Category Archives: Game Preview

Rockford hosting Peoria tonight; IceHogs PIM woes continue, Ted Dent considering benching players for bad penalties

By Chris Block

Rockford IceHogs (19-17-1-1) are hosting the Peoria Rivermen (17-17-2-2) tonight at the BMO Harris Bank Center.

It’ll be the fourth of twelve meetings between the two clubs this season.  The Rivermen have been victorious twice.  Rockford defeated Peoria 5-4 in a seesaw affair when the teams last met on November 21st in Rockford.  The IceHogs got off to a quick start when Adam Clendening scored his 3rd goal on the campaign 56 seconds in.  Rockford went up 2-0 eleven minutes later when Brandon Saad scored an unassisted short-handed goal.  Peoria though responded by notching three unanswered even-strength tallies in just under six minutes and led 3-2 heading into the first intermission.  Between periods Ted Dent changed some lines around and altered his top two defense pairings, pairing Nick Leddy with Clendening and Ryan Stanton with Klas Dahlbeck.  The rest of the game was controlled by Rockford.  Martin St. Pierre tied the game late in the second period and two power play goals from Jeremy Morin sealed the victory. Read more »

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Ted Dent says some supposed NHL guys not pulling their weight; Blackhawks brass forcing more lineup changes; Tonight’s game preview

By Chris Block

Riding a four game losing streak (0-3-1-0), the Rockford IceHogs drive 93 miles northeast tonight where they’ll visit the BMO Harris Bradley Center to face off with the Milwaukee Admirals for the second time in six days.

The lone point Rockford has picked up in those four contests came in a 4-3 overtime loss in Milwaukee this past Friday.  Rockford trailed the Admirals 3-1 midway through that game until goals by Brandon Pirri and captain Martin St. Pierre forced an overtime session.  However, a breakdown in the IceHogs end resulted in Kevin Henderson surprising Carter Hutton with the game-winning shot a minute and forty-five seconds in to send the IceHogs back to Rockford with only the one consolation standings point.

Although the IceHogs (13-12-1-1) have lost both of their games since dropping first-place to the Griffins in Grand Rapids on December 9th, that one point earned in Milwaukee has been enough force Rockford back into a tie with Grand Rapids for the top spot in the Midwest Division.  The Griffins has also lost their past two games since moving into first in the division.  Grand Rapids hosts the Rochester Americans tonight at Van Andel Arena.

The Midwest division race is as tight as it could possibly be, now a third of the way through the 76 game American Hockey League season.  One point separates last-place Milwaukee (12-11-2-1, 27 points) from Grand Rapids and Rockford in the top spot. Read more »

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IceHogs-Aeros pregame notes

By Chris Block

Some quick notes leading into tonight’s game in Rockford between the IceHogs and Houston Aeros.

Brandon Pirri returns to the ‘Hogs lineup after missing the past seven games with a knee injury.

Orland Park, Illinois native and recent Chicago Blackhawks signing Terry Broadhurst will make his professional debut tonight.  Broadhurst will at least start out on Brandon Pirri’s left wing.

Broadhurst is listed at 5-11 and 165 pounds and is a left-handed shot.

Mark McNeill and Kyle Beach will be kept together as they were most of Friday night.  Rob Flick shifts from center to left wing on their line with Pirri getting back into the lineup.

Paul Zanette is out.  He left last night’s game with an upper body injury late in the second period and did not return.  He was favoring his right arm as he left the ice with the Rockford trainer.

Here are Rockford’s lineups and scratches for tonight’s game with the Houston Aeros 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 in crucial stretch

The last-place Rockford IceHogs take the ice tonight looking for an absolutely essential two points versus division rival Houston Aeros.

The last place IceHogs will be in Oklahoma City, the team directly above them in the standings, this weekend for a two game set.  Rockford currently trails the Oklahoma City Barons by six points, and have three games in hand on them as well.

These next three games very well may determine the IceHogs playoff hopes.  Three wins would be ideal.  Any less than five points will be a setback.

Up front, the IceHogs will start with these lines:

Mathis Olimb – Ryan Potulny – Jeff Taffe

Kyle Beach – Brandon Pirri – Brandon Bollig

Rob Klinkhammer – Evan Brophey – Ben Smith

Kyle Hagel – Pete Leblanc – Igor Makarov

Coach Bill Peters will role four lines for the most part.  Leblanc skates on the first power play unit, which has featured Mathis Olimb on the left point.

Tonight’s defensive pairings should remain as they have since the Christmas break.  Wade Brookbank took the warmup, which is unusual.  Garnet Exelby has been hampered by what appears to be a lower-body injury of late.  That could be why.

Ryan Stanton – Brian Connelly

Garnet Exelby – Shawn Lalonde

Ivan Vishnevskiy – Simon Danis-Pepin

Scratches: Chris DiDomenico (healthy), Wade Brookbank (healthy), Hugh Jessiman (foot), Nick Leddy (loaned to Team USA-WJC), Jeremy Morin (loaned to Team USA-WJC)

Hannu Toivonen, who picked up the victory in Milwaukee on Tuesday night, will get the start.  Alec Richards is backing up.

One referee system tonight.  Marcus Vinnerborg, with Mike Hamilton and Aaron Mills calling the lines.

- IceHogs goal scoring droughts: Ryan Stanton (30), Garnet Exelby (29), Wade Brookbank (18), Simon Danis-Pepin (18), Chris DiDomenico (18), Nick Leddy (12), Brian Connelly (9), Rob Klinkhammer (9), Ivan Vishnevskiy (8), Brandon Pirri (8), Kyle Hagel (7), Hugh Jessiman (7), Ryan Potulny (7), Kyle Beach (6),  Igor Makarov (5), Brandon Bollig (3), Jeff Taffe (3), Pete Leblanc (2), Shawn Lalonde (1), Evan Brophey (0), Jeremy Morin (0), Mathis Olimb (0), Ben Smith (0),

DiDomenico and Stanton have each yet to score a professional goal.  Exelby’s drought is actually longer but dates back to 2003, when he last played in the AHL prior to this season.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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Turco sits, Crawford gets 2nd straight start vs Predators

Head coach Joel Quenneville surprised some today when he informed the assembled media after this morning’s skate of his intentions to start Corey Crawford tonight when the Nashville Predators make their maiden 2010-11 season voyage to United Center.

This should come as little shock to anyone.  As we mentioned here last week, this is the same coach who sat Cristobal Huet, a year ago tonight (technically tomorrow, the 14th), when Nikolai Khabibulin made his return with his new team, the Edmonton Oilers.

The rest is history.  The Hawks played spectacularly in front of Antti Niemi, defeating the Oilers and Khabibulin 4-3.  Niemi was nothing special that evening.  But he was good enough.  Huet watched from the bench.  And a goaltending “controversy” was born.

Quenneville’s choice to start Crawford back-to-back after the team’s first win of the season in Buffalo does make sense if you think in logical terms. Read more »

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Hawks @ Buffalo Lineups and Notes

Blackhawks take their show out east tonight to take on the Buffalo Sabres (1-1-0) at HSBC Arena tonight at 6:00pm central time.

Patrick Kane will be suiting up in his hometown as a Blackhawk for the third time.  He’s posted a goal and an assist in two games there in his career.

Last December, the Hawks exhibited a lackluster effort in Buffalo during a 2-1 loss to the Sabres.  Patrick Sharp posted the lone Chicago tally.  Clarke MacArthur (now with Toronto) and Thomas Vanek scored the goals for Buffalo.

Ex-Blackhawk Patrick Lalime got the start that night and did have to make 39 saves in the win.  Cristobal Huet took the loss for the Hawks in a 31 save performance.

As for tonight’s game, Corey Crawford will make his season debut between the pipes for a Blackhawk team in the midst of four games in seven nights to start the ’10-11 season.

Chicago returns home Wednesday night to face division rival Nashville for the first time since knocking the Predators out of the playoffs in April.  Nashville will have played just one game before Wednesday’s tilt, an impressive 4-1 drubbing of Anaheim before a capacity crowd at Bridgestone Arena.

Patrick Sharp says he will return to the lineup tonight after missing Saturday’s home opener against the Wings with a slight concussion.

I’m not sure what the difference between a slight concussion and simply a concussion is?  Either you have one or you don’t.  Considering all the problems NHL players are having these days with head trauma and information we’re learning about the long-term effects of head injuries, I’m absolutely certain all parties concerned, including Sharp, could afford to sit out another game or two and rest his brain. Read more »

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Opening Night CHI @ AVS lineups and preview

The Chicago Blackhawks begin their 84th NHL regular season campaign and defense of the organization’s 4th Stanley Cup championship tonight at 9pm (central) at the Pepsi Center in Denver against the Colorado Avalanche.  The game will be televised nationwide by VERSUS.

With the turnover and cap-crunch all having been well-documented since the Hawks hoisted the Cup back on June 9th, all that’s left is to do is wait and see how the newcomers fit, and who picks up the slack.

Tonight is no more important to any Blackhawk than it is to Marty Turco.

Turco, 35, had a so-so preseason and his teammates have struggled to adjust to Turco’s eagerness to play the puck.  With Antti Niemi, Cristobal Huet and even Nikolai Khabibulin, the defense was solely responsible for retrieving the puck, clearing the zone and quarterbacking the offense.  Turco likes to audible and call plays himself.  The Hawks offense hasn’t been built that way and it will take time to find a happy medium.

Chicago should win this game easily.  Craig Anderson led the Avs with a phenomenal run last October and November, but he was a lot less his super-human self in the second half.  With the exception of Marian Hossa, the Hawk veterans mostly coasted through the preseason in cruise control and should be ready to hammer the gas tonight in Denver.

With all the talk of who the Blackhawks lost and the “damage” done to the 2010 Champs roster, veterans like Hossa, Sharp, Keith, Seabrook, Kane and captain Jonathan Toews will be looking to make a statement.

Marty Turco too can address Blackhawk fans and the rest of the league tonight himself.  Something along the lines of “Niemi Who?”

And he’d better make that kind of a statement, because waiting around the corner Saturday night for the Hawks’ home opener and Stanley Cup banner unveiling are the Detroit Red Wings.  A night of celebration and raising the banner in the faces of the hated Red Wings may sound poetic to some, but once the wheels on the pomp and circumstance hault, Saturday night has all the makings of a Red Wings express reminder that while Chicago’s celebration may only be four months old, a whole new season has arrived..

If Turco struggles tonight and the Wings emerge victorious Saturday, the UC will be uproarious, but not in a good way.  Gloom and doom will take flight and Turco will feel the heat. Read more »

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