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Chicago Blackhawks – Prospects in CHL’s Memorial Cup recap


Chicago, IL — So how have the Chicago Blackhawks prospects done in the CHL Memorial Cup?  Well lets start with Nathan Noel and Matthew Highmore and their Saint John Sea Dogs whose journey has now come to an end.

In a battle of teams that had not won a game between the Sea Dogs and the Seattle Thunderbirds the Sea Dogs dominated in a 7-0 landslide which earned them the right to go to the Memorial Cup Semi Final. Noel had an assist in this game and Highmore ended the game with two apples.

Unfortunately they had to face the fire power of the Erie Otters again and while they had a better game versus the Otters than the 12-5 drubbing they took they none the less were eliminated from the tournament 6-3.

Nathan Noel ended the event with one goal and one assist in four games and Matthew Highmore ended the tourney with three assists. Congrats boys on a great season and being QMJHL Champions.

My overall thoughts on Nathan Noel was that he is all heart. He reminded me of Andrew Shaw, smaller yet plays a physical game especially in the corners and along the boards. Noel is more of a defensive player used on the penalty kill and he was centering the third line for Saint John which is the checking line.

I see him going to the IceHogs and there everyone will love this guy as he projects a team first all the way.

Matthew Highmore was centering the first line and was used on the power play. The thing about Highmore’s game is he is physical and is always by the oppositions net which is always a good thing.

He ended the tournament with a 50% face-off percentage but it was noticeable in the last game against Erie he won almost every face-off in the defensive zone which everyone can use that skill.

I think Highmore will need some seasoning in Rockford but can be an impactful net front presence and power forward if he works on it. He has really good speed which is a huge asset.

The next game was a battle of the unbeaten teams when the Erie Otters took on the host team Windsor Spitfires for the opportunity to get a pass to the Memorial Cup Final.

I was hyped to see this game. I wanted to see how well both Graham Knott and Alex DeBrincat did against a familiar OHL foe that is very good. Now neither player hit the score sheets and the Spitfires totally frustrated the high powered Otters.

The Spitfires totally blanketed the Otters forwards and their goalie was insanely good that night. DeBrincat had a rough game physically as he was targeted for sure. In fact he had to leave at one point but did make it back into the game.

Since we get a rematch of these two teams for the final I am curious to see how DeBrincat will now make adjustments to deal with no space and time and his response. Welcome to the world of Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin.

This is great preparation for the NHL, becauses believe me there will be even less time and space there and the physicality will be even more ramped up and if your lucky enough to make NHL playoffs that is off the charts intensity so best get ready now if you want a championship at the highest level of hockey.

The encouraging thing for Blackhawks fans is it seems that DeBrincat can take the physical play pretty well and even dishes it occasionally. He and the Otters seemed ready for battle when they downed the Sea Dogs 6-3 in the Semi final to punch their ticket to the final.

We all know how talented DeBrincat is offensively but what I’ve been impressed with is his two way game and his defensive responsibility. In fact in this game he managed to clear a puck away from his crease that got past his goalie and was sitting there ripe for the pouncing.

Good on you Alex for being that down low as a forward acting like a defenseman that will endear you to coach Quenneville for sure. It is little things like that the coaches notice and will keep you in Chicago.

DeBrincat is used in all situations but really shines on the power play where they use him in the high slot where he can tip or pass or just let that rocket of a shot he has go. What is very noticeable about DeBrincat is his hand eye coordination is top notch which explains the high slot positioning.

His line with Dylan Strome and Warren Foegele is just fun to watch as they work off each other. This line ended up this game with two goals one each by Strome and Foegle and four assists three of which came from DeBrincat.

Two of his assists were on Taylor Raddysh power play goals and the other apple was on Dylan Strome’s goal. I think it is highly likely that DeBrincat can make the jump straight to the NHL from the CHL.

I will have a more definitive opinion on him after the final and as I stated earlier how he bounces back and responds against a more NHL like defensive structured team with tight checking, blocking shots, great goalie and clogging up of the neutral zone.

The Erie Otters just have so many scoring threats and fire power it’s hard to keep them suppressed for too long. The final should be a good one against Graham Knott’s Spitfires who seemed like the only team that found a formula to slow them down.

Graham Knott is having a good tournament himself. He currently has two goals and one assist in three games played. Knott played in one less game due to their beating the Otters and not having to play a semi-final game.

Knott’s game is pretty simple he is straight up a power forward on the RW. He is big powerful and just a menace in front of the net with his 6’4″ frame. He screens a lot of shots and for that alone he is impactful in games that may not show up on score sheets.

I need to see more of Knott to give an opinion on if he is ready to go straight to the NHL or not. Sunday I will be watching him and DeBrincat closely. The game thankfully will be on NHL Network at 6pm CT. I would recommend tuning in if your interested at all about the future of the Blackhawks.

With the Blackhawks out of the playoff in what seems like an eternity since we saw them, I am so glad that the NHL Network broadcast the Canadian Sportsnet telecast in the United States of this Memorial Cup.

Not just because I’m not that interest in the NHL playoffs but because it gives us in the States a chance to see the CHL prospects for our teams that we don’t normally get a chance to see. I don’t recall the NHL Network ever broadcasting this before. We can see players on NCAA teams but not generally the CHL.

I’m sure I am not the only one who can’t travel to Erie, PA or Saint John or Windsor although I’m sure those are grand destinations work always seems to get in the way. So thank you NHL Network and Sportsnet so we can get to see these incredibly talented young men continue their journeys to making their NHL teams.

To all the Chicago Blackhawk prospects Good Luck! Those remaining in the tournament and those out we look forward to seeing you either in Rockford or Chicago hopefully.

I will do a final wrap up blog after Sunday’s game to put a bow on this tournament and give a final opinion on DeBrincat and Knott’s game and how they will transition to the NHL and some hidden gems that I spotted that maybe teams should consider drafting this June.

One thing we do know is that one of the Chicago Blackhawks prospects will be a Memorial Cup Champion what an accomplishment.

 

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Chicago Blackhawks – IIHF Men’s Worlds Day 2 and 3 recaps


Chicago, IL — Day two of the IIHF Men’s World Championships only saw two Blackhawks in action Michal Kempny for the Czech Republic going against Belarus and Marcus Kruger and Team Sweden vs home country Germany who just came off of an upset of team USA.

Kempny and Czech Republic throttled Belarus to the tune of 6-1. The game saw Kempny score the last goal where he literally walked right in and had time to pick his spot to score a goal.

Now it is doubtful he would get this type of time in the NHL but still if Kempny gets re-signed with the Hawks he needs to play. He has a great shot from the point and knows how to score.

Also got to say there was another Czech D man that has an absolute bomb Radim Simek who I believe is undrafted in the NHL and scored a laser on the power play. So someone, paging Chicago Blackhawks might want to take a hard look here. I’m going to keep watching him.

Czech Republic is currently in fourth place in Group B.

The second game was Sweden vs Germany and Marcus Kruger was again doing Marcus Kruger things. I’ve become accustomed to hearing in games” he’s in the corner knocked down against two (insert team here) and comes off the wall with the puck.”

That’s Krugs to a tee. He came away from the game with an assist but was it a beauty.

Well it was actually hard fought he was battling in front of the net not once but twice before it went to team-mate  Linus Omark who buried it. Sweden closed this laugher out 7-2 and sits second in Group A with 4 points.

Day three saw Russia take on Italy and the US take on Denmark.

Russia walloped Italy 10-1 that saw that old KHL SKA chemistry between Artemi Panarin and his former SKA line mates Evgenii Dadonov and Vadim Shipachyov rekindled.

The Breadman had a four point game two goals and two assists and honestly I’m not sure what was prettier his power play goals or his assists especially the one from behind the net to Dadonov was just sick.

Both of Panarin’s goals were on the powerplay. Keep in mind too Panarin and his line are the second line on team Russia. I’ve got to say that first line is also lethal.

Panarin is currently second in scoring with five points in two games with 3G, 2 A. Way to go Breadman keep it rolling. Russia takes on Germany Monday and they are currently leading Group A with 5 points in these preliminary rounds.

Lastly on the docket was team USA taking on Denmark in what started out as the USA dominating but only up 2-1 until the US pulled away with a 7-2 victory putting them in fifth place in group A.

Nick Schmaltz started quietly but man the boy has skills. He had some pretty passes to set up team mates one of which to Brock Nelson resulted in a goal.

His set up was so perfect all Nelson had to do was tap it in the net. You can see it on the highlight below courtesy of the IIHF web site. It’s a beauty for sure.

Nelson tried to return the favor setting up Schmaltz as he went forehand/backhand off the post but it did not go in. Schmaltz ended up with two assists in the game as he was in on one of Clayton Keller’s three goals.

Schmaltz is on a line with Dylan Larkin and Brock Nelson and I’ve got to say they looked really good. Tons of speed and skill.

This Team USA group is so young. I’m not sure they are even old enough to drink beer in Germany but man they are fast, fun and skilled.

Trevor Van Riemsdyk did not hit the score sheet but he was noticeable on the ice. He has great awareness of when to shoot and he gets you need to shoot from everywhere just get it on net you never know there maybe a juicy rebound.

Team USA is back into action tomorrow against Sweden which should be a real test for the Americans against a great Swedish defense. You can tune into the NHL Network to watch or stream via IIHF website through You Tube. Game should be 1pm CT.

Good Luck to all the Hawks keep going boys you are all doing great and GO USA!!!

 

Videos taken from IIHF website: http://www.iihfworlds2017.com/

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Chicago Blackhawks – Day 1 at IIHF Worlds recap


Chicago, IL — Now that day one of the IIHF Men’s World Championships is done we can see how our Blackhawks did.

Day one was a great start to the tourney. Overall though as a pure hockey fan I’d have to say the first game between Sweden and Russia was everything I thought it would be and maybe more.

The game had high pace and what I was a little surprised was it had physicality and big hits. Again this just shows how the international game is becoming more NHL like. It saw 3 on 3 OT and a shoot out.

Let me just say 3 on 3 is just fabulous no matter what tournament or if it’s NHL or not.

The pace and the exchanging of chances is just white knuckle, edge of seat viewing even if you have no stakes in either team. It is flat out fun.

Going into this game I wondered if Artemi Panarin would be re-united with his KHL SKA line mates Vadim Shipachyov and Egenii Dadonov. the answer was yes he was.

By the way Shipachyov was signed by the Las Vegas Golden Nights to a two year deal and it is rumored Dadonov maybe joining him as well.

If so enjoy Las Vegas these are skilled players that just won SKA the Gagarin Cup in Russia. I wanted them in Chicago but alas the cap strikes again but I digress.

It was not until the shoot out that Panarin would strike with his absolutely filthy hands to push Russia over Sweden with a 2-1 win. Watching him is so much fun and I am so glad he is a Blackhawk.

Panarin looked good but in a post game presser with Russian media he did state he had to get used to big ice again.

He did have a couple of good scoring chances in game but nothing.

What was the same was his incredible skating and turning on a dime and that rocket of a shot. Big ice, small ice, medium ice those skills and his incredible hands don’t change.

So Panarin was the hero for Team Russia day one.

The other Hawk in that game Marcus Kruger looked good and familiar as well. In the corners digging and battling for pucks, you know just doing Marcus Kruger things. He was on a line with a familiar face Joakim Nordstrom.

Sweden may not have won but they picked up a point and that defense of theirs is stifling. You’d have to say the first period was all Sweden, second period even and third period was all Russia. All in all a great start to the tournament.

 

In between games on the NHL Network it was announced the Women’s Olympic Hockey team that will be going to the 2018 PyeongChang, South Korea games.

Bravo NHL Network it was great seeing and hearing these athletes and that they will train in Tampa, FL for this. Take care of our ladies Tampa Bay Lightning.  They are truly an inspiration for us all.

For those that missed it here is a link to the roster – http://www.teamusa.org/News/2017/May/05/USA-Hockey-Announces-Roster-For-2017-18-Womens-National-Team

Note too Chicago there are two Illinois gals on here Kendall Coyne (F) and Megan Bozak (D) representing us. Can’t wait for the Olympics to get going. Team USA for the women has to be favorite for gold along with Canada. Good Luck!

The second game at the IIHF Men’s Worlds was the USA vs host country Germany. The German crowd was great and it’s great to see other countries are as crazy or maybe crazier about their teams as we are in North America.

Team USA is very young and inexperienced but also very fast. Nick Schmaltz hit the post and almost scored but that was just indiciative of how the game went for team USA.

I already see a difference in Schmaltz’s game. He is shooting more yes Nick keep shooting and get to the middle of the dots and those pings will go in. He also looked a bit stronger on the puck. Keep battling!

Trevor Van Riemsdyk looked like TVR, solid good positionally and jumping in on the rush.

I’ve got to say for a young player TVR is very good and knowing when to jump in and when not too. He had a shot from the point that got through but not in.

Last comment unHawks related, Johnny Gaudreau is a mini Patrick Kane. He is so much fun to watch and was all over the ice. He dominated but like Schmaltz could not get it in the net.

Give it to German goaltender Thomas Greiss he stoned the USA.

Lastly I watched on tape delay the Canada vs Czech Republic just to see Michal Kempny and let me just say it was worth it. Somehow the Hawks need to re-sign him and PLAY him.

This guy has the potential to be a really good defenseman and let me just say the Czech Team uses him on the powerplay to quarterback it if you will and so should the Hawks.

Kempny has a great shot from the point and very very good on ice vision. Now this is international play and not the NHL although he was basically playing the Flyers as Team Canada is currently mostly comprised of Flyers.

He has a heavy shot maybe not as heavy as Seabrooks but still it is very effective.

His passing was spot on on the power play.

Also his defense has improved he had a great stick play to stop Mark Scheifele which impressed me.

Some how the Hawks need to re-sign him and please for the love of God play him a lot of minutes. I don’t care who you pair him with just play the man.

Can’t wait to see what develops as the tourney goes on. The only team playing with Blackhawks on it Saturday is Czech Republic so Michal Kempny I will be watching you again and Team Sweden Krugs I got my eye on you.

Team Russia & Team USA do not play again until Sunday where they take on Italy and Denmark respectively. Russia needs to get off to a better starts and USA just keep doing what you did and get to the nets.

Good Luck and again Good Luck to all the Blackhawks have a great tourney.

 

Video taken from YouTube

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Chicago Blackhawks – Take on IIHF Worlds


Chicago, IL — Now that the Chicago Blackhawks are no longer in the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs the opportunity has opened up for some of the Hawks to attend the IIHF Men’s World Championships held in Cologne, Germany and Paris, France.

At least we get to see some of our favorite hockey players continue to play. I for one am more interested in this tournament than the NHL playoffs as a big fan of international hockey.

There will be five Blackhawks attending and representing four different teams.

Team Czech Republic will have Michal Kempny

Team Russia will have our favorite breadman Artemi Panarin

Team Sweden will have Marcus Kruger

Team USA will have Nick Schmaltz and Trevor Van Riemsdyk

Good Luck to all but you know I have to root for team USA but wishing all good luck and stay healthy.

The first games will be on Friday starting with a good one between teams Russia and Sweden followed up by team USA vs Germany and lastly team Canada vs Team Czech Republic so we will be able to see all of the Hawks the first day running.

Teams Russia and Canada should be the powerhouses in this tourney but one never knows. You can never count out team USA or Sweden and there could be some unknown team that goes on a run which is why the international stage has never been more wide open or competitive.

To get a full roster listing of all the teams go to  http://www.iihfworlds2017.com/en/news/preliminary-rosters

I will try to keep blogging throughout this tournament of what our Blackhawks are doing for their teams so stay tuned. With the NHLers not being present at the 2018 Olympics this maybe one of the few international tournaments where you can catch NHLers.

In the United States broadcasts of all the teams will be able to be viewed on NHL Network for those of us who unfortunately can not make it to Cologne or Paris.

Huge props to the NHL Network they finally are showing all types of hockey events which I personally feel is great not only for the game but for the NHL as well. The more people tuned in the more fans you may nab.

In my opinion the first game between Sweden and Russia should be a really good barometer of how this whole thing could play out and the tempo of the games.

As a Blackhawks fan I am curious to see if Team Russia will re-unite Artemi Panarin with his old KHL SKA team line mates Evegii Dadanov and Vadim Shipachyov. If so there could be instant chemistry there so look out.

Russia is stacked up front but Sweden is stacked on the blue line so this is a great tournament kick off match. Can’t wait to watch.

Also really looking forward to seeing further development for Nick Schmaltz and TVR every experience will only serve them well. Good Luck boys.

And again Good Luck to all GO USA!

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Chicago Blackhawks – Another long summer


Chicago, IL — For the second straight year the Chicago Blackhawks will have a long summer to think about a great many things that went wrong and how to fix them.

Twenty four hours after the team cleaned out their lockers and met with the local media, the entire organization used words like unacceptable, disappointed, shocked, mad, frustrated and embarrassed. None of these words are positives in any way.

What is concerning as a fan is that from the management down to the players they all seemed lost and confused and uncertain as to what had happened and that is a bit worrisome as a fan.

One can only hope after initial feelings and they review what took place what happened to them will be realized and addressed appropriately.

Now I am not a sports psychologist but I didn’t like what I was hearing before, during and yes even after the series from the entire team. To me their heads were not in the right place at all both on or off the ice.

I won’t single out comments other than to say I actually didn’t like anything any of them had to say which to me is huge warning signs that Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville will have to sort through.

I previously blogged that the Hawks needed to forget their championship pedigrees and approach these playoffs as if they were new and the first time they had ever been in the playoff but I guess that is easier said than done.

Stan Bowman was asked if the team lacked hunger? His response was essentially if there is any player that thinks that, he will not be here long, I’m paraphrasing. I’m not sure hunger is the correct word as much as maybe the Hawks are victims of their own successes.

It’s human nature to think what worked for you before will work for you again. Except the game has changed from even 2015 so those same things may not work any longer. I think from top to bottom and maybe even us spoiled fans got a huge wake up call.

There was a comment made by several players that they did not reach the level or gear you needed for the playoffs. If not why not? that is either effort or being unprepared/misjudging your opponent .

Or perhaps maybe they could not reach that gear which is something Stan Bowman will need to address with a tight cap. Either scenario is not good.

Here is my amateur observations made out of love for this team as a fan.

The game is different now. I watch a lot of IIHF junior hockey when I can. The NHL network thankfully has started to broadcast these events in the States and team USA just won Gold in the under 18 tourney. How?  With speed, speed, speed and skill. As Craig Button said pressure and attack. Hmmm sounds like what the Predators did.

Also if you look the young teams like the Oilers and Maple Leafs are doing really well which is scary for the rest of the league.

The game has gotten faster, younger and stronger. It is a more North/South game and inside the dots game and you have to have net front presence especially in the playoffs which the Hawks really didn’t do.

Crisp passing is essential and speed makes up for a lot of defensive mistakes if you can track opponents down from behind. Personnel is something Stan Bowman will need to assess and address.

The faster team usually wins now a days. That includes mobile fast defensemen which is something the Hawks may need to address or maybe the wrong Dmen were played and younger D was warranted against the Predators.

Jonathan Toews alluded to this when he stated he would look more at his off- season training and maybe add more speed and skill to his game which is the right track. Ryan Johansen owned him with more speed and power.

Jonny you are not the only one.  More team skating speed and skill is needed across the board and passing tape to tape would help with this as well. What is that legs feed the wolf?

Jonathan Toews wasn’t the only player to get beat by speed and strength or no space was given.

I’m beginning to think Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin smell like fresh meat to wild dogs because they attract everyone and get no space any more. 

I think they all need to as Stan Bowman said look at the mirror and make changes individually.

What is the Hawks game anyway puck possession right?  But how can you be a puck possession team when you are not good at face-offs, one on one board battles or puck management. That is a recipe for disaster in my opinion.

The Blackhawks Corsi numbers were actually worse when you consider how many shots they blocked. They give up way too many shots against and that happened in the regular season too. There were tons of games their goalies bailed them out but that is unsustainable as we see.

I’m not saying the Hawks should or have to be a puck possession team in fact the NHL teams that had great Corsi either didn’t make the playoffs or were also booted quickly. Just throwing that out there.

I do think though they need to take a look at their overall game and how it fares or translates to today’s game against younger, faster teams and make player or game plan adjustments if need be.

The Neutral zone Trap ah yes “Red Rover” as Coach Quenneville called it as reported by the local sports media. I’m shocked adjustments were not made to deal with this.

I don’t need to tell the Hawks how to adjust to this they know what to do. Why they were reluctant to do it or were they not good at the adjustments I’m not sure.

You better practice how to overcome all traps 1-3-1, 1-4 ect because now every team knows this is not what you like to do and it frustrates you. Until you can beat this it will continue to be thrown at you.

The other team in the playoffs using this the Ottawa Senators are also having success with it against the Bruins and are on the verge of knocking them out in the first round, so this will be a thing now teams try to employ.

Personally as a fan I hate it. It is boring to watch so I can only imagine playing against it. Some how some way you need to figure out how to beat this if you want to go far next year and make it a fun offensive challenge not something to dread. Coaches I look to you to address this.

Play 60 – no this is not the NFL program for kids but a call out to the team not only in the playoffs but the regular season to play a full game. Honestly in the playoffs I don’t think there was one game they played a full sixty minutes a bad habit that carried over from the regular season. This needs to change quick.

Scorched Earth – or maybe it is sloppy ice if you skate over a team too many times. Blackhawks I’ve got news for you other teams particularly in the West hate you and revenge and vengeance is a very powerful motivator.

The Wild, Blues, Predators, Ducks, Sharks, Kings have all had their seasons and Stanley Cup hopes dashed by you not just once either by some of these teams, so now they are looking for payback big time.

The media even doesn’t want you to succeed as people call it “Hawks fatigue”. You have no idea how much all the other fan bases hate you.

I see it all the time when you win on my twitter feed “I hate the Blackhawks”. Not sure what that says except why do people hate on success or excellence? I guess envy. I usually laugh. So know you are hated by other teams, their fans and media.

The one good thing going out early is why get all the way to the final to lose. Maybe this is the slap in the face the entire organization and fan base needed and now there is plenty of time to adapt to changes.

I have no doubt changes will be made and rightfully so when you don’t meet your goal.

As Stan Bowman said to keep repeating the same thing over and over and expect different results isn’t going to happened and well isn’t that the definition of crazy?

Look you were right there for two years now you just have to address the Central teams first and then the West as a whole.

Remember also they adjusted their teams specifically to play the Hawks. You’ve been studied more than probably any other team.

Even I know how to beat you and I’m not a professional coach or player.

As a Blackhawks fan I still love you guys, thank you for a great regular season I was highly entertained. I have faith the necessary adjustments will be made and next year at this time the story will be entirely different.

In the meantime the next few months should be telling as to the future direction of this team.

I’m only writing this because I know you guys have more Cups in you. Enjoy Summer and GO HAWKS!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Chicago Blackhawks – Sweep Canada & put hold on Central


Chicago, IL — What a week for the Chicago Blackhawks. They started the week one point behind the Central Division leading Minnesota Wild.

The Hawks then hit the road to Canada to face the three current playoff bound teams in the Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators & the Toronto Maple Leafs.

By the end of this Canadian excursion they find themselves not only picking up 6 valuable points out of 6 but they are now five points ahead of the Wild and sitting in first in the Central. Now that is a successful road trip.

Minnesota during that time picked up no points so the Hawks now find themselves in what I thought was a possible position.

I have to admit, I really didn’t think they would catch the Wild or the Central this soon especially given that Anisimov, Hossa, Crawford & Darling have been in and out of the line up with injuries.

There is only 11 or 12 games left for the Hawks and Wild so time is running out. I still contend it is not imperative the Hawks win the Central but it would still be nice to have home ice throughout the playoffs facing the West.

There is an outside chance now they are only 3 points behind NHL leader the Washington Capitals to catch them based on the strength of opponents each team faces. The Hawks have the far easier schedule on paper.

The Hawks also face Pittsburgh and Columbus who stand in between so they can dictate a lot yet even in the East of how the teams finish in that conference.

Again the Penguins and the Blue Jackets face in theory a tougher schedule than the Blackhawks. If they get that they would secure home ice throughout the playoffs regardless of opponent.

Then again we all know the President Trophy winners don’t usually fair well in the playoffs. Who was the last President Trophy winner to win a Stanley Cup?  Oh yeah it was the Chicago Blackhawks scratch that notion.

The Hawks have now put themselves comfortably in the game tonight against the Colorado Avalanche with the opportunity to clinch a playoff berth and we all know that is their ultimate goal.

I believe they just need to win in any fashion (regulation, OT, SO),  to get in or a couple of other scenarios if the Flames win over the Kings.

Good on the Hawks you always seem to amaze and impress me. Nothing is out of their reach now.

What is really impressive is how the Hawks have gained ground and swept Canada. It was with eight different goal scorers and some of them are in their first NHL year coupled with outstanding defensive structure and goaltending.

The Hawks who scored goals in those three Canadian games – Kane, Oduya, Panarin, Toews, Keith, Panik, Hayden & Hartman. Now that is a balanced attack. If they can sustain this it will make them very hard to match up against.

Plus you have to keep in mind this is without Anisimov in the last two games and without Hossa in the last game.

Nick Schmaltz is growing up before our eyes as has Ryan Hartman and Richard Panik. I loved seeing the tears of the Maple Leafs fans bemoaning losing Panik. I was amused.

Now we can add John Hayden to the list as well. The guy just got here two games ago and I already see a huge step from game one to game two.

Even Mike Babcock said after the OT win over the Maple Leafs yesterday that he was surprised how good “some of their kids are.” He said he saw some of them in Juniors but didn’t think they would be this good.

So young rookies just keep doing what you do and listen to your coaches and just shine.

Coaches I’ve got to say Coach Quenneville, Kitchen, Dineen you guys have been really exceptional this year bringing these young guys along into the fold and just putting them in positions to their strengths and to succeed.

In the Ottawa game Hayden was eased into the NHL game with limited minutes and he still had 5 hits. A couple of games ago Schmaltz made a defensive error that cost a goal so he sat to contemplate his error.

Yet the coaches put him in at the end of the game to give the kid confidence now that is coaching. I bet Schmaltz won’t make that error ever again and it’s ok to make errors as long as you learn from them.

The best example was probably the last game against the Leafs. My Lord John Hayden has stepped in like he has played with Toews and Panik his whole life not just two games.

I know the kid is smart graduating from Yale but still give him credit and the entire leadership of the team both players and coaches because there is a learning curve yet you really don’t see that curve they fit in so well right away.

Also who would’ve put Hartman and Panarin out together in OT? They rarely if ever play together yet they get the GWG in OT together. Now that is blending & putting in some Tabasco to boot. Well done.

I really think the coaches should at least be up there and possibly win the Jack Adams. This year more than any in recent history the coaching has brought these kids along and developed them quickly.

I also give huge props to the leadership on this team. Post game Hayden said he’s learned more in two games just being around these guys and a winning culture, I’m paraphrasing here.

Ryan Hartman you are a Chicago treasure to be sure. Just keep being you. He represents what Chicago is so well.

The other thing individually is Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin are closing in on their individual goals.

Kane I believe at the time of this post is just two points out of the scoring lead and has a chance to go back to back years with the title which that has not been done in a long time and I’m not sure possibly never by an American.

Artemi Panarin I believe is one point off of getting his schedule B bonus and something tells me both Kane and Panarin are not going to be this close and not close the deals. Keep it rolling boys.

I would also like to, insert emoji of girl/boy with hands raised to the sky Person Gesturing OK: Light Skin Tone on Apple iOS 10.2       Man Gesturing OK: Medium-Light Skin Tone on Apple iOS 10.2, Johnny Oduya is back with the Hawks!

Before the trade deadline that was the one thing I said I would be ecstatic over if the Hawks got Oduya back. Stan you never cease to make me happy thank you.

I am so glad he is back with this team and already we see the improvement. The Hawks defense was good before now it is excellent with Oduya back. Welcome home Johnny O.

Are the Hawks perfect? No they still need to work on face-offs, special teams and shots against are a little too high. Clean these items up and keep working on them and get healthy.

Close out the last eleven games strong and Spring is coming!

 

 

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Chicago Blackhawks – Closing in on the Central title and getting a new face


Chicago, IL — We are definitely in the home stretch now so every point is huge but to get points against your divisional foe that you are chasing and coming out victorious can only be described is sweeeeetttttt.

My last blog was about chasing down the Wild for the division title and I said if the Hawks wanted a chance at the division they needed to beat the Wild in their remaining games in regulation. At that time there was two games left and mission accomplished.

The Hawks are still a force to be dealt with. What is really amazing is this last game was probably not the Hawks best game overall as a team but they still won against a very good opponent.

Corey Crawford is starting to look like the pre-appendix Crawford and that should make Hawks fans happy.

Not five minutes into the game and Devon Dubnyk got pulled due to a quick strike by the second line. First Kane struck from a great Oduya to Panarin to Kane pass in the slot that got past Dubnyk.

Not sure why they pulled Dubnyk and how it effects the team going forward as you could see he was not happy being pulled. I can’t say as I blame him. Now it may have been to shake up the entire team which it did temporarily but you have to wonder in the third period if they shouldn’t have had their best goalie in.

In post game presser Bruce Boudreau said Dubnyk was pulled based on his play not the teams play alrighty then this will be a situation to watch. All I know is Scott Darling now lead the league in save % ahead of Dubnyk.

Then Kane returned the favor to the Breadman with a perfect pass to the Breadman in the slot where he did a beauty of a one timer. Not that Panarin needs my feedback but lil muffin start firing up those biscuits from all over the ice it will make you less predictable.

This duo and that line is so much fun to watch. Boys you are a thrill to be sure.

I also love how Patrick Kane who admittedly did not have good puck management in the Detroit Red Wings game came out and you could tell he wanted to make a difference and he did. You know what that is right?

Leadership and Ownership. Good on you Kaner that is why he is a 3X Stanley Cup Champion.

As a team the Hawks just need to watch your puck management in the neutral zones and definetly in your end and play 60 minutes and you’ll keep racking up points.

During the game the Hawks on the ice weren’t the only ones working early Sunday, Stan Bowman signed Yale graduate John Hayden to a two year ELC. One year of which will be burned if he plays with the Hawks this year.

It sounds like he will be coming straight to the Hawks. Now I have seen Hayden personally in prospect camps and the kid is big, powerful and skilled. He has some really good hands for a big guy.

In any event the Hawks just got what could be a young power forward for the wing and they are starting to look loaded both up front and on the back end.

Will the Hawks win the division? Who knows but I really like their chances and again it won’t be a disaster if they don’t.

The Hawks still have not seen a complete Wild team as Hanzel was out not sure why and again the Hawks basically faced their back-up goalie so if these two teams do meet in the playoffs the Hawks need to keep that in the memory banks.

Also in the Wilds post game presser you could tell Boudreau was visibly frustrated and not pleased. Don’t feel bad Coach a lot of teams, coaches and fans feel that way after playing the Chicago Blackhawks.

I always crack up on twitter how many profanities are slung at the Hawks like that would slow them down. I find it all amusing HA.

Right now the Hawks are going on a game every other day pace and a lot on the road which is a great tune up before the playoffs. Just keep grinding boys, stay healthy and have fun.

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