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.

Keith

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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Chicago Blackhawks – moving and shaking off the ice


Chicago, IL — I once wrote that Stan Bowman made as many fancy stickhandling moves as Patrick Kane only with a pen rather than a hockey stick. Lately this could not be truer with the cap situation being what it is.

Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane’s new contracts kicking in next year coupled with several players needing to be resigned has forced GM Stan Bowman and his team into some creative maneuvers to keep the Hawks a viable Stanley Cup competitive team.

The Blackhawks are not leaving any stone unturned. Credit should be given to Stan Bowman and his team of Mark Kelley – Director of amateur scouting and Ryan Stewart director Pro scouting and Matts Hallin European scouting and I’m sure there are tons more that I’m leaving off, my apologies, that have put in countless hours going from the smallest of towns no one has heard of to the farthest corners of the earth looking for untapped, unsigned hockey gems. It truly takes a village to mold a hockey team.

Hats also must be tipped to Barry Smith and his team, who are in charge of player development and the coaches in Rockford as well for taking raw talents and preparing them for the NHL and the Chicago Blackhawks systems and style of play.

It is no secret that next year some high paid salaries will need to be moved it is just a matter of economics. Bowman and his team are trying to make the transition as painless as possible while still building around a core that is still in it’s prime. It remains to be seen if this mission will be accomplished but you have to applaud the bold moves the Hawks are taking.

Stan Bowman made some signings this year with Patrick Kane’s injury that afforded him the rare luxury of extra cap money. Kimmo Timonen, Andrew Desjardins & Antoine Vermette were all brought on board whether or not they stay will remain to be seen but credit Bowman with attempting to put his team in the best possible position to make the playoffs.

Starting at home and looking to the college ranks the Hawks made several signings with RW Kyle Baun, C Tanner Kero and D Michael Paliotta. If you have not been able to catch these players’s games in school the scouting reports on them can be found on Hockey Futures or Elite Prospects.

Kyle Baun if you caught some of the last regular season Hawks games you got a glimpse of this kid and he fit right in and was not out of place. The book on him is he is a big kid that uses his size to his advantage and is very hard to knock off the puck. He also has good speed for his size and attended training camps with the Red Wings and Bruins. Hockey Futures has him ranked in the top 10 free agents and the Hawks were able to land him with a 2yr ELC. It was reported several clubs were interested in Baun like the Wings, Oilers, Jets and Flames and probably more. Credit Stan Bowman with landing this much sought after prospect.

Tanner Kero if you caught any of Michigan Tech’s games you saw a very skilled high hockey IQ forward. He finds open space and makes plays. Kero is also a solid two way player. The Blackhawks laid out their development plan for this prospect and apparently it was to his liking and was able to snatch the free agent. He was lighting it up offensively in the AHL with the Rockford IceHogs upon joining the team. You can catch Tanner with the Rockford IceHogs helping them in their playoff quest for the Calder Cup.

Michael Paliotta is a stay at home big defenseman that came from Vermont University that the Hawks recently signed. The Hawks drafted him in 2011 in the 3rd round. Paliotta played with the Blackhawks in the last regular season game and did not look out of place. Paliotta brings size and good skating speed for a big man coupled with being responsible defensively. Stan Bowman and his team needed to sign Pailiotta to avoid another Kevin Hayes situation and having him hit the free agency market. Good on Stan for getting the job done. All of these NCAA prospects were give 2 year entry level contracts.

Now from Europe the Blackhawks have signed on two very interesting players. The Hawks first signed Erkan Gustafsson who is a big Swedish defenseman coming from Frolunda in the SHL. The Edmonton Oilers held his rights, but became a FA when he didn’t sign with the Oilers. His scouting report says he has high offensive abilities particularly his shot from the point. He has a quick release and accurate shot. Hmm sounds like a point man on the power play to me.

Perhaps the biggest excitement of the past week, justifiably so, was had when twitter got word that Russian forward sensation Artemi Panarin LW signed with the Blackhawks as a Free Agent to a 2 year ELC. Panarin brings a dynamic offensive presence ala Patrick Kane. There were several teams wanting Panarin ‘s skills like the Penguins, Flames, Canadiens & Maple Leafs were all rumored to have had interest.

Panarin is an offensive virtuoso and you can tell from Stan Bowman’s speaking it is a huge coo that Panarin choose Chicago. Go to Chicago Blackhawks website to listen to Stan speaking about the recent signings. He will fit perfectly with all the skilled talent on this team. Bowman said that with Panarin having accomplished a lot in the KHL he was looking for new challenges and to take the logical next step to the NHL.

Selecting the Blackhawks is big for a team with cap limitations like the Blackhawks. The Hawks it is rumored gave an out clause, if Panarin does not make the Hawks, which if you You Tube him is highly unlikely, he could go back and play in the KHL. This clause probably sealed the deal. It actually is a very low risk for both sides and you have to click your pens to Bowman for coming up with creative solutions and being able to close deals for the Blackhawks.

If you want to catch a glimpse of Panarin tune in to the IIHF Worlds where he is playing for team Russia and you will see the adeptness of his hands and good shot and overall offensive talent.

I rarely am excited for next season when my team is going for a Stanley Cup. That being said this past week has me very excited for next year and all the moves the Hawks have made I can’t wait til prospects camp and training camp. We also should remember that there are boatloads of talent in Rockford that the Hawks have drafted like Danault, McNeill, Ross, Hartman, Johns ect… the list is endless which, should have Hawks fans excited.

The Chicago Blackhawks are exciting on the ice but the Hawks are becoming exciting off the ice as well with all their moves with free agents. When you have all the other fan bases cursing you, you are doing something right.

Good Luck to all of the recently signed and here is hoping we see you all at the United Center soon.

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Chicago Blackhawks – Close Predators out as stars deliver final blow


Chicago, IL – Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville always says “no one loves winning more than I do”, but I’m not so sure that the entire team is not comprised of individuals that share this same sentiment. Last night the Blackhawks had a second chance at putting away their competition and they did not miss the opportunity.

The “core” of this team stepped up as we have all seen them do in the past and maybe that is what separates this team from others and makes them special. It doesn’t matter if it’s Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook, Nik Hjalmarsson or Patrick Sharp they all share a unique quality in that when moments are the most crucial they know how to respond and give their best.

We forget sometimes as fans, but this team is really an all star team. It is a team comprised of such unique talents that complement each other so well. This is a team of Olympic medalists, Stanley Cups winners and maybe most importantly team players.

Experience plays a big part as well. This team knows it doesn’t matter if your down 3-0 they still have the tools to get the job done and the know how to do it. In this first round series they reminded everyone again who the Chicago Blackhawks still are and the hockey talent this team still possess.

After the first game of the series which Duncan Keith won in overtime, Predators coach Peter Laviolette said “that’s a dangerous, dangerous team” and he is not wrong. I almost felt sorry for Laviolette when Patrick Kane scored the game tying goal. Laviolette looked like he just ate some bad tuna and was sick.

This is not the first time a Laviolette coached team’s dreams were squelched by Mr. Patrick Kane remember 2010. I wonder how many sleepless nights coach Laviolette has had because of Patrick Kane but I digress.

The problem is it’s not just Patrick Kane for coaches, but an entire team of players that are difference makers. Three of this series game winning goals came from defenseman Keith 2, Seabrook 1. The other big impact on this series in subtle but effective ways was Brandon Saad who scored the other gwg and also by legal contact knocked out Predators captain Shea Weber.

Duncan Keith was huge in this series not only for the game winning goals but the time on ice he logged and his being a threat every time he is on the ice forces other teams to cover him like you would a forward. On the goal to clinch the series he showed moves I have never seen him use and I have been watching the Hawks for a while. His instincts and savvy are top shelf to say the least. Seth Jones got schooled by a master.

There is also no question that Brent Seabrook’s marathon game winning goal probably turned the tide of the entire series had the Hawks lost that game not only would they have been tied but it has to take something out of you to lose a game like that. We all know how clutch Seabrook is, talk about stepping up in big moments this guy could give tutorials when he is done with his playing career on facing up to challenges.

Jonathan Toews there simply isn’t any words for other than this guy just does not accept defeat and leads the way in so many little ways. At the end of the series the best indicator of Toews being a leader was when he put his arms around both Crawford and Darling equally.

The other thing to come out of this series was the camaraderie between the team and their goalies and between the goalies themselves. This could teach us all about being a team player and taking one for the team. Both of the goalies while disappointed I’m sure never let ego get in their ways. That I believe they call character.

Neither Corey Crawford nor Scott Darling can really be blamed by the play of the team in front of them and the Blackhawks know this but maybe it was good it happened when it did as the team knows it has two outstanding net minders if it needs it. I don’t believe there has ever been a playoff series with two different starting net minders other than injury. Leave it to the Blackhawks to continue to break new ground.

Is the team perfect? No they are human and they have a lot to clean up before the next round regarding overall team defense and giving up too many turnovers in their own end. I mean Chicago is known for its pizzas but please let’s not serve up any on the ice. Also there is too many shots against given, which is leaving all the goalies out to dry. That really needs to be cleaned up but the Hawks know all this.

Listen they got through the first round not playing their best, they have time now to rest, work on cleaning things up, oh yeah, special teams could use a jolt too, but every series will be different and maybe what will win games will need to be different. This series it was well timed offense by your stars, maybe next series it will be special teams or defense or secondary scoring.

Whatever it takes for the Hawks to win is all that matters, but I suspect everyone in the Blackhawks locker room including the coaches would be the first to tell you that.

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Chicago Blackhawks – Becoming the Dragon


Chicago, IL — In Asian cultures dragons are mystical creatures that symbolize powers over waters like rainfalls, flood etcetera. They are a symbol of power, strength and good fortune. It is not uncommon to hear “may your child become a dragon.” meaning may they become exceptional.

It is that time of year that the Chicago Blackhawks need to turn into dragons, the time they have been waiting for, the second season, the run to the most storied trophy in all of sports The Stanley Cup.

The Hawks have been been here before, but this year has been a different year. The defending champs are out and Canada’s teams are the darlings whether it is in the east or the west. So there have been some unusual occurrences in the regular season to say the least.

This second season is completely different than the grinding regular season in that you only have 28 chances at most so there is no time for delay or room for error. There are four separate and different opponents that a team will face and defeat if they are to hoist the Cup. Each will present their own obstacles and challenges.

In facing an opponent and learning how to gain the upper hand in a fight, I could not think of anyone better to take advise from than the late Martial Arts Master Bruce Lee.

I remembered one of his quotes “ Empty your mind. You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or creep or drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.” 1

I know as westerners this all sounds so, well Zen, but Bruce Lee studied philosophies and believed in not having a style but being open and using and learning all styles and incorporating them into your own when he founded his own type of Martial Art Jeet Kune Do. You have to know when to act and when not to, when to expand and contract or when to flow or crash.

What does this have to do with the Hawks? In other words, the Hawks need to be flexible and take what the opponent gives them. If the situation calls for the puck to be carried in do so, if it can be passed in do so and if you have to dump and chase do so. Be flexible and adjust on the fly.

The Hawks have experience, they know what needs to be done on the ice, now is the time to just let the instincts that you have prepared for all your lives take over and trust those instincts. It is time for muscle memory and remain calm no matter what is going on around you or out of your control.

In looking back over the past two play off runs the Hawks have had there is also sometimes things that are out of your control, like officiating. Stay calm! We all remember what happened in the Red Wings series game 7 almost cost the Hawks a Cup but because the Hawks remained calm and did not get flustered they overcame.

Last year in the series against the Kings the same thing happened, there were two calls in game 7 that resulted in two goals by the Kings that should not have been allowed. One of the goals was an obvious off sides and the other was a goal that was high sticked in. The Hawks were almost but not quit able to over come two officiating fiascoes.

My point is officials are human with human error, you must stay strong mentally and persevere through. Be ready for these mishaps by the officials because they often happen. If you are ready they will be less likely to effect your on ice performances.

Also there will be injuries it is unavoidable. The good thing for the Hawks is they are well aware of this since the Patrick Kane injury. If there are injuries be prepared and the coaches have done this already in shuffling the lines so players can play with different line mates, positions or partners.

Also get those black aces whoever they may be ready as well. If the Blackhawks have to go through the Predators, Blues, Jets or Ducks you know injuries will occur so get the back-ups ready now.

Have respect for your opponent don’t take them lightly and know they have studied you. Especially the Hawks, other than the Kings I can not think of another teams that others have watched, patterned and targeted.

Even Ken Hitchcock admitted in one of the Blues/Hawks games on a power play goal that when they had studied the Hawks tendencies that play was not in their films anywhere.

Don’t make the mistake the LA Kings did in the regular season. They looked at their schedule and misjudged their opponents that they had at the end of the season as being weaker. There is no weak opponent do they have weaknesses yes, but so do you.

In closing I will leave with another quote by perhaps the greatest and oldest on war tactics, theoretician Sun Tzu –

“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected .” 2

So here is to the Hawks knowing when to flow and when to crash and to becoming dragons that are comfortable in all waters, but can also breath fire when need be.

1. Bruce Lee – Bruce Lee: Artist of Life book Tuttle publishing 4/1/2001
2. Sun Tzu from the book The Art of War

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