Brandon Saad, Blackhawks Bury Canucks

After struggling to score goals for most of the month, the Blackhawks exploded for four quick goals in the second period and ran away from the Canucks in Vancouver.

Saad VAN

The were fast asleep when the puck dropped, and Chris Higgins put the Canucks up 1-0 only 16 seconds into the game. But from there, Corey Crawford played a very strong game. He made 28 saves against 30 shots after being asked to play in relief of Antti Raanta on Tuesday night and earned a good road victory.

After Tom Sestito gave the Canucks a 2-0 lead early in the second, a David Booth interference penalty opened the flood gates for the Hawks.

Marian Hossa scored his 24th goal of the season off a pretty feed from Kris Versteeg to bring the Hawks within one. Less than three minutes later, Brandon Saad re-directed a Sheldon Brookbank shot past Roberto Luongo to tie the game.

Jonathan Toews gave the Hawks the lead 68 seconds later, and his 18th goal of the season held up as the game-winner. Brent Seabrook pinched and threw the puck at the net, and Toews was in position to flip the puck past Luongo.

Patrick Sharp scored his 27th of the season less than four minutes after Toews’ goal and the game was effectively over.

Saad added his second goal of the night on a late power play, giving him a three-point night; he was credited with an assist on Hossa’s goal. Sharp, Toews and Hossa were credited with one goal and one assist each to lead the victorious effort.

In his second game since returning to the NHL, Brandon Pirri won only one of eight faceoffs and skated a team-low 14 shifts in the game. He was credited with two blocked shots, though.

Versteeg has now made highlight-reel passes that led to goals on back-to-back nights, but he has also given the puck away in bad positions far too many times.

In only 12:07, Brandon Bollig led the Blackhawks with six shots on net and finished tied with Brent Seabrook for the team lead with three hits in the game. After Kevin Bieksa trucked Niklas Hjalmarsson early in the game, Bollig challenged the Vancouver defenseman… but, of course, Bieksa turtled. To Bollig’s credit, he stayed out of the box in a game that became increasingly physical later in the contest.

Hjalmarsson led the way with six blocked shots, and Michal Handzus added four blocks in only 10:13 in the game. Handzus was also credited with an assist on Saad’s first goal, and skated over two minutes on penalty kill duty.

Chicago successfully continued their hot streak while short-handed, killing all three Canucks power play opportunities. The Hawks power play converted both of their chances with the advantage in the game.

Bryan Bickell was a “healthy” scratch again.

Wednesday night’s victory was the 693rd of Joel Quenneville’s coaching career, putting him alone in third place all-time.

Q

The Blackhawks are back in action on Saturday night in San Jose.

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79 Responses to Brandon Saad, Blackhawks Bury Canucks

  1. Morrison says:

    Ahh… this beer tastes good.

  2. ebonyraptor says:

    Other than the first shift when they scored 16 seconds in and a few other times in the game when the nucks had the Hawks running around in the d-zone – it was a much more crisply played games but the Hawks. The passing was mostly tape to tape and when that happens the Hawks can play their possession game which is what happened tonight. The Hawks crashed the net a little more tonight than they have been lately, although there were still a lot of shots taken that were right into Luongo’s chest that he could see clearly and easily stop.

    There are still areas of concern that need to be improved upon, but after 4 losses in a row, I’m inclined to dwell on the positive and just enjoy the good things the Hawks did tonight which most importantly was win the game … in regulation time to boot!

  3. Morrison says:

    Bieksa is a Flatlander.

  4. Nick says:

    Didn’t have a chance to watch the game, how was the handzus line?

  5. noonan96 says:

    Versteeg was one of their better players and Pirri played a bit better–and the 4th line dominated stretches of almost every shift they took. Bollig bashers? Considering his age and salary you could probably make an argument that teams would covet Saad as much as any player on the Hawks. Fun to watch his progress.
    This was a better effort but at the expense of a team that doesn’t have much of an identity and may be fighting for the last spot in this years playoff.
    Now it’s off to the West coast and hopefully they can get 3 or 4 points.

  6. Al L says:

    Not sure how you can say Versteeg was one of the best players. For every good pass he makes, he makes 2 stupid ones. There is no player on the Hawks that gives up the puck at the blue line as much as Steeger. He makes VERY stupid decisions for a puck possession team. He has a lot of talent but not a lot of brains.

  7. Phil says:

    Hawks looked like they really wanted this one after snoozing past the initial puck drop. Jeez 16 seconds in and down by 1! Good pressure put on Bobby Lou. Score could have been much higher and likewise CC was very good last night and looked on top of his game. Final score could have been 7 or 8 – 4 easy. Some weird/confusing no icing calls last night from those linesmen. Refs otherwise did a decent job.

    While I am a Versteeg fan, his puck giveaways were terrible last night. Seemingly idiotic thought process from 23. The positive side are his quick hands and ability to make good plays. Slick pass to Kane for sure on that goal. Happy to see BB drill Biekscum in the 1st. I love when we beat the Nucks. You can tell that Kesler simply hates the Hawks! Did anyone see Shaw trigger Kesler late in the game when the Nucks had taken a stupid penalty after pulling Lou for the extra skater? Shaw was just verbally abusing those guys and pouring in the salt. Bollandesque to say the least. Kesler took the bait. Shaw is our little rat.

    Third and especially 4th lines very good last night. Smith is really starting to look confident out there and understands his role on the team. Bollig is on a good stretch as well and there is also some understanding/appreciation for what he must do in order for the team to succeed. Those guys and of course 16 get it.

    Bicks scratch, Zus in worked well last night. Zus skating was improved perhaps due to some rest. Still slow, but he did lots of good things last night. Cpt skates back and saves a goal. Good team back checking for the most part last night. Hossa was very strong again along with Saad. Saad is learning from the 2 way hockey master and applying it to his game.

    Duncs made some slick plays last night. He could have easily scored 2 goals, but his puck control was outstanding. Seabs better last night too.

    Let’s keep it rolling through the California grinder coming up.

    Lets Go Hawks!

  8. wall says:

    Al L- Re: Versteeg- Thank you!!! thought I was watching a different game from noonan23… Versteeg was bad (exluding 1 PP pass)!!!If that were Morin/Pirri w those TO’s…23 would have been sent to the locker room!!!

    81,28,16,20 all played well/energy/heart… (Oh- I said that yesterday!)

    Pirri-looked ok again…the kid is really trying…heavy shot,,,AND Hawks best option now…BUT- he is a very average skater(at best)…fell down several time w no contact.
    (perhaps he is still recovering from lower-body injury -Hogs)

    I think Rants and Crow need to stop riding “a Horse” as part of pre-game…
    those SOFT 5-hole goals are becoming the NORM!!!

    Hansen is a dirty bastard!!!

  9. Mike57 says:

    23 – thrilled when we got him but disappointed so far in his play.
    26 – best line combo for him so far other than somewhere else.
    16/28/52 – great game from this line.
    CC – best game in some time. Hawks are good enough to overcome the soft goal he will surely give up but when he makes himself big and keeps his net he can be “elite”
    17 – not a bad 6th d, no need for 6 on this team.
    29 – let him sit till after the Olympics, maybe he can come back and help us push to the playoffs
    7 – always loved him but starting to see what some of you see. looks like he is playing drunk some nights as someone stated last week.

    It’s a great time to be a Hawks fan!!

  10. Phil says:

    Wall, good comment about Hansen. Been that way for years. Reminds me of Sobotka on the Blues.

  11. Mike says:

    I thing Versteeg is putting too much pressure on himself to look like a top 6. Holds the puck to long resulting in turnovers. Last nights game was really a set back for him, but he will improve.

    Pirri was just OK as many have said. But you do see glimpses of what he can be. His vision and tape to tape passes to a streaking Kane look like a pair that is ready to click.

    Handzus is an every other day player at this point and it showed lat night. Hope it keeps up.

    Oduya was the weakest D man last night. I have no problem rotating Oduya, BB and Rosy for some stretches to give 27 some rest. I hope Sweden goes out early.

    I think Brad gets some vindication as last night was the first game in a while that Q actually rolled 4 lines in correct proportions. Maybe it was forced due to back to back with travel. But the bottom line was nobody skated under 10 minutes and the top two lines had energy on almost every shift. The fourth line (fast becoming the third line) shined once again.

    I would love for whoever got Bollig off his butt to come to my business to give a speech. Bollig has really transformed. Last year I was critical. The first 20 games I gave him kudos for not taking STUPID penalties like he did last year. The middle 20 games he was truly invisible. These last 20 games he is a new man. Although he has the least god given talent on his line, he now plays to the best of his abilities and is an asset rather than a liability. Bickell should take notes.

  12. JS says:

    Versteeg needs to make quicker/smarter decisions with the puck in his own zone. He needs to take a hint from Pirri and just give the puck to Kane.

    So now Pirri playing 2C and Handzus being a rotation guy? Hmm… It’s almost as if we’ve heard that before. I can’t remember where though…

    Anyway, I thought Pirri had a few chances to take shots himself but he kept deferring to Kane by trying to make a near impossible pass. He’ll learn when to shoot.

    I love when Saad scores a goal because he looks like a kid in a candy store.

    Bollig had a really good game. A few in a row now… but he’s still the worst player on the Hawks and I’m growing tired of hearing the praise for every little thing he does.

  13. Martin M says:

    Anyone else notice that Coach Q had finally had enough of the lack of effort to start the game by the Toews line. At the start of the second period, it was Kruger’s line on the ice when it normally would have been the Toews line again.

    And then after the 2nd Vancouver goal in the 2nd period, this one against Pirri’s line, Kruger’s line was out for the next faceoff at center ice.

    Basically if Kruger’s line was going to play hard while the others played lackadaisical, Coach Q was going to go with the guys who wanted to be on the ice. And it lit a fire under the rest of the team and they exploded for 4 goals in a little over 7 minutes.

  14. wall says:

    JS- agree w/ all that…and 52 was good 1st several games + last few… were was the energy for the middle 40 something??? I never expect the guy to score…Just show up please!

    Pirri – When Pirri is farther than 35′ from net (and might have to skate- pass to Kane)… When inside of 35’… SHOOT (your wrist shot is wicked/great)

  15. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    Allow me to let you hockey fans in on a little secret. The current edition of the Vancouver Canucks aren’t good. Their day and the sun is now in the rearview mirror, and they have no Cups to show for it.

    Anyways…

    Versteeg – as someone said, one good play followed by one idiotic play type of a game again. He’s been a disappointment in his second go around in Chicago and I now know completely why he has moved around so much since 2010.

    Handzus got the job done last night. He’s a stoic veteran and a consummate professional at the end of the line who helped the Hawks win a Cup and still brings value to the table. Despite what Sr. Brad and his parrot want to tell us to the contrary.

    Great game from the 4th line. Bollig continues to be effective despite what his idiot critics say to the contrary. Nobody on the planet professes him to be anything but a burly role player, but within that context he has been solid.

    Crawford played well. But he hasn’t had a single stretch of the season where he has stood on his head and carried this team. ANY chance of winning a Cup will be predicated on Crawford being more consistent. I love Crow a great deal, but he has to be better, especially on a team that is weaker and less deep versus last season.

    Bickell can sit until the Olympics are over as far as I’m concerned. I’m to the point of being very pissed off at Bickell. The son of the bitch has been terrible before and after being hurt. NEVER is a million years would have expected his total collapse. Thought he had pride and a work ethic. Giving off the impression of a player who got paid and no longer wants to work. Let the bum sit.

    Seabrook is tired and/or disinterested. Again, the intensity of playing hockey games and going deep into the playoffs the year before can wear a good man down to the nub. Seabrook needs to the use the Olympic break to his maximum advantage. Rest and enjoy with the wife and baby. Maybe get on the elliptical and drop a few pounds too.

    Oduya is very tired. He’s been an essential and highly underrated member of this club, but he is struggling overall. Needs a break that isn’t coming for him.

  16. JS says:

    Wall- it’s extra frustrating when Kruger and Smith are playing at the level that they are. There was also the break against Calgary when Smith was making a power move towards the net and Bollig just got in his way and he lost the puck… that was awesome. Again, I’m fine with Bollig being a rotational guy (and I actually pumped him up a lot last year because I wanted him to play over Carcillo), but this thought that he a vital piece to the Hawks is just off base.

    Some of those passes Pirri made off of the boards were incredible. If he ever gets some skating help/more lower body strength, he’ll make a good pro (but likely not for the Hawks). He’s also been a lot better in the defensive zone than one would think for a “defensive liability”.

    The Hawks also have to stop being so damn fancy on odd man rushes. They keep going for the extra pass instead of just firing it low with a guy crashing. That’s really frustrating.

  17. JS says:

    Rufus- No one EVER said Handzus wasn’t important. We said he was playing out of position and needed to be on the Rozsival plan for game management. What a shock that he played well yesterday in limited minutes after sitting out a game. THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT WE SAID THEY NEEDED TO DO WITH HIM.

  18. Otis says:

    I haven’t been able to watch the game yet – but seeing as we skated 5 centers, can I assume one of them played wing, or did Q mess with the lines every other shift?

  19. Sr. Brad says:

    Here are some post game comments from last night…

    Quenneville took great pride in the fact that, aside from shaky opening and closing minutes in the first period, all four lines were rolling.

    “It’s night and day when works and everybody’s going,” Quenneville said of the four-line attack. “It makes us a better team.”

    According to Toews, Quenneville also makes the Blackhawks better, just by his presence.

    “We just have that consistency, that character throughout our lineup, and dealing with a season like this where everyone is coming at you, everyone wants to talk about the so-called [Stanley Cup] hangover,” Toews said. “But I don’t think we’ve had one.

    I think this is what most us here knew all along…the Hawks recent funk came as a result of Bickell and Handzus coming back into the lineup and not contributing…taking away Pirri and Morin…see, here’s the thing…the Hawks core is SO GOOD that they don’t need a lot of help, but they need to rest…that’s why when we roll 4 lines we win…not because Bollig or Smith are going to pot a bunch of goals, that’s not their job or role…puck possession, hitting opposition players, crashing the net…all these things are incredibly valuable to Hossa, Toews, Kane, etc, because it keeps them fresh and the opposition tired…when Kruger’s line can skate 12-14 minutes a night (like last night) and play against some of the opposition’s top lines, that is a HUGE win for us…if they score a goal, all the better.

    I get that some here don’t really understand the game all that well, but gladly Toews and Q do…they know that keeping Toews and company fresh for late in games translates into W’s and not OT losses. Q’s only mistakes this year have been with which players he was dressing…so to an extent, he has brought a lot of this on himself. So to that end, what is the value of Brandon Pirri??? Was he phenomenal last night? No, but he was good and he allowed us to skate 4 lines and spread out ice time…his ability to start plays, and pass accurately leads to puck possession which keeps Kane out of defensive trouble and gives him a chance to score…like JS, I just wished Pirri shot more…that kid has a wicked shot…as Wall or someone said, its a very “heavy” shot that gets on the goalies quickly.

    Handzus sat, and then was rolled back into the lineup for Bickell…PERFECT! This is why we have Handzus…not to be stationed as the 2nd line centre trying to play 82 games. Zus gave heart and energy where Bickell gave none…and as for Bicks he can rot in civvies for all I care until he decides to work hard like the rest of the team.

    So back to back, on the road, coming off an OT loss and the Hawks win in one of the most difficult buildings in the league to win in…why? Because we are the best team in the league…don’t any of you believe the naysayers here…read what Toews said above…there is no Cup Hangover…the Hawks are back to rolling 4 lines, and to winning hockey games…sometimes its just hard to see the forrest for the trees…

    Go Hawks!

  20. Phil says:

    I thought this was interesting. Maybe many of you have seen this study already. My reason for including this is I think this works against the Hawks more than other teams, because most teams bring their best efforts against the Cup winner. San Jose, Blues also stand out in this study.

    http://www.sportingcharts.com/articles/nhl/2013-14-nhl-schedule-detailed-look-at-back-to-back-games-for-each-team.aspx

    Ruf, you are right about the Nucks. They ain’t what they used to be. AV gone.D Sedin looked lost out there without his bro, Burrows a shadow of his former self, Kesler just pissed off, and Bieksa doesn’t seem to care. The old torpedo squad was traded. Hard to hate this group even though the uniform still stirs. Choke loss to the B’s ended their run at the Cup.

  21. Sr. Brad says:

    Suddenly the Canucks are not a good team, but what the Flames are? Winners of 2 of their last 10? This is the NHL, EVERY team is a good team, even the Panthers…this league is loaded with talent and is quite even across the board…and the Nuckleheads have some of the best players in the league, and one of the best goalies on the planet…so stop devaluing Hawk wins…in the NHL, EVERY win is a big one.

    BTW, nice to see Stanton doing so well in Vancouver…I would imagine Q and Bowman would like to have their decision back at the start of the season reversed…protecting Kostka to expose the young, never injured Stanton…kind of a blunder there…

  22. Peter says:

    Has anyone seen the story about Crosby asking Team Canada if Toews was okay with him (Crosby) wearing the C? Even Crosby was slightly taken aback. I have no problem with Crosby being the Captain, but I honestly thought they would go with Toews. Anyway, I do not want to make this sound like Crosby is scared to wear the C or doesn’t want it, I do think it says a lot when he respects whom I believe is a top 3 player in the NHL. I honestly wonder if GMs in the NHL would rather have Toews or Crosby to start a team. I think the vote would be closer than we might predict…

  23. Sr. Brad says:

    What a great player Brandon Saad is…and what a draft pick by Bowman…and the nerves of steel it must have taken for Bowman to let Saad sit there early in the 2nd round (knowing what a steal he would have been at that point) and draft Clendening, and then still get Saad with our 2nd pick of the 2nd round. That should also tell you how much the Hawks believe in Clendening…

    How about Versteeg’s shot off of 2 posts and the crossbar from Pirri’s rebound in the 3rd??? That was nuts…

  24. Sr. Brad says:

    Peter, TSN ran that player, coach and GM poll 2 years ago I believe and Toews was the #1 choice across the board…who do you start your franchise with…

  25. Sr. Brad says:

    Once again, here’s that 2011 Draft by Bowman…

    2011
    ROUND PICK OVERALL TEAM PLAYER POS COUNTRY HT WT AMATEUR LEAGUE AMATEUR TEAM
    1 18 2011-18 CHI
    MARK MCNEILL C CAN 6′ 1″ 211 WHL PRINCE ALBERT
    1 26 2011-26 CHI
    (FROM WSH) PHILLIP DANAULT L CAN 6′ 0″ 181 QMJHL VICTORIAVILLE
    2 6 2011-36 CHI
    (FROM WPG) ADAM CLENDENING D USA 5′ 11″ 187 H-EAST BOSTON UNIVERSITY
    2 13 2011-43 CHI
    (FROM CGY) BRANDON SAAD L USA 6′ 1″ 203 OHL SAGINAW
    3 9 2011-70 CHI
    (FROM TOR) MICHAEL PALIOTTA D USA 6′ 3″ 198 USHL USA U-18
    3 18 2011-79 CHI
    KLAS DAHLBECK D SWE 6′ 2″ 194 SWEDEN LINKOPING
    4 18 2011-109 CHI
    MAXIM SHALUNOV R RUS 6′ 3″ 185 RUSSIA-JR. CHELYABINSK 2
    5 18 2011-139 CHI
    ANDREW SHAW C CAN 5′ 10″ 180 OHL OWEN SOUND
    6 18 2011-169 CHI
    SAM JARDINE D CAN 6′ 1″ 190 AJHL CAMROSE
    7 18 2011-199 CHI
    ALEX BROADHURST C USA 5′ 10″ 150 USHL GREEN BAY
    7 30 2011-211 CHI
    (FROM BOS) JOHAN MATTSSON G SWE 6′ 3″ 200 SWE-JR. SODERTALJE JR.

  26. Mike says:

    Taking NOTHING away from Toews. I am glad he is our captain. However, I do believe that Crosby has been the most talented, dangerous player in the NHL for the past 4 years. He has earned the right to be Canada’s captain.

  27. John Wangsauce says:

    Being a talented, dangerous player does not necessarily make you a captain. Look at Kane.

  28. Peter says:

    Sometimes I wonder if Crosby gets the C because he scored the “golden” goal. In 7 games in the 2010 Olympics Toews had 8 pts (1 G, 7A) and was a + 9. Crosby had 7 pts (4G, 3A) and was a + 2. Obviously, each are great players and they can’t go wrong either way. If Crosby is the most dangerous player in the NHL (which I agree with offensively), Toews has to be considered of the best overall players (Draws, Special Teams (BOTH), Offense, Defense) in the past four years. Additionally, Toews got to shake hands with Bettman twice and Crosby zero.

  29. Nick says:

    Thanks sr. Brad for that interesting post. It’s amazing to think that the 2011 draft made an impact that quickly. However, it’s interesting that the two first round picks haven’t done too much with the hawks yet since the later ones have had such an impact

  30. JS says:

    Crosby is the face of Canadien hockey and the most electric player in the NHL. That is why he is the Captain.

  31. wall says:

    To Brad’s Point…

    Hawks haven’t been able to skate 4 lines w 29/26 MIA most of year…
    and Hawks have been better w/ 11/37…
    29 @$4M + 26@$1M… is less than 37 @$.6M + 11@$.7M…

    AND both are less/worse than 67@$2.3M + 36@$3.75

    How Good would Hawks be if they kept 67/36 and let 29/26 Walk????
    Or at least kept 67 and let 29 walk???

    I know – nobody has a crystal ball… but ya know 29 always had a “Buff” reputation…
    and 67 (as poor as his shot is/was) ALWAYS played/skated hard!!!!

  32. ebonyraptor says:

    Rufus is right to some extent regarding Vancouver, they’re not an elite team anymore, especially when they’re missing three of their best players – H.Sedin, Santorelli and Tanev. but I wouldn’t go so far as to call the not good. They are in fact in a playoff spot in the tough Western Conference, so they are at least good enough to be one of the top-8 teams. But yes, their glory days seem to be gone and I’m sure I’m not alone in Hawks fandome who couldn’t be happier about that. Regarding the comment someone made along the lines that the hatred may be there for the uniform more than the current group of players – I disagree. At least for me, as long as Bieksa, Kesler, Burrows, Hansen, Edler and a couple other guys are there – there’s still plenty of hatred to go around.

    I disagree with the Seabrook is bad/disinterested/looks to be drunk comments. He, along with just about everyone else on the team, has had his gaffes, but I think he’s playing at a pretty high level and have think he’s been the most consistently good d-man the Hawks have with the exception of Keith who is on another level than just about every other d-man in the league.

  33. Phil says:

    ER please don’t construe my comments about the Nucks as benign. When they lose I still take sick pleasure in seeing that. One of the few teams in the NHL I feel that way about. Others being the Wings and especially the Blues. Bieksa, Kesler, Burrows, Hansen are still loathsome guys I can’t stand. Edler with a fly by cheap elbow last night was noteworthy. POS.

  34. Tim G says:

    Now as an out-of-towner, i dont see the hawks other than when they play in the southeast and then nationally televised games… I catch the occational radio feed, but from all the recaps i’ve read and the comments here, people want to cruicfy 23 for his TOs, they want to get on 29, they want to yell at 7, 52, 37, 26 etc…

    But when i look at this roster, I use an ultra-sense of perspective. Here is my take on a few guys.

    For 23: Sure his decision making has been largly suspect, but he has made some plays. The perspective: He is a 3rd liner. Find me any 3rd liner who makes 100% correct decisions. Thats why they are on the 3rd line. They get less time and if they get that “one big play” a game they did their job. That was Stalberg’s issue. he had stone for hands and largely didnt make that “one play” either shooting or passing.

    For 29, Same deal… only difference is he is getting paid to be more than a 3rd liner. Perspective, if his injury is impacting his play, then you need to look at him vs his 3rd line ability. Can he provide 12-15 minutes of good “3rd line” play? If not, then he should sit, I can buy that argument. If he can, work with him.

    For 52: Sure, he is not a gifted athlete. Sure, there are kids who could use experience (Nordstrom/Morin/Etc) … but 52 is the epitomy of the 12th Fwd. He is cheap, he hits, and he has a decent enough shot. He has his spot on this team.

    For 7: Sure he needs to play better… but Sit him? REALLY? He is a Top 60 d-man in this league. To me, this one is on the coaches to get him right (one way or another), but you dont sit him.

    Just my Take.

  35. Sr. Brad says:

    You know Tim, Bollig actually has a great wrist shot…I wish he would use it more…the same for Bicks…Bickell has maybe the best wrister in the league, but he rarely shoots. Go figure…

  36. JS says:

    Bollig has a great wrist shot, but he has a horribly slow release and can’t find open space. When he has time and can crank it off, it’s good stuff.

  37. Mike says:

    Peter, Crosby does have a Cup Ring from 2009.

  38. RedTopParking says:

    Satisfying to see it’s not just the Blackhawks been mentally fatigued, sloppy, pushing through the Jan dog days – Canuckleheads wilted like last week’s flowers.
    Bollig detractors way off; the kid definitely got the message when Q laid it down recently, he’s playing well. Bickel has not (and if 29 still injured than he should be on IR). Bollig is as good or better a 4th line worker than there is in the league. He is not 19 88 81 10 2 or 7 . He is Bollig, and we’re keeping him.
    Let Sid have his day with the C for Canada, our 19 had it last time. Wangsauce is right on – Sid’s sparkling play does not a Captain make, for real, on a top NHL club (the Golden Jet was never Captain). For that give me Ted Lindsay, Beliveau, Pilotte, Mark Messier, Yzerman – and Jonathan Toews (other worthies unintentionally omitted).

  39. Peter says:

    Mike, which was before the 2010 Olympics…in the past 4 years…Toews 2, Crosby 0.

  40. Peter says:

    Scott Niedermayer was the 2010 Team Canada Olympic Captain

  41. RyanDale says:

    of course Van is struggling, who gives a rats. We need wins people and if they come vs Van, even better. we need to do well in Calif. I dont think anyone expects another circus trip, but actually after 2 games we’re up 1pt from Nov. These long western swings can be boom or bust. Goals are gonna be tuff to get this next 4games. Better be defensive minded start to finish each night.

    I remember being just 2-3 wks into the season complaining about pissing away pts. Man, it sure hasnt gotten any better. I like are chances to get 4/6 in CA. We seem to play down or up to the competition, which is not a real good trait to have if you want to be Champs I just think the Olympic break is a huge wild card that brings alot of unknowns. We just need to stay afloat now by finishing well. Then we have to start all over again when games ensue

    Since when does Kesler waltz in and kick our asses on f/offs? 16-20 80%? wth

    23,Was hoping noonan96 was using ‘their’ in reference to Van??
    I missed Torts last night. W would have even better

  42. wall says:

    Tim, 29 is just NOT skating well… either Knees or effort (lack) of…

    After 1st benching:
    I watched the 29 pre-game interview w/ 29 and Q … both commenting on 29 being more physical, disruptive… then the game… 29 tried to hit people… He was just too slow to put a body on them (legally)… Couldn’t get there.

    Perhaps we are all blind/dumb and don’t realize that 25/65 were always the 1st guys pressuring/forechecking, and maybe that bought time for his slow ass…
    BUT- I really think it’s combination of knees and He is no longer playing for contract!!!
    Probably a combination of all three.

  43. Rufus T. Firefly says:

    Vancouver is done being a factor in the Western Conference. That team is on the precipice of a full blown rebuild.

    Who knows what the heck is going on with Bickell. All I know is that he looked awful BEFORE he got hurt. I always admired Bickell’s work ethic and lunch bucket approach, but that has vaporized completely. So it’s natural to infer, the guy got paid and proceeded to not give a shit. He is a BIG problem for this club right now. What he was supposed to provide is DESPERATELY needed by this team.

    People greatly underestimate that this team isn’t as deep or as good as it was last year. Gone is Frolik, and what he provided as a special team’s player has not been replaced. Ben Smith is a very poor substitute. Gone is Bickell 2012-13. Gone is the enigmatic Bolland, who at least was a ferocious defensive-minded forward even though he was useless as an offense generator. Bolland took the heat off of our top forwards and Bolland did the dirty work on the other side of the blue line that no other forward other than Shaw or Kruger is consistent on wanting to do, or do effectively. Gone is 2012-13 Emery.

    The only role player gone who hasn’t been missed is Viktor Stalberg the speed skater. He was fucking useless. Not missed.

  44. Ogie Oglethorpe says:

    Rufus is priceless. God I love this guy. Hilarious. This site needed levity and now it has it.

  45. Tab Bamford says:

    Rufus:

    “Ben Smith is a very poor substitute” of whom? If you’re trying to create a theory that Ben Smith was supposed to “replace” Frolik… smh. He hasn’t been asked to be a primary penalty killer, so that role isn’t appropriate for comparison. If you’re speaking from a production standpoint, you’re once again way off. Frolik had 3 goals & 7 assists in 45 regular season games last year. Smith has 7 goals & 9 assists in 49 this year. So if Smith is a “poor substitute,” please me more specific with how you’re throwing a valuable 4th line player under the bus. You failed in your first attempt.

    Since returning from injury, Handzus has been put into Frolik’s role as Kruger’s wingman on primary PK duty and has been good there – and the team’s performance over the last 2 weeks has reflected that.

    You say Bolland did the dirty work that no other forward “other than Shaw and Kruger” – who are both still here – do. Not sure what the Hawks are “missing” from a departed Dave Bolland…

    “Gone is 2012-13 Emery.” [takes out tiny violin for the Ray Emery Fan Club’s only remaining member]

  46. wall says:

    Tab- In defense of Rufus…Smith has been skating on the 3rd line all year!!! 29 on any line=4th line.

    Rufus is mistaken about one thing…36 “useless as offensive generator”…
    well- Game winning goal – Game 7 vs. Wings – 36’s check stole the puck and allowed 7 to skate over the blueline w GWG!!!
    Game 1 vs. Bruins- 36 big goal in 3rd…
    Game 1 vs. Bruins- 36 1st deflection on GWG in 3rd OT
    Game 6 vs. B’s- 36 GWG

    Bollie Has super High Hockey IQ… and a Knack for being in the right place!!!
    And can skate/check with the best.

    Tab- that’s one of the things Hawks are missing w/o 36…
    Hawks DO NOT MISS HIS Injuries and inability to suit up and play half the games…
    They don’t MISS it cuz they Have Bickell for that role now!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  47. JS says:

    Let’s talk about how the Hawks can’t replace the “knack Bolland has for scoring big goals in the playoffs” before we see a single playoff game this year!

    Bolland was god f’ing awful for the majority of last year. He came up in a few big moments and scored the game winning goal of the Cup finals. Awesome. But he was GOD AWFUL for the majority of the year. Kane’s numbers with Bolland at 2C last year are comparable to his numbers with Handzus at 2C this year.

    It’s always like this when players depart, they remember nothing but the positives. People are still clamouring for Byfuglien when he was traded 4 years ago. Last year in the playoffs it was, “THE HAWKS CAN’T WIN BECAUSE THEY DON’T HAVE LADD HE’S THE BEST.” I guess this year the Hawks can’t win because they don’t have Bolland and Frolik.

  48. MS says:

    Tab, thanks for coming to the immediate defense of Ben Smith. I think he is a great team guy who has quietly worked his tail off over the past several years for this opportunity. He has great hockey sense and solid offensive skills – I think he can play in multiple places in the lineup and make a solid contribution. He is one of the clear bright spots to me so far this year.

    Regarding 29, I am not buying the line that he signed a big contract and is now “mailing it in.” He seems too much like a character guy for that. When you watch him he appears to have zero confidence – pretty amazing for a guy his size. The part that is most perplexing is he never seems to make a big hit despite his size. When 52 gets physical it is very noticeable and injects immediate energy. I wish 29 would start by using his body to jump start the rest of his game. Someone earlier suggested alternating 29 and 26 to see how they respond – perhaps not a bad idea.

  49. JS says:

    Also, Ray Emery was VERY important to the Hawks SC run. He was outstanding in the playoffs!

  50. wall says:

    MS- as I wrote earlier…29 is so slow… he can’t to anyone quickly enough to hit them(legally)…

  51. Sr. Brad says:

    Stahlberg was a contributing player, and as Wall has said time and again, his speed has been missed…one of the very best forwards on the back check last year was Stahlberg…and if we could have figured out a way to keep him, in another year or so, with a strong strength training program, he could have become a very good player.

    As JS said, Bolly as awful during the season…and as Wall said, as much as Bolly was a high character guy, he was always injured, and that hurt the Hawks…and now we find out he is injured once again in TOR…

    Emery was a little better than Raanta, but his numbers were, for the most part, the product of playing goal behind our team defence…much like Raanta this year. This is why I was not in favour of paying CC $6 million a year…

    MS…normally I would agree with you on Bicks, but something is WRONG with him, and its not just physical…way too many times since he has been back there are moments with him where the only thing you can say is, “poor effort”…and that’s not the Bicks we know…or is it?

  52. Sr. Brad says:

    Ben Smith is another one of those very valuable role players for the Hawks, and has done a great job…how any one here can dump on this guy is beyond me…

  53. Negzz says:

    I’ve been traveling a bit and now just getting caught up with some free time.. certainly no shortage of entertaining content to work through this past week or so! Caught the last 2 games on DVR and here’s my take/thoughts on a few of the more “compelling” posts/topics of late:
    * Bickell: He’s obviously not back where he needs to be, but jeez, the guy had a serious knee injury in the playoffs last year, fought through it and manned up to be a huge factor in our cup title. Those saying he was not playing well “before” he got hurt in 2013-14 are technically correct, but ignore he was not fully healthy/back to start the year before he further injured himself. Take it from a guy who has suffered thru 3 knee surgeries, it’s going to be a good while before he has that explosion back and can make key man impact again, maybe even ’14-15. Does that mean he should be on LTIR? No, I don’t think so, only he/they know how much work he can handle before he gets “it” back. Further- I think he deserves some slack while he tries to regain his physical ability and the mental confidence that goes with it. Yea- that means sitting a lot (which I am good with), and rotating in when Q feels he’s showing some pop in practice. Give him time, he’s got 4 years to pay off on that contract.
    * #23: Agree that his givaways are not acceptable at the blue line and has been an enigma since he was last here.
    * Seabrook: Wow, a lot of criticism for a guy that was a hotly debated omission on team Canada’s roster! (his stats were great to start the yr.) Yes, he’s having a little trough in his play but he’s a very important and key piece to this team’s d-core. Far more important and harder to replace in the top-4 than #27 for example.
    * Goaltending: We got what we got and we’re going to have it for 6 years. Decent, sometimes very good, sometimes soft. That’s the way it is and we can win with it, so what choice do we have but to live with it. It’s not what will dictate if we can win another cup.
    * Bollig: Down on him still? Seriously? This guy is a perfect 4th liner for this team for all the reasons another poster listed earlier. The line of 16-28-52 is one of the bright spots for this team this year!
    * WILLPOWER: If the Hawks are going to repeat, it’s going to be about the will to fight for the puck, backcheck, grind and pay the price to stand in front of the net. When/if we regain that fire we’ll consistently be dangerous again. I expect that will happen after the break when we get closer to the playoff/payoffs.

    Next 4 games before the break will be tough imo, I’d be happy with 4+ points (out of 8 total available), and 4 good efforts.

  54. noonan96 says:

    Re: my comments about Versteeg–Went back and saw the 1st period (missed it last night) and 23 did have a few mental lapses at the blue line. What I do notice is that players are so intent on getting the puck to 88 (which is smart in theory) that they sometimes lose the puck instead of moving it to the right spot or shooting the puck.
    However his compete level was high, and he created some offense– and several Hawks have been guilty of too many TOs lately, even normally reliable guys like Big Hos.

    It hasn’t been just 88 that has had a lot of changes in the middle-23 has as well. He’s best suited at this point of his career, at least with the Hawks in the bottom 6

  55. Phil says:

    I’m with MS and Negzz when it comes to Bickell.

    Frankly, I think the idea that he’s being lazy because he got his contract is ridiculous.

    Something is clearly wrong, he’s been slow and timid to say the least. Honestly, I think it’s a combination of mental and physical. As was said, he probably wasn’t 100% at the start of the season to begin with. Besides physically affecting his play this no doubt hampered his confidence as well. Same thing goes for when he came off of IR.

    The guy isn’t stupid, he knows he has to step his game up. You can see it in his face when he’s on the bench, or at least you could in the Calgary game on Tuesday.I think he’s trying, but he just clearly isn’t 100% mentally or physically right now.

    Hopefully the upcoming break will do him some good, and he’ll come back healthy and fired up. He clearly has it in him to be a huge asset to this team, given what he did in the playoffs last year. Wait and see how he does when he’s back up to where he needs to be, I think in the long run he will prove that he is worth his contract.

  56. Travis says:

    ^ exactly.

    bickell had shown some flashes here and there. two games in a row, he was skating well. i swore he was gonna break out of it. then he regresses and becomes a healthy scratch. who knows why.

    my knock on bickell is that i don’t think he’s mentally very strong. i think he succumbs to streaks and slumps, instead of having a night-in, night-out mentality. that makes consistency impossible.

    back in the 2011-2012 season (i think), he was roommates with john scott. bickell was going through an enormous slump. he was ghost on the ice on a consistent basis (tab’s words), much like some recent games. i remember scott being asked about bickell’s slump because they were roommates. scott said that bickell confided that he was devastated about his lack of production, and it was starting to get in his head.

    http://www.chicagonow.com/red-light-district/2012/01/ben-smith-in-bickell-out-tonight-vs-sabres/

    i don’t think bickell doesn’t care. i think he lets it get to him too much. if he started squeezing his stick over the threat of a roster spot on a $600k salary, imagine how much he’s squeezing it over the threat of a roster spot and a $4m salary with higher expectations.

  57. Negzz says:

    Did anyone see the Avs just extended their G Varlamov for 5 years at @$6mil/yr? He’s 25 yrs old and considered a “good, young” goalie and the former 1st round pick of the Caps is having his best year now under the tutelage of Roy.. (certainly not elite at this stage.) Guess the current market for a decent goalie is now $6M/yr…

  58. AJ says:

    Travis, the yipps suck. They suck even harder when compounded by an injury. I think 2 goals and some positives to build on before the break would be a massive step in the right direction.

  59. Tim G says:

    Neggz- the more i think about it, the more i think some of these contracts are given with the fact that teams can retain $$$ in trades now.

    Example- We extend Crow at 6 mil. We have Whitney in the pipeline. We sign Whitney to a contract for 1.5 Mil. A team needs a goalie but has less than 4mil in space. They call up Bowman and he retain 1/2 his cap hit. It then makes it like we are paying our starter 4.5 mil and “gain” 1.5 Million to allocate elsewhere. If we didnt have that ability, they couldn’t “move crow’s contract”.

    I could be over thinking it, but i would imagine, that ability does play apart in crow’s and bickell’s “larger” contracts.

  60. Phil says:

    We forget sometimes during the course of the long NHL season where we are in the schedule. This current point on the calendar presents problems for many players/teams due to the attrition of the schedule. Guys just get worn out both physically and mentally. Bickell is an interesting story. I refuse to believe he is a quitter. Pressure from getting a HUGE payday can mess with guys heads. They put pressure on themselves to succeed and can forget to just simplify their games. Throw in a nagging knee problem and it makes it even harder. Yes AJ, all of the above = the yipps. I believe 29 will improve and that the upcoming break in the schedule will be very beneficial for his progress. It could also be that his knee/knees are messed up to the point where a surgical solution will be required. The team knows where he is at, so I have to believe the knee issues are playable, otherwise they would have closed him out for the year already. Clearly, the Hawks miss him being at full strength. What matters most is getting a healthy team into the playoffs. Hopefully, Bicks is part of it.

    Varlamov extension sounds about right. That’s the going rate. Hate to say it, but that guy is really good, and probably has some upside given tutelage from Roy.

    Lets’ Go Hawks!

  61. John Wangsauce says:

    Knee injuries makes it very hard to operate confidently. Remember that your whole body is standing on those knees, so even being physical and delivering hits can cause stress on them. It will even effect the way you shoot the puck. It’s all body mechanics. You have a weak knee under you, it’s gonna affect your game more than you think.

  62. RyanDale says:

    Be interesting to see what Scrivens will get in the summer, nowhere near 6 obviously, , but he’s playing like like he’s worth it. Still very early in his career though. Edmonton might actually be his home for awhile after bouncing around. They sure need a solid no1

    St Louis has a real good chance, given the remaining games, to throw a ton of dirt on top of us if we cant hold serve these last 4 games. Looking for good things in the Shark tank and beyond! time to shine in Calif!!

    good weekend y’all GO HAWKS

  63. Sr. Brad says:

    For those who want to know, here is Kevin Hayes stat line from this season at BC…

    12 Kevin Hayes 25 19 26 45 86 .221 +23

    That’s a 22% shooting % and he is almost at 2 PPG with a +23…not bad…Hayes was my preseason player to watch, as this was his last year before turning pro…he has topped out a 6’4″ 216 lbs, which is probably a good thing that he has stopped here…IMO, Jimmy might be too big for his own good on those skates…

  64. Tim G says:

    Brad- Hayes has been a monster. Now, I do feel that his #’s are slightly inflated playing in a GREAT BC lineup. But that said, he has still great and will be a big body and a great talent for this team.
    Im thinking about the 15/16 lineup as something like this.

    10/19/81
    20/TT/88
    KHayes/65/23
    Ross/16/Hartman

    and that doesn’t even make a place for guys like Danault, McNeil, Nordstrom, Broadhurst(s)

  65. MS says:

    It is great to see the progress that Hayes has made this year as he was a huge question mark after three seasons at BC. I am intrigued by all the talent that will be moving to Rockford next year (assuming they don’t make the Hawks). By my account it will include Johns, Hayes, Holl, Hartman, Fournier and T. Brown.

    Anyone have input on Paliotta? Previously all the press seemed to focus on Johns as the top d-prospect. However Paliotta seems to be having a very strong season at Vermont while Johns seems to be having a solid but unspectacular season at ND.

  66. Sr. Brad says:

    I know MS…by mid season next year, Rockford will have a dynamo team…and yes, Paliotta, a 3rd round pick in that amazing 2011 draft, has been progressing VERY well…the biggest thing about Paliotta is that he is a very confident young man…that helps with the transition to the bigs…you have to believe you belong…that’s the big thing with Pirri right now, he need to KNOW that he belongs on the Hawks and not just think…there’s a difference. Johns/Dahlbeck/Paliotta all strong, stay at home guys…Clendening/Holl/Fournier/Brown all faster, smoother, better skaters…they all definitely push the play and jump in…

    There is no doubt that Bowman has done an amazing job since he came to the Hawks.

  67. wall says:

    Tim G – I Like your line-up, and I think KHayes could play with Hawks before 2015-16…
    a good camp or good start in AHL- and maybe he’s up middle of next year…

    But I take Nordstrom over Hartman/Ross…

    Lastly- where did Olesz’s… I mean Bickell’s $4Mill go? Gulp!!!

  68. Morrison says:

    10-19-81
    20-86-88
    42-12-23
    61-16-65

  69. RyanDale says:

    Thank you Carolina!

  70. Phil says:

    Yes RD! Good game to watch. Rare free time for me to watch a non Hawks game on Centre Ice. Canes were quick. Always a pleasure to watch blue notes go down.

  71. ebonyraptor says:

    Phil and others – I agree that Bickell will play much better than he has so far this season. He is a quality player and as a bigger guy he is just coming into his own. Let him get strength and confidence in his knees and he will be an asset that makes the Hawks a better team with him than without him. I’m as excited about our prospects as the next guy, but there is something to be said for experience and Bickell has it and those prospects don’t. It’s the old adage that one in the hand is worth two in the bush.

    The good news about having a deep prospect pool is that when the ratio of hit and miss is applied the Hawks should have a few players that will end up having more than a cup of coffee career in the NHL. Most of the prospects will need a few years of playing in the AHL with a few call-ups here and there before they’re ready to hold on to a full time role.

    My concern with Kevin Hayes is his skating. I’ve seen two BC games on TV and his skating looks lumbering. Hopefully he skates better than it looked like to me in the limitted sample size I’ve had.

    I’ll be ecstatic if TT makes the team next year and the only forward not returning is Handzus. The 4th line is fine – no need for prospects to edge out Bollig or Smith. With my belief that Bickell will be fine, the 3rd line will be very good with Shaw sliding back to 3C. Then it would be just a matter of how Q arranges the top-6 wingers around Toews and TT.

  72. RyanDale says:

    Phil, looked liked Sobotka was really hurt there at the end?? That Khudobin for the Canes looks good, they might want to lock him up long term. Blues came close couple times late, but their luck from Long Island wasn’t to be found!

  73. Morrison says:

    Yea, those lines were referring to Tim posts… not for ’14 season.

    I think were going to get deeper each yr, the next few yrs… and the salary cap is going to go up as we need to pay certain guys higher contracts. Beauty, eh.

  74. Morrison says:

    I think Bicks will be fine too.

    Stock the sushi trucks for the playoffs.

  75. Travis says:

    true dat AJ. true dat. couple goals and some big hits, then a long break. here’s hoping. we’ll need him come playoff time.

  76. Phil says:

    I agree RD that Sobotka looked in bad shape at the end of the game when he went feet first hard into end boards. I don’t know if he tweaked an ankle or knee or banged his head hard as well. Never want to see guys hurt, but if the Blues were short Sobotka awhile, I will shed no tears or wish him a speedy recovery. Sobotka apart from being really good on face-offs, always loves to run guys from behind and gets stick /elbows up high in the process.

    No puck luck for the Blues last night, which I contend they have no shortage of first half of the season.

    Let’s Go Hawks!

  77. RyanDale says:

    ^ only thing i can find is that he’s out tonight and day to day. Maybe he will miss this homestand. They have a great opportunity to finish strong, having him out could have an effect. Like you said, excellent f/off man. Nashville is going b2b tonight as well. StL opting for Elliot, Preds tbd. Hutton was good last night and I think I prefer him over Dubnyk, even on b2b. But, the game to tend to is in SJ. I think we will play very well tonight, and in Calif. 4/6pt very attainable imo. But i usually suck at prognosticating!

  78. Otis says:

    Sobotka out at least through the Olympics – check out http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nhl/2253/vladimir-sobotka

  79. RyanDale says:

    thanks Otis!

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