Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Toews’

With 11 games left to go in the season, the Hawks are solidly in control of their own playoff destiny. When the Hawks lost all-star and team captain Jonathan Toews for an indeterminate amount of time with post-concussion symptoms, many thought it was going to be the backbreaking straw to a wobbling team. Since that time, however, they’ve gone 7-3-3, good for 17 points. Since the trade deadline, when many fans decided to verbally murder Stan Bowman, the team is a ripping good 5-1-1, including wins against Detroit (at the Joe, no less) St Louis and the Rangers.

The game Tuesday against St Louis hearkened back to what we saw in 2010. Down 3-1 after one period to the NHL points leader, the Hawks came back to win in a shootout. They flew up and down the ice and played hard along the boards and in the corners. Active sticks broke up passes. The body was taken, as each team had 29 hits, a great sign for us. A whopping 46 shots were rained upon Jaroslav Halak and the top defensive team in the league. There were even two fights for good measure. For a team fighting for position in the tough-as-nails Western conference, it was about as clutch a win as you could ask for.

Coming down the stretch, we still can’t count on getting Captain Serious back at any point. But even without him, we still should make the playoffs and anything can happen during the quest for Lord Stanley. Wouldn’t that be a story….Hawks get Toews back, get hotter than hell and make a run? That would be storybook stuff, but I digress. So what’s been going right for us since Toews has been out?

  1. The stars are being stars. In our current 5-1-1 stretch, players like Patrick Kane (4 goals, 3 assists), Patrick Sharp (2g, 6a) and Marian Hossa (3g, 6a) have all averaged at least a point per game, which is pretty bitching. Brent Seabrook has been a physical monster, blocking shots and taking the body. Even Duncan Keith has shown flashes of his peak. When you get that kind of production from 5 all-star players, you should be racking up wins and points. These guys all have the big ring and have accepted the added burden. That’s big time, baby.
  2. The role players have been about as solid as you can expect. Jamal Mayers, Bowman’s best off-season pick-up, has been a leader and a physical presence all year and has been even better since Toews has been out. Bowman’s only trade deadline pick-up Johnny Oduya, or as I call him, Campbell Lite, has been a wonderful fit and a stabilizing influence on the blue line. Young Brandon Bollig has been a nice addition to the team while replacing John Scott’s physical presence while actually being able to, you know, skate. Yeah, he gets his ass whupped when he fights, but winning the fight isn’t always the objective. Good thing for him.
  3. The rookies and young players have contributed. Andrew Shaw (20) is a little spitfire with a 350 cubic inch engine up his hindparts and been a sorely needed sparkplug. Jimmy Hayes (22) is a 6′ 6″ 230 lb man-child with a big ol’ hockey butt who has fit in nicely on whatever line he plays on. Marcus Kruger (21), only one year removed from, Elitserien, the Swedish Elite League, has become a demon defensive center and doesn’t mind scrapping in front of the net, even though he’s a bit light in the ass at 180 lbs. He seems to be mature for such a young kid as well. Nick Leddy (20) has improved his game since the Oduya trade and Dylan Olson (21) has looked good enough to play the 3rd pairing minutes he’s been getting. It’s nice when your farm system is stocked and can produce players who can contribute at such a tender age.
  4. The Walking Dead has really been sensational lately. The second season was kinda slow-paced at first, but I didn’t bitch like people did on message boards and such. I figured they were working up to something and haven’t been disappointed. When Shane re-animated and Carl blew his zombie ass straight back to zombie Hell, I about shit myself in sheer bliss. This season has had two legit GASP! moments in zombie-blasting….the barn massacre that ended with Sophia getting dusted and now Shane getting waxed by a kid. Throw in that moralizing windbag Dale being ripped into by a zombie like a fat kid rips into the pizza on Italian Night at Old Country Buffet and you’ve some gooood TV to watch and enjoy. It doesn’t have anything to do with the Hawks, but it’s been pretty fucking badass. I can’t wait to see how the virus has been spreading too. October is too damned far away for season 3.

I can’t really complain about much recently and Toews’s concussion seems to be a big factor in the 9 game skid, which was the only bad stretch we’ve had all season for the most part. All we can hope for is good health the rest of the way. It’s not always the best team that wins a title….many times, it’s the healthiest or the team that gets hottest at the right time. If we get that health, I like our chances of being that hot team. Tonight’s game versus a red-hot Dallas team ripe for some payback should be a tough one in a place we don’t always play well. Let’s hope they keep it up.

Heading into the stretch run, we’ve figured out quite a bit about the 2011-12 edition of the Hawks.  It’s a bit of a mix of good, bad, tasteless and stupid.  Sounds like the Oscars.  At least I didn’t hire Billy Crystal or a very stoned James Franco to write this.

We Know….enough about concussions to know that there can be no target date for Jonathan Toews’s return.   Hopefully, he progresses quickly and we get him back before much longer.  I like good old-fashioned injuries where a reasonable estimate for return was possible.  The fact that he’s an elite player and our Captain makes the uncertainty even more excruciating.  We Don’t Know.…how badly we needed him until he’s been out of the lineup.  It sucks without him.

We Don’t Know…which Corey Crawford will show up on any given night.    His confidence level is either sky-high or in the crapper and it doesn’t help when he lets in a softie.    Even when the defense is limiting quality chances against him, your sphincter is tight when there’s action in our end.    We Know….we can’t put up with this type of stuff if he’s the future in goal for us.

We Know….Patrick Kane can give us more than what we’ve gotten this year.   It’s been a down year for him, but everyone has them in their career.  Even Babe Ruth and Ted Williams had off-years.  I’m not ready to scream that “TRADE KANE!!” crap with the rest of the meatballs.  He’s 23, has a cap-friendly deal and steps his production up in the playoffs.  You don’t deal a guy like that when his value isn’t as high as it should be.  We Don’t Know….who the clown was who originally started that rumor, but he should be de-balled immediately.

We Know…Stan could have done more at the deadline.  With that cap space and young talent to deal, I felt we’d do more.  We did get Johnny Oduya, who was solid against Toronto, but we sure could have used that 2nd line center.  I realize the cost of making deal was exorbitant this season, with only 9 or 10 legit sellers out there, so I’m also glad he didn’t get trade-raped.    We Don’t Know.….the last time we heard a particular team’s fandom go so absolutely batshit crazy at the trade deadline and crucify the guy so thoroughly in every available media outlet.  My God….he didn’t get a center (we have other options, like Sharp), he didn’t cause cancer.   Christ, look at the long-term scenario, not just the next two months.

We Know…Andrew Shaw can bring some serious energy to the rink.  He’s a whirlwind out there, and that’s been a commodity we’ve been sorely lacking at times this season.   We Don’t Know…if he’ll hold up physically, since he’s so damned small.  He is responsible for a sweet little fad, however.  #shawfacts

We Know…John Scott sucked and getting a 5th rounder from the Rangers was a good thing.  We’re better, skill-wise, without him.  Pluswhise, his so-called physical presence has been replaced by Brandon Bollig, who can actually play more than 4 minutes a night 4 times per month.  We Don’t Know….what NY sees in Scott, but I hope they get it.  Even though he sucked, he was a good teammate and a funny guy.  His appearance in the Hawks’ Xmas album was glorious.

We Know…Duncan Keith can play at an all-world level and control the ice when he’s out there.  We Don’t Know….if that guy is ever coming back.  I don’t like what I see from him on too many occasions.  His bad decisions have been ending up in the back our our net far too often.

We Know…the power play sucks.  An 85 year old paraplegic man with no testosterone is more potent than our power play.  I mean, if they haven’t figured out that pucks on the net with traffic on front is the way to go, then I’m at a loss.  Fancy perimeter passing is nice, but not when that’s all you accomplish.  We Don’t Know….why it had to be Davy Jones passing on while Snooki and the cast of Jersey Shore continue to draw breath.

Big weekend coming up with road games in Ottawa tonight and Detroit on Sunday, and a third roadie in St Loo on Tuesday.  A mere 17 games remain and every damned one of them looms large.    A nice run of inspired play would be a welcome sight down the stretch.

Pre-Game to Puck Drop….

The Toews/car accident story broke early today, with the Captain coming out of the accident okay.  Thank God for that $100K Mercedes’ crash-resistant features, huh? If texting and driving was the cause of the crash, I’ll be uber-pissed as that’s my current #1 thing that bothers me lately.  He should know better.

Tonight, the Hawks go for five wins in a row with the Stars visiting the UC.  With Toews still out, we need everyone else to pick it up like they did against Detroit.  The red-hot Corey Crawford gets the start between the pipes and hopes to continue his strong play as of late.   For a guy who looks like a monkey humping a football at times, he sure can look like a top-flight goalie for stretches.  My thanks to the late Herb Brooks for the preceding monkey line.  I’ll be doing the “running diary” thing tonight during the game.  Let’s hope we have 2 points to show for ourselves when we’re done.

On a side note, I miss hating the shit out of the Minnesota North Stars.  I wish I could go chant “DINO SUCKS!!  DINO SUCKS!!” just one more time, but I digress.

Puck drop, 20:00 left in the first period.…I miss seeing Toews already, nothing against Kruger for taking the opening draw.  You sure get used to seeing a guy like #19.

19:52….Icing in 8 seconds….sounds like a low-quality how-to cake decorating video.

19:06….Stephen King’s pen name Steven Bachman is tending net for Dallas tonight.  If he employs a huge, possessed St Bernard, I call bullshit on it.

17:14…Great chance for Kaner from Sharp.  Would have been nice to cash that in.  Hossa and Kane have jump so far.

17:00….Uh-oh…Hawks to the power play.  This unit is due like a cell phone bill in the ghetto.

16:3something…Good play by Leddy to deny the shorty chance.  Christ, we can’t score ourselves, don’t give up a goal…

15:07…CRAWFORD!!!  Gotta love big early saves.  #weneededthat

14:16…Goalmouth scramble with Big Jimmy Hayes right in the middle of it.  Stay there for about 15 years, kid.  You look good.

13:50…..Cool little video coming out of commercial showing how the hoops court is converted to the rink at the UC.  I could see grabbing a dozen beers and sitting in the stands and watching that for a while.

9:37…Another good save by Crawford, who saw it all the way.  Decent pace so far, should pick up as the game goes on.  Kane looks pretty active again….damn good sign.

6:55….A quick score before the end of the first would be a welcome sight.  I hate how this Dallas team hangs around.

5:29…LEDDY ROBBED!!  BASTARD BACHMAN!!  I HATE YOUR SELF-INDULGENT BOOKS!!

4:24….I didn’t mean that.  I like King’s stuff.  I just wanted Leddy to bury that chance.

1:20….I think Stalberg misses Toews more than anyone.

End of the first….Shots were 6 to 5 in favor of the Hawks.  Both teams had a couple solid chances, but Crawford and Steven King have been up to the task……Anybody throws me against the boards I’m gonna piss all over myself…….I love Lemonheads, and the commercial with Toews/Kane still makes me laugh…..

Second period….

18:12…Nice flurry for the Hawks there.  Hossa just missed connecting there.  He’s been all over the ice so far.  I love beastly Marian.

17:28…GOALPOST!!!  THEN THE CROSSBAR!!  Crawford with double best-friend action there.  *cues 70’s porn music*

17:17…Hayes robbed by King.  Damn, what a chance.  Jimmy is playing his ass off again tonight.  Glad to see he “gets it” already.

16:14…Near-turnover to Frolik in the slot.  I got excited about the scoring chance, then remembered Frodo couldn’t score in a whorehouse with a fistful of hundreds.

13:55….Hayes with yet another good chance.  It looks like the kid lives for playing hard and going to the front of the net.  #39 is going to be a popular sweater here for years to come if he keeps it up……Edzo and Foley talking up the food at the UC.  I guess they missed the stuff on the news  about the health code violations down there.  I’ll pass on the diarrhea with a side of dry heaves, thanks.

13:21…GOALPOST!!  for Sharp.

10:28….HOSSA MAKES IT 1-0!!!  What a play by Frodo to make it possible!!  Hard works pays off!!!

5:42…Crawford with two great saves to keep it 1-0.  Those are the saves he needs to make on a nightly basis.

5:20….My other favorite young Hawk, Dylan Olsen, with a quality chance.  He looks right at home next to Keith on the back end.

1:00…..Hawks have pretty much owned the 2nd, due in large part to Hossa.  He’s been the best player on the ice tonight, stepping up into a void left by Toews being out.  It’s nice when your best players play like it.

0:03….Another damned goalpost for the Hawks.  We’re burying these guys in the 3rd.

End of the second….Hawks outshot Dallas 16-5 in the 2nd.  That’s called turning your shit up a notch…..Bears LB Lance Briggs is doing the Shoot-the-Puck segment in a minute.  I hope he doesn’t start bitching about his contract when Sarah Kustok blathers at him after he misses…..The girl shooting the puck tonight is less than a 9.  Must be a sparse crowd tonight……Oh, but the 2nd girl was….yeaow!!!……Briggs missed all three shots.  I think he was distracted by the 2nd girl.

Third period….

19:08….Hossa busting in hard along the boards is a nice thing to see.

17:20…Stalberg with a wonderful chance.  I think one goal may break this game open for us.

14:38….Dallas with their first shot of the 3rd. The defense has been fantastic at shutting off the passing lanes all night.

14:07….Ok, who buries the first glorious chance?  I’m saying Sharp will.

10:35….Fuck.  Dallas scores after being dominated and ties it at 1.  There is no way we’re letting Steven King beat us in the UC tonight.

9:35…..Foley sounds like Peter Brady when his voice cracks.  All we need is for him to put on a sweet poncho, some puka shells and find a terrible 70’s song for him to warble.  When it’s time to change, you’ve got to re-arrange!!!!

7:15….Uh-oh…off goes Hossa.  Not good.

6:06….Hossa back on the bench.  My balls can come back out of my stomach cavity now.  Whew.

5:02…You gotta be shitting me.  We’re really going to let Dallas take this game over after owning the ice for over 40 minutes?  This is inexcusable.  2-1 Dallas and I’m pissed.

4:20…..The last thing I want right now is a Hawks power play.  Talk about a momentum killer…..

3:48.….Suck a big fat one, Hawks.  You simply stopped playing hard after dominating for 48 minutes and are now down 3-1.  What a shame you’re going to let a winning streak end on such a poor effort at such a crucial time.

2:05….BOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!

1:12…..BOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!

0:00……Bite me.  Take a big, wet bite out of my ass.  Terrible way to end the night.

Post-game…

Well, the Hawks played great for about 48 minutes, then decided to slack off and let an inferior Dallas team steal 2 points on our home ice.  With or without Jonathan Toews, there was no reason to lose this game.  In a conference as hellaciously tough as the NHL’s Western conference is, these are the types of games and points we simply can’t afford not to win.  Hopefully, these 2 points won’t be a factor in the end, but it’s maddening to watch  games like this.  I mean, seriously…every scout in the NHL was out there tonight, with contracts in their pockets, and they’re looking for talent. For winners. OOOOOOOOOH. All my years of publicity. All the fashion shows and radiothons for nothing… They come here tonight… to scout the Chiefs… the toughest team in the Federal League! Not this! Buncha… pussies.”

That about sums it up.

The biggest waterfalls start with a drop of water.  Tonight, the Jonathan Toews penalty shot a mere 65 seconds into the game was that drop of water.  It gave a team that was desperate for some sort of break just what they needed….a chance to grab some momentum in the hands of their best player and captain.  Big players make big plays and as The Captain went five-hole to give us the lead we would never relinquish, he proved again that he’s a leader.  That was the biggest 1-0 lead I can recall right now.  Then, we saw a waterfall of hockey awesome.

In less than ten minutes of game time, the Hawks had potted 3 more beautiful goals and played some of the most inspired hockey I’ve seen.  Sticks were active, players were digging hard on the boards, the Slap Shot lines were flowing.  After building that 4-0 lead, they basically played standout defensive hockey and basically shut down a top team in the NHL, something we have had issues with recently.  When you only give up 21 shots, you give yourself a shot at winning.  I can’t stress this enough.

Tonight, our best players were just that…our best players.  Even our depth players like Scott and Lepisto were solid.  But what kept momentum on our side were 2 things had had been struggling….Corey Crawford and our penalty kill unit.

Crawford made the huge saves when he needed to and looked very confident in challenging shooters and controlling his rebounds.  Goalies games revolve around their confidence level and his looked as sharp as I’ve seen in a bit.  We needed him to have a big game tonight and he came through.  He just needs to not revert to being a huge pile of suck.

The penalty kill, in the midst of one of the most horrible stretches of play I’ve seen since God knows when, not only killed all seven penalties called on us, but killed off a key 4 minute double minor that would have been a death knell last week to boot.  It’s amazing what a little effort and desire can get you when it’s required.  There were plenty of pk minutes to go around, but Dylan Olson, all 20 years old of him, got over 4 minutes of it and looked good  He got almost 16 minutes and earned it.  It would be nice if we could keep him up here and get some real contributions from him.

Two early afternoon game for the weekend.  I’ll be at Sunday’s nationally televised game vs St Louis.  Game time is 11:30 am….look for me in the stands.  I’ll be the one wearing the red Hawks sweater and Stanley Cup hat.  Let’s hope they come home on a 2 game winning streak.


First off, my thanks for the invite to contribute to this blog.  I’m about as passionate about sports as anyone and what I say usually comes from the heart.  Well, from the heart or the big sarcastic part of my brain that rules my life.  Sometimes, you can actually tell the difference. (ed. note, sometimes, when the moon is high and Virgo is trending).

As we’ve noticed lately, the Blackhawks have been about as bad as we’ve seen them in years.  You’d have to go back to the dark ages to find as bad a stretch as this one.  6 losses in a row, some of the Rosie O’Donnell-ugly variety, have dropped the team from atop the West to 6th and plummeting.  How have we fallen so far so fast?  More importantly, will they get back on track before pissing away a once-promising season with legit Cup hopes?  I believe so and here’s why….

  1. Jonathan Toews.  The game’s best young (and some say best overall) captain is a stone-cold killer who would cut his balls off with a rusty skate blade to inspire and motivate his team.  There was a reason he was chosen as captain at the age of 20 years and 79 days old….he’s a pure leader.  Anyone can lead when things are going good and a team is rolling….see DFB and the 2003 Cubs….but when things are in the toilet, a true leader rights the ship and does so by example.  Toews is called Captain Serious and it’s apt.  He can and will lead the way.
  2. Patrick Kane.   Yeah, Kane has been not quite as good as he has been in the past, but he’s shown signs of breaking out and being aggressive.  When he shoots more often, the passing lanes open as teams collapse on him.  Then, the shit gets real as 88 is one of the best and most creative passers in the game.  When that part of his game is clicking and he’s feeling the confidence, he is damn near unstoppable and his line mates bury the puck and they all thrive.  Pluswhise, when he’s confident, his all-around game improves.  He’s never going to win the Selke, but his defensive game can be solid when he’s feeling it.  Bottom line, he has too much sheer talent to not play well for long stretches.
  3. Q and his staff aren’t idiots.  They see what we see.  They know what’s broken.  The defensive lapses and awful special teams can be fixed.  This is the same group that was cruising atop the NHL standings after a torrid December where they won 10 of 13 games and looked every bit the dominant team the Cup winners were at times.
  4. Stan has cap space and trade bait.  Rarely do teams keep the same roster intact all season.  Luckily for us, we have two essentials for a deal….cap space and young kids.  With around $5M in space, we can afford to add a tough, physical defenceman (I’m using the Canadian spelling there, eh?) who can contribute to the penalty kill and address the issue stated in my 3rd reason while not depleting the system of it’s incredible young depth.  Adding such a player is not only possible, but a likelihood.  Stan is not stupid either and he knows what’s needed.  He’ll get it.
  5. Teams with championship experience rise to a challenge when up against it.  We’ve had some roster turnover since the summer of 2010, but the core of that title team remains and hungers for more.  Guys like Hossa, Sharp, Keith and Seabrook aren’t satisfied with winning once.  They surely want more and the time has come for them to realize it.   They have no choice but to step it up over the last 2 months.

Every team has it’s own issues, and we’re no exception, but we also have more on the positive side of the ledger than most.  Besides, the worst time to judge a team and how good they are is when they’re at their lowest….this stretch certainly qualifies as that point.  I’m betting the road trip will end on a positive note and the team will right the ship and settle in the for the stretch.  They’d better, as I’m running out of things to kick and creative swear words.

Poor T.

Mercy!! Can't wait for the Ice Crew to get back to work!

What was once a comfortable lead in the Central division has quickly vanished.  What’s left is a ton of question marks.  In the last 10 games the Hawks are 3-5-2 while the rest of the North, minus Columbus, has played exceptionally well.  What you thought the all-star break was going to help this lifeless team?

You should have seen this coming.  The defense has been awful, in fact what happened to Duncan Keith?  He certainly is not the same since winning the Norris Trophy in 2010.  However, Keith is not the only problem, Niklas Hjalmarsson Brent Seabrook and Nick Leddy have continually made poor choices on the ice.  One can argue that every member of the blue line has played poorly this year and have caused the Mercy!! Can’t wait for the Ice Crew to get back to work!goaltending to look downright brutal.

Corey Crawford has channeled his inner Marty Turco, letting so many easy pucks passed him.  Coming into the season many Blackhawk fans, myself included, thought Crawford would be a stone wall in between the pipes for the Hawks.  What we have instead is a goaltender who has lost his confidence and a goalie controversy has emerged.

Ray Emery has played much better then Crawford in his limited time but head coach Joel Quenneville continues to stick with Crawford in goal.  Maybe that’s about to change as Emery started in the Blackhawks recent loss to the Colorado Avalanche.  Both goalies haven’t been helped by the constant turnovers in the neutral zone.  Emery however, has done the best when facing the continuous 2-1 rushes by other teams as of late.

If you’ve been watching as of late you probably know that Patrick Kane is not playing the same type of hockey he did over his previous 4 seasons.  After being shifted over to the faceoff circle this year he started to embrace the playmaker roll.  Now to start the season that worked really well, but his scoring has fallen way off.  If Tuesday’s game is any indication maybe Kane is back on track.  He took more shots then were used to seeing and played more aggressively than in prior games.  Kane even scored a goal which is something were not used to since in his last 27 games he has a total of 5 goals.

Chicago, A Drinking Town with a Sports Problem is not ready to panic.  We’d rather drink our sorrows away with a six’er and a few shots of Jamison.  So hang in there Blackhawk fans, we have plenty to be happy about.  Jonathan Toews and “Lord” Marian Hossa have been outstanding and the young kids are getting a ton of experience.  Heck besides Daniel Carcillo this team is finally getting healthy.  Stay strong Blackhawk fans, this team is better then what were watching.

Or so I hope so!