Blackhawks Confidential

"Stanley Cup Favorite" Vancouver to play the Blackhawks Tonight...

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Nothing better to cap off a hard working hump day then a matchup between the 'Nucks and Blackhawks at the United Center.  Let take a look at tonight's storylines: Can Buff get into Luongo's head?  Will Ladd and Kesler duke it out over a 2 year old playoff beef?  Will Eager grab hold of a Canuck's pants and body slam him to the ice?  Woops...give me a second while I pinch myself.  Okay, back to reality.  Are we even rivals with Vancouver anymore?  It seems most of the fuel that made this rivalry burn resides in Atlanta now.  The only memory I have that still has some relevance is the one of tough guy Alexandre Burrows yanking on the hair of Duncan Keith. Man I hope that's not what this rivalry has come to.  With Burrows and the Sedin Sisters I'm not sure we can win in a cat fight against Vancouver.

Luckily for the Blackhawks, hair pulling, freckles, and orange hair have nothing to do with winning a hockey game.  Vancouver has been miserable on the road thus far and it starts with their Captain, oh wait, I mean former Captain Roberto Luongo.  I believe he's 0-3 with a GAA over 4 away from Canada so far this season.  Considering he got yanked last night I imagine he will be rested and starting in net tonight.

But I don't care to talk about our opponent anymore, let's focus on the Hawks.  I'm not sure that any words that I'm capable of typing could do justice to the play of Marian Hossa.  He is undoubtably a Hoss.  His raw assets of speed and strength paired with his puck skills and hard working mindset are a deadly combo.  He posted up in the crease like Shaq in the paint against the Blues and single handedly gave the Hawks a chance.  He also hasn't shyed away from physical play.  There was a point against the Blues where he took a clean but kind of cheap shot along the boards from a blue.  Instead of waving his arms at an official like most skill players do, he got up and made a great hit in retaliation.  His all around play has been superb.

As far as Patty Sharp goes, his shots are going in.  That's my take at least.  Sharp has always been an incredibly hard worker and constantly has created great chances for himself to score.  In years past he would miss high or shoot it right off the goalies pads.  So far this year he is burying them and getting attention for being the player us Hawks fans always dreamed he'd be.

Toews needs to be better.  I know he does plenty of things aside from scoring that contribute to the overall team performance but some points along the way couldn't hurt.  He seems to be a bit slower this year than I remember, but as I have said before, it only takes so much criticism before a guy like Toews takes exception and shuts us all up.  Hopefully that will be tonight.

Kane has been getting better with each game.  His interest in being on the ice and making plays seems to be there now, as opposed to the first couple games where he was content waiting for the play to come to him.  A couple goals from him tonight wouldn't hurt either.

As usual, I don't want to dive into the defense until Campbell is back and we have our regular six in place.  As far as the rest of the guys go, hopefully they can continue learning their roles on this Hawks squad.  I think Dowell has been great as a 4th line center.  The only guy I have a little beef with is Jack Skille.  He has had some great opportunities the past fews games to make things happen and seems to pick the worst option every time.  He gets too deep and takes a bad angle shot or shoots prematurely instead of passing or making a move on odd man rushes.  There are probably bigger fish to fry than that aspect of Skille's game.  But that's what the comment section is for!  Until the Blackhawks start losing again I plan to try to stick to the positives.

Enjoy the game tonight, go Hawks!!!

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10 Comments

VegasHawksFan said:

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My guess is that Vancouver tonight is not going to be motivated by the memory of two playoff exits. With the play of Luongo looking crappy and with the events of last night's meltdown and loss of Rypien, I would think the last thing they want to do is come into Chicago and start a bunch of fights. Right now I think Vancouver has a lot more to worry about then trying to save face against the team that beat them and went on to win the Cup. Vancouver looks physically and emotionally beat up right now, which could actually make them dangerous if they take a "The slide stops here" attitude and come ready to play. Anytime the Hawks are considered a favorite going into a game like they are tonight, it worries me.

Hostile Hawk said:

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Well, I was at the game tonight, and it was kind of brutal to watch. Pretty sure the rivalry is not alive and breathing, neither team wanted to win this game. Toews looked really rough and besides Skille, no one looked any better really. Hossa was back to last years antics, you know, when he plays great hockey but makes the wrong choice when in front of the net. The game was even more harsh being that I was at the United Center and could see how not one guy was making the little plays that win games (besides Skille who was also apparently not on the roster for the final 10 minutes).
They started off strong, but finished miserably. Thank god Luongo blew it.

Paul said:

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I have to agree on Hossa but we can't throw him under the bus just yet. Skille was considerably better tonight (he must have read Blackhawks Confidential pregame) as well. After watching tonight I feel like the Hawks are missing a line. Lines 1,2, and 4 have been beginning to click but 3 has been miserable in my opinion. How much longer do we have to watch Pisani? Maybe Bolland is to blame as well (although I thought he made some decent plays tonight)?

I'd really like to see Pisani gone with the addition of a Morin or Beach in his place. Fernando has done nothing for me. I think swapping him for one of the two I just mentioned would change the dynamic of the 3rd line for the better.

iplagitr said:

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I almost said something similar about Pisani after the last game... I know his role is not as a scorer, but 8 games, 0 points, -3?

This game seriously needed the old energy/crasher line with Eager and Burish. I felt like the Hawks fell asleep in the 2nd half. I thought they started well in the defensive zone, but then fell apart as the game went on.

The Canucks seemed to have a much more dangerous and crafty offensive attack in previous seasons. They looked pretty average last night. Why all the hoopla on them being a major Cup contender? I still love seeing the Hawks beat the Nucks more than any other team in the league though - even the Wings.

I agree with Puck on Hossa's game last night. I made several comments in the past that Hoss almost always shoots low and would probably score more goals if he occasionally lifted it just a bit higher. I realize he's 1000 times the player I ever was, but last night's OT breakaway was a perfect example. He had the spot - the left high corner was absolutely wide open for him, but he just failed to get the puck up. It's puzzling to watch when you know the guy is as great a sniper as they come in the NHL. That said, Hoss has been nothing short of amazing out there in all aspects of the game - and is there anyone better in the league at shielding the puck with his body?!

SDSTAN said:

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Agreed on Hossa, you very rarely see him go top shelf and we saw a few shots from him right into the goalie's midsection again the other night. I think Kane has the opposite problem, he almost always goes high and often misses the net, need to mix it up. Good to see him go low on the backhand though for the shootout winner as Lou was expecting high glove..

VegasHawksFan said:

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Watching the game on TV, my take was that Vancouver was playing to not lose rather then to win and they accomplished that goal. I thought the Hawks did look better in the neutral zone, but I also thought Vancouver played a pretty tight defensive game and let the Hawks have the perimeter where they did bunch up on each other. The one goal came from getting a body in front of the net and blown coverage from the Nucks. Give Luongo his due though, he made some really good saves. Given the Hawks current level of development, it was probably a good thing they caught Vancouver on a night when the Nucks were coming in with low confidence; they are a lot better puck moving team then they showed last night.

Vancouver didn't play the choking forecheck game that the Hawks faced in the last three games, but they still played a pretty tight defensive game and left the Hawks in a position where they needed to dump and chase. Down low, the Nucks kept a pretty solid box in front of Luongo and seldom did the Hawks challenge with a body in front. I also noticed that Vancouver seems to have gotten better with setting picks for each other to create space and I wish the Hawks would learn to do that. The Hawks have taken 3 out of 4 games against a trap and though it's boring as hell, I think they are playing a more complete game against this type of strategy compared to last year. A downside though is that I think they are showing a pattern of vulnerability; if a team pushes them for a full 60 minutes, they are overworked by the closing minutes of the game. If they are going to beat the trap consistently, they are going to need to find a way to do it without exerting so much energy.

pilote3 said:

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Agree with Paul bout Pisani hes lost out there.Morin and Pirri are avg a point a game with the Ice Hogs.Wanted Pisani to b a feel good story stuck with a chronic illness and the hell that Edmunton is but he does not belong on this roster.Does Q have a hard on for Skille? He skates his ass off as does Stahlburg! Just askin

VegasHawksFan said:

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Question to the crowd: We know the Hawks are going to lose a game sometime in the near future. With that in mind, how do you want to see them lose and what do you want to come of it?

For me, considering that the next five games are all against Western Conference teams, I would hope that any game they lose is not in regulation. Next, I would probably rather see a game where they just have a bad night and where the kids make multiple mistakes in one game that they can review frequently on tape. With Q, there is no such thing a set line so I'm not as focused on what lines certain guys play on. Where I would like to see some changes come has to do with the team finding ways to create space for each other and disrupt tight defensive coverage. With the jumble of games that have come together, I am hoping that the story line of not having much time to practice has some merit to it. After Friday, the team is on home ice for the whole next week and have a few days to try things out in practice. With LA coming to town next Wed, I'd probably rather see them try new things and fail against a good team rather then a weaker team.

Thoughts anyone?

QStache said:

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Actually I had visions of a 79-2-1 record this year.

SDSTAN said:

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Nah, got a throw at least a few overtime losses in there, I will go with 71-2-9

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