Apr 292012
 

By Chris Block

PuckChatter~Radio returns on Monday night at 7pm central with my guest Al Cimaglia of MyFoxChicago.com.

Join us Live at 7pm central over at BlogTalkRadio.com/TheThirdManIn.

Al and I will be recapping the Blackhawks-Coyotes series and Chicago’s second-consecutive quick playoff exit and analyze what went wrong.

We’ll take a look at all the issues the Blackhawks will be facing this summer, including if an upgrade is needed at the goaltending position.

Also, we will examine post season comments made by the players, Joel Quenneville and Stan Bowman.

I’ll give my take on whether help is on its way from Rockford, who of the call-ups from this past season will start 2012-13 back in the minors and which 2011 ‘Hawks draft picks (excluding Andrew Shaw) have the best shot to make the Blackhawks straight out of training camp.

–For those who cannot listen live, Monday night’s show will be archived at our BlogTalkRadio page, here on our site as well as on Itunes.

–If you missed our recent, well-received Rockford IceHogs season-in-review interview series, you can listen to our chats with Ted Dent, Jeremy Morin, Joe Lavin and Kyle Beach here….. Continue reading »

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Apr 192012
 

By Chris Block

Last Saturday in Rockford, we had a chance to catch up with IceHogs forward Kyle Beach for a season-in-review discussion.

The Blackhawks 2008 first-round (#11 overall) draft pick missed 57 games this season due to a dislocated right shoulder that needed surgery.  Beach suffered the injury on October 28 in Peoria during a fight with Rivermen forward Stefan Della Rovere.

After extensive rehabbing and four and a half months sitting in the stands, Beach returned to the IceHogs lineup on March 23 against the Houston Aeros.

Prior to the injury, Beach had posted 3 goals, 3 assists in the IceHogs initial 8 regular season games.  Beach registered an assist in his first game back and scored in his third game, which was the back end of a 3-in-3 at Milwaukee on March 25.

Although he appeared in just 19 games this season, there were some encouraging steps Beach took during his second pro season, as we discuss in this audio and the interview with Beach.

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In this interview with the 11th overall pick of the summer of 2008, we discuss….

-Positives Beach takes out of another disappointing season

-His thoughts after being left out of “Black Aces” group after ’10-11 season Continue reading »

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Apr 182012
 

By Chris Block

We chatted with IceHogs winger Jeremy Morin this past Saturday, shortly before Rockford concluded its 2011-12 season with a 4-3 shootout loss to the Charlotte Checkers.

After being sidelined for ten months with a head injury suffered on January 15, 2011 in a game against the Chicago Wolves in Rosemont, Morin returned in October to score goals in back-to-back games and on his only two shots of that weekend.  But the goals were difficult to come by for Morin over the following three months.

Morin wrapped his AHL season with 18 goals and 40 points in 69 games with the IceHogs.

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During the interview, we discuss…

-Starting his season with 2 goals in 2 games after being out of action for 10 months

-At what point he felt 100% again Continue reading »

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Apr 142012
 

By Chris Block

We were fortunate enough on Saturday to sit down with Rockford IceHogs’ head coach Ted Dent for a lengthy season-in-review discussion.

In this twenty-five minute interview, Dent shared his take on the gamut of subjects from coaching, to working in unison with Joel Quenneville and the Blackhawks coaching staff to the ups and down season his IceHogs experienced in this 2011-12 season.

Dent also gives his take on the state of Kyle Beach‘s progression, where he thinks Beach could be had it not been for missing four months due to shoulder surgery and if Dent has been surprised at all by the rapid ascension of Andrew Shaw.

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In this conversation, Dent gives his analysis and discusses various topics including….

-Getting opportunity to be a head coach at AHL level

-Relationships with players and the transition from being an assistant to the head coach

-What aspect he looked to change in Rockford

-Dialogue ongoing between Chicago and Rockford

-Communicating with, and leaning on Joel Quenneville for advice. Continue reading »

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Apr 142012
 

By Chris Block

This morning I had an opportunity to chat with Rockford IceHogs first-year defenseman Joe Lavin.

In his first pro season, Lavin has quietly risen into the top tier of upcoming Chicago Blackhawks prospects on the defense.  Lavin turned pro last April after completing his collegiate career as the captain of the University f Notre Dame where he was a regular pair-mate with another Blackhawks’ prospect, Stephen Johns.  The Blackhawks drafted Lavin in the 5th round (126th overall) in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.

At 23, Lavin is one of the older IceHogs but he also carries himself like a ten-year veteran.  Lavin plays an intelligent game from the blue line and his improved agility and mobility have helped advance his offensive skill set as well at the pro level.

The interview is about ten and a half minutes long following an introduction.

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We touched on a variety of topics with Joe Lavin, including…. Continue reading »

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Apr 132012
 

By Chris Block

On Friday, the Chicago Blackhawks announced they have reached terms on a 1-year contract with center Pete Leblanc.  It will be a two-way (NHL/AHL) agreement.

Leblanc was originally the Blackhawks 7th round selection (186th overall) in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.  After spending four years at the University of New Hampshire, Leblanc turned pro with the Rockford IceHogs.

The Hamilton, Ontario native has spent the past two seasons with the Rockford IceHogs on AHL contracts as the Blackhawks had elected not to offer Leblanc an NHL contract until now.

In 70 games this season, Leblanc has posted 23 goals and 20 assists for the IceHogs.  Since being a healthy scratch for three consecutive games in early November, Leblanc has scored all 23 of his goals over the most recent 61 contests.

He is currently tied for the team lead in goals scored (23) with Brandon Pirri.  And Leblanc is second on the team in overall points, trailing Pirri by twelve points, with 43.  Leblanc has a plus/minus rating of plus-2.  It was Leblanc’s elevated level of play that caused veteran Brett McLean to slip down the IceHogs depth chart and even to the wing on the fourth line before McLean opted to play out the rest of the season in Switzerland. Continue reading »

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Apr 072012
 

By Chris Block

The Rockford IceHogs are running out of bodies and now games in their wild postseason bid.

On Friday they travelled to Cleveland, Ohio for a two-game set with the Lake Erie Monsters.  Rockford entered the opener on Friday night trailing the 10th-place Monsters by two points in the Western conference with a game in hand on Lake Erie.

By any means, this weekend presented four points the IceHogs needed.  And anything less than three would put Rockford’s postseason hopes in serious jeopardy.

With five games remaining and four teams to leapfrog in order to qualify for postseason, this weekend represented an opportunity to gain ground or jump past Lake Erie in the standings all together.

But after a 2-1 loss at Quicken Loans Arena on Friday night, the IceHogs at best now can leave Cleveland this weekend in the exact predicament they arrived in.

And if they don’t beat Lake Erie in regulation on Saturday, they’ll bus home having lost ground in spite of getting two of a possible four points.

Rockford’s pursuit of a playoff spot has approached storybook proportions of late behind timely goal scoring, team defense, key contributions from ECHL signings, some luck and Carter Hutton. 

The IceHogs have gone 20-8-1-3 since Jan 16th when they were a season-worst 7 games below the .500 mark.

However, the IceHogs still managed to stumble in recent weeks even in earning 11 of a possible 12 points in their six games coming into Friday night’s contest.  Continue reading »

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Apr 042012
 

By Chris Block

The American Hockey League office dealt out discipline on Tuesday in response to Sunday’s bench-clearing brawl incident in Milwaukee between the Rockford IceHogs and hosting Admirals.

In all, four players received a total of 10 games as penalty for their involvement in Sunday’s brawl.  Rockford got the short-hand with two of its players each getting three games while Milwaukee got a total of four.  The two teams and respective coaches were fined undisclosed amounts as well.

IceHogs center Rob Flick received 3 games for essentially instigating the incident when he skated over to Milwaukee’s crease and engaged with Admirals’ goaltender Jeremy Smith while the two teams were lining up for a face off in the neutral zone.  Smith got a 1 game suspension.

Smith and Flick appeared to be exchanging words before Smith took a sip from his water bottle and turned around to find Flick approaching the top of his crease.  At that point Smith took the first swing with his blocker at the head of Flick and the two immediately began fighting before the puck had ever dropped out near the Admirals’ blue line.

Shawn Lalonde and Milwaukee’s Michael Latta each received 3-game suspensions for leaving the penalty box to join in the melee.  Those two had been sent off with off-setting fighting majors at the previous whistle.  Lalonde was responding to Latta taking a run and IceHogs’ forward Brandon Svendsen, who was in a vulnerable position a few feet away from the boards. Continue reading »

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Mar 282012
 

By Chris Block

Tonight on PuckChatter~Radio we were joined by Al Cimaglia, Blackhawks writer at MyFoxChicago.com and also the Chicago correspondent at XM Radio Home Ice.

Al joined me for the first 50 minutes to give us his take on the 5-game suspension league disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan handed down to Duncan Keith last week for his flying elbow smash on Canucks’ star Daniel Sedin, whether it was fair and Al’s ideas to improve the suspension process in the future.

We take a look at that inept Blackhawks’ power play, standing in front of the net, whose to blame and the roll-down effect problems with that special teams creates.  We also discuss Corey Crawford’s recent performances, good and bad and Joel Quenneville’s handling of the goaltending position.

All this and much more on this edition of Puck Chatter. Same show, new name.

Thanks as always for listening.

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Mar 112012
 

By Chris Block

Without the services of Ben Smith and leading scorer Brandon Pirri, the Rockford IceHogs extended their recent dominance of the Milwaukee Admirals behind goaltender Carter Hutton’s 22-save performance.

Rockford defeated the Admirals 4-1 on Saturday night on goals from unlikely sources in Chris DiDomenico, Brandon Svendsen and Philippe Paradis.  All three ended long personal goal scoring droughts.  Pete Leblanc, another player whose had hard luck recently finding the back of the net, added an empty-netter with 45 seconds to go sending the Milwaukee crowd of 15,888 home unhappy.

Brandon Pirri missed the game with a lower-body injury.  Pirri will miss Sunday’s home game versus the Admirals and likely Tuesday’s contest in Oklahoma City against the conference-leading Barons as well.  Officially, Pirri is listed as day-to-day.

Ben Smith will undergo surgery next week to repair a labral tear in his right hip and hernia.  He will miss the remainder of the season but is expected to make a full recovery in sixteen weeks.

For one night anyhow, the IceHogs didn’t seem to miss Pirri and Smith as others stepped up in their absence. Continue reading »

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