Chicago Blackhawks – Inking in another leader for awhile

Seabs practice


Chicago, IL — The only thing that will be different this year with number 7 on the Chicago Blackhawks is his jersey will now don a A after being named assistant captain.

The other very good news from last night for Hawks fans was that the Blackhawks extended Brent Seabrook’s contract for another eight years starting next season.

Every Blackhawks fan should be happy to keep Seabrook in Chicago for quit a long time. Players like Seabrook are not easily found and had he have went to free agency he would have been gone or cost a lot more for sure.

Forget his physical size, to be respected and looked up to by a locker room filled with leaders is a testament to what a great leader and teammate Seabrook is and speaks volumes to his value to the organization.

As a fan, I have always admired him not only as player and the way he plays but how he comports himself off the ice.

He always is leading the charge and has demonstrated a positive attitude and team first demeanor. He always works hard and seems to know when his team needs him the most.  It is one of the reasons he has always been my favorite player. Let us not forget either, Seabrook along with Keith were in Chicago in the dark times so to see him rewarded is fitting.

The thought that Seabrook will retire a Blackhawks most likely along with Duncan Keith should keep the Hawks competitive for a very long time. Champions and Championships are still determined by defense as we saw throughout last years Stanley Cup run.

Everyone, fans, media and other teams kept asking the question can a banged up defense, granted anchored by three world-class defenseman be enough to win a Stanley Cup? Well as we all know now the answer was yes. The three world-class Dmen though are not only great hockey players with extraordinary hockey skills they are superhuman physically as we found out to wink wink.

More importantly they possess something maybe even more impressive than their hockey skills. They know how to win and what it takes to win and they never back down or away from any challenge, in fact they not only embrace it, they own it.

Brent Seabrook has really always been like this it’s just people started to take notice a couple of seasons ago in the Detroit Red Wings series when he settled down and led maybe one of the greatest leaders in the NHL. That spoke volumes as to the type of leader Seabrook is and what kind of team-mate he is and how much of a pulse he has on the Blackhawks and what they need in the locker room and on the bench. Priceless.

It was another easy decision for Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks to give Seabrook and extension probably one of the easiest this organization has had to make.

You also as a fan have to love how Seabrook in speaking to the media said “I’ve got a lot of winning left to do”.  That attitude pretty much sums up him as a player and team-mate. The Blackhawks now with the blue line solidified give the Hawks a chance to win Stanley Cups every year which should thrill fans. You know he will be doing everything he can to get this team in position to win Cups within his powers.

On a personal note it is good also to see in this day and age  that the Keith/Seabrook brotherhood can continue on the ice in Chicago. The chemistry and the balance they bring to the blue line is something that only comes with time so why lose that if you don’t have to. They have remained loyal to Chicago and the Hawks so it is only fair that the favor be returned.

As Stan Bowman said if the Blackhawks didn’t have Brent Seabrook they would be looking for a player like him so why not just keep him here. Bravo Blackhawks and Stan Bowman for keeping not only a great defenseman here but a great leader which maybe actually harder to find. The league has some great defenseman but how many of them have three Stanley Cups and counting? Not many if any.

Brent Seabrook


As we have all witnessed he is clutch especially in moments that are the most crucial and that in another intangible that can not be replaced.

Congratulations to Brent Seabrook on getting the A officially on the jersey even though you were in spirit and to the extension it is well-earned and deserved. As a Blackhawks fan I am thrilled for you and to see you remain on anchoring Chicago’s defense. Have a great season!






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Chicago Blackhawks – All the players heading to camp

Chicago, IL — The Chicago Blackhawks have released their roster for training camp which, will be held this Friday at Notre Dame again and the full roster is on their website. What makes this year different is several things.

The largest question was would Patrick Kane be at camp and how would the Blackhawks handle this with an ongoing investigation surrounding Kane. I intentionally have stayed away from this subject because there is so much misinformation and speculation in the media and social media I was frankly appalled.

For professional journalists to push agendas and try and sell newspapers, radio shows ect at the expense of peoples lives, reputations and livelihoods was/is disgusting.

There were many that flocked to tell the Blackhawks what they should and shouldn’t do with Kane.

Thankfully the Blackhawks are a smart organization that does not listen to the noise from the outside and others agendas which is why they are one of the best professional sports organizations.

I’m sure there were plenty of lengthy thoughtful discussions that went into this decision and it was not arrived at lightly.

And before I get scalded, yes I am a Blackhawks fan which means I support the team, all of the team, of which Patrick Kane is still apart of.

More importantly though I am a bigger fan of truth, justice and due process. To judge someone without all the facts is simply dangerous and irresponsible.

The Blackhawks had no other choice but to let Kane attend camp as he has not been charged by the law of anything, so if and until he is which may never happen, he must be given the benefit of the doubt and the support of his organization, league and teammates.

As a fan I trust the Blackhawks are making the right decision for the organization & I must trust our legal system as far as determining if in fact anything Illegal occurred.

It will be a scary day when we start assuming a persons guilt based on accusations and speculation without knowing all of the facts first.

To those that say it will be a circus, it will be regardless if Kane is present or not. Actually your not giving the Hawks enough credit. They know how to deal with the media and to let one of your own burn because of PR ramifications what does that say about your organization? You bale on someone, one of your own, when the going gets tough?

If people thought that, you don’t watch or know the Blackhawks well enough. When have they ever backed down from challenges or hard times. Granted they have never faced anything like this before but it’s good to see they stand by their players. This just proves to me why they are an organization I can stand behind proudly.

I don’t look for the Blackhawks or any of their players to be my moral compass but I certainly don’t look to the media either or fans and neither should anyone else.

The Blackhawks are a professional hockey team and their focus is to field the best team possible and there is no question they are a better team with Patrick Kane than without him.

The trade talks are ludicrous without any charges and IF there are any they will not be able to trade him anyway so this talk is silly so please stop.

Yes I suppose they could trade him once all the dusts settles but honestly why would they? No I don’t think he is bigger than the team but honestly if he is found innocent they would be foolish to let his talents go.

For those fans that were incensed at Jonathan Toews comments really? Everyone got to voice their opinions and most do not know either Kane or the accuser so why do you get to voice your opinions but Toews can’t and he at least knows one of the parties? There was nothing wrong with what Toews said and as a captain I would expect him to say something.

You have to have some faith in people and at this point without facts and so many unknowns you have to proceed like business as usual until things change one way or the other.

The Blackhawks have scheduled a press conference tomorrow at 2pm Central time and I’m sure they will be addressing everything head on which, is the right thing to do.

Agree with their decision or not make no mistake it was their decision alone to make with the NHL & NHLPA not the medias or fans.

As far as Kane being a distraction, my media friends, only if you make him the entire story. Personally I am focusing on the new players, line combinations, player development and coaching.

The PTO’s that are there and their chances of making the team. How hard do you think it will be to repeat or stay fresh? That is what I would be asking.

The only thing I’m focusing on with Patrick Kane is how he looks with Anisimov as his center and I’m hoping Panarin on the opposite wing.

The one thing I do know is what my mother always used to say in hard or bad times “This too will pass”. In the meantime let the puck drop and here is to the best team in hockey trying to accomplish something that has not been done since the 1990s. Let’s keep the Cup.

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Chicago Blackhawks – Globalizing

Chicago, IL — We are only three weeks away from training camp so it is time to talk hockey again, specifically NHL Chicago Blackhawks hockey. Speaking personally I have never been more ready for this season to begin.

In fact it is rare that I focus on the next year when my team is in the middle of trying to win another Stanley Cup. That scenario though is exactly what happened when the Blackhawks announced back in spring, they had signed Artemi Panarin from the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg team.

I could hardly contain myself, was I reading the reports right? Was I in a Hawkey fantasy land? Was I just wishful thinking? Was this for real?

For those Blackhawks fans that follow religiously the IIHF World Juniors, Artemi Panarin is a name they should be very familiar with and we all know the skill and potential that he brings.

Yes I know it was on larger ice however, there are certain skills that translate like vision, stickhandling & scoring I. Q.

Panarin posses all of these. Sure there will be an adjustment period but, given Panarin is experienced and has played on the highest international stages you would have to think he will be able to master the NHL transition better than say a 20 year old.

Panarin’s biggest challenge will be the pace and lack of space one is given in the NHL. Give him time he’ll figure it out like another young European prospect Teuvo Teravainen.

As Hawks fans we saw with Teuvo him develop right before our eyes in the playoffs and he only got better as the playoffs went along. Panarin like Teravainen has a high hockey intelligence and will make adjustments when needed.

Panarin will also need to be mindful of the defensive zone but as a winger his responsibilities will be less than if he was a center. My understanding is Panarin will definitely be slotted as a winger not a center which, I think is best at least to begin with.

Teravainen may in fact be moved to center which, I guess we will find out come training camp. Teravainen certainly has played that position before and has at Blackhawks prospect camps in the past so it is not something he will be unfamiliar with. His two way game is overshadowed by his high end offense.

Also coming from the KHL’s SKA St. Petersburg team is countryman Viktor Tikhonov a former Arizona Coyotes prospect that was drafted in 2008 28th overall. He was passed on his first two times of eligibility like Andrew Shaw and we see how that turned out.

Viktor is another winger but brings with him size. He may not crack the lineup on a regular basis we will have to see how this goes but he has a better opportunity with the Blackhawks than he did with Coyotes. He will certainly be given every opportunity to make the line-up.

Nothing against the developement and training staff in Arizona but the Blackhawks staff is the best in the business and will work with Viktor if there are any short comings and the Hawks will know how and when to utilize Tikhonov’s skills.

For those that attended this past Blackhawks convention or were able to catch it on the Hawks website or via steaming when it was live Viktor is seemingly a very thoughtful, charming young man who will have no trouble making the transition to the western life and language as he has lived in the United States before so his concentration can just be on the ice and adapting to the NHL.

Viktor probably needs to concentrate on his skating and speed to stay in the Hawks lineup. Let’s face it, the Hawks are a team built on these two skills so to have good speed, doesn’t need to be blinding, and being strong on your skates will go along way to keep you in the Hawks lineup.

Tikhonov is more of a two-way player which should serve him well as we all know coach Q loves you to be defensively responsible in your own end. On the Blackhawks he doesn’t necessarily need to be an offensive dynamo which is a huge difference from the Coyotes.

While it was a surprise that Brandon Saad will no longer be in a Blackhawks uniform it was amazing who Stan Bowman was able to get back in return.

Artem Anisimov and Marko Dano came to the Hawks in the Saad trade and if things project out as expected Bowman was able to secure a 2nd line Center in Anisimov who is younger than Brad Richards with more miles left on the tires and is a better two-way forward.

Stan Bowman thinks Anisimov is the answer at 2nd line center otherwise he would not have given him an extension for five years. Anisimov is an excellent two-way hockey player.

He has struggled at times with consistency but on the Hawks that may not be an issue given the talent surrounding him. His offensive potential may be ignited particularly if he has Panarin and hopefully Patrick Kane on either side. Woo buddy look out he may reach his offensive potential.

The hidden gem in this deal was Marko Dano who was basically the Columbus Blue Jackets Teuvo Teravainen. Dano is offensively talented with a shot that makes him a lethal scorer maybe a better scoring threat than Brandon Saad. Dano is also a very good skater.

Dano needs to work on his two-way game but let’s not forget Saad become a solid two-way player due to his linemates of Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews and it’s already been well documented Dano is set to learn and clone from Hossa his countryman.

If, and that’s a big if, Dano can crack that first line he will be in a perfect position to improve his two-way game and learn from two of the best all around hockey players in the world in 19 & 81. If he can do this night in and night out he’ll learn fast.

While most of the Hawks new forward additions are more offensively inclined and people worry about two-way play suffering lets not forget the Hawks still have some pretty solid defenseman like Keith, Seabrook & Hjalmarsson.

You remember the three that anchored that defense to a third Cup and couldn’t possibly sustain all that playing time and physical punishment.

Yeah those guys will be back. Oh that goalie no one ever respects who just keeps racking up Jennings trophys and Stanley Cup Championships, Yeah that’s right Chicago, Corey Crawford will be back as well.

Honestly the transition will be the hardest for Panarin coming from a different ice surface, culture with language obstacles and cultural differences but Panarin has stated he wants to push himself both on and off the ice.

Will this be a challenge and change for sure but, he is coming to a city that is so diverse and has something to offer for everyone to enjoy and partake in and on the ice..

He is coming to a team that has the best players in the world to watch and learn from and hopefully they can learn from Panarin & Tikhonov as well who come in bringing a fresh, new insight to the game.

My only suggestion for all the offensive players mind your two-way game and your play along the boards as wingers be strong on the puck with no turnovers and get to the oppositions front of the net/slot area and pick up garbage and you’ll be fine.

Now there are other new players to the Hawks as well from Dallas, free agent signings and NCAA prospects but this blog was just focused on the international changes in another blog I will discuss those.

The Hawks have gotten younger for sure which may serve them well if they are to make another run deep in the playoffs. We all know how hard it is to repeat as a SC champion.

It has not been done since 1997-98 of course by the Detroit Red Wings. hmmm wasn’t that team composed of a lot of European players too? I’m just saying.

All I know is it is very exciting thinking about the line combinations, skills, development and all the possibilities that we may see on the ice.

Is it October yet?

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Chicago Blackhawks – Stanley Cup Champions Overcoming it all

Chicago, IL — It took me a couple of days to process everything that happened in the 2014-15 season for the Chicago Blackhawks and quit honestly I was emotionally drained and stressed out.

I can’t even imagine what the players, coaches, staff and organization as a whole must be feeling. I can not recall a season with as many obstacles for a team to overcome both on and off the ice.

The fact that this team overcame all is a testament to every one in the organization. Make no mistake this took the entire organization to win this Stanley Cup which I guess in the modern-day salary cap era is what exactly it will take.

If you can remember all the way back to the first regular season opener against the Dallas Stars in Dallas it was an early indication of the battle this team would have to endure on the ice for the rest of the season.

The team had to come back tie the game up and eventually win in a shoot out against a very talented young divisional opponent, which is sort of how the entire season went on and even into and through the playoffs.

The Hawks are no question in the toughest division and conference in the NHL and that will not change going forward. In fact the target is even bigger on the Hawks now that it ever was.

The good thing is this team loves challenges and will probably embrace this going forward. All the teams in the west and in the central just keep getting better so the Hawks will be challenged every step of the way going forward.

The Hawks also had to face injuries, which every team does but to lose your leading scorer at the crunch part of the season and turn that into an opportunity to get on ice help in Timonen, Vermette and Desjardins was fortunate yes with the timing, but also a sign by the management that there was belief in the team.

Again they were right. This symbolic move had more weight than any of us will ever know on the team.

This brings me to the Hawks also have to battle the NHL themselves. The league does not really want repeat teams winning championships because they view it as they want to spread the wealth throughout the league which is the purpose of the cap. Bill Daly said it himself on NHLNetwork.

Again this is a battle that the Hawks will have to keep waging year in and year out. If there is a front office that can handle this does anyone doubt that the Hawks can’t manage this? If you do you have not been following Stan Bowman’s moves closely enough.

Maybe though the toughest things to overcome were the off ice obstacles. As I have written before there is something that we all share as humans but never feel comfortable with and that is loss. Specifically loss of those close to us.

This team not only had to face that once this year but twice. The only comfort is that they could look to each other for support and empathy. As a fan who myself had to experience the loss of someone dear this year, know that we as fans too can empathize and sympathize with your losses.

If all of that was not enough there were malicious rumors and here say that surrounded the team when they were all dealing with things like loss, grief and just the grind of an 82 game NHL schedule, the leeches piled on.

The Hawks handled all of this with class and a professional demeanor that I’m not sure most could have done. I’m amazed at how well they handled this so huge applauds to them for their comportment in dealing with vicious idiots with dignity.

Through all of this and despite all of this, the Blackhawks still found their way into the playoffs and then were faced with four grueling rounds of playoff hockey against four different but yet quality opponents culminating with all the head games that the Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to want to heap on the Hawks who by the way didn’t really even blink at.

In the end the Hawks were just the better team in every sense no disrespect to Tampa but it is true. Your time will come.

The Hawks had to face the physical demands against the Ducks who were hell-bent on decapitating them and overcame that, they faced a very good hockey team in the Nashville Predators who did seem maybe more concerned with keeping the red out in the stands than worrying about the highly talented “red machine” (thank you Duncan Keith for that) on the ice and overcame that.

They faced a very talented team in the Wild with the hottest goalie coming into the playoffs and answered that resoundingly with a series sweep. I guess you could say the Blackhawks were not ready to relinquish any of their championship mettle to any team.

The Blackhawks have an uncanny knack, instead of getting tired as series go on they get stronger and are closers. I truly believe if they did not get down in 2014 3-1 in games to the LA Kings they would have won that series and the Cup. Cie le vie it just fueled them for this year so it was just meant to be.

Coach Quenneville at the rally said that “team” best encapsulated this years Cup win and that is most definitely true. It took all four lines rolling, two goaltenders that were magnificent when called on and that defense what can you say warriors.

It was only fitting Duncan Keith won the Conn Smyth trophy. He is just symbolic of the entire defensive core and their committment to battle through adversity.

Chicago appreciate this as it is rare for this to keep occurring and every time there are new experiences.

How great was it to see guys get their first championships like Kimmo Timonen, Antoine Vermette or even Brad Richards get another ring after being tossed by the New York Rangers. Richards just fit Chicago better, I mean not every team can have Patrick Kane.

It was great to see new guys get their taste of potentially what more could be coming like Teuvo Teravainen and Trevor Van Riemsdyk who both had to overcome their own trials in the playoff but will be better off for it in the long run.

Championships are fun, you get parades, rallies, chasing the Cup around, great hockey games but maybe what makes championships great was summed up by Captain seriously Everything.

Jonathan Toews said and I’m paraphrasing that this is so much bigger than sports and he is right. It brings people together hockey fans, non-hockey fans it doesn’t matter. Nor does it matter your age, gender or race or ethnicity or religion or politics.

We all came together to support and rally our team on and for a brief millisecond we were bound by something in common a shared desire or feelings we could relate to and cheer on a group of extraordinary individuals who by the way are great guys, leaders and pretty good hockey players too.

Enjoy your summer boys you deserve it. Thank you for working so hard and bringing so many joy and pride to a city that has really fallen in love with this team. Thanks for some really great hockey.

As Captain Seriously Everything says next year “let’s go for four”. GO HAWKS!

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Chicago Blackhawks – We are back!

Photo by Maggie Avila

Photo by Maggie Avila

Chicago, Il — The Blackhawks are back to where they feel most at home – the Stanley Cup Final. They are back to the biggest stage of their sport and you can be rest assured they love it. A lot of blood, sweat and tears has gotten them to this point and they deserve to be here.

Chicago is privileged enough to be witnessing a phenomenal hockey team, the best this town has seen. Relish this Chicago, as it doesn’t come around often. The “inhuman” athletes and leaders on this team is something this city has never seen before on ice.

All of the dribble from the media about the Hawks getting hit so much and wearing down was nonsense. Hello, other teams have tried this and it does not work. You CAN NOT intimidate the Hawks. Do we have the straight now other NHL teams, so please do not even try to beat them that way. I can guarantee it will not work.

The Blackhawks actually got stronger as the series went on. In games 4-7 you witnessed the Hawks really take control of the series led by the indomitable captain Jonathan Toews and it filters throughout the team.

The Hawks are so fortunate to not only have great athletes they also have great players with character and heart and just a will to win that won’t settle for anything other than winning.

As a Blackhawks fans we are so lucky to witness the growth and development of Brandon Saad and Teuvo Teravainen and that speaks to the organization as a whole and the development process of young players. This will be key going forward in this salary cap strapped team.

That Saad speed is simply something most teams can not contain and Teravainen who is only 20 years old and a rookie will only improve on his smarts and that should be really really scary for every other NHL team. Teravainen already has high hockey IQ and vision that is probably among the best on this team wait it will only improve the more he plays and the bigger and stronger he gets Yowzer.

What can be said about those top four defenseman, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Nik Hjalmarsson and Johnny Oduya are just warriors. Make no mistake they took a beating but never complained never really even got rattled and some how found a way through it with a level of play that was superhuman. Hats off to these gentleman, Chicago salutes you.

Chicago Blackhawks fans will know this look but when Jonathan Toews gets that look in his eyes, you know the look, do you really think that the Hawks are going to lose? No if they do it is a rare rare occasion. There is nothing more you can say about this guy other than he is simply the best.

I wrote that this series was a battle of titans physical goliath vs mental goliath. The mental goliath won this series. In games 6 & 7 the hockey intelligence on all the goals was other worldly. Starting in game 6 the double triple fake by Keith I mean really? The shimmy shake we take for granted in Chicago from Patrick Kane is other worldly and the Toews goals with the IQ to be in the proper positions to score.

Brent Seabrook, babe you need to just keep shooting from whenever. His shot is so heavy and you had to love the placement and the skilled hands it took in game 6 from that great pass from Teravainen to beat Andersen. It always seems too that Seabrook knows exactly when a goal is needed for his team and just goes out and gets one.

For all the press about the decision to change the line-up in game 3 when Teravainen and Vermette was sat, you have to give coach Quenneville props for making the right choices in putting Toews, Kane and Saad together on a line and it exposed Getzlafs defensive weaknesses.

Don’t get me wrong Getzlaf is a great player but very few can play a full 200 foot game which is another reason Jonathan Toews is so special because he can play that game.

In fact the Hawks have several that can add in Hossa, Saad, Sharp and yes Vermette is very responsible defensively. I will put in there Teravainen plays positionally really well even in his own zone and back checks well for a young guy.

It should also be noted coach Quenneville also made a change on his D core when he sat Timonen for Cumiskey and Rundblad who managed to play fairly well. That I’m sure was not an easy decision with the shaky start Rundblad had in the series but as it turned out it was the right one.

If there is any doubt coach Q is a great coach who really does have a pulse of his team and knows when his team needs jolts and when to remain status quo. He out coached Bruce Boudreau in game 7 for sure when the Ducks had last change so that is really impressive.

Corey Crawford there should be a photo of you next to metal fortitude because this guy is just solid mentally, emotionally and physically. From where he started in the Nashville series to now the battle in this guy is on real.

The fourth line of Kruger, Shaw and Desjardins what a great shut down line. For players that did not play together all year long they came together quick and at times through the series were the most effective. Kudos to everyone on this line.

In fact the battle level of the entire team is unbelievable to most except Hawks fans. We know never to count this team out no matter how dire a situation is they will somehow find a way and that is what makes this team great, the likes of which has not been seen in the salary cap era.

Patrick Kane probably said it best that they have not accomplished anything yet. They know there is more work to be done and is there any question that this team can get it done? If there is I’m not sure what team you’re watching.

Congratulations Chicago Blackhawks you’re in the Stanley Cup Final. Live your dreams and we want the Cup!

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Chicago Blackhawks – Counterpunching with Ducks

Chicago, IL — Finally tomorrow the Chicago Blackhawks will take the ice in Anaheim in the Western Conference Final in what seems forever to begin. The much awaiting and anticipated meeting could go down as being one for the ages with two teams of contrasting styles and characteristics.

The Anaheim Ducks are what I would term a counterpuncher or a rope a dope type of team. For those that don’t know what rope a dope is it is usually referred to in boxing terms.

It is when a boxer takes his opponents hits to let him wear himself out and then when his opponent is tired you deliver blows but they are so exhausted they can not muster the strength to fit back.

The Anaheim Ducks do not necessarily come out in the first two periods giving their best in fact it is the third period where the Ducks have poured it on. Just ask the Winnipeg Jets. Just when you think you have them that is when they fight.

They lead the playoffs in third period goals with 16 which is more than half of what the Hawks have in the third period which is 7. The Hawks start fast but tend to have problems closing and the Ducks are the opposite.

In that regards the Ducks are similar to the Kings, no matter how many goal leads you have they always seem to find a way to come back. Maybe there is something in the Santa Ana winds that make these teams play this style or they are used to playing each other.

So how does one deal with a counterpunching type of style?

Well there are a couple of different ways to offset or negate this. One would be typically counterpunchers don’t like constant pressure and that is one way to overcome them. Just keep attacking and scoring goals.

This accomplishes a couple of things 1) it keeps the puck out of your end of the ice and 2) if you get them running around in their own end they will tire out.

This will require the Hawks to get into the series from the start. The one thing they have had trouble with the past couple of playoff years is slow starts in series i.e. Detroit and Los Angeles. One they dug themselves into such a hole they did not get out of.

The Hawks need to take a game in Anaheim or as the captain says maybe two if they can go that they will win this series. It will put all the pressure on Anaheim on their home ice.

Keeping constant pressure on will require maintaining control of the puck which, the Hawks are good at but the Ducks are slightly better at faceoffs. This is the series the Hawks centers need to take control and dictate the dots as much as possible. If they win this battle they will control the pace of the game.

The other way to defeat a counterpuncher is to be counterpunching yourself. In other words let them believe you are throwing everything at them when in actuality you are conserving your best for the end.

Vary the rhythm and pace of games and occasionally throw them junk meaning lob, loft puck into their zone and see how they bounce, it will get them skating. Use odd bounces off the boards in their zone to get them skating and running around. This is key make them skate around, they will get tired. Now the Hawks need to manage this depending on the score of the games.

The Ducks will try to physically wear the Hawks out because of their size so have your heads on swivels and make sure to move the puck out of your own end quickly as this team loves to forecheck and bang you along the boards.

The top two lines may in fact negate each other so the bottom six of Chicago has to be better than Anaheim in all phases of the game. This could be the series that Vermette, Desjardins and Shaw are key in.

All the forwards may also need to backcheck more in this series to help the defense out but positioning is key as this team loves to get big bodies to the slot area and from the point with their work from behind your net.

The Hawks have been giving up a lot of shots against try to get these down with plugging up lanes and blocks this will be interesting to monitor as the games get played out. Also giveaways need to be as non-existent as possible.

The good thing the Hawks already had to exercise patience when they played the Wild. They may need more patience in playing the Ducks and remember just because your up two or three goals it means nothing until the final whistle blows.

Here is to a series that KO’s all hockey fans and GO HAWKS!

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Chicago Blackhawks – Found themselves in Minnesota and now head to WCF

Chicago, IL — Recapping the series against the Minnesota Wild, who were the hottest team coming into the playoffs, is also the series that you could say the Chicago Blackhawks also found themselves and their game. For the first time in awhile the Hawks played hockey like the Hawks we know. They played like champions.

This is the series that saw the team step up defensively and Corey Crawford return to the form that we saw him at during most of the regular season. The entire team played at their Jennings Trophy form and the results were resounding with a sweep of a very talented good team in the Minnesota Wild.

The Blackhawks found themselves at just the right time and now for the 5th time in 7 years have punched their ticket to the Western Conference Finals. If there was any doubt if the Hawks lost their killer instincts or focus on closing that was dispelled in resounding fashion in the final two games in Minnesota where the Hawks really put a stranglehold on the Wild. The Wild never led the entire series, now that is total domination by one team over another.

What was brilliant on the Hawks part was to place doubt in the oppositions mind right off the start and never let up and show any weakness. Even when the Wild tied the Hawks they quickly re-established who was in charge and control and that probably broke the Wild in the end.

How frustrating it must be to see Patrick Kane, who by the way, is not fully back to himself turn back into the Patrick Kane we are all used to. He had 2 GWG in the series in games 2 and 3. He had 5 goals and 1 assist in the Minnesota series. If that is not him at 100% it is really scary for whoever they have next.

But it wasn’t just Kane. Teuvo Teravainen tapped a bit of what he can become in this league. The kid makes plays on both sides of the puck and always is defensively sound. He only has 1G & 1A in the series but I think it is arguable that it was the Teravainen goal that turned the series for a couple of reasons.

One it established that coming back on the Hawks will not rattle them and they will keep coming at you and 2. Since it was such an ugly goal it showed that Devan Dubnyk was not the same as he was coming into the series and he was vulnerable as was the team.

moving tt

Antoine Vermette it is no secret has struggled since the Hawks acquired him but there is more to Vermette than scoring, in fact he is dominating at the dot with 64% FOW %.The Hawks will need this to continue if the Hawks face the Anaheim Ducks. Vermette also is contributing on the defensive side as well with 6 blocked shots.

Speaking of the defensive side of the puck for forwards it is no surprise Marian “beast” Hossa is leading the forwards with 12 take aways but what is a little surprising is who is next Patrick Kane.

Jonathan Toews line was constantly drawing the attention of the Wild which was probably a good thing as it freed up the other lines for some offense. Toews again was 50% on FOW and shouldered most of the dot work.

Patrick Sharp also had a hell of a series with 1G & 3A and Duncan Keith Offensively had 3A and all the time on ice that he logged in the series was more than impressive. Andrew Shaw also has stepped up at the face off circle with a 53.2% FOW which again will be needed in the next round. He also contributed in this series with 1G & 2A. A shout out also to Andrew Desjardins who has really been stellar since the Hawks picked him up at the trade deadline for steady, straight ahead play.

While the Hawks are not known for hitting Bryan Bickell led the way with 64 hits followed by Rozy with 23 and he will be missed here for sure but it was Shaw and Vermette yes not the biggest guys next with 20 hits apiece. So it does take an entire team to win a series.

The defenseman led the way in blocked shots with Oduya, Hjalmarsson, Seabrook, Keith, Timonen leading the way.


If Teuvo Teravainen grew up in this series I would be remiss not to mention Marcus Kruger who was phenomenal as usual in his defensive dominance and checking and backchecking. Kruger had 7 blocked shots in the series and also managed a goal in the first game. The other forwards blocking shots in this series Bickell, Richards and Vermette with 6 apiece.

Corey Crawford stole game three which may have been another turning point in the series as it was the first game in Minnesota and a game that really one had to think the Wild played their best. They say it is not a series til you lose on your own ice and Crawford made sure with a shut-out that the straws that Teravainen’s goal but on the Wild’s back got broken with him denying them any goals on their own ice.

Craaaawwwwfordddddd – Note to opposing fan bases this just fires him up so, if smart you will not do goalie chants mockingly. Corey in this series let in just 7 goals on 131 shots on goal now that is rebounding in a big time way.

Crawford at ease

The Hawks now wait to see who their next opponent will be but does it really matter? When the Hawks play the way they are capable of and are lock scoped on the tasks at hand I’m not sure it really does matter. Will losing Rozsival hurt yes, but this team knows how to put the lock down on when it needs to defensively.

Next round will be a challenge for sure but going into the Western Conference Finals the Blackhawks are looking and playing the best they have as a team all of this year. They have time to rest up, study film and I’m sure the coaches are devising plans for line match-ups as the job is only half way done but in the first half the boys are looking good.

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