Posts Tagged ‘San Jose Sharks’

by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

After back-to-back shootout losses against the laughably awful Minnesota Wild (their name is as awful as their quality of hockey), the Hawks have recently accomplished the following…1) clinching a playoff spot without having Captain Serious in the lineup for 20 games 2) showing they can beat anyone with the lineup they have if they play smart, tough and fast hockey 3) knocking AWPDS out with an elbow, courtesy of Duncan Keith (I don’t condone what he did, but since it was in retaliation for basically years of cheap shots by those punkass bitches, so be it) 4) giving me plenty of ammo for my columns and 5) raising ticket prices for next season already. All that’s left to settle is who they’ll meet in the first round. Let’s look at the possible match-ups and how desirable they are.

Nashville

This is the ONE team no sane Hawks fan wants to face in the first, second or any round. The only way we get these guys is with a win in regulation against Detroit in the season finale. Anything else, we’ll finish 6th in the conference and draw the Pacific champ, which we’ll get to in a minute. Why don’t we want these guys? Besides the fact they beat us like they paid a nickel for us, they have possibly the best goaltender in the West in Pekka Rinne. Gotta love hockey names, eh? Anyhoo, Rinne and Nashville have taken 4 of the 6 regular season games from us and even though we beat them 5-4 in the last meeting, they stormed back from a 4-0 deficit and looked damn-near unstoppable while doing so.

Their offense is good enough to compete with anyone, a radical switch from their usual M.O. In years past, if you got up a goal or two on them, they were as good as beaten. But with the addition of former KHL (the elite Russian pro league) MVP Alexander Radulov, they’re as deadly as a box of rabid cats with straight razors tied to their tails. He’s a real difference maker and has a terrible haircut. That’s a bad mix.

It’s best if we let Detroit face them in the first round and watch as one knocks out the other. Hopefully, we get past our own first round series at the same time. In short, this team scares the ever-loving piss out of me. They’ll be quite the confident bunch if we meet up with them at any time in the playoffs. Nashville is led by one of the best coaches in the game, Barry Trotz. He always has his teams ready to play and well-prepared. Not to mention he is the happiest-looking guy in hockey…

You can almost see the sunshine beaming out of his ass, right?

Prediction…If we get these guys in the first round, I think they take us in 5 games. Yeah, they scare me that much.

Los Angeles

As of this writing on Friday night, this is who we’d get in the opening round.
They took 3 of 4 from us and looked pretty damned good while doing it. If Pekka Rinne is the best goalie out there, the Kings’ Jonathan Quick is in the top 5. Appearing in a staggering 68 games so far, Quick has posted 35 wins, a whopping TEN shutouts and a sub-2.00 GAA. YIKES!! He hasn’t been easy for anyone to beat and he already has two of those ten shutouts against us. I love him as an American hockey player, but I don’t want to be chanting U-S-A! while watching him stonewall us out of the playoffs.

Let’s hope Quick doesn’t get fatally wounded by his own troops like this Stonewall did.

Their offense isn’t as stout as other teams, but they sure have a few skill players to watch out for. Mike Richards and Jeff Carter have had a nice reuniting out on the Left Coast and I’m sure the bars and nightclubs have seen their business go up as well. Drinkee, drinkee!! Add in Hawks-killer Dustin Brown, Dustin Penner and Drew Doughty, they aren’t exactly barren. They’re coached by one of my first favorite Hawks players, Darryl Sutter, one of the 6 Sutter brothers who played in the NHL. He’s never won the Cup, but he knows the game and won’t lose a series because he’s not prepared.

Prediction…This may not be the best match-up either for us, but hockey teams from L.A. don’t exactly have a record of success in the playoffs. As good as Quick is, we have a great playoff defensive center in Dave Bolland who should be able to shut down the Kings’ top line. Hawks take this series in 6 games.

San Jose

GM Doug Wilson (still one of my all-time favorite Hawks) nearly tweaked this perennial playoff team right out of the post-season this year, but they’ve been hotter than a junkie’s spoon lately and have roared back into contention. They are essentially tied with L.A. and will decide the division winner in tonight’s game, the finale for each. Offensively, they’re led by a guy who is 6′ 4″, 230 and is a real under-achieving bitch. Joe Thornton has a well-earned rep as a playoff choker…who else recalls how he pissed the bed against us when we swept them in the 2010 playoffs? For such a big guy, he’s severely lacking in balls. I’m not worried about any team that will lean on this guy in a short series.

Defensively, Dan Boyle, a very good player, leads an unexceptional corps of average d-men. Aside from Marc-Edouard Vlasic, hereafter referred to as PickleBitch, and the ugliest man in hockey, Douglas Murray,

Ugly is not a good look for a wanna-be pretty boy.

I couldn’t pick a Sharks d-man out from a lineup of car salesmen, though the trail of slime would tip me off as to who the car salesmen are. Hawks playoff hero Antti Niemi is a quality goalie for sure, but he can have his moments where you know you can beat him. I’ll love him forever for those 16 wins he gave us on the way to Lord Stanley, but the team now in front of him can’t hold a candle to what we had in front of him. They’re coached by Todd McLellan and that’s not exactly going to make an opponent shit themselves in fear now, is it? He’s about as intimidating as that spider my daughter crushed with a shoe last week.

Prediction
….This may be the most favorable match-up for us. I simply can’t believe a team led by Thornton, PickleBitch and McLellan can beat us in a short series. It’s always great fun to watch Thornton crash and burn under pressure. I’m going with the Hawks in 5 games here.


Phoenix

The current 8th seed, they have an outside chance of winning the Pacific. The mere fact that this incredibly broke team, owned by the NHL until a buyer can be found, is actually in the playoffs is astounding. They’re so broke, they make the state of Illinois look like we have $100 bills growing on trees in our solid gold backyards. Seriously, they’re so broke…HOW BROKE ARE THEY??…that they literally have to have the coaches pay for pre-game meals and drinks. That’s broke. That’s like ghetto broke. Can we send them some coupons for 2 for 1 meal deals at their local Denny’s or something?

This collection of no-names are led by a solid captain in Shane Doan and a dynamic young defenseman in Keith Yandle. They have in their employ players named Lauri, Oliver and Raffi….sounds like a deranged TV puppet show for kids or something.

“That’s right, King Friday, we’re going to have to get medieval on these bitches.”

On the blueline, they’re solid, though unspectacular besides Yandle. But the real story on this team is the play of goalie Mike Smith. He had his string of 234:25 consecutive scoreless minutes snapped earlier this evening (I’m writing on Friday night this week due to my daughter being in her high school musical, West Side Story, the past two nights. I GOT A SOCIAL DISEASE!!). That’s pretty impressive for a guy who’s on his 3rd NHL team in 6 years. The guy charged with keeping this motley crew together is Dave Tippett, who has done a magnificent job with the most limited resources in pro sports today. This guy doesn’t even have an office at the team’s practice rink…he uses a TV tray and a folding chair in the rink’s party room. Well, he does unless little Johnny has a birthday bash going that afternoon. I didn’t make that shit up, either. Like I said earlier…broke.

Prediction….As great a story as they’ve been, even Cinderella had her midnight. Just getting into the playoffs was a great accomplishment in the tough Western conference, but if they meet us, I don’t see us losing to a team where the coach is taking them out for Slurpees after a win like some pee wee team. Hawks in 5 games.

Of course, things all hinge on the health of Jonathan Toews. All us Hawks fans are hoping and praying for his return in the first round. I am taking a page from the movie Major League and looking to sacrifice a live chicken. Hey, every little bit helps and it can’t hurt. Well, except for the chicken. It’s going to suck for the chicken.



“DON’T JUST SIT THERE, STOP THIS ASSHOLE!!!”

by: Tony Leva
email: tonytrucker1969@gmail.com

This week, the Hawks have dropped the two games they’ve played so far. They got their asses waxed at home by a damn good Nashville team on Sunday, then salvaged a road point in New Jersey on Tuesday in a shootout loss. With 5 games to go, including the game against St Louis that I’ll be doing the ol’ running diary thing tonight, we are within striking distance of clinching a playoff spot. A win tonight would not only help immensely, but it would certainly show the rest of the league we’re a legit threat come playoff time. Jonathan Toews has been skating with the team and says he’s close to being ready for some contact. Let’s hope he continues to improve like he has in the past 10 days.

Puck Drop, 20:00 left in the first period… I’ll never like Jim Cornelison’s version of the National Anthem as much as Wayne Messmer’s, but I bet Jim isn’t half the greedy dick Wayne turned out to be. At a Cubs Convention once, Wayne wasn’t interested in hearing me express how much his version had moved me over the years. He only cared about trying to sucker me out of $20 for a CD of his version. Blow me, pal.

18:26…Tremendous save by Jaroslav Halak in close. That would have gotten the crowd in a tizzy right away. The quick-strikes we’ve gotten lately really get the team off on the right foot. Too bad we didn’t cash that in.

17:52….Hawks going to the power play. I’ll never get the following empty two minutes of my life back. Over/Under on shots we get on net here….0.5. Yeah, it’s been that bad. I wish they could figure this out sometime this century, but you simply can’t polish a turd.

17:08…The Blues penalty kill isn’t what we need to see here. They’ve killed more penalties than neighborhood watch guys have killed kids with hoodies lately. Send the indignant hate mail about that comment to my buddy Lou. He’ll appreciate the chance to spread his wings and answer you in kind….

15:52…The over came in there…one shot on that power play. Pay the winners!!

15:08….Great save by Crawford. That’s what he needed to keep his confidence level up. Brandon “One Punch” Bollig planted Kent Huskins like a springtime daisy after the shot. Pluswhise, Huskins caught a stick from Crawford in his face right before he got hammered. It’s double-dutch action at the UC!!

12:08….So far, both teams look pretty physical. We expect that from St. Louis, and it’s nice to see the Hawks respond in kind. Shaw and Bollig both seem to relish this aspect of the game. Tracey Myers, the CSN in-game microphone jockey, must be good at her job because she is one tough lady to get an eyeful of. Eeeesshh.

9:55…How about a goal by the 4th line tonight? It seems like forever since they’ve potted one.

9:22….HAWKS SCORE!! Bryan Bickell buries his bitchin’ wrister from above the dot to make it 1-0!! When this guy is motivated, he’s deadly. Nick Leddy and Dave Bolland get the assists. Nice to see Leddy continuing to play well. With his wheels, he can be a real weapon.

9:13….Blues score 9 seconds later to tie it up at 1. Jesus, that was unacceptable. Losing the ensuing faceoff after our goal set the whole thing up. No letdowns like that, asspipes!! Leddy played the rush well and turned Steen wide there, but he still got that shot away with some steam on it. Sphincter tightness….returning.

5:30…Hawks have responded to the Blues goal with some nice energy. You hate to see a letdown like that, but when the team responds with even more energy and speed, it’s a good sign. They need to keep this up and sustain some pressure.

3:53
…Wicked glove save by Crawford on Jason Arnott. Sphincter tightness…relaxing.

3:38
…Patrick Sharp with a sick wrister on goal and a better save by Halak. What a luxury for the Blues to have two killer netminders like Halak and Brian Elliott to choose from each game. Quite the nice problem to have….it’s like wondering which sports car to drive over to your supermodel girlfriend’s house…the Porsche or the Ferrari.

2:33….Scrum in front of the Hawks net. Vlad Sobotka of St. Louis touched it off with a post-whistle hack on Crawford. Nice to see Crawford reach up and take a swipe at him in response. Don’t take any shit from a guy with a last name like a bargain-bin vodka.

0:25….Dumb penalty by Shaw. You gotta be smarter than hitting a guy from behind like that. Go after the puck, kid. Even though St Louis isn’t the best team out there on the power play, giving a team this good a freebie isn’t how you win hockey games. I’m sure Q will let him hear about it at the break.

End of the first period
…Hawks outshoot the Blues 14-8 and both teams had some nice chances….I think I’ll get a slice of my wife’s birthday cake from yesterday…it’s chocolate frosted with peanut butter filling inside…..off-topic a bit, but I can’t wait for baseball to start next week; I don’t count the two games played in Japan….

Second Period

18:25…Hawks kill the bad Shaw penalty. Way to pick up the kid.

17:48.
..Pat Foley gives best wishes to Daily Herald hockey writer Tim Sassone. He’s had some sort of health issue and hasn’t been working in the past month or so. I didn’t get a call from those pricks to fill in, either. Their loss.

15:42…Beautiful 3-way passing play results in a great chance for Sharp. Halak was better there, making the save, but Stalberg really has been great so far tonight. He has some elite gifts, for sure, but consistency isn’t among them. Oh, for 82 games of how he’s playing tonight.

14:04….The CBOE seat auction is funny. You bid an outrageous sum to sit in some of the worst seats for a hockey game…right on the glass. I’ve sat right on the glass before and if you don’t mind not seeing the entire ice surface, they’re fantastic. Personally, I like being able to see the corners and stuff. Must be nice to be rich enough that you don’t care where you sit.

12:36….Stalberg AGAIN with some serious wheels and another excellent chance.

10:10
…Hawks are noticeably faster than the Blues. The Blues seem to be having trouble getting anything going thru the neutral zone and when we break out of our zone, we are getting some nice chances. Speed kills.

8:30
…Hawks can clinch a playoff spot with a win and a Phoenix loss in regulation against San Jose. I wasn’t sure before the game on what the exact circumstances were to clinch. Nice to see it’s close enough to touch.

7:40
….Blues head to the power play as we get caught with too many men on the ice. If there’s one penalty that pisses a coach off every time, it’s this one.

5:40
….Hawks kill their second penalty of the night. It’s little things like not giving up power play goals that bring a smile to my face.

4:41
….Sharp robbed by Halak. That’s been a rarity this period…a great scoring chance. Both teams have really tightened up defensively and are as watertight as a frog’s butthole. I’m assuming they’re watertight, or those frogs would fill up and sink. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

3:28
….Great sustained pressure by the Hawks there. The Kruger/Sharp/Stalberg line has been fantastic so far tonight. I hope Kruger puts 10-15 lbs of muscle this summer and takes his game up a level or two next fall.

3:07
…Dylan Olson with a bomb from the point. I’d love to see him unleash that beast on the power play. God knows we need something on that unit.

2:52
…GOALPOST!! Kane bulls-eyed the iron there. So close and yet so far…..

2:15
….Hawks head back to the power play (ugh) as Kane got taken down. He also got robbed by Halak on the delayed penalty. Christ, let’s cash one on guys….

1:03
…How hard is it to dump the puck in, then chase it and gain possession? YOU HAVE THE EXTRA MAN!! UTILIZE HIM!!

0:19….Text from Lou at the UC….the shitty in-house band has been named Taint Nugget. I think it’s perfection. Well done, section 333!!

End of the second period
…Hawks outshoot the Blues 10-3 in the second and are outshooting them 24-11 for the game….we seem to be clogging the lanes quite well tonight and breaking up plenty of rushes at the blue line….apparently, Mrs Illinois is doing the Shoot the Puck contest in the next few minutes!!….gotta love a promo where a hot chick is integral to the entire function…the hottie buries one!!…..hard to believe Mrs Illinois is gorgeous, right?….as much as I love Tony Esposito, he looks AWFUL in those Binny’s commercials

Third Period

18:45…GREAT early save by Crawford!! Alex Steen couldn’t believe that didn’t go in. Either could I, as that looked like money.

17:52…Kruger/Sharp/Stalberg start the period the way they’ve been playing all night. Just terrific.

15:45…HAWKS SCORE TO MAKE IT 2-1!!!! Another great rush by the Hawks and some hard work pays off as Andrew Brunette buries the loose change!!! About time we were rewarded for our hustle and hard work. Now, let’s hold this lead longer than 9 seconds.

15:35…Woo hoo!! More than 9 seconds!!

13:46….Jesus, Sharp AGAIN with a fantastic chance! And it was set up by our superior speed. This is becoming a clinic on how to skate.

11:43….Hawks have held the Blues to a meager 2 shots on goal so far here in the 3rd. They obviously can’t deal with our speed and are having a tough time getting any sort of sustained pressure. We need to stay out of the box and not give them any chances for momentum. We need to score again and keep all the pressure on them.

11:20…THERE IT IS!!! 3-1 HAWKS!!! AND IT’S SHARP AND STALBERG ON A TWO ON NONE RUSH!! These guys have been fucking AWESOME together tonight. That was a great strip by Sharp to set that rush up!! Suck it, Blows!!

10:25….Next time I get cocky, tell me to shut it. 3-2 now on a terrible goal off a Kane turnover. Crawford needs to get his ass down on that stuff. No reason for something like that to sneak in under him. Just terrible to let in such a weak goal like that. You don’t win the Cup by doing shit like that.

9:30….Got to keep up the pressure and not lay back and try to hold on. Stay with what’s been working so far tonight. Keep skating, boys.

8:15…Frolik high-sticked in the face right in full view of the official, no call. So glad the NHL has the highest quality refs. That was as blatant as can be and it got ignored.

6:13…Finally, we come back with some speed and get a good chance. Time to let it all hang out and close these guys down.

4:40
…Almost a fluke goal by the Blues there. Bad bounce almost somehow sneaks over Crawford, who made a tougher save than he thought he’d need to make. Whew!

3:01…Getting a bit chippy there in front of Crawford. I’d be doing the same thing if I were St. Louis. If they manage to tie this, it’s going to be on a dirty goal…it sure won’t be on a glorious chance.

1:32…Well, fuck me. Tied at 3 on a shitty, dirty crap goal. I called that bullshit. Total garbage. Hawks let St. Louis dictate the tempo and did indeed lay back and hoped time would just run out. You can’t do that against a top team and hope it works.

1:00…No excuse to blow a late two goal lead at home to a team that simply can’t keep up with our speed, no matter where they are in the standings. St. Louis has no business being in position to get at least one point tonight. Shame on us for not finishing the job. They have 18 shots and 3 goals, none of which were solid scoring chances.

End of regulation, heading to overtime….With a possible clinching in sight tonight, we need to win this one. While this OT should never have happened, it’s time to rise above that crappy final ten minutes and get that third point.

OT

3:45…Glorious 3 on 2 chance for us, but Halak made a nice save after the St. Louis d-man altered Hossa’s shot by going down, forcing a high shot. Taking away half the net sure helps the goaltender.

2:19…FANTASTIC save by Crawford!! That’s what I’m talking about!!

1:56…Michael Frolik, Mr. Snakebitten, denied twice in close. He couldn’t hit water if he fell out of the proverbial boat. He works so hard in all areas of the ice and just can’t get the payoff. I bet he’s forgotten what a red light looks like.

0:32…Kane gets robbed by Halak. That had game-winner written all over it. Those are the kinds of saves that Stanley Cup winners get from their goalies. Halak is the only reason I’m still writing and swearing at my TV. Dirty cocklunch.

End of OT, heading to the shootout…This is where we miss Toews a whole bunch. Our shootout crew without him is, how do I put this delicately….as shitty as 3 day old diapers. Come on guys, make me eat them words.

1st round
…Kane leads off for us. He beat Halak with a backhander a couple weeks ago in the shootout, let’s see what he does here. Great save by Halak on the backhand attempt. Grrrr….but it might have worked if he didn’t get in too tight. David Perron leads off for the Blues and gets blanked by Crawford!! Scoreless after one round.

2nd round
…Sharp gets denied by Halak’s glove hand. He’s a sniper, not a slick move guy, but our choices are sort of slim without Toews. TJ Oshie is next up for St. Loo and his dumb Ohio State ass gets stoned!! Scoreless after two rounds.

3rd round…Stalberg with a hugely weak attempt. Another guy without much of a shootout resume. If the Blows score here, it’s all over. Alex Steen with a fake slapper/quick move and gets denied by Crawford!! Still scoreless after 3 rounds!! We go to extra extra time!!

4th round….BOLLAND SCORES ON A SWEET MOVE TO HIS FOREHAND!!! Finally, the dike is broken!! (No, I’m not making a lesbian joke) 1-0 Hawks!! Ok, let’s see one more big save!!!! Patrick Berglund needs to score to keep St. Louis alive….he hits the GOALPOST!!! HAWKS WIN IN THE SHOOTOUT!!!

Some good, some bad tonight. We should have won that game in regulation, but after blowing what should have been an easy two points after dominating the best defensive team in the NHL again, we managed to scratch the win column. Our top two lines…Kane/Hossa/Brunette and Kruger/Sharp/Stalberg were easily the best players on the ice all night. That’s good. Even better…we moved to 95 points and are basically in the playoffs. 4 games left in the season, 3 of which are very winnable. We get Nashville next on Saturday and I don’t expect them to do anything different than they’ve done to us all season. But with two games against a bad Minnesota team and the finale against a suddenly struggling Detroit squad, we have a good chance of keeping some momentum going. And if we get Toews back, look out.