NHL: Chicago Blackhawks at Minnesota Wild

Gold Soundz

We are utterly delighted to announce that The Fifth Feather is joining our team. As you probably already know, The Feather has been maybe the smartest Hawks blog going for a while now, and we’re lucky that that level of hockey intellect and snark will be part of our dysfunctional family. Don’t worry, he won’t be making our twitter feed any more schizo, as he will still be found @fifthfeather. And for all you other Hawks blogs, if you’re worried that we will systematically add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own to make an all-powerful species, we will. Resistance if futile. -Fels

So this is what the other side smells like. I can see why I’ve been away for so long.  Anyways, let’s get to it.  You’ve all waited long enough.

–Patrick Kane is looking more and more like a basketball player in hockey equipment after every game this season.  What I mean by that is his ability to slow down the play, handle the puck, and maneuver his way around the ice is very point guard-esque.  His assist on Hossa’s OT winner in Dallas should’ve been on an Ahmad Rashad-narrated highlight reel.  (Is Ahmad Rashad still alive?  Is he still roaming NBA sidelines?  These are questions I need to know answers to. Also, let’s put “Inside Stuff” back on the air while we’re at it.  That show was great.)

–Let’s give credit to whoever removed the giant Swedish meatball that was residing in Niklas Hjalmarsson’s cranium the past two seasons.  His patience with the puck and ability to take a check has been sorely missing since Lord Stanley was hoisted.  And the first person to mention the Jason Pominville concussion from two years ago as some reason for his subpar play gets to be the first person blow-torched. (Did I mention I brought a blowtorch with me in the move?  That’s right, I did.  Be afraid.)

–I like Johnny Oduya.  I think he’s a really solid hockey player.  But I will not allow myself to be sucked into a false sense of security until the playoffs roll around.  Maybe it’s the scar tissue of him looking more like Steve Poapst reincarnated against Phoenix but he still has to prove himself when the playing surface shrinks and the decision-making process quickens.

–Hockey is such a funny game.  After the playoffs last season, there were more than a few people that wanted a complete tear down of the roster and declared the Hawks further from the Stanley Cup than ever before.  And of course, now they are a legitimate Cup contender and are likely a top 3 seed in the Western Conference.

I really enjoyed this article I read the other day for a number of reasons (number 1 with a bullet is the comment section where hockey fans harpoon the guy for not knowing hockey and the guy has to go on the comment section to defend his hockey resume.  On a Harvard Business Blog.  Never change, hockey fans).  The main point of the article is something I’m a firm believer in and that is luck plays a bigger factor in hockey than any other sport.  Yeah, it helps to be the most skilled team in the league but without much luck and you’re essentially begging for a first round elimination.  Just ask Detroit.

–The Hawks resurgent power play should serve as a reminder to us all that assistant coaches are largely interchangeable and highly overvalued.  Just as Kings fan bitched about what an awful coach Jamie Kompon was, Hawk fans are now singing his praises for being some kind of power play whisperer.

–Games like he had against Minnesota show why there is a lot to like about Andrew Shaw.  But let’s not have any illusions during the good times: He’s nothing more than a role player.  Albeit, a very useful one, but not a guy that should be counted on for any kind of consistent offensive production.

–Yeah, he’s off to a very good start, but I’m all for tying Corey Crawford to the net, a la the Gimp in “Pulp Fiction.”  He over-commits to pucks like Matthew Perry over-commits to romantic comedies.  The results are him swimming all over his crease when he loses his net.  Please stop this.  Unfortunately, I think that’s just who he is.

–Are there really people out there questioning Brandon Saad and his reason for playing on the top line?  Amazingly, not every young player walks into the league and sets the world on fire.  Maybe this is just my amateur eye but he’s fit in as well any other guy the Hawks have thrown up on the top 6 in the last two years (admittedly, not an impressive list) to play with the stars.

–There are few things sexier than Nick Leddy carrying the puck with a full head of steam.  It’s very easy to see why Stan Bowman fell in love with him three years ago.  So far, he’s used his speed to make something happen offensively at least once in every game.  It’s amazing how much more comfortable he looks when he’s not asked to play 20 minutes a game, kill penalties, carry a dead beat partner around the ice, and play against top lines.  Funny how that works.

  • Chesterfield King

    Well now the quality can finally go up around this hive of scum and villainy

  • Hi, I’m Bob LeDonne

    Hi, I’m Bob LeDonne.

    • Accipiter

      Hi, he’s Bob LeDonne.

      • Joe Banks

        Hi, who’s Bob LeDonne?

        • cliffkoroll

          Hi-ho Bobble Don!

          • http://twitter.com/ChiNativeSon ChicagoNativeSon

            Bobble Don

          • cliffkoroll

            Hey Bob. If you’re lookin’ for a new avatar…

        • Hi, I’m Bob LeDonne

          Hi, I’m Bob LeDonne.

  • DesertHawk

    Wooo fifthfeather, I’ve been checking your blog after every game, glad to see you haven’t bailed. Also welcome to TCI.

  • Bullitt315

    Great news. I literally just checked the fifthfeather site hoping there was an update before I came here.

  • 334Rules

    Welcome aboard, Feather.

    Re: Oduya. Couldn’t agree more. He’s a good 4/5 D-man. Nothing more, nothing less. When he plays within his game, he’s terrific: making smart plays, not risking much, staying safe. However, against the Wings, I noticed him actually trying to bring the puck into the Detroit zone on a power play. It did not end well (SURPRISE) and must not happen again.

  • Robotic Octopus

    Yes! Love fifth feather! Dude in that HB Blog signs his comments “Best, Michael” I hate that.

    • http://twitter.com/VULTR3 Mike

      Yeah that signature shit is annoying. Besides, you know he doesn’t even mean it!

  • Waylon

    Great snark as always, and I think I speak for many here who are just as confused about the folks saying that Saad the Impaler doesn’t belong up there. The kid is consistently in the front of the net looking for rebounds, and is fearless in the corners. Definitely a presence out there, and for goodness sakes he’s only 20!

    • Accipiter

      He used to be 43.

      • wardrums

        The curious case of Benjamin Buttons??

      • ahnfire

        I see what you did there.

      • red palace

        Slick

    • wardrums

      “A force for good”

  • Fork

    “And for all you other Hawks blogs, if you’re worried that we will
    systematically add your biological and technological distinctiveness to
    our own to make an all-powerful species, we will. Resistance if futile”

    so eventually we’ll see images of Block glaring at Big Cheyenne?

    • wardrums

      I’d pay to see that one!!!

  • cliffkoroll

    Great news! Regarding Kane and Hossa and ridiculous spinning blind backhanded Globetrotteresque set-up passes, wasn’t there one last night that Hoss couldn’t finish on?

    • Accipiter

      Yup, in OT. It would have been glorious.

    • justforkicks

      it was in one of the final OT rushes. Would have been amazing.

    • http://www.cheertheanthem.com/ Hjammertime

      “Couldn’t finish” might be a little rough. A Minnesota player (I think Granlund) got a stick on Hossa right at the last possible second.

      That would have been the goal of the year though. Kane sells that move by keeping his head up and eyes focused on the slot. It’s just nasty.

      • DesertHawk

        Kane did have a no look back hander directly to a Wild player as well though.

        • justforkicks

          think he forgot he was with stals on that rush

          • Accipiter

            One of the Wild called for it and Kaner fell for one of the oldest tricks in the book. The look on his face after he made the drop pass was that of great shame.

          • Z-man19

            I concur, you could hear the yell on the tv

          • justforkicks

            didn’t kopy used to do that or was that just banging the stick on the ice?

          • red palace

            He was just trying to keep himself propped upright

          • DesertHawk

            It was quite a lovely pass.

        • Joe Banks

          Probably learned that from Sharp

        • Guest

          Thought that was Saad in the 3rd period, no?

    • wardrums

      A Wild foward busted his tail to lift Hossa’s stick just as he was going to poke it by Backstrom. Great hustle by the little green bastard.
      That pass by Kane was around one of the premiere d-men in the league – Suter.

    • laaarmer

      That was a good defensive play. Plays like that (the d play) are why they got 2 points.

  • ChicagoHawksGal

    Have so missed posts from the FF dudes…. smart, cynical, hilarious hockey talk

  • cliffkoroll

    Also, outstanding link on luck vs. skill. I await laaarmer’s analysis.

    And the author was amazingly patient with the knuckleheaded commenters. Reminds me of McClure.

    • http://twitter.com/ChiNativeSon ChicagoNativeSon

      THIS ENDS HERE.

      • wardrums

        LOL

      • laaarmer

        Here is the point of my luck thingy. A guy with skill makes his own luck and a guy with less skill is less lucky.

  • OMFS88

    :)

  • wardrums

    Fifth feather,
    Q never gave Scott a chance to fill in the left wing or you might be singing a different toon.
    Great analysis – the pulp fiction analogy is disturbinh though.
    someone said it best the other day – there are better players than Shaw, it’s just that he seems to add something you can’t put your finger on.
    Is hockey funny like a clown? Don’t make me go all Joe Pesci on you.
    “His patience with the puck…” says a lot about the resurgent #4 – Fucking Swede’s rule
    I’ve been waiting for Oduya to drop the mittens one of these games. Dropping Shane Doan would be a great start. Oh hell, why wait that long, Bieksa or Burrows will do tomorrow night.
    “Power play whisperer” – the line of the week

  • Sparky_The_Barbarian

    Glad to have 5th F aboard.

    “but without much luck and you’re essentially begging for a first round elimination.”

    Or a 3-2 shootout loss.

  • wardrums

    By the way (or BTW for you hipsters)
    The uniform the Wild wore last night is one of the classiest in the league. Get rid of the faux pas wolf head created by someone who had done way to much meascaline in his or her formative years.

    • mightymikeD

      THERE ARE NO HIPSTERS HERE!! I hope.

      • http://www.facebook.com/hair.helmet Hair Helmet

        My mom says I’m pretty hip.

    • http://twitter.com/ChiNativeSon ChicagoNativeSon

      I guaranty their 3rd jersey will soon be their 1st. (I’m gonna “add it up”?)

      Or at least it should be. It’s one of my favorites already.

  • Paul the Fossil

    I just read that HBR article as well as the statistical study linked in it, which is the source for the writer’s claim that “luck plays a bigger factor in hockey than any other sport”…the study does not support such a claim. In fact I’m scratching my head over where the HBR guy even got that idea.

    That Journal of Economics Issues article doesn’t even propose such an argument (the word “luck” never appears in it). The Stephen Jay Gould essays referenced there were making a completely different point. Nothing else cited in the HBR article offers anything to support the claim about the NHL either.

    Maybe the assumption that a greater degree of competitive imbalance within a league means that skill is more important in that sport than is luck? Well (a) that’s just a hypothesis with no data or testable logic being offered to support it; (b) no single league can be used as a surrogate for an entire sport; and (c) the NHL ranks in the middle of the pack of those major sports for competitive balance anyway. So….huh?

  • mightymikeD

    I said GODDAM! The Committed Feather.. I’m delighted. This now makes this blog the smartest and snarkiest in the league. Welcome, wilkommen, cead mille failte.
    Altoug, when assimilating the Hawks Hockey Bloggers can I suggest one to omit (Hint: His name rhymes with Slack Pass)

  • Woods

    WELCOME!

    And kudos on the HBR blog link. Was going to post that in the comments of an earlier thread.

  • The_FFF

    Welcome! This is an exciting development!

  • stacie7

    So now that you are assimilating other blogs does this mean we’re going to get some podcasts soon?

    • mightymikeD

      upboat 4 Stacie

      • DesertHawk

        I can double upboat! once before I log in, and once after… mwuahahahaha

  • ahnfire

    Welcome FifthFeather!

    And ahh the argument of luck vs skill. Where’s laaarms & Cliff?

    • mightymikeD

      oh no… we haven’t had a proper Stats-Fight on here yet..

  • mightymikeD

    Also: Pavement. Marvellous.

    • Nagelbett

      when it’s central, so essential.

  • 2883

    I know I might be alone (in fact I know I’m alone) but watching John Scott pummel the shit out of Shawn Thornton made me smile…. Almost enough to want him back….. ALMOST.

    • Accipiter

      You aren’t alone, Q wants Scoot back as well.

      • justforkicks

        don’t even joke about that

    • justforkicks

      i don’t want him back but tbh it was nice to see

  • wowwowweewoo

    2 of my own observations. 1) I think Saad doesn’t have a point yet because the captain isn’t 100% yet. I think sitting in the negotiation room, rather than playing overseas has slowed him down 5 on 5. I’d like to see Hossa and Kane switch for a game or so and see if it jumpstarts Saad/the second line. 2) Kreuger is the PK. Maybe he was the plan all along, just a different plan than what we thought.

    • The Doctor

      Johnny seems to be doing just fine to me. Making things happen each game along with 4G 3A and a +5. I don’t think his lack of production is due to one of the most consistent players the Hawks have. I feel like if that were true, Hossa wouldn’t have the points he does.

      • Accipiter

        It isn’t always about points, but they do help in assessing how well a player is doing. Kaner has helped Hossa accumulate some of his points, but I also feel (more to your point) that Toews is performing quite well.

      • Wowwowweewoo

        Don’t get me wrong, he’s not far off. I see it in his board battles and stopping and starting. The shot still there, but he’s just not able to shake a defender behind the net like I’m used to. I’d take Johnny at 90%, especially considering like I said, the game shape is gonna take a bit, since he didn’t play elsewhere. I don’t have time to do in depth analysis, but hoss is. +2 and Saad a +0, that tells me 5 on 5 that line isn’t doing so much except in transition when maybe the full line isn’t on the ice.

  • Hack

    Welcome aboard FF. This is an unexpected and exciting addition

    • Accipiter

      Actual intelligence, if I’m not mistaken.

    • 2883

      probably, although let’s say the Ducks fall out of it, would someone like Saku Koivu be of interest to the Hawks? a Saad-Koivu-Hossa line to compliment DDN woudln’t be all bad?

      • Hack

        Koivu’s name has come up in the past. His upcoming UFA status certainly makes him a feasible band-aid, but even I’m not ready to think about potential trade candidates at this point. Sorry to disappoint.

        • 2883

          That’s fair… too early but I was just pointing out that there will be possible 2 pivots out there

    • wardrums

      ‘(a-1C-on-a-bad-team type who has just barely eonough warts to be traded by an impossibly stupid GM)” –
      Hack, that is pure poetry.

    • cliffkoroll

      Get your acumen here! Red hot!

      • laaarmer

        I’m right here

    • cliffkoroll

      Also, the 85 Bears analogy haunts me. HAUNTS ME, d’ya hear?

      2013: The Year of Urgency

      • Hack

        Haha, yeah, tongue-in-cheek for sure, and it certainly wasn’t meant to project urgency. There’s no comparing a quarter-of-a-century+ drought with a two year drought. I often make references to the cup team for points of comparison/contrast, but when I roll my eyes at the sound of a Jesse Rogers uttering the name of any departed 09-10 Blackhawk, I should probably be fair and give myself the occasional eye roll out of some misplaced sense of karma.
        But for real though, a forechecking Bickell is a Bickell that I like, and it makes him more Ladd-like and/or lite (your choice) than he’s ever been. Vik won’t give you the raw-as-it-gets hands & playmaking ability of a 2010 Steeg, but he’s also less prone to the pure on-ice dumbassery that would rear its ugly head on occasion, and obviously Vik can get the puck on the right side of center ice in a hurry.

        • cliffkoroll

          Well, the human mind is designed to recognize patterns, even specious patterns. I can’t help it.

          1985: roll through the league to championship. Yay!
          1986: disappointing first round exit
          1987: disappointing first round exit
          1988: All right. Team is finally healthy. Creamed at home in NFC championship game.

          1989: 4-0, then Hampton gets hurt. Midway through the season, Ditka predicts, correctly: “I don’t know if this team will win another game this year; I don’t think they will.”

          The end. So much for a dynasty.

          By analogy, this is 1988.

        • cliffkoroll

          Also Bick and Stals ain’t quite Ladd and Versteeg, but, especially with Bolland between them, I’d put them out there against ANYONE, from shutting down top lines to making a physical statement. (When was the last time the Hawks could throw a skilled, physical line at another team. Might pre-emptively cut down on the nonsense the Hawks have to put up with night in and night out. Yeah, I’m a meathead.)

  • http://twitter.com/ChiNativeSon ChicagoNativeSon

    When you mentioned on twitter last night that you’d be appearing someplace completely unexpected, I assumed you meant at FifthFeather.

    Then I checked HockeyBuzz,The One Diet Cola, The Last Row of the 300 Level…
    HockeeNight…

    Welcome aboard John. Glad you didn’t hang up the skates.

    • http://www.cheertheanthem.com/ Hjammertime

      I actually believed he was going to the Daily Herald.

  • red palace

    Luck over skill, you say??
    Sorry, today at least, we are the Bollig to your Konopka.
    Welcome!

  • PainSt

    Appreciate the insightful comments

    regarding hjalmarsson’s apparent re-emergence
    clearly almost every player suffers second year regression (sophomore jinx)
    and one needs to go no further to explain hammer’s sloppy play in 2010-11
    he was a solid defender last year

    i’m a big fan of saad and pretty much unconcerned by his lack of offensive production but as hard as he’s obviously playing he’s continually out of position and not complimentary to toews game thus far … he needs the minutes obviously

    certainly not approaching what both bickel and stalberg have done and can do on the first line for toews and hossa

    as both those are crucial to a viable third line (stalberg less so)

    where saad isnt applicable at this point ..on the first line he stays

    in addition i’d like to say that i’m enjoying having the fourth line take top pk minutes
    as well as the 3/4 d …
    as we were promissed last spring
    the work load relief at the top is palpable

  • skwahkcalbogacihc

    ah… love me some pavement.

    now, while the hawks look bound for the playoffs once again this year, some personnel adjustments can (likely) be made that would have them as serious cup contenders. in a shortened season, where games come fast and the miles are being piled up on the road, depth on the back end can be crucial. You might remember in 2010 where they were able to alternate eight defensemen, even nick boynton played in the finals (game 6!!!). In my mind, catfish aughtta be lured back to take some minutes in key games, since he’s been playing in russia and could easily fit into the starting line up it could be an important acquisition.

    the second line needs tweaking, if bolland cant become the forechecker he was on the third line or q shakes up the lines putting saad on the second line and reuniting daydream nation.

    the fifth feather is going to make a nice addition as well.