Blackhawks 5, Ducks 2

For a period and a half, a banged up Ducks squad gave the Blackhawks a run for their money.  Missing Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne, and Joffrey Lupul, they managed to outshoot the Hawks in the first two periods and had a lot of good opportunities to find twine. 

Unfortunately for them, it was the Mike Browns of the world getting those high percentage opportunities. 

So in a 0-0 game, Kris Versteeg started the scoring with a classic “Oh no!!  Go, go!!” type of play.  Versteeg got control of the puck to the right of Antti Niemi and stood there waiting for an Anaheim forechecker to come after him. 

Once the Anaheim player chased him, Versteeg fought him off behind the net and skated the puck out of his own end.  He found Dustin Byfuglien streaking down the right wing.  Byfuglien left a sketchy drop pass to John Madden; Madden adjusted to the puck and with Anaheim defenseman Sheldon Brookbank overcommitting to the puck-carrier, Madden hit a wide-open Versteeg who faked a shot on J.S. Giguere and then flipped it right over his glove hand.

Six minutes later, Brian Campbell pinched in from the point and rang the puck behind Anaheim’s net.  Patrick Kane scooped up the puck, waited for the pressure and then hit Troy Brouwer standing all alone in front.  Brouwer gave a little hesitation, got Giguere down and lifted a back-hander to the far-side to double the Hawks lead. 

In the third period, the Hawks made up for their lackadaisical play in the first two periods by completely dominating in every facet of the game for 16 minutes.  Marian Hossa scored a minute and a half into the period with a lightning quick shot.  Hossa picked a pass from Andrew Ladd off his skate and in one motion, fired the puck past Giguere low to the stick side.

On the power play two minutes later, Hossa was the recipient of a sweet cross-ice feed from Duncan Keith.  Instead of one-timing the puck with a huge wind-up, Hossa caught the pass and shot it as soon as it was on his blade.  “All you young hockey players out there, that’s the way you shoot a one-timer.  Before the goalie’s ready.  See, too many players try the fancy one-timers with a big wind-up and completely miss a good scoring opportunity.”  And that’s the last time you’ll ever see me channel my inner Edzo.

A dominating shift from Kane, Toews, and Brouwer closed out the scoring for the Hawks when Patrick Kane fed Jonathan Toews with a sweet back-door pass.  All Toews had to do was direct the puck into a wide-open net.

Cue a couple obligatory late goals by the opposition in a blowout and that was that.


–Perhaps all it took for Tomas Kopecky to give a damn was getting Adam Burish back on the ice.  With Burish returning to the ice last week and still a couple months away from returning, Kopecky has responded with his best play of the season.  Of course, maybe it also has to do with Ben Eager playing his best hockey of the season.  Either way, it’s lovely to see the Hawks being able to roll all four lines again.   

–I guess I’m not the only one still seething that Chris Drury was named to Team USA.  Dustin Byfuglien has been Denzel Washington in “Man On Fire” pissed off the last two games and the opposition has been at the unlucky end of that equation.  Byfuglien started off his game tonight by picking a fight with Troy Bodie, getting in a couple of huge punches and took a punch to the schnozz.  He was a factor all night in front of Giguere and with any luck (or maybe scoring touch) he could’ve easily scored two goals tonight.

–So did you guys hear Scott Niedermayer might be traded at the trade deadline this year? 

–With his 11th goal tonight, Troy Brouwer is well on his way to meeting the prediction we laid out in July.  Anyone willing to share their fantasy hockey profits with us, we are a charitable foundation.  However, we take no blame if you drafted Cam Barker on our account.  Yikes, Barker has some serious ground to make up if he’s going to hit 61 points.  Pretty sure we were summer drunk when we came up with that number. 

*On The Farm*

–On Saturday night, the IceHogs and Grand Rapids Griffins traded leads all night.  After regulation and overtime wasn’t enough to determine a winner, the teams went into a shootout for the extra point.  The Griffins scored one goal in the shootout and Rockford scored none to give Grand Rapids a 5-4 win.

The IceHogs power play was on fire scoring three times with the man advantage.  Bryan Bickell, Bracken Kearns, and Kyle Greentree all notched power play goals.  Matt Keith scored Rockford’s third goal even-strength. 

Depth defenseman Mike Brennan had his highest offensive output of the season with two assists.  Mark Cullen also notched two assists and Kearns had an assist to go with his goal.

Goalie Alec Richards lasted only half of the game before he was pulled for Joseph Fallon.  Richards stopped 14 of 17 shots and Fallon stopped 19 of 20 in a losing effort.

Some injury updates for Rockford:

  • Akim Aliu has not played since December 18th because of a sprained wrist.
  • Nathan Davis’s last game was on November 28th.  He’s been out with a shoulder injury and is expected to return sometime this month.  There’s no word if he injured the same shoulder that sidelined him for the majority of his senior year at Miami of Ohio.
  • Corey Crawford’s lower body injury continues to ail him.  He’s also expected back later this month but he was only expected to miss a couple weeks when he first was injured on November 13th. 

–On Saturday, Kyle Beach had an assist and 17 penalty minutes in a 2-1 win over the Vancouver Giants.  Sunday was uneventful for him with no points and only 2 penalty minutes in a 3-2 win over the Seattle Thunderbirds.  

Byron Froese had an assist and scored a goal in the shootout to help give Everett a 6-5 win over the first place Tri-City Americans on Saturday.  Froese scored the game-winning goal in Sunday night’s 2-1 win over the Portland Winterhawks.  His goal came with under a minute and a half left in regulation.

Shawn Lalonde had an assist and was a +2 in the Belleville Bulls’ 3-2 overtime win against Doug Gilmour and Kingston Frontenacs on Saturday.  He had a goal and two assists in Sunday’s 8-2 beating of the Oshawa Generals.

Dylan Olsen didn’t score in Minnesota-Duluth’s 6-0 destruction of Mercyhurst College in the opening round of the Catamount Cup.  In the championship game against the host team, Vermont, Olsen was a non-factor in a 5-2 loss.

David Pacan scored the tying goal in Vermont’s 4-3 win over Alabama-Huntsville in the opening round of the Catamount Cup.  He added two assists in the championship game against Minnesota-Duluth.

–Anyone with ESPNU will get an up close look at 2009 2nd round pick Brandon Pirri next Sunday.  RPI’s game against Princeton will be televised at 2 pm.  As a freshman, Pirri is playing at a point-per-game clip with 22 points in 21 games, good for second on the team.

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29 Responses to Blackhawks 5, Ducks 2

  1. Dave Morris says:

    Here Come The Hawks.

    If this team continues to improve as it has, and plays to the maximum of its potential…good things can happen.

    Very good things.

    Stan Bowman always says, in a very matter-of-fact way, “I like our team.”

    Because he knows, as they are currently constituted (and with Bolland and Burish back), the Blackhawks are a match for any club in the NHL.

  2. Patrick says:

    Dave – I definitely agree with you, and while losses to Dallas suck, wins over NJ, Pit, SJ, Nashville, Detroit, Van and Calgary (etc) are even better. The Hawks seem to rise to the level of competition (or sink to it, sometimes) and this is a smart team – and they’re doing it without Bolland, Burish and for the past couple of games, Ham Sandwich.

    With that, Pierre LeBrun is stoking the “Kovy to Hawks” rumor a bit – I wonder if his sources are real NHL people or just us bloggers (and those who read them)? IF the Hawks were to make a deal for Kovy, there’s a way they could resign him, but it would be a longshot – a lot of pieces would have to fall into place to make it happen.

    One more thing – is Barker okay? Looked like he took a wicked hit last night in the third and I don’t think I saw him come back out…

  3. feyer says:

    Kudos on your accurate prediction for Brouwer. He has really stepped up his play this year, especially since moving on the line with Tazer and Kaner (hell I might look good on that line). Do we have a nickname for him yet?

  4. Andy says:

    Great summary! I can’t believe that Brouwer is doing what he is doing, but am very happy to see it. Thanks for the heads up on the ESPNU airing of our prospects.

  5. Sharon says:

    Holy shit! WTF compelled Edzo to bring up the Scott Niedermayer deadline trade 5 times?! It’s the sort of thing that makes the sports sync radio essential. except it’s a $45 piece of crap.

  6. John says:

    Sharon, Pat definitely gets the instigator penalty on that one. He kept bringing it up at the most inopportune times.

    How many times did we hear Niedermayer would be the biggest name at the deadline or Bob Murray’s deal with him, meanwhile Anaheim is swarming the Hawks net.

  7. Jim says:

    I live about 10 minutes away from RPI, and had no idea the Hawks’ second-round pick played for them.

    So I will have to make it to a game at some point.

  8. Lou says:

    The other real annoying thing is when Foley goes there’s 135 seconds left in the period or game.

  9. Dave Morris says:

    @Patrick> Stan Bowman doesn’t strike me as the ‘short term rent-a-superstar’ type.

    The Hawks appear to be built for the long term; and with Hossa, Toews, Kane, Keith and Campbell, they’ve got star power galore for years, that few teams can boast.

    The keys IMHO, are that (1) stability in the roster, and (2) another year in the Scotty Bowman Hockey System (as preached by Q, Torch and Havvy) is starting to pay off as (3) the ‘other’ guys (Brouwer, Steeg!, Buff, etc) are also delivering on the scoresheet and (4) in the team’s league-best defensive play.

    Lebrun has recently tempered his remarks uttered on HNIC by saying the ‘Kovalchuk Chatter’ is just theory–there are, he says, no talks between ATL and CHI. He also says he sees the Hawks as being built along the same lines as the Detroit and Pittsburgh models.

    As for the rumors, they persist…we all know, in the wide world of pro sports, nobody really knows what happens next.

  10. John says:

    Jim, you don’t know what you’re missing. RPI also boasts another freshman, Jerry D’Amigo, who has been the US’s best player in the World Junior Championships.

  11. Lou says:

    The ESPN Insider Scuttlebutt today is Steeg to Col for 2nd and Shattenkirk.

    Just sharing the info, I read.

  12. Nick says:

    Just curious, How did Hjalmarsson end up being called Ham Sandwich?

  13. John says:

    Nick- You’ll find your answer here:

    Lou- I would make that trade in June, but never while teams are actually still playing hockey.

  14. Patrick says:

    Dave – agree with you 100%, but we all know that the Hawks can’t keep everyone in the off season. Here are some of my assumptions on how it could be more than a short-term rental:

    1. Trade Barker, Versteeg (or Buff, not both) and Kopecky for Kovy (the salaries match up, and the Hawks trade Kopecky while he’s “hot”) 😉
    2. Huet continues to play well so there is a market for him in the off-season and he can be traded for any type of a draft pick with nothing else in return
    3. The salary cap goes up by $2MM +/- in the offseason (have heard rumblings that due to the strength of to Loonie, this might happen)
    4. The Hawks can sign Burish, Eager, Bickell, Fraser, and Hendry at contract value close to or less than what they were making this year
    5. Madden takes a little less to come back – perhaps $1.7MM or $2MM per year for 2-3 years
    6. The Hawks can sign Ham, Ladd and Niemi for decent 2-3 year deals at $2MM or so per and Skille signs for a “minimum” one year deal
    7. Kovy loves winning championships so much that he’s willing to sign a deal virtually idential to that of Hossa, or maybe do a Kane/Towes deal
    8. The Hawks think about trading Buff or Versteeg (which ever one didn’t get traded for Kovy) in the off-season if the hawks need the cap room
    9. Seabrook and Brower get taken care of next year

    Yea, this is a long shot, but crazier things have happened.

    My goal here is to nuke your prediction that the Hawks lose in the WCF’s and win the Cup – I think that Kovy puts them over the top.


  15. John says:

    2. You’re ready to hand the keys over to Niemi based on 14 games? Scary, scary, scary.

    5. Just say no to multi-million, multi-year deals for someone who is over the age of 35 that isn’t a sure-fire Hall-of-Famer.

    7. If Kovalchuk comes aboard, he won’t be re-signed. Just enjoy him for the two months you get him. He may love championships, but I bet he loves money a bit more.

  16. Dave Morris says:

    @Patrick> don’t forget that I also said “predictions are bunk”.

    And ask yourself why the Thrashers are imploding right now.

    I think Stan Bowman is a sensible man.

  17. Patrick says:

    John – yea, you’re probably right. Niemi’s rebounds do scare the shit out of me but I think (hope) he’ll have that under control in a year or so, and while I’m firmly in Huet’s camp, I think that moving him in the off season would alleviate a lot of stress, but then again, I could be changing my tune after the Finals.

    As for Johnny Madden, I’d lock him up for 2 years at $2MM (or so) per. Good influence (and player, for his role) who probably has that much left in his tank, and I think that two years lowers his price tag a bit.

    You’re probably right on Kovy and any long-term hopes from the Hawks – money will do a lot of talking to him, even in Russian – it knows all languages. I’d still do it for a rental though, and then trade him right before free agency, like Florida did with B-meister.

    With that, who would you move, Versteeg or Buff? I could go either way – both have upsides and downsides, and both tend to take a game or two off now and then…

  18. Patrick says:

    Dave – that you are, that you are. And you’re everywhere too… 😉

  19. John says:

    Assuming one of the two gets moved in a hypthetical trade for Kovalchuk, I would send Versteeg. With Ilya in the fold, Versteeg’s skill set would be pretty much irrelevant on this team.

    Byfuglien is still too valuable to the Hawks to be shipping him off.

  20. Dave Morris says:

    Gentlemen (and Ladies, should any be present)…for discussion’s sake, say Waddell were prepared to swap Kovalchuk and a prospect like d-man Boris Valabik (who is NHL ready as a 6/7), for Sharp and Barker, would you do that deal?

  21. John says:

    See above. Got to be Versteeg imo if you’re doing this hypothetical trade. Anyone else and you’re taking away too much from the current team.

  22. Patrick says:

    Me, I don’t think I’d move Sharp – have heard that he’s too much of a “heart and soul guy” to the Hawks. Moving him probably hurts team chemistry a bit much.

    I think I’m thinking along the lines of John in that Versteeg is probably the odd man out. His skills are somewhat redundant and Buff has the size-edge (although I can’t stand him on the PP point, and I don’t think I’m alone with that).

  23. Dave Morris says:

    John> Don Waddell would want Sharp, no question. Or no deal.

  24. John says:

    The same guy who took a handful of stones when trading Marian Hossa at the deadline two years ago is now going to play hard-ball. Not bloody likely.

    Plus, let’s not forget that former Hawks assistant GM Rick Dudley is now in Atlanta. If memory serves, he was one of the key guys in bringing Versteeg here.

    Waddell is a buffoon though.

  25. Dave Morris says:

    John> never underestimate the buffoon with whom you are negotiating.

    And as for Dudley, he WILL play hardball…after all, he’s probably in line to take over for DonWad.

  26. John says:

    You are correct sir, but I fail to see where Atlanta is going to get as much NHL-ready talent as they would from the Hawks. LA has some nice pieces but they’re a couple years away. Boston has a ton of draft picks but no cap space. Philadelphia, blah.

    If they’re going to trade away another franchise player, they better get the best NHL players they can otherwise the remaining 16 fans may just pack up and leave.

    They can play hardball all they want but it’s the Hawks that are in the driver seat on this one.

  27. Patrick says:

    I agree with John – Atlanta lost their negotiating leverage at the end of summer, and probably after everyone blew their wads in the free agency period – they can’t really hold anyone to the fire, whomever is making the decisions. Also, if Dudley is in line to take over, he’ll probably let Waddell screw things up to pave his way to the GM job.

    Best part about the Hawks is that they don’t have to make this (or any) deal, but they have the flexibility to do several things if it makes them better (and they’re friggin’ damn fine now, but Kovy would make them better). First time in a long time that I have seen the Hawks this deep and in this kind of “strength position”. For me, if it has to be Sharp, no deal, he’s too versatile and valuable.

  28. Dave Morris says:

    @John> I agree StanBow is in the driver’s seat here, noboudaouttit.

    But Dudely Dudley will want to do right by his bosses to cut Waddell’s losses. (Did I just write that?)

    So if the Hawks want Ilya K, Ricky will say “OK, I want a Sharp-dressed man I can sell to the female fan, and a starting d-man, and…and…and…”

    Because you know *somebody* will give up something ridiculous for Kovalchuk. Somebody like Slats Sather, for example. Or Mad Mike Gillis, he who threw stupid money at the Swinging Swede.

    Kovalchuk rhymes with Canuck, eh.

  29. Dave Morris says:

    Oh, and Stan ‘The Maven’ Fischler (who really does know about such things) says watch out for LA…Dean Lombardi has the means and the motivation to snag Kovalchuk.

    If you saw the Kings rip the Sharks to shreds last night, you know what adding Ilya could mean for them.

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