Posts Tagged ‘Raffi Torres’

Well, the Hawks bowed out quite meekly in the first round of the playoffs this week. With Mike Smith stealing the two wins that Corey Crawford didn’t gift-wrap coupled with some key players (Patrick Sharp, I’m looking at you) last being seen on a milk carton and losing one of the game’s best two-way players in Marian Hossa, it all added up to a big wet fart that smelled worse than it felt. As disappointing as things turned out, it’s a damn sight better than what we saw before the resurgence of 5 years ago. To paraphrase some old Roman dude, “I’ve come to bury the Hawks, not to praise them.” Here’s my end-of-season/playoff report card. No punches pulled, no gilding the lily, no tarting it up.

FORWARDS

Jonathan Toews…Until a concussion cost Captain Serious 23 games, he was showing the hockey world again what a special player he continues to be. Averaging basically a point-per-game (for you hockey noobs, that’s a great rate of scoring), winning over 60% of his faceoffs (this is a FANTASTIC percentage), continuing to be a dynamic defensive player and cementing his place as an elite player and leader, Johnny was in the conversation for the Hart Trophy, awarded to the league’s MVP. Even though he likely wasn’t 100% upon his return, he was a factor in the series vs. Phoenix. Hopefully, his noggin is okay and his career isn’t affected by the concussion. GRADE….A

Patrick Kane
…Coming off wrist surgery in the off-season, there was some question about his being ready for the season. All he did was play all 82 games, one of only two Hawks to suit up every night. Shuttling between wing and center all year, he had a down year, points-wise, but if his wingers could have buried half the chances he served them, his point total would be much higher. He’s a work-in-progress defensively, but did show lots of improvement in that area and stepped up in Toews’s absence into a leadership role. Only 23, he’s a key player in our future. GRADE….B

Marian Hossa…Big Hoss led the Hawks in scoring with 77 points this year and played his usual excellent two-way game. One of the game’s best defensive forwards (he only had 20 penalty minutes this year, remarkable for such an active player in his defensive end), he did have some stretches where he wasn’t very visible, but over the 81 games he played, he was a serious plus. We can only hope he’s fully recovered from Raffi Torres’s dirty playoff hit. A true core player, we need him to come back healthy. GRADE….A

Patrick Sharp….Until a playoff vanishing act that would make Houdini ask “How did you do that?” Sharpie led the team in goals with 33 and was his usual dynamic sniping self. I wish I had an answer for his playoff no-show, but I don’t. Chalk it up to being a new dad and not getting any sleep. That’s what I’m going with. GRADE…B-

Viktor Stalberg
…Quite possibly the handsomest guy on the Hawks, the incredibly skilled Swede had a career season with 22 goals and 43 points and did it for under a million bucks. He looked better as the season wore on and he gained confidence. At times, he was the best player on the ice on either team. His elite speed created numerous scoring chances all season and we can only hope he continues to trend upward in 2012-13. He could be a real difference maker for us. GRADE…C+

Dave Bolland…Why is it that we all expect more from this guy? Only 25, it seems like he’s been a Hawk forever. He played 76 games and scored 19 goals, but after the job he did in the 2010 playoffs, I think anything he ever does might be a disappointment. It may not be fair, but I don’t make the rules. If we can deal him and his $3M+ cap hit, so be it. We can replace a guy who probably will never be that 2nd line center we desire. GRADE…C-

Andrew Brunette…Brought in to provide a big body in front of the net and leadership presence, he did one admirably and failed at the other. He proved too slow to keep up with the speedy Hawk forwards and never really found a place to call his own on any line. We all had hoped to squeeze whatever last drops of hockey goodness he had out of him, but that well proved to be dry. He shan’t return. GRADE…D-

Marcus Kruger….While he may never gain enough size to be a great player, he showed he can be pretty damned good on the 4th line as a defensive center. Smart, quick and always in the right spot, he has proved to be pretty durable and has a nice head for the game. We certainly can do worse than him and at only 22 years old, his future is with the Hawks. GRADE….C

Bryan Bickell….Easily the most frustrating Hawks player this season. Big, tough, fast with a great wrist shot, he pulled a Claude Rains for most of the season before coming to life against Phoenix. Every Hawks fan wanted this guy gone before the trade deadline and if they say they didn’t, they’re lying to you. He has too much talent to give up on so quickly and will be back next year, hopefully finally seeing what hard work all year can do. GRADE…D

Andrew Shaw….Easily the best story of the year. Signed to an entry-level deal during the season after being a 5th round draft choice after being undrafted in THREE previous drafts, Shaw blasted into Chicago like a breath of fresh air with an attitude and instantly became a fan favorite. His hustle won fans. His grit won fans. His determination won fans. Everything this kid did won us over more and more. Andrew Shaw proved that there is more to playing the game than measurable talent. Heart and desire, while cliché, matter. Pluswhise, #shawfacts ruled Twitter for a time, which speaks volumes about his impact. GRADE…A+

Michael Frolik….Works his ass off, battles in the corner, fills lanes with an active stick, couldn’t buy a goal if he had a bag of gold dust for a nutsack. All that is well and good, but for $3M per year, we need him to find his 20 goal-a-year form he showed early in his career. GRADE….D++

Jamal Mayers
….One of the “grit guys” Bowman brought in for a one-year deal, he provided what he was signed for. His character and work ethic were solid all season. Not sure if he’ll be back, but he was a solid player for us. GRADE….C+

Daniel Carcillo
….Carbomb, brought in as another “grit guy”, but one with actual hockey skills showed he can really play the game well. Of course, the fact that he’s a tremendous turd, a reckless player and a target for refs every time he’s on the ice proved costly and ended up costing him the season with a wrecked knee he did to himself with a dirty hit on another player. Re-signed for 2 years while in rehab, I’m not sure where he’s going to fit next season. GRADE…Incomplete

Jimmy Hayes….Did fairly well in limited time, he’s another youngster with a nice future here. You can’t teach size and Big Jimmy has it in spades. I look forward to his big ass in front of the net for a long time. GRADE….C

DEFENSEMEN

Duncan Keith….Brilliant at times, pedestrian at others, looked like a clueless fuck at others. If Bickell is the most frustrating Hawk player, Duncs is easily #2, simply because we KNOW how good he can be. Remember when he was the best defenseman in the world? Of course you do, because it was only two years ago when he won Olympic gold and was a stalwart for Team Canada, won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman and had his name engraved on the Stanley Cup. There isn’t anything he can’t do on the ice, but he has struggled with consistency. He needs to become at least 85% of that player again. GRADE….B-

Brent Seabrook….This season, Seabs became the undisputed best d-man on the team. Big, fast and a bruising hitter, he blossomed into the player we hoped he’d become. He finally started to unleash that bomb of a shot of his more often and piled up the ice time without any significant reduction in effectiveness. A true blueline stalwart, Seabs would thrive in any era. GRADE…A

Nick Leddy….At an age where his peers are still playing college hockey (Leddy turned 21 late in the season), he was thrust into a role that was too big for him. Even so, he played in all 82 games and scored 37 points, a solid season in those respects. What he needs is about 15 lbs of muscle and plenty of ice time and experience to become the player he can be. Fans really shit on him all season, deservedly so at times, but those same people will be cheering wildly for him once he improves on those rough areas. GRADE….C

Niklas Hjalmarsson
….He’s regressed since his first two seasons, when he looked every bit the next mainstay on the blueline. When we matched San Jose’s offer sheet, it was seen by most as a necessary move to keep a building block. Since then, he’s done nothing to warrant the move, giving the second-guessers plenty of ammo. For the money he makes…over $3M per year….we need more than ONE goal and a buttload of shotblocks. Simply put, if he’s moved this off-season, it won’t make many Hawks fans sad unless he blossoms elsewhere. Then, the third-guessers will go hog wild. GRADE….D-

Sean O’Donnell….Brought in to be a depth defenseman, he only played 51 games and looked to have almost nothing left. He did have some solid games, but simply couldn’t sustain any sort of solid play. He won’t return. GRADE….F

Johnny Oduya…..A fantastic addition at the trade deadline, he was a disaster in the playoffs and it’s up in the air as to whether he’ll return. I like the guy, but we have other d-men that have a similar skill-set….fast, agile, not very big or physical. If he stays, someone else has to go and vice-versa. At least he was sort of cheap in that trade. GRADE….C

Steve Montador….A concussion wrecked his season and he never looked comfortable before that. Hopefully, he’s healthy and can find a groove with us because we need him to be the player we signed him to be. He was actually more effective as a forward on the power play. That’s as surprising as the fact that one of my daughters puts ketchup on her hot dogs. *throws up in my own mouth* GRADE….D-

Dylan Olsen
….Another young guy who didn’t get a whole lot of consistent playing time, he should get a long look in camp to take one of the bottom pairing spots. He’s gotta be better than O’Donnell, right? GRADE….Incomplete, but with promise

Sami Lepisto
….Spent much of the season in Q’s doghouse. Not sure why, since he was better than O’Donnell who got into 51 games. He must have made fun of Q’s coachstache. GRADE….D-

GOALTENDING

Corey Crawford….I’m not sure where to start with this guy. When he’s on, he’s dynamite and impregnable. Like he was in games 3 and 4, he kept us in the games and looked as confident as a cow a vegan convention. Of course, he could turn on a dime and shit the bed like he did in those same two games. For a team to win the Cup, the goalie needs to be able to steal a game here and there. Antti Niemi did it in 2010….game 1 against San Jose comes to mind….and Crawford needs to be able to do the same. A summer of busting his ass with a goalie coach should help greatly, but how dedicated he is remains to be seen. GRADE….C+

Ray Emery….His return from a possible career-ending hip injury was rewarded by a roster spot with the Hawks and was our team’s nominee for the Masterson Trophy, given to the NHL player that “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.” Having a guy that respected on the roster is always a good thing and when he stepped in during a Crawford slump that lasted forever, he played well enough to steal a game or two for us when we were desperate for some wins. His overall numbers weren’t outstanding, but he did his job as a backup…be a pro, be ready to play, don’t bitch about not playing, and mentor the kid who you’re backing up. He is a credit to the game of hockey. GRADE…B

I’m not sure what the off-season will bring, but in the meantime, I’ll be enjoying another 6 weeks or so of the NHL playoffs. All we can hope for is a solid off-season for Bowman and the regained health of out walking wounded. Things are never as bad as they seem when you’re at your lowest and the playoff loss certainly applies here. Getting 101 points in the beastly-tough Western conference isn’t like we were terrible all over the ice and up and down the roster. A few key additions and subtractions will help our chances this time next season. Onward!!

First off, I’ve come up with a cool hockey-themed name for my column. For you hockey novices, let me explain…a bag skate is a hockey practice where the coaches keep the pucks in the bag. All they do is skate, skate and then they skate some more. It’s a punitive measure that usually follows a terribly shitty effort in a game the night before. You can usually tell somewhere in the 3rd period when a team will be going through the dreaded bag skate the next day. Busting your ass is a sure way of avoiding a bag skate. There’s no smartass parallel I’m trying to make here…I just like how it sounds, so The Bag Skate it is.

Pre-Game

Tonight, the Hawks face their biggest game of the year in game 4 against the suddenly “We think we’re good” Phoenix Coyotes. Well, most of the Coyotes. Grade A cocklunch and assphlange Raffi Torres is obviously not playing for a while, due to his being suspended for that dirty hit on Hossa in game 3. I don’t really need to go over what happened again. Suffice to say, the bad blood between these two teams has grown exponentially since game 1. The Hawks don’t need to go out and “get even”. That’s what stupid fans would want us to do, and I’ve seen plenty of that shit on plenty of boards. Fans of other teams blathering, “That wouldn’t happen with my team.” Good for your team. Chances are, they haven’t won the Cup ever or for a very long time. I’d prefer the Hawks to retaliate with a series win.

Puck drop, 20:00 left in the first Anyone else nervous? BTW, rookie/junior superstar Brandon Saad starts on the Toews line. Nothing like playing with an elite player to boost a kid’s confidence.

18:30…The Bolland line with a great shift! We need a big night from the secondary guys tonight with Hossa out. The big guys need help with the heavy lifting.

17:48…Hawks to the power play. God help the Coyotes if we actually can score here. God help us, period.

16:20…Near miss by the Hawks. Damn, that would have been sweet.

16:02…Refs fuck the Hawks yet again. Blatant high-stick in Sharp’s face right in front of all 4 officials goes uncalled. Someone give Q another $10K for another fine when he calls the officiating a disgrace again.

14:36…Brandon Bollig and Paul Bissonnette tangle here. Yet another talentless hack employed by Phoenix for the express purpose of being a pile of crap. Get some talent and then talk to me. What a punk. Both get 5 for fighting. Bitchonnette should get 2 more for that haircut he has.

11:55
…Toews with an awesome chance. Not a great angle from in tight and he tried to go short side rather than his customary 5 hole. Would have been a tough shot to make for sure.

11:40
….Foley railing on Torres, saying the league needs to tell him that if he pulls this shit again, his future is in doubt. Yeah, sounds good, but we all know the NHLPA would never allow that to happen.

10:43….First good save by Crawford, as Phoenix can’t get much going in the early part of the game. Good thing to see!!

9:15
…Hawks are controlling the game big-time so far. We need this effort all night and the rest of the playoffs.

6:14…Even Kane taking the body!! Attaboy!!

5:27
….Frantic pace with not many whistles so far. This style benefits the Hawks as we’re by far the faster team. Phoenix can’t stay with us so far and seem to be back on their heels. Speed kills!!

5:07
…Another great flurry for the Hawks. Stalberg looks like he has a bounty on the first goal scored. #Saints

4:03
….Kane nearly beats gutless faker Mike Smith to a loose puck. That would have brought some serious catcalls down on that play-acting punk.

3:13
…Goalpost for Phoenix. Why does it go this way…a team is getting utterly dominated and they get a great chance like that? Thank you for that PING!!

1:15
….Phoenix has another stiff, this one named Kyle Chipchurra….is he some sort of chocolate-chipped Mexican doughy treat? I loves me some chipchurra after my burrito and horchata.

End of the first period
…Hawks dominate the first period and outshoot the Coyotes 11-5. Trying to do this column and tweet the game at the same time is almost beyond me. I may have to apply for hazardous duty pay for my typing fingers. Blocked shot tally….Phoenix 9, Hawks 0. Can’t block what aint there. That’s a great sign. Flipping over to the Bos/Wash game for a quick looksee….tied at 1 and, of course, the pricks run a commercial as soon as I flip to them…bastards are spying on me again.

Second Period

18:58…GREAT SAVE BY CRAWFORD!!!

17:52….Phoenix has come out strong in the 2nd. Push-back is a big part of what we need to do here until we get control of things again.

14:48….Bickell steps on a stick and dumps himself. Actually a good no-call there by the four blind mice.

13:54…Crowd seems a bit underwhelming so far. You know what would get them going? A goal.

12:23….Great save by Smith on snake-bitten Michael Frolik. The puck trickled in a bit late and the whistle blew. Would have been nice for that to have counted, but it was pretty close and the whistle is the end of the play. At least it got the crowd into it.

12:04…Another Hawks power play. Excuse me while I shit myself with joy!!

11:13….This makes my balls hurt watching them get nothing going.

9:22…Hawks currently outshooting Phoenix 16-8. The trend is your friend, but sometimes friends stab you in the back.

8:00.
..This game is flying by so far. Good thing, I’m tired and want to hit the sack.

6:14…Brendan Morrison wins a board battle. THE SEVENTH SIGN OF THE APOCALYPSE!!

5:30….Another great save by Smith, this one on Bickell. Hawks are going to break thru soon.

1:56…Coyotes head to their first power play after Mikkel Boedker falls down. Nice dive there.

End of the second period….Hawks continue to dominate everywhere but the scoreboard, outshooting them 23-10 so far. This isn’t even close, save for the acting candyass keeping the game scoreless. I gotta figure Phoenix is going to come out even stronger in the 3rd than they did in the 2nd, so we’d better be ready for it and match the intensity. I don’t want to go to bed all pissed off like I did Tuesday night. I hate swearing in my sleep. The cocky doucher doing the shoot the puck promo missed all 3 of his tries badly….LOL. This chick just joined the list of “Top 5 Whorishly Dressed Women” to ever do this promo….well done, you tramp!!

Third Period

19:56….Hawks kill off the penalty. That was much appreciated, boys!!

18:57…..Someone tell the Hawks the 3rd has started. Phoenix kept the puck in our zone for over a minute. Did they set tee times and not tell anyone?

17:45….The longer we don’t score, the less I like our chances. These are the types of games goalies steal for inferior teams.

16:43…Foley needs to stop calling Ray Whitney “The Wizard”. Unless he’s in OZ or playing SS for the Cardinals, he’s nothing of the sort. STFU, Pat.

12:57….Yep. The Coyotes score and lead a game they have no business being in, 1-0. Out-played, out-shot, out-everythinged and they’re up 1-0. I hate this sport.

12:13….2-0 Coyotes. No effort at all in the crucial 3rd period and we’ve been dominated thus far. Keith and Seabrook get caught standing in the crease like they had tickets to watch the game. Good bye, playoffs. This series is over. Saturday night will be academic unless something drastic happens.

10:40….Way to pick up your fallen comrade, Marian Hossa, by the way. Nice heart you guys are showing in response to Torres and his blatant thuggery. Ought to be ashamed of yourselves.

9:35….Brendan Morrison of the Hawks scores on a deflection to make it 2-1. Forgive me if I don’t get fully engorged, but that was a weak goal Smith should have had. I’ll get excited if we can tie it up. As it is, I see Phoenix scoring again within 2 minutes. Sorry to piss down your leg and tell you I pissed down your leg.

7:53…..To the Hawks credit, they’ve picked it up since rolling over and playing dead to start the 3rd. Too little too late?

7:23….Hawks head to the power play. I think this may be the most crucial power play of the season.

5:23…What a popcorn fart of a power play at a crucial time. I think I’ll go pick my nose with a rusted butter knife….

5:13
….Another Hawks penalty, this one by Sharp for a trip. This is the most crucial penalty kill of the season. I love when things even out.

3:18
…Toews with a solid short-handed chance there. We can always count on him to play his ass off. OH CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN!!

2:25…Getting beaten by nobodies. I hate this sport.

1:26…HOLY FUCKING SHIT THE HAWKS TIE IT UP AT 2 APIECE ON THE DELAYED PENALTY!!! And it was the snake-bitten one again…Michael Frolik!!! I love this sport!!!

End of regulation.
Headed to overtime for the 4th straight time in the series. I don’t know if this is good in the long run for whoever advances, but it sure is fun to watch. Well, it’s fun when I’m not swearing at the TV or shaking with nerves.

Overtime

19:40….Hawks fans chanting for Hossa. That’s a nice thing to do. #WinItForhossa, indeed.

17:45…Hawks lose quickly on another goal by a real slug, Mikkel Boedker. What a fucking joke, going down 3 games to 1 to a team we have no business losing even once to. And it was all set up by Nick Leddy taking a horrible angle on the rush by the slug. This one, just like game 3, was given away to a team that can’t hold our jocks. Have I mentioned I hate this sport?

So, the season is basically over. With Marian Hossa playing the part of the Gipper, the Hawks couldn’t summon up the courage to win even one of the two games at home for him. Way to be good teammates. You let a talentless thug like Raffi Torres change the series and couldn’t respond. You let a team with NINETEEN SHOTS ON GOAL beat you tonight. A team that can’t skate with us beat us. A team that can’t score goals beat us. To top it off, we lost on two awfully horribly weak goals. Unacceptable on all counts. I, and all Hawks fans, expected more out of this team. In short, this is how I feel about this team as I go to bed tonight…

EVEN JESUS IS PISSED AT YOU ASSHOLES TONIGHT!!