Blackhawks Confidential

The Blackhawks try to get the max out of their Minny battles this week

havlatjan5.jpgWhile the Blackhawks are the better team, be it written on paper, papyrus, parchment or a stick of Juicy Fruit, the home-and-home showdowns this week with Minnesota exude the feel and smell of intrigue.

I think we need to be on guard for sneak attacks, and exploding underwear might not be out of the question. It may not be as easy as it first looks against the Wild, even with their current three-game losing skid. They are a resurgent 20-19-3 after a bad start.

Marty Havlat still has to be pissed off, right? Remember when he was going to be our own icy, descriptive Deep Throat and let us know all the shenanigans going on behind the scenes in Chicago, purported scandals that were being shielded from our view and would truly shock us once he unloaded the truth in our laps like a garbage truck.

Well, Marty didn't deliver on his vague promises and he came up empty again Oct. 26 when the Wild, his new home after being rejected by the Hawks, lost 3-1 at United Center. All we have heard in a long while now from Marty is the eerie sound of silence.

The best that To-Hav and Hav-Not could come up with in his dismissal from the Blackhawks was to gossip to TSN that team president John McDonough was "a phony" and he and his old Chicago teammates used to josh and jest about the heathen's intrusion into their sacrosanct world.

Of course, signing Marian Hossa made Havlat yesterday's garbage in a hurry and it's amazing how even phonies are embraced as long as they win.

C'mon, Marty, I need more. Inquiring minds need to know. Or would any of his old mates like to jump to Marty's defense and acknowledge he was right about anything? No, I guess not. Old news now, I suppose, although really Juicy Fruit gossip has no expiration date and we can be chewing on it for generations to come.

We have all moved on, I must attest, even the Wild, who are still trying to get away from those bums that opened the season in their uniforms.

Havlat owns a 4-game point streak of a goal and 3 assists with points in 10 of his last 12 games, even if that hasn't helped his team much lately.

But the matchup to watch Tuesday night might be in winning the most critical faceoffs. We have three of the NHL's top faceoff leaders in this game and only one wears a Hawks jersey. That would be Jonathan Toews, whose 59.7 faceoff win percentage places him 4th best in the NHL.

Tied with him, however, is the Wild's Eric Belanger and not far from him is Minnesota's Mikko Koivu with a 57.8 success ratio from his total of 773 faceoffs, more than Toews' 621 and way more than Belanger's 476.

As well we all know, puck possession has been one of this team's mainstays that has guided the Hawks to the top of the Western Conference and faceoffs is where that all starts. John Madden has also done his faceoff share on 658 faceoffs, winning 52.4 per cent.

While the spotlight might fall on how Havlat handles a return to the UC and whether or not the Red Baron flies or crashes again, it's the more unglamorous role of faceoff superiority that could determine the outcome.

Since Minnesota belies their inconsistency by being especially effective in one-goal games, the Hawks need to make sure they continue to hold dominance in the first period. They have held opponents to 22 first-period goals, best in the NHL.

But another worrisome fact is that falling behind hasn't always stopped the Wild lately. These vacillating visitors have consistently shown an ability to fight from behind on occasion.

The Hawks, however, have shown similar and more steady resilience all year when pressed with a tight schedule. They have played on consecutive days 10 times so far and lost the second game of the pair just once, way back on Nov. 6 in Colorado in that 4-3 shootout.

The Hawks are a spotless 2-0 the last two occasions they have had games on back-to-back days. Yet another example of their ability to pay attention to the business at hand.

But Minnesota is just the kind of fly on the wall that can sting you badly when you least expect it. Isn't it about time Havlat returns to pester McDonough and his brood?

Beware The Fly. Have your swatters handy.



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SDSTAN said:

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The thing about Havlat was that he was an exceptionally skilled offensive player but tended to coast at times coming back on defense. During the regular season he often had a little Buff (was invisible some games) and Versteeg (too many turnovers with fancy stick-handling at the blueline) in him. No doubt though he was clutch in the playoffs last year in the first two rounds with his late game and overtime heroics so you have to give him kudos for that.

Reggie Dunlop said:


Somebody please do something about this whole VERSUS channel thing PLEASE! I'm missing yet another game because of that BS. It makes you think the ghost of Dollar Bill is working over at DirectTV...

FearlessFreep said:


It's a good thing John Wideman and Troy Murray do such a great job on the radio. Reminds me of all those games I listened to when I was at school.

Mark Giangreco Roman Wrestler said:

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What happens when the playoffs come around and all the games are on the Rodeo Network?

Reggie Dunlop said:


Is that really true? ALL playoff games on that cursed station? Say it ain't so. So it's back to bars to watch Hawks' playoff games again; somethings never change. And Freep, thank you for the support. I'm listening to WGN radio via the magic of right now. :-)

Mark Giangreco Roman Wrestler said:

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I know most games were simulcast on Comcast. Once it gets to the Conference Finals, it's all VERSUS except for NBC Finals games. Maybe, it's different, who knows? Certainly not me!

Reggie Dunlop said:


Thanks Mark, that's as good an explanation as I've heard so far, so I'll take it. Stupid Dtv/Comcast...I'm going to freak if they don't fix this before then. Finding hockey isn't easy in NW Florida, and Dtv is the only means I have to watch. That or shell out another $150 bucks so I can watch online via Grrrr...

By the way, I loved your interviews with Steve McMichael back in the day. Your wrestling moves in Rome are pretty impressive too.

Dave Morris said:


The Hawks certainly Minnymized the Wild Ones tonight.

Hey, is this team good, or what?

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