Tag Archives: Hannu Toivonen

Allen, Peoria Slam IceHogs 5-0

Bill Peters’ search for answers has so far turned up dry.

After watching his team come out flat inexplicably for fifth time in this season’s first nine home games, the Rockford head coach retreated to his bench on Saturday night exasperated for the third period.

By my count, Peters used at least twelve different line combinations over the final twenty minutes.  It was orchestrated chaos and Peters’ team responded with its best period of the night, but that wasn’t even enough to get on the scoreboard.

Rockford outshot Peoria 12-6 in the third and 31-21 in the game but Peoria won the only count that matters, defeating IceHogs by a score of 5-0 at the MetroCentre.

In the win, Peoria rookie Jake Allen set a Rivermen AHL (2005-current) franchise record for shutouts in a single season by white-washing the Rockford shooters 31 times, to post his 4th shutout in just 8 starts.  The previous Peoria shutout record (3) was set by Manny Legace during the 2008-09 season.

Saturday’s was a team shutout.  Allen was very good and made some great stops locating pucks through screens and one-on-one challenges.  But his defense also cleared a lot of rebounds and beat the IceHogs to most of the loose pucks in the Peoria zone.

The latter point was the story of the night.  Rockford could not match Peoria’s intensity from the initial puck drop through to the final horn.  A few players tried and succeeded in spurts.  Garnet Exelby showed some snarl late in the first, but the score was already 3-0 by then.  Kyle Beach had his best, most physical shift in weeks with five minutes to go in the middle period.  Jeremy Morin stood up to Peoria defenders on occasion one night after getting into a spirited fight with Red Wings’ defensive prospect Brendan Smith. Read more »

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Toivonen Rebounds, Rockford Blanks Manitoba 1-0

Last time the IceHogs saw the Manitoba Moose on November 6th in Rockford, Hannu Toivonen was in charge of holding a 1-0 lead in the waning moments. 

On that night, Toivonen was victimized for three goals in exactly one minute and twenty-seven seconds.  The Moose broke that shutout on an innocent yet seeing-eye Cody Hodgson wrister with just under five minutes left to play.  The rally continued with back-to-back Jeff Tambellini markers, one through the wickets and another over Toivonen’s glove, posted 32 seconds apart.  Toivonen was the ‘goat’ in an otherwise solid IceHogs’ effort. 

Toivonen did not see the Rockford net again until Thursday’s rematch in Winnipeg. 

Thursday night, with Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman in attendance, several of the Hawks top prospects put on solid performances.  Brandon Pirri, Igor Makarov, Kyle Beach, Nick Leddy and Jeremy Morin all made contributions that didn’t necessarily make the scoresheet.  Read more »

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Radio tonight, Last night, Thoughts on Beach, Morin, Keith, Mora and more

First off, I’d like to thank Buddy Oakes of Preds On The Glass for having me on his radio show last night.  We talked for about an hour and a half about the Blackhawks, Predators, head shots and what can be done to prevent such hits and some of the injuries that result from those.  If you’re a Twitter-er and ever need a Predators fix, you should follow Buddy.  His other guest last night was Mark from another Predators site, TheViewFrom111.  I jumped on about ten minutes in.  A direct link to listen to last night’s show is here

And after you listen to that, and if you haven’t had your fill of my flu-ridden twang, TheThirdManIn~Radio returns tonight, Live at 8pm central at BlogTalkRadio.com/TheThirdManIn.   No guest tonight.  We’ll have plenty of news, notes and perspective from the two Rockford IceHogs games of the past weekend; Which Rockford prospects are close to helping, who isn’t and who doesn’t belong in the AHL.  I had a chance to take in both games; losses, on Saturday and Sunday.  We’ll get to many more of your emails.  If you have a question or topic you’d like to hear addressed on the show, send me an email at radio@TheThirdManIn.com or ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com with “radio show” included in the subject and we’ll get to it on the show….  I actually have an insightful and useful fantasy hockey segment tonight.  Unlike the one I spewed from the crack of my backside last Tuesday.  Professional operation we have here.  Of course we’ll discuss what’s wrong with the Hawks.  What needs to change and small alterations to be made to turn things around?  We’re also shooting straight on what Jack Skille can do if he wants to become an effective, permanent NHLer.

– My intention was to do another full IceHogs postgame report Sunday night after their game with Peoria, however, with travel, work and being ridden with sick and overdoses of over-the-counter anti-flu medicines, Sunday’s game recap dropped off my radar.  If you missed my detailed report of Saturday’s demoralizing 3-1 loss to Manitoba, click here.

Instead, I’ll share the bullet points from Sunday’s 5-1 loss at Carver Arena in Peoria. Read more »

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IceHogs futile Power Play precedes Toivo-Tanker

Rockford’s Achilles heel, coupled with an anemic power play teamed up Saturday night as the IceHogs’ ultimate demise in a 3-1 loss to the traveling Manitoba Moose.

On a night when Rockford’s power play couldn’t muster more than one goal in eight tries, you could sense trouble brewing.

After forty-five minutes of scoreless hockey, Ben Smith finally struck the back of Manitoba’s net at 5:02 of the third period when Smith, parked on top of Manitoba netminder Eddie Lack’s crease, found an Igor Makarov assisted rebound to give Rockford a 1-0 lead.  Smith’s tally came on Rockford’s seventh power play chance.

The MetroCentre crowd of 5,593 then sat stunned as Manitoba score three unanswered goals in 1 minute and 27 seconds.

Cody Hodgson kicked off the comeback when he drove wide-right on defenseman Ivan Vishnevskiy and roofed a snap shot over Hannu Toivonen‘s glove on the short side with 4:40 left in regulation.  A weak goal allowed by Toivonen tied the game and took the air out of everyone in the building not wearing Moose sweaters.  Hodgson’s 6th marker extended the former top NHL prospect’s scoring streak to 4 games (4g, 2a).

55 seconds after Hodgson evened the score, Jeff Tambellini (re-assigned here by the Canucks on Tuesday) found Toivonen’s five hole and increased the lead to 2-1.  It was another goal Toivonen probably would like to have back.  The defense pairing of Vishnevskiy and Shawn Lalonde were victimized on both goals.

Just 32 seconds later, Toivonen’s glove was again too slow on a Tambellini riser, increasing the lead to the eventual final 3-1 score.  Read more »

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Hawks Cut Morin, Details; Opener Roster Appears Set

On Monday, the Blackhawks assigned Jeremy Morin to the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL.  The decision ends an apparent late pre-season competition between Morin and 24-year old Vitkor Stalberg for a spot on left wing.

In the off season, Morin, 19, was acquired from Atlanta in the deal that sent Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager and Brent Sopel to the Thrashers.  Viktor Stalberg was the key return in the trade in which the Hawks sent Kris Versteeg to Toronto.

In the final exhibition game Sunday versus the Blues, Stalberg skated just under 9 minutes for coach Joel Quenneville, while Morin played 13:18 including several shifts on the power play.  Both were credited with two hits.  Morin registered two shots to Stalberg’s one.  Each picked up an assist while Morin finished a minus-1 and Stalberg a plus-1.  Morin’s effort leading to Marian Hossa’s deflection-goal during a second-period power play was a highlight of the game.  Afterwards, Quenneville called Morin’s night “okay.”

The move of Morin to the AHL trims the Blackhawks roster down to the maximum of 23 with the injury to Brian Campbell and demotion of goaltender Hannu Toivonen having previously gone down over the weekend.

Here’s how the opening night roster stacks up: (lines speculative)

Troy Brouwer – Jonathan Toews – Marian Hossa
Tomas Kopecky – Patrick Sharp – Patrick Kane
Viktor Stalberg – Dave Bolland – Fernando Pisani
Bryan Bickell – Ryan Potulny – Jack Skille
Jake Dowell

Duncan Keith – Brent Seabrook
Niklas Hjalmarsson – Nick Leddy
Jordan Hendry – Nick Boynton
John Scott (W/D) – Jassen Cullimore

Marty Turco
Corey Crawford

Injured: Brian Campbell (sprained right knee; out 4-5 weeks)

Jack Skille (arm) is at this point still considered questionable for Thursday’s opener in Colorado.  Skille has said he thinks he’ll be ready.

Cullimore is still around in case the Hawks get cold feet with the Nick Leddy experiment or it simply doesn’t work out.  Cullimore had a better camp than most everyone is willing to give him credit for and while it may seem unfathomable to some, Cullimore is still a better option for Quenneville than rookies like Ivan Vishnevskiy or Brian Connelly.

If Skille can’t go Thursday, its very possible John Scott will dress as the 12th forward and Cullimore as the 6th-D against the Avalanche.  Remember, Nick Boynton will be serving a one-game suspension Thursday night for his throat-slashing gesture in the first exhibition game on September 22 in Winnipeg against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

With Jake Dowell dressing the final two preseason games and Ryan Potulny watching those contests from the stands, it would stand to reason Dowell is getting the call to center the fourth line in Game 1 of 82.  Or, both Dowell and Potulny dress  (if Skille is out) in game one and Scott stands in as the 6th defenseman.

While Jordan Hendry didn’t do much this exhibition season to gain many’s confidence in his ability to anchor the third defensive pairing, the 5-6 duo needs the additional mobility neither Boynton or Scott can provide.  Thus, Hendry could have a longer rope.

In regards to the Morin demotion….

I think you’d be troubled to find a single person who felt Viktor Stalberg out-performed Jeremy Morin during the exhibition contests.  If this were a legitimate one vs one competition, Stalberg would be the player headed to the AHL.  But this obviously wasn’t.

There’s also not much to the notion Morin was a casualty of salary cap considerations.  While Morin’s 2010-11 potential performance bonuses total $170,000 more than Stalberg’s, those would be covered under the entry-level bonus cushion.  Also, Morin’s base salary and preliminary cap hit is $70,000 less than Stalberg’s.  So Morin’s preliminary hit is more favorable than Stalberg’s.  And if Morin were to stick all year at the NHL level and meet all his marks for those bonuses, I’m sure the Blackhawks wouldn’t mind.

More likely, if the cap figured into Morin’s case at all, is apparent inclusion of Nick Leddy on the opening night roster.  Leddy’s base salary according to numbers listed on CapGeek.com is $900,000.  Leddy also does not have attainable performance bonuses this season.  With Leddy in the mix on the Hawks’ blue line, the Hawks only have space for minimum sized contracts for the time being.  If Brian Campbell had not been injured Friday in the game with Pittsburgh, Leddy probably would not have made the team and Morin may have been rewarded with an early trial with the Hawks.

With Leddy in the picture, Morin had to beat out Stalberg since the contracts of Bickell, Skille, Potulny, Dowell, and even John Scott are all closer to the league minimum.  And ultimately, Morin doesn’t have to clear waivers while most of those players do, and that’s why Morin was never really in competition for a spot with anyone but Stalberg.  However, once Viktor Stalberg hits the 20 games played mark this season, he becomes waiver-eligible.  So you can see the pressure is on Stalberg to get going early or he could be headed to Rockford sooner than later after all.  Morin won’t become waiver-eligible until the 2014-15 season, or when he hits 160 NHL games played.

Stan Bowman, may also be looking to delay the passing of Jassen Cullimore through waivers until a few days after the season begins and teams set their initial rosters in case there would happen to be interest in him.  And there very well could be if you consider losing another veteran blue liner (Cullimore) would hurt the Hawks to a degree.  He hasn’t had a bad camp either.  While I’m pretty positive he’s not someone Bowman wants to see in any regularity in a Hawks uniform, Cullimore, who turns 38 in December, is still a veteran who could give the Hawks some minutes in a pinch and also has value skating with the young kids in Rockford.

While I don’t find the Morin cut as any great injustice, it is slightly disconcerting to see Bowman’s slight of Morin.  That said, Stalberg can erase those thoughts in a hurry if he gets off to a quick start this week.  And by all accounts, Morin is a determined, intelligent kid and this probably won’t set him back any.  He could also use the experience of a season in the AHL to learn the intricacies of the pro game and continued improvement on his skating.  He was only in the running for a spot this year to begin with because the Hawks’ depth up front so poor.

Stalberg posted 9 goals and 14 points in 40 games with the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs last season.  In Chicago, he’s greeted, yes, with more-accomplished teammates, but also with greater expectations.  The early returns simply won’t do.  Stalberg will find himself on the outs soon enough if he can’t find the net and help provide some offense on one of the top three lines.

ChrisBlock@TheThirdManIn.com

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