Monthly Archives: September 2011

Pirri scores 2 more in another sluggish Hawks preseason loss

By Brad Gardner

The Blackhawks took the ice Friday night for their second meeting of the preseason with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens entered play in Chicago with a 4-0 record in the preseason having defended their home ice in the first meeting between the two teams, a 4-1 victory at the Consol Energy Center on September 22.

Special teams play was the story early on. Pittsburgh’s first goal came from former-Hawk Steve Sullivan on the power play just five seconds into the man advantage. Brandon Pirri had shot the puck over the glass, giving the Pens the extra man. The Pens controlled the ensuing faceoff and Kris Letang’s crossing pass found Steve Sullivan with time at the top of the left circle. Ray Emery didn’t stand much chance with Tyler Kennedy parked in front of the net.

Pittsburgh’s second goal, scored by Matt Cooke, came while the team was down a man. The penalty kill applied constant pressure while shorthanded throughout the game, but it was more of a fluke play that resulted in the goal. Ray Emery skated way out of his crease to play a loose puck, sending it off the boards and into the neutral zone. Cooke was the first one there and fired a slap shot from center ice that skipped over Emery’s stick and through a rather feeble attempt to block the shot from Brent Seabrook. Read more »

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Season Preview: Jonathan Toews

photo credit: Zimbio

By Brad Gardner

Jonathan Toews is returning for the second season of his five-year $31.5 million dollar contract extension as the Blackhawks’ leading scorer, cracking the 70 point mark for the first time in his career last season with 76 points in 80 regular season games. Of his 32 goals, just two short of his career-high of 34 set in 2008-09, eight of his markers were game-winners. Toews finished second on last year’s club with a plus-25 rating. He had 10 power play goals as well.

His strongest stretch came in the season’s second half as the Blackhawks hovered in and out of a playoff position on an almost nightly basis. The ‘Hawks captain scored 14 goals and 21 assists in 26 games during February and March, supplying the team with just enough offense down the stretch to hang on to the 8th seed in the Western Conference. Read more »

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Hossa and Kane Return, But ‘Hawks May Have Lost Stalberg and Smith

photo credit: Yahoo! Sports

By Jon Fromi

Two guys having a pretty decent training camp for the Chicago Blackhawks were knocked out of the team’s return engagement with Detroit Wednesday night. The Hawks prevailed at the United Center, parlaying a host of power play chances into a 4-3 comeback win. However, the availability of Viktor Stalberg and Ben Smith for the start of the regular season is now up in the air.

Smith, who tied the score in the third period with an opportunistic goal, was knocked senseless by a shoulder to head hit by Detroit’s Brendan Smith. The check left Smith face down on the ice for several minutes before he was helped to the dressing room. [Video and more here]

The Blackhawks opened the scoring when Cory Emmerton was called for hooking midway through the first period. Less than a minute into the man advantage, Jonathan Toews dug the puck out of the corner, skated to the right side of the net and flipped the puck back to a streaking Patrick Kane. Kaner’s aim was true, and Chicago led 1-0. Read more »

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Detroit’s Brendan Smith Puts Ben Smith to Sleep

Sun-Times Adam Jahns has quotes from Joel Quenneville and Mike Babcock.

As you’d imagine, Quenneville is a controlled irate and angling for major disciplinary action on the Wings’ Brendan Smith, a prospect who may not make Detroit’s opening night roster.  On the other hand, Babcock is doing his best to defend his player while not coming off as a blind fool.  Most won’t like what Babcock has to say, but I’d hold judgement until something like this again happens to one of his players.

While its impossible to say for sure considering this is the NHL, there should be some degree of supplementary discipline stemming from this hit.

As you can see, Brendan Smith makes only a veiled attempt at a pokecheck before launching himself into the drifting Hawks’ forward.  Aside from the reckless endangerment of Ben Smith, the Wings’ Brendan Smith makes the porous all-or-nothing defensive decision (in the 3rd period of a 3-3 hockey game moments after losing the lead) in the event he missed his shoulder block attempt, would have allowed the Hawks’ rookie in unabated to Detroit’s goal.

While the league heedlessly focuses their sole attention and new regulation on head shots (while very important its missing the larger triggering issue) the cause of most of these unfortunate collisions are players ignoring the puck to take a run at their opponent. Whether the head becomes a point of contact or not shouldn’t make the play any less of a punishable offense. When two players come together – one who is playing the puck, the other is not – bad things can happen. The one who is (the one playing hockey) is at the complete mercy of the player who has disregarded his defensive responsibility for the sake of the highlight film check or worse, and you’re a fool if you don’t believe this goes on, injuring his opposing player.  Any part of the body is at risk, the head, neck, back, knees.

Ben Smith missed a month of last year’s AHL season (Jan 8 – Feb 8th) with a concussion, one that coincidentally occurred against Grand Rapids, the Red Wings’ affiliate.  Brendan Smith missed that contest with a knee injury.  Ben Smith was set for a possible return a of couple weeks later when he was struck in the face with a puck during a practice, injuring him and re-aggravating the concussion.  So, depending on how you want to look at it, this is either Ben Smith’s second, or third concussion in the past nine months.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Season Preview: Ben Smith

image credit: Zimbio.com

By Brad Gardner

The hyperbole in Chicago surrounding Ben Smith hit a fever pitch late last season and has carried over into big expectations for the 23-year-old winger. Originally a sixth round pick in 2008, he has made a quick climb up Chicago’s prospect ranks and is poised to move into the NHL full-time this season.

Smith had his fans coming out of the NCAA following a four-year career at Boston College in which he contributed to two National Championship teams. A hard-working, defensively-sound forward, he also had strong production at the college level, including a 50-point season as a sophomore when he played mostly on a line with Buffalo’s Nathan Gerbe. He capped off his impressive career at Boston College with a Frozen Four MVP in 2010 at Ford Field with three goals and an assist in helping the Eagles capture their second National Championship in three years. Read more »

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TTMI~Radio, Kings’ Beat with MayorsManor.com

On tonight’s show we’re joined by The Mayor, coincidentally enough, owner and author of MayorsManor.com, an outstanding LA Kings’ blog.

John joins us to give us the latest on the Drew Doughty contract hold out, where the two sides stand and how Doughty’s status is, or isn’t, affecting his teammates.

Over this solid hour, we covered the Kings’ depth and versatility on the blue line.  We take a look at the rookie who will likely step in to hold Doughty’s place in the line up in the interim; Jack Johnson’s place heading into his new 7-year contract and Willie Mitchell’s health and value entering what is a contract-year for the former Canuck blue liner.

Up front we preview a new-look top six and the competition for jobs on the Kings’ third and fourth lines.  Also, Mayor gives us his thoughts on Mike Richards in LA, where the real leadership comes from on this Kings team and why the Mayor believes this group of Kings are the real deal.

We covered all-things Kings.  The Mayor does a terrific job covering the team.  From player interviews, behind the scenes insight to breaking news, MayorsManor is a must-visit for LA Kings information and analysis.

Click the player below to listen – or – Right-Click here to download

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ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Baby ‘Hawks Hold Up Under Fire in Shootout Loss at Detroit

By Jon Fromi

The trio the Chicago Blackhawks sent out to the shootout portion of their exhibition loss in Detroit Sunday was a good indicator of what a young ‘Hawks squad was up against in Joe Louis Arena.

Taking shots for the Red Wings were Johan Franzen, Todd Bertuzzi and Henrik Zetterberg. Chicago sent out Brandon Pirri, Michael Frolik and Brandon Saad.

The Blackhawks gave the vastly more seasoned Detroit squad all it could handle but came out on the short end of a 4-3 shootout. Despite the big advantage in experience in favor of the home team, the young men in the Indian head sweaters were more than competitive.

The ‘Hawks found themselves on the power play five minutes into the contest when a Wings goal was negated by a Zetterberg hooking penalty. Bryan Bickell had a decent shot on goal, but Chicago came up empty. This was a running theme throughout the afternoon, as the Blackhawks were fruitless in three tries with the man advantage. Read more »

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Season Preview: Patrick Kane – Coming of Age

photo credit: Zimbio

By Jon Fromi

Patrick Kane had a season of ups and downs in the 2010-11 campaign.  Add some offseason surgery to reports of Kane committing to raising his game and the 22-year old winger certainly has a lot to prove to the NHL this coming season.

“I think it’s about that time I really take the next step to the elite level,” Kane told reporters soon after reporting for training camp. “It seems like everyone’s kind of been saying that to me this summer, ‘All right, you’ve done well your first four years, now let’s really take that step to the next level and become one of the best players in the league.’”

Is 2007’s first overall draft selection maturing on and off the ice? Read more »

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Season Preview: Nick Leddy – Changing Levels

photo credit: Zimbio / Getty Images

By Brad Gardner

Acquired from Minnesota along with Kim Johnsson in February 2010 in the trade that sent Cam Barker to the Wild, Nick Leddy was thought to still be a few years away from making an impact at the pro level. After making big strides in his game as a freshman at the University of Minnesota in 2009-10 and another strong showing at Chicago’s prospect camp the following summer, Leddy showed that he was much closer than originally thought. Blackhawks’ GM Stan Bowman signed the defenseman to a pro deal after just the one year of college hockey, citing the prospect camp performance as the club’s main reason for bringing him into the fold so soon.

Leddy continued to impress at training camp heading into the 2010-11 season. He stuck with the big club out of camp in large part because Brian Campbell was going to miss time at the start of the year due to injury, but the look at the NHL lasted only six games. In Rockford, Leddy was able to play a bigger role and earn more ice time, particularly on special teams. He scored two goals and eight assists in 22 AHL games as a 19-year-old and was tied for third among IceHogs defensemen in points by the time he left for Team USA’s World Junior camp. Leddy’s minus-7 at the AHL level was as much an indication of the team’s struggles in the first half of the season as it was a sign of his own struggles in the defensive end. Read more »

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Byfuglien’s brown stain and 4 criminal counts

The saga of Dustin Byfuglien’s August 31 boating DWI on a Minnesota lake is nearly a month old and its still churning out little nuggets seemingly by the day.

Now a police report released Tuesday says Byfuglien’s breathalyzer count was .03, well under the legal limit of .08 in Minnesota, but they still suspected the burly blue liner of being impaired by drugs due to slurred speech and an inability to pass a field sobriety test.  Byfuglien admitted to having 2 or 3 glasses of wine at dinner, which he and his party were traveling from at the time they were stopped by police.  Noted in the police report was the presence of a brown stain on Byfuglien’s tongue.   Byfuglien was stopped by police at a Lake Minnetonka check point because he did not have proper lights on his boat, according to a Winnipeg Free Press report. Read more »

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