Blackhawks Confidential

Blackhawks continue to win ugly, beating Atlanta 5-4 in shootout

Blackhawks broadcaster Pat Foley was so unfamiliar with Andy Niemi starting in goal for a third straight game, he mentioned three times within a couple minutes that it was Cristobal Huet holding the fort in the first period Saturday night against Atlanta at United Center.

So what we learned was that it matters not whether it's Huet or Niemi when the team isn't totally focused on the business at hand. The Blackhawks gave up a two-goal lead with a terrible second period, falling behind 4-3 and setting themselves up for a letdown.

 But for the second straight game, Niemi was great in the shooutout and the Hawks escaped with a lucky 5-4 shootout win. Niemi stopped all five shots in his previous shootout effort. This time Niemi only needed to stop the first three Thrashers as Jonathan Toews scored first in the shootout to provide the margin of victory.

Marian Hossa was driven from the ice by a Colby Armstrong check to his left shoulder and head. We'll have to see how serious it is and whether Hossa can play for Slovakia during the Olympics. It doesn't appear to be super serious, but we'll see about that, too.

Dave Bolland scored for the first time in his five games since returning from back surgery. That third-period goal, when Bolland stayed patient on goalie Ondrey Pavelec and carried a play past him before jamming the puck into an open net, evened the score at 4. Atlanta got fixated on the puck coming down the right side and left Bolland free on the left side and the Hawks often find the open man when that happens.

Pavelec, however, was sensational in the third period and overtime. The Hawks pressured him enough that they should have beaten either in regulation or overtime. Just shows how hard it is to win when you let a team back in the game and try to turn on your aggression again.

You can argue the Hawks dominated play much of the game. But unless they give a full effort, it shows again that winning isn't very easy for them when they pick and choose when they are going to pay attention.

As long as they win this way, though, they are going to think that's enough.

"They are not showing their true quickness," WGN analyst Steve Konroyd said during the second intermission.

In other words, using plainer language, they were floating, figuring half-speed was enough to take out the Trash.  Bad call and another example of how the Hawks have been trying for a while to get by with half-measures.

They can't continue these bad habits after the Olympic break.

Hate to repeat myself. But....as I said last game, the middle period has become the Hawks' downfall. This is the time when winning teams seize command. The Hawks have made this their period much of the season.

But the Hawks can't score any more in the second period. They can't lay down the law at such as a critical segment and set the tone for the final 20 minutes. They stopped trying to forecheck and chose to play freestyle, which is never a good plan for them. Whenever they select to run out the clock, time runs out on them in a hurry.

The Thrashers were able to score three times in the second period to wipe out a two-goal deficit and surge ahead 4-3.  The Hawks obviously thought it was going to be a runaway after falling behind 1-0 before scoring the next three goals. Patrick Sharp scored on the power play and new Hawks defenseman Kim Johnsson scored on a give-and go with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa scored shorthanded.

Game over, right? Wrong. Three straight goals by the Thrashers in the second period showed that the Hawks folded their tent too early in this game.

It makes you wonder what awaits us Sunday in Columbus when the Hawks are forced to play again before the Olympic break.

Now I'm going to get on my soapbox about matters away from the ice. I want to emphasize that it sickens me to see how the Blackhawks management keeps trying so hard to pat itself on the back. Their ego obviously knows no bounds and president John McDonough should be ashamed for forsaking any stories about hockey itself in order to kiss himself on the ass.

Not one other major sport in Chicago would allow a well-paid shill such as Hawks marketing exec Jay Blunk to be their big first-intermission guest as WGN did. But WGN has shown only that it has no idea what to talk about when it comes to hockey other than bullshit. So let's put on Blunk and play the game that we all are smarter than anyone else in the NHL.

Give it a rest, you idiots. Enough already. Shut up and go away and let the game rule.

I knew Blunk when he was with the Cubs and he was wearing Bobby Hull's toupee. I have got nothing against him. But the whole concept behind having Blunk on WGN was one huge blow job. I'm with Patrick Kane and I got nothing against blow jobs.

But for all you young hockey players at home, that's not how it should be. Shame on WGN, who has no idea how to sell hockey by talking about hockey.

Too boring. Too obtuse. Too hard to understand. To hard to explain. Too much inside info. Horseshit. The inmates are running this asylum.

If they tried to do this with the Cubs or White Sox, they'd be laughed off the screen by their unwillingness to talk about the sport first and last.

But they obviously buy into the belief the Hawks aren't a major sport, so let's take time to tell everyone how important we are in making hockey significant again when really it was just a minor little sport until we got here.

Let's bring on Blunk on WGN (stands for World's Greatest Nonsense) to tell us how intelligent they are selling the Hawks. We're great, aren't we? We know how to build up our players, don't we? There were never any fans until us, right?

My, God, they are really so stupid not to know there are real hockey fans out there looking for real hockey stories and not all the dumb and silly shit they try to sell us like it's so much  toothpaste and perfume and tampons.

I fear we are not going to convince WGN and the Hawks to quit trying to fornicate each other in front of us. So we'll have to avert our eyes. McDonough was in bed with them for years as Cubs marketing boss and they only know how to tell each other how savvy and cutting edge they all are. They only know how to lie to each other. But please do it off camera.

The cutesie stories that were previewed as part of a Blackhawks feature program coming Sunday on WGN have me gagging right now. We are not all teeny boppers out here just waiting for a chance to sniff Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews' underwear.

Don't underestimate the mature Hawks fan, who may be immature in their own right (like me), but want to see stories about hockey and not stories about bubble gum and silliness, which is a WGN speciality and one reason it's sinking like a stone.

These are people that know nothing about hockey and would much prefer on their own time to watch Court TV or the Playboy Channel should the bad old days come back where the Hawks are not the pride of the NHL and are not the attraction they are now. These people are dabbling hockey because it's the hot story, not because they have any idea what it means to people who have paid close attention to the sport for decades when it didn't matter to the bandwagon riders.

Some day all the shit the Hawks management is peddling now is going to blow up in their faces and spray feces right back in their mouths. I would hope they learn the errors of their ways before then, but I doubt it. Their day of eating shit is coming.

Their sense of ego and invincibility is too strong. They think they invented hockey and the Blackhawks, even if they have no idea of how to talk about hockey sincerely enough that there's no way a marketing guy needs to be a guest in any intermission at any time.

Get over yourselves, guys. You're really not that smart. Bill Wirtz wouldn't allow this travesty, and hate him as you might, that's the truth. Maybe Rocky better reassess what he's trying to sell us and how he's trying to sell it.

Your dad wasn't all wrong, Rocky. Don't think you're such a genius with the poor production values you're allowing WGN to cram down people's gullets. Gut check, time, Rocky.

And you and I both have the big guts that will take some time to explore. Might require Lewis and Clark.

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21 Comments

borg said:

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Could we quit calling close Hawks wins lucky?

The Hawks played a poor second and I thought Atlanta played very hard all night, but if Pavelec doesn't stand on his head, it's 7-4 Chicago. Add in Campbell scoring for the Thrashers, and it really was Atlanta that was lucky to get a point.

Still too many turnovers by the D and a confused PowerPlay are the main issues. Perhaps Niemi should've had one of the last two goals, but he also made several terrific saves.

Mike Kiley said:

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When you give a team like the Thrashers a chance to beat you, if not for Bolland scoring a goal in the third, you're lucky. Sorry. Live with it. These guys are playing at half-speed, as even the always congenial Steve Konroyd was pained to point out on TV. When Konroyd is being critical, you pretty much suck. Doesn't mean they aren't good guys. Doesn't mean they don't want to try to be at their best. But they're not playing well and you're blind to believe otherwise. Call a spade a spade.

borg said:

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Games are tight in the NHL, Mike. The Blues just outplayed and beat the Caps an hour ago. Not every game is a cakewalk.

And while my eyesight might not be 20/20, I never praised the Hawks' play. They haven't been quite the same since the Huet implosion in Minnesota. But they still found a way to win despite some great goaltending from Pavelec, a fluke goal against and some dangerous TO's from the D.

Go by period: Save for the last 30 seconds, the Hawks were the better team in the 1st and dominated the 3rd. They were slightly better in OT. The 2nd period was a mess obviously, but the Hawks were the better team overall.

They can certainly play better, and I suspect they will once they break the mental block on the PP and some of their 3rd-tier guys get out of their ruts.

iplagitr said:

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You both make valid points. Many Hawks fans have become spoiled this season - expecting virtually every game to look like that 4-game stretch in November when they outscored their opponents 20-5. The obvious truth is it doesn't work that way. As Borg says, most games are tight. It's impossible to play a perfect game every night. Give any NHL team a little space and they'll capitalize quickly. This is not to say that this great Hawks squad shouldn't have a few more "easy" games here and there, though. They have definitely been guilty of only playing up to the level of their opponent's ability this season.

Incidentally, has anyone noticed the low-impact Kovalchuk has had for the Devils since the trade? He's basically had one truly productive game - against the Preds. He has one goal in 6 games and I think has a +/- of -1. The Devils have lost 4 of those 6 games. Don't get me wrong, he's a great player, and surely his goals will come as he settles in. But maybe he's not quite the game-changer everyone was making him out to be. And maybe, as some of us speculated, he's is having a harder time fitting in with a more defensive-minded system.

borg said:

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Oh, and Kane was excellent save for his brainfart on the OT PP.

He desperately needs finishers. Hopefully, Kyle Beach, who has two goals already tonite, can be that guy.

borg said:

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Incidentally, Beach completes his hat trick with the winner in OT. 11 goals and 18 points over his last 9 games.

VegasHawksFan said:

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The Thrashers were lucky too. I wouldn't call the Hawks lucky with that win, but I wouldn't say they controlled the game either. Can't say giving up three goals in one period is anywhere near strong, but it wasn't as bad as some second periods they have had lately. It does bother me that when they have a team on the ropes, they still can't put it out of reach or go into shut down mode. What I'd like to see right now is a team that is playing like it is already adjusting to playoff hockey. For whatever reason, they seem like they are not going to bring that game until the playoffs are here.

jdudhead said:

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"I'm with Patrick Kane and I got nothing about blow jobs." Huh??

Mike Kiley said:

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My editor fell asleep. I got nothing against blow jobs. About, against? About the same, eh? I'll try to do better, but I doubt it.

TonyO said:

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wow, glad for once I didn't have the Hawks broadcast. We never get WGN on Center Ice for some reason. The Atlanta crew did a good job talking about both teams and interviewed their Kane between periods. Gotta give Atlanta cedit, they played a damn good game and almost stole a win. I agree that 2nd period sems to be nap time for us. "We always seem to ease off the gas a little in the second period and help them keep it a game," Toews said. "It's one of the things we need to do better." Fix it, captain or we face an early playoff exit. Trying to keep the faith. Get 2 more pts. in buckeye country and enjoy the break.
Q says 81 is "doubtful" for Sunday. Ya think?

jdudhead said:

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I think what we have here is a drunken rant!
I love it though. Hawks win, that's what matters right now. 3 wins in a row and 7 of the last 8 points. I expect to see a whole new level out of these guys after the olympics but I'll take these scrappy points for now, at least this is a team that can dig deep and still win when they are in a lull; if they can get fired up we may see a truly scary good hawks team down the stretch.

Mike Kiley said:

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A drunken rant? Ask anyone who knows me, I can do this same shit stoned or sober. But drunken is better.

beaverwarrior said:

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Could it be that some of the Hawks are focused on the Olympics and not business at hand?

slapshot said:

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Mike I totally agree with you on the game and especially on WGN. I hate watching the games on that channel. They seem to have no idea on how to broadcast hockey, from the camera work, to the stupid intermission "reports", and to the quick exit after a game to their "programming" of mindless fluff after the game, news broadcast included.
Case in point last night, during the introduction of the players that will be on the Olympic teams for their native countries, on the introduction of Patrick Kane, the camera was focusing (and unfocusing) wildly in the stands to show what? A bunch of people with signs? Meanwhile, not once did they show Kane! Probably a directors error but what the hell? Was he preoccupied with something else? Perhaps something in his lap? I didn't watch the between periods stuff as I know it's all crap, so as soon as I heard it was Blunk to be on, I watched a different game and came back to the Hawks after the first intermission. Their between period segments are nauseating.
After the game if and when the Hawks win and Dan Roan interviews the first star, I cringe at the idiot questions he always asks.
I'm surprised that these broadcasts aren't more like the Comcast ones,same director,camera work,on air hosts etc.Or are they and they just like to take these nights off when it's on "good ole channel 9"?!

fanof19 said:

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Bill Wirtz wasn't a bad guy, and it's refreshing to hear someone point that out. Bill would have been able to see McD for the fraud that he is. Why is it that we even need to hear from Jay Blunk anyway? Last time we heard from him, in a Suntimes article, he was promoting the Atlanta Thrasher's AHL team. Way to go Jay. Someone should clue him in that the Hawk's AHL team is the Rockford Ice Hogs. Why we have to continually hear from McDonough and Blunk is beyond me. It is clear that Rocky is asleep at the wheel, enjoying a full house (and obviously full belly) by extending the contracts to them while allowing the architect of the team to be fired for a mistake that was, by all other NHL GM's accounts, clearly Bowman's responsibility. Enjoy the crowds now Rocky, before the snake oil salesman begins to ruin what your former GM built. People come to watch winning teams. The crowds in the building prove that. They don't come for red carpet events or bobble head nights. We're all tired of seeing the two keystone cops promote themselves over the team.

Havlat was right when he said Hockey players can smell a phony. So can hockey fans.

TwoGuysBlog said:

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Is anyone going to punch McDouche in his breathing hole? The guy is scum. We Hawks fans have never needed the franchise branded to us. McD's approach is downright insulting. I hope he slips on something wet and falls on something sharp.

fattybeef said:

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Wow, I had this same conversation last night and went on a similar explosion. Since the PC door has been knocked right down:

I FUCKING HATE WGN!

No Pre-Game, No post game. Who ever that boner is who does the between period comentary is ABYSMAL. I literally want to punch him in the face when he talks. Maybe the jaw so he wont be able to talk anymore. Wow. I wanted to throw up during the breaks. I could barely watch it, I had to get my guitar to make noise and drown out the stupidity hopefully catching a highlight or steve/pat segment. I think there actually was a between period break where they did not even show a highlight. Have they never covered a sporting event? Even new guy Kim (who looks to fit in perfectly) had the "what the shit is this guy asking me?" look on his face. Should have listened to the radio.

I was just waiting for Sharpy to ask "what the fuck eh" during the 3 star interview. Thank god he can just look to the stands and say: "thanks fans" to any stupid question.

Someone call Sarah Kustok. At least shes nice to look at and getting better at the hockey questions.

And another thing. Why the hell do they keep putting all these behind the scenes business people on? I mean really. Its sweet that other people are employed at the Blackhawks HQ but I dont need to know every little detail. We get it dude. You want us to spend ass tons of money at the stadium, buy all 22 jerseys and a aquire a bust or rocky wirtz to worship in our spare time.

Theres hockey on TV now *gasp*, good hockey at times even *gasp*, at least exciting *sigh*. Pretty sure that everyone is aware, talking about it, pumped about it and wanting to kick ass the rest of the year. Good thing WGN was there to clarify that last night. I was confused. They obviously need additional marketing efforts to get that message across to us slower folk.

Only time this rule should be broken is if there is an extended ice crew segement becuase the only acceptable interruptions in sports coverage are tits, ass and booze. I obviously cant drink my TV so do the math.

They need to have the ENTIRE comcast crew, directors, between period people, pre game, post game, camera and sound guys do that becuase WGN seriously makes me want to vomit.

Or they just bounce over to the radio guys. Its all WGN. Troy Murray is fantastic to listen to even though he talks super slow. Judd Sirott doesnt give a bad interview. That would be a novel idea. Only have your A-squad on the radio. Because people dont watch TV these days. Talk about an awesome marketing scheme. Now looping radio with television. Crazy. I dont know if its been done. They could start a revolution and save money becuase they only have to pay one announcing crew. Times are tough you know.

Now the actual game:

Hotlanta actually looked decent. The Hawks need to finish chances, get net presense, work on the power play in practice more and so forth. Whatever, two points, I'll take it, happy olympics. I think they just dont give a fuck about these last two games, well one now. They want their break to relax, recover or go to vancoover and party in limos with sexy canadian women.

herbie said:

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Jay who??? Why do we even see this guy being interviewed??
The between period gagfest on ch 9 have to stop.The endless
stroking of ch 9 by jay is enough to stop watching.This pre teen
new show is more of that crap.These guys are men playing a tough
sport.Keep it to hockey,hockey and hockey.
Btw,the rapid price increases due to the recent success has made me
stop buying tickets.Success turned to greed real quick on Madison St.
Don't ruin the telecast too!!!!!

BridgeportJoe said:

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Mike-come on everyone knows John and Jay are the two smartest executives in professional sports...just ask them. John is a mix of Machiavellian and Jesse Jackson, probably somewhere close to 100 on the MACH-IV scale. Jay is just his stool pigeon.

The pre, between period and post game coverage on WGN TV and Radio is a joke...not surprising after what happened to Josh Mora last summer when he had some journalistic integrity and wrote an honest blog about the Havlat situation on his Comcast blog...re-assigned to non-hockey coverage and shown the door, I bet that decision was based on his ability to cover the team and ask intelligent questions during interviews.

Bottom line is the team is fun to watch and winning hockey games a lethal combination. Also means those ducats are going to cost you in the playoffs and next year...if I were a betting man I would wager that the team will loose 15M+ this year even with record crowds at the UC.

fanof19 said:

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all while giving themselves a raise

fanof19 said:

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and Mora was shown the door over the Tallon story. Not the Havlat story.

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