3 unanswered Hawks goals do damage to Kings’ playoff hopes

By Jon Fromi

The Chicago Blackhawks dug down for some extra giddyup Monday night, subduing a more rested Los Angeles Kings squad at the United Center. The Blackhawks posted wins in back to back games, following up Sunday’s win in Winnipeg with a 4-1 besting of the defending champs.

First Period-Goalies Scott Darling and Jonathan Quick were on their toes early as the action was back and forth. Brandon Saad was denied by the Kings keeper on a power move around the net in the fifth minute. A few seconds later, the young forward was the catalyst for the Hawks first goal.

Saad got control of his own dump-in at the end boards, came around the net into the slot and fired at the L.A. goal. The puck was redirected by Bryan Bickell and then glanced off Bickell’s skate. Tumbling past Quick and into the Kings goal, Chicago took a 1-0 lead 5:31 into the game. Read more »

Fantasy Chatter: Week 25 – Hard Times, H2H Finals, Roto League Aggression and an Andrew Shaw Sighting

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The Week Ahead: March 30 – April 5

4 Game slates: BUF, CHI, COL, DET, EDM, FLA, MON, OTT, STL, TB, TOR, VAN, WASH
3 Game slates: ARI, BOS, CAL, CAR, CLB, DAL, LA, NJ, NYR, PHI, PIT, SJ,
2 Game slates: ANA, MIN, NASH, NYI, WINN
Back to Back games: ARI, BUF, CHI, COL, DAL, DET, EDM, FLA, MON, NJ, OTT, PHI, PIT, SJ, STL, TB, TOR (x2), VAN, WASH

By Lane Myer

It is fingernail reduction time, regardless of what medium of scoring comprises your league(s) as we hit the final stretch. For those in H2H leagues, it’s same as it ever was. Turn over your fringe players for other fringe players who have the scheduling advantage.

As for those in Roto style leagues, chances are there are multiple players who have either already abandoned their rosters, or have been paying minimal attention to their hockey league as the result of their poor finish and the looming fantasy baseball season. That can either be a good or bad thing for you. Good if you need to gain ground and can take advantage of “ghost” teams. Bad if you’re trying to protect stat categorical leads and your competition is gaining ground due to your league’s filthy layabouts failing to set their daily rosters. Read more »

Hawks get a bounce, a late Toews goal and one huge win in Winnipeg

By Chris Block

It wasn’t pretty, but the Blackhawks survived a Jets onslaught and pulled out a huge win Sunday night in Winnipeg that may have solidified the Hawks a playoff spot.

The third period began with Winnipeg leading 3-2 after Dustin Byfuglien power play goal in the final minute of the second period gave the Jets their second lead of the night.

Patrick Sharp tied the contest at 6:27 of the third, pouncing on a loose puck and a breakaway from near center ice after Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom became entangled with linesman Don Henderson and lost his stick with Sharp in pursuit.

The Hawks then won the game with 31 seconds left in regulation after some cycling by the top line and a Jonathan Toews re-direct on a Niklas Hjalmarsson shot.  The goal was Toews’ 25th, which marks the 6th time in Toews’ eight year career that he’s scored 25 or more goals in a season. And in one of those seasons, the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign, Toews posted 23 goals in 47 games played.

Byfuglien tallied two goals on Sunday, his 17th and 18th, against the Blackhawks organization that raised him.   Blake Wheeler potted his 25th of the season in short-handed fashion in the second period on a 3 on 2 break after Andrew Shaw took off for the bench on an ill-advised change. Read more »

Interview with Antti Raanta on his demotion, the trade deadline, his future and playing for a Cup in Rockford

Raanta_IceHogs_2015Mar06_OKCAntti Raanta, March 6, 2015 in Rockford vs Oklahoma City
Photo courtesy of Rockford IceHogs

By Chris Block

“When they said I was going down (to Rockford) – you just have so many questions inside your head. You try to figure it out, like ‘what did I do wrong?’” – Antti Raanta

Antti Raanta couldn’t have done much better for the Blackhawks this season.

In 12 starts and 14 appearances overall, the Blackhawks’ backup goalie went 7-4-1 with a 1.89 goals against average and .936 save percentage. He posted two shutouts, which is the same number of shutouts as Corey Crawford has tallied through 52 starts in 2014-15.

But after parts of two seasons under Joel Quenneville’s watch, the six-foot one inch Raanta fell down the depth chart in some key decision makers minds with the emergence this year of the 6’6” Scott Darling.

Quenneville was one of those minds.

Raanta last appeared for the Hawks in relief duty of a 6-2 drubbing by Boston at the United Center on February 22. Raanta entered more than halfway into the second period when the Hawks were already down 4-1. Read more »

Lindbloom’s View: On Questions and Gimmees

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By Rich Lindbloom

The gimmee in golf is often described as an uneasy agreement between hackers who have no clue what to do when grasping the magic wand. Many golfers take issue with this stroke shaving device, calling it a blatant bastardization of the rules of golf. They would claim you’re making a mockery of the game. I suppose it is hard to honestly say you shot an 89 if you’ve “picked up” 3 or 4, two footers in a round. Always with the caveat of course that you’re just trying to speed up play or you “know” you could make it.

Some golfers feel no compunction when given the opportunity to avoid stressing over a putt that is often times “outside the leather.” My friend Ken could drive the ball a country mile. Like many long ball hitters though, putting was not Ken’s forte. Although many golfers struggle with their conscious a bit when accepting a gimmee, I remember one of my friends once saying, “You never have to tell Herme twice to pick a putt up.” The truth is the ball would be in his pocket before you finished the phrase, “That’s good.” With a big smile on his face! Read more »

Hawks sliding out of Central race, lose at home 5-2 to former foes, Columbus Blue Jackets

By Brad Vandenberk

After completing a 2 game road trip through the week with stops in Carolina and Philadelphia, returned to home soil to face a familiar foe in the Columbus Blue Jackets. This would spell the return of Jeremy Morin who saw 6:50 of ice and tallied 1 hit. The Hawks got on the board early but the Jackets did not stop coming putting 4 on the board in the first period and never looking back beating the Hawks 5-2 at the UC. This could not have come at a worse time as the Wild are now just 1 point behind them for 3rd in the Central division.

Corey Crawford got the start for the Hawks who was pulled midway through the first for Scott Darling. Sergei Bobrovsky shut the door making some key saves to get the win. Michal Rozsival did not play in this one as it was time for David Rundblad to see some action. Dan Carcillo and Joakim Nordstrom were both out with upper body injuries. Read more »

Forgettable Night in Philly

By Michael Calvert

How do you get killed vs a far inferior team in a game you really should win? Not too sure, but the Hawks had the recipe for it last night.

Hawks lines were unusually mixed last night and these didn’t last.

Saad – Toews – Shaw
Sharp – Vermette – Hossa
Versteeg – Richards – Car Bomb
Nordstrom – Kruger – Desjardins

Timonen – Seabrook
Keith – Rozsival
Oduya – Hjalmarsson Read more »

Crawford vs Carolina Hurricanes Ends in 3-1 Blackhawks Win

By Jon Fromi

It was a true goalie win for the Chicago Blackhawks Monday night in Charlotte. Corey Crawford made 43 saves against the Carolina Hurricanes on a night where the Hawks spent a lot of time in their own zone. Chicago mustered enough offense in the first ten minutes to come away with a 3-1 victory.

First Period-Carolina got an early power play (the only one for either team, as it turned out) when Marcus Kruger held Elias Lindholm 1:34 into the game. Lindholm got off a shot late in the man advantage that Crawford sent away but Chicago prevented any further trouble.

The Blackhawks were held without a shot for most of the first eight minutes. However, the first shot wound up in the back of the Carolina net. Kruger got the ball rolling by picking off a Eric Staal pass and gaining entry into the offensive zone. Read more »

Fantasy Chatter: Week 24 – Roto Crunch Time, Deep Cuts Rookie Bias Edition & Brandon Pirri – Goal Machine

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The Week Ahead: March 23 – March 29

4 Game slates: ANA, CAL, CAR, CHI, COL, DAL, DET, FLA, LA, MIN, NASH, NJ, NYI, NYR, OTT, PIT, SJ, WINN
3 Game slates: ARI, BOS, BUF, CLB, EDM, MON, TB, TOR, VAN, WASH
2 Game slates: PHI, STL
Back to Back games: ANA, BOS, CAR, COL, CLB, DAL, DET, FLA, LA, MIN (x2), NASH, NJ, NYI, NYR, OTT, PIT, SJ, WASH, WINN

By Lane Myer

Quick show of hands – how many of you rolled out of the rack on Sunday morning afternoon, logged into your Roto, points, or head-to-head league and subsequently felt a fantasy-dagger in your back at the vision of emblazoned pluses and minuses that littered your league’s home page. Count ‘em five Saturday shutouts that undoubtedly had a profound effect on your current league’s standings or head-to-head weekly matchups.   Who knew so many hockey players were NCAA basketball fans.

Last week we covered head-to-head league playoffs, and minus the schedule, much of that info still applies, especially for those of you whose playoffs begin this week. For this week, we’ll take a look at those of you heading down the stretch in Roto and points leagues. Especially those of you in leagues with player use maximums. Read more »

Hawks 4-game winning streak dumped in Dallas by a 4-0 score

By Brad Vandenberk

Chicago continued their road trip with a stop in Big D to face the Stars on Saturday night. The arena was packed with red jerseys as Hawks fans were heard to open the game with a “let’s go Hawks” chant. Those few would be disappointed as the Hawks would lay an egg losing 4-0 to a team that is 8 points out of the playoffs. The Stars took advantage of the Hawks careless defensive mistakes scoring on two giveaways. They also allowed two power play goals off the stick of Tyler Seguin and Shawn Horcoff.

Michal Rozsival was back in the lineup after sitting in New York on Wednesday. David Rundblad was the odd man out on defense. Andrew Desjardins and Dan Carcillo were also out of the lineup for this one. Corey Crawford battled against the Stars Kari Lehtonen who made 33 saves to record his 5th shutout of the season. Kimmo Timonen played his 1100 game playing for 13:15. Read more »