Tuesday, December 16, 2008

I pop off at the mouth

It's hard to win 9-2 graciously. What am I supposed to say? They played a hell of a game? Fuck that! How could I? when you give up 9 goals, no matter how flukey they are, on home ice; you suck. That's right. I said it. The Oilers suck.
It's been a long time since they were a dynasty. It's been a Pete Pocklington trading Gretzky to California 20th year anniversary long time. I hear the fans whine about Craig MacTavish, but last time I checked Craig doesn't lace them up. He does however stand ineffectively on the bench like Barry Melrose did in Tampa. But the team lacks the ability to follow through, play heads up, and keep pucks out of the net as evidenced by last night's game.
But the Oilers are not alone. You know who else sucks? The Phoenix Coyotes. We gave them a 7-1 ass whipping too. And we did the same thing last season when we threw them a 6-0 skull-crackin'. At least once per season we don't just beat them, we embarrass the shit out of them. This year we were also treated to Gretzky running his suck about rookie winger Kris Versteeg after the game.
I never liked Wayne much as a player (which I've been over before), but as coach I think he's an embarrassment. Seriously, the guy should retire and be an ambassador of hockey or something.
Talk about a sore loser in WAY over his head.
I can only look ahead to the next blow out raping we hand a team. So until then I'm gonna be waiting ever ready with vigilance and some beers. Later, All.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Building the team

This is how you make a contender like the 2008-2009 Chicago Blackhawks. Carefully. You build it on the backs of broken seasons, hardships gone but not forgotten, and state wide liver damage of your fans. 3 years ago no one would have mentioned the Chicago Blackhawks and the Playoffs in the same breath unless it was the punchline to a joke or just some wishful thinking. Now the team is not only a contender for the Playoffs but the question is "How far will they go?" So I thought I'd break it down where this team came from.

The Draft is the best place to refill the cupboards efficiently without the risk of signing a big money bust on the free agency market. But drafting excellently takes not just good, but great scouting. This is where Dale Tallon's insistence on doubling the budget for scouting on his first day of being a General Manager comes into play. It's easy to see where the scouts came in towards how, when, and who they drafted. Patrick Kane at 1st overall is a no-brainer so was Johnny Toews at 3rd overall, assuming he's still left out there. But the true genius comes in snagging a guy like Dustin Byfuglien in the 8th round or super pest/grinder Adam Burrish in the 9th and then watching them crack the NHL line up legitimately.

Dave Bolland- DRAFTED 2nd round draft pick (32nd overall) in the 2004 draft
Troy Brower- DRAFTED 7th round draft pick (214th overall) in the 2004 draft
Adam Burrish- DRAFTED 9th round draft pick (282nd overall) in the 2002 draft
Dustin Byfuglien- DRAFTED 8th round draft pick (245th overall) in the 2003 draft
Patrick Kane- DRAFTED 1st round pick (1st overall) in the 2007 Draft
Johnny Toews DRAFTED 1st round pick (3rd overall) in the 2006 draft
Cam Barker DRAFTED 1st round (3rd overall) in the 2004 draft
Duncan Kieth DRAFTED 2nd round pick (54th overall) in the 2002 draft
Brent Seabrook DRAFTED 1st round (14th overall) in the 2003 draft
James Wisniewski DRAFTED 5th round pick (156th overall) in the 2002 draft

So you drafted a dud and signed a bust, huh? Well chances are someone deeply and thoroughly believes that that bust or dud simply needs a change of scenery or a different system and will be willing to make a deal unless you're trying to shop Sean Avery around. Trading wisely can build a core of players to play the 3rd and 4th lines and occassionally you get lucky and put a Patrick Sharp in your line up for next to nothing. I would like to take a minute here to deeply thank Bobby Clarke for his contributions to the Chicago Blackhawks, and for taking some of the deadest weight we've ever had.
Craig Adams- Acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes for a conditional Draft pick last season.
Ben Eager- Acquired from the Philedelphia Flyers for defenseman Jim Vandermeer (now in Calgary)
Colin Fraser- Acquired from the Philadelphia Flyers with Jim Vandermeer and a 2nd round pick for Alexi Zhamnov and a 4th round pick.
Martin Havlat- Acquired from the Ottawa Senators with Bryan Smolinski for Micheal Barinka, Mark Bell, Tom Preissing and Josh Hennessy and a 2008 2nd round draft pick through San Jose
Andrew Ladd Acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes for Tuomo Ruutu (Chicago's 2001 1st round [9th overall] draft pick).
Patrick Sharp Acquired from the Philadephia Flyers with Eric Meloche for Matt Ellison and a 3rd round draft pick in the 2006 draft
Kris Versteeg Acquired from the Boston Bruins for Brandon Bochenski

So you drafted some youth, traded for some energy, but you need some much missing veteran depth to replace your duds and losers that got traded away, huh? Free Agency is the place for you to go assuming you can stomach a big contract, attract the right kind of attention from the player you want, and have a viable destination for him to go. The free agent market is a dangerous and surprising place. You have everything from the small dollar surprise such as Walker and Johnson to the mid-level contributor such as a Brent Sopel all the way to the "Holy Grail" acquisition of a Brian Campbell.
Free Agent Signings
Brian Campbell Free Agent signing before the 08-09 campaign
Aaron Johnson Free Agent signing before the 08-09 campaign
Brent Sopel Free Agent signing before the 07-08 campaign
Matt Walker Free Agent signing before the 08-09 campaign
Chrisotbel Huet Free Agent signing before the 08-09 campaign
Nikolai Khabibulin Free Agent signing before the 05-06 campaign

I hope you all have learned something about building a team of players that will compete at a high level. But more importantly I hope my little exercise leaves you with a better understanding of how the Chicago Blackhawks went from the bottom to the middle and now onward towards the top.

*Thanks to NHL.com and ChicagoBlackhawks.com for all acquisitions and transactions information.

Social causes and Awareness

Did you know for just 4 quarters a day, you can give some NHL players a much needed salary boost?
Peter at the Sens Army Blog has spearheaded a directive to shower these hard working men with some much needed adoration and pay raises. So get behind this important social cause.
Won't you Help?


Some cool Blackhawks stats.

I don't know how close anyone else pays attention to this stuff, but currently.

1. The Blackhawks have the #4 slot in the Western Conference. We would be ranked 3rd in a strictly points ranking tied with Calgary but having played less games
a.) 14 wins 6 losses and 7 OT losses
2. 9th in the league in points. That's right! We cracked the top 10.
3. We're tied with Detroit for 2nd in Goals per game with 3.48
4. 8th in Goals Against average with 2.63
5. 8th in the powerplay. Which is amazing for those that remember how abysmal our PP has been the last few seasons.
6. 8th ranked PK. The PK has always been a strong suit for us. It's good to know the grinders can still shut the game down for our opposition.
7. 10th in shots per game with 30.7 We're FINALLY getting shots on net.
8. 3rd in the league with 94 goals!
9. 12th in Goals Against with 42. Which means we have outscored our opponents by 50 goals so far this season! How about that?
10. Patrick Kane is ranked 12th in the league with 33 points! I guess Kaner has never heard of a "Sophmore Slump".
11. Patrick Sharp is ranked 6th league-wide in goals with 16 while Kaner's taking the 12th slot with 13.
12. Brian Campbell is ranked 12th among Defensemen in points with 20, and 19th in goals for Defensemen with 4.

Let's break down the Blackhawks goals.

Patrick Sharp has scored 17%
Patrick Kane has scored 14%
Jonathan Toews has scored 9%
Defensemen have contributed 17% of our goals.

I think the team is starting to look pretty damn good out there except for the game against Colorado on Friday which we still won. I'm kind of a nerd about numbers like this. Thought I'd just share my findings.

* All stats based off of NHL.com's Stat tracker.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Forgive me

So anyone that knows me, knows that I have spent the last 3 or 4 years throwing Nikolai Khabibulin under the bus. And in some ways he really had it coming.
But I digress. THIS year, Khabibulin has actually played up to not just his contract but also to his billing as a Stanley Cup winning caliber goaltender. So I'm giving up on the bus tossing. I'm letting go of my compulsion to mention his name every time someone says they need goaltending. I'm going to be civil to my good friend, Nikolai. I'll even be down right nice.
No foolin'!

Hands down, Niko has played like a man possessed. I don't know if it's because it's a contract year or if it's because Huet is right there. But he has been so damn good he is the only Western Conference goaltender I feel has the right to bitch if he doesn't go to the All Star game. Seriously. He's been that damn good and that damn dominant.

So Niko, here's to perestroika. Let's be friends. Hands Across America, and all that jazz.