Friday, April 17, 2009

Game One

I feel I need to make a little disclamer, I write a Blackhawks blog therefore I am a Blackhawks fan. I will try to keep everything neutral but occasionally my true colors will shine through, I'm sorry that is just the way it is going to be. I wrote a little piece in the sidebar but think I should mention it here. If you have a blog post that is on your blog, or if you don't write a blog and have something that you want to get out there email me. My email address is on the side or if you hit the email me link on the side it will enter my address into a new email in your default email. I am the editor but it is in no way just my blog, I will write until things pick up but I am always looking for other people to add things. If you are a Blackhawks fan great I would love to post your opinions, if you are a Flames fan send things to me I would love to hear the other side of the series. If you are not a fan of either team and your team isn't in the playoffs so you picked one of these teams as your playoff team, I would love to hear what you think. If your team is in the playoffs but in a different series and you noticed something about this series shoot me an email. As always I will link to your blog if you send me something. 

The Flames were never behind in game one except when it really counted, when the red light went on when Marty Havlat scored in overtime.

The Blackhawks got off to a slow start but ended up winning the game and that is what really matters (for them at least). Both teams looked slow at times but overall I thought it was a good game and this set the stage for what could be an interesting series.

I had said in my five questions that the first game would be very important to the Hawks, now we get to see if I am right.


(H/T to Eric McErlain on Facebook)

Haha you've got to love the on-air acknowledgment of "the blooper." Good stuff.

No suspension/discipline for Cammalleri's strange Havlat abuse

Hard to defend this as anything but a cheap shot. But should Cammalleri have been suspended? Here's the Sportsnet take.

(Links credit: Sean Leahy)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Five Questions: Clare from All Hawks Hockey (Blackhawks)

(Thanks Clare from All Hawks, who may in fact step in and be the editor of this blog. Woooo!)

1.What will the Blackhawks need to do to beat the Flames? The key to beating the Flames will be to win game one. There has been a lot of talk about the inexperience of the Hawks. This is a team that uses a little bit of confidence to go a long way, if they can get game one, that will be the confidence boost they need to get to the second round.

2.What will the Flames need to do to beat the Hawks? Why win four games, of course. No, no, I know what you mean but do you really think I am going to tell you. Sorry, a woman never admits her team’s weaknesses.

3.Fan Favorite: This one is easily hands down Adam Burish. A contender used to be James Wisniewski but since he has gone on to sunnier climates there is no doubt it is Burish. While he doesn’t have Ovechkin or Malkin shaking in their skates worrying about the scoring title, Burish is a character. His on-ice character is evident but the thing that makes him so endearing to fans is his character off the ice. The Blackhawks web crew has really out-done themselves this year, and Burish has been a main part in many of the videos on the website. Between the Prankster Parts 1, 2 and 3 and the Ladies Man video it is hard to miss Burish. He can always provide a laugh and his overall likeability is what make him so endearing to Hawks fans.

4.The Goat-to-Be:
It has to be Dustin Byfuglien. Byfuglien (its pronounced buff-lynn) had an extremely successful rookie year, and when it came time for free agency the team resigned him to a quite generous $9 million contract over 3 years. Byfuglien has had a rough year add to that the pressure of the lucrative contract Blackhawks fans have been hard on Byfuglien and understandably so. While he has played better recently he still makes Hawks fans very nervous every time he is on the ice. Personally, Byfuglien and his untimely turnovers might give me a heart attack before the time I am 23.

5.Top Storyline: I am completely breaking the rules on this one. This won’t be the top storyline, because really, you will hear it enough from everything else that you don’t need to hear it from me. One thing you won’t hear about is the Hawks tendency to prove their doubters wrong. Who would have thought that these Hawks could go on a 9 game winning streak, beat Detroit both times in a home and home? The list goes on and on. Can the Blackhawks such as Toews, Kane and Versteeg who have 0 playoff games experience among them put their doubters in check and be a huge part of why the Hawks beat the Flames?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Five Questions: Kent from Five Hole Fanatics/Matchsticks and Gasoline (Flames)

(Somehow, Kent manages to maintain two blogs that are way better than CLS. He's one of the best sources of information on the Calgary Flames - able to go into the corners with deep statistical analysis while also showing the ability to bring a little humor into the equation. For Flames fans, NW division devotees and hockey fans in general, make Matchsticks and Gasoline as well as Five Hole Fanatics part of your daily hockey routine.)

1. What will the Flames need to do to beat the Blackhawks?

Hamstring Khabibulin.

Seriously, though, the Flames have a terrible lifetime record against the ex-Lightning goalie. Even when he was struggling through that lousy stretch when he first arrived in CHI, he managed to throw up a wall against Calgary most nights. He was undefeated against the Flames this year, allowing just 6 goals in 3 games.

Aside from figuring out Khabibulin, Calgary will have to break this astonishing oh-fer streak on the PP (0-41 to end the season) and they'll have to clean up their own-zone play - especially since Robyn Regehr is likely to miss the series with a knee problem.

I could go on, but it would start to get depressing.

2. What would need to happen for the Blackhawks to win?

Chicago will just have to stick to their game plan and avoid trying to duke it out with the Flames. Being relatively older and bigger, Calgary will no doubt try to take the series "into the alleys" to turn a phrase. Chicago, on average, is faster and more agile and if they can fight through the rough stuff and minimize mistakes born of inexperience, they should be fine.

3. Fan Favorite

Besides the obvious choices, David Moss has turned into an unlikely fan favorite this year. The long shot 7th rounder has quietly developed into a complete all around forward who works hard, rarely makes mistakes and garners results despite not playing in ideal circumstances. He managed his first 20 goal season from the Flames third line this year, a trio (including Conroy and Glencross, usually) that was actually the team's most consistently dominant all year in terms of possession and outshooting opponents.

4. Flames' Goat-to-Be

Bertuzzi is such an obvious choice here that I'm loathe to mention him. But ... there it is. He's been fairly dreadful all season aside from a streak here or there. Also, Kiprusoff could find himself wearing the goat horns if his play from the regular season continues into the play-offs. He had a sub-.900 SV% through March and was one of the primary reasons Calgary sank like a sunset to end the year.

5. Top storyline

Probably the fate and future of some of the principles. Think Keenan, Playfair and even Sutter here. The organization spent a lot of money this season and expectations were elevated by the club's high budget and relatively good results in the middle of the year. If Calgary once again flames out in the first round, there's going to be a lot of hard questions asked and I'd guess at least one head is going to roll.

Five Questions: CT from Hockee Night (Blackhawks)

(CT is a patient guy. He put up with my antics during a Hockee Night podcast a couple weeks ago and has been a friend of the blog for a while now. Follow their weekly podcasts and Blackhawks coverage at Hockee Night. If you don't I'll beat you up. Srsly.)

1. What will the Blackhawks need to do to beat the Flames?
To beat Calgary, the Hawks need to keep doing what they've done in every other game against the Flames this year. Score a shit ton of goals, keep Jarome Iginla (-7 against the Hawks this year) down and let Nikolai Khabibulin do what he does best: beat Miikka Kiprusoff in the playoffs. The Hawks are 4-0 against the Flames this year and should be thrilled with this first round draw.

2. What would need to happen for Calgary to win?
On top of the Hawks regular season dominance, the Flames are really beat up going into the playoffs. Frankly, either Kiprusoff will have to steal the series, or the Blackhawks will have to completely flake out to lose this one.

3. Fan Favorite
Hard to pick just one here. I think a lot of the Chicago fanbase is just going to be high on the fact that this is the team that finally got back to the playoffs after a prolonged absence. Instead, I'll just change this subject to "the player to watch". I'm going with Jonathan Toews here. He's the captain and he's the team's most consistent player on both ends of the ice. He'll be expected to step up here and it will be interesting if he can answer the bell in his first playoffs.

4. Chicago's Goat-to-Be: This one was waaaayyy too easy. For some reason, Joel Quenneville has got it into his head that journeyman defenseman Matt Walker is a top 4 guy. He's been playing big minutes this season, often while paired with Brian Campbell, and he's awful. His only tangible asset is his size, but he's too slow to catch anybody and hit them. He's pretty bad covering in his own zone, and even worse, as of late he's gotten it in his head that he's Phil Housely, making crazy cross ice passes to no one in particular. But I'm not saying that Walker will be the goat. Nope. If Matt Walker is in the position to make that much of an impact, then the Goat will be coach Joel Quenneville, for giving him the opportunity, especially since he's got a better option in the consistently mediocre Aaron Johnson.

5. Top storyline
I'd say the return of ex-Hawks Adrian Aucoin, Rene Bourque and Jim Vandermeer, but nobody remembers those guys anyway (well, maybe Bourque). No the main storyline is exactly how the young Blackhawks will react to their first taste of playoff action. The Hawks could not have asked for a better playoff draw: a wounded team that's nose-diving at the end of the season, a goalie they seem to have solved easily and home ice advantage. All the pressure and expectations are on the Hawks and rightfully so. But despite their current state, the Flames are dangerous. They've got playoff tested players and a goalie capable of stealing a couple of games if he's on. Whether the Hawks can answer the playoff bell will be the biggest question of this series.