Tag Archives: nhl

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: Hockey player Jon Mirasty likes to smile while getting punched in the face, then KOs opponent

I have known about Jon “Nasty” Mirasty for years. This guy was basically the most feared fighter in all of hockey, although he never could crack an NHL roster. Mirasty, standing at just 5-foot-10, probably beat up at least half of the AHL through his years there. Now he plays in the KHL, apparently.

[BONUS]: Here’s Mirasty in one of the best fights of all time, against his own cousin, Jeremy Yablonski

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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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Don’t Toews Me Bro! Hawks Win Sixth Straight

Well, that was easy

It was a fantastic wins-day evening to watch the Hawks defeat yet another opponent on the ice. Red hot Jonathan Toews notched his tenth multi-point night in the last 15 games after scoring two goals en route to the Hawks 6-4 win over the Calgary Flames. Newcomer Michael Frolik notched his first points as a Hawk (one goal, two assists) after going five straight games without a point.

The streaking Hawks hold a 7-1-2 record over the last ten games and have garnered the fourth most points in the Western Conference as of today. Captain Jonathan Toews has snared 27 points in the last 17 games and has been playing out of his mind as of late. Let’s hope the Hawks have regained their Stanley Cup form for the remainder of the season.

Michael Frolik’s goal snapped a 32 game skid and hopefully will open the floodgates for him. If he can regain his form in past seasons (42 goals in his first two seasons combined), the Hawks will likely be winning even more. One of his better plays during the game happened when Frolik sacrificed the body to pass the puck to Toews which eventually led to his second goal.

Viktor Stalberg roughed it up for the first time in his career against Mark Giordano late in the second. You can imagine how that went. To put it short: it didn’t go very well for Vik. Had Giordano landed one of those haymakers we might have been seeing Stalberg in the Tribune obituaries.

Highlights of the game below:

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Hawks acquire Chris Campoli

As expected, the Hawks filled the glaring hole in their defense by acquiring Ottawa Senators’

defenseman Chris Campoli. The Hawks will reportedly send a conditional 2011 2nd round pick and AHL C Ryan Potulny in exchange for Campoli and a conditional seventh round pick in 2011.

After Hawks defenseman Jordan Hendry went down with an apparent, serious leg injury, it was clear that the Hawks needed a replacement on the blue line. Big John Scott (6’8″ 260 pounds) is a pylon back there, and is really only good for murdering your enforcer with his bare hands.

According to GM Stan Bowman, fans should expect an update on Hendry’s injury status sometime before the Hawks take on the Minnesota Wild tonight at 7 p.m. CT on Versus Channel.

Campoli has been stellar this season for the struggling Senators, who are currently bottom feeders in the Eastern Conference with a measly 51 points (21-32-9). Campoli currently has 14 points on the season (3 G, 11 A) and an impressive -3 for a team that has one of the worst goals against averages in the league (3.14 GAA).

It’s clear that the Hawks are one of the least clutch teams in the league. If you’ve been watching them this year, you’ve likely smashed a few TV remotes by the end of the third period. Their collapses this year can’t be blamed solely on goaltending, Marty Turco was a cheap option who wasn’t expected to do much more than a backup would anyways. In my opinion, most of the blame can be put on the Hawks d-corps. Duncan Keith has been somewhat underwhelming after his Norris Trophy win last year. At this point, our only option is to wait for our prospects in the system to mature and pray that we can win a few games from here on out and crack the top eight in the West come playoffs.

UPDATE:

Bad news for the Hawks, as they have announced that Jordan Hendry has torn his ACL and will miss the rest of the season.

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