With the Chicago Blackhawks‘ season ending on Monday with a brutal 4-0 loss to the Coyotes in game 6, Blackhawks players and staff are disappointed with the early end. Members of the media are also discussing whether the Hawks are a disappointment this season or not. It is obvious now, that this team just didn’t have what it took to go all the way.
With the early exit, people are glad Marian Hossa will have plenty of time to heal from his injury. He missed the most of game 3 and all of games 4-6. Hawks head coach said that the hit on Hossa by Raffi Torres was the turning point of the series.
Even though the Hawks were the more star-studded team who had more points on the season, they couldn’t defeat the Phoenix Coyotes. There are a lot of reasons why the Hawks were knocked out in round one but the main reason was Mike Smith. Mike Smith helped the Phoenix Coyotes win their first playoff series since 1987.
But for now all Hawks fan can do it sit and wonder what went wrong.
While many fans are still in shock of the Hawks’ exit, the first place, Vancouver Canucks are just as stunned being beaten by the 8th seed L.A. Kings. For once, the Canucks and Hawks have something in common, they are both out of the playoffs in the first round.
But for some of the Blackhawks, hockey isn’t over. Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp will complete in the World Hockey Championship on Team Canada. Viktor Stalberg will play for Sweden. Patrick Kane was offered to play on Team U.S.A but turned it down to get ready for the Hawks next season and focus on that. Captain Jonathan Toews also turned down playing on Canada due to concussion issues he has had this year.
Now, all fans can do it wait until the 2012-2013 season starts in October and hope that some moves were made that will actually help this team in the long run (without a complete roster overhaul) and of course hope Hossa will be back on the ice and make a full recovery.
Tuesday night at the United Center was an absolute disgrace. In game three of the 2012 playoffs, Marian Hossa left on a stretcher.
In the first period, Phoenix forward Raffi Torres, hit Hossa. Torres’ hit was late and he completely left his feet.
Not one of the four referees saw the hit. Torres was not thrown out of the game; he didn’t even receive a minor penalty.
Now, I personally was at this game, and it was beyond scary. Hossa lay on the ice for probably over five minutes and was helped by staff onto a stretcher and was taken to a nearby hospital. While on the ice, it didn’t look like he could move.
In game two, rookie Andrew Shaw, unintentionally ran into Phoenix goaltender, Mike Smith. Smith fell to the ice like he was shot. The whole Phoenix organization claimed it was a blind side hit (even though Shaw was skating towards the front of Smith) and deliberate.
Shaw was suspended for three games.
All Phoenix did was complain at how bad the hit was, but now the roles are reversed.
After the game Torres said, “I thought it was a hockey play. I’m just trying to finish my hit out there.”
Phoenix head coach, Dave Tippett kept saying he didn’t see the video of the hit and thought it was a hockey play.
Coyote’s captain Shane Doan said, “I didn’t see it, I haven’t seen it, but from what I was told it wasn’t bad.”
Obviously, the Hawks team has completely different views on the horrendous hit.
Coach Q said it made him sick and called the referring a “disgrace.” He also called the hit brutal.
And Jonathan Toews said “It wouldn’t surprise me if he tried to do something like that again.”
Toews was also very upset because he said he heard the Phoenix bench laughing as Hossa was being strapped to a stretcher.
What makes this hit even worse was that this was the same player (Torres) that illegally hit Chicago’s Brent Seabrook’s head during game three of last year’s playoffs. He was not suspended for the hit and Seabrook missed game four and five with a concussion.
Raffi Torres, a fourth line nobody, is a repeat offender and his illegal hit left a star player being wheeled out on a stretcher.
If his suspension is anything less than ten games, expect outrage throughout Chicago.
But even if Torres is suspended for 30 games, it won’t matter. He is a fourth line energy player, completely replaceable, while Hossa is one of the best two way forwards in the league. No matter what, this is a lose-lose for Chicago.
All we can do is hope Hossa is okay. The Blackhawks released a statement saying Hossa left the hospital and is being watched closely at home. There is no timetable for his return.
What the Hawks need to do now is make the Coyotes pay on the scoreboard and win the series.
Phoenix won game three in overtime and now holds a 2-1 series advantage.
It is all set.
During the regular season Chicago went 1-2-1 against the Coyotes, but none of that matters once game one starts on April 12.
It took until the last day of the regular season to find out whom the Hawks would play. It was between Nashville, San Jose, LA or Phoenix. But since the Hawks won their last game against Detroit in a shootout (by an unbelievable goal by Patrick Kane) they solidified the sixth spot. Phoenix won their last game, which gave them the third seed.
So, here we are, Chicago versus Phoenix.
This will mark the first time the two teams have faced each other in the post season. They seem to be very different in style, the Hawks being the offensive juggernaut and the Coyotes being the defensive team. Chicago definitely has the bigger names and more fire power but the Coyotes seem to have the edge in goal as of now.
Mike Smith (38-18-10) has a save percentage of .930 and goals allowed a game of 2.21, he also has eight shut outs. Three of those shut outs came in consecutive games.
He has pretty good numbers, but lacks playoff experience.
The Coyotes are also on a five game winning streak heading into the playoffs.
Chicago’s goaltender, Corey Crawford, is on the complete opposite side of the spectrum. He posted no shut outs (Crawford and Emery both failed to get shut outs, making Chicago the only team in the league this year to have zero shut outs) and his numbers are on the lower side of average. But the defense in front of him for the first half of the season was not at it’s best either.
Crawford has played better in the last month and a half, the Hawks need him to play consistent and stop the shots he needs to.
The Chicago Blackhawks are 12-2-4 in their last 18 games of the season, and that is all without Captain Jonathan Toews, and Duncan Keith for five games (suspension).
The question facing the Hawks is Toews; will he play?
Toews has been cleared for contact and was practicing with the team. Toews and Coach Q are very confident he will suit up and play in game one, which could be series changing.
With names like Toews, Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Bolland and Stalberg, it might prove to be too much for the Yotes.
The sixth seeded Hawks have more points then the Coyotes, but since Phoenix captured their division, they claim the third seed. So, the Coyotes will have home ice advantage if the series were to go to a game seven.
But, it is well known that the Coyotes do not have a strong following. During the regular season, there are usually more Hawks fans in the crowd in Glendale. It is pretty much a guarantee that Chicago fans will make the trip to support their team, so it could pretty much be like a home game for the Hawks.
Also, Phoenix does not have a very good home record, which can help the Hawks out.
This series could go either way, but unless Mike Smith stands on his head for the entire series and Crawford has a huge meltdown, Chicago should be able to advance to the second round, which, if everything goes right, means another round with the Vancouver Canucks.
The first four games are Thursday, April 12, Saturday, April 14 in Phoenix and April 17 and 19 in Chicago.
My prediction: Blackhawks in 6 Games
10. 2011-2012 Season Home Opener
The first home game of the season, the Hawks won the game against the Dallas Stars.
9. Vancouver Overtime
Anytime the Hawks beat the Vancouver Canucks it is a great moment for fans. And when it is in overtime it is even sweeter. On March 21, the newest Blackhawk Johnny Oduya shot the puck that deflected off Andrew Shaw’s leg.
8. Jonathan Toews Penalty Shots
Toews made Blackhawks history by scoring on two penalty shots in two different games.
7. Patrick Sharp Hat Trick
On November 25, 2011 The Hawks started the third period down by two goals against the Anaheim Ducks. Patrick Sharp would score twice to take the lead and complete the hat trick.
6. Hull and Mikita Statues
Two former Blackhawks and two of the greatest to ever play the game of hockey, Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita, became immortalized at the United Center. The two players are now bronze statues.
During the very emotional ceremony Hull said, “The only thing I can say is this likely is without argument the greatest evening of my life.”
During Mikita’s moving speech, he said, “That this immigrant from Slovakia should be honored for his hard work with this incredible statue is something I never thought would ever happen. I’m humbled and awed by this amazing honor.”
5. Corey Crawford’s Huge Save
The save Crawford made in Nashville on March 31 was arguably one of his best of the season. The Hawks would win this game against their division rival, and Crawford was a huge reason why.
4. Spin-o-rama Pass
Patrick Kane is undeniably one of the greatest playmaker in the NHL today. He takes this play from former Hawks Denis Savard. This set up was one of the best plays in the entire 2011-2012 season.
3. Kane Shootout Goal
This could easily be one of the best goals of the season. The amount of skill and patience it took to pull this off in amazing. At the time, the Wild were the number one team in the league and the win was a big one.
2. Clinch Playoffs
In the same game against the Nashville Predators, the win by the Hawks would ensure them a trip to the post season for the fourth straight year.
1. April 7, 2012 (Hopefully)
Jonathan Toews has been out for 21 consecutive games with a concussion. He will be with the team in Detroit for the last regular season game and there is a big chance that Toews will be back on the ice. If he can play again this will be the greatest moment for the team and all Hawks fans.
Winning the Stanley Cup is considered one of the hardest trophies to win in all of sports. NHL Players play 82 regular season games, followed by four, best of seven, playoffs rounds.
So, what will it take the Chicago Blackhawks to win their second Stanley cup in three years?
First, the Hawks will have to clinch a playoff spot. Barring a huge collapse the Hawks will finish in the fourth, fifth or sixth seed.
Once in the playoffs, anything can happen, but there are some things the Hawks will have to do to win it all.
The goaltending has got to be better, to give goaltenders some credit, the defense has not helped much this season, but they have to come up with the big saves.
The goaltending only needs to be good, since the Hawks have the ability to outscore opponents. But Crawford (or whoever will be the man in the playoffs) needs to come up big when needed.
If they get the goaltending and defense going, they will have a chance at winning come playoffs.
The Hawks will have to wait and see if they will get Captain Jonathan Toews back from a concussion. If Toews can come back, and he plays the way he did before being injured, their chances will highly increase.
There are two players that are most important to winning the 2012 Stanley Cup and they are Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford (if he is the goaltender during the playoffs).
If Crawford can play the way he did in last season first round against Vancouver, chances are the Hawks will be just fine. Every team needs to rely on their goaltending to win them games, the Hawks being no exception.
Another important cog for the Hawks is Jonathan Toews. He is their leader and best player. If Toews can come back in full force, the Hawks can do anything.
It will all depend on whether Corey Crawford can play at his best and if the team will get Jonathan Toews back.
The odds are against the Hawks, but anything can happen once the playoffs start, and once the Hawks get into the post season they will have a good of chance as any to win.
Late Friday afternoon, Brendan Shanahan, the VP for Player Safety for the NHL made a decision that infuriated people from Chicago and Vancouver, but for different reasons.
On Wednesday, in a game between Chicago and Vancouver, defensemen and alternative captain, Duncan Keith elbowed last season’s top scorer, Daniel Sedin. Sedin took only one shift after the hit, and has since been sent home to Vancouver to consult with a specialist due to a concussion.
There is no doubt that Duncan Keith deserved a suspension for the vicious elbow to Sedin’s head, but what caused the controversy between the two cities is the amount of games he received
It was announced Friday that Keith would be suspended for five games, forfeiting close to $200,000.
A lot of Blackhawks fans are baffled at the amount of games, especially because there are only seven regular season games left before the playoffs start. But people from Vancouver our outraged that his suspension was so small.
This whole incident is very strange. It involved two star players for their respected teams and there is a question of consistency of Brendan Shanahan and retaliation.
On Twitter and Vancouver Canucks blogs, some fans wanted more than a ten game suspension and wanted Keith out of the first round of the playoffs, which could equal up to 17 games. They wanted the book thrown at Keith, making an example out of his for hurting their star player.
The are two important things to note here: 1) Duncan Keith has never been suspended in his seven NHL seasons, and is not a “repeat” offender, 2) Vancouver and Chicago, fans and players alike, do not like each other one bit.
Most Chicago fans said that Keith deserved a suspension but only about three games. He has never been suspended before, which is taken into account in the hearings and just a few days before, Shane Doan was suspended for the same play.
Doan, a Phoenix Coyote, was suspended three games for an elbow to Dallas’ Jamie Benn. Benn was uninjured on the play, but Doan was suspended before in his career and was fined for a boarding hit just a week earlier.
So why does Shane Doan, a labeled repeat offender get three games and Duncan Keith, with a clean record, get five?
Some think its due to the lack of injury. Some say because Dallas and Phoenix are not big market teams with big stars like Chicago and Vancouver.
It will never be fully understood by either side, but what happened, happened. One thing is for sure, Vancouver will have to play without their star until he is healed, and the Blackhawks will be without Duncan Keith for the next five games.
It is a lose-lose for both teams and cities.
Fans can only wonder what will transpire between these two teams if they meet in the 2012 play offs.
But there are a lot of people who do not enjoy the sport of ice hockey.
So, here is an interview with Chicago native, Katie Chamber. Katie says she does not particularly like the sport of hockey.
We hockey fans want to know why.
What do you know about hockey?
I don’t feel like I know too much about it. It’s not sport where you actively play in really when you’re a kid or hear about it because it’s a club sport. It’s expensive to play, so it really isn’t a, I don’t want to say common, but not as popular as other sports.
What are your first thoughts when you think of hockey?
It’s all Canadian people. But I think of big burley guys who are more rugged men. It is a very white male dominated sport. You see NBA rags to riches, but not in hockey, it’s a club sport so you really don’t have that in it.
Why don’t you like the sport?
I don’t know much about it so it kind of loses my interest.
Like I said earlier, I don’t understand much about the game, which is why I think I don’t like it too much…At one time I thought a hat trick was a fancy move, until someone told me it’s getting three goals in a game…There is just a lot to know, and most of it, to me at least, is confusing, especially because I never grew up with hockey being a regular sport in my life.
How many games would you say you have watched?
A decent amount, I’ve also been to a few games at the United Center. I like going to the games, it’s always fun to do stuff like that, but that’s with any sport, whether it’s hockey or basketball, going to games is always entertaining.
Is there anything about hockey that you do like? Hot men. I like the fighting and that it’s a contact sport, that gets my interests. I really like that it’s fast paced. I also really like 24/7. Youu get to know the people and players…. Usually you have no idea about a player, except that they play hockey. You don’t learn stuff in media that you do when watching 24/7. I think it’s funny that I enjoy that series so much without watching hockey on a regular basis.
What do you think the sport could add or take away to make it more enjoyable for people who do not like it?
If it were talked about more maybe I would care and understand more. More advertisments for it, to generate interest.
Do you think you could ever be a fan of hockey?
Yeah, maybe. But I would need to learn more about it first.
(this interview was condensed)