Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Blackhawks Head Into Vancouver with Series Tied 1-1

Blackhawks Head into Vancouver With Series Tied 1-1
Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Blackhawks tied the Chicago-Vancouver series up 1-1 Monday night at the United Center by rallying back against a charged up Canucks team to take the win; 4-2. Chicago, 2nd in the standing head into game 3 against Vancouver, 3rd in the standings after 2 fast paced, high energy duels. 

The Vancouver Canucks have started both games with the energy of 1,000 horses combined with 1,000 Spartans. The Canucks out skated the Blackhawks, out played the Blackhawks, out shot the Blackhawks, and out performed the Blackhawks when it comes to turnovers and giveaways. The Canucks could have easily won game 2 if it wasn't for the miraculous goal tending by Antti Niemi who literally was the anchor as the Blackhawks got ahold of themselves and stated playing playoff hockey.

The roller coaster post-season for the Blackhawks continues as the Hawks were caught off guard in an unmotivated and skill lacking performance in game 1. After a good ass beating the Hawks had a revelation and started to play like the Stanley Cup bound Blackhawks they were projected to be (well most of them). With some still inconsistent lines during the playoffs the Blackhawks have gaps in their performance that needs to be filled for the Hawks to take on the rest of the playoffs. One thing the Hawks know to be ready for the next 2 opponents, pending on a Hawks "W" over Vancouver, is that Niemi is our goalie and he is capable of being a Stanley Cup winner.   

A couple things the Hawks will have to fix during the remaining games of the conference semi-finals; Giveaways, Turnovers, Passing, Skating, and Positions. 

The Hawks are averaging 3x more giveaways than the Canucks during the series and Canucks have been taking great advantage over our poor judgment. The Hawks never have a problem being the faster of the 2 teams but they need to be fast and accurate, precise and aggressive, the Canucks are out for revenge after last year's meeting and they need to capitalize on every opportunity. The Hawks during the post season have struggled greatly when it comes to accurate and smart passing, to beat Vancouver's goalie Luongo they will need position themselves for more scoring chances. During mostly game 1 and the 1st period of game 2 then Hawks looked lost as Vancouver's Sedins' skated circles around the entire Blackhawks team, they need to be and stay the game controlling Hawks we saw during the regular season. Lastly, Keep aware of A)The puck but B) your position, the Canucks are great at creating real scoring opportunities and the Hawks defensemen need to be aware of who is around them, where they are, and be able to predict the Canuck's next move. 

Tonight's game will sure be action-packed and full of energy as both teams will be playing (hopefully) some real playoff hockey. So throw on your favorite Hawk's jersey, grab a Miller Lite, and join in the chorus "Let's Go Hawks!" I'm ChiN8 and I want to thank you for following Windy City Sportz. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hawks Shutout Preds to Take Game 2

Hawks Shutout Preds to Take Game 2
Photo courtesy of

Chicago asked, and the Blackhawks answer, The Nashville Predators were no match for a revamped Chicago Blackhawks team Sunday at the United Center in game 2 of the playoffs. Lead by a strong defensive core and an ironman of a goalie, Antti Niemi, the Hawks tied up the series at 1 heading into Nashville tonight for game 3. After being embarrassed by the Preds in game 1 on home ice the Hawks needed to do something to get their swagger back and after a couple line changes by Q-Stache, the Hawks took game 2 with a statement.

In game 1 of the series the Predator’s TRAP defense (Because that's what it is) proved too simple for the flashy Hawks who said heading into game 2, they needed to make more "dirty" goals to defeat the strong defense of Nashville. The game sure wasn't easy as both teams were making some of the best defensive stands I've seen in 1 game. From the Preds point of view, it was mainly Rinne, Preds goalie, who was making the biggest stand of them all grabbing 31 saves on the night.

Dave Bolland scored the Blackhawks first goal of the night, and it was kind of fate that he hit his backhander off a beautiful pass by "My Captain, My Captain." For whatever reason, during the broadcast of the game Pat was saying how Bolland isn't himself since his back surgery and we should just appreciate his attempts during the game for giving it his best. Bolland must have heard that and said, who you calling "not myself," and hit the game-winning goal; beautiful, absolutely beautiful.

We couldn't go a game into this off-season without something from our "mullet-minded" friend Patrick Kane. Kane was credited an assist in Bollands goal and on a beautiful take away and a 2 on 1 fast break, Kane split the defender and goalie by setting up a possible passing attempt; instead he pulled the trigger and fired one right past Rinne for a separation goal and some breathing room. We all know the Preds have played close games the entire year, and actually don't mind playing nail bitters (I knew they were weird) so for Kane to hit that goal was a sigh of relief.

Without touching too much so on the fact that the refs completely screwed Bolland out of a goal I will say, "the refs completely screwed bolland out of a goal." With a centering pass from behind the Preds net, a whistle was blown to blow the puck dead, and the puck was still loose with no possession except for Bolland who slid the puck right between Rinne's legs. That got Q-Stache angry, as well as the entire United Center as they started a glorious chant of, "Bullshit! Bullshit! Bullshit!"

Toews, "My Captain, My Captain," had once again another beautiful look on an empty net and pull the shot high, bouncing off the top crossbar. You could tell Toews was in shock that he missed the goal, but just as any good captain would, he got back into the game and played a strong game.

The defense really stepped it up this game, it was almost as if we weren't missing 2 key elements; Campbell and Johnsson. I can even count the numerous Predator shot attempts in which a Blackhawks would sacrifice themselves for a block. Point 'n case, Sopel, who was absolutely superb in the game, (yes I said it) turned sideways to make himself bigger on a Pred's slap shot from the point to block the shot right in the calf; he limped off the ice after the play but returned to make more great defensive plays.

Hjalmarsson is starting to become one of my favorite players on the ice, I just can't say enough about that guy. He and Sopel both were the odd man out on a 2 on 1 Predators break away where they would sprawl across the ice on a diagonal sweep towards the puck handler to block the pass and break up the puck. In the last minute of the game, as Nashville was peppering the goal, the puck took an odd bounce to the opposite side of Niemi and as Dumont poked the puck Hjalmarsson made the save, practically in the net, to keep the Preds scoreless.

I know this is getting long, but I will start to wrap this up by saying one last point; "Thank you" Marian Hossa. You have made this team better by implementing your veteran playing style and playoff experience. Every game you show me what 110% looks like, and though I know you are getting frustrated by that dumb goalie, Rinne, for making some unheard of saves, Thank you. You can truly see the difference in ability when Hossa is on the ice, he amazes me.

The Hawks head into Nashville tonight for game 3, if the Hawks can be patient and play as well as they did in Game 2, this will have a good outcome. So throw on your favorite jersey, grab a Miller Lite, and join in the chorus, "Let's Go Hawks!"

I'm ChiN8 and I want to thank you for following Windy City Sportz.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Blackhawks Outplayed in Game 1

Blackhawks Outplayed by the Nashville Predators In Game 1
Photo Property of Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images (ESPN)

The Chicago Blackhawks suffered an embarrassing defeat to the Nashville Predators Friday, at the United Center in Game 1 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Blackhawks, who are heavily favored in the series, left Chicago stunned and at a loss for words after the 4-1 short coming. Hawks led 1-0 heading into the 3rd period which unfortunately lacked drive, passion, skills, performance, and smart play that ultimately led to a Game 1 loss.

There were many players who were performing quite well throughout the game and the momentum was in favor of the Blackhawks until a slow bouncer, with the speed of a inaccurate dump, bounced past Niemi to tie the game up for the Preds. Niemi, who didn't bother with taking the puck body first, was furious with himself after allowing the 10 mph puck sneak past him. The goal was a definite gut check and that set the tone for the rest of the night. Preds knew they didn't need to be the best offense to score on the Hawk's wounded defense and inconsistent goal tender, they just needed their defense to get in the way of the Hawk's poor puck handling and passing.

I wouldn't go as far as the Hawk's "controlled" the 1st and 2nd period, there was still a lot of up and down play and Niemi was still challenged on many occasions, but there was a mark difference in the Hawk's play in comparison. Madden described the Hawks play after the Preds "lucky" goal as they "Sat back and let them take it to us," as Chicago is favored to win the Stanley Cup in many predictions, I don't think that the Hawks should allow ANY team to "take it to them" no matter what momentum is on the ice.

The Hawks were out shooting the Preds after 2, 22-13, and then after the momentum swing the Hawks were outshot 4-13 in the 3rd as the Preds scored 2 empty netters. Both teams are not known for their PP, and that was evident by Chicago's first PP which was a complete bust; both teams were 0-2 on the night during PPs. During the first 40 minutes of play the Hawks were being the more physical of the 2 teams as well with many big hits by Seabrook, Byfuglien, and even Hossa who leveled Hornqvist in the 1st. However, by the end of the game and after the Preds took complete control of the 3rd, the Hawks were out hit 31-40, another unimpressive statistic.

Many good points can be made on the Hawks first 40 minutes of play, and that unfortunately has been a re-occurring theme throughout the season. To defeat the Predators, the Hawks need to stop making things harder than they need to be, they have a stronger offense than the Preds and just need to start pulling the trigger more. Versteeg had practically a goal in hand as he was beating Rinne from post to post in front of the net and just failed to pull the trigger before the Preds were able to tie him up. The Hawks are faster and better shooters, they need to take advantage of that and realize that the open break-aways aren't going to be there against this team and just keep pushing and pushing.

The two teams meet again for Game 2 of Round 1 at the United Center. Let's hope the Hawks realize what they need to do to beat the Nashville Predators and get it done. So throw on your favorite Hawks jersey, grab a Miller Lite, and join in the chorus, "Let's Go Hawks!"

I'm ChiN8 and I want to thank you for follow Windy City Sportz make sure to subscribe to our blog, RSS feeds, and WCS In-Game to stay on top of all things Chicago Sports.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Brian Campbell Back on the Ice

Defenseman Brian Campbell Skates for First Practice Since Broken Collarbone
Photo proerty of Bill Smith/NHLI/Getty Images

Brian Campbell skated during Wednesday's practice and was even taking some slap shots (nothing crazy though) trying to do as much as he can to get back on the ice during a much needed time to help his team out.

Brian Campbell who hasn't played since Alex Ovichekin muscled him into the boards on a cheap shot during the Blackhawks vs. Capitals last meeting in March was nothing but excited about the possibility of getting back onto the ice. During Wednesday's post-practice interview, Campbell said, "taking every legal pill in the book that will help me heal faster," and here in Chicago we are saying the same thing. The sooner Campbell can get on the ice, the sooner Byfuglien can move back to his normal position at forward.

Campbell said in the interview he's been watching a lot of tapes (games, practice) and trying to take anything from it so that he can help and support his team in any way. Now if that isn't a statement made by a true team player, I don't know what is. Campbell isn't fully recovered yet, but he is fighting, and that is all we ask for. Though he was taking slap shots during practice yesterday, Campbell described his practice as taking, "baby steps," for he wasn't at 100% just yet. Campbell said multiple times in his interview that he was just wanting to gain strength, he talked about running sprints, and joked about a 30 second sprint before he almost fell off the machine. After having 5 weeks of doing nothing but TRYING to sleep, I can understand someone needing to regain some strength. 

Campbell's injury originallyprojected a 7-8 week recovery time, however, we are only 5 weeks after the hit on March 14 and though Campbell is taking it easy, he is a true fighter.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Blackhawks Fall 1 Point Short of Glory

The Chicago Blackhawks Fall 1 Point Short of Western Conference Title
Photo Property of Windy City Sportz

The United Center, left empty, only holding diminished hopes and expectations after the Blackhawks lost to the Detroit Red Wings in an OT fight between the longest standing rivals in the NHL. The Chicago Blackhawks headed into their last game of the season two points behind the San Jose Sharks and held the tie-breaker in hand. The only thing the Hawks needed to do in order to clinch home ice advantage throughout the playoffs was to beat their franchise long rivals the Detroit Red Wings last night at the United Center. The Hawks who had a 5-player scratch due to multiple injuries faced a healthy and red hot Red Wings who hold the best record since the Olympic break and ultimately proved too much for the Hawks losing 2-3 in overtime.

Hawks ended the season 29-8-4 at home and 23-14-4 while away combining for a total regular season record of 52-22-8. A very respectable finish, however, to the Hawks who went into a slump after the Olympic break going 5-9 before their last win streak of 6, they had a very reachable Western Conference Title and fell short. With only a six win difference between home & away records you may think that falling short of the Western Conference title isn't a huge downfall but the Hawks GF-GA marks quite a difference when comparing between home & away games. So everyone in a Blackhawks jersey was hoping not only for the momentum boost going into the playoffs but as well as that much needed home ice advantage.

The Hawks played a very well put together game against the Red Wings last night which showed Chicago we have nothing to worry about going into the 2010 post season even as a wounded Indian. Even though the Hawks had a 5-player scratch, the only players who the Hawks will truly be without during the playoffs will be Kim Johnsson who suffered a concussion in March and Brian Campbell who suffered a broken clavicle in March after a cheap shot by Ovichekin. Blackhawks reported yesterday that Brian Campbell has resumed skating for the first time yesterday since his injury and will probably be in the line-up for round 2 of the playoffs! The addition of Campbell back into the playoffs would be a huge addition to our wounded defense and allow Byfuglien to resume his normal position at forward.

The Hawks will face the Nashville Predators in Round 1 of the 2010 playoffs. Luckily for us, the Predators aren't known for their offense but rather their strong trap defense. It won't be a very exciting Round 1 as the Preds main focus will be stopping and tying the puck up trying to allow as little shots on goal as possible. With the Blackhawks having such an explosive, fast, and strong offense I believe the Hawks will be able to crack the line of the Preds and hopefully Niemi will be able to support the wounded defense with a consistent stand in goal. If Niemi can be who everyone in Chicago is hoping he can be, the Hawks will be able to stop the Preds weak offense as they are the only team in the Western Conference with a negative goals for-goals against difference. The Hawks outshot the Red Wings last night 29 to 21 and had 5x more shots on goal in the 2nd, where the Hawks have normally struggled. If the Hawks can keep up this trend and play a full 60-minute game the Hawks will fulfill the Stanley Cup appearance expectation they had at the beginning of the season.

Game 1 of the 2010 playoffs against the Nashville Predators will be Friday, April 16 at 7:30 CST. Game 1 will be held on home ice at the United Center in front of 20,000+ fans screaming for the Hawks. I'm projecting a game 1 win, as the Hawks will fight to ease Chicago's recent doubts of our strength going into the playoffs. So throw on your favorite Blackhawk's jersey, grab a Miller Lite, and join in the chorus "Let's Go Hawks!"

I'm ChiN8 and I want to thank you for your interest in Windy City Sportz, make sure you follow along with us during the game on WCS In-Game at;


Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hawks Extend Win Streak to Five

Hawks Hold Off St. Louis Blues; Extend Win Streak to Five
Photo Property of

The Hawk's blitzkrieg offense out scored the Blues 6-1 in the first 30 minutes of play last night at the United Center. You would think that against the St. Louis Blues, who are just waiting for this season to be over, the Blackhawks could just call it a night and play a solid defensive game and ride the win. Unfortunately for the Blackhawks, who just took over the Western Division, the game came down to the wire with a 6-5 finish. Hawk's extended their recent win streak to 5 after the victory against the Blues and here in Chicago, we'll take any win we can get, anything that adds to the confidence of this wounded Indian is great during this time of the season. 

To keep in tune with the Hawk's blitzkrieg, let's tackle these 6 goals FAST!

A pinching Keith scores the Hawk's first goal 6 minutes into the game, the Blue's Perron struck first 2 minutes earlier, game tied;1-1. Eager scored straight out of the penalty box on a rebounded shot from Kane (7:13). Bickell, 45 footer, tossed at the net, goes in top corner for his 3rd goal of the season (7:43). Versteeg scores a short handed goal assisted by Sharp after a beautiful steal (9:25). Hawks scored 4 goals in the 1st with a total time duration of 3:08, like I said, total Blitzkrieg. In to the 2nd and as they say, Patience is a virtue, Versteeg waits for it, makes a no-look backhanded pass, Ladd with a wrister, 5-1. Jordan Hendry takes a shot from the blue line, perfectly placed, 6-1 Hawks. The Hawks have scored 4 or more goals in 35 games so far this season. The first 30 minutes of the game were a thing of beauty and the United Center was literally hopping.

Some points to be made about certain players during yesterday's game were; Brent Sopel had 3 shot blocks in the 1st period, which is a recent statistic for Hjalmarsson, however, nice to see other defense men stepping up. The Blues, who are a very physical team, probably to make up for their lack of skill got their first cheap shot in on Hossa who got checked from behind, Seabrook was quick to defend him and gets into it with multiple Blues. Don't ask me why our opposition always goes for key players in our squad but luckily Hossa had a great next shift and why shorthanded, did a good job keeping into the offensive zone. 

Hawk's were throwing the puck at the net more, much better shots, more accurate passes, good positioning on offense and defense, and did a great job crashing the net trying to get the 2nd chances coach Quenneville keeps talking about. Hawk's keep improving on great puck movement and passes both in and out of their zone. 

On the other side of things, Hawks cannot convert on the power play for the life of them. Even though no one thinks of this as a big deal, but they fell asleep on the game and allowed a sub par Blues squad climb back against the Western Conference leading Hawks. Niemi had just as many good/important saves as he did inexcusable/bad goals, and when the Blues don't even have a goalie in net the Hawk's, after multiple attempts, can't even get an empty net goal! That is 2 games in a row that the Hawk's had chances to score on an empty net and missed. 

All above facts are minor in the grand scheme of things, except, the Hawk's inability to capitalize on a Power Play! These performance lacking power plays are truly inexcusable, there are not many chances a team has the opportunity to attack with a defender down and it hurts when you can not take advantage of the man adv. The Hawks went 0 for 6 while on the PP last night and it seems like the Hawk's believe they are on a PK during a PP, the Hawk's are dumping the puck more than centering/passing with a man adv. and I just don't get it but I do know one thing, that has GOT to change!

In other stats: Hawk's were out shot 26-31 against the Blues but out of our 26 shots on goal, only 4 came from the 3rd period. The Hawk's truly stopped their assault and on any other team the cards could have been different and the Hawk's easily could have lost. Hawk's were called for 10 penalties on the night which is an astonishing statistic as of late for the Hawks vs. the Blues 9. Seabrook fought fire with fire against the Blues rough housing as he accumulated 17 minutes in penalties including a 5 min. major for taking some fist to cuffs on Winchester. 

When all things considered, I'll take the win, and I will definitely take the Hawk's ability to strike fast, early, and often as well. If we can do all of this limping on one leg, I'm not worried about the playoffs (as long as were still not limping). Kim Johnsson is still out with an upper-body injury and is still, as of 3/24, listed as "hasn't skated since 3/13" on The Hawks will travel to Colorado tomorrow night, and if the season ended tonight, this would be Round 1 for the 2010 playoff season. So throw on your favorite Hawk's jersey, grab a Miller Lite, and let's keep this win streak alive and clinch home ice!

I'm ChiN8 and I want to thank you for your interest in Windy City Sportz. Make sure to follow WCS for all your In-Game needs at

Monday, April 5, 2010

Blackhawks Douse Flames and Clinch Central Division Title

Blackhawks Douse Flames anded Clinch Central Division Title
Photo property of

The Blackhawks clinched the central division title after a 4-1 victory over the Calagary Flames Sunday night. The last time the Chicago Blackhawks were called "Central Division Champions" the average gas price per gallon was $1.07. Surprisingly, the "Central Division Champs" haven't been playing their best hockey as of late, but teamed up to doused the Flames 3-game win streak with a 3-game win streak of their own Sunday at the United Center. 

Niemi got his 5th consecutive start against the Flames yesterday, and coach Quenneville said in the post game interview "He's (Niemi) likely to be going again on Tuesday." Though coach Quenneville has not and probably will not any time soon say who the definitive starter for Chicago will be in the playoffs, everyone can basically assume it will be Antti Niemi. Niemi iced the Flames Sunday making 25 saves with almost half of them as a true scoring "chance" for Calgary.

The Calgary Flames were on a 3-game win streak as they fight for the last seed in the playoffs and weren't ready to go down easy. Within 15 seconds of the 1st period Niemi had other plans for the Flames as he stoned a 1 on 1 breakaway opportunity for the Flames. Niemi who has only allowed 2 goals in the last 2 games wasn't the only Hawk fired up for some change in momentum as many Hawk players were finally firing on all cylinders.

Quenneville described Kane as a "Weapon and a threat" as Kane snapped his miniature slump as of late with an assist in the 1st period and a quick wrister past Kiprusoff in the 2nd. It was Kane's 29th goal of the season and his 19th multi-point game. Niemi even got credit for an assist on Kane's goal as Kane brought it up from their own zone. Patrick Kane said in the post-game interview, ""I think the whole team is playing well, and it's exciting," speaking on the behalf of Chicago, it is more than exciting, it's a relief!

The Defense stepped their play up during this 3-game win streak by showing some great net minding Sunday as they hammered out some recent issues. The defense was doing a great job attacking the puck earlier around the red & blue line causing multiple Flames off-side calls, turnovers, and ill-advised passes.  One player that stood out to me during the game was Niklas Hjalmarsson. Hjalmarsson had the 3rd most total time on ice Sunday against the Flames and he made every minute count. Niklas was an absolute puck magnet in the first as he blocked multiple passes and shots by sacrificing his body as he sprawled out on the ice multiple times.

On the offensive side of the puck, we saw a definite improvement as the Hawk's shot down the Flames confidence as the Hawk's made scoring 4 goals look easy. Kopecky finally got to hear the roar of the United Center as he scored his first goal of the season while at home last night. Troy Brouwer than did what everyone was looking for the Hawk's to do more of, he scored off a 2nd opportunity and showed an improvement on net minding while on offense. Kane, then took charge as a leader for the Hawks and brought the puck out of their own zone, past the Flames offensive players, then their defense, and finally Kiprusoff and drilled a quick wrist shot. Lastly, the Hawk's showed some better passing skills as some precise passsing by Toews and Hossa led to a Byfuglien goal late in the 3rd.

It is a great feeling to start to win games again and take home the Central Division title for some pure motivation before the beginning of the playoffs and I hope it keeps getting better. While looking towards the next 4 games during the regular season Kane expressed his excitement for "The Chance to win the conference and gain home ice advantage." I share the same excitement because let's face it the Hawk's play twice as good with Chicago cheering them on at the United Center. I would too if I had 20,000+ fans screaming "Let's go Hawks!" The Hawk's travel to Dallas tomorrow to face the Stars who will watch the playoffs from home this year. The Hawk's who are only 2 points behind the San Jose Sharks who have been struggling as of late as well have a real good opportunity to take home those 2 points tomorrow. So put on your favorite Blackhawk's jersey, grab a Miller Lite, and join in the chorus; "Let's Go Hawks!"

I'm ChiN8 and I want to thank you for your interest in Windy City Sportz, make sure to log-in to your Google account and follow our blog.