Toews scores twice late to force extra time; Blackhawks lose quickly in OT

By Brad Vandenberk

What does it take to run a marathon? Agility, speed, determination and the heart to want to finish the race. That’s what we have witnessed in this series between the Ducks and Hawks. Game 4 saw another game head past an additional overtime period with tired faces and legs, but still believing that this series is up for grabs. Even though the Hawks gave up a 2 goal lead in 37 seconds, they still found a way to beat Andersen to tie the series at 2. Game five started with the Ducks taking a 3 goal lead only to see the Hawks tie it a 4 late in the third period on the back of Jonathan Toews. Just 45 seconds into the overtime period, Matt Belesky buries a rebound and the Hawks head back to Chicago down 3-2 in the series.

Corey Crawford let in a few quick Duck goals but righted the ship to get his team to overtime. Frederick Andersen let in a multiple softies, which shows he is beatable. The Ducks inserted Tomas Fleischmann into the lineup relieving Emerson Etem off the roster. This gave Coach Bruce Boudreau a different look with his line pairings, and it paid off. Read more »

Vermette ends incredible Game 4 in 2OT

Lindbloom’s View: Oh, How Can I Explain?

Lindbloom_Rorschach_Top150523A Rorschach Test

Dale Arden: “Flash, Flash, I love you, but we only have 14 hours to save the earth.”

By Rich Lindbloom

The Rorschach Test, developed by Swiss psychologist Hermann Rorschach, involved the complex analysis of ten ink spot images that patients were to look at and record what they saw.

Lindbloom_2_150523

I took one psychology class in college. I remember recognizing in myself many of the personality traits and not being too happy with the results. I quickly suppressed all the phobias, before I became a neurotic mess. If there are any psychologists out there, please let me know what you think of my answers to the 10 cards; 1. Satan, perhaps Corey Perry, 2. a mountain goat or clown, 3. The Joker, 4. a guy riding a motorcycle, 5. The stealth bomber, 6. an aircraft carrier, 7. an upside down girl, 8. Donald Duck with sun glasses, 9. Ostriches, 10. a uterus.  Read more »

Ducks Take 2-1 Series Lead Over Chicago, Beat Hawks 2-1 In Game 3

By Jon Fromi

After wresting home ice advantage from the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday night, the Chicago Blackhawks gave it right back to their Western Conference Final opponent. Thursday, Frederik Andersen and the Ducks came out and made a pair of goals stand up. Anaheim took a 2-1 series lead with a 2-1 Game 3 victory at the United Center.

First Period-The Hawks came out strong early, with Corey Perry making a sprawling play to prevent a scoring chance by Joakim Nordstrom. Corey Crawford had to make a quick stop at the 2:45 mark when Kyle Cumiskey’s pass was picked off by Jiri Sekac and sent to the net. Ryan Kesler took advantage of a muffed pass attempt by Brent Seabrook late in the fourth minute to make a beeline for Crawford. He couldn’t get the puck settled and the shot was wide.

Perry tripped Johnny Oduya 5:39 into the period to set up the man advantage. Chicago couldn’t convert and Kesler got a shot on goal as the penalty expired. Read more »

Ducks take Game 1 in Anaheim 4-1

By Brad Vandenberk

Finally, after waiting 10 days, game one of the Western Conference Final was played at the Honda Center in beautiful Anaheim. The Hawks have been trying to stay in game shape after disposing of the Wild in 4 straight games. There was one more test that stood in their way to reaching the Stanley Cup and it was the Ducks. They came to play this afternoon, but it was the Ducks who took game one with a 4-1 victory. Brad Richards scored the lone goal for the Hawks with 39 seconds left in the second period. That would be all she wrote from there.

Corey Crawford and Frederik Andersen were in net for this one and Andersen looked sharp, absolutely robbing Patrick Kane on a wide open net. David Rundblad replaced Michel Rozsival who broke his ankle and will not be able to resume playing until next season. Rundblad was very noticeable but in a bad way, almost solely being responsible for 2 of the Ducks goals. Read more »

Lindbloom’s View: Still Amazing After All These Years

Amazing_20150514Simply A-maze-ing

Labyrinth – A place constructed of or full of intricate passageways and blind alleys;
Something extremely complex or tortuous in structure, arrangement, or character.

By Rich Lindbloom

The partial definition of the word “labyrinth” above would seem to be an apt description of the NHL Playoffs. Actually, life resembles a labyrinth if you stop to think about it. Sometimes I think my life is more about not falling through the gaping holes looking to swallow me up around every bend, then getting to the finish line. Heck, maybe heaven is the place where we find out we no longer have to worry about stumbling into the traps set along the path of life. Hell, for me at least, would be trying to guide the ball past holes 10 and 11 for eternity. Sort of like Sisyphus trying to get that boulder to the top of the hill, only to see it come tumbling down, again and again.  Read more »

Desperate Hogs Strike Back, 4-1 win in Game 3 puts Rockford back in series

By Chris Block

Returning home for Games 3 through 5 of their best-of-seven series down 2-0 to Grand Rapids, the Rockford IceHogs took to the ice on Wednesday night with an automatic sense of urgency in an almost must-win situation.

The IceHogs exhibited that urgency and desperation before a crowd of just 1,780 at BMO Harris Bank Center in a fiery and physical opening twenty minutes in Game 3.

That dominant first period set the table for an eventual 4-1 IceHogs victory.

Mark McNeill scored his 2nd goal of the postseason just 25 seconds into Grand Rapids’ first power play of the game, a controversial five minute major assessed midway into the first period. The breakaway goal gave the IceHogs a 1-0 lead. Rockford’s penalty kill kept a consistent pressure on the Griffins’ power play throughout the 5 minute kill and prevented the visitor’s from tying the game.

Later, when Rockford got its first chance on the power play, Ryan Hartman banked a pass to himself at the Grand Rapids blue line and strode in alone the same way McNeill had earlier and beat Griffins’ starter Tom McCollum with 1:24 to play in the opening frame. Hartman’s goal would stand as the game-winner.

“We knew this was a must win for us and we came out in the first period and were a desperate hockey team,” said goaltender Michael Leighton, who made 23 saves in Rockford’s 4-1 win in Game 3. Read more »

IceHogs leave Grand Rapids trailing 2-0

By Chris Block

Before the IceHogs left for Games 1 and 2 in Grand Rapids earlier this week, Rockford head coach Ted Dent spoke of his team’s focus needing to be on containing Teemu Pulkkinen and keeping their composure in a building they haven’t had much success at in recent years.

After outplaying Grand Rapids in much of Game 1, but losing the decision 5-3 because of their own costly mental and physical errors, Rockford had to feel some sense of reassurance knowing they really only beat themselves in the series opener.

Well, on Friday, Rockford was resoundingly blown out of Van Andel Arena.

Grand Rapids allowed the first goal of the game when Spencer Abbott setup Brandon Mashinter for a one timer than was blown through Tom McCollum’s five hole at 6:18 of the first period.

But the Griffins responded by scoring five unanswered goals in route to a 5-1 final. Read more »

Blackhawks Sweep The Wild, Suffer Key Loss As Rozsival Likely Done For Season

By Chris Block

When the second-round series became official, about the last probable outcome most people would have come up with was a Blackhawks sweep of the hottest team in the NHL since January.

Yet, Chicago did just that. And now the Hawks are one step closer (8 wins, in fact) from their 3rd Stanley Cup in 6 seasons.

Thursday night in St. Paul, the Blackhawks completed the 4-game sweep of the Minnesota Wild by a 4-3 score in captivating fashion before what was a left of the sold out Xcel Energy Center crowd by the time the final horn sounded.

In doing so, the Blackhawks become the first team from either conference to advance into the Conference Finals. They now await the winner of the Anaheim-Calgary series, which resumes on Friday night in Calgary with the Ducks up 2-1 in that duel.

It could be up to 7 to 10 days before the Blackhawks play again, depending on how long the other series go as neither Conference Final series can begin until the series currently going have concluded.

Brent Seabrook, Andrew Shaw, Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa scored for the visitors in the series-clinching victory. Read more »

IceHogs Beat Themselves in Game 1; Pulkinnen Hat-Trick Leads Grand Rapids to 5-3 Win

By Chris Block

Going into the Game 1 of the this Western Conference Semifinal series with Grand Rapids, the Rockford IceHogs had one primary focus – try to contain Griffins’ right winger Teemu Pulkkinen.

Rockford failed in that objective in Wednesday’s series opener as the Detroit Red Wings super-prospect struck for 3 goals in a 5-3 win over the visiting IceHogs.

Grand Rapids scored two minutes into the game when Michael Leighton misjudged a weak Kevin Porter backhander. The IceHogs tied the game 8:41 into the second frame when they took advantage of a terrible Griffins turnover in front of their own net and goalie Tom McCollum had no chance on a Mark McNeill one-timer from in tight.

Then the Pulkkinen show took center stage when he stored 3 minutes and 23 seconds apart later in the second to take a 2-goal lead heading into the third. Stephen Johns got the IceHogs back into the game with a snipe at 3:16 of the third period. Then Garret Ross tied the game when he tipped a Johns’ blast with 10:40 left in regulation.

But, the game was decided when the IceHogs allowed Pulkkinen to go the their net unchecked with under 3 minutes to go in a tied affair. Read more »