Monthly Archives: November 2011

Hawks’ prospect Brian Connelly thriving in 3rd year

Brian Connelly

By Chris Block

Third year pro, and IceHogs defenseman, Brian Connelly is emerging as one of the AHL’s best defenseman.

Not best young defenseman, the Bloomington, Minnesota native is one of the top blue liners in the AHL, period.

A player head coach Ted Dent described as “our Duncan Keith,” Connelly is handling a heavy workload given to him by his boss, and thriving in doing so.

“He’s playing at a high level, the highest I’ve seen since he’s been in Rockford,” Dent told us.  “[Connelly] is just controlling the game, shooting the puck well, making good decisions and he’s playing good defense too away from the puck.”

Dent was an assistant for the previous four seasons in Rockford prior to being promoted to head coach in July after Bill Peters took a job as an assistant under Mike Babcock in Detroit.  So, Dent has seen Connelly up close and helped guide the undersized blue liner’s pro career.

Connelly (5-10, 185) has always been a good puck mover, but his ability to lead and hit a teammate in stride and control the flow of his team’s attack has never been better. Read more »

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Lindbloom: False Summits and Surprise Lake

Are we there yet?

 “After climbing a great hill, one only  finds that there are many more hills to climb. I have taken a moment here to rest, to steal a view of the glorious vista that surrounds me, to look back on the distance I have come.” – Nelson Mandela

By Rich Lindbloom

False Summits, as anyone who has ever backpacked in the mountains can attest to, are very similar to a mirage in the desert. Backpackers become painfully acquainted with false summits as they switchback their way up the mountain, stealing surreptitious glances around a corner – praying that the end is almost in sight. It seems I tend to start looking for the end of the trail about half way into a hike. For those of you who have strapped 50#’s to 60#’s on your back and headed upwards, you might agree with me that this is around the time we ask people headed in the other direction, “How much further to Surprise Lake?”

The first backpacking trip I ever went on was in the Tetons in Wyoming. We started out the day in great spirits, in total awe of the magnificent peaks set before us. I remember thinking, “this looks pretty steep and dangerous.” Day one of our 7 day expedition was a 4,000 foot climb covering a distance of 6 miles. As I quickly learned, that 6 miles was not exactly as the crow flies. The banter and songs seemed to diminish as we ascended higher and higher up the never ending switchbacks. With aching backs and blistering feet we trudged onward and upward, many times fooled by what appeared to be the apex of the trail. Read more »

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Toews, Montador each score twice, Hawks drive past Oilers 6-3; Seabrook injured

By Brad Vandenberk

The Chicago Blackhawks completed their 2 game home stand on Sunday night, before embarking on their annual 6 game circus road trip.  First, they had to get past the high flying Edmonton Oilers, who have completely turned their fortunes around from last season.  Edmonton entered Sunday’s contest in first place in the Northwest Division.  This game would end an Oilers’ 6-game road trip.

Corey Crawford started in goal facing off with his old mentor in Nikolai KhabibulinDave Bolland did not dress for the 3rd straight game with a foot injury, but will travel with his teammates and likely play on the upcoming road swing.

The opening period began with the Hawks pressuring the Oilers zone.  It paid off early as Jonathan Toews received a pass from Viktor Stalberg behind the net, then walked out in front and put a high shot over Khabibulin making the score 1-0 Hawks at 4:55 of the opening period.  This came after Taylor Hall went hard to the net and hit the cross bar at the other end of the ice surface.  Read more »

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Hogs lose 5th straight at home, blanked by Peoria

It’s a little early to panic, but the IceHogs are off to an auspicious start to the season on their home ice.

On Saturday, a crowd of 4,715 witnessed the IceHogs’ fifth-consecutive home ice loss, a 3-0 shutout to the Peoria Rivermen.  The defeat drops Rockford’s record to 1-5-0-0 at home and 5-7-1-0 overall.

Rockford now sits firmly in 5th and last place in the Midwest division, three points behind the Chicago Wolves, who have played just four of their thirteen games at Allstate Arena so far.  The IceHogs are also four points behind 3rd place Milwaukee, who have two games in hand on Rockford.

“When we’re on the road, we’re just relaxed. We just go out and play our game.  We’re tight and a little unsure of ourselves at home,” IceHogs captain Brandon Segal said after Saturday’s loss.

“It’s kind of frustrating because obviously these are the points we need right now and we’re not getting them.”

The IceHogs came into Saturday’s contest off a stunning 7-6 loss at Peoria on Friday.  Stunning, because Rockford led that game 6-4 with a minute and change left in regulation only allow two quick Phil McRae goals and then to lose the game in overtime on a questionable goaltender interference non-call that left the IceHogs incensed.

Peoria’s offense picked up where it left off Friday night and got going early when T.J. Hensick gave the Rivermen an early 1-0 lead.  Brett Sterling skating down the far half wall found Hensick streaking to along the goal line to the net, stringing a pass through two IceHogs defenders.  Hensick held the pass and skated around a weak stick-check attempt by Alexander Salak and roofed an easy nonchalant backhander far right corner 2:54 into the game. Read more »

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Emery, Blackhawks stop Calgary 4-1

By Brad Gardner

Ray Emery got the call in the Blackhawks return to the United Center Friday night against the Calgary Flames, turning in his best effort of the season in Chicago’s second straight win. Goals from Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook turned out to be enough as the ‘Hawks held on to a lead in the third period for a 4-1 victory.

Duncan Keith, playing in his 500th career NHL game, opened the scoring 12:09 into the first period. Patrick Sharp sent a shot on net and Miikka Kiprusoff kicked out a juicy rebound into the slot. The Flames goalie attempted to play a shot from the closest ‘Hawk, but Dan Carcillo was taken out of the play by defenseman Scott Hannan. The puck continued out to Keith, who ripped a slap shot past Kiprusoff as he was caught out of position.

Despite a pair of power play opportunities later in the first, Chicago took the one goal lead into the intermission. Ray Emery was a big part of the lead as well, keeping Calgary off the board with a number of saves against traffic in front of the net. Read more »

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Toews, Montador Lead Hawks Past Woeful ‘Jackets

By Jon Fromi

The Columbus Blue Jackets proved to be just what the doctor ordered for a Chicago Blackhawks club that had lost three straight.  The ‘Hawks got back in the win column Thursday at Nationwide Arena, doubling up the Blue Jackets 6-3. Chicago was paced by a three-point night by Jonathan Toews and a Gordie Howe hat trick by Steve Montador.

Chicago, who failed to score a goal Tuesday in St. Louis, got on the board 6:54 into the game. Brent Seabrook brought the puck up the right side and passed to Toews as he entered the Blue Jackets zone. Toews returned the puck to Seabrook, who took it behind the net and to Viktor Stalberg. Toews knocked in the resulting rebound given by Steve Mason and Chicago owned a 1-0 advantage.

Stalberg was called for hooking with 10:25 to go in the opening period, and Columbus wasted little time in tying the contest.  Following the faceoff that started the power play, Derick Brassard’s shot was blocked, but Grant Clitsome settled the puck down and fired a slapshot that escaped the view of Corey Crawford.

Toews put Chicago back on top late in the period, taking a pass from Nick Leddy and firing a wrist shot from the left faceoff circle with 2:51 left to make it 2-1 Blackhawks. Read more »

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Hawks get the Hustle Blues; St Louis 3, Chicago 0

This about sums it up; Blues 3, Blackhawks 0Corey Crawford gives up 3rd goal Tues vs STL – photo: Yahoo! Sports

By Jon Fromi

The Chicago Blackhawks sported a shuffled lineup Tuesday night in St. Louis. Unfortunately, the result was the same uninspired play that marked Sunday’s loss to Vancouver.

On this night, T.J. Oshie led the way as the Blues prevailed 3-0. In addition to winning new coach Ken Hitchcock’s debut, St. Louis handed the ‘Hawks their second straight loss.

Neither team came out with a lot of fire, likely in part to an emotional ceremony for former Blues Pavol Demitra and Igor Kovolev (also formerly with Chicago) that delayed the start of the contest by several minutes. The two teams skated seven uneventful minutes before it felt like more than an extended pre-game skate.

The Blues opened the scoring at the 8:15 mark of the period. Kevin Shattenkirk brought the puck into the ‘Hawks zone and easily skated away from John Scott’s attempt to halt the play. Shattenkirk found Vladimir Sobotka headed for the net, and Sobotka was able to use some second effort to muscle the puck past Corey Crawford. Read more »

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Lindbloom: It’s just a little rain

Igor Haviland -Could be worse.
Dr. Frederick Quennesteine – How?
Igor Haviland - It could be raining.

By Rich Lindbloom

Need I say anything more?

Certainly, you’d be hard pressed to recall a more dismal game than the one that took place before a blood thirsty United Center crowd last Sunday. Against the hated Canucks no less; do the Hawks realize the shame we fans feel when Vancouver beats us? Do they realize that some of us who blog on the Nucksmisconduct website are treated like boy toys until the next time we play, Nov. 16th.  At one point in the third period I said to my son, “You can actually hear a pin drop in here.” That without the help of my hearing aids, whose batteries went dead shortly after the Canucks third power play goal. (It’s more than apparent that the Hawks power play needs a little Energizer Bunny help at the moment-although I haven’t reached the desperation of one blogger who actually thinks we’d be better off declining the opposition’s time in box.) Read more »

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Canucks Power Play goes 5 for 6 in a 6-2 beating of hapless Hawks

Marcus Kruger – photo credit: Yahoo! Sports

By Brad Vandenberk

The Chicago Blackhawks returned home on Sunday night to face their Western Conference rivals, the Vancouver Canucks.

Duncan Keith missed his third straight game with a left hand injury.  This game was one circled on the calendar after the Hawks almost eliminated the Canucks from the playoffs last spring coming from behind in a 3-0 series deficit to force Game 7.  This was also the first meeting between these two teams since last year’s playoff opening round.

The Canucks were a dominate force against the Keith-less Hawks.   Their power play went 5 for 6 tying the Hawks 5 power play goals, total, over the month-old season.   On the flip side, the Hawks were a dismal 0 for 5 on the power play.  Vancouver won the game 6-2 with the Sedin’s combining for 7 points.

Vancouver drew first blood with newest Canuck David Booth scoring his goal of the year, at 6:00 of the period, on the first power play of the game.

Michael Frolik tied the score at 12:57 of the first with a simple wrist shot to the net, which fooled Roberto Luongo and sent both teams to the locker room tied at 1-1.

Vancouver outshot the Hawks 17-9 In the opening frame.  The Sedin’s were up to their old tricks as they made a few attempts to give Corey Crawford snow showers.  Patrick Kane was the only one who took exception to this and took Henrik Sedin down.  He was called for the rough with 18 seconds remaining in the period.

Canucks opened the second period on the power play and Aaron Rome, playing his first game of the year, blasted a shot from the point over Crawford putting the Canucks up 2-1 just 1:16 into the middle frame.

The Hawks surrendered another power play a few minutes later when Bryan Bickell, trying to get physical, was called for boarding Daniel Sedin.  Seizing another opportunity with the man advantage, Daniel Sedin found a nearly wide open net, with Crawford having no chance to get over for the save and the Canucks had 3 power play goals and a 3-1 lead with less than five minutes played in the second period.

Dan Carcillo tried to get the United Center crowd back into the game by dropping the gloves against Aaron Volpatti.  Carcillo won the fight and took Volpatti down.  This seemed to wake the Hawks up as Marcus Kruger scored his second goal of the year going hard to the net two minutes later as Jamal Mayers let a shot go from the top of the circle and Kruger put home the rebound cutting the Canucks lead to one.

Just 43 seconds after the Kruger tally, Jannik Hansen silenced the crowd with an easy tap-in from the side of the net, putting the Canucks up by a pair with 4:10 remaining in the period.

Viktor Stalberg was then called for a high stick on Dan Hamhuis, putting out the Canucks hot power play once again.

Hamhuis made the Hawks pay, sending a point shot past Crawford making it 5-2.  As the period came to an end Jamal Mayers dropped the gloves with Kevin Bieksa.  Mayers did get a few shots in, but in the end Bieksa took him down.

The third period began with Kane drawing a holding penalty and sending the Hawks on their 5th power play of the game.  Showing no urgency during the man advantage, they were unable to beat Luongo.  Carcillo took a puck hard to the net trying to complete a wrap around. He wound up being tackled by Rome and received two minutes for a rough, two minutes for unsportsmanlike and a ten minute misconduct.  Then again, the Canucks made the Hawks penalty kill look invisible as Henrik Sedin tucked one past Crawford making the final score 6-2 and helping the Canucks go 5 for 6 for the night on the power play.

Quick Hits:

-Hawks out shot Vancouver 40-38

-The Hawks again were unable to score on the power play going 0 for 5.  Only one team in the NHL has scored fewer power play goals – St. Louis, who have scored 3 times on 40 chances (7.5%).  Blackhawks are 5 for 53 (9.4%).  Percentage wise, Chicago has the third-worst power play in the league, with Columbus slotted between the Hawks and Blues.

-Surrendering the five power play tallies, the Blackhawks penalty kill took a beating in this one.  Chicago PK units had given up just four, total, over the first 13 games of the season.  Their PK unit now ranks 22nd in the league (79.6%), on slot behind the Detroit Red Wings (80.0%)

-Vancouver needed just less than seven and a half minutes (7:25) to post their 5 power play goals on Sunday

-Blackhawks were unable to record a point at home for the first time this season. They are now 5-1-2 at United Center.

-Niklas Hjalmarsson picked up his first point of the year with an assist on Frolik’s goal.

-The Hawks are back on the road Tuesday in St. Louis when they face the Blues for the first time this season. It’s another important divisional battle, and will be the Blues first in front of new head coach Ken Hitchcock.  Hawks will then travel to Columbus for a battle Thursday night before returning home to face Calgary on Friday.  Busy week ahead.

Brad Vandenberk

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Lecavalier-St. Louis connection beat Hawks in OT; Stamkos nets hat trick

By Brad Gardner

The Blackhawks spent a majority of the first period in the offensive zone. Viktor Stalberg accounted for four of the Blackhawks’ 15 shots in the opening frame. He also missed the net four times, including an excellent set-up by Andrew Brunette coming out from behind the net.

Tampa was not without their chances in the first – the Lightning kept pace in terms of shots for much of the first half of the period. Ray Emery was strong on his post against a couple stuff attempts from Ryan Malone and he came up with a big save against Steven Stamkos on a breakaway as well. The second half of the period was all-Hawks as Tampa Bay did not register a shot over the final eight minutes of the period.

The scoreless first gave way to a couple quick strikes to start the second period. Stamkos notched his seventh goal of the season just 15 seconds into the middle frame, cashing in on a rebound from Emery after a shot from Marc-Andre Bergeron.

Patrick Sharp tied it less than a minute later, scoring the Hawks’ first power play goal since October, 22nd against Colorado. Jonathan Toews saucered a backhand pass across the crease to Sharp, who buried the puck in the wide open net. Chicago controlled the puck in the offensive zone for the full half minute that they spent on the power play, helped in part by Brent Seabrook making a nice play to keep the puck in the zone at the blue line. Read more »

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