Category Archives: chicago blackhawks

The Top 10 Sports Plays of the Year

As we’re inching closer to 2012, Chi Side is taking a look back at the top 10 sports plays of 2011:

10. Patrick Kane’s shootout beauty vs. Minnesota Wild
Clear your browser history after watching this, because it’s pretty nasty.

9. Kyle Kuric’s dunk vs. Notre Dame

I haven’t seen a white guy fly like this since Neil Armstrong went to the moon.

8. Ellis Coleman’s flying squirrel takedown
Greco-roman wrestler Ellis Coleman stunned the sports world with this unique and complex takedown.

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Video: Patrick Kane shows you how to properly dangle

Kaner with the Gordon Bombay “triple deke”.

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Why Jonathan Toews is vital to the Blackhawks’ powerplay

I read this interesting piece on the value of Jonathan Toews to the Blackhawks powerplay this year, so I thought it was good enough to be on the blog. Take a read. Story by Puck Daddy’s Harrison Mooney.

The Chicago Blackhawks currently sit atop the NHL with 27 points. They’ve been excellent in nearly every area through the first quarter of the 2011-12 season.

But, if there’s been a concern thus far, it’s been the inconsistency and, at times, the downright absence of their powerplay.

This was no more apparent than two weeks ago, when the Blackhawks suffered an embarrassing home ice loss to their rival Vancouver Canucks, largely due to losing the special teams battle: the Canucks scored 5 powerplay goals in 6 tries. The Blackhawks went 0-for-5.

Since then, however, the powerplay has begun to turn around. After scoring only 5 times in 53 man advantages through the season’s first 14 games — worse than all other NHL teams except the St. Louis Blues and the Columbus Blue Jackets — the Blackhawks are 7 for their last 22.

It’s not surprising. It was really only a matter of time before that group began to click, especially when you consider that, with Jonathan Toews on the ice, they start with the puck nearly 3/4 of the time.

This is nuts, by the way. Toews’s faceoff prowess is well-known, but when it comes to 5-on-4 situations, you wonder if the opposition’s fifth guy was supposed to take the draw.

Toews has always been a been a handful in the circle. In his rookie season in 2007-08, he won 53.2% of his faceoffs, good for 23rd in the NHL, and he’s finished no lower than 11th in the three seasons since.

This year, Toews has reached another level entirely. His current 61.6% win rate is well above his career-best. It’s also the second-best percentage in the league, and not by much — David Steckel leads the category at 61.7%.

When it comes to power play faceoffs, however, Toews stands completely alone. (Heck, maybe that’s why he wins so many.)

As of this writing, only six NHL centres have won over 40 powerplay faceoffs: Eric StaalMikko KoivuJason Spezza, Paul Statsny, Vincent Lecavalier, and Toews. But Toews hasn’t simply won 40 — he’s won nearly 40 more than he’s lost.

With the man advantage, Toews is 62-for-85 in the faceoff circle, good for an obscene win percentage of 72.9. On the powerplay, Jonathan Toews starts with the puck.

Considering that a lost faceoff can trim as much as 45 seconds off a two-minute man advantage, this is incredibly helpful. Expect the Blackhawks’ powerplay to continue to improve, especially considering how often Jonathan Toews lets them practice.

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Video: Patrick Kane’s dirty spin-o-rama assist to Marian Hossa

I’ve been waiting for Kaner to finally convert one of these spin-o-ramas into something. What a beaut.

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Top 10 Blackhawks vs. Canucks Moments

We’re about an hour from game time. Let’s take a look at the top 10 moments between these two franchises. Love how the Hawks pretty much won all of them. Hopefully we can replace number one on the list with a win tonight.

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Sunday Stat; What the Hawks need to do to force Game 7

Apologies to the five or six people that read the blog (hi mom!). We should be back and running after a busy weekend where me and Bojda went on a date (just kidding) to see the legendary Talib Kweli (video will be posted) and I saw Girl Talk. Now let’s get down to business.

Did you know: that Hawks’ goalie Corey Crawford has more points (two assists) than over half of the Vancouver Canucks leading into Game 6. If we keep winning by 5+ he’ll probably end up with more points than Kesler.

Keys to victory:

  1. Keep up the hot goaltending – Goaltending is everything in the playoffs. If Crawford can keep the puck from going in under two or three times tonight, we should get the W.
  2. Shoot the puck often – We all saw what happened in the last two games when we shot the puck. It would be nice to have another Cory Schneider appearance for the Canucks.
  3. Stay out of the box, get them in it – Last two games we’ve had 11 power plays to their eight. Even if we don’t convert on them, it’s not likely they’ll be putting up any shorthanded goals either.
  4. Hustle – Step 1: Beat them to loose pucks. Step 2: ??? Step 3: Profit (Scoring chances).
  5. Don’t let John Scott play – Seriously, Quenneville, if this guy isn’t beating the crap out of Bieksa or Burrows I don’t want to see him on the ice. A rock is more useful.
I’ll leave you with the theme song for tonight:

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Was no suspension for Canucks’ Raffi Torres the right call?

After yesterday’s disappointing 3-2 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals, there are more things on the mind of the Blackhawks than just the loss.

In the video above, Canucks’ foward Raffi Torres, in his first game back from a four game suspension for illegal head contact on the Oilers’ Jordan Eberle, can be seen barreling shoulder-to-head into Blackhawks’ defenseman Brent Seabrook behind the Hawks’ net, causing the defensemen to “helicopter” in the air. The hit garnered Torres a two minute minor for interference. The hit has cultivated much debate over whether Torres violated the NHL’s Rule 48, which states:

48.1 Illegal Check to the Head – A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted.

48.2 Minor Penalty – There is no provision for a minor penaltyfor this rule.

48.3 Major Penalty – For a violation of this rule, a major penalty shall be assessed (see 48.4).

48.4 Game Misconduct – An automatic game misconduct penalty shall be assessed whenever a major penalty is assessed under this rule.

Obviously the referees believed that this was a “hockey play”, and assessed what they thought was the correct call. As a hockey player myself, I can definitely see both sides of the story. Fans who have never played the game before (or at a checking level, at least) may not understand how fast the pace of the game moves. Torres was doing what he is being paid to do, and that is separate man from puck in order for his team to regain possession and score a goal. Also, this is the playoffs, so the physicality is amped up to its highest levels. Seabrook was put into the unfortunate position of having to chase the puck in “Death Valley” (as TSN’s Darren Dreger explains: the area behind the net where “…an unsuspecting defenceman or puck carrying forward hoping to make a play while cutting around the net – they can be vulnerable to the attacking player who’s approaching at full speed.”) and received the hit. What I saw was a player without his head up (which is the worst thing you can do if you play hockey) and an opposing player doing what he does best: taking the man off the puck. Torres did not have his elbow up, which deems it, in most people’s books, clean. TSN analyst Bob McKenzie explained via Twitter that there is more leeway for hits behind the net. According to McKenzie, when NHL general managers created Rule 48, the area behind the net was designated at as a “hitting zone”, and does not have to abide by the “north-south” style of hitting. Video of what are legal hits and illegal hits can be seen below in the NHL’s Official 2010-11 Rule Enforcement video.

However, what many fans and analysts did witness was a player who was coming off of a suspension for a similar situation, reciprocating exactly what the league disciplined him for. If Colin Campbell, the NHL’s principal disciplinarian, could throw the book at Matt Cooke and give him 10 games and the first round of the playoffs for a headshot, then he could do it for Torres, right? Apparently not. The NHL, in my opinion, has blurred the rules so much that no player really knows what’s legal and what isn’t. Was Torres supposed to carry a blow horn onto the ice and alert Seabrook of his presence, wait for Seabrook to notice he’s coming, and then hit him? Absolutely not. This is why every single controversial hit that happens seems to range from no disciplinary action to potentially 10-20 game suspensions. Campbell might as well be throwing darts at a board with random numbers assigned to it for all we care. The unfortunate timing of the hit is what caused so much outrage. Had the hit been given by a player like Mason Raymond, who is completely clean when it comes to discipline, would there be as much outrage? Not at all.

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