Posts tagged photos
I was going to try to put a semi-serious post on here, but the Blackhawks have made me emo as of late (and I swear I get three grey hairs every time they blow a lead), so fuck it, here’s some macros I made:
|Patrick Sharp: 26G 20A 46P (1.23.11 vs. Flyers)|
|Jonathan Toews: 17G 20A 37P +7 (10.30.10 at Wild)|
|Patrick Kane: 13G 24A 37P (10.1.10 vs Penguins - Preseason)|
|Tomas Kopecky: 10G 21A 31P (10.9.10 - Red Carpet Entrance)|
|Troy Brouwer: 15G 13A 28P (1.23.11 vs. Flyers)|
|Marian Hossa: 11G 16A 27P +7 (12.18.11 Open Practice)|
|Bryan Bickell: 12G 14A 26P +11 (10.18.10 vs. Blues)|
|Dave Bolland: 10G 13A 26P +6 (12.15.10 vs. Avalanche)|
|Jake Dowell: 5G 11A 16P +9 (10.30.10 at Wild)|
|Jack Skille: 7G 9A 16P (12.15.10 vs. Avalanche)|
|Viktor Stalberg: 7G 8A 16P (1.25.11 vs. Wild)|
|Fernando Pisani: 7G 6A 13P (9.25.10 vs. Red Wings - Preseason)|
|Jeremy Morin: 2G 1A 3P (11.7.10 vs. Oilers)|
|John Scott: 1A 1P 45PIM (12.18.10 Open Practice)|
|Ryan Johnson: 8GP 0P (12.19.10 vs. Kings)|
|Ryan Potulny: 3GP 0P (10.30.10 at Wild)|
|Evan Brophey: 1GP 0P (1.17.11 in Rockford)|
|Rob Klinkhammer: 1GP 0P (10.23.10 in Rockford)|
|Ben Smith: 3GP 0P (10.23.10 at Wild)|
|Brandon Pirri: 1GP 0P (10.9.10 - Red Carpet Entrance)|
|Duncan Keith: 3G 25A 28P (10.9.10 - Red Carpet Entrance)|
|Brent Seabrook: 3G 23A 26P (10.18.10 vs. Blues)|
|Brian Campbell: 2G 16A 18P +23 (11.17.10 vs. Oilers)|
|Jassen Cullimore: 8A 8P (12.19.10 vs. Kings)|
|Niklas Hjalmarsson: 2G 4A 6P (9.18.10 - Training Camp)|
|Nick Boynton: 6A 6P (9.18.10 - Training Camp)|
|Jordan Hendry: 1G 1P (1.5.11 vs. Stars)|
|Nick Leddy: 1G 1P (1.23.11 vs. Flyers)|
|Corey Crawford: 16-10-2 .919 SV% 2.19 GAA (1.23.11 vs. Flyers)|
|Marty Turco: 10-10-2 .898 SV% 3.02 GAA (9.25.10 vs. Red Wings - Preseason)|
Well I hope everybody enjoyed looking at these. Can’t wait for the stretch run to the playoffs!
It’s NYE, so of course we’ve been inundated with year end lists for the last week or so. Let me add to it. After careful consideration (about 4.3 minutes), here are my Top 10 Blackhawks hockey moments of 2010. I limited this list to events that I personally witnessed or attended - this helped narrow down the choices quite a bit. The top five picks were pretty easy (and shouldn’t be a surprise), but the bottom five took a little more thought.
#10: 3/5/10 - Blackhawks 6, Vancouver Canucks 3
Well, this game has to be the most over-hyped of the young season. If you haven’t heard a bazillion times already, we’ll be facing these guys tonight:
Poor Sopel - he looks more terrible than usual. Aside from the family reunion, I’m intrigued by this game for two reasons:
1) The Blackhawks have called up 19-year old Jeremy Morin, and he will be making his NHL debut tonight against the team who drafted him. He impressed in camp this year, and has been doing well in Rockford. I’d have to think that he would have been brought up sooner had he not had a minor injury. For the love of Baby Jesus I hope he does well so we don’t have to see John Scott’s pylon-esque skills when Hossa and Bolland are back.
2) The Hawks went through what was a reported as a tough practice yesterday, and apparently were lackluster today as Coach Q yanked them off the ice halfway through today’s skate and was pissed. I hope the guys have gotten the message that the time for fucking around is over. We have to start playing good hockey now - we have several games in hand on many of the conference’s top teams and it would suck if we have to play catch up for most of the season. Besides, the always enjoyable Circus Trip is right around the corner - it would be nice to get a streak together before we leave town for a couple of weeks.
I’m going to be live-blogging this game tonight. Because I can.
- Judging by the amount of cheering during the National Anthem, there must be a lot of Hawks fans in Atlanta. I hate when fans do that on the road - it’s a UNITED CENTER/CHICAGO STADIUM tradition people. Sheesh.
- That was a Niemi-esque rebound by Turco. Don’t do that.
- Was that the first shot on net by Scott that made it on the goaltender? Sure seems like it.
- Nice, Skille. Why are you holding Byfuglien - it’s not like he’s a speedster.
- Oh yay, the Hawks are down already. Hello defense - DOES ANYONE WANT TO COVER THE FRONT OF THE NET???
- Mark my words - Skille’s going to see less than 5 minutes TOI this game. That was a dumb penalty. He’s already been in Q’s doghouse this season - I’m sure he’s already back in there.
- Now Stalberg’s in the box - pretty soon there will be no room in the doghouse.
- God, I am so missing Andrew Ladd right now.
- That lettering on the arms of the Thrashers’ sweaters is FUGLY. The Wolves (their AHL affiliate) have the same thing on their jerseys.
- Good punch by TK-421 on Slater for slashing him.
- PP time!
- TAZER! Nice touch on the rebound!
- Turco’s been solid thus far. 11 of 12 just about halfway through the first.
- Another PK for the Hawks. Thanks TomoKop *sigh*
- Five minor penalties thus far. Teams not liking each other or sloppy play? I choose the latter.
- KANER! The boys are back! 1G 1A for my FHL team so far! w00t!
- Toews is making an excellent Toews-Face on the bench. Tee-hee-hee
- 2 PP goals on 2 tries for the Blackhawks. Think that burns Thrashers’ Asst. Coach John Torchetti who ran the Hawks oft-terrible PP last year?
- Sloppy period for both teams. Blackhawks cashed in on the PP to take a 2-1 lead at the end of one. Now I have to get my clothes out of the dryer and figure out what’s for dinner. :P
- I fold my laundry, AND YOU LET THE THRASHERS SCORE TWO GOALS IN THE FIRST FOUR MINUTES? WTF!
- Atlanta goal two - for the love of God, get a body on the guys in front! Two Thrashers in front of TK-421 untouched. Bad luck with the puck bouncing off the back of Marty
- Atlanta goal three - bad change by the Hawks. They’re really hanging Marty out to dry. And TK-421 isn’t helping himself by flopping around like a dead fish again.
- Time out by Coach Q. Rip them a new one!
- TAZER on the BREAKAWAY! Thank you Captain! Thank you!
- Oh look, it’s Jack Skille! I thought for sure Q would have had him warming up the team bus.
- Gotta get your stick on that Kane - good rush up the ice & pass from Stalberg.
- Good hustle by Morin - too bad the net went off the rails there.
- With Ladd, Buff, Sopel, Eager & Evander Kane on the Thrashers, I’ve been doing double takes all night during the game.
- Dinnertime! Therefore there will not be much liveblogging the rest of the period.
- This was not a game to attempt to eat dinner during - between the Hawks’ undressing on Atlanta’s fourth goal and Pavelec’s foibles behind the net leading to Kane’s tally, I nearly sprayed the living room with food from my mouth.
- Think there’s a friendly wager between Kane & Toews right now to see if one of them could pot a hattie?
- If the Hawks would stop taking stupid penalties, they’d be winning this game.
- Thrashers lead the Hawks 26-24 in SOG through two. Hawks are a putrid 17/40 on faceoffs.
- With his 2G and 2A thus far, Toews has scored four points in a regular season game for the first time in his career. ADD TO IT TAZER!!!
- Think we can trade John Scott for Brent Sopel? Make it happen StanBow!
- Byfuglien just put Stalberg on his ass - he was doing his Patrick Kane impression. Oduya will never live down that he got knocked down by Kaner.
- OH NOES MORIN! Help the BB! Puck in the midsection. OWOWOWOW
- Actually on the replay it looked like Morin took the puck in the back of the knee. Let’s hope it’s nothing but a bad bruise? Please?
- GODDAMMIT Kopecky! FINISH FOR ONCE!
- I am using a lot of caps during this game. That is not a good sign.
- Morin’s back on the bench. Go Kid! He has more heart than many of his teammates have shown of late.
- Kane just missed the hattie. Oof.
- Morin went back to the dressing room. At least he was able to skate on it a bit. Give him a big-ass ice pack and he can go get them tomorrow night.
- Someone just mentioned John Scott is moving at the speed of fart. LOL.
- Buff just flicked the back of Toews helmet after a whistle. What are you, in fifth grade Dustin? Tazer just ignored him.
- Well I guess Skille’s just gonna bowl over the goalie to try to pot his first goal of the season. Didn’t work - better luck next time.
- Kane just deked a Thrasher out of his shorts - only a Pavelec gem prevented the hats from hitting the ice.
- The Thrashers net seems to come off the moorings way too easily. Or maybe Pavelec has gas?
- Tie game with 2 minutes left - never good for the nerves.
- Nice icing with 40 seconds left Hawks.
- TURCO. Flash that glove!
- OVERTIME. At least we get a point.
- Pisani’s out on the 4-on-4? Really?
- Duncan Keith just made the Baby Jesus cry with that bad pass
- Oh Tazer - SO CLOSE
- “Kaner looking for Johnny back door” -Edzo. Heh.
- Lots of quality chances in OT but Pavelec shut the door.
- Skills competition. Barf.
- #1 Thrashers - Antropov: TURCO STOP!
- #1 Hawks - Toews: just MONEY. OMG THAT WAS SWEET!
- #2 Thrashers - Ladd: Five hole. *sigh*
- #2 Hawks - Sharp: Glove by Pavelec. Sharpie just isn’t good on the shootout
- #3 Thrashers - Peverley: Turco with the pad save
- WIN IT WIN IT WIN IT
- #3 Hawks - Kane; Wide on the backhand. DAMMIT
- #4 Thrashers - Kane, Evander: Turco with the blocker!
- #4 Hawks - TBrouw: Tried to go five hole - Pavelec with the stop
- #5 Buff (sheesh) - POKE-CHECK! LOL!
- #5 Hawks - Stalberg - SPEEDY SCORE! GO VIKTOR! GO VIKTOR!
Gee, the last time I live-blogged, the Blackhawks also won in the shootout - the only other time they’ve gone to the skills competition this season. I’d do it every game but it gets too exhausting. Ok, I’ll wrap this up in a few - gotta finish folding laundry…
That game was pretty wild through the first two wasn’t it? Both teams buckled in down in the third: No penalties on either team and better D by far. Penalties killed both teams - the Hawks were 2 for 2 with the man advantage while the Thrashers were 3 of 5. Both goalies, Turco & Pavelec bailed their teams out at times - Pavelec especially in the third and OT. I liked the intensity the Blackhawks came out with - although they seemed to have a bit of head up their ass until Q called the time out. Not a perfect game by any means, but considering they were on the road in a game with some emotional attachment I’ll take it. Two points is two points.
The Han Solo Award (Best Overall Performance)
It looks like Captain Serious has had enough of the piss poor play. He put this team on his back and carried it. His four points (2G & 2A) was the most he’s had in a regular season game. His breakaway goal was sick, and his shootout tally was even sicker. He was winning board battles all night - just watch Kane’s second goal to see how that hard work pays off. Kane gets a honorable mention with two goals of his own and an assist. He played with a chip on his shoulder all night, perhaps for the first time all season. If these two guys start getting hot watch out - this could get fun again.
The Wedge Antilles Award (Unsung Hero)
Stalberg finally got his chance to play on the top line and played very well. He’ll get his accolades for the shootout winner (his speed on that rush to the net is incredible), but he showed a lot more physicality tonight. He potted an assist on Toews breakaway, helping spring him on the rush. He also had a nice break and pass to Kane, but the puck jumped over Kane’s skate. Viktor might get bumped off the top line with Hossa’s return tomorrow (woo-hoo!) but deserves top-six minutes. And more time on the power play, please and thank you.
The Jar-Jar Binks Award (Most Annoying/Asinine Person Or Object)
(tie) John Scott & Tomas Kopecky
This is not even going to be a rant about how Scott should have been sent to Rockford a couple of weeks ago. I’m done wasting my breath - it’s obvious he’s got pictures of Stan Bowman at Heavenly Bodies or something. Rather, I’m dogging both of these guys for missed wide open nets. If one of these goofs buries the puck, we probably don’t waste energy in OT and the shootout. Scott I almost expect it from. TomoKop just frustrates me.
I don’t think there were any photographers at this game because I can find nary a Toews-Face anywhere on the internets. But enjoy this gem of Bryan Bickell instead…
I will be at tomorrow night’s Blackhawks/Oilers tilt which will the include the deity of one Marian Hossa on the ice for the first time in a couple of weeks. Expect photos as usual - but probably not until Monday. I really wish I was rich so I could just sit around and blog and tweet all day :P
Hopefully later tonight I’ll have some brief thoughts on the Blackhawks’ last game (which I did not see) and some overall musings on the season, ten games in. It’s nice that there’s finally a little break between games for the first time this season. I’ve felt rushed trying to get recaps up before the next game and haven’t really had much time to post much else.
I bought tickets to five Rockford Icehogs games this season. For those not in the know, the IceHogs have been the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate since the 2007-2008 season. Rockford is about an hour to 90 minute drive northwest of the city. In all honesty there’s not too much to do there unless you want to go to the Magic Waters water park or shop, since State Street is a miles long stretch of big box retailers and strip malls. They do have a lot of old signage and buildings I like to gawk at, but this is not the proper blog for that. In any case, I went up there Saturday night with my friend and fellow hockey-nut KofC from a little chippy. I always forget how long it takes to get up to Rockford and we didn’t to the MetroCentre until about six when the doors opened. So I had a “cup of fries” (which were tasty, considering) and a bottle of water to hold me over until game’s end. We got our free magnetic schedule upon entering, which really was a wipe board with magnets on the back. Not super conducive for my desk at work. We watched warmups and by the time we got settled, the game was about to begin. I really appreciate the fact that the United Center always opens 90 minutes before puck drop as I don’t feel rushed after taking pictures of warmups. Anyway, onto the game itself:
The IceHogs played the Chicago Wolves, the Atlanta Thrashers’ AHL team. I used to be a pretty big Wolves fan back when they were still in the now defunct IHL. In fact, I was at the game that they clinched the Turner Cup back in the late 90s. The Wolves were really the only hockey games I went to in the dead period for me in my Hawks fandom - the tickets were cheap, the games were fun and god forbid, the Wolves actually put a winning team on the ice. But that was then, this is now. I will say it was incredibly odd to be rooting against a Chicago team (not counting the White Sox). Every time the PA said something about Chicago, I’d get excited for a moment before I remembered I was rooting for Rockford. The scoreboard even confused me as I’d gravitate toward the Chicago side of it. Both teams came in with a four-way tie for fourth place in the West Division with six points. Due to their proximity, the teams have a bit of a rivalry going on, as evidenced by the 80 minutes in penalties doled out during the game.
The game got out to a pretty rip-roaring start. Kyle Beach, the Hawks first round draft pick in 2008 and “shining star” in many people’s eyes (I’ll believe it when I see it), took a delay of game penalty a mere 1:15 into the game. 30 seconds later, Wolves’ Captain Jason Krog put one past Hannu Toivonen to make the score 1-0. This was only the third game for Hannu as Alec Richards has taken the role of #1 for the Hogs. Less 45 seconds after the goal, the IceHogs’ Kyle Hagel and the Wolves’ Adam Huxley got into a scrap, with Hagel getting the takedown. As you can see above, he was pretty pumped. Less than a minute after that, Beach and Spencer Machacek got into it. Needless to say, the crowd was jumping - you really don’t see fights where the refs just let them go until they fall to the ice or someone poops out much anymore in the NHL. At the five minute mark, Brandon Bollig took a elbowing call and the Hogs’ penalty box was a bit tight with three men squeezed in there. Overall the IceHogs were shorthanded three times in that first period, and aside for the first goal, did a good job on the PK. The IceHogs still managed to get 14 SOG in the opening period, but Wolves’ goalie Drew MacIntyre turned them all away to end the period 1-0, Wolves.
During the intermission they had human bowling. They bungee corded fans on a toboggan across the ice toward huge inflatable bowling pins. I guess you had to be there.
The IceHogs had a power play early in the period and failed to capitalize. Beach went to the box again 6 minutes in, 2 of his 11 PIM for the game. In his defense, he was absolutely clotheslined by Mike Siklenka and went after him. Both Beach & Siklenka went off for roughing. The chippy play continued as Adam Huxley was again involved in a fight, this time with Hogs’ defenseman Ryan Stanton. Ryan took exception to Huxley’s hard hit on a teammate and got 2 for instigating, 5 for fighting and a 10 minute misconduct for his trouble. The Hogs killed off that penalty but was victimized a short time afterward by Andrew Kozek to make the score 2-0. Ben Smith got the dejected crowd back into the game with less than four minutes left on a beautiful shorthanded breakaway goal. The period ended with the Hogs still with the edge on SOG, 21 to 15.
I was eagerly anticipating the second intermission as it was chuck-a-puck time. You can purchase rubber pucks before the game and write your name on them. At the prescribed time, everyone throws their pucks on the ice - the object is to get your puck closest to the centre ice faceoff dot. I think you win cash if you do. My attempts were not so successful. I was standing too far away for my first throw and ended up beaning some kid in the front row in the back. I got closer for my other ones and maybe got past the blueline. And to top it off, I can’t count and left one in my bag. Oh well, I guess it’s a souvenir. After the dejection, I managed to score an autograph from Jeremy Morin - he was injured in the Hogs’ last game and was signing in the lobby. Morin was acquired from Atlanta in the Buff/Eager/Sopel trade and very nearly made the Hawks out of camp. I expect great things from this kid.
The Wolves again silenced the crowd with an early goal from Nigel Dawes to make the score 3-1. At this point the sense of urgency finally kicked in for the Hogs’ and Rob Klinkhammer (I love that name) narrowed the gap again to one, two minutes after the Wolves tally. The IceHogs had three consecutive power plays in the middle of the period, finally tying the game with eight minutes left on a blast from the point from defenseman Ivan Visnevskiy. The Wolves had one last chance to take the game with a late power play, but Hannu shut the door, stopping 10 of 11 Wolves shots in the final period of regulation.
As with most 4-on-4 overtimes, the action was fast and furious. The Wolves would end up making a fatal mistake though, as defenseman Mike Siklenka took a hooking call on a potential Hogs’ break, giving Rockford a man advantage with a little more than a minute in the OT. The Hogs wasted no time, and Igor Makarov tapped in the winner with a mere 47 seconds left in the extra frame.
Overall it was an exciting game and of course I enjoyed the outcome. Afterward, the Hogs came out to the ice to sign autographs for the fans which was a nice gesture. I got a few of them to sign a mini goalie stick I had purchased - see below.
Taking a quick look at the numbers on the season for the IceHogs…
The Hogs currently stand at eight points in seven games (4-3-0) which is good enough to be tied for fourth in the West Division. Defenseman Brian Connelly leads the team in points with 7, all assists. Both Rob Klinkhammer and Ryan Potulny have six points and Klinkhammer & Morin lead the team in goals with three. Klinkhammer also leads the team in +/- at 5, but it is encouraging to note that young defenseman Shawn Lalonde is right behind him with a +4. Kyle Hagel leads the team in PIM with 27, which is not surprising to me as he got into a scrap in one of the other two Hogs games I’ve attended. As for other future Hawks, Beach is a 1-2-3 with 17 PIM, Igor Makarov is 2-1-3 with an abysmal -4, and Nick Leddy is -2 with only two games in the AHL. Neither goalie is setting the world on fire - Alec Richards is the better of the two with a 3-1 record, 2.94 GAA and .888 SV% (eep). But he has a really bitchin’ mask.
It’s really hard to gauge how the team will do over the course of the season with only seven games under their belt - especially since several players (Cullimore, Pirri, Leddy & Brophey) have already had their cup of coffee with the Hawks in the young season. With good output from the scorers (Morin, Makarov, Klinkhammer) a little brute force (Beach, Hagel) and some consistent goaltending, I think the IceHogs will be in the AHL playoffs come spring. From there, it’s anybody’s guess.
Highlights (just skip to the third period)
This was a game about midway through the third period I had doubts creeping in about going out on a school night. Oh ye of little faith. Jesus. Marian. Hossa. That was definitely the best hockey game I’ve been to since game four vs. the Sharks last May.
Let’s try a different approach - a recap in pictures taken by yours truly. Mostly because I’m tired and don’t feel like writing much.
|I’ll never get sick of gazing up at this|
|I’m sure Turco would love to have that first goal back (what was Seabrook doing - swimming?), but he kept the Hawks in this game. He stopped 32 of 34 and should have been the third star for his play in OT alone.|
|I’m a big queer and honestly I want to have this man’s babies. Think winning the Cup took a lot of weight off of Hossa’s shoulders? He took this game over. Period.|
|Kopecky lost his helmet during play. At this point that’s the only bad thing I’ll say about him - he had another damn assist.|
|Don’t worry Tazer - soon it will be November and you can play catch up with Sharpie and Hoss with a point per game clip. Seriously though - why u have slow start always? Too excited for Halloween?|
|Duncs is sad because he realizes he is playing terrible as of late. I lost count of how many times he and Seabs made a poor pass or turned the puck over. I had more confidence in Toftbo & Boynton by far. Make this stop, Dunc, make it stop.|
|Nothing like putting a wrestling hold on our captain after you just shit the bed and let us tie you up in the third. Fuck these guys.|
|Jaroslav Halak was seven minutes away from a shutout - then he took a stupid interference penalty and Marian Hossa decided he had had enough. I’d almost feel bad for him if he wasn’t on the Blues.|
Well that was a fun one, no doubt. I’m sure Friday’s rematch in St. Louis will be a treat. Speaking of which, our friend Bobby Lu got pulled after two periods after treating the *Wild* to a six spot. And Rick Rypien went after a fan who, get this, clapped. Stay classy Vancouver - see you guys tomorrow night!
This evening would have been perfect had they not actually played the game. Sigh.
TOEWS-FACE OF THE GAME
We now stand on the precipice of the defense of the Stanley Cup - the offseason sure does fly by when you play into June the season prior. The hangover’s barely worn off. But the start of training camp a few weeks ago signaled the start of what’s sure to be an interesting and entertaining season in the NHL.
This year’s Blackhawks training camp was one of the most watched in the league. With the loss of basically two entire forward lines and both goaltenders due to the capocalypse, there were a lot of playing spots up for grabs. I suspect we probably won’t have a good idea of who’s filling in the departed’s shoes until the All Star break, so expect the Hawks’ iPass account to be ringing up the tolls with the number of guys doing the I-90 shuffle. In any case, here’s a brief breakdown of training camp and the preseason.
Kyle Beach - Beach was probably the most hyped prospect this offseason. With the loss of Dustin Byfuglien, many thought Beach would fill that role, albeit with a scoring touch Buff never had. Unfortunately, the tone was set when Beach foolishly pummeled Mathis Olimb to a months long shoulder injury during the prospects camp in July. Kyle has the talent to succeed in the NHL - he just lacks maturity and common sense. Hopefully he gets his ass kicked in the AHL a few times and will be ready for another look in the new year.
Igor Makarov - With 3G & 3A in training camp and a much talked about showing at the Toronto Rookie Tournament, all eyes were on Igor (EYE-gor) in the preseason to see how he’d perform at the NHL level. The Answer: not all that great. Makarov looked a little lost & never seemed to click with any of his teammates on the lines he was placed. He played two seasons in the KHL, so I think some time in scenic Rockford should better acclimate him to the North American game.
Jeremy Morin - I was just about to include Morin in my list of preseason standouts, when word came down that he’d been given an iPass and sent to Rockford. He still had a great preseason - 1G & 3A in the fake games and 2G & 2A in camp. He reminds me of another Jeremy that also wore #27 - quick, shifty and has a nose for the net. Honestly his age (he’s a baby at 19) and lack of pro experience is what got him sent down to the Hogs. I would expect him up for a cup of coffee sooner than later though.
Fernando Pisani - Fernando (“Don’t call my name, don’t call my name”) really impressed me. I honestly only knew of him due to his UC commercials and the inevitable shit jokes that followed. As someone in my family suffers from UC, I didn’t find those jokes amusing. In any case, Pisani had 1G & 3A in 5 preseason games and proved to be very valuable on the PK. The question, of course, is his health. If we can get 60 quality games from Pisani, I will be pleased.
Tomas Kopecky - Perhaps it’s the fact he’s been paired up with Toews & Hossa in the preseason. Or maybe he realizes with the turnover on the team, this is an opportunity for him to shine this season. Whatever the case, TomoKop had 2G & 2A in five preseason games, and in the two games I witnessed, could have easily potted a couple additional goals if he would have hit the target. It wouldn’t surprise me if Kopecky tops 30 points easily this season.
Nick Leddy - Let’s be honest. If Soupy doesn’t get hurt last Friday, in all likelihood Leddy would have been sent off to juniors. But shit happens, and now Nick has the opportunity of a lifetime. I didn’t notice him too much in the two games I saw in person, and I guess that’s not a bad thing. The coaching staff must be high on him, as they easily could have brought up Connelly or Vishnevskiy instead. We’ll see if Leddy can stick around for more than nine games or if he’ll be shipped off before then. Fun Fact: I sat next to Leddy’s family at the prospect camp in July. His nephew was wearing a Leddy Gophers jersey.
Onto the fun stuff now. With cuts having been made and Cullimore and Potulny put on waivers, here is how the lines matched up today in practice:
Tomas Kopecky - Jonathan Toews - Marian Hossa
Fernando Pisani - Patrick Sharp - Patrick Kane
Bryan Bickell - Dave Bolland - Troy Brouwer
Viktor Stalberg - Jake Dowell - Jack Skille
As I said before, the Toews & the Slovaks line seemed to perform well in preseason. The line’s success will live and die by how well Kopecky can handle top line minutes. Pisani moving up to the second line is a bit of a surprise, but his defensive skills should open up Kane and Sharpie to take more aggressive shots. The Triple B line looks to punish opponents. It looks like the the fourth line is more made up of guys who didn’t really fit elsewhere, so we’ll have to wait and see how they do. Skille has his chance to disprove he was a waste of a first round pick, Stalberg could make us forget Vertseeg (heh), and Dowell, is well, a guy. Of course we all know that Coach Q will change these lines early and often. I predict by 8:43 of the second vs. Colorado. If he does, may I request the Brouwer - Toews - Kane line? That was my favorite line last year. I’m a little surprised they don’t have an extra forward with the team right now, but that may change by Thursday.
As for the defense:
Keith - Seabrook
Hjalmarsson - Leddy
Hendry - Scott
Nothing needs to be said about Dunc/Seabs as they are one of, if not the best pairings in the league. Hendry - Scott should be a bit of an adventure, but what third D pairing isn’t? I would suspect Boynton will be an interchangeable part of that third pair (once he’s done with his suspension for being a bag of dicks) depending on the level of physicality the team may need. Or if someone needs Scott to reach over the glass and purchase a beer from a vendor during the game as he wouldn’t need to stand on the bench to do so. The question mark is going to be Leddy & Toftbo. Niklas probably could be in a top D pairing on many other teams at the moment. But will he be impeded by trying to cover for Leddy? Time well tell, but one must remember Hjalmarsson, Keith & Seabrook weren’t too much older than Nick when they all got their starts. Besides, Campbell will be back soon enough to avoid a complete defensive disaster of a season.
And the goaltending:
I can’t recall a Stanley Cup Champion losing *both* of the goaltenders the following season, but it is what it is. Turco brings a veteran presence in addition to the best puck handling skillz of any goaltender in the NHL. Unfortunately he tends to be too aggressive with the puck at times as we saw Sunday when he let in two due to gaffes with the puck. Hopefully he remembers he is not in Dallas and that he actually has a defense in front of him this year - let them make the bulk of the plays. As for Crawford, he finally has his shot to get 20-30 starts in the NHL. For all intensive purposes, this is his tryout for the #1 job next year. I’ve never been too high on him, but then again I shrugged when Niemi was named the backup last year. I’m keeping an open mind and hopefully he will impress.
I think due to Soupy’s injury and the fact that half the team is new, the first six weeks or so of the season may be a bit rough. I’m hoping that they will stay at .500 for the months of October and November, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they dipped a bit below. Perhaps that will mean I can get tickets to games not too much above face (not holding my breath). I do think though that the Hawks will pick it up around the holidays and finish at a good clip the rest of the way. My prediction? The Hawks will finish with 104 points. You’ll have to wait for my entire NHL predictions tomorrow!