Monthly Archives: February 2011

TTMI~Radio: Trade Deadline edition with Al Cimaglia, Dieter Kurtenbach and Chris Block

Monday night I was joined by Sirius/XM Radio & HockeyIndependent.com ‘s own Al Cimaglia, and as well by Dieter Kurtenbach to discuss the Blackhawks moves and non-moves leading up to the NHL’s 2011 Trade Deadline earlier in the day.

We talked about what Chris Campoli brings to the Hawks, and what he doesn’t; the Blackhawks’ needs and if Stan Bowman addressed any;  what effect Jordan Hendry’s injury had on Bowman’s plan; Scotty Bowman’s future; the Leddy plan; the Brent Seabrook contract extension and we also speculated on what would have happened had the Hawks not extended or traded Seabrook now or in the off season.

TheThirdManIn~Radio ~ e.75 ~ Right-Click to Download Here
Monday February 28, 2011 ~ 5:30pm cst

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ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Hogs win 2nd in a row, Taffe extends point streak, within one game of IceHogs’ record

In a season marred in disappointing results, regrettable periods and slow rookie progressions, one bright light has been the recent play of IceHogs’ veteran winger Jeff Taffe.

Taffe extended his season-long point streak to 14 games in a 4-3 overtime win over the Milwaukee Admirals last night before 5,907 fans at the Rockford MetroCentre.

Rockford won the game in overtime during a 4 on 3 power play.  Rob Klinkhammer, who was the first star of the night scoring two goals, his 9th and 10th on the season, drew a cross-check from Admirals’ defenseman Teemu Laakso an minute and a half into OT as Klinkhammer was driving to the Milwaukee net for one of his many prime scoring chances on this night. Read more »

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IceHogs look to build off win in Peoria, host Milwaukee tonight

After a spirited 4-2 win last night in Peoria, the IceHogs return home to MetroCentre in Rockford tonight for a clash with West Division leading Milwaukee Admirals.

Tonight will be the 8th in 10 season matchups between these two teams.  Rockford comes in 2-3-1-1 against Milwaukee this season.  The IceHogs have been outscored, 16-20.  Rockford’s power play has lit the lamp 5 times in 26 chances (19.2%), while the penalty killing units have held Milwaukee to just four goals (24-28, 85.7%).  Five of these games have essentially been decided by one goal (the Feb 4th contest at MIL saw Brett Palin pot an empty-netter to give the Admirals a 4-2 victory) and three have needed overtime, two of those extending to a shootout.

Rockford should be looking to extract a measure of redemption for a porous showing in the Bradley Center two weeks ago when the Admirals jumped out to a 5-0 lead by the 16:45 mark of the opening period.  IceHogs head coach made two goaltending switches in the first period; Alec Richards to Hannu Toivonen and back to Richards.

Hannu Toivonen lasted barely two minutes in relief of Richards, allowing two goals on three shots.

With Richards securing Rockford’s win last night, he has now backstopped the team to their only three wins over the past five and a half weeks. 

Look for Richards between the pipes tonight.

Jeff Taffe continues to carry the burden of offense on his back along with his center, Ryan Potulny.

Taffe has a 13-game point streak going into tonight’s game.  9 goals and 11 assists over that stretch.  He’s also a minus-7 with 39 shots on goal (23.1 shooting percentage) in that time.  A lot of the damage he’s done this season has come with the man advantage.

Ryan Potulny has a 5-game point streak going as well.  4 goals and 3 assists for Potulny.  His plus/minus is even, with 14 shots getting to the net (28.6%) in his last five games.

Taffe is just two games shy now of the IceHogs’ AHL record for consecutive games point scoring streak.  A marker held by Martin St. Pierre.

Tonight’s scratches:  Brandon Pirri, Ryan Stanton, Jassen Cullimore, Ivan Vishnevskiy and Jeremy Morin.

SDP recalled

Rockford recalled 6-foot 7-inch defenseman Simon Danis-Pepin from the Toledo Walleye (ECHL) today.  The Montreal native and former Maine Black Bear appeared in 22 games with the Walleye since getting the assignment from Rockford to Toledo on January 8th.  Danis-Pepin played with Toledo last night in a 8-5 loss at Kalamazoo.  He was held off the scoresheet, but was a minus-4.

With Cullimore and Vishnevskiy already out with short-term injuries, the IceHogs were without an extra defenseman.

Danis-Pepin was drafted by the Blackhawks 61st overall in the 2nd round of the 2006 NHL Draft.  He signed his three-year entry level deal officially on July 8, 2009 and is under contract to the organization through the 2011-12 season.

In that game in Kalamazoo last night, Mitch Versteeg, the brother of former Blackhawks and current Phiadelphia Flyers winger Kris Versteeg, recorded a “Gordie Howe Hat-trick”, scoring a goal, picking up an assist on the first goal of the game and getting a fighting major with 3:29 left in the game.  Mitch is a 22-year old, 6’2 – 205 pound defenseman with no NHL affiliation.

Bill Peters’ lines tonight vs Milwaukee look like this:

Rob Klinkhammer – Ryan Potulny – Jeff Taffe

Mathis Olimb – Evan Brophey – Ben Smith

Kyle Hagel – Pete Leblanc – Igor Makarov

Brandon Bollig – Zach Torquato – Kyle Beach

On the defense:

Garnet Exelby – Dylan Olsen

Brian Connelly – Simon Danis-Pepin

Wade Brookbank – Shawn Lalonde

Notes:

Kyle Beach’s demotion to the fourth line, or stay there, is in no doubt related to an undisciplined slashing penalty Beach took late in the second period last night at Peoria.  With Beach in the box, Mark Cundari tied the game for the Rivermen.  Luckily for Beach and the Hogs, Jeff Taffe posted his second of the night moments later and Rockford would hold on.  But not enough to get Beach out of Peters’ doghouse tonight apparently.  Old habits die hard.

Zach Torquato was also recalled from Toledo.  He’s on an AHL contract with Rockford.

Consecutive games without a goal:  Jassen Cullimore (60), Chris DiDomenico (19), Simon Danis-Pepin (19), Shawn Lalonde (19), Dylan Olsen (19), Nick Leddy (12), Ivan Vishnevskiy (12), Mathis Olimb (11), Kyle Hagel (8), Ben Smith (8), Brandon Bollig (7), Igor Makarov (7), Wade Brookbank (6), Andy Bohmbach (5), Evan Brophey (5), Kyle Beach (3), Brandon Pirri (3), Brian Connelly (2), Pete Leblanc (2), Garnet Exelby (1), Ryan Johnson (1), Jeremy Morin (1), Ryan Stanton (1), Rob Klinkhammer (-), Ryan Potulny (-), Jeff Taffe (-)

Consecutive games without a point: Jassen Cullimore (16), Dylan Olsen (16), Chris DiDomenico (14), Ivan Vishnevskiy (12), Kyle Hagel (8), Brandon Bollig (7), Wade Brookbank (6), Evan Brophey (5), Ben Smith (5), Simon Danis-Pepin (4), Mathis Olimb (3), Pete Leblanc (2), Brandon Pirri (2), Garnet Exelby (1), Ryan Johnson (1), Shawn Lalonde (1), Nick Leddy (1), Igor Makarov (1), Jeremy Morin (1), Kyle Beach (-), Andy Bohmbach (-), Brian Connelly (-), Rob Klinkhammer (-), Ryan Potulny (-), Ryan Stanton (-), Jeff Taffe (-),

-Evan Brophey is without a helper in his last 21 games played

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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IceHogs mid-season swoon in detail, Morin injury update, stats and more

Rockford continues its busiest week of the season tonight when they bus to Rosemont, Illinois for the 7th of 10 matchups this season with the Chicago Wolves.  The two teams have split the games even so far.

As a team, the IceHogs have been nothing short of awful of late.

Rockford has lost 13 of their last 15 games (2-11-2-0).  Seven of those losses have come on home ice.  When this recent stretch of losses began back on January 21st, Rockford was three games above the .500 mark (19-16-1-4) having won seven of ten.

Today, the IceHogs (21-27-3-4) are deeply trenched in last place in the West division, trailing 7th place Chicago by 15 points.  With only 25 games left in the regular season, the IceHogs would essentially have to run the table now in order to grab a spot in the postseason.  Just two teams in the league (Adirondack and Bridgeport) hold fewer wins than Rockford.

The chief culprit in this recent swoon has been some inexplicable poor starts.

Dating back to Jan 21st, Rockford is being outscored 27-11 in the opening period.  It gets a little better in the middle stanza (10gf-15ga) while the 3rd period rings dead-even (14-14).

On five occasions in the last 15 starts, Rockford has trailed by two or more goals after the opening twenty minutes.  Three times, they trailed by three or more.  On Feb 13 at Milwaukee, the IceHogs trailed after the first period 5-1.

While the goaltending of Alec Richards and Hannu Toivonen has been less than adequate at times over the downturn, Rockford’s defense has largely been to blame. Read more »

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Game highlights: IceHogs vs Wolves Feb 18th

Rockford is visiting their Interstate-90 rival Chicago Wolves on Wednesday night.  It’ll mark the 7th of 10 regular season matchups between the two teams.  The Wolves and IceHogs have split the first six even, with the Wolves technically having the better points percentage because it took overtime for Rockford to win their first meeting on October 23rd at the MetroCentre.

Here are the highlights from their most recent meeting…. Chicago’s 4-3 victory last Friday night in Rockford.

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Interview with Blackhawks prospect Kyle Beach

Kyle Beach takes shot Jan 2nd @ OKC

 
Recently I sat down with highly touted, and debated, Hawks prospect Kyle Beach to discuss his progress during his 1st pro season, mending fences with teammate Mathis Olimb and how he responds to his critics (which admittedly, we’ve been one).  The following are excerpts from that interview.

To date, Beach has posted 13 goals and 29 points in 52 games.  Beach does own an IceHogs’ worst minus-17 plus/minus rating. He’s been on the ice for a staggering 30 of 68 even strength goals scored against (44%) on home ice and 40 of 109 (37%) even strength goals scored against Rockford overall.  As mentioned below, he’s been benched on occasion as well as designated a healthy scratch by head coach Bill Peters twice, and as recently as eleven days ago.  The IceHogs have lost 12 of their last 14 games. Beach has 4 goals, 4 assists (-10) in that stretch. When we spoke with him, he was enjoying a season-best stretch of 4 goals, 5 assists over 8 games.

Chris Block:  Halfway through your first pro year, what’s different for you now as opposed to earlier in the season?

Kyle Beach:  I think its just getting used to the play. Getting used to the bigger bodies.  Getting used to having to use your strength; use your size and learn how to protect the puck.  I mean, coming into this level from junior, I mean, I was one of the older guys last year.  I was always one of the bigger guys and now I’m average.  And you gotta learn the little tricks of the trade.  And now pucks are starting to my way, bounces are starting to go my way.  You know, fortunately I’ve been able to go on a little bit of a run here. Read more »

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Lindbloom: From this day forward…

By Rich Lindbloom

After two hours of watching my daughter, wife and 65 year old father in law ride the various roller coasters at Great America, they finally convinced me to try my nerve on Batman. Much like the Hawks this season, roller coasters are not for the faint of heart. I’d much rather be trying to hit a 3-iron over 195yds of water than find myself upside down, heading into a blind turn at breakneck speeds. As I watched the three groups in front of us “eagerly” take their turns getting on the Batman, the thought of turning around and making a run for it kept crossing my yellow bellied sap sucker mind. Finally, the attendant released the chain – it was our turn to mount this death trap. As I stood there with sweaty palms and a churning stomach, while Nathalie and her dad were being strapped in, I had one last chance to make a run for it. Would I suck it up, overcome my fears and prove I was a man. Or would I head down the stairs, hiding my face in utter shame as the other people in line laughed and jeered at my cowardice?

Anyone out there feel like they took a sledge hammer to the face last night when time finally expired? Once again, the seeds of doubt have not only taken root, they’re clearly above the surface, poking their head out of the ground like tulips in the spring. It appears more and more that fans are starting to jump ship, as we try to navigate these troubled waters. Watching the Hawks on some nights right now is like watching the movie, They Shoot Horses Don’t Theyclearly the most depressing movie ever made. I think that some fans are actually praying for the losing streak that will finally put us out of our misery. Do you really believe it’s going to be that easy?! No doubt, there’s still a lot of ups, downs and hair pin turns ahead on the newest roller coaster at Great America – The Friggin Blackhawk. Read more »

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Lindbloom: It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad playoff race

It's a mad, mad, mad, mad playoff race

Sylvester – “Now you listen mommy, you listen to me close. You stay right there because I’m coming mom. I’m coming to get you right now.”
Sylvester’s mom – “Will you shut up and listen!”
Sylvester – “Mom its all right. Everything is going to be all right. Your baby’s coming to get ya. Sit there, relax. Take it easy.”
Lennie – “Well?”
Sylvester’s mom “So, he’s coming here. And I’m not to worry about a thing because everything is going to be all right!”
Sylvester’s mom [talking to his sister] – “Exactly like your father: a big, stupid, muscle headed moron.”

By Rich Lindbloom

No, that is not a picture of Jack Skille racing down to Florida. It’s a scene from one of the funniest movies ever made – by a long shot – It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.” The segment of the movie I’ve zeroed in on here is when the beach bum beatnik, Sylvester, races to “save” his momma. For those of you who can recall Sylvester literally “flying” down the road, it was one of the funniest car scenes ever filmed. With tears streaming down his cheeks and total disregard for any traffic signs or lights, our hero is on a mission to rescue his momma. “Your baby’s coming momma, your baby’s coming,” he cries over and over. It made me wonder. While we cling to our tenuous playoff hopes with every last ounce of optimism we can muster, who’ll be the Sylvester that comes to rescue the Blackhawks? While on the subject of “big, stupid, muscle headed morons…(JK Q)

I thought about calling this piece “Win One For the Qu-ipper,” but was beaten to the punch by the BlackhawkUp website. (That Boxing with Bartl feature is beginning to become addicting. As Rod Stewart would sing, “Every box score tells a story, don’t it?”) I wasn’t sure which way I was going to go with my assessment of Coach Q’s illness. There’s the empathy angle where we all remember that there are things in life more important than hockey – perhaps “sending flowers or something” as Toews said. What kind of a fruitcake wants flowers – c’mon Captain Brown Nose – sneak him in a Honkers Ale. Another angle would be “You don’t think this team is ripping our insides apart to? Suck it up big boy!” I was reminded of that scene in Remember the Titans when Coach Boone screams, “You’re killing me Petey. You’re killing me!” Read more »

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Feb 15th edition of TheThirdManIn~Radio

On Tuesday’s show we tackled two huge news stories involving former Blackhawks, Dustin Byfuglien and Kris Versteeg as well as listener emails and topics involving the Rockford IceHogs and their recent struggles.

We discussed Dustin Byfuglien’s 5-year $26 million contract extension in Atlanta and how, if at all, it will impact the Blackhawks negotiations with impending restricted free agent Brent Seabrook.  On Monday, Kris Versteeg was traded for the second time in eight months and we have the breakdown on Versteeg’s move to Philadelphia.  We revisit the June trade that sent Versteeg to Toronto and evaluate and compare the return against what Toronto received from the Flyers this week.

Also, we have excerpts from a Kyle Beach interview discussing his play and criticisims and Bill Peters evaluating the progress of Hawks’ prospect Chris DiDomenico, who is one of the pieces acquired from Toronto in exchange for Kris Versteeg.  In the emails, we discuss the possibility of Nick Leddy becoming a power play “quarterback”, the Hawks’ 50-man roster and obvious error on CapGeek, what’s keeping Kyle Beach in the AHL, probability of Marty Turco being traded and much more.

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The show returns this coming Monday night, February 21st at 8pm for a special Blackhawks-Blues post game edition of TTMI~Radio.

** We’ll have much more on Kyle Beach in Friday night’s issue of The Committed Indian.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Lindbloom: On Magnificent Sufferers

“Suffering Succotash!”

On Magnificent Sufferers

By Rich Lindbloom

In his book, Perpetual Euphoria, Pascal Bruckner invites us to consider what he termed our “pitiless idol of happiness.” Mr. Bruckner noted “We can be un-afflicted without being euphoric. Amid great havoc we can have moments of unprecedented ecstasy.” (The 6-3 comeback win over the Predators for instance) Pausing to reflect on a season that perhaps is defined so far by the words  “great havoc,” on the surface I think I was a lot happier last year when we were 20 games above .500 at this juncture in the season.

I’m convinced people jump on the band wagons in various sports to get a fix of happiness – a jolt of ephemeral joy. After the fix wears off, we tend to search for the next “high” that we are convinced only winning can produce. Where do you go after you win the Stanley Cup? Winning can be a very elusive, false idol. As we are starting to experience, happiness junkies in sports tend to suffer severe withdrawal symptoms when things head south. They try their hardest to remain optimistic, but soon are reduced to a fault finding bag of complaints. (Wah! I want my Maypo.) On the other hand, Chicago Cub fans are an anomaly – and would no doubt fall into a category Mr. Bruckner calls “magnificent sufferers.” Hawk fans, that could very well be our fate this year. Read more »

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