Hockey

Jack Johnson – All the normal antagonists are hurt these days for the Pens, so will go with this moon-faced tomato can. Not that he’s a particularly ornery or annoying player, he just sucks. We’ve seen players suck before, but the’s the suckiest suck that ever sucked. And he’s also definitely going to be a Hawk in the near future, because if there’s one thing they love it’s a big, slow, dumb defenseman. Hey Jack, where’s all your money gone?

Sidney Crosby – He doesn’t get enough John Stockton comparisons, but maybe that’s because John Stockton never bitched as much as Crosby does per game. When you’ve been the game’s best player for a decade, that happens of course (hey, LeBron wants his calls too). But Crosby is also sneaky dirty and not-s0-sneaky strong. Watch him closely down low, and you’ll see some dark arts…followed by some whining. They go hand in hand.

Nick Bjugstad – Only because we spent about five years thinking this guy was going to be a premier power forward in the league, after watching him at Minnesota during the lockout because we had nothing else to do. And it’s never happened, it’s probably not going to happen, and when you’re a big player that Dale Tallon gives up on, you know you’ve fucked it.

Everything Else

Frank Rekas has been our Cats guy for as long as we can remember (which admittedly is only a few days). You can follow him @FrankRekas. 

The Panthers started out the season rough, but seem to have turned it around. What was the problem earlier?  

In typical Florida Panther tradition, the season started slowly. As it always does. Last year took the Florida Panthers approximately 30 games to figure things out under a new coach, with a new system.  The second half finish was tremendous and most thought that it would just naturally continue into this season. Knowing that another slow start couldn’t happen, they did just that.  First of all, no one could have predicted the freak leg injury to the ageless wonder, goaltender Roberto Luongo that occurred in the season opener. We all know a team plays differently depending on who’s in net, and the Panthers are no stranger to that. The play of James Reimer and Michael Hutchinson was below average to poor depending on the night. The inability to make a key save, or steal a game was missing. While there weren’t many games that the Panthers were blown out of, one of the goaltenders needed to find a way to make that “key” stop. Additionally, playing a full 60 minutes was also a trouble spot. Specifically the Panthers had issues with the second period.  For whatever reason the middle frame saw them become lethargic, mistake prone, and defensively erratic. Taking poor penalties at inopportune times  and defensive mistakes led to the downfall of games during the middle frame. It’s kind of funny in a way that it took a 39 year old goaltender to return from injury to get things back on track.
Evgenii Dadanov and his extraneous I might be the quietest player to be averaging over a point per game. How good is he?  
In his second tour of duty with the Panthers after playing in the KHL for 5 years, Dadonov has come back more rejuvenated, and skilled and fun to watch than anyone could have imagined. He was a huge question mark when Dale Tallon signed him prior to last season as a free agent. But as Tallon often does, this signing earned Dale a gold star. “Daddy,” as Panther faithful often refer to him as, has been nothing short of brilliant.  He’s not afraid to shoot, plays with energy and passion, and scores goals that count at the right time.  He’s been one of the Panthers most consistent players in the past two seasons, and is averaging almost a point per game so far this year. 22 of his 28 goals last season came 5×5, and 7 of 9 have been scored that way this season. He finds the right areas to be in, and never seems to take a shift off.  His consistency is a breathe of fresh air. No reason he can’t keep that pace up playing with Aleksander Barkov and Mike Hoffman.
First impressions of Mike Hoffman? 
My first impressions of Mike Hoffman when he was playing for Ottawa were, if the Panthers (or Hawks for that matter) ever had a chance to get him, they should as he caught my eye a while ago. That being said in another “kidnapping” by Tallon, Hoffman arrived with a background as a player that has skill, a dandy wrister, and a goal scorers mentality. So far, he has not disappointed. He loves to shoot, and on this team that’s a great sign because there are a few players who aren’t as “selfish”.  He got off to a bit of a slow start, and at one point saw himself on the 4th line. But that’s old news now, and as I prepare this on Tuesday night, Hoffman has put together a 1- game point streak. Not at all surprising for a guy that’s known as a goal scorer. He’s displayed a nasty shot on a few occasions, and that’s what this team has needed for years. When the puck touches his stick it has a pretty good chance of getting on net, and possibly going in. He’s going to be huge part of the success of the Panthers, and now that he’s on the top line, his numbers could become even better.
 Nick Bjugstad seemed to have something of a breakout year last year. Is he a full-time winger now?

Now that center Vincent Trochek has had an unfortunate leg injury, it would have appeared that Nick Bjugstad would have gone back to centering the second line. Surprise as that’s not the case at least in the game against Tampa on Tuesday night as “Big Nick” as some like to call him was on the wing with Jared McCann getting promoted to take Trochek’s place. Center is Nick’s natural position and he’s performed rather well there in the past, especially during the 2014-2015 season. But a back injury and concussion derailed his progress. Until last season, when the Bob Boughner line blender was looking for the right combination, found that putting Nick on the wing with Aleksander Barkov and Evgenii Dadonov seemed to be the perfect recipe. Bjugstad produced his best season to date playing the wing, and was extremely effective in his role. There are some questions though that seem to linger. Does he have a higher gear? Can he or why doesn’t he use his big body more? He has a good shot, but it’s not accurate at times.  Why?  The subject of trade rumors during the past two offseasons, Nick is a player that he Panthers believe in, and are hoping that he reaches his potential. One of the most likable players on the team, Bjugstad is talented, and is someone that everyone roots for.  It’s up to him now, as he is being given a chance to prove how good he can be.  And with Trochek out for an extended period of time, Nick is on the list of players that bigger things will be expected from.

Game #24 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

 at 

Game Time: 6:00PM CDT
TV/Radio: WGN, NHLN (US), WGN-AM 720
Panther Like A Panther: Litter Box Cats

With the season coming around the final turn, the Hawks find themselves nearly completely clear of divisional and conference play with 10% of the schedule still remaining. Of the eight games left, only one is against a Central opponent, and since it’s Colorado it doesn’t even really count anyway. And the first five of that stretch are all against eastern conference opponents, beginning with a Florida trip starting tonight in Sunrise before swinging up to Tampa on Monday.

Everything Else

panthro panther vs 250px-Ozymandias

Game Time: 7:30PM CST
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Uncle Dale’s New Dysfunctional Family: Litter Box Cats

panthers-lineup-card

blackhawks-lineup-card

Dale Tallon just can’t seem to find an organization that doesn’t have dysfunction among the front office braintrust. And after getting kicked upstairs this past summer, his replacement Tom Rowe has now descended to behind the Cats’ bench after unceremoniously launching Gerard Gallant on Sunday after a mediocre 11-10-1 start. And Tom Rowe will make his NHL head coaching debut at the United Center tonight as the Hawks return home from the final Circus Trip ever.

Everything Else

pack up the cats vs evil empire

Game Time: 7:30PM Central
TV: CSN, WGN-AM 720
Jimmy Buffett Sucks: Litter Box Cats

In today’s episode of the family favorite series Not Tone Deaf, the following is presented free of comment:

Everything Else

panthro panther vs AltLogo_medium

Game Time: 7:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
It Never Snows In Florida: Litter Box Cats

Much like Joel Quenneville’s theory regarding 5-on-3’s, there was a school of thought that this 8 game homestand would go a long way in determining how the Hawks’ regular season will end up. And also similar to  Quenneville’s 5-on-3 power play units, this stretch has been frustrating and bordering on motionless, going down to the wire to salvage something other than “unmitigated disaster” as a result. That opportunity presents itself tonight in the form of the Florida Panthers on the front end of a home-and-home, where the Hawks can barely squeak out 9 points of a potential 16 with a win tonight coming off of three straight losses.

Everything Else

panthro panther vs AltLogo_medium

Game Time: 7:30PM Central
TV/Radio: CSN, WGN-AM 720
It Never Snows In Florida: Litter Box Cats

Much like Joel Quenneville’s theory regarding 5-on-3’s, there was a school of thought that this 8 game homestand would go a long way in determining how the Hawks’ regular season will end up. And also similar to  Quenneville’s 5-on-3 power play units, this stretch has been frustrating and bordering on motionless, going down to the wire to salvage something other than “unmitigated disaster” as a result. That opportunity presents itself tonight in the form of the Florida Panthers on the front end of a home-and-home, where the Hawks can barely squeak out 9 points of a potential 16 with a win tonight coming off of three straight losses.