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Sunday, November 30, 2014

5-1 On The Road Trip.

The Hawks were struggling in late October to the beginning of November. THEN, they showed up and played Blackhawks hockey. Even the game they lost in Vancouver, they were in that game until the third period. They looked as if they ran out of gas in that back to back game. The Hawks dominated the Circus Trip and now they head back home playing the hockey we all know and love. Kane-Richards-Versteeg played OUTSTANDING. Versteeg, Richards and Kane have averaged a point a game during the last 10 games. The line should be players of the week. Add Crawford in that mix too. He was utterly ridiculous in most of those games. Hawks are second in the league (by 2 goals) with points allowed. Hawks lead the league in the PK. (sound familiar to Frolik and Kruger a few seasons back?) Raanta didn't play a single game during the road trip and when he was supposed to play, he was sick. Not good, especially for a man trying to earn playing time. The Hawks are ready to enter December in 3rd place in the division and 6th in the playoff hunt. Only 3 points out of first place and the wheels are rolling. They're scoring and what was disappointing earlier in the year,…not being able to get at least a point in the close games, they are now winning and taking control of the 3rd period. Hawks still have not shown any trust in Jeremy Morin and by the looks of it, with Carcillo doing very well, it may be a while before he sees the ice again. In addition, Rundblad wasn't too impressive. Clendening got a few NHL games under his belt and Nordstrom is trying to make a difference on that 4th line.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Final Cuts, Mandatory Trade

The Hawks finished the preseason and look at a cap hit of slightly over 2.2m that must be dealt with immediately. Here's what we know. 1) The last two games NICK LEDDY has been out of the line-up and with Coach Q's coy answer on looking at things organizationally,… it appears that Nick Leddy may be the odd man out. Usually when there is an imminent trade, that player is off the ice because they do not want to fear injury to that player canceling any trade. 2) Klas Dahlbeck was brought back up from Rockford shortly after being sent back down to Rockford. ($ 613,333 hit). 3) We know that rumors are flying that with the interest of Nick Leddy by certain team(s) that Stan wants to attach Kris Versteeg's contract to that deal. There appears to be no takers. 4) Kris Versteeg's play this preseason looks quite good. He may be back to his 2010 status. So, the Hawks may not be so willing to part with Versteeg. 5) The Hawks, according to Capgeek.com have ALREADY signed up Dan Carcillo to the league minimum of $550,000. Let's work some numbers out. Capgeek.com has currently taken Teravainen off the Hawks roster and has put Daniel Carcillo on the roster…Hawks are still OVER the cap -$1,872,628. IF the Hawks only get rid of Leddy and his @2.7m contract, this allows the Hawks to fill that last position with someone like Klas Dahlbeck. The Hawks have been dying for a "Big man…or a tough guy" and Mashinter appeared to be the guy. However, the Hawks like Daniel Carcillo and he can play on many lines and add that toughness the Hawks need and want. This will give Teravainen time to develop in Rockford.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Kesler, Stastny, etc... Open UFA Market

The Blackhawks have inquired about Ryan Kesler. The price may be too high. It is believed they want either Brandon Saad or Teuvo Teravainen in the trade. It is also believed the Blackhawks are interested in another centerman: Paul Stastny (Col). This may be a good fit,….however the caveat is that he doesn't wish to take a cut from his massive $6+ million contract. Well,…there goes that idea. Rumored: Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews (who share the same agent), are asking for a contract of $12,000,000 yearly. WOW! That would be the two largest contracts in this salary cap era. Do they have the right to that contract? Maybe. But, it would put such a damper on the rest of the team getting any deals, that I believe it would hurt them. I thought 10,000,000 was high,….12 is scary. It isn't that neither Kane nor Toews don't deserve it. The argument that the salary cap will just keep rising is obviously one of the things their agent is relying on,…or Stan Bowman if he agrees to a deal like this. It will be interesting what the hawks do prior to July 1. This time of the year is the most exciting time. This time is the "mold building for the 2014 season". Getting excited yet?

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Will The Hawks Go After Ryan Kesler?

2 years left on his $5,000,000, the former Selke Award winner wishes out of Vancouver and supposedly has 2 teams on his "wish list". Pittsburgh Penguins and our very own Chicago Blackhawks. If the Hawks want this guy, who has been injury prone of late, what will they have to give up in order to get him? It would appear that the likelihood of giving up a Johnny Oduya wouldn't be enough for this deal. They'd want someone like Patrick Sharp or Brent Seabrook…or both. That's a scary thought. Yes, I would agree that adding Kesler would be amazing, but they have to be too careful on who they get and more importantly who they'd have to give up in order to get someone of Ryan Kesler's caliber. Draft picks? Possibly, but since a first round 27th pick isn't the most encouraging pick, that might not be a feasible option. If I wanted Kesler I'd offer : 1st round 2014, 3rd round 2015, Johnny Oduya (need to clear cap space), and the rights to Jeremy Morin. And if I was Vancouver,…I'd turn that deal down. I would think to myself, "I'm not here to HELP Chicago, I'm here to boost up our Roster. I'd want 2 first round picks, Brandon Saad. As you have seen in the past, a 1st round pick isn't necessarily a 'sure thing'. With the loaded draft of 2015, the Hawks may want to keep their 2015 pick. I think the chance of the Hawks agreeing to anything is slim,…this year. The Hawks may wait until late next season when Vancouver knows they better get something or they will get NOTHING. Then the Hawks have a better chance of negotiating. But, as of right now,…I don't think any deal gets done.

Friday, June 20, 2014

What Do The Hawks Do Now?

Well, the Hawks were one goal away from being in the Stanley Cup Finals. I guess, the Hawks can take a little solace in the fact that the Kings won the cup, but…that will not be the case. The Hawks, who are actually favored to win the cup next year, don't find ANY solace in losses. So, what do the Hawks do now? Who will they sign? Who will they let go? Who will they bring up? The Hawks started this process last week by letting go of veteran Michael Handzus, stating they are heading in a different direction. Michael played well the 1 1/2 seasons he was with that Hawks. He played steadily on the penalty kill, and filled in on the 2nd line many times during the season. He was a steady hand at the face off dot, but it is time for him to go. Who will the Hawks put at 2nd line center? Shaw, Saad, and Kane were a pleasant surprise during the playoffs, but is that what the Hawks are going to do? Peter Regin. Well, this is an interesting one. He did play well the last week of the regular season with Bickell and Morin. However, that line will not be assembled in 2014-15. I don't know if the Hawks will sign Regin back up, but with Morin most likely leaving, and Teravainen being a kid, this could happen. Jeremy Morin, was quite often a healthy scratch in the regular season when he was up with the Hawks, and he was so in the playoffs, as well. For some strange reason, he never could bust that line up. I don't know why. I personally LOVED him. In fact, I named one of my cats J-Mo in honor of #11. I am agreeing with many of the experts out there that the Hawks will trade Jeremy Morin on or before the draft so they can get something for him. He is a restricted free agent with a TON of value. Hawks will get a lot of interest in Morin. Ben Smith. I think the Hawks will sign Smitty. In fact, there are preliminary talks right now. He fits the team extremely well. That 4th line of Kruger Smith and Bollig was a solid line. Each of them was productive around the net. That's pretty darn good for a 4th line. Sheldon Brookbank. He was still a healthy scratch most of the season, but he actually played well in the playoffs. He was either used as a defenseman or on the 4th line. However, that being said, I think Brooksy is done with the Hawks. Antti Raanta will get some looks out there and may get that "unrealistic offer" to see if they can drive up the Hawks payroll….remind you of S. J. a few years ago when they gave Hjalmarsson a healthy offer, to in turn steal Niemi away from the Hawks? Expect that to happen again. However, unless the offer is insane, expect him to return. Players in the minors fighting to make the team. Teuvo Teravainen Kevin Hayes Stephen Johns…impressive graduate from Notre Dame. He'd make an interesting addition. (I actually like him). *Jeremy Morin (most likely will be traded,…so, so, so, so, sad.) Adam Clendening (Super skilled player that is in the mold of a Duncan Keith) Mark McNeill (centerman that probably won't make the team) Philip Danault (centerman….ditto ) Joakim Nordstrom…has seen time with the Hawks. Hawks like this kid more than Morin? Really? Wow!!!! Ryan Hartman (less than 40% he makes the team) Drew LeBlanc (less than 15% he makes the team) Alex Broadhurst (Slim chance) Garret Ross (Slim chance) Terry Broadhurst (Slim chance) Klas Dahlbeck (another strong defensman. I say,…less than 30% he makes the team.) David Rundblad: He may take over Brooksy's spot as the fill in. He may actually make the top 7. He has skill or the Hawks wouldn't have given Phoenix a 2nd rounder for his rights. I think he plays around 40 games this next year. Will that Hawks make a splash and trade someone? Could, but I don't expect it. Who is tradable? Sharp? Seabrook? Oduya? Leddy? Who is untraceable? Toews, Kane, Hossa (who wants that contract?), Keith, Saad. In order for the Hawks to trade either Seabrook or Sharp, that deal would have to be really good. Both those players have been staples in that lineup for 9+ years. Sharp is an alternate captain, and Seabrook has been so on occasions when one of their captains has been injured. So, don't expect them to be traded. It would have to be a block buster of a deal for that to occur. Who will the Hawks be picking up on day 1 of the draft? wil it be Nick Schmaltz the centerman out of Green Bay (USHL)? It appears a few of the experts think so. The general consensus is the Hawks will go after a centerman. But, could the Hawks go after a defensman. When they chose Dylan Olsen, he turned out being traded 3 yrs later to Florida for a little more than a bag of hockey pucks. We shall see. I do believe the Hawks will go after a centerman, but will it be Nick Schmaltz? Trade rumors for Joe Thornton or other strong NHL experienced centerman is slim to NONE. The cap is almost filled, and these players aren't going to continue eating salary opportunities to play for the Hawks. In addition, teams aren't going to continue eating half of the player's salaries (per Versteeg), in order to allow the Hawks to stockpile players for half the salary.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Hawks vs. Los Angeles…Yes, It's Game 7 Folks!

No team has played more games than the Blackhawks the past year. In addition, the Hawks had to send 10 of their players to the Olympics in Sochi this year. I remember stating, that if the Hawks didn't contend for the Presidents Trophy, that it wasn't going to be a big deal. What they had to do was use their energy wisely. Well, THIS is what it's all come down to. Game 7, after the Hawks trailed in the series 3-1. L.A. wasn't giving an inch, and we don't expect any difference tonight. In fact, Justin Williams has 6 goals in game 7. He's the game 7 killer. In addition, the Kings won BIG against both S.J. and Anaheim in game 7. So, the Hawks have to play within themselves tonight to not be thrown out of their own building.

Saad-Shaw-Kane line (nameless line…should be that way unless they win tonight), has been the key difference the past two games. L.A. has already stated they will bump and grind Kane and not allow him time and space. What Saad and Shaw will have to do to counter that will be to "get open" and force their defense off of Kane. This will allow Kane to pass to either open guy if they decide to crowd him.

Bickell-Toews-Hossa, has to step up a bit. Hossa has at times appeared "slow" to the puck, and Bickell and Toews have had turnovers due to "running around and chasing". This line needs to be better.

Sharp-Kruger-Smith, had a goal the last two games. Both were because of Ben Smith playing very aggressively and forcing his way to the net. This needs to continue.

Bollig-Handzus(Or whomever they use)-Brookbank/Versteeg: (looks like Versteeg is playing…just saw him on the bench). This line will probably only see about 6-8 minutes of total ice time. You'll see a lot of double shifting by Kane and Handzus will most likely be the center man and the Hawks tightening up the lines is to produce more offense.

The defensemen: They have had their ups and downs in this series. Games 2-4 they looked absolutely awful. In game 6 Seabrook still was slow to the puck that created the first L.A. goal by D. King. He needs to be better. Leddy's eyes have to be more focused when he is playing today. Stopping the silly turn overs. Keith has to continue being that offensive blue line presence.

Crawford: Has to try and stay focused even if he gets down today. Or…especially if he get's up in the game. Sometimes, the Hawks get lackadaisical and stop skating once they score. This cannot happen or they'll be down faster than they can blink.

Stay out of the box. L.A.'s power play is the best the Hawks have seen throughout the playoffs.  If the Hawks get on the P.P., they need to attack the net rather than dump and chase.

Lastly…do whatever the hell it takes to win. This may mean getting a puck to the face (remember Keith 4 years ago?), or diving after pucks. Don't be over aggressive to cause any issues.


Friday, May 30, 2014

3rd Period Play by Play. Do The Hawks Have What It Takes?

As the 3rd period of Game 5 is ready to begin, I see the same habit the repeating. Crawford giving up 4 or more goals, and Sharp is nowhere to be found. The defense was mediocre, but if you can't have a goaltender stop shots in the playoffs, then you'll be on your heals the entire game.

The Hawks in 3 of the 4 games have shown up…for ONE period. Then, they have lost the game. I really have a difficult time seeing L.A. losing this game due to the Hawks ability to control the play. Saad and Kane have shown up to this game, but silly turnovers, inability to win the face-offs, this game looks bad. Well,……here starts the 3rd period. Let us see what goes on.

20:00  L.A. is again in control of the puck.
Finally, the Hawks get control at 19:11. But, gave it back  up at the 19:00 mark. Hawks re-collect it and move up the ice.

WOE………..Ben Smith, again showing he deserves a contract. 18:43 Saad puts it on net and Benny crashes the net picks up the rebound and scores. 4-4 boys…..YES!!!

17:43 Hawks couldn't do anything with a 3 on 2. Handzus was hand tied. Couldn't release the puck.
17:00 L.A. in control. Hawks dump it in.
Stolen by Saad at 16:40 rushed the net  shot on goal.  Shaw had a nice shot on goal. The real goaltender makes a nice save (Quick),...Still in the Offensive zone until 16:19.
Saad rushes again at 16:00 mark. Saad is playing like an animal.
15:35 Crawford makes a save, but gave up a juicy rebound.
Back in the offensive zone. 15:30 until 15:05….totally the Blackhawks. Sharp actually tried making something happen. Holy crap. Welcome to the playoffs Sharpie.

14:53 L.A. get us and shoots on net. but Hawks turn it into an offensive push. No goal, but a shot on goal.
13:55 due to a wonderful Saad push up the ice, gives it to Kane. Still in the zone.. 13:34 Kane and Saad control puck.
13:20 and at 13:09 two separate rushes L.A. gets a good shot on goal. Literally back and forth with major rushes. L.A. is NOT giving an inch. They are offensively pushing the pace as well.
Saad, Shaw and Kane are killing it out there.  It has been heavy action both sides. 12:15

11:38 L.A. penalty. Delay of game. Who is on the ice? Shaw, Saad and Kane.

11:10 Daughty with a shot short handed. Crawford actually made a stop. Holy crap.
The rush was due to Kane rushing up 1 on 3 and getting tossed off the puck.

10:35 Saad crashes the net and gets goalie interference. He was being aggressive, lost his balance. Bye bye power play. How sad.

So, there will be a 1:03 power play for L.A. afterward.

Hawks are controlling the puck with the 4 on 4 until 20 seconds. Now L.A. has the puck. Puck in net with :09 left on 4 on 4. Faceoff in Chicago's end. (we need to win a face off here…let's see if the Hawks can will themselves a face-off win).

Hawks win it. 51 seconds L.A. brings up the puck from their own end.
Hawks playing defensively …Keith clears the puck with 15 seconds left. L.A. comes back in with  only 1 second left.
8:20 Hawks get control. Line change.
7:55 2on2 L.A. rush. Toews gets control at 7:40.
Martinez control at 7:15
Hawks control from defensive zone at 7 minutes remaining.
Neutral zone

6:13 Keith in defensive zone. Pushes it out of the zone.
6:01 Tifoli gets over the blue line…stopped... and again at 5:51. Hawks playing shut down at the blue line.
This "that's 70's line" is so freakin' dangerous. Carter-Tifoli-Pearson.
L.A. still controlling the face-offs. Shots are very close. May still be even.

L.A. wants to end it here. Hawks looking to find some life somewhere.

Jake Muzzin review of his physical play on Toews, Kane and Kruger…yeah he's been a man amongst boys.

5:25 Blackhawks ….icing. (Shaw's line out)
4:49 Toews line out.

4:19 Mitchell sent one in front of Crawford. Missed.

4:01 still in the Hawks zone
3:52 Bickell shot one from the point…wide
3:33 in neutral zone. L.A. control
3:19 L.A. delayed penalty.  3:11 tripping J. Stoll trips Oduya
Blackhawks Power Play at 3:11 to go. LET'S GO HAWKS (goddammit!!!!)

3:03 Shawk on the ice against the boards. tweaked the leg it appears. Skates off. but he is definitely grimacing.

He doesn't want to go to the locker room. Good Job Shawzy…That shows heart to your team.

3:00 Hawks control in their own end.

2:38 Hawks can't hold the puck in.
2:28 Hawks bring it back in.
Kane with the Puck at 2:15
2:07 Bickell gets two shots on goal. First was a re-direct, second was a rebound. Quick stops both.

1:58 Sharp shoots…of course he gets nothing.
Hawks last rush with 1:35 left in the game.
1:20 out of play. Sharp shot a NICE shot, but it went out off of Quicks head. But, ref's didn't see. So, face-off outside the zone. PP didn't produce.

1:02 icing by Rozsival. Faceoff to the right of Crawford
Hawks control with 35 then like dumb asses ice the puck (Sharp). 31.8 seconds left.
Hjalmarsson dives with 7 seconds left to prevent a puck from going in.

OVERTIME.
Wow…..where to begin. It was constant action both sides. It was one of the most exciting games (and stressful to watch as a Hawks fan) that I've seen since the Detroit series last year. No one scored. However, Crawford actually showed up to play….that was nice to see.

DOUBLE OVERTIME.
With Shaw not centering the line, Handzus replaces Shaw. Only 2 minutes in. Saad to a center rushing Handzus who flips a backhand over Quick. SCORE. Hawks certainly didn't make it easy. That is for certain. But, what I wanted to see what heart…and that was certainly there. Next game is in L.A. Friday night.

One game at a time,…one period at a time,…one shift at a time. It literally has to be broken down to that in order for the Hawks to fight off this L.A. team.