St. Louis Blues are Missing Shots and Missing them Badly

st-louis-blues

Are you, my beautiful, loyal, faithful audience growing tired of reading my articles blaming the St. Louis Blues management?  If so, then definitely continue reading.

I am going to place new blame on what is happening with the injury-riddled Bluenote.  Ready?  Here you go.  It’s their vision.  Yes, that’s right.  Eyes.  You know, those two balls (not those, you morons) that God (or Mike Keenan) gave us to see incredible sights with such as Girls Gone Wild Part 12.  Allow me to explain, please.

Have you not noticed how many times the Blues shoot the biscuit wide?  Way wide?  I’m not talking about 40- foot shots either.  Shots from the slot, shots from the dots, shots with nobody in front of them to screen their vision!  Please tell me you have seen this ugly trend.  This disturbing, repetitive behavior finally caused me to do some research.  Or at least it forced me to tell my intern to do the work for me.  What, you really think I’m going to waste my time looking up numbers to educate you future felons?  Trust me, there are numerous advantages to having 19-year old interns.  Female interns.

By Dave Fredericks

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Blackhawks-Flames Random Notes

By Paul M. Banks

-Why does Jim Belushi have to be at everything Chicago sports related? (It now extends over into the Illini and SIU Salukis as well) For some odd reason (or should I say lack of reason) he appeared in a collection of Chicago “celebs” honoring the Blackhawks playoff appearance on the jumbotron at Game 1. He was rightfully booed. We need to extinguish him.

-Or at least add him to next year’s douchebracket.

-Games 3, 4, and 6 in Calgary reminded me of Rocky IV, when he goes to Moscow to fight Drago in his home land: lots of loud, hostile people wearing red in a foreign country…Then again returning home for game five and seeing all the red jerseys and red towels in Chicago, made the United Center also look like a Communist party rally in Red Square.

-The Chicago Tribune’s Shannon Ryan was at all 7 of the games/press conferences that I attended these past couple weeks. So maybe her job isn’t as fun and glamorous as you might think it is. After all you have to spend a fair amount of time in the same places as me.

-Remember when I talked about the huge Indian head logo on the floor of the Blackhawks locker room a few months ago? How it is believed that anyone who steps on it, will be eternally cursed for doing so? Because of the added media attention of the playoffs, they roped it off. Now it is safe.

-Joke I’m running into the ground this week

People ask me “How’s the playoff atmosphere?” and I respond “it’s electric……boogie woogie woogie”

-Rhyming Heckle of the week

“Hey Phaneuf, Sean Avery told the truth” –guy in 300 level of United Center in game 5.”

-With Todd Bertuzzi and Mike Keenan, maybe the Flames should go ahead and sign Sean Avery and (bring Marty McSorley out of retirement too) then we could have all the biggest knobs in the league on one team.

Alberta Clipped

Watching games 3 and 4 in Calgary on tv, we all noticed the C of Red. But did you notice how EVERYONE at the Olympic Saddledome has a jersey on, never a shirt o sweatshirt? And it’s only the current red jerseys, never the other colored jerseys or throwbacks- amazing how they got everyone to conform to that!

-What I learned from chatting with other sports journalists this week

No one cares about spring college football even though coverage of it has grown exponentially this week, and Chicago is ten times more interested in the Blackhawks playoff run than they are in the Bulls postseason. People just don’t seem to care too much about the Bulls here. Oh and we realistically may not have a newspaper here in ten years. A more detailed explanation on all these things in the next edition of Week in Review

Don’t Toews Calgary Bro

By Paul M. Banks

The last time the Chicago Blackhawks won a playoff series in 1996, it was a first round triumph over the Calgary Flames. If history repeats itself in 2009, the series MVP could likely be Hawks Center Jonathan Toews, who was 8 years old back then. He was born the same year the Flames’ home arena, the Pengrowth Saddledome hosted Winter Olympic hockey in 1988. With 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists) team captain Toews is leading the Hawks in scoring this postseason.

When Flames Coach Mike Keenan prepares for the next playoff game versus Chicago, his game plan obviously centers around stopping the young all-star. He could tell his players “Don’t Toews me, bro,” paraphrasing one of pop culture’s most famous quotes of 2007. “As a team we feel that if we do things the right way, the chips will fall our way and things will happen for us, so we don’t need to get too worked up,” Toews said regarding his team’s outlook on the series.

Toews, the second overall pick in 2006 and Patrick Kane (last year’s Rookie of the Year and 2007 overall number one draft choice) are the dual faces of the rejuvenated franchise. However, Toews has a few things on Kane that make him the team’s true signature player: his captaincy status and the added responsibilities of increased media and community visibility that come with it. With the postseason’s added spotlight, he’s out-playing Kane, who has one point in the series and missed game three with the flu.  The Toews #19 jersey is arguably the most popular red, black or white sweater you’ll see at the United Center.

The player nicknamed Taser spoke about the fans’ overwhelming support this postseason. “They were definitely behind us and gave us that extra step. There’s some tough shifts where you’re working out of your own zone and the legs get tired, but you battle through it and the crowd definitely gives you that extra adrenaline push to keep going through it,” Toews said.

And Toews’ teammates respect and admire his locker room leadership. The Hawks second leading scorer in this series, Patrick Sharp re-affirmed what the media has been writing about Taser. “You guys are saying it already, he’s a pretty big player for us, there was talk in the early part of the season when he wasn’t scoring, he kind of shook that off and you see the way he’s playing now, scoring big goals for us, and he’s done it his whole career.”

Blackhawks Experiencing a Very Physical Series

By Paul M. Banks

There’s one aspect of the game of hockey that makes the athletic achievements of the players all the more impressive: Most of the time, hockey players must perform their tasks aware that a giant Russian or Canadian man is speeding towards them on skates with the intent to kill them. Well, not literally kill them, but hockey is an extremely physical game and the seek-and-destroy physicality often takes on an added dimension during the emotionally charged Stanley Cup playoffs.

The Hawks best-of-seven series with the Calgary Flames got off to a happy start (they won 3-2 in OT) but also a very physical one. As the Hawks continue battling against one of their former coaches in Mike Keenan, expect an emotionally charged series against a bench boss nicknamed “Iron Mike” (yes, just like “Da Coach” Ditka) due to his tough, hard-line attitude. And he instills these values into his players. Star right wing and captain Jarome Iginla concurred:

“We do pride ourselves on that side of it and enjoy that physical contact and the battles and it seems that they do too. So it’ll be a fun series. I think it will get more physical, they’re a young team and they compete hard, we like to play that way too,” Iginla said.

As you watch this series, expect more checks than a heavy spending consumer with maxed out credit and no cash flow. I asked Hawks captain Jonathan Toews if there was more cross-checking, fore-checking and general physicality in this game than during their regular season meetings.

“I think so, for sure. I think it’s just the way it is in the playoffs, doesn’t matter who you play, they want to separate you from the puck and play with extra energy, they did that tonight and so did we, and I still think its something we can improve upon,” Toews responded. I posed a similar question to Hawks coach Joel Quenneville.

“I think we’re both respectful for what the opposition can do be it off-the-rush or with the puck offensively, so recognizing that you got to selective when you hit, you don’t want to go chase or run out of position because then you’re vulnerable. I just thought there were some good hits and you think you just gotta play the score and the time and you gotta be respectful to special teams and drawing yourself out of position,” Quenneville answered.

Blackhawks Battling Familiar Face in Postseason

By Paul M. Banks

In order for the Blackhawks to reach the Stanley Cup Finals, they’ll have to first skate past Mike Keenan, the man who guided them to their last cup appearance.  Keenan, currently with his 8th team, is to NHL coaching jobs what Elisha Cuthbert is to dating hockey players: they’ve been around the block a few times. The heavily-traded coaching commodity has a long history of getting involved in power plays (of the metaphorical kind) with people at all levels of the organizations he’s been with. His personality breeds controversy, and these controversies have granted him his carpetbagger resume. 

After taking the Blackhawks to the 1992 Stanley Cup Finals, Keenan eventually lost a power struggle with Senior V.P. Bob Pulford after the 1992–93 season, resigned his position, and was soon hired to coach the New York Rangers. The next season, New York ended their infamous Cup drought. And now Chicago currently has the dubious distinction of longest hockey championship drought. After a 3-2 overtime loss in game one, Keenan was again stirring the pot in Chicago. When he rocked the mic at the post game press conference, he devoted much of his time to his belief that Chicago’s game one win was largely due to illegal goalie interference penalties being perpetrated (but not called) against his team.  

“It’s a certainly part of the game plan, It’s a good plan if you can get away with it, and so far they have,” Keenan said regarding the home team possibly illegally pushing his star goalie Miika Kiprusoff over.

I said before the series started (partially because I heard it on NHL Network a couple days ago) that getting Left Wing Mike Cammalleri going would be the key to Keenan’s offense, and Cammalleri lived up to the billing by becoming the lone Calgary representative to earn a “three stars of the game” position in game one.  Cammalleri was still upbeat about in the series in the locker room after the loss. “We didn’t get the win, but it’s not a one game series and I love our group,” he said.
 
But the most important thing Keenan’s bunch must do if they wish to end Chicago’s dominance over them (the Hawks are 5-0 with a +13 goal differential on the season versus Calgary) is to warm up their ice-cold power play. Anticipating a Flames score with a man advantage is like expecting a sober Amy Winehouse, as they currently have a 0-45 power play drought in effect.