Here we go again! Hello from the United Center. Both teams have finished up their morning practices and are headed to thier repsective hotels. Wonder if its the same one? Its not. anyway, no major news this morn except McLellan reiterated that he might have a quick trigger breaking up his top lines if things dont go well. otherwise, the finals are in sight if the hawks win! fire away.
Do you think that the Chicago Blackhawks will be the 2009-2010 Stanley Cup Champions?
Since u asked, yes. I think most people do at this point.Still have to go out and do it!
Who is more important to the Blackhawks postseason success, Dustin Byfuglien or Antti Niemi?
Apples and Oranges but bottom line, its Niemi
Can the hawks get over the home ice pressure friday? A sweep would really make my day and hush those pesky critics. Where's Hossa?
Tough call on the home issue. I think the other home losses were kind of ripe situations for hte opponent..so is this one, in fact, but I think the enormity of the situation gets the hawks to bring their A game. If both teams bring their A games, I still think, barring a fluke, the Hawks win. Not everyone can score. Leave Hossa alone. Did u not see that steal and set up of Hammer last game. If they were losing, he'd deserve more but hes helping and they are winning...he'll get a few
Jesse, what kind of postgame response did the guys have regarding Thornton's slash on Bolland? Did it come up at all? Any mention of picking Dumbo Joe out and making him pay a physical price in game 3?
First of all, it would be hard to make that guy pay a physical price. he's huge and no dumb penalties are allowed with the Cup fianls in sight. Second, yeah, they admit he was frustrated. They like it. Means Bolland is doing his job..as long as Thornton doesnt hurt him too bad, which he didnt.
Any word on if Versteeg took the heat for Bolland's penalty at the end of Game 1 on his on own accord or did the coaches push him out there?
Neither. The refs did it
Jesse, im reading a lot of articles/blogs out there that are questioning Hossa's performance in the playoffs because he only has two goals and is making xxx amout of money. IMO Hoss has been a beast with his two way play, backchecking, etc... we could go on and on. Why are so many so-called experts failing to see what he brings game in and game out? This man is more than earing his paycheck...
I dont think its experts, I think its casual fans..I said on the radio a couple days ago, you can give him a little bit of heat but thats it. He does all that stuff u say and HELPS them win. Whats the diff he scores or someone else as long as they win and hes not hurting them?
Disappoitn in what I saw Thornton do. I neevr knew of him as a dirty type player. Not just the face off incident, but he also dropped the gloves and threw a few rabbit punches in at a player that was being held by 2 other Sharks. Thoughts? Will the Hawks take notice or feel they won in getting in his head?
He has a little history of this .Did it to Getzlaf last year when he was frustrated. Look at it this way: the hawks are doing thier job by taking him out of his comfort zone just as they did with the sedins
Brouwer looked a little more comfortable going to the net the past two games, and it looks like he will probably stay in the lineup come friday. Do you see any lineup changes on the horizon, or do think Q would want to keep the same squad together for the stretch run?
After the last 3 games? No changes, no way. Now, one loss, depeonding on how it happens, can change that.
Jesse, is there anything #19 can't do? One word to describe him, stud... I think a few C's around the league could a thing or two from the kid.
He's amazing. He just wont be denied. So good, so committed, nearly the perfect athlete from a fans perspective. Never satisfied. Always wants to get better. And understands what it takes in big games.
As good as Bolland has been shutting down the top lines and being an overall pest, at what point does is inability to win a draw (1 for 11 last night) reduce his playing time?
Already has but only be a few seconds. If you notice, early in games, especially or when its tied or real close late, John Madden will come out and take defensive zone faceoffs for him and then they will switch...happened twice in opening minutes last game...but late, if they are winning then Bolland stays out there..thats why he got slashed...if it was early , would have been madden!
Jesse, i've heard you say it (or seen you write it) numerous times, 5 on 5 the sharks can't skate with the hawks. If we can limit the trips to the box i could see this series ending in 4 or 5 games. That is if the boys decide to bring it at home...
I said hawks in 5 or 6 games...instead of the easier 6 or 7 games that most people picked...I've thought since the last time they played them in january-and anyone that follows my work knows this--that the hawks were quicker and there was NOTHING the sharks could do about it. Barring major flukes, injuries, or Niemi blowing up, I always liked this matchup. Its a better one on paper for the hawks than nashville and the series might be prove to be easier
Jesse,Who do you think will go after the Thorton line now that Joel has the last line change at home?
same as there. Bolland for sure. its why i think Mcelland splis that line up at some point
McLellan no D
Jesse, great games the Hawks had in San Jose...the Sharks are just getting flustered. 2 questions: 1) How is Bolland doing after that cheap slash by Thornton (Did you hear the Sharks coach on that? Pathetic) 2) Why did they want to leave Sharp at Alcatraz?
He's fine. Showed me his hands after the game, could not even tell. Madden said that about sharp..I thought he meant, jokingly, that he's so good looking the "inmates" would like him but he meant the place is so dirty and dingy he'd brighten it up, etc.
Will Keith win the defensive player of th year award? And what happened to the Habs I saw when they played my caps and the pens. Is Halak just tired from those match-ups?
Habs arent done yet. And I do think Keith will win it after talking to media in aall these cities. Doughty second and COULD be the surprise pick
Hope your young guns can finish the job. Would hate to have you go through what we are out here.Are you hesitantly confident, or B*** to the wall, ready for the Eastern Champ?
Im confident because the hawks are simply the better team and its not because they work harder or any cliches like that..its speed and quickness and over the course of 60 minutes or best of 7 it takes on a lot of meaning...
Who has had the most impact in the playoffs for the Hawks so far?
Johnny be good. on and off the ice. course Niemi too.
As they playoffs continue and the number teams thins out, are those locker rooms getting crowded after the games as more and more reporters are covering fewer teams? Are you throwing elbows in there to get that ESPN-1000 mic up in there?
yes, yes, and yes.
So given Johnsson's injury-induced disappearance, do you think we would have been any better off to still have Cam Barker here?
In hindsight, probably. No update on him . havent seen him since the couple days after he was hurt
Say we were to mic up all the players...whose tape would be most un-air-able? I wouldn't have guessed Bolland before, but in light of the last too series he's had, I'd have to guess he'd be just as likely a candidate as Eager, Burish or Byfuglien.
Hmm.hard to say. I'll go with eager. course if the mic can pick up the opponent..than Bolland!
So given Niemi's playoff success, how do you anticipate Bowman's offseason moves going in regards to our goalies?
Niemi is RFA, one season away from UFA. Very tricky. They, of course, havent won all year BECAUSE of their goaltending but he has been incredible. Its a real tough spot. If Wirtz, etc. is serious, if they cant trade huet then ti the minors. If they are serious.
So it seems like almost every article about Toews points out how his teammates like to get a rise out of him, but the guys do actually like him, right??
Absolutely. 100 percent but how can u not have fun with a 22 year old that is that serious?
Who's your pick coming out of the East? And should we advance, who do you like us matched up against better?
I liekd Montreal going in so Ill stick there..tough call on matchup. Havent watch enough of both teams but I'll say Montreal.
So are the media guys put up in the same hotel as the team? Do you have much interaction with them away from the rink on these trips?
Its different on every trip. This trip I was at thier hotel. Little interaction .They are a bit secluded even in the hotel. They have their own "common" room where they goof off and have meals, and play Wii, and watch TV...they dont venture out as much during playoffs but i had some coffe with Hammer one day!
Jesse, I have said hawks in 5 since the start of the series.(stole that from you so thanks) I am going Friday night and wondering what you are feeling for the game. I think the Sharks will come out hard and fast for 10 minutes but if we are 0-0 or even 1-0 after 10 I think we take game 3. thoughts? what should we be looking for early on? thanks
SO hard to say for hte following reasons. Havent played a home game in nearly 2 weeks so it can be a diff feel for the first few minutes..they are up 2-0 and confident so no matte what they say, they could still have a slight let down, OR they could be serious about bringing their A game the rest of the way because they are so close to the Holy grail and If htey do , no matter what San Jose does, I think they win. Im not sure there is an afvantage early either way. One team is a wounded animal...the other has the home crowd etc. Beauty of it all..not sure what will happen. I thought they would win both on the road..unsure on this one, but again two A games=hawks win, in my opinion
So did you at least manage to get a bit of a tan with your extended stay out in Cali? Or was NorCal too chilly yet?
It was nice. Had one day of real warmth..but not much after that. Sat at pool with Troy Murray. i know, name dropper. But really, is that much of a name? lol.
I love our captain, don't get me wrong, but is Jonathan Toews really as strong of character as some of these articles are making him out to be?
Havent see anything to suggest different
Who's the coach's pet on the team?
Weird question but I guess you're asking who can do the most wrong and get away with it? Hmm..Sopel
In honor of graduations, let's have some Blackhawks superlatives: most popular? most likely to succeed? teacher's pet? class (team) clown? class (team) flirt? best dressed?
Ok, I'll play along...in order: Buff or Sharp, Toews, I guess Sopel like I said before, Burish, Versteeg?, not sure....close call. no one stands out
Should we be concerned about our lackluster performance in faceoffs? Clearly our puck possession game hasn't suffered terribly, but that still seems like an area of our game that could be improved.
Some concern. Usually when it leads to a score or loss it becomes a focal point. You can overcome it if you're the better team but in close games its a concern. You'll see more toews when needed
Jesse, how would you grade Marian Hossa's playoff performance thus far? Without the 'Hawks overall success, do you think he would be a prime target for criticism? He always seems less dominant during the post-season.
A lot of Hoss questions. I could never give that guy anything worse than a B..and thats worst case scenario. He does a lot of things to help your team win. Scoring is a goofy thing. ocmes and goes. Why cant he get as much praise for setting up a goal as scoring it? He was fine last postseason until the finals..where he was hurt. Like I said before, a little heat is ok but I say leave him alone, he'll get a few
Jess - I noticed Torch has a headset on during games. Who is he listening to/communicating with? Any lineup changes tonight?
Not sure if if you mean in game or not. He does a radio or tv interview at the begining of periods some times. he could easily be talking to coaches upstairs as well. No lineup changes
Jesse, you are one of the only one's I read or heard proclaiming the 'hawks would match-up well (ie. beat 'em like a rented mule) vs. the Sharks even though they are a top team (although not THE top team like the 'hawks). Do you have any more Nostradamus predictions for this series (and beyond?)?
No. This one just stood out after having watched all 4 reg season games in person. And remembering what Todd McLellan said before the last one in January: "We have to be quicker tonight." I thought, how do you become quicker just like that. You either are or you are not..now he may meant quicker decisions etc. but his gist stuck with me. You can always give the opponent one game so its 4 or 5 games for me at this point..have not studies enough on Montreal or Philly to make a prediction there
Sorry about spelling. Typing fast.
Jesse, what kind of changes do you expect the Sharks to make to their lines tonight? Are they leaning towards breaking up their Big 3?
I asked that of McLellan right away yesterday. He gave an answer that was hard to interpret but basically he said he might...I think they want to keep some of their stars away from that Bolland line..maybe make toews play defense since that line is clcking so much..tough to say what he will do
Jesse, I was wondering whether or not Quenville could forfeit the last change advantage at the United Center. When the Hawks are on the road, Quenville has everyone on the bench ready to change at a moments notice, meaning that before every face-off each player is on their toes and ready to go. This attitude persists throughout the game, allowing the Hawks to not only stay attentive and focused, but also stick to the game plan. I think the moment the team starts to get comfortable is the moment they start making mistakes. Do you have any other idea why they have played so well on the road?
There's kind of an old saying on the road they have been sticking to: be prepared to win a 1-0 game..they dont always have that attitude at home. Its sports. Weird things happen. This year its road teams winning more than home teams. Not the biggest deal in the world. Power plays also help offset home ice. I mean they won games 3 and 4 in vancouver bascially because of bad penalties..You dont have 5 on 4's in other sports, etc.
Help me understand why Hossa is playing great and getting grief from guys like LeBrun and the VS's announcers... meanwhile "big Joe" is -10 in the playoffs, -4 versus the Hawks, and all I'm hearing is how much better he's playing this year? Was he -20 last year? I don't get it...
Great point about Joe. He should be getting a ton of heat. I dont listen to the games oviously so i havent heard what they are saying. I guess because he has so much talent, Hossa hears it when he's not scoring.
So if this hotel stay pays off and they win tonight, do they pull the same maneuver on Sunday? Like, stay over Saturday night since Sunday is an afternoon game?
Good question. Not sure. I asked. They havent discussed past this game. I think it would be a good idea
Jesse, during games is there any cheering or trash-talking in the press box? Or a you all unbiased professionals?
No cheering. I do enjoy when they win, no doubt but Im not screaming or anything. Thats for after the game on the road!
Where would you rank the PK line of Toews and Hossa amongst the rest of the league?
At the top
All the players get the credit, but how about Coach Joel Q? He's always thinking a step ahead, has made many great match-ups creating chances.
He has a great set of tools to work with but I think he's been great..more from a leadership perspective than anything else but even there he has great guys in the room.
Todd McLellan mentioned he could pull the trigger on breaking up his lines if things do not go well. What possible line combinations would he go with at this point? If he puts thornton on another line and keeps heatley and marleau together do you put bolland out with thorton or keep him on the heatley marleau line?
Good question. Hard to say. Bolland probably stays with Thornton cause centers are where the matchup occurs. Not sure what direction McLellan goes in but I would think Pavelski with Marleau/Heatley makes sense with the other one staying with Thornton
I know that you have mentioned before that Byfuglien could possibly be let go by the Hawks after the season, do you think he has improved his chances of staying after his play in the playoffs and on the top line with Kane and Toews?
That and his versatility to go back and play D. Thats been a find for Q..
Did you grow up a Hawks fan, or you were thrown into them as a radio guy?
PLayed my whoile life and was a fan, for sure.
Do you see either kane or toews ever scoring 50 goals in their career?
Depends. On a team as deep as the Hawks its actually tougher becasue of playing time etc. especially on the power play but I could see it happening, yes.
Jesse, who's hammer?
Sorry. Niklas Hjarmalsson
Is anyone particularly banged up right now? The team seems relatively healthy to me...
Pretty healthy as far as I can tell. They certainly dont publicize the bruises, etc. But everyone has been practicing, etc.
I know one of your favorite stats is how few times the Hawks have trailed after 1 period. Do you know their record in games they hav trailed after 1?
2-2 in the playoffs...5-8 in the reg season
With Tallon becoming the GM of the Panthers...do you see the Hawks and Panthers possibly becoming trade partners in the offseason?
I think its possible..I would imaginr Tallon would covet a couple of players. Thats natural
Since nobody's really saying much about him (due to there being nothing to say), how has Huet been handling this stretch of postseason success? To me he's always seemed like the consummate professional, definitely a team-first kind of guy, so I'd imagine he's nothing but happy for how well things are going.
he's been fine. Doing his work. Probably as worried about next season as anything. Where he'll be,etc. but he's been nothing but a pro.
I know most of the defence revolves around #2, #7 and #51, but, is Sopel getting enough credit? He is a wall in front of Niemi, seems like he blocks 10 shots a game.
He's gotten the right amount of credit. Pk, he's a monster especially with shot blocking. 5 on 5 against a fast team like Vancouver, it was toguht to watch sometimes...this matchup is a little better for him and hendry..I think he gets hte proper credit
Do you forsee and dropping of the gloves on the next 2 games? As we haven't seen much to this point
Not unless a game gets out of hand and maybe not even then..They wont say it but no hawk wants to risk injury or possbile suspension at this time of year
This is probably a hard question to answer.. but if the guys have so much fun riling Toews up, how is it that he keeps his composure so well when the opposing team bumps him hard with a shoulder or talks smack to him? His calm demeaner is one of my fav things about him
Two diff things, on and off the ice...he's a pro on it, human off it!
Jesse, even with the contract extensions for Kane and Toews (to an extent Keith), with the new regime in the Blackhawks front office, do you ever see a scenario in which Kane and Toews are not in the same uniform, a la Chelios and Roenick (who by the way won't root for the Hawks)?
Gretzky got traded so anything possible. The contracts they signed are manageable so i dont think anything is a foregone conclusion so i dont think it will happen
How impressive is Hammer? The kid just does not get beat.
Thought he had a dip in the vancouver series cause he had it easy, comparitively, to nashville but he's back on top of his game. Great pairing all year
Jesse, If there was an allstar game this year do you think byfuglien would have made the team?
No. Had a nondescript reg season
Since being around the team all year, have you seen an increase/change in any supersitions and pre-game rituals from the boys in the playoffs? If so, who?
No. I think thats the point. Keep the same routine. Its possible, though, and Im just not around to see it
Few more for today..
Just how serious is Toews? I have heard stories and things that he gets mad about losing Mario Kart games in the hotel, is that true?
Not so much losing, its when they mess with him. i told that story in San Jose, when Seabrook kept knocking the controller out of his hands and he went ballistic. Stuff like that
Any word on what type of shape the hawks are going to be in salary cap wise after they win the cup? Someone like Versteeg, Buff, or Sharp going to have to go? Sure hope not.
A lot of questions like this. Well documented they have major cap problems. They will lose several key, but not nucleus players, the ones u mentioned are all eligible.
This whole hotel thing is dumb. We are talking about having world class athletes try to "trick" themselves into thinking they are on the road by staying at a hotel. Really? Come on. Lets reserve that for the pee wee leagues. If anything, the whole notion of this road/home stuff is being perpetuated by doing this home hotel stay. Reeks of bush league tactic if you ask me.
If its Bush league then New Jerser and a whole bunch of other teams are bush league. What it is, is no big deal. I wrote a story on it cause it deserves mentioning but in the last 24 hours there has bee nway too much talk about it. My wife said that on eric and kathy on the radio they were having a real stupid conversation about it. Who cares where they nape for 3 hours? Let it go
nap not nape
So what is the Stanley Cup parade route?
The jinx just hit the building. I wont end on that one
Read a quote from a Vancouver fan. He said something along the lines of, "I hope those cocky blackhawks get their ass beat by the Sharks." Is the perception of Hawks as cocky, arrogant players? That is not the perception I have of them as a fan. Is that the perception of them in other cities and from other cities' media?
A little bit. Its mostly an aura thing not something spoken. Its all about perspective. There is a fine line between confident and cocky so I could see why people view it different ways
How early are the players required to get to the rink before the game?
About 2 hours.
Ok, thats it for today. I believe we will have 2 chats next week...possbily tues and fri..will let you know. Now for the plugs. follow me on twitter @espnchihawks. sign up now! pre and postgame tonight on espn 1000. Ill be on after going into the locker room. Final pregame report on aft. show on espn 1000 at 5:40. and check out my blog today. did a video with p.sharp and wrote a pregame piece as well. And we will have a live chat during the game tonight as well so check the site out tonight. Thanks for the great questions. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if I didnt get to one you wanted answered. thanks again! enjoy, the cup is at least in site somewhere but still a ways to go!