said to Rocky and McDonough something to the effect of, "I don't know how much talent you have on the ice, and I won't know until they are playing a real NHL system." Quite frankly, the Hawks weren't.

It has to be said that Savvy has been a class act throughout. Though opinions of his coaching were pretty low, I doubt anyone could find a way to not like and root for the man. His players loved him, and that very well may have been the problem. Part of the love he felt from the team was that he required so little from them. There was no system to adhere to. Back-checking was non-existent. Fundamentals apparently were never worked on, all of this stuff the players' least favorite. Savvy wanted to be liked by his players so badly. He rewarded them instantly. Any string of good performances landed you on the top line. Notice Versteeg has been skating with Toews and Kane the past two games. Versteeg had been the Hawks best player in the first two games, but he doesn't belong on the top 2, or really even the top 3, lines. He's good in his role, and that's where he should stay, perhaps with increased ice time. How many other players have strung two or three good games together and found themselves with 19 and 88? Buff? Ladd? Kontiola? All did, and more. The list goes on. Savvy wanted his team to know any above average performance would result in promotion, whether it would fit or not, so that they would work hard and play for him. But that doesn't really work.

The similarities to when the Bulls fired Cartwright are hard to ignore. Everyone was happy that a beloved former player who was an assistant took over for a subpar head coach. His young team loved him, partly because he was a good guy and didn't really run any system they had to adhere to. They weren't forced to exert themselves on the defensive end. But that doesn't win, and Cartwright was dispatched early in his first full season.

Coach Q will definitely maximize talent on this team. We'll know exactly what they are soon enough. Fans in Colorado complained of his goalie juggling, that he never gave Budjai or Theodore an extended run until Theodore in the 2nd half of last season. Well, that would work here, as Khabby has never dealt well with a heavy workload and Huet's never been a full time starter. Avs fans also bellowed that he didn't play the kids enough. He'll have no choice here.

Some are wondering why Tallon hasn't followed Savvy out the door, and it's a good question to ask. This is only a theory, but Tallon is coming off his first off-season where the William Wirtz leash was off. Rumors have it that McDonough instructed Tallon to make a splash, which he did, which inturn has handicapped this roster. But McDonough and Rocky know they can't fire him, yet, for doing what he pretty much was told to do. Plus, now, with a real coach, they'll know exactly how much talent Tallon has assembled. Tallon has only one way out now, and that's Khabby continuing to play well and netting something in return that propels the Hawks to the playoffs, and not just as an 8th seed. It's his only salvation. Doubtful he pulls it off.

Bottom line, the Hawks will have a better coach behind their bench on Satruday night in St. Louis than the did on Wednesday night at the UC. Players will be held responsible, and we'll know how or if they are viable NHL players. Defensive lapses and turnovers will be reduced, you'd have to imagine. Perhaps, in the long run, we'll be glad that it was done so early to get the adjustment out of the way ASAP. But that remains to be seen.

Savard is out??

Word is from ESPN that Savvy has been fired as the head coach.

No word on the official site yet or any Chicago sources..

This seems way too early in the year to have made a move like this unless there's someone else willing right away to take his role. Scotty - what are you planning?

I'm very surprised with this move - only 4 games into the season and after the first win is an odd time to let him go, especially after the relatively good year he had last season.

I'm torn with the news because I like Savard and wanted him to do well, but his constant line changes, poor power play and horrible management with goalies showed he had some very big things to work on. I thought they'd let him work it out longer in the year before making a decision.

Tallon should feel like shit - this is more his fault than anyone elses'.

There's a lot to this story, I hope we hear more soon.

UPDATE: TSN is saying Quenneville is the replacement.

UPDATE: The official website says the same thing. I also just got this image in an email from 670 The Score... odd...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Game 4: Finally Hawks Win

It feels great to have the team finally get their game going and score their first two points of the year.  As shitty as the first few games have been, it's good to know the hawks are only 1 point out of first place, even if they've had to play an extra game to get there.  

I forgot that I had a class tonight when I told Sam that I'd do the game review but I only missed the first period... so I have nothing to say about it.  From the stats I looked at the game seemed pretty even.. but maybe not.  The Hawks seemed to have figured out how to win faceoffs which is something they needed to focus on.

Early in the Toews takes a penalty for slashing.  30 seconds later Seabrook takes a stupid interference call - Toews looked pissed at him when he gets in the box.  I would have loved to have one of them mic'd up to hear what Toews had to say to him. 

Khabby makes some big saves but just after Toews gets out of the box Mueller gets a nice wrister off and we all had that sinking feeling that things weren't going to change.  Coyotes 1.. Hawks 0.

A huge hit by Johnson near the blue line almost starts a rush but it gets broken up.  Looking back on it though this was the turning point of the game - things started going the right way after this.

Hawks draw a penalty and the stat goes up that the Hawks were 0 for 2 on the power play with only one shot... weak.. nothing would happen with the man advantage but just after Havlat gets the puck from Keith and puts on the best move we've seen from the Hawks all year.  Coming down the left side of the rink fakes the defender to commiting towards going to the boards and cuts inside  Fraser blocks a defender and screens Bryzgalov at the same time which is a sweet play.  Eddie O immediately calls it the "goal of the night"... good call Eddie

On the kill, Toews has a great move to get a break away and fly towards the net but he's pressured from behind and can't get a good shot off.. still he manages to get his rebound and put another shot on but hits post.  

Toews contributes on the penalty kill - Crosby doesn't.  Just a fact.

Somehow, Burish still can't find someone to fight, which is surprising with Carcillo on the other bench.  Probably for the best though since Burish isn't at the same level of Carcillo, though no would should doubt Burish would have gone.

He does get a 2 minute for roughing along with a 10 minute misconduct.  Doesn't matter though when all the penalties are sorted out the Hawks go on the power play. 

Officially they extend their streak of shitty power play stats - Just as the advantage ends though Keith makes a move on the point to open a shooting lane.  Sharp grabs the rebound and lifts it to take the lead for the first time in the game.

Period ends - Hawks go into the third with the lead for the first time this year.

A minute into the third Bolland flys down the ice and gets a weak shot off - he grabs his rebound and brings it behind the net.  4 Coyotes were almost even with the net and Bolland pushes it towards center.  Fraser picks it up, waits for a defender to drop and puts it in the back of the net.  Great shot of him sitting on the bench after scoring his first goal in the NHL.  Great play by Bolland

More back and forth.. Sharp takes a penalty.. it's killed.  Seabrook takes another penalty but Keith draws a hook seconds in... 4 on 4

Havlat and Toews get a two on one break - Havlat holds the puck as a second defender comes in to take away the pass to Toews.  Havlat passes back to Campbell.  Campbell fires a rocket that he picked up while watching Ovechkin up close, but not close enough, and puts the Hawks up by 3.

One minute left is announced and the UC stands up and cheers.. finaly there's something to cheer about.

Buff and Ladd were flying around hitting everyone.  Great to see, especially from Buff who needs to use his size more.  

No doubt Khabby should be the #1 goalie on this team right now.  He's looked solid in his first two starts and made some great saves to keep the Hawks in this one before they were able to pull away from the Yotes.  Whether he's playing to get off the team or playing to give a "fuck you" to the Hawks office it doesn't matter to us since he's the best option the team has to win and that's all any of us want.  I want him on the ice against the Blues.. 

Finally all three stars are Hawks

#3 - Fraser - 1 Goal, +2, first NHL goal
#2 - Havlat - 1 Goal, 1 Assist, +2
#1 - Khabby - 29 saves on 30 shots, stood on his head

Game 4: Coyotes come to the City

There are some positives to look forward to in this game - for one, all the stupid pageantry is over. It's done. As Greg Couch wrote, "Party's over, time to win". From the Daily Herald, it seems Pat Kane agrees:
"There's nothing else really to worry about," Patrick Kane said. "You don't have to do any more red-carpet walks or anything like that, just have to go out and play hockey and give the fans a show."
That quote just makes it seem even more evident that while the red carpet arrival may have been fun for some fans, it was a distraction for the players and a gimmicky PR move. Give away all the figurines and bobbleheads you want McD - but make sure your team wins first.

The Yotes haven't lost a game yet, so just like the Hawks, they're due. So far they've beat San Jose, who are solid, and Anaheim, who could be sneaky bad in the same way the Hawks became sneaky good last year.

It might be overlooked in the reactions from the first three games that the Hawks have actually improved every game, even if it's slight. The first game they just sucked, second game was close until a bad break, the reviewed goal, and a defensive mistake, giving Ovechkin even an inch of room. Monday's game, they played poorly, but still managed a point against a goalie who was on the top of his game.

Other encouraging news, Toews knows at least what he has to do as captain - he called a players only meeting. Now, whether he can actually get a response from the players is the real question.

Of course he calls the meeting, but did he call it because he knew he was supposed to? or did he call it with something to say and get them fired up?

So the Yotes are another young team with lots of talent, only so far this season they've shown up to games. They have a possible Calder winner in Kyle Turris (1G, 2A) and a big new name on the team in Olli Jokinen (also at 1G, 2A). The Hawks were 3-1-0 against them last year but this is a new team that could push for a playoff spot so it'll be important to get wins against them. The Hawks shouldn't have any more distractions and can focus on the game now.

I have no idea who will start in goal though, anyone want to guess?

UPDATE: Looks like it's Khabby in the net tonight up against his former team.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Something else non-hockey related

This comes from Puck Daddy and Japers...

See more recipes and videos at Eat Drink or Die

Red Carpet

Another quick thought - did people actually really like the red carpet event? I went, but only because I didn't have to work yesterday and had nothing better to do. The entire time though.. all I could think about was this

An amendment

This is probably a tiresome rant, but I'd like to take the opportunity to point out that last night was a perfect example of why the shootout is moronic. This was clearly a game that deserved to end 2-2, and we would have felt the exact same as we did, so would the Preds. We would have been disappointed at not winning a game at home where we had the chances to put it away, and Nashville would have been quite pleased with a point on the road in a tough environment. No one would have felt, incomplete? Is that the word? We'll use it. Give us some fucking credit, Bettman. We're adults, we can handle a draw.

Worrisome: Preds 3- Hawks 2 (SO)

Well, it's worrisome. Not panic-inducing, fire-everyone, turn up the alcoholism worrisome, but a little. Like an odd-placed pimple or strange pain in your ear. Nothing to see someone about, but worth keeping an eye on. Though, to be fair, it's always a good time to turn up the alcoholism.

The Hawks effort was slightly, oh so slightly, better last night. Came out on fire in the first 10 minutes, a continuing theme, and if not for Dan Ellis standing on his head could have found themselves 3 or 4 up and home and dry. Making a goalie keep his team in the game is slightly better than missing the net. But obviously, playing with that much zip and verve took its toll toward the end of the period, and Weber scored on a PP. Have to say, Weber was mightily impressive. I hadn't seen him live since the beginning of last year, and he's got a very big future ahead of him.

After just a moronic pass from Kane led to the second Preds goal, and Sharp tied it at the beginning of the 2nd with a goal that defines "scrappy", the game pretty much fizzled from there. The Hawks were obliterated on face-offs last night, losing by an Obama-McCain like poll of 58%-42%. This makes it hard to be the "puck possession" team Savvy claims he wants, though it's not clear if he knows what that means, as it leaves the Hawks trying to get the puck back, which they're not very good at due to cluelessness in their own zone and their diminutive size across the board. From the halfway mark on, the Preds lined up at their own blue line, forcing the Hawks to dump it in, knowing full well they would win any board battle, get their point on the road, and take their chances in OT and/or SO.

Toews looks like he's trying to everything himself, constant trying to weave through 3 or 4 guys like the drunken flusie on Lincoln Ave. Signs of life from Havlat finally, perhaps Savard's barbs through the press got through. The power-play still looks a mess. In fact, the whole team looks like it's trying to do everything in a hurry. You know who would help? ROBERT LANG! Yes, he was lazy, taking shifts, sometimes games, off. Yes, he showed about as much interest in his own zone as Palin does to condoms, older or younger, but he knew when to slow the game down, play in control, and make the right pass in the offensive zone. But alas....

Charity Events ...

No - that headline does not refer to the Hawks being so kind as to give two points to every team they play.. but it could..

Sam will probably be around later to write a recap of last nights game (sneak preview: he's going to be unhappy with it). Who could have guessed three games into the season we'd be begging to have Savard start Khabby again instead of Huet? His idea of simply switching those two out every other game just isn't going to work. He knows it, I hope, but I don't think he knows what to do. Can we please get Bowman to tell him what to do for a while?

Anyways, I got an email from the organizers of this event the other day.. it's a good cause and if you have the money.. you should think about going:

click image for a readable version

Monday, October 13, 2008

Game 3 Preview: Nashville Pussy at Hawks

We may have to set up a booth at THE LEDGE if the Hawks don't pull one out tonight, as there will be more than a few ready to jump. Anyway, the team-soon-to-be-in-KC visits the UC tonight, after some ridiculous ceremony red carpet thing as the Hawks enter the UC. Anyone else worried about this throwing someone out of rhythm? Maybe I'm just being paranoid.

Anyway, the Hawks record vs. the Preds last year was pretty respectable considering the way they used to skate circles around the Hawks the previous two years, at 5-3. The Hawks will see one of the few teams that is smaller and softer than they are. Quite frankly, there isn't much over there to scare anyone, except for maybe the most underrated coach in the league in Barry Trotz. A bunch of annoying, pussy, quick forwards is what you'll see. Oh, and the biggest douche-nozzle there is, Jordan Tootoo. With the energy in the building to be amped up for the home opener, expect it to take no less than 6 seconds for Burish to introduce himself.

The Hawks have just plain not been good the past two games, save the 1st periods. They've struggled to complete 3 consecutive passes, seem to constantly be in a hurry which has led to myriad turnovers in dangerous places. The PP has been abysmal, and the allotment of personel on it is bizarre. Havlat is not a point-man, and having him there leaves the 2nd unit bereft of talent. Buff on the point in neanderthal thinking. "He got big shot, him go point." Everyone would be better off if he were blotting out the sun in front of the net. Every shot is a big shot if the goalie can't see. Hopefully, Savvy will have addressed this.

On the plus side, the Preds play a wide open style that the Hawks want to play as well, and there's no danger of the Hawks being outmuscled tonight. I don't expect Savvy to show enough gumption to throw Khabby out there again, but it wouldn't surprise me. If Huet gets the call, a reduction of the silver platter rebounds would be greatly appreciated. Expect Dan Ellis on the other side, who got lit up in the opener by the Blues. Let's hope for more of that.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Game 2: Hawks Lose

The Hawks start their season with their first losing streak of the year, and they're doing everything they can to make sure to scare away any one that may have been curious about what this whole hockey game is about and tuned into the first WGN broadcast in 30 something years.

The game started off amazingly well - 26 seconds in Havlat hits Toews in stride going out of the Hawks zone.. Toews bounces the puck off the boards to Versteeg who goes five hole on what had been a pretty weak Theodore. The rest of the first period goes well.. the Hawks seemed to be passing better and getting their shots on net. Halfway thru the first period Skille gets the puck down low and bounces a shot off Theodore then puts the rebound thru his legs to take a 2-0 lead and the game was looking good.

But then another lapse on D near the blue line and Steckel is able to skate down the ice with little to no pressure and get it over to Bradley who knocks the pass into the net. Walker didn't get the pressure on Bradley he should have and someone (Sopel?) let the play develop too far. You can't let the 4th line make you look that bad... playing at the end of a shift isn't an excuse. The theme of not getting enough pressure on the Caps would be a recurring one...

Buff looked good in front of the net and seemed to be pissing off the Caps D and Theodore but he seemed to disappear later in the game.. The box score says he played 11:42 but I barely remember seeing him out there.

Scary break away when Campbell miss plays the puck at the worst time.. as in.. when Ovechkin was right next to him and went on a break away.. Seabrook is able to get a stick in at the last second and take Ovie off his balance.. good penalty..

10-6 advantage in shots after 1... at least they were putting them on the net.. Like Byfuglien those seemed to vanish after the first though

Five minutes into the 2nd Ovechkin shows that you can't give him chances and expect him not to come up big. Sharp misplayed a puck in the offensive zone and Ovie picked it up skated into the Hawks zone.. let Campbell give him too much space (any space is too much for him) and then he rockets it past Khabby.

Towards the end of the Second the Hawks finally started getting some power play chances and the passing looked a lot better than last night, but they still failed to convert Versteeg had a wide open chance but that dreaded ping denied him a goal.

After getting decent pressure on Theodore in the first the Hawks only managed to get 6 shots on the net in the second.

In the third the Hawks started playing the way we've seen too much.. really wild and sloppy. Passes weren't as crisp, they didn't generate any chances and they didn't clear their zone when they needed to.

Ovechkin had a great give and go.. and beat Khabby.. but it hits the post.. they shine a spotlight on him anyway as he skates away from the play.

After a scramble in front of the net.. Khabby grabs the puck out of the air but the Cap start to celebrate - no signal on the ice and play stops... time for our first Toronto War Room Review.. WGN doesn't show any good views of it.. but the signal is goal... Caps take the lead..

A few minutes later Ovechkin gets the puck at the red line and is given all the space he needs to work his way into the zone.. get to the middle and just rifle a shot post Khabby who seemed to be screened by his own players for the second time on the Russians' shot. Any argument someone would have with the third goal is erased.. doesn't matter

Some good chances with Khabby pulled.. but the caps clear.. that was game. Only 5 shots in the third period and the Hawks are outshot 34-21 even after they had taken an early two goal lead.

The good news.. which isn't really all that good depending on how you look at it.. is that Khabby was solid in the net. The first Ovechkin goal was a little weak but he still came up huge in several parts of the game and kept the Hawks in it once they forgot how to shoot. He was quick with the glove and got some big saves. So now what does Savard/Tallon do? At the very least, Khabby seems to have improved his trade possibilities.

Game 2: Washington Capitals

Well.. this game probably isn't what most people were hoping for... this was supposed to be Huet coming back to DC to face the team he practically carried to the playoffs late last season.

Here's the bad news though - Huet performance last night was at best mediocre, some good saves - some really bad ones though that he should have had. Huet is weak glove side and other teams aren't going to hesitate to take advantage of it... Basically, Gunnar Stahl would have no problem with Huet... So the match-up of Huet and the Capitals might not even happen. It wouldn't be surprising to see Khabby make his debut today. So it could be a lose-lose situaiton, either Huet plays and shooters like Ovechkin light him up... or Khabby goes in without even having played a preseason game.

I don't know if there have been any changes from last year, but the ice at the Verizon Center isn't going to help the Hawks much more than MSG's.  It would make sense for the Caps to get a better surface on their own rink since they're a team that relies on speed as well - so lets hope they fixed that.

But it isn't all bad - here's the good news: The capitals looked worse than the Hawks did last night and their new goalie, Jose Theodore, was pulled after giving up 4 goals on 19 shots. The Caps gave up 7 goals in total to the Thrashers - a team that only has one or two good shooters.

The Hawks don't have to worry about the Capitals just sucking to win though - the last time they played the Caps, Khabby was able to keep every shot out of the net in front of a sell out UC crowd which included Tony O. - and an amazing save late in the game that helped us think "maybe Khabby isn't so bad".. at least until his next start.

The Capitals have a great offense, so tightening up our D will be the most important correction to make in this game. The chances were there for the Hawks last game - they just have to finish it. Like Sam said, Versteeg looked good out there and I thought Buff looked even better. The goals will come if they keep generating the chances they got last night. And hey, Havlat made it thru his first game without getting hurt... bonus

Friday, October 10, 2008

Well, 81-1 is still acceptable: Hawks-2, Rangers-4

Not that that's what I'm counting on. Anyway, the Hawks kicked off their season tonight with an effort that can only be described as "meh". Some things to like, some things to not like, much like eating sushi.

The 1st period was clearly the best one put out by the men from the Windy City. Though the Rangers started strong and scored first, after that the Hawks dominated, creating chance after chance. Unfortunately, their finishing was akin to a teenage boy fucking, all over the place except where it's supposed to be. The glass behind Henrik Lundqvist took a beating. The Rangers first goal was a result of 51 Phantom losing a battle behind the net, a common occurrence I fear, and then Skille falling asleep as Redden sneaked in behind him to slam home on of the juicy rebounds that Huet left lying around like a junkie all night. Not encouraging. Tough for Skille, as he, Versteeg, and Bolland were everywhere during the 1st, but unfortunately will go down as a -2 for the evening.

If you were looking for Niklas Hjalmarrson after the 5 minute work, you were left staring into the abyss. Savvy didn't wait long to send a message to his GM that he'd like his #4 d-man back from Rockford, did he?

A sweet rush from 51 Phantom resulted in the Hawks first goal, so let's hope he creates more than he helps let in. From then on, it was pretty much downhill. Keith and Bolland doing an interpretive dance of McCain's economic plan led to another turnover that ended up in the net, and the Sopel thought that looked like fun so he gave one away for another goal. Catfish looked a step, or six, slow all night. Though the Hawks briefly showed some life in the 3rd with a Keith one-timer, that was quickly snuffed out when Zherdev, which I think translates to "prick", was the beneficiary of some questionable goaltending.

On the plus side, the Hawks created their share of chances, and hopefully Savvy will stick with these combos for a bit. Versteeg was also a constant nuisance, so let's hope he can keep it up for a while before someone breaks him. The bad: the D looked like a Chinese Fire Drill, though the awful ice didn't help much. Huet was shaky at best, so that situation is going great so far.

Just the 1st of 82, but let's hope it gets a little better tomorrow in Barack Obama's future home. Well, actually, it's his current home too, I guess, but you get what I'm saying.

Game 1 Preview: Hawks at Rangers

It's finally here. The moment we've waited for ever since the fucking Blues couldn't hold a two goal lead against the Preds last season, ending our season. And what better place to begin than in the World's Most Famous Arena with The World's Worst Ice Surface? Quite frankly, I'll consider the night a moderate success if we can get out of this without anyone blowing out a knee. (Keep an eye on this in the future, the Rangers and Knicks are the only New York teams not moving into a new arena in the next couple years, so they'll probably start bellyaching soon enough. Should be hilarious negotiations on that one.)

In past years, this would be a terrible match-up for the Hawks. The Rangers were conservative, choking space all over the ice, and leaving their premier goalie, King Henrik Lundqvist to win them the game. But no more. With the exits of Messrs. Jagr and Shanahan, decidedly plodders, Tom Renney has decided to ramp up the pace and style for the Blueshirts. With a questionable blue-line, at best, this should play right into the Hawks hands. Add to that that Lundqvist is reportedly not 100%, and it gets better. Add to that that if the Rangers think they won't be suffering from lag from a European adventure, they're sadly mistaken, and things look up for the Hawks even more. Anyone who's done the cross-Atlantic thing knows it'll be more than a few days to feel totally back, and they can ask the Anaheim Ducks if they're not sure. Actually, don't ask the Ducks anything. They do everything so slowly these days waiting for the answer wouldn't be worth it.

All those factors should help cancel out the disturbing reality that Keith is being paired with 51 Phantom, which is moronic to a Alabama-resident level, as they both are left-handed and want to PLAY THE SAME GAME! Also, our 4th best D-man is in Rockford due to our GM's inablility to add, and our starting goalie, who looked unconvincing in preseason, having to look over to the bench to see a goalie being paid more than he is sitting there to combine with the pressure of being a free agent pick up. Good times. But I still expect the Hawks to have a good game tonight, so we'll go with a 5-3 win. Why not?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Season Preview: Jack Skille

Do you think Skille feels ashamed at all that he was picked a year before Toews, two before Kane, but only made the team for the first time this year? I would think that'd be a little awkward.. he was a 7th overall pick afterall

Skille got his first taste of the NHL last season and didn't do that poorly getting 5 points in 16 games, but also got 34 in 59 games for Rockford. No one can fully decide if Skille is going to become a powerful scoring forward, or just stay on a checking line. He doesn't shy away from the physical part of the game, but also has the same kind of problem that Lang has and coasts around, waiting near the neutral zone for an outlet pass.

Skille could be the type of player who is only as good as his linemates - he'll need people to get him the puck and find a defender to take on one-on-one.. I expect the lines to shuffle around a lot and Skille could be one of the players that ends up moving around a lot...

Everyone will want to see Skille put up some numbers while bringing a very physical game and there's hockey on now and the Red Wings are losing so I'm not going to write anymore about him...

Quick update

Ladd has been added to the first line along with Toews and Havlat.. at least until Havlat gets injured. I'm not too sure how well that'll work out.. but at least it'll add some size and physical play to the front line to get space for the other two to work. Keith will be playing with Campbell (holy fuck that's going to be a fast pair) and Seabrook will play with Sopel.

I also saw this on the official site:

The Chicago Blackhawks have claimed defenseman Doug Janik on waivers from the Dallas Stars and have traded him back to the Stars in exchange for a conditional draft pick.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Eager gone for 3.. Khabby around for a bit

So two news items from over at Kukla's:

Eager will be gone for 3 games for doing what so many players want to do - taking a swing at Sean Avery. Next time lets hope he remembers to do it with his fist when they're both on the ice, not with his stick when he's sitting on the bench.

I hadn't heard about this until today, but evidently things got pretty out of control during that game. Chris Kuc wrote that Steve Ott threatened to go after Skille and decided Savard was the best person to inform of his plan. When Savard threatened to send everyone after him - Avery showed up and probably informed Savard that his tie didn't match his shoes. First game against the Stars is on Halloween - plan on getting to whatever party your going to a little late because that's going to be a long game.

It also comes as no surprise that Khabby is still being shopped around and the deal could just take some time. Hopefully Khabby can have a decent game or two early in the season so we can ship him off to some other team as soon as possible. If he has a few weak games, we might be screwed. Tallon isn't the best GM, but I refused to take his stance that having two #1 goalies was a luxury as anything more than a giant failure to mask his desire to get rid of the most expensive of his horrible signings. Hopefully that's still the case.

Season Preview: Kris Versteeg

Unfortunately, this is how I see us picking up Versteeg after the middle of the season. God love this kid. He plays a game we'd like to see more Hawks play. He's physical, he's tough, he's unafraid of contact. He lives in the corners, goes to the net, all of it. Problem is at his size, he's a car accident waiting to happen. There is just no way he can play this style a whole season and not be intimately familiar with the Hawks' doctors.

There was a time when the Bruins thought pretty highly of this kid. And he's all we have to show for suffering through Tyler Arnason. (Six degrees of Brandon Bochenski, it's fun to play.) He first season in the AHL, split between Providence and Norfolk, he was over a point a game. He's had a great preseason, and certainly earned his spot on the 3rd line, where he'll start. He seems to have a nose for the net, and frankly we could use all the noses we can get. So let's all pray for Kris, as he's sure to win over Hawk fans quickly.

Season Preview: Fuck it Dude, Let's go Bolland.

Thanks to Tallon's Fun With Numbers Plan, there's more pressure on Dave Bolland then there should be. He should comfortably be playing the 3rd line center, maybe even the 4th, and not counted on to produce scoring to help out the top two lines. But alas, with Sharp at center, Bolland will be expected to score, as well as be our most solid two-way behind Toews. The thing is, he's quite capable of this.

Bolland has always been a talent. He put up Kane-numbers in junior. He put up 50 points in his one season in Norfolk. He may be the fastest Hawk, and certainly the fastest forward. He's got a very good set of hands. He has a nasty streak, despite his size. People have undersold this guy, and he has the potential to be the breakout season on this team.

One problem. He's made of porcelain. He's missed significant time each of the past three seasons. That previously mentioned nasty streak tends to get people the size of a smurf hurt. And again, because of the Tallon Credit Crisis, the Hawks simply can't afford Bolland to get hurt. Yes, I just said the Hawks have a center who's played, count it, 40 NHL games, and he's irreplaceable right now. The Pride Is Back! ONE GOAL!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Season Preview: Adam Burish

Q: What does Adam Burish have in common with Sam and I?

A: He writes a blog.

Actually, I don't really know, Sam could go starting fights a lot, that could be something those two have in common.

Burish was third in the NHL last year in PIM, just behind Jared Boll of Columbus. Burish and Wiz were the main fighters on the team (don't even bother to mention Koci).

Just because he fights a lot, doesn't mean Burish is any good at it yet though. According to Hockey Fights voters, of the 16 fights he was in last season, Burish had a record of 4-8-4 - I'm actually giving him a victory in a fight that doesn't have enough votes to count yet because he rocked the guy.

Hopefully, Burish will get better at fighting or learn to focus on something else because right now the only thing he excels at right now is get punched in the face. He scored only 8 points in 81 games and was -13 for the season.

That's not to say that Burish is a bad guy to have on your team though. He plays a roll on the Hawks and he does it reasonably well. He's certainly not afraid to drop the gloves and probably wants to get better at it (at least if the first three posts on his blog are any indication).

I think Burish has potential to do better, both at fighting and at scoring. He put up 21 points in a season in the AHL two years agoand averaged around 20 points in college. Anything over 15 points here would be a big welcome addition. With Adams gone now too he'll need to step up at center..

The fight above shows the main reason I like having Burish on the team. This was in early February after the Hawks had just gone a miserable 4-9-1 and needed some sort of spark. Burish helped by getting in 3 fights in 4 games, all within the first 2 and half minutes of the game and the hawks managed to get 4 points in the 3 games he started off with fights.

Ritchie and Burish had fought earlier in the year and Burish was pumped for a second chance. The video cuts it off but you can see Burish smiling and if memory serves, he was yelling the whole way to the box. Not at Ritchie, but just because he was happy to do his job and excited about the fight.

For all those expecting Khabby to be gone tomorrow...

Don't get your hopes up. Niemi, along with Barker and Aaron Johnson were sent to Rockford while Kevyn Adams was released and Lindstrom was claimed off waivers.

That puts the Hawks at the maximum 23 players - 13 forwards, 8 D, 2 goalies.

I doubt anyone really expects Khabby to be staying long but it does make you wonder if a deal they were hoping to get, either with the KHL or NHL, fell through. Once Khabby does go somewhere else (please god let it be soon) I'd expect Niemi to get the call back up and I doubt Barker will go long without getting called up most likely with Hjalmarsson going down. Those two could be going back and forth a lot this year unless one steps up.

I'm surprised to see Fraser beat out Adams.. but what the hell do I know?

It's also good to see Sharp and Kane tied on top of the leaderboards for the preseason for goals and assists, respectively.

Just a few more days now.. The Rangers are 2-0 on the season, but that's against the All-Forward, mostly Penguin rejects of Tampa Bay...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Season Preview: Martin Havlat

I don't think there are many of us out there who aren't excited about this year's team and if you aren't, please feel free to speak up sometime... I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that most of what this team will do this year will have to be done without the help of Martin Havlat.

It's not that we don't think he's good - we know he's good - it's that we also know he's got a shoulder made out of glass and is just dying to get out there and strain a groin, hamstring or gernally just hurt himself. He's like Kerry Wood but without any equivalent of a 20 strike-out game.

This next line is going to sound very familiar to everyone - If Havlat can stay healthy, he is going to bring a big scoring presence to our second line and could be key to the Hawks' playoff chances. What's different now, is that the team is expecting to make the playoffs even without his help. He's house-money at this point - even if his salary is still on our books - if he can somehow avoid injuring himself he'll be a big piece in the playoff race - if (when) he does get hurt though, the team should be able to get by without him though it'll be a lot harder.

In the few games he's played this preseason, Havlat is doing well, especially last night, scoring with less than half a second in regulation to tie the game up. If he can be a scoring threat and maybe get close to a point per game getting to the playoffs will be a much easier road.

Season Preview: Dustin Byfuglien

And yes, I can spell that without even looking it up now. Quite simply, Buff is one of the key masters to this Hawks season (along with Havlat and Bolland.). When the monster from Minnehaha was moved to forward he scored at a 30-goal-a-season clip. Because of Tallon's fun-with-numbers style of GM'ing, he's going to have to keep that up for our forward line to resemble an actual playoff team's. The signs are encouraging. All reports out of camp are that he's slimmed down, worked his ass off, and his playing more physical. All of this is good. Judged by watching his performance last night which I witnessed, this is all true.

Buff needs to play with a mean-streak. In today's game, where defensemen and NFL cornerbacks meet in support groups to figure out why the world's against them, Buff should be unstoppable. He has the same problem that you see some people say about LeBron James, in that he needs to get his ass near the goal. Buff should be blotting out the sun like Persian arrows to goalies, and then simply outmuscling any opponent for rebounds and tons of garbage goals. Bertuzzi made a career of this, and then just the thought of this after he became a criminal and lost his edge. A second PP unit of him in front with Havlat on the wing would be a strong force. Hopefully, Buff is really angry about the economic downturn or the war in Iraq, and we see the streak every night.

Season Preview: If Love is Blind I Guess I'll PATRICK KANE

Our only #1 draft pick ever, and he made that season of shit earning that draft slot worth it. Quite frankly, I didn't expect much from Crazy 88 before last season. I had seen the juniors, but I looked at his size and age, and though a Phil Kessel-minus-cancer season was in store. He would have great games here and there, tantalize us with a move or pass every so often, but also be overwhelmed in his own zone, get physically pounded, and mostly struggle to find his place.

I knew I was wrong from Opening Night in Minnesota. Though we didn't bother to score, he was the best player on the ice wearing the Indian Head that night. His vision was in ample evidence, and he displayed the best pair of hands that I've ever seen on a Hawk. Though he went through a goal drought to start the season, he was piling up helpers like the apocalypse was coming. He rarely stopped all season, and even chipped in his share of big goals, topping with his tour de force in the dismantling of the Wings at home during the last week of the season.

But to expect more from Kane this season seems iffy. Sure, he's bulked up, will be stronger, knows the league better, and for God's sake will hopefully shoot more. But he will see the top pair from the opponents every night. Sophomore slumps strike all. Ideally, he'll balance this out with greater PP scoring, as 51 Phantom should open some more room on the blue line. We shall see...

Friday, October 3, 2008

Season Preview: Andrew Ladd

Ladd came to the blackhawks at the trade deadline last year for Tuomo Ruutu. The trade actually seemed to work for both teams since both players upped their numbers. In 43 games with the Hurricanes last season Ladd had 18 points, in just 20 with the Hawks he had 12.

The Ladd/Ruutu trade really just seemed to be one of the trades GMs make just because they want to do something. Both players were underperforming and were of pretty equal talent level and they brought a very physical game on the ice. Ladd doesn't hit people quite as often as Ruutu does but is still very capable of laying someone out.

Although Ladd has only played in 3 seasons, he's one of the few Hawks who have won the cup. Normally you'd think that someone who has thier name of the cup could provide a lot of leadership for the young team - but Ladd himself is only 22 and played very few games with the Hurricanes team that won the cup in '06.

Ladd will proably up his point total some more this year but not by much. He's actually scored more every year he's played, so there's still hope for him to live up to his first round pick potential. Right now though, he'll probably play on the third line and be pretty decent there.

Hockey officially starts tomorrow

Keep that in mind all of you who also follow baseball.. Neither of our teams are out of it yet either.. though it doesn't look good for the cubs at all.

Since the season starts so soon we'll be flying through the rest of our player previews and of course writing about any options for The Bulin Wall.. how great is it though that he might actually go back to Russia, just like everyone has yelled at least once from the 300 level of the UC.

In other news.. if anyone sees this guy walking around chicago today, please, beat the everliving shit out of him.. no one will deserve it more, maybe not even Detroit fans

Fuck LA

Season Preview: Patrick Sharp

My ex-girlfriend last year said that if she had a chance to go back to prom, and could ask any hawk to go with her, she'd pick Patrick Sharp. Why she would think about going to prom at 23 years old and why exactly she'd pick Sharp I wasn't too clear on, but it's probably because he's a good lookin' guy who had a phenomenal year.

Season GP G A P +/- PIM PP SH GW S S%
2007-2008 80 36 26 62 23 55 9 7 7 209 17.2

Playing on a line with Kane and Toews certainly seemed to agree with Sharp. He had career highs in goals, assists, and points. In fact he almost doubled his career high in points - 62 up from 35 the year before. Sharp was second on the Hawks in points behind Kane.

The Hawks lack of depth at center could be one of the biggest set backs for Sharp this year. It seems Sharp might drop down to center the second line now instead of playing on the wing like he did last year. Sharp has played center before, so it won't be a huge change for him - a lot of reference sites still have him listed as a center actually. It'll be interesting to see if Sharps great season last year was a product of who he was playing with, or if he really is coming into his prime. I suspect it's a bit of both but he'll still be a key player this year. Sharp was a beast on the Kill last year and led the NHL in short handed goals at 7 (tied with Alfredsson).

One thing I always seem to forget (maybe you do too) is that Sharp is only 26 years old. He has room to improve having only played over 50 games in a year three times now. Behind the choice of Toews, I could have easily seen the C going to Sharp as he is a leader on this team.

Not that it really matters or counts for anything, but Sharp was overlooked at the start of last year and should have gone to the All-Star Game.. Now fantasy hockey magazines are advertising articles like "Who will be this year's Sharp?" He's made a name for himself in the league now, lets see what he can do.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Kane Commercials

I was tempted to write "Kane Kommercials" up there for about half a second - then I realized just how ghey it would be.

Two new commericals featuring Kane.. I would have thought Toews would have deserved at least one...