Monthly Archives: September 2011

Season Preview: Corey Crawford – To be The man

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By Brad Gardner

The Blackhawks’ goaltending position underwent more turnover last season, as another prospect overtook a veteran to earn a bulk of the load down the stretch. Longtime Chicago goalie prospect Corey Crawford finally had his chance with the big club last season and did not falter, appearing in 57 regular season games for the ‘Hawks and starting all seven playoff games against the Canucks.

Crawford’s surge came just one season after Finnish prospect Antti Niemi took the reigns from Cristobal Huet and eventually led the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup. Even dating back to the 2008-09 season, veteran Nikolai Khabibulin was halfway out the door at the start of the season but earned a bulk of starts down the stretch and in the playoffs for the ‘Hawks. It has practically been a revolving door in Chicago’s net and that trend continued heading into the 2010-11 season.

During the summer of 2010, with the salary cap looming large over all of GM Stan Bowman’s maneuvers, the organization opted to walk away from Antti Niemi’s $2.75 million arbitration award months just after the goalie raised the Stanley Cup. With Niemi out of the picture, Bowman turned to former Dallas Stars’ stalwart Marty Turco. Even at 35 years old by the start of the season, Turco was expected to carry the load as Crawford eased into his first full season of NHL duty. Read more »

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Season Preview: Jeremy Morin

photo credit: Hockey Broad

By Jon Fromi

Jeremy Morin is a name that has been at or near the top of the Blackhawks’ prospect list since Chicago obtained his rights 14 months ago. As last season’s training camp came to a close, it appeared that the Auburn, New York native was on a fast track to the NHL.

Almost a year later, Morin is playing what has to be a frustrating waiting game, one that will likely continue for the talented forward until two things occur. A spot on the roster will need to be won. First, Morin will need a clean bill of health in order for that to happen.

Morin, a product of the United States Hockey Developmental Program, was a second-round pick by Atlanta in 2009. Following his selection, Morin torched the Ontario Hockey League for 47 goals and 36 assists in 58 games with the Kitchener Rangers. He was also a point a game player in seven games for the U.S.A.’s gold medal team at the 2010 World Junior Championships. Read more »

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TTMI~Fantasy Hockey Leagues 2011-12

Returning invites went out last night to everyone who participated in either of our fantasy hockey league’s last season.  If you were in one of our leagues last year and did not receive the email invite, please notify me immediately to secure your spot.

I expect several openings, so if you’re interested in joining and managing your own team against myself and other TTMI readers/listeners – act fast.

I’m required to tell you these are not money pools, our leagues are for fun only.  We run on the Yahoo! NHL Fantasy format which has proven reliable and easy to navigate.  We’re running live interactive drafts on Monday night, October 3.

So, if you want to join, shoot me an email at the address listed below and I’ll get you the info to sign up.  It’s a fun, supplemental way to track the league during the season.  And you’ll probably whip my ass.  So there you go….

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Preseason opener roster set, Captain and mini-serious to skate in Saskatoon

Here’s the roster the Blackhawks will travel to Saskatoon with tomorrow for the first preseason game against the Oilers.  This info has been relayed from today’s practice sessions by Jesse Rogers and Chris Kuc on their respective Twitter accounts.

The Blackhawks couldn’t resist the temptation, both Toews brothers will suit up.  Ray Emery and Alexander Salak will be the goaltenders.  I imagine they’ll split the time some how, but that isn’t clear.  Making their unofficial pro debuts are 2011 draft picks Mark McNeill, Brandon Saad and Phillip Danault.

Emery, Rostislav Olesz, Jamal Mayers, Sami Lepisto and Steve Montador see their first real game action as members of the Blackhawks organization.

These are not the lines.  Those should be released on the Hawks’ main site sometime Tuesday afternoon. Read more »

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Upcoming radio show schedule

Some quick notes on our upcoming internet radio schedule.

First off, I never did plug this but since I do have a link for this…  I was the guest on the Let’s Go Kings podcast back on September 7th answering LA Kings’ fans questions on the Blackhawks, the new acquisitions and expectations in Chicago this season.  Also, which players I “hate” most on the Canucks, which is a ridiculous question but I tried to answer as best I could.  Overall, it was a good interview and I had a nice time chatting with those guys.  So give them a listen if you get the chance.  I’m on for about the first half hour.

On to our business….

TTMI~Radio returns live tomorrow night September 20th at 9pm eastern/8 central/6 pacific.  No guest tomorrow so we’ll have plenty of time for listener questions and our usual innate babble.  I realize we’re going head-up against the Hawks-Oilers game streaming from Saskatoon.  Even more reason to tune in with us as we give live feedback during the action.  We’ll discuss the opening days of training camp as well as updated analysis on Rusty Olesz, John Scott, Viktor Stalberg, Sami Lepisto and Corey Crawford.  If you have a topic or question you’d like us to hit, you can send those to me at my email listed at the bottom of this update.

On Monday September 26th at 10pm eastern/9 central and 7 pacific, I’ll be joined by John Hoven, author of the terrific LA Kings’ blog MayorsManor.com.  Some of you may remember when The Mayor first joined us this time last year.  He’ll give us an all-access pass to all things to the new and improved LA Kings, a team considered to be a top favorite by many to lead the way in the Western Conference.

The next night, September 27, back at our regular 8pm central start time, we’re joined by Sam Fels, writer extraordinaire to preview the Blackhawks and the upcoming NHL season abroad.  Listen in as the editor of The Committed Indian, Second City Hockey and NBC’s Madhouse Enforcer gives us his take on the 2011-12 season.

That’s all for now.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Training Camp Festival 2011: Klinkhammer scores on the breakaway

By Brad Gardner

The Blackhawks kicked off camp with the fourth annual Training Camp Festival on Saturday, September 17th. The sold-out event featured the camp invitees broken up into three teams for practices and a pair of scrimmages at the United Center.

Each game included two 25-minute periods and a shoot out to follow, regardless of the score. The red team, led by Dave Bolland and Brent Seabrook, played in both scrimmages and was the first team to score in each contest. Simon Danis-Pepin opened scoring in the first scrimmage with a long-distance slapper that found its way past Corey Crawford. In game two, the red team took the early lead when Peter Leblanc picked up a rebound and buried his chance in front of the net.

Neither lead would last long, however. The white team controlled most of the first scrimmage, winning by a score of 3-1 behind goals from Jonathan Toews, Brandon Pirri, and Shawn Lalonde. Read more »

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Season Preview: Marcus Kruger

By Jon Fromi

The circumstances surrounding the arrival of center Marcus Kruger late in the 2010-11 season set up the young Swedish import for scrutiny that was unrealistic as well as completely unnecessary.

Chicago GM Stan Bowman admitted that Kruger came into a tough situation last spring in his remarks to the media Friday. The head scratcher is that Bowman created that situation himself.

Kruger, the Blackhawks’ fifth-round draft selection in 2009, made an impression on the club in Chicago’s prospect camp and, according to Bowman, had a shot at making the team last fall.  This prompted Bowman to sign Kruger to an entry-level deal.  Kruger then chose to return to the Swedish Elite League, where he had played 53 games in his first two seasons as a professional.

Whether Kruger didn’t feel ready for the rigors of the NHL or simply wanted to cash some more SEL paychecks, Kruger returned home. Playing in 52 contests, he led sixth-place Djurgardens IF in scoring. Seems like Bowman misjudged that situation as well, but it’s what happened in the spring with which issue can be taken. Read more »

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Season Preview: Viktor Stalberg

photo credit: Zimbio

By Brad Gardner

The most immediate return from the Blackhawks’ summer purge in 2010, Viktor Stalberg skated in 77 games with Chicago during the ensuing season. With the exception of the nine-game debut of Jeremy Morin, Stalberg was the only player acquired last summer to suit up with the ‘Hawks during the 2010-11 season.  Much of the remaining returns came in the form of prospects and draft picks, so it will take years to determine just how effective Stan Bowman’s maneuvering turns out to be for the Blackhawks organization.

For the quick triggers, though, Viktor Stalberg was most certainly not Kris Versteeg last season. Coming from Toronto along with prospects Chris DiDomenico and Philippe Paradis, the big Swede was coming off a solid NHL debut of nine goals in 40 NHL games with the Maple Leafs in just his first pro season out of the University of Vermont.  While thoughts of a blazing fast 20-goal scorer danced through the minds of fans, Stalberg instead struggled to carve out a role on the Blackhawks’ roster and was relegated to the fourth line for much of the season. Read more »

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Season Preview: Michael Frolik – More than a Skille

photo credit: National Post/Getty

By Jon Fromi

The Chicago Blackhawks thought they were picking up a certain type of player when they dealt Jack Skille to the Florida Panthers in exchange for winger Michael Frolik back on February 9th.

The two players were at the heart of a five-player swap back in February that served as a bit of organizational house cleaning for both teams.  GM Stan Bowman thought Frolik could snap out of a scoring funk and provide depth that Skille was not able to provide in Chicago.

At the time, both franchises were sending away players who had failed to live up to expectations. Looking back at the trade, the Blackhawks may have gotten a different player than they bargained for. Read more »

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Hawks prospects finish strong, down Pens 4-1 to salvage a win in Oshawa


By Brad Vandenberk

The final day of the Prospect Tournament in Oshawa, Ontario wrapped up Tuesday with the Chicago Blackhawks playing their final contest against the Pittsburgh Penguins.  Both teams entered the game 0-2 for the tournament, looking for a win.  The Hawks had the slight edge by having a total of 6 goals throughout the tournament, while Pittsburgh had just 1 through 2 games.

Johan Mattsson was the starting goalie, with Shawn Lalonde and Ryan Stanton on defensive.  The forward line saw Jimmy Hayes and Brandon Saad, centered by Phillip Danault. [Tuesday’s line up]

The game didn’t take long to get started.  15 seconds after the puck dropped, Rob Flick set the tone for the day dropping his gloves against Keven Veilleux of the Penguins.  Fists were flying as Veilleux took Flick to the ice.  Just 5 minutes later, after a delayed offside, Shawn Lalonde decided to take on Dominik Uher.  Read more »

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