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Monday, October 16

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Blackhawks Wed Jul 01 2015

Blackhawks and Saad Part Ways, But All Not Lost

Chicago BlackhawksIt was a move most everyone considered impossible, losing out on a proven 22-year-old stud to cap restraints, especially after he scored eight goals and notched three assists in the postseason to help his team win its third Stanley Cup in six years. But after the news broke Tuesday afternoon that Brandon Saad had been traded to the Columbus Blue Jackets, the first thing to set in after the initial sting was acceptance in the salary-cap era.

A great two-way player, who benefited playing alongside surefire hall of famers in Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, Saad won over the Hawks faithful with his work ethic and electrifying plays on the scoring end and with no-look passes. There's no question the Hawks have gotten away with paying Saad an extremely affordable salary, but, eventually, his talent on the ice was going to cost Stan Bowman and company much more than the annual $842,500 bargain after season's end when he would become a restricted free agent.

Welcome to the era of the salary cap, Blackhawks fans. It's meant to give the league a fighting chance against a dynasty, and offers a chance for players like Saad to strike it rich and lead a new team to the promised land after an apprenticeship with the best. Currently, that's what is important to Saad. What's important to the Hawks, in this inevitable aftermath, is what they received in return so as to continue to redefine what is "dynasty" after these collectively-bargained rules were set in place a decade ago.

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Jim Crago / Comments (2)

Blackhawks Fri Jun 26 2015

Blackhawks Parade and Rally Another for the Ages

Chicago Blackhawks It was a thrilling ride the Hawks took us on the last two months, and it ended with a third Stanley Cup in six years, and the team's sixth overall in its history (that still seems way too low). After commissioner Gary Bettman awarded Duncan Keith his much-deserved Conn Smythe trophy and asked captain Jonathan Toews to come over to accept Lord Stanley, all that was left was the celebration.

For those who missed out on flooding the streets of Wrigleyville, or packing into those trendy downtown nightclubs, which now hang the iconic Blackhawks logo, there was to be yet another celebration for all on Thursday, June 18, rain or shine. Unfortunately, too much rain forced the city to hold the rally at Soldier Field; however, despite the lack of space to pack hundreds of thousands in attendance, the impromptu event seemingly ran efficiently.

Local photographer Joshua Mellin beautifully captured some of the images from the Hawks' rally. So even if you weren't able to make the party of the year, Joshua's images will put you front and center.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jun 16 2015

Blackhawks Win Third Stanley Cup in Six Years

Chicago Blackhawks As the Blackhawks stood in line last June to shake hands with the Los Angeles Kings after dropping a Game 7 thriller at home, each player who remained wanted to do whatever possible to erase that memory from their mind, and make it right for a fan base which had grown tenfold.

Repeating as champs in any sport is the toughest thing there is to do; repeating as champs in a salary-cap era is nearly impossible. The Hawks had managed to win two in its cap era, but the Kings matched that feat after wiping through the Rangers in last year's Final.

After a long offseason, a series of ups and downs throughout the regular season, and a rather erratic start to the postseason, the Blackhawks -- period by period, game by game -- began to erase that memory. And then, finally, just as the skies opened from up above the city and unleashed a torrential downpour before Game 6, the Hawks washed away all memories from a year ago, and eventually shook hands on the very same spot, but this time as Stanley Cup champs -- now its third in the last six years.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jun 09 2015

Blackhawks in a Familiar Spot Down 2-1

Chicago Blackhawks After Brandon Saad gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead a little over four minutes into the third period of Game 3 Monday night, the cheers that followed nearly tore the paint off the United Center. The passing that occurred to set it up -- Jonathan Toews slings the puck up to Duncan Keith at the point, to Marian Hossa down low, and across to a wide-open Saad for pay dirt high on Ben Bishop's glove side -- was a thing of beauty, and something Hawks fans wished would occur on an actual power play from time to time.

Nevertheless, the goal was a real back-breaker for Lightning head coach Jon Cooper, especially after his team blew a five-on-three power play late in the second period. The Hawks looked to open things up after such a textbook play; however, a mere 13 seconds later, Ondrej Palat tied the game as Gene Honda was still announcing Saad's go-ahead score when Braydon Coburn beat Marcus Kruger on a pinch to set it all up the other way.

The Lightning eventually took the lead for good after Cedric Paquette took a beautiful feed in front of Corey Crawford from Victor Hedman with just 3 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in regulation, to give Tampa Bay and the legion of Hulkamaniacs, a 3-2 win and a 2-1 series lead. It was quite deflating for those watching at the UC, at home or at their local watering hole, but it's a situation the Hawks have been in before and a deficit they can overcome like they did in 2013.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Jun 04 2015

Blackhawks Match Lightning Speed to Take Game 1

Chicago Blackhawks If the first 10 minutes of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final was any indication as to how the Tampa Bay Lightning were going to go about playing in this series, the Hawks quickly countered and was able to catch up in faceoffs and speed to steal home ice after a 2-1 win at Amalie Arena.

A lot was made, coming into this series, about Tampa's top-scoring threat in Steven Stamkos, as well as the "Triplets Line," consisting of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat and their creativity and speed on the ice. The talent is undeniable, but it was two players from the Hawks' "80's Night" line, in Teraveinan and Antoine Vermette, who were the difference on offense.

The Lightning brass took a lot of measures to keep Hawks fans from buying tickets and raining on its parade for these first two games of this series, which proved to be a lame move, but somewhat successful. What they couldn't stop was the Hawks reigning the final 20 minutes and stealing home ice in this final battle for Lord Stanley's Cup.

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Mon Jun 01 2015

It's Blackhawks & Lightning for the Stanley Cup

Chicago Blackhawks After battling though six unforgettable games against the Anaheim Ducks in the Western Conference Final, the Blackhawks managed to calm everyone's nerves after the first 20 minutes of play in the deciding Game 7. The feeling was either the Hawks in a close one or the Ducks mow right through in a laugher.

Instead, it was captain Jonathan Toews scoring the game's first two goals, which resulted in Bruce Boudreau's team playing on the backs of its skates in yet another disappointing finish to a Game 7. The 5-3 final from the Honda Center Saturday evening may look close, but the game was pretty much over after Toews' second and now his team finds itself playing for its third Stanley Cup in six years.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu May 28 2015

Blackhawks Force Game 7 on Shoulders of Duncan Keith

Chicago BlackhawksThere was something about going into Wednesday night's Game 6 that felt different for a Blackhawks team looking to avoid elimination on its home ice at the United Center. The Hawks have been circling the waters around these Ducks the previous five games, looking to strike and draw blood with not merely a flesh wound, but to devour their opponent, but haven't quite found the right gear to do so.

Some bad turnovers, line experimentations and a sub-par power play have kept the Ducks along and above water -- not to mention the Ducks' size and quickness to choke out a lot of shot attempts. It's been a back-and-forth series thus far, and after a 5-2 win to even things out, there's no doubt Saturday's Game 7 will be no different.

When the Hawks have been down in this series, they appear to be skating with a hockey organ strapped to their backs. When they find a groove, it's due to their all-world defenseman Duncan Keith, strapping his teammates to his shoulders to lead the way on both ends of the ice, much like he did in Game 6.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed May 27 2015

Do or Die for Blackhawks in Game 6

Chicago BlackhawksThere haven't been many times in which the Blackhawks have found themselves facing elimination over the last six seasons. The threat was very real in 2013 against the Red Wings, facing a 3-1 deficit, only to rally back in legendary fashion to win the second round of the Western Conference playoffs.

There also was last year's 3-1 deficit to the Los Angeles Kings, but another miraculous push to a forced Game 7 fell short after tempting fate with the likes of Michal Handzus and Brandon Bollig earning ice time. There also was the 2012 season, which was cut short by the Coyotes in the first round and, of course, the near-miraculous turnaround against the Canucks in 2011.

All those series seem so far back in the rear-view mirror, but remain tucked in our memory banks for a lifetime. What Game 6 memory the Hawks create will depend on how strong they play in the first period, how well they defend in front of Corey Crawford, and whether or not the likes of Patrick Sharp, Bryan Bickell and a host of others are ready to push a Game 7 or discover their fate in another hockey town for next season.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed May 20 2015

Kruger Gets Redemption, Ties Series in 3OT Thriller

Chicago Blackhawks After Marcus Kruger took a vicious header to the boards, off a questionable hit by Clayton Stoner early into the first period of Game 2 of the Western Conference Final, it was apparent Kruger was going to be finished for the evening and Stoner would be ejected, or, at the very least, serve a double-minor penalty. The play foreshadowed how the rest of the game would play out: big hits, physical play and no love lost between either side.

Stoner only received a two-minute minor, upon which the Blackhawks were able to capitalize in a rare power-play goal, while Kruger remained in the game, which turned out to be key hours later in the Blackhawks' thrilling 3-2 win played in three overtimes, the longest game ever in the franchise's 89-year history.

While Hawks fans grabbed a quick nap and made their commute to work this morning in a much-better mood -- albeit, a little groggy -- after a prize fight of a hockey game, their team now heads back home for Games 3 and 4 at the United Center with the series tied at one-a-piece.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon May 18 2015

Despite Layoff, Ducks, Andersen Outplay Blackhawks in Game 1

Chicago BlackhawksAfter a lengthy rest for both the Anaheim Ducks and Blackhawks, it was time to drop the puck for Game 1 of the Western Conference Final at the Honda Center in sunny California. The narrative leading into Game 1 was the Hawks would have been on too much rest and would lose all the momentum after taking it to the Minnesota Wild in a four-game sweep.

Turns out the Hawks only had three more days of preparation than the Ducks (10 days compared to seven days), which didn't seem to kill any momentum for head coach Bruce Boudreau's team, after taking the first in this series by the final of 4-1.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri May 08 2015

Blackhawks in Western Conference Final, Sweep Wild

Chicago Blackhawks Nothing this season has been particularly easy for the Blackhawks in terms wins. Even with a bit of a cushion, like in last night's Game 4 clincher in which the Hawks went up 4-1 late in the third period after Marian Hossa scored an empty-netter against the Wild in a six on four advantage, the Hawks managed to let Mike Yeo's team get dangerously close before closing it out by the final of 4-3.

For the first 57 minutes, the Hawks played about as solid as they have all season -- heck, the last few seasons -- by way of blocking shots (14 total), winning faceoffs at the dot (the Blackhawks have three in the top-20 this postseason in Jonathan Toews, Brad Richards and Antoine Vermette) and Corey Crawford finding his groove again in between the pipes. Oh yeah, and Patrick Kane doing his thing -- he scored nearly as many goals this series (5) as the entire Wild roster (7).

The final three minutes were another story, but one that proved to be near impossible to defend, especially with the Wild using a two-man advantage on two occasions. No matter, because the Hawks find themselves once again in the Western Conference final -- the team's third appearance in a row and fifth trip in the last seven seasons -- and look to make right on falling short last year.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed May 06 2015

Kane and Crow Steal Show in Game 3 Win for Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks Coming into Tuesday night's tilt at the Xcel Energy Center, the Blackhawks were a mere 1-9 in Game 3s on the road under head coach Joel Quenneville. The usual narrative read like a road map these last handful of years: Take the first two and then settle in on the road, while trying to steal one, preferably in Game 4.

The Game 3 slide happened twice last postseason: once against this same Wild team and then again in the Western Conference final against the eventual Cup champs, the Los Angeles Kings. Last night, however, Patrick Kane and Corey Crawford rewrote that narrative, and now the Hawks are up a commanding three games to none on the Minnesota Wild and look to close out the series Thursday night.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon May 04 2015

Blackhawks Set Pace on Wild to Go Up 2-0

Chicago Blackhawks It was quite a long weekend of sports, especially for all those in the Chicagoland area. The NFL Draft kicked off Thursday in Draft Town, the Bulls dispatched the Bucks in grand fashion to move on to the second round of the NBA playoffs, The Cubs and Sox tried, the fastest two minutes in sports produced a thrilling finish in the 141st Kentucky Derby, and Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao finally got it on, albeit, in a rather lackluster display in the squared circle.

It was a legendary four days for sure, which undoubtedly produced a few hangovers and a neglected punch list. But capping it all off was the Hawks finally showing a little life on the defensive end and setting the pace against a quick Wild team, going up two games to none in the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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Jim Crago

Chicago Tue Apr 28 2015

Blackhawks Prep for Wild Series

Chicago Blackhawks After a rather neurotic series against the Nashville Predators, the Hawks find themselves in a second-round rematch against a team hell-bent on making good from last year's 4-2 series loss in the Minnesota Wild. The Hawks were able to figure out Pekka Rinne just in time to close out the Preds, all while figuring out issues within their own net in Corey Crawford and Scott Darling (and then Crawford again).

The Hawks' defense didn't help matters, allowing way too many shots on goal to both Crow and Darling, but in the end they managed to pressure Rinne, especially the last four to five minutes of Game 6, and eke out a series win.

All is well and good in Hawksland now, but if recent play is any indication of how this team will perform from here on out, the result might be Wild in six -- or even shorter than that.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Apr 16 2015

Darling Lifts Blackhawks Over Predators but Bigger Question Ahead

Chicago Blackhawks Most everyone in Chicago expected the Blackhawks to win Game 1 against the Predators in Music City last night. What no one ever could have predicted was how they eventually got it done.

In what easily will go down as one of the most exciting games played in the last 20 years, the Hawks went from being down 3-0 after the first 20 minutes of play, which prompted Joel Quenneville to pull goalie Corey Crawford, to clawing their way back on the very broad shoulders of Lemont native Scott Darling and eventually winning in the game's second overtime by the final of 4-3.

Hawks fans will excuse the lack of sleep after a win like that, which is nothing a few extra cups of coffee won't fix. But what likely will keep Quenneville and staff up even later on this evening's off night is deciding whether or not to re-insert the man who got them there in Crawford, or simply to ride the hot hand in Darling and see how it plays out.

Lovie Smith famously said on multiple occasions, "Rex is our quarterback," despite his inconsistent play on the field. Will Q echo those sentiments?

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Apr 14 2015

Patrick Kane Cleared to Play for Blackhawks, but Is It Too Soon?

Chicago Blackhawks It's been 49 days since Patrick Kane broke his left collarbone when Florida Panthers' defenseman Alex Petrovic put a mild cross-check on the league's leading scorer. Kane was given 10-12 weeks of recovery time by doctors, which put Blackhawks fans in a state of depression and general manager Stan Bowman in a trading mood.

During that stretch, the Blackhawks went 12-8-1, often trading places with the St. Louis Blues in the standings, until the gas tank ran on empty the last four games of the season. Forty-nine days later, the Blues clinched the Central, the Hawks managed to keep pace with the floundering Nashville Predators in the loss column and start the first round on the road, and Kane was cleared to participate in Game One of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

A lot has changed, but one question remained the same: would Kane's shoulder hold up come playoff time, especially when contact is intensified? The prognosis had Kane coming back deep into the postseason; however, now that Kane has been cleared to return five weeks earlier than expected, that initial question has changed: is Kane returning too early?

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Apr 01 2015

Playoff Scenario for Blackhawks Shifting Everyday

Chicago Blackhawks It's been an interesting week in the NHL's Central Division for nine teams -- some of those looking to get in and some of those looking to host home ice. Just when the Blackhawks' playoff scenario looked bleak late last week (in regards to positioning), they win two games in a row and are now back in the hunt for the division lead.

Just as March went out like a lamb, so too did the Hawks' play, prior to their last two. They went from being a wild-card team last week after losing 4-1 in Philly and then dropping 5-2 at home to the Blue Jackets, to currently sitting one point behind St. Louis for second and five points behind Nashville for the division lead.

And with six regular-season games remaining on the schedule -- two of which are against the Blues -- the Hawks are hoping to make life a little easier on their travel schedule by hosting, at minimum, the first two rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Mar 25 2015

Crawford Finding the Ability to Forget

Chicago Blackhawks Goalies are a lot like relief pitchers in baseball, meaning, if there's a bad outing, they need to forget it ever happened. The ability to block something out -- suppressing it deep within the hippocampus -- has separated the elite in late-inning relief from those who wind up back in Triple A.

This season for the Hawks, Corey Crawford has excelled in his ability to let go the occasional clunker and come right back a few days later to lock it back down in net. It'd help his cause, and sanity for that matter, if his teammates cleared the zone a little more consistently, but nonetheless, Crawford has put up career numbers in a season where he's on pace to see more shots than ever before.

What's different from this season compared to seasons' prior when the Hawks' netminder would fight through more frequent slumps? Perhaps it's working harder between the pipes as well as exercising his neurological skills.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Mar 17 2015

Blackhawks Keeping Pace in the Central Minus Kane

Chicago Blackhawks Losing a player like Patrick Kane would cause any team and fan base to question its future, especially so close to the playoffs. Before fracturing his left collarbone on February 24, against the Florida Panthers, Kane was leading the league in scoring and making a strong case for becoming the first Hawk since Stan Mikita in 1968 to win the Art Ross (scoring title) and Hart Memorial (regular-season MVP) trophies.

Since the injury, the Hawks have compiled a 6-1-1 record and have closed the gap on both the Nashville Predators and St. Louis Blues in the Central Division to within five points apiece. With 14 games remaining on the regular-season schedule, the Hawks are looking to make a legitimate run at winning the division with a (somewhat) rejuvenated power play, and sense of urgency with old and new blood on the roster.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Mar 05 2015

New Blackhawks Looking to Help Team as Playoffs Approach

Chicago Blackhawks As the trade deadline approached Monday at 2pm, Blackhawks fans were bracing either for a Bryan Bickell or Patrick Sharp (or both) deal that would free up some much-needed cap space for next year and yet still help a team looking to fill the void of an injured Patrick Kane. As the trade clock expired, both players were still in town and Vegas odds makers still felt confident in giving the Hawks a 6-1 edge to win it all come June.

There's no question general manager Stan Bowman has confidence in his team to make it that far, despite the loss of, at the time, the league's leading scorer. The evidence of that comes from the trades made over the last week, which brought in a highly-sought after forward; a veteran on the blue line, who hasn't seen action all season; and a young winger who has more fights (6) than goals (5) this season.

With 18 games remaining in the regular season, and a tightly-packed playoff push in the Central, Bowman is hoping his wheeling and dealing creates a run reminiscent of the 2010 winner, which also could mirror how the team is broken apart, win or lose.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Feb 26 2015

Kane Injury Creates Opportunity for Some, Headache for Bowman

Chicago BlackhawksAs if the Blackhawks already weren't looking for answers on its power play, scoring woes, defensive positioning, goaltending questions -- you name it -- now Joel Quenneville and Stan Bowman have to deal with the reality of Patrick Kane sidelined for the next 12 weeks with a fractured left clavicle.

With just over 12 minutes left in the first period, Alex Petrovic checked Kane into the boards while going for a loose puck in the Hawks' offensive zone. The hit wasn't anything deliberate or heinous by any means, but it was enough to send Kane, left-shoulder first, into the wall.

After looking into the issue, the league has decided Petrovic will not be disciplined for the hit, nor will there be a hearing to discuss the act that took place Tuesday evening at the United Center, in which the Blackhawks won 3-2 in a shootout. The Hawks will take the extra point, but the thought of being without its leading scorer and, at the time, potential Hart Trophy winner, has the team pulling together even more so now than after losing three straight last week.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Feb 24 2015

Darling Gets Another Shot as Blackhawks Fight Through Slump

Chicago Blackhawks You can forget about catching the Central-leading Nashville Predators at this point. Just go ahead and erase the idea of surpassing the best team in the Western Conference right now, which has amassed 87 points and has gone 7-2-1 in its last 10 games.

The focus for the Blackhawks, with 22 games remaining on their schedule, including the home-at-home stint with the Florida Panthers starting tonight, is to remain above water and catch the St. Louis Blues for second in the division.

The panic button has been pressed (again) after the Hawks lost their last three games -- a 3-2 shootout thriller against the Red Wings; a 4-1 loss to the Avs, which produced three goals in just over three minutes in the third period for Patrick Roy's squad; and a 6-2 laugher against the Bruins in front of a national audience -- all during the longest homestand of the year against a set of struggling teams.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Feb 11 2015

Blackhawks Look to Ride Hot Hossa During Homestand

Chicago Blackhawks Marian Hossa headed into St. Louis last Sunday with only 10 goals and 34 points after 52 games played this season, and what surely was a lot of questions about his own play swirling in his head. The 36-year-old Slovak had been mired in a bit of a slump, which coincided with his team's recent play on the longest road trip of the season.

The Blackhawks had been shutout back-to-back games for the first time since 2006 during this "Frozen" trip and the defense was skating on its heels, appearing slower than normal for a team as talented as any in the league. All coach Joel Quenneville needed was a player or two to help ignite the team and the rest would follow suit.

What followed was a takedown of the Blues (two points), a shootout loss to the Coyotes (one point) and a rejuvenated Hossa, who tallied four goals and four points along the way.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Feb 05 2015

Scoring Woes for Blackhawks a Mere Blip on the Radar

Chicago Blackhawks Ease off the ledge, Blackhawks fans. Things might look a little shaky as February begins, but just because Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow to allow for another six weeks of Old Man Winter, doesn't mean your favorite team will continue its recent play into the extension called on by everyone's favorite rodent.

Yes, things currently may not seem fine, considering the team has scored as many goals in the last two games as the entire writing staff at Gapers Block -- zero. And, yes, they've been shutout two games in a row for the first time since 2006. But just as the blades upon which they skate can use a little sharpening from time to time, so too will be their ability to sharpen their skills and glide right back to winning more consistently.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Jan 29 2015

West Coast Swing a Tough Test for Blackhawks

Chicago BlackhawksAfter a nice break at the halfway point of the season, and whatever you wanted to call the display on ice in Columbus for the All-Star game, the Blackhawks laced up their skates for another long swing to the west coast. The last time the team logged this many miles across the Continental Divide, they collected 10 points in six games (5-1-0) and averaged 3.83 goals per game against some of the conference's best.

Coming into the game against the defending champion Los Angeles Kings Wednesday night, the Hawks were riding a warmed up Marian Hossa (one goal, one assist against Pittsburgh), a young Teuvo Teravainen gaining more confidence at the wing and even a few shifts at the dot, and a completely thermal Patrick Kane making a case for becoming the first Hart Memorial Trophy winner since Stan Mikita in 1968.

Unfortunately, for the Hawks, and those who stuck with them on television until the wee hours, the end result was a little too familiar in games that were in hand but squandered in the third period.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jan 20 2015

Blackhawks Hold Team Meeting as Break Nears

Chicago Blackhawks The last 10 games for the Blackhawks haven't necessarily been the best defensively for a team that looked to be on a mission at the start of the season. Going 5-5-0 during this recent stretch might not seem too alarming unless you've watched how each game unfolded along the way.

The team has been playing a little uncharacteristically as of late: a seemingly calmed Dan Carcillo received a six-game suspension after an illegal cross-check on Winnipeg's Mathieu Perrault; Patrick Sharp, channelling his days with the Flyers, got into a scrape with the Stars' Shawn Horcoff, prompting everyone to yell, "Not the face!"; poor defense, allowing too many shot attempts on Corey Crawford, resulted in the Hawks being outscored 33 to 32 during this time frame.

Certainly not time to panic by any means, considering the All-Star break is this coming weekend, but it was deemed necessary by some of the veterans on the team to address a few holes after 45 games played.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jan 06 2015

Patrick Sharp Picking Up Shot Tempo for Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks It's that time of year again when the Hawks and most other teams in the league tend to drift into a bit of a mid-season funk and create cause for concern. The latest evidence of that is the Hawks' tendency to play from behind by giving up soft- to not-too-difficult shots, most of which fly past Corey Crawford's glove side.

To the Hawks' credit, however, they've found a way to claw their way back into each game and salvage a few points here and there in the process. It makes for exciting hockey, for sure, but certainly isn't clearing the grey away from coach Joel Quenneville's mustache.

The Hawks have been giving up more shots lately, which translates to less puck possession and more goals against. So how to fix such a problem if the defense isn't there? Shoot more yourself, and the Hawks have Patrick Sharp to thank for the recent uptick in firepower.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Dec 22 2014

Blackhawks Filling All-Star Roster for 2015 Contest

Chicago Blackhawks It's been a few years since fans have had a chance to watch an NHL All-Star game due to a shortened season in 2013 and Winter Olympics last year. The exhibition may have been put on ice, but it makes its triumphant return this Jan. 24 in Columbus, OH, and features a lot of Blackhawks players already in the mix from fan voting.

The last time the league's elite was on the ice, they were entertaining fans back in 2012 in Ottawa. That was when Team Chara beat Team Alfredsson by the final of 12-9. Marian Hossa scored a goal and had two assists while Patrick Kane chipped in for one assist for the winning team and pulled off a Superman-like move in the skills competition.

A lot has happened between then and now -- another Cup and what should have been another Cup -- so who is on the short list to make the trip to Columbus this time around for the Hawks?

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Dec 17 2014

Mumps Outbreak Could Sideline More in NHL

Chicago Blackhawks When you hear the name Sidney Crosby and the word viral in the same sentence, it's usually synonymous with an amazing goal that's been replayed over and over again through Social Media. Unfortunately for Sid the Kid and a handful of others in the NHL, the only thing viral these days is located in the parotid gland and is in the form of mumps.

Mumps is one of those infections that harkens back to a time when, as a kid, you were sent to friend's house to become exposed to chickenpox followed by three weeks of homework in bed. That's why anything not referred to as "shingles" for adults seems unthinkable to be contacted, especially those who are considered to be in the best of shape.

Crosby is being monitored by team doctors as he rests, and Penguins GM Jim Rutherford said he's being watched "on a regular basis." But with the infection beginning to spread across the league, questions are being raised as to how this started, what's being done to eradicate it and, for Hawks fans, who on the team might have been infected?

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Dec 11 2014

Strength of Loonie Deciding Factor in Cap for Blackhawks, NHL

Chicago Blackhawks Remember in college when you were scraping under the couch cushions to scrounge a few coins to buy a meal of ramen noodles followed by a few rounds of 15-cent drafts at the local bar? It seemed hopeless as you already checked a few days prior, not to mention your roommate already claimed the remaining 60 cents between the used sofa and radiator.

Then, as if your prayers were miraculously answered, you reached into your coat pocket and pulled out a crinkled up 10 dollar bill and proceeded to drop to your knees and pray to whoever made this glorious wish come true. You were so thankful, in fact, that you decided to splurge all 10 bucks on yourself and friends as if it was your last night in town.

That same elation is what the Hawks and many other teams in the NHL felt on Monday after commissioner Gary Bettman announced at the Board of Governors' meeting that if the Canadian dollar remains steady, the projection for each NHL team would be an extra $4 million towards the cap. It would be huge boost for teams who currently hover around the cap line, which includes the Hawks.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Dec 08 2014

Blackhawks Back on Top in the Central

Chicago Blackhawks After a bit of a slow start from the Hawks the first few months of the season, Joel Quenneville's crew finds itself back atop the Central standings after a 3-1 take down of the Predators in Nashville this past Saturday evening. The Hawks are red hot these days, no thanks to blistering play from Patrick Kane, Brad Richards and Kris Versteeg on the second line; goalies Antti Raanta and Scott Darling stepping it up between the pipes for an ailing Corey Crawford; and puck possession as a team, which currently is ranked first in the entire league in CORSI-for percentage at 55.1 percent.

The Hawks have won their last six games and nine of their last 10, which included going 5-1-0 on the annual Circus Trip. The result has produced a one-point difference in the standings, leapfrogging said Predators and positioning themselves a mere four points away for most in the West. And this is all without consistent scoring from Marian Hossa and a sidelined Patrick Sharp.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Dec 04 2014

Crawford Misstep Provides Opportunity for Raanta

Chicago Blackhawks After a long and successful Circus Trip where the Blackhawks went 5-1-0, they finally were welcomed home with 10 extra points in the standings, a surging second line and solid play from its goaltender in Corey Crawford, who in his last five games is 4-1-0 with a 1.60 GAA and a .937 save percentage.

And what's most impressive about this recent stretch is the quality of opponent which the Hawks are facing. It certainly isn't a portion of the schedule facing a couple of "tomato cans" as former Chicago Bear Doug Buffone so eloquently states on his radio show, but rather a run through some of the toughest teams in the league.

Outside of a 4-1 loss in Vancouver on Nov. 23, which came on the second half of a back-to-back night of play, not much has slowed down the Hawks in the last 10 games or so, and that's pretty much been the case coming into the season: injury and fatigue. Turns out, as of Monday night, you now can add a Rise Against concert to that list.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Dec 01 2014

Blackhawks' Second Line Beginning to Gel

Chicago Blackhawks Coming into the annual Circus Trip a few weeks ago, the Hawks were looking every which way to score goals after outshooting its opponents by a wide margin. Lines were being scrambled and questions began to surface as to whether or not the offseason acquisition of Brad Richards, a Stanley Cup winner with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Conn Smythe winner back in the 2003-'04 season, was worth the $2 million for one year.

This year's Circus Trip looked far more daunting than last year's edition, mostly due to the strength of opposition. Six games, over 5,000 miles traveled and one Thanksgiving feast later, the Hawks and Brad Richards find themselves with 10 extra points in the standings thanks to great play on the road, which all began with the Hawks' second line.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Nov 17 2014

Blackhawks Prep for Tough Circus Trip

Chicago Blackhawks Sunday night marked the last home game for the Blackhawks for a few weeks with the annual Circus Trip starting Thursday night in Calgary, and they were able to send the fans home happy after a 6-2 final against the Stars. Four goals in the third period provided the Hawks with their fifth win in their last 10 games and their seventh home victory out of 11.

Now comes the long stretch each season where the team packs its bags and heads west for a few weeks. This year's edition has the Hawks facing the Flames, Oilers, Canucks, Avs, Ducks and Kings -- a trip that could prove to be challenging compared to years' past.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Nov 10 2014

Sharp Injury Creating Opportunities for Young Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks With Patrick Sharp now sidelined for three to four weeks with a lower-body injury he suffered last week against the Montreal Canadiens, the Hawks will look to Rockford for some much-needed relief, especially with the team's recent scoring drought.

Despite a 5-2 win Sunday night against the San Jose Sharks at the United Center, the Hawks recently have struggled at home, including amassing only two goals in three of the team's previous home contests. The shots on goal were there, but the netminders facing the Hawks played great despite limited second-chance shots. It's not as bad as the Bears' scoring chances, but it was looking a little concerning for a team so loaded with talent.

Sharp led the team last season in points scored with 78 points off of 34 goals and 44 assists; this season, third on the team thus far in points (13 games played) with nine points off of three goals and six assists. For a guy who was rumored to be on his way out of town during the offseason now finds himself on the sidelines for an extended period with Joel Quenneville scratching his head and youth in Rockford itching for an opportunity.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Oct 29 2014

Puck Possession Not a Problem for the Blackhawks

Chicago BlackhawksThe Hawks went into Tuesday night's tilt with the Anaheim Ducks as one of the leaders in the NHL in total shots taken. No surprise there, as head coach Joel Quenneville has the pleasure of juggling three deep lines on a nightly basis with a fourth that would suit any other team in the league.

Even after falling 1-0 to the Western-leading Ducks, after another great effort from Lemont native Scott Darling (24 saves on 25 shots), the Hawks still managed to outshoot their opponents by 13. A short-handed goal off of a bad Brent Seabrook turnover notwithstanding, the Hawks continue to out-possess the opposition, which has managed to keep them in each contest thus far at the dawn of the 2014-'15 season.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Oct 24 2014

Carcillo, Versteeg Looking to Prove They Belong

Chicago BlackhawksThere are times when Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman looks like a genius, mostly for his ability to trade away minimal or expiring talent in return for draft picks or relatively unknown prospects. There was the time in 2010 when he traded Cam Barker to the Wild for Kim Johnsson and Nick Leddy, or even something as exciting as when he was able to land Teuvo Teravainen on a three-year contract at entry-level pricing.

But with the good come a few head-scratchers along the way. Most notably, the re-signing of Dan Carcillo prior to this season and re-acquiring, via trade, Kris Versteeg last November. It's been a roll of the dice for sure, especially the Vertseeg move last year. But can both actually provide enough service on the ice for another run at the Cup instead of time spent on the bench or penalty box?

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Oct 16 2014

Breaking Down the Blackhawks' Fire Power

Chicago Blackhawks If you watched the Hawks' 2-1 overtime loss against the Calgary Flames last night, you saw 50 shots aimed at Jonas Hiller with only one of them hitting the back of the net. Fifty shots total in one game with only one getting through -- a deflection, mind you, from Andrew Shaw via a Patrick Sharp blast from near the blue line.

When reading that stat line the next day, all one can do is shake their head and tip their cap to Hiller, who stood on his head. What Joel Quenneville and staff need to preach after such a frustrating performance is not to change a single thing, at least in terms of putting the puck on net.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Oct 06 2014

What the Nick Leddy Trade Means for the Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It only was a matter of time -- at least by Tuesday, October 7, to be exact -- when GM Stan Bowman was going to pull the trigger on trading away a member of the Hawks so that he could trim $2.2 million against the payroll. That victim was Nick Leddy this weekend, to the New York Islanders, for a handful of players in return.

Regardless of how you felt about Leddy and his contributions to the team, in the salary-cap age in the NHL, players come and go, and sometimes the deals may or may not make sense. It's true Leddy was in coach Joel Quenneville's dog house for much of last season, and he did have the Western Conference-clinching puck go off of his backside from an Alec Martinez shot, but that doesn't mean Leddy's worth was anything less than recently acquired threat to humanity Dan Carcillo. Again, sometimes things may or may not make sense.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Sep 29 2014

Blackhawks Look to Trim Roster/Cap as Preseason Rolls On

Chicago BlackhawksMeasuring quality talent can be a tough test for any coaching staff, especially with as much of it that has come through the Blackhawks' organization in recent years. A mixture of key draft picks and trades have rebuilt a franchise, which captured two of the last five Stanley Cups and the imagination of a city.

With a nice balance of youth, speed and hockey awareness, it becomes a difficult situation -- a good problem to have, mind you -- to decide who makes the final 23-man roster and who heads to Rockford. The roster currently sits at 40, after a few young hopefuls were given the IceHogs assignment last Friday. That leaves 17 more tough decisions to make before opening night, Thursday, Oct. 9, when the Hawks begin the season in Dallas.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Sep 22 2014

Blackhawks Hit Camp While Cap Adjustments Loom

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png All was quiet on the South Bend campus of Notre Dame Friday morning. Students headed off to class with steam beginning to appear with each exhale; fall was yet a few days away despite a few leafs already beginning to change color.

Their eighth-ranked football team was going into a bye week, yet the energy in the air was still present. Later that day, the Chicago Blackhawks would arrive to open training camp in hopes to make good on a season that ended a little too early with so many expectations riding into it.

The Los Angeles Kings won the Stanley Cup last season for the second time in three seasons, which had many prognosticators asking which of these two teams was the more dominant in the post-cap era. The Hawks and Joel Quenneville will look to address that this upcoming season, but first need to answer a few questions of their own regarding a young phenom, the team's ability to hold a lead and exactly how they'll be able to shave $2.2 million in the next month.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Jul 11 2014

Blackhawks Sign Kane and Toews Long-term

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It never was a matter of if, but moreso when Stan Bowman would follow through on his promise of making Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane Blackhawks for life. The captain and most dynamic player in the league have come a long way in such a short amount of time in this town, and Wednesday afternoon, both were rewarded with dual eight-year, $10.5 million contracts, which lock in the stars through the 2022-'23 season.

Not to reminisce about a couple of players in their mid-20s, but looking back a mere seven years ago when both were coming into their own in the NHL, it was clear it wasn't a question of if, but when Toews and Kane would lead the Hawks -- a franchise in great need of a boost at the time -- to a Stanley Cup championship.

A few rings, Olympic medals and Conn Smythe trophies later, two of the most recognizable faces in the league were handsomely rewarded by the very team they helped resurrect from obscurity.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Jul 02 2014

During Free Agency Spree, Blackhawks Steal Brad Richards

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png One by one, players from all around the league slowly began to learn their fate by way of free-agency acquisitions for big money and long-term deals. All the while, Hawks fans waited patiently while refreshing their Twitter feeds in hopes that their team would make a splash while not creating massive waves in the process.

First it was Jason Spezza, moving on to the Dallas Stars in a trade with the Ottawa Senators, a pretty big move for a team within the Central. Then, just before lunch time, the St. Louis Blues announced they had signed Paul Stastny for $28 million over four years.

One by one, from big names to role players, general managers across the league began opening up check books as if it were Black Friday. But all the while, the Hawks hung back and quietly worked through a strategy that ended up surprising most of the league at the end of the day.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jul 01 2014

Blackhawks Deal Bollig and Draft for Skill

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With all the rumors swirling around last week about Patrick Sharp and his $5.9 million deal being dealt away to create more cap space, it turned out general manager Stan Bowman had other plans in mind -- at least for now.

Coming into the 2014 NHL draft in Philadelphia this past weekend, Bowman remained tight-lipped about the Hawks' leading scorer during the regular season and deflected towards the need to re-sign Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the need to prepare for lining up new picks and locking in restricted free agents in Jeremy Morin, Ben Smith and Antti Raanta -- all three for two-year deals. Toews and Kane are asking for $12 million each, which they likely won't get, but probably will get close -- say, around $10 million each.

So, with all the drama coming to a crescendo Friday evening, Bowman pulled off a trade no one saw coming: a two-for that included the 20th and 179th picks from San Jose for the Hawks' 27th and 62nd picks. Then, Bowman followed that up Saturday by trading away "sometimes serviceable during the regular season fourth liner" Brandon Bollig to the Calgary Flames for the 83rd overall pick.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Jun 25 2014

Duncan Keith Collects Second Norris Trophy

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Coming into the 2013-'14 season, Duncan Keith and his teammates were fresh off the heels of winning their second Stanley Cup in four seasons. It was a summer of showing off the most prized trophy in sports across Canada, parts of Europe and here in the U.S., at a mix of donut shops, fishing trips and every bar in River North.

The joyous feeling was familiar to some, new to others, but one every member of this team agreed would never get old. Repeating as champs in any sport is extremely difficult, especially in one that implements a salary cap like the NHL. And while the randomness of the puck bouncing every which way plays a part in who wins or loses, the one thing that remains constant on the ice is the skill level of a player in his prime.

Keith didn't get his chance to hoist Lord Stanley over his head this season due to a few bad bounces and a Kings team that outplayed coach Joel Quenneville's team, but he was rewarded for his hard work throughout the season at Tuesday night's NHL awards ceremony in Las Vegas.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jun 24 2014

Bowman, Blackhawks Prep For 2014 Draft

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Now that the dust has settled after an epic NHL postseason, as well as your gut settling after a painful Game 7 loss in the Western Conference Final against the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, the Hawks are putting together some final decisions before entering this weekend's NHL draft in Philadelphia, PA. The season may be over, but the march towards regaining back the throne as champs starts Saturday with the twenty-seventh overall pick, followed by seven others over the course of two days.

Former Hawks general manager Dale Tallon built most of this current core via the draft, starting with Niklas Hjalmarsson (fourth round) in 2005, Jonathan Toews (third overall) in 2006 and Patrick Kane (first overall) in 2007, to name a few. Once Stan Bowman took over in 2010, he's added Joakim Nordstrom (third round) in 2010, and Brandon Saad (second round) and Andrew Shaw (fifth round) in 2011, with his most recent picks playing in the AHL, college or overseas.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Jun 11 2014

Blackhawks Begin to Make Moves, Add Rasmussen

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png As the Kings and Rangers wind down the 2014 Stanley Cup Final, the Blackhawks have been resting whatever injuries that came about during the long season and grueling postseason -- all while watching from the comfort of their respective homes. Surely, the watching part is more painful than any contusion or strain, especially considering how close the Hawks came from being in the Kings' current position up three games to none.

But, as Patrick Kane once said, "That's hockey, baby." Now that the gut punch of losing Game 7 has subsided, the Hawks' brass have begun looking to fill whatever holes exist on the current roster. With the draft coming in less than three weeks, Stan Bowman and company will work to clear some cap space all while adding around its current core.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Jun 06 2014

Blackhawks Pat Foley Heading to the Hall

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngWhile this city hasn't had much to cheer about over the years in terms of having a last team standing (Blackhawks 2010 and 2013 not withstanding), there's at least one thing for sure that resonates with fans from Lake County, Illinois down to Lake County, Indiana and everywhere around it, and that's the memories of the voices calling the action that have led us along the way.

The Cubs had Harry Caray and Jack Brickhouse before him; Sox fans have enjoyed the Hawk lo these years, although that might depend on who you ask; the Bears also had Brickhouse for a little over 20 years calling the action; the Hawks had long stretches of Bob Elson, Lloyd Pettit, and currently Pat Foley, whose 30-plus years behind the mic makes him the longest tenured in team history.

With the exception of Harrelson (he's been a Ford C. Frick finalist a few times) Caray, Brickhouse, Pettit and Elson are all hall-of-famers in their respective sport. On Monday, Nov. 17, Foley will receive his long-awaited Foster Hewitt Memorial Award in Toronto and will be immortalized forever, entering the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jun 02 2014

Blackhawks Dethroned By Kings

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's been said the hardest thing to do in sports is to repeat as champion. No truer words have been spoken about doing it in the NHL.

With a bullseye on your back the entire season, every other team in the league aspires to take the throne right from underneath you and put on the crown as champs. This is exactly what happened when the Kings ended the Blackhawks' run as defending Stanley Cup champions by way of a 5-4 loss in overtime Sunday night at the United Center.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu May 29 2014

Blackhawks Live Another Day Against Kings

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Michal Handzus: 6 foot, 4 inches; 219 pounds; 37 years old; one overtime game-winning goal; third star of Game 5.

In the 1995 film The Usual Suspects, Kevin Spacey said a very memorable quote:

"The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist."

That's what the Hawks did to the Kings Wednesday night at the United Center, and that devil was Michal Handzus. If you predicted Handzus to score the eventual game winner, go ahead and pass Go and collect your $200 with a smile.

The old man, who defies time and space itself, channeled his inner Patrick Kane with a backhander to beat Jonathan Quick, which sent the entire area within the 312/773 into a frenzy while clasping their collective heads in awe in a 5-4 win in double overtime. But in all reality, the Hawks got away with convincing the world they shouldn't have existed for an upcoming Game 6 in La-La Land.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue May 27 2014

Blackhawks Facing Elimination Against Kings

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After a pretty solid Game 1 against a fatigued Los Angeles Kings team, the Hawks now face elimination down three games to one. As I said before, this is a far different Kings team than the Hawks faced in last year's Western Conference final, and it's showing on the ice.

Sure, claiming the Hawks are tired from a short offseason after winning the Stanley Cup, plus sending 10 Olympians to Sochi would make perfect sense, but there's more to it than that. All teams are tired at this point in the season, it's a matter of who has enough to dig down deep and come through with strong legs and a clear head.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu May 22 2014

Blackhawks Unable to Close Kings in Game 2

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png If you went to bed late in the second period of Game 2 with the Hawks nursing a solid 2-0 lead, you probably woke up a little stunned hearing the final score was 6-2 Kings. How could this have happened, especially coming from a team that seemingly learned from its mistakes of losing late leads early on in these playoffs?

It wasn't as though the Hawks looked sluggish in any way during the first two periods of Wednesday night's game, but what went down in the third with five goals yielded (one an empty-netter) defies anything logical other than the Hawks took their lumps with a combination of too many odd-man rushes, too many dumb penalties and a bad bounce (karma?) that was allowed by assuming a play was finished. Sounds like a Bears game in early January.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue May 20 2014

Blackhawks Facing a Different Kings Team

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After the Hawks disposed of the Kings in five close games during last year's Western Conference final, skeptics began to ask if undisclosed injuries to Anze Kopitar and others played a role. A deep run for a playoff team will produce any type of ache, pain or punctured lung, especially if said team's back is against the wall.

Going into the series, the then defending Stanley Cup champs were riding the hot stick and glove of Jonathan Quick, who ended his playoff run with the fourth best goals-against average of 1.86, a mere two one-hundredths behind the man who beat him, Corey Crawford.

What beat the Kings in five was a lack of scoring, exiting the playoffs with the eleventh-best goals-per-game average of only 2.06, compared to the Hawks' 2.78. And even though the Hawks took Game 1 at home on Sunday by the final of 3-1, it likely won't be as night and day getting through this year's rematch as last year's near sweep.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed May 14 2014

Overworked Blackhawks Win Wild Series

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png So much for that easy series against the Minnesota Wild in round two of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Admit it, you were just as nervous Tuesday night for Game 6 as you were last year in that epic series against the Red Wings.

The entire Blackhawks squad would be the first to tell you they dodged a few bullets in this series, that Corey Crawford is 90 percent of the reason they've made it to the Western Conference Finals for the third time in five years, and that a few lucky breaks went their way, including Patrick Kane's overtime game winner, the fourth in his career. Nevertheless, good teams always seem to find a way to win despite being overworked along the boards and being blocked on every single shot in sight.

If Mike Yeo's squad can continue to work that extra gear discovered in the Colorado Avalanche series, you can forget worrying about the Blues in the Central. It'll be the Wild that will haunt your dreams.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon May 12 2014

Blackhawks Grind Out Game 5 Against Wild

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Sometimes it's better talent and a great game plan that works against your opponent in big-game situations. And then sometimes it's the dirty, greasy goals that work out in your favor when everything else fails to make it into the back of the net. That's pretty much how you'd describe the Game 5 performance of the Hawks against the Minnesota Wild.

After pretty much cruising through the first two games of this series; albeit, with some concern with the way the Wild counter-attacked the Hawks' rush, the inevitable occurred up in the Land of 10,000 Lakes when coach Mike Yeo's squad limited the defending Stanley Cup champs to only 19 shots in Game 3 and 20 shots in Game 4 and equalize the series going away. Enter Game 5 and a lot of tension in the air and questions as to how to beat the Wild's ability to limit shots against goalie Ilya Bryzgalov.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri May 09 2014

Blackhawks Looking To Adjust Against Wild In Game 4

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After the Minnesota Wild cut the Blackhawks' series lead in half with a 4-0 win in the Xcel Energy Center, Joel Quenneville and company no doubt went to the tape to breakdown exactly what went wrong. It was inevitable the Hawks were going to lose at least one game to the Wild in this second round of the playoffs, but how did the team go from scoring five and four goals in games one and two respectively -- both games with 22 shots on goal -- to scoring none after taking 19 shots on goal in Game 3?

It's something the Hawks knew was coming after watching coach Mike Yeo's team pick apart the Colorado Avalanche in the first round, and that's the Wild's ability to control the puck and limit shot attempts for its opponent. And while the Hawks still have to be feeling confident despite the loss, it's something they're going to need to adjust to unless they want another scare.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon May 05 2014

Bickell Earning Every Penny In Playoffs For Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png When Bryan Bickell signed a four-year, $16 million extension after helping the Hawks win their second Stanley Cup in four seasons, a few questions arose amongst the fan base and talking heads. Why pay that much money to a guy who only scored nine goals to go along with 14 assists during last year's shortened regular season?

It was a decent chunk of money going against the salary cap, and with Jonathan Toews' and Patrick Kane's contracts coming up before you know it, the thought was to save as much money as necessary to keep the heart and soul of the team in this city for years to come. Bickell certainly paved the way for a big payday during last year's postseason (nine goals -- one of which will go down as one of the best ever, and eight assists), but the real question was, could he consistently contribute like he did for a full 82-game season plus the playoffs?

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu May 01 2014

Blackhawks to Face Wild: Round 2 Preview

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After coming back from two games to none against the St. Louis Blues, the Hawks had a little time to kill before finding out its next opponent in the Stanley Cup playoffs. During this stretch, the Minnesota Wild played a little catch-up of their own against the Colorado Avalanche, evening out an 0-2 hole and then winning games six and seven to take the series.

After a thrilling three periods in the Pepsi Center Wednesday evening, the Wild and Avs took it to overtime, and that's when Nino Niederreiter fired a wrister past Semyon Varlamov to bury the Avs. So, instead of the Hawks traveling to Colorado for Game 1 of the second round, it'll be the Wild packing their bags and flying into O'Hare to start the series. Time to look at what lies ahead and how the Hawks should take this series.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Apr 28 2014

Blackhawks Dispose Blues -- Await Avs-Wild

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After six grueling games against the St. Louis Blues, a series that mirrored a Western Conference-Finals matchup in intensity and physicality, the Hawks clamped down on defense and broke out in scoring to win four straight against a dangerous team.

Out of those six games, there were four that went into overtime -- the first of which that went three overtimes -- and an 0-2 hole that didn't look very promising to coach Joel Quenneville and fans at home. The defense played on the backs of its skates and looked hesitant in its own defensive zone, allowing the Blues to whatever it wanted to offensively.

The only glimmer of hope was comparing what the Blues did last season against the Los Angeles Kings in their opening round of play: the Blues went up 2-0; the Kings fought back and won four straight to take the series. It didn't seem very likely, but now the Hawks find themselves awaiting its next opponent in round two, when exactly one week ago, fans were looking into purchasing Cubs or Sox tickets.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Apr 25 2014

Blackhawks Need Help In Defensive Zone Against Blues

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After back-to-back wins against the Blues at the United Center, the Hawks have tied things up at two a piece, which now cuts it down to a best-of-three series. All things considered, this series actually should already be over with the Hawks losing late leads games one and two by a combined 1 minute, 52 seconds.

And, in all actuality, the Blues were a few close shots away from sweeping things themselves, so really there's no need to look back on the past to dwell on "what could have happened." That is unless it concerns the Hawks' play in its own defensive zone.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Apr 22 2014

Crawford Spectacular In Blackhawks Win Against Blues

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's no secret Corey Crawford receives a lot of unwanted and unnecessary criticism with the way he performs in between the pipes for the Hawks. Sure, the occasional softy floats by in the middle of December, or perhaps he's exposed on his glove side from time to time. But regardless of your thoughts on the Hawks' starter, he shows up when needed and he's a far cry away from what used to be in town.

It's fun for fans of the opposing team to chant "CRAW-FORD! CRAW-FORD!" in other towns, only because the cadence fits. But when you have a goaltender stop 34 shots in what pretty much was a must-win game against the St. Louis Blues, it's hard not to root for a guy who fights off more shots his way in criticism than pucks.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Apr 21 2014

Poor Defense And Seabrook Hit Costly For Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Coming into the first-round series against the St. Louis Blues, the Hawks preached how it was important not to fall into the trap of getting too frustrated against a tough team. During the 2013 championship season, and all throughout this last regular season, the Hawks were successful by way of outskating and outshooting their opponents, which more times than not led to a victory or, at the very least, a point.

Since last Thursday night's opener against the Blues, there have been costly obscene gestures, a brutal hit by Brent Seabrook on David Backes, which will cost him the next three games, multiple penalty kills -- all of which have contributed to an 0-2 series deficit. And while the Hawks seem a little out of sorts in falling into the Blues' style of play, it's their inability to close -- a problem they've had all season -- that has Hawks fans asking if this actually is their year.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Apr 17 2014

Blackhawks and Blues Preview: Round 1

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It seems a little surreal that the NHL playoffs are set to begin, considering how quickly the Blackhawks arrived here after an even more surreal ending to last season. But nevertheless, the postseason is upon us and head coach Joel Quenneville's squad is set to open the first round in St. Louis against the Blues at the Scottrade Center for Game 1.

The Hawks finished the season 46-21-15 at 107 points, which earned them the fourth-best point total in the Western Conference, a rather surprising position considering they were the second-highest scoring team in the league with 3.18 goals per game and twelfth in goals against with 2.58.

By comparison, the Blues were seventh in the league in scoring at 2.92 goals per game and third at goals against per game at 2.29. But all that matters now is which team will hold it together and stay consistent over a longer period of games that either could go as quickly as five or as grueling as seven

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Apr 11 2014

Kane and Toews Prepare for Return to Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With just two games remaining on the Blackhawks' regular season schedule, Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews continue to recover from their respective injuries (Kane: lower-body injury; Toews: upper-body injury) in preparation for the postseason and defense of the Stanley Cup.

Not since 2007 has the team been without both stars for an extended period of time. But thankfully with the steady play of Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith, not to mention the emergence of Ben Smith and Jeremy Morin, the Hawks have rattled off four wins in a row (one in OT, a 3-2 winner over the Montreal Canadiens), and now await either the Colorado Avalanche or St. Louis Blues in the first round of divisional play.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Apr 07 2014

Morin and Smith Shining for Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png If you would have known two months ago that both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were going to be out for the remainder of the regular season down the stretch, odds are you wouldn't have pictured Jeremy Morin and Ben Smith as two of the key components keeping the Hawks afloat for home ice in the first round. But lo and behold, with just three games left in the 2013-'14 season, the Hawks are two points behind the Avalanche and have won three in a row thanks to these two on the ice.

With all the focus on the likes of veterans Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa and Duncan Keith to help keep the Hawks on pace with the Avs for the first-round divisional playoff matchup while Toews and Kane heal, there's no doubt been a focus on the opposing teams in containing this talented triad. And while each has contributed per usual, it's been the play of Morin and Smith that has turned the heads of fans and caught the attention of head coach Joel Quenneville.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Apr 02 2014

Blackhawks Hopeful Toews Injury Not Serious

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After Brooks Orpik's questionable, but legal hit on Jonathan Toews in Pittsburgh, Blackhawks fans were faced with a reality they posed at the beginning of the season: If the team remains healthy, they should be able to repeat as champs.

As Toews skated off on his own nearly halfway through the second period, he was added along with Patrick Kane on the team's list of injuries. And while his upper-body injury doesn't appear to be serious, at least according to head coach Joel Quenneville, the crushing blow by Orpik sent a fan base into a state of panic, counting how many games remained on the regular-season schedule.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Mar 26 2014

It's Teuvo Time For The Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png For the last few weeks you've been hearing about the next big thing for the Blackhawks organization. No, not Midnight Hawk, the racehorse owned by Joel Quenneville and Mike Kitchen; It's the arrival of Finnish star Teuvo Teravainen [TAY-VOH TARA-VINE-ENN].

Call it Teuvo-mania, which has swept through this city like a Polar Vortex from the north. Teravainen was the Hawks' first pick (eighteenth overall) in the 2012 draft, which miraculously fell into the lap of Stan Bowman as the Finnish Flash was projected to be a top-10 pick that year.

The 19-year-old, 185-pound blonde-headed forward had a lot of hype coming into his debut Tuesday (Teuvo-sday? Sorry, that's the last one) in a game against the Dallas Stars. Leading up to his debut, Teravainen proved very serviceable for his home country in the 2014 World Juniors (seven games, two goals, 13 assists for 15 points) and was among the league leaders in SM-Liiga in scoring with nine goals and 35 assists for 44 points. So needless to say, there was a new kind of buzz in Chicago hockey not seen since the call-up of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.

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Jim Crago / Comments (2)

Blackhawks Thu Mar 20 2014

Shaw's Aggression Could Be A Liability For The Blackhawks

Chicago Blackhawks There's always that one person at work who is the nicest individual you've ever met, but always makes the most questionable decisions that eventually sends ripples throughout the organization. They're full of vigor, and come quitting time, they're right there to buy the first round for the team with a smile and a quip regardless of the situation.

You know the type -- heck, they probably sit on the other side of the partition of your cube. They always speak too loudly on the phone while trying to communicate some kind of deal with a client, or they're bragging about their Final Four bracket in the common area while you're simply trying to eat the rest of your leftover Potbelly's sandwich from the night before.

Deep down you love this person, only because you know you'll never hang out with them, but in all reality, they might threaten the betterment of your hard work in the office due to questionable practices. This is what Jonathan Toews must think on a nightly basis about Andrew Shaw.

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Mon Mar 17 2014

Blackhawks Return To Form Against Red Wings

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png There's never a good time to fall into a losing streak; however, if there's a time to get it out of the way, it's now before the start of the playoffs. The Hawks have had a couple of bad games recently, which put its fandom into a state of emergency wondering if this team was ever going to win another game again. Season over, man. Season over!

Since the Sochi games, the Hawks are 4-4-0, including 0-2-0 coming into last night's game against the Red Wings. A 3-2 loss in Colorado against the Avalanche followed by a 3-2 loss at home against the Predators last week proved two things for fans at home: they're putting a lot of shots on net and taking a lot of bad penalties.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Mar 11 2014

Blackhawks Jockey For Playoff Seeding

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With the regular season winding down, the Hawks are looking to earn a top-three seed in the Western Conference playoff picture, which begins in about a month from now. After a much-needed 2-1 win in Buffalo the other night, the Hawks were able to keep pace with the division-leading St. Louis Blues, who have won five in a row and are 7-2-1 in their last ten games.

Right behind the Hawks in the Central are the Colorado Avalanche, who the Hawks face Wednesday night in the Pepsi Center. This game is huge for the Hawks, as a win in regulation would increase their point lead to three over the Avs with as many games played.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Mar 06 2014

Blackhawks, Bowman Hold Steady At Trade Deadline

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Yesterday at 2pm marked the end of the NHL's trade deadline for the 2013-'14 season, and all the while Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman held steady on any big-time moves. Outside of acquiring Kris Versteeg (and Philippe Lefebvre from the Florida Panthers for Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen) back on November 14, and recently acquiring defenseman David Rundblad from Phoenix for a second-round pick in this year's draft, Bowman stated he felt nothing more needed to be added.

While the latter move may not have had the same cache of what happened between the Rangers trading its captain Ryan Callahan to Tampa Bay for its captain Martin St. Louis, Bowman still decided to let this core play through its remaining 19 games of the regular season and defend its title come mid-April without making any waves in the process.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Mar 03 2014

Blackhawks Shine In Stadium Series

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png There was a flurry of scoring at Soldier Field Saturday night in prime time that for once didn't involve Jay Cutler or any of his weapons on offense. Though, unlike the inhabitants of the 90-year-old stadium, sans enhancements, this defense actually showed up that would have made Papa Bear himself proud.

The NHL brought its Stadium Series to the shores of Lake Michigan for a nationally televised showdown in primetime, just as "Bear weather" moved in from the Hawk off the lake. It didn't stop nearly 63,000 fans from the North Shore to Northwest Indiana from packing the place, nor did it inhibit the defending Stanley Cup champs from marching "Sid the Kid" and his Penguins back to Pittsburgh after a 5-1 beat-down.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Feb 25 2014

Six 'Hawks Medal While Rest Of Team Preps For Stretch

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It seems like yesterday we were asking ourselves if sending NHL players to Sochi was a good -- heck, safe -- idea to compete on bigger ice for gold. Ten players from the Blackhawks made the trip to Sochi with six of them coming home with a medal (three gold, three silver -- let's not get into the bronze).

There really wasn't any doubt whether Team Canada was going to wipe through this tournament, especially in the preliminary rounds. But to have witnessed Jonathan Toews, Ryan Getzlaf, Sidney Crosby and the rest of that powerhouse blank the highest scoring team in Team USA in the semis to then turn around and do the same to the Swedes in the gold medal game is nothing short of impressive.

So, now that the most expensive Olympics in history (seriously, $51 billion? And you thought Chicago politics was dirty) is in the books, with Toews, Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp bringing back gold and Niklas Hjalmarsson, Johnny Oduya and Marcus Krüger claiming silver, the rest of the NHL universe can get back on track for its stretch run to the most prized trophy: The Stanley Cup.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Feb 20 2014

USA and Canada Showdown in Olympic Semis

OlympicRings.jpg Of the 10 Blackhawks who packed up and headed for Sochi for the Winter Olympics, just seven remain for a chance at Gold. On Wednesday, Patrick Kane and Team USA beat Michal Rozsíval and the Czech Republic by the final of 5-2 in the quarterfinals.

Just a handful of minutes later, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp and Team Canada took down Latvia in a nail-biter by the final of 2-1 at the Bolshoy Ice Dome. Both teams will now face each other on Friday in a rematch of the 2010 Winter games from Vancouver, with the winner taking on either Sweden or Finland for the Gold.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Feb 13 2014

Olympic Hockey Opens in Sochi

OlympicRings.jpg Just because the NHL is on break, doesn't mean there's a lack of hockey for which to cheer, regardless of your nationality. The world's greatest tournament began last week with women's hockey dropping the puck in competition and continues through today with the men getting things underway, including the United States.

On the women's side, there really are only two teams of which to speak in terms of battling for the Gold, and that's the U.S. and Canada. There's no love lost between the two, stemming from 2010 when the Canadians took Gold in Vancouver. The Canadians lead the series between the two 10 games to five; however, the U.S. women have taken four out of the last five, with a few scrapes in between.

Nevertheless, the two faced off in preliminary action -- the last before the semifinals begin -- and the Canadians took it by the final of 3-2.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Feb 11 2014

Blackhawks at the Break Go for Gold and Rest

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After a pretty successful west-coast trip that returned a 3-1-2 record, the Blackhawks find themselves at the Olympic break with 84 points, tied for second most in the league with divisional rival St. Louis Blues. Now, for the next two weeks, 10 of Joel Quenneville's skaters will represent their respective country in Sochi, Russia, while the rest sip on Mai Tais on much warmer land (Andrew Shaw already seems to have this down).

This is an opportune time for the likes of Bryan Bickell to rest any nagging injuries, and for the coaching staff to reassess any lines that might need tweaking. And although Corey Crawford's snub off Team Canada was a little upsetting, it's a chance for him to take this time to relax and forget about hockey for a little while before the real stretch run to the postseason begins.

As for everyone else, there will be no rest for the weary. Each player made the trip safely, including Patrick Kane, who missed out on the Phoenix Coyotes game in order to attend the funeral of his late grandfather Donald Kane. But before the puck drops for the men's tournament on Wednesday, let's take a look at which Blackhawks players are in, which countries they'll represent and the expectations throughout.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Feb 04 2014

Blackhawks' Bickell Feeling Pressure

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Any time consistency breeds success in sports, the expectation is to rely on each athlete to deliver every single day from his or her respective fan base. Sometimes an organization will reward an athlete for exceeding their expected value, especially if it's during the playoffs and most especially if it helps deliver a championship.

More times than not, what follows is the athlete returning to regular form the following season, which always falls below the fan base's expectations, and ultimately creates even more pressure and frustration on the athlete. They are viewed as an over-paid mistake and quickly went from hero to goat in the span of a handful of months. Welcome to the world of Blackhawks' winger Bryan Bickell.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Jan 30 2014

Blackhawks' Quenneville Moves to Third All-time

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Wednesday night's 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena marked not one, but two very important moments for the Blackhawks this season. The first was getting off the schnide from the team's longest losing streak in two years; the second was the team catapulting its coach into third place all-time in coaching victories.

Both markers derived from seemingly long journeys, but ultimately were inevitable. Mid-season blues are hard to shake for any team and the Blackhawks, with the help from everyone's favorite goalie in Roberto Luongo, got back on the winning track by scoring four goals off five shots in the second period alone. The result also made a certain mustachioed leader the top-three all-time in NHL coaching victories.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jan 27 2014

A Long and Winding Road Ahead for the Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png The Winnipeg Jets flew into Chicago Sunday night, which was to be the Blackhawks' last home game until Tuesday, March 4, when they host the Colorado Avalanche (Winter Classic against the Penguins on Saturday, March 1, not included). With a west-coast swing upcoming and 10 players heading to Sochi afterwards, Blackhawks fans will be relegated to watching their team from afar.

A win against the worst team in the division would be a great sendoff, especially coming off of back-to-back losses -- a 5-4 shootout loss to the Red Wings and a 2-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild -- and just before collecting thousands of air miles between O'Hare and just off the coast of the Black Sea. As it would turn out, a few old and familiar faces decided to spoil the going-away party.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Jan 23 2014

Blackhawks Renew Red Wings Rivalry

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It seems just like yesterday the Blackhawks and Red Wings tangled in an epic seven-game series in the Western Conference semis, which alone cleared Pepto-Bismol from the shelves of every Dominick's store in town. You remember the players: Abdelkader, Nyquist, Kronwall, Zetterberg -- just to name a handful -- gave most everyone watching at home nightmares by the mere mention of their names from Doc Emerick calling the action.

In the end, the Blackhawks won Game 7 by the final of 2-1 in OT off a Brent Seabrook blast, which put the Blackhawks in the Western Finals, sent the fans home in a daze and ended the Red Wings season and place in the Western Conference. Most didn't want to see the series end, just like they didn't want to see the Blackhawks' oldest rival move to the Eastern Conference, which meant only two games per season.

Would the rivalry die off? Would games against the 11-time Stanley Cup champs mean any less? Would the intensity on the ice cool off with each and every passing game amongst the players? Not any time soon, as it would seem, as both teams picked right back up Wednesday night at the Joe from where they left off last June. Call it Game 8.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jan 20 2014

Blackhawks Finally Finding Ways to Close Out Games

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Alec Baldwin's character Blake in the 1992 movie Glengarry Glen Ross gave a legendary motivational speech to the real estate sales team by mentioning to Shelley Levene, "coffee's for closers." In fact, the entire office was fired and they had one week to get their jobs back by simply selling: first place was a Cadillac El Dorado; second place, a set of steak knives; third place, no job. Blake had their attention, and the team at Rio Rancho Estates got right back at it.

The Blackhawks were in a similar funk of sorts, finding it tough to close out games while having a lead, or falling at the end of overtime or a shootout. Granted, no one is going to get fired from the defending Stanley Cup champs (a case certainly could be made for Nikolai Khabibulin or Michal Handzuš), but it's a safe bet Joel Quenneville's post-game locker room speeches might have been ripped from the sheets of David Mamet's play as away to "motivate" the team.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jan 14 2014

One Year Later, Blackhawks Close to 2013 Pace

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png When the Blackhawks opened the 2013 lockout-shortened season in Los Angeles nearly one year ago, they began what eventually would be a record-breaking streak of consecutive games without a regulation loss. Forty-seven games later, the Blackhawks finished with the league's best record of 36-7-5 for 77 points, collected the Presidents' Trophy and made its way through the Stanley Cup playoffs, eventually winning its fifth championship in franchise history.

Fast-forward a year later -- thankfully with no lockout of which to speak -- and Joel Quenneville's squad finds itself 48 games into a full season and almost at the same pace as last year's epic run. After sweeping away the Oilers Sunday night in the season series finale, the Blackhawks crossed the 48-game threshold at 30-8-10 for 70 points. The point total is down seven, but certainly isn't from a decline in the level of talent on the ice; in fact, the Blackhawks look better than ever.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Jan 08 2014

Blackhawks' Future Shines Brightly at World Juniors

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png As the Winter Olympics approach next month with 10 Blackhawks making the trip to Sochi, it's time to reflect on a tournament that just ended in Sweden that featured the bright talents of the NHL's future in the 2104 World Junior Championship.

The main tournament features national players, all under the age of 20, from the top 10 hockey nations around the world. And what began in 1977 has blossomed into a must-see competition amongst the "who's who" of up-and-comers.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jan 07 2014

Red Hot Sharp Earns Spot on Team Canada

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Patrick Sharp always claimed that his recent hot play was to better the Blackhawks and was not an audition for Team Canada for the 2014 Winter Olympics. He felt his selection was out of his hands and that whatever happened, so be it.

Over the last two weeks, Sharp has lit up almost every goalie in the NHL, clawing his way to second in goals scored with 25, only six behind leader Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals. He's scored two hat tricks in the span of five games and is sporting a plus-22 at the halfway point of the season. Team Canada general manager Steve Yzerman would have to be insane not to select the hottest player on the planet in favor of someone else.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Jan 02 2014

Kane to Represent United States in Sochi

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png If you happened to catch the annual Winter Classic on NBC yesterday afternoon, you witnessed two Original Six teams in the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs play in front of a capacity crowd at the Big House in Ann Arbor, MI (the Leafs won it in a shootout, 3-2). And just like the Winter Classic four years ago in Fenway Park, the league and network asked viewers to stick around for the unveiling of Team USA for the Olympic Games, this year to be held in Sochi, Russia.

Most of the 104,000 fans in the Big House New Year's Day decided to head for warmer territory and catch the highlights at home, while the rest of us at home continued to stay tuned to hear Patrick Kane's name be announced -- really just a formality -- and see which other Blackhawks would represent the Red, White and Blue come next month in Sochi.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Dec 27 2013

Kane Racking Up Points in a Season for the Ages

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It wasn't all that long ago when Patrick Kane was the poster boy for partying with co-eds and bumbling around in a drunken stupor through the streets of whatever town he visited. It was cute and at times blown off as, "Hey, he's a young kid with a ton of money. Who wouldn't do this?" We all said it, and even followed it with, "Let the kid have his fun, because, ultimately, he's going to show up on the ice and help lead this team to another Stanley Cup." Kane certainly had his fun off the ice, but ultimately was wasting away his talents on it.

The two seasons in between least year's championship run became a mirror on the ice of Kane's antics off: stumbling over his own two feet. Then, something clicked inside Kane's head. Whether or not it was his family intervening or captain Jonathan Toews putting a boot in his rear end, Kane responded and now Blackhawks fans, as well as the rest of the NHL, are witnessing the talent, skill level and just general excitement not seen in this city since Michael Jordan was at his peak in the United Center.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Dec 17 2013

Raanta Taking Lumps & Earning Respect In Net

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png A goaltender is a lot like a relief pitcher in that they both need to remain focused, have pinpoint accuracy and, most important of all, they need to have a short memory. Any kind of cage rattling by the opposition or bad goals let up need to be cleared away like ice shavings by a Zamboni in between periods.

And just like a relief pitcher, quarterback, etc., a goaltender is going to have a bad game at some point during the season. It's almost inevitable that the defense is going to have an off night and the offense is shut down -- either out of sync or just the result of bad bounces from the puck. It's not the one bad game used to measure a goalie, but more so the following and subsequent games that are judged in how they are able to adjust.

Blackhawks goalie Antti Raanta had his bad outing against the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 14, giving up five goals in just two periods (The Blackhawks eventually would lose by the final of 7-3.) It was the backup's worst game in the NHL to date after starting 5-0-1, and the biggest question amongst Blackhawks fans was how the Finnish star was going to rebound while starter Corey Crawford remained sidelined with a lower-body injury.

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Jim Crago

Hockey Fri Dec 13 2013

A Certain Kind of Crazy: the Chicago Outdoor Hockey League

COHL.png There's something to be said about hockey players and what it takes to fly around on the ice with minimal padding, all while slapping at a puck with a stick. Actually, there are quite a few things that can be said but there's only so much room in this space.

The bottom line is that it takes a certain kind of crazy to strap on a pair of skates, and a special talent level to do it successfully -- and that's just on a rat-league level, not AHL or even NHL skill levels. So, when one covers the Blackhawks for a certain hyper-local content website, the obvious thing to do is join a local hockey league in order to put oneself into the mind of a hockey player. Like I said, a certain kind of crazy.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Dec 11 2013

Blackhawks Focused On One Goal With Four Goalies

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Back when Antti Raanta was signed by the Blackhawks on June 3, in the middle of the team's playoff run to its fifth title, the thought then was to slowly groom the 24-year-old Finnish star and get him acclimated to the dimensions of NHL rinks and speed level of NHL talent. Six months later, Raanta finds himself spelling Corey Crawford and stonewalling the competition to a 4-0-1 record with a 2.14 goals against average and .924 save percentage.

Raanta has played well, including a nice performance against the Dallas Stars on December 10, stopping 27 of 29 shots, which led to a 6-2 Blackhawks win. It helped that the defense, Brent Seabrook mainly, had a better game in their own zone by way of clearing the puck and cutting down on turnovers, but credit Raanta with stepping up in a pinch while Crawford rests his lower-body injury for the next two to three weeks.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Dec 05 2013

Fighting In the NHL & Whether or Not It's Necessary

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It wasn't a question of "if" but more so "when" Dallas Stars' winger Antoine Roussel was going to have to face retaliation from any one of the Blackhawks over his hit on Patrick Kane, stemming from Chicago's 2-1 shootout win in Dallas on November 29. Then, with 4 minutes, 54 seconds left in the first period of their Tuesday rematch, Andrew Shaw threw his gloves to the ice just as the puck dropped between Kris Versteeg and Vernon Fiddler. Roussel shed his gear just as quickly, and the two traded a whirlwind of direct shots to each other's heads reminiscent to Black Friday shoppers entering their local Walmart.

The capacity crowd at the United Center rose to its feet and watched as Shaw battled back after first having his red sweater pulled over his head while swinging blindly at Roussel, only then to regain composure and connect on three direct shots to Roussel's jaw. The linesmen, Andy McElman (#90) and Vaughan Rody (#73), intervened as best they could while the two continued to pound away at one another.

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Jim Crago / Comments (3)

Blackhawks Mon Dec 02 2013

Successful Road Trip Catapults Blackhawks On Top In West

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Two weeks ago today, the Blackhawks were bound for its annual circus trip out west, which meant seven games in 12 nights. The defending champs were tied with the Anaheim Ducks for most points in the West with 32, and all eyes were looking towards game one of the trip against the Avs in Colorado.

The 5-1 loss against Patrick Roy's squad was hard to swallow in kicking things off, especially with all the controversy surrounding goalie Semyon Varlamov and wanting to pour on as many goals against as possible. But after the dust had settled and turkey and stuffing digested, the Blackhawks found themselves back in the comfort of their own beds, resting from jet lag off its most successful road trip in recent memory.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Nov 25 2013

Blackhawks Giving Many Chicagoans A Reason For Saying Thanks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's been a rough go of things here in the city of big shoulders as of late to say the least. The Cubs' rebuilding effort has everyone asking how much longer the aches and pains will continue. All the while, the constant battle as to whether or not owner Tom Ricketts can place signage on his stadium while pleasing rooftop owners is enough drive anyone crazy who pays attention.

The White Sox are coming off a season in which they lost 99 games; the Bears can't stop anyone with half an offense; and Derrick Rose tore his medial meniscus in his right knee and is officially out for the rest of the season.

Our city is broke, the Ventra card is a joke, and the Willis Tower got beat out for tallest in the country, which sparked a beat down towards our deep dish pizza on The Daily Show. It's cold, it's dark and there's no hope in sight for anything to get us excited about again to raise those proud broad shoulders. Thank goodness for the Blackhawks.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Nov 19 2013

Blackhawks Hit The Road For Annual Circus Trip

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's that time of year again, Blackhawks fans. When the brown leaves begin to blanket the frosted ground below and the Ringling Brothers, along with Barnum and Bailey, make their way to the west side with exotic tigers and elephants held against their will. It only can mean one thing for the defending Stanley Cup champions: road trip!

For the next two weeks, the Blackhawks will take their high-flying act on a West coast, southwest swing, which starts tonight in Colorado against the suddenly cold Avalanche. Both teams are two of the top-five in scoring in the entire league with the Blackhawks first at 3.57 goals per game and the Avalanche fifth at 3.10 goals per game.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Nov 15 2013

Versteeg and Blackhawks Reunite

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After spending three season with the Blackhawks from 2007 to just after the 2010 championship season, Kris Versteeg was sent packing to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Viktor Stålberg, Chris DiMonenico and Phillipe Paradis as a way to make cap room from then general manager Dale Tallon's free spending ways. Since then, Tallon was relieved of his duties and was hired by the Florida Panthers, he reacquired Versteeg in 2011, and has now sent him packing again -- but this time back to the Blackhawks.

The "Steeger" is back in town, just in time for both he and Patrick Kane to rekindle their bromance during the upcoming circus trip next week -- shirts optional. In return, the dismal Florida Panthers get forward Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Dylan Olsen. In addition to Versteeg, the Blackhawks also receive forward Phillipe Lefebvre. The team retroactively reassigned Jeremy Morin and Terry Broadhurst to Rockford.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Nov 11 2013

Blackhawks Finding the Road Well-Traveled

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It seems lately that no matter wherever it is the Blackhawks go, fans come out in droves to watch. Sure, there's the throngs of thousands that pack the United Center each time the team takes to the ice (227 consecutive sellouts coming into the 2013-'14 season), but how about the representation while coach Quenneville's crew takes to the road each and every time?

As of late, whenever the Blackhawks don the white sweater and fire up the family truckster, the love and support that appears within the walls of enemy territory is unlike that of most other teams in the league. Chants of "Let's go Hawks!" begin to smatter about an arena until it swells in unison, only to be drowned out by angry locals booing at the tops of their lungs.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Nov 05 2013

White House Visit Culminates 2013 Blackhawks Season

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After the Blackhawks defeated the Edmonton Oilers 4-1 late last season on April 24, they locked up the Presidents' Trophy for the first time in 22 years. Back then, the Minnesota North Stars quickly brought Mike Keenan's team back down to earth with a first-round upset, and that alone was enough to remind Blackhawks fans that no trophy awarded prior to June should matter.

That 1991 team, albeit talented, was unable to finish the goal it set out at the beginning of the season; the 2013 team, albeit rebuilt from a championship three years prior, was able to stay focused and followed through from the Presidents' Trophy to a meeting with President Barack Obama.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Nov 01 2013

Toews Heads Home to Winnipeg for the First Time

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThey say that no matter wherever it is you go, you can always come back home. That will be the case for Blackhawks' captain Jonathan Toews, as he and his team head north of the border for a Saturday matinée in Manitoba to open up the month of November after closing out a pretty successful October

This will mark the first time in Toews' career that he will compete on a professional level in his hometown Winnipeg, which surely will provide mixed emotions for all parties involved. If you're a parent, sibling, close friend -- heck, even ex-girlfriend -- of one of the marquee players in the NHL, who happens to be making his triumphant return on your home ice, do you sport the iconic sweater from Chicago with the number 19 on your back or stay true to your team by wearing the Jets logo? All bets are on for a sea of red and signs reading "Welcome Home" at the MTS Centre Saturday afternoon.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Oct 31 2013

Hat Trick and Treat for Toews But 'Bulin Scary in Net

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png The Blackhawks closed out the month of October with an 8-2-3 record after Jonathan Toews notched his third career hat trick, which helped his team overcome the Ottawa Senators Tuesday night by the final of 6-5. Nikolai "do svidaniya" Khabibulin was yanked halfway through the second period after giving up his fourth goal of the evening, tenth goal in his last two games, which prompted coach Quenneville to call on Corey Crawford to save the day.

The game was a microcosm of the first month of the season, which saw lead changes, lack of faith in back-up goaltending and a flurry of offense from the good guys when needed. A few questions that came about regarding the Blackhawks this early on included what to do with 36-year-old Michal Handzuš at second-line center. With Brandon Pirri playing well on the fourth line, it seemed only a matter of time before Quenneville made the switch -- and that has happened with early returns.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Oct 28 2013

Pirri Gets Line Promotion With Handzuš Ailing

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It only was a matter of time before head coach Joel Quenneville made the move, but tonight Brandon Pirri will get a chance to skate for the Blackhawks as the team's second-line center in Minnesota. The Blackhawks are coming off a 5-3 loss Saturday night at home against the Wild, and within that loss came an upper-body injury to Handzuš that will have him watching from the sidelines tonight and more than likely tomorrow night back at home against Ottawa.

According to Comcast SportsNet's Tracey Myers (@TramyersCSN), the morning skate lines at the Xcel Energy Center were paired up as Sharp-Toews-Hossa; Saad-Pirri-Kane; Bickell-Shaw-Morin; Bollig-Kruger-Smith/Mills. Usually, the morning lines are an early indication as to how the lines will look later in the evening. With that said, Pirri will get his first look at second-line center for the Blackhawks and will look to make the most of the situation.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Oct 25 2013

Bishop Bad for Lightning, Khabi Slightly Worse for Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Hopefully whatever was in the drinking water in Tampa Bay was sweat out onto the ice last night. Eleven goals after three periods, plus an extra 1 minute, 16 seconds into overtime, made for some exciting and somewhat predictable viewing last night.

The Blackhawks gained another point on the panhandle/mom trip, but leave only with three out of the four potential points spread out on the table for them, no thanks to some iffy goaltending from Nikolai Khabibulin. The "Bulin Wall" had a few mouse holes in it last night, after allowing six goals against a high-potent offense, which had Blackhawks fans asking, "Where's Ray Emery?"

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Oct 23 2013

Losing Late Leads Becoming Dangerous Trend for Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png The Blackhawks had to fight its way to get two points after a 3-2 shootout win last night at the BB&T Center against the Florida Panthers, which didn't seem likely back at the end of the second period. But after Tomáš Fleischmann and Dmitri Kulikov fired shots past Corey Crawford within 2 minutes, 47 seconds of each other, with less than 10 minutes left in the game, it marked a running theme of giving up late leads in games that has haunted coach Joel Quenneville's team once again.

For the fifth time out of nine games this season, the Blackhawks have given up a lead either late into the second period or deep into the third, with four of those games being decided by a shootout (the Blackhawks are 2-2 in those shootout games). It's surely an exciting way to go through the regular season, but one that cannot continue if this team has any plans of partying in Grant Park again in June.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Oct 22 2013

Blackhaws Looking for More Sunshine on Panhandle Trip

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png For the first time this season, the Blackhawks will play back-to-back games on the road after running through six of their first eight at home (5-1-2). This trip involves heading south in the newly-formed Atlantic division to face both the Florida Panthers tonight and Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday.

The Blackhawks already faced the Lightning a few weeks ago in a 3-2 shootout loss at home, but haven't seen the Panthers since a 3-1 January 20, 2012 win at home. With last year's lockout, each NHL team stayed within its respective conference for games played, which now makes it seem like more than a decade ago since last visiting our friends from the south. And much like the last time around, the Blackhawks should continue its dominant play.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Oct 14 2013

Playing Khabibulin is All the Confidence Crawford Needs

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png There are some people in the Twitter-verse, mostly fans, who still doubt the goaltending capabilities of Corey Crawford and question whether or not he has the mindset to protect a lead for another Cup run. The latest version of this debate started right after Alexander Steen of the St. Louis Blues scored the game-winning goal with 21 seconds left in regulation to beat the Blackhawks 3-2 last week.

Forget the fact that Brent Seabrook labored over to Alex Pietrangelo and missed badly, which started the three-on-one break. To some, it was Crawford's miss in the end, and now this franchise is stuck with him after paying him a king's ransom of $36 million over the next six years.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Exhibit A of why you should calm your fears and have faith in Crawford, simply because of the alternative along the bench: Nikolai Khabibulin.

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Thu Oct 10 2013

Blackhawks Let Point Slip Away In "New Rivalry"

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With all the "new rivalry" talk leading into last night's game in St. Louis between the Blackhawks and Blues, one would think think these two teams just started playing each other. Playing the Detroit Red Wings in the same division for a stretch has that effect on people. But in fact these two teams have played with about as much vitriol for one-another over the years that penning it as "new" is like saying Jonathan Toews is good at hockey.

Nevertheless, these two teams will be the measuring stick all season in the division. And after all the hype coming into the third game on the schedule, the Blackhawks took to the road for the first time, hoping to make good off a lost opportunity at home last Saturday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning -- a game which they lost 3-2 in a shootout.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Oct 08 2013

Blackhawks Struck By Lightning, Now Eye Blues

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It seemed so hard to believe at the time, so unfathomable that such a stat ever could have existed. But after checking the line over and over again, it was indeed true that the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning were held without taking one single shot on goal after the first period in Saturday night's game at the United Center.

That's right. After the first 20 minutes, the Blackhawks fired 12 shots against goalie Ben Bishop while the Lightning sent over zero to Corey Crawford. It's the first time since December 4, 1946, that the Blackhawks last performed this feat, which happened to be against our buddies the Detroit Red Wings. In fact, the first shot Crawford saw wasn't until 1 minute, 22 seconds into the second period, just after Patrick Kane gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead with his second goal of the season.

Knowing that, and the fact the Blackhawks won the overall shot battle, 39-16, it would have been pretty clear to anyone who instead decided to stick with the Northwestern-Ohio State game that this one was going to be a clear snoozer. Just pack the bags for next Wednesday to the Scottrade Center, roll out the contestants for "Shoot the Puck" and take me home. Well, unfortunately, that's not how things wound up after the shootout ended.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Oct 02 2013

Blackhawks Shut Down Washington

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It was a grand old party at the United Center last night, as the Blackhawks raised its fifth banner, saluted those who made it possible, as well as the fans, and dropped the puck on the 2013-'14 season. After what seemed only like yesterday that Dave Bolland tossed his gloves like they were on fire, the champs laced 'em up for real and tried to prevent the Capitals from spoiling the love fest.

Winning at home after raising a championship banner hasn't been easy for the past few winners. The Blackhawks spoiled the party for the Los Angeles Kings last season, the Bruins fell to the Flyers for their home opener, and the Red Wings doused water on the party for the Blackhawks in 2010. With that said, and not to mention all the glitz and glamour that came with all the pre-game ceremonies and resized contracts for Corey Crawford and Bryan Bickell, how would this team respond to the pressures of satisfying the masses?

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Oct 01 2013

Blackhawks Draw Back Curtain For Opening Night

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It seems just like old times again, doesn't it? Regular season hockey once again is upon us, and the Stanley Cup defending champion Chicago Blackhawks open up at home against Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals. But just before the puck drops, a little bit of business is due.

For the fifth time in team history, and the first time since Saturday, October 9, 2010, when the Red Wings came to town to spoil matters, the Blackhawks will raise a banner to the rafters to mark excellence from the previous season. And just as the champagne finally came to dry on Lord Stanley, and Corey Crawford sobered up, in what was the shortest off season ever, coach Joel Quenneville's squad will look to do better than last time around when they came into a season with a target on their backs.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Sep 24 2013

Blackhawks Trim Roster Size to 28

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With just a week to go until NHL teams need to set its opening-day roster size to 23, the Blackhawks made some headway by getting its team down to 28. The last few weeks have been a make-or-break trial period for many of the fresh faces (and even some older ones) to stay east of Rockford and into the everyday lineup for the defending Stanley Cup champs.

Just yesterday, according to the team's site, the Blackhawks sent forwards Mark McNeil, Garret Ross and Alex Broadhurst; defensemen Dylan Olsen, Klas Dahlbeck and Adam Clendening; and goaltender Kent Simpson to Rockford. Much-talked about forward Teuvo Teräväinen was sent to Jokerit of SM-liiga in Finland while forward Ryan Hartman was sent over to the OHL's Plymouth Whalers; Viktor Svedberg was released from camp.

That brought the roster size to 36, but in the past 24 hours, the team trimmed even more to fall in line with NHL regulations.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Sep 23 2013

Blackhawks Continue to Tune-up for Regular Season

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png How quickly time flies when the good times roll. After four games through the NHL pre-season, the Blackhawks are looking every bit the part as defending Stanley Cup champions.

After disposing of the Detroit Red Wings Sunday afternoon by the final of 4-3, coach Quenneville's crew took its record to 3-0-1, with only two games left against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals before kicking off the regular season. During these last few weeks of practice play, the Blackhawks auditioned young talent for roster spots and hoped to solidify its anemic power-play woes and wins at the dot.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Sep 18 2013

Blackhawks Shutout Wings in Pre-season Opener

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngFinally, the time has arrived for full competition against an opponent who doesn't happen to share the same locker room and training staff. The Blackhawks opened up pre-season play last night against the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center, and skated away with a 2-0 victory.

Corey Crawford stopped all 19 shots he faced and earned the game's first star. Patrick Sharp snapped a shot passed backup goalie Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson at 16 minutes, 37 seconds in the second period, while Ben Smith scored on a wrister just 1 minute, 9 seconds later.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Sep 17 2013

Mad Dash to a New Season

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's been 85 days since the Blackhawks raised Lord Stanley at TD Garden back on June 24, after winning Game 6 against the Boston Bruins. Eighty-five champagne-filled, beer-swilling, Cup-toting, finger-wagging days that had this city dreaming of more championships down the road with what looks like a dynasty on paper and what feels like a renewed sense of pride.

As summer was ready to swing into full gear 85 days ago, the city of Chicago was on top of the hockey world. Now, those days of bragging rights are gone, swept over like a Zamboni between periods for a fresh start, as quickly as the 17 seconds it took to get us there.

There's no looking back now as training camp has come and gone and scrimmaging wrapped up to give way to the official preseason. To mark the beginning of a new and full 82-game season, the Blackhawks, in relation with UnitedHealthcare and Fresh Wave Sport, held the "Mad Dash to Madison" 10K skate and 5K run/walk to get the fans ready for another successful run at the Cup.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Sep 12 2013

Stan Bowman Earns Extension After Locking In Winner

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After rebuilding a team to its second Stanley Cup in four seasons, and re-signing players to contracts -- which should keep the renaissance on West Madison intact for some time -- Blackhawks vice president and general manager Stan Bowman was rewarded with a contract extension of his own. Bowman, who is entering his thirteenth season within the Blackhawks organization, will stay on board after inking a two-year deal, which will keep him around through the 2017-'18 season.

There's no question that Bowman, who prior to last season was on the receiving end of biting criticism, which may or may not have been deserved, turned things around after being dealt a hand with a few aces and not much else. Many fans asked for the 40-year-old executive to skate out of town, especially with his decision to keep the team, for the most part, as-is prior to last season. Turns out it was the decision that turned Bowman from heel to hero.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Sep 06 2013

Bowman Says Kane And Toews Are Here Forever

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With the recent re-signings of Corey Crawford to a 6-year, $36-million deal, and Niklas Hjalmarsson to a 5-year, $20.5 million deal, all eyes looked to general manager Stan Bowman in an effort to pick his brain on how he eventually will manage to re-sign franchise players Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

You see, both Kane and Toews's (both unrestricted free agents) contracts are up after next season (2014-'15), which is the same time Marcus Kruger (restricted free agent), Brandon Saad (RFA), Johnny Oduya (UFA), Nick Leddy (RFA) and Michal Rozsíval's (UFA) contracts are all up. And while Bowman has proven to turn around the glorious, yet near disastrous, contracts signed by Dale Tallon, he'll certainly have some work to do come two years from now. (Saad likely is to get a significant bump.)

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Sep 03 2013

It's Good To Be Corey Crawford

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's been quite a year for the Blackhawks' Corey Crawford. The Stanley Cup-winning goalie rolled through the playoffs with a 16-7 record and 1.84 GAA, recently got engaged, had his turn with the Cup in his hometown of Montreal, will get a chance to lead his country as the backstop in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, and just inked a deal to become one of the best-paid goalies in the league: a 6-year, $36 million deal. It's enough crow to go around for all his doubters to eat.

The offer kicks in after the upcoming 2013-'14 season, in which Crawford will finish out his current deal worth $2,666,667. The 55-percent pay increase has fans wondering what Patrick Kane and captain Jonathan Toews will ask for, a year after Crawford's deal kicks in, when the dynamic duo become unrestricted free agents.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Aug 28 2013

Kane, Saad and Leddy Model USA Hockey Jerseys

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png USA Hockey made like Fashion Week yesterday, in our Nation's Capital, revealing the look of the team's jerseys for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Donning the twenty-third edition of garb for the red, white and blue were the Blackhawks' own Patrick Kane, Nick Leddy and Brandon Saad. The three representatives from the 2013 Stanley Cup champs (it's probably now safe to refer to them as defending champs), are three of 48 invitees, who recently attended the U.S. Men's National Team Orientation Camp at Kettler Capitals IcePlex in Arlington, VA.

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Tue Aug 20 2013

7 Things to Watch for with the 2013-'14 Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With only 23 days left until the Blackhawks open training camp at the Compton Family Ice Arena on the campus of Notre Dame (Click Here for schedule info), it's time to look ahead at what important factors and obstacles the Blackhawks more than likely will face in order to repeat as champs.

Seven seems to be a popular number these days, most notably with Brent Seabrook welcoming in his first child, Carter Seven Seabrook (born Friday, August 16, at 8 lbs., 11 oz.). So why not go with seven items of note to get your blood pumping once again, in preparation for what looks to be another exciting season.

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Jim Crago

Baseball Thu Aug 08 2013

Review: From Black Sox to Three-peats: A Century of Chicago's Best Sports-writing from the Tribune, Sun-Times, and Other Newspapers

SportsBook.jpg The Chicago sports landscape is a vast space, reaching as far as the Quad Cities to Nashville, with legions of fans who stick with their teams through thick and thin. And much like that landscape in the middle of February, it is often dark and cold for what seems like an eternity, with no hope in sight. But once every so often, a beam of light shines through, melting away the ice and once again restoring hope for athletics in the Second City.

With so much drama and so many teams in the country's third-largest market, it became necessary for news outlets to canvas the city's north, south and west sides with sports writers, just as they crammed the courts and morgues with beat writers as early as they dawn of the newspaper.

Not much has changed from the mid-1800s, outside of how we receive our news, and in Ron Rapoport's newest book, From Black Sox to Three-peats: A Century of Chicago's Best Sports-writing from the Tribune, Sun-Times, and Other Newspapers, he allows the reader to take a trip back in time when sports gambling ruled outcomes of games, Babe Ruth was sticking it to the Wrigley faithful and Michael Jordan holding us all in the palm of his hand.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Aug 05 2013

Blackhawks Single-Game Preseason Tix On Sale

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Get 'em while they're hot, and available! The Blackhawks, coming off their 2013 championship season, are opening up single-game preseason tickets to one and all, starting at 10:00am until there are no more.

According to the team site, those interested in purchasing tickets can go to ChicagoBlackhawks.com, Ticketmaster.com or by calling (800) 745-3000. It also should be noted that tickets are subject to availability and not guaranteed to be available for all games, price levels and/or seating areas.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Aug 02 2013

Patrick Kane Showing Signs Of Maturity

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png We've all experienced what it's like to be in our early-20s -- going out and partying like there was no curfew, and living every night like there was no tomorrow. Mingling amongst your friends, while trying to hook-up with the opposite/same sex and ordering whatever drinks might sound good at the time: a rum and Coke; a Lite beer; something blue with an umbrella.

Yes, for most, it's a learning experience on what eventually not to do as your late-20s/early-30s creep up quicker than washing down a shot of Jägermeister at John Barleycorn's during last call. But for the very few, it comes attached with being captured on video, via smartphones, and having it submitted to sites like Deadspin. Patrick Kane knows the latter all too well.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Jul 24 2013

Blackhawks Announce Panel For Weekend Convention

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png For those lucky enough to have a pass to the Blackhawks Convention this weekend (all passes are sold out), it's time to dust off your Stan Mikita jersey and bring an extra bag to store your collectables. The puck drops for the sixth-annual Convention Friday morning at the Chicago Hilton Hotel and will feature many of the members who helped bring home its fifth Stanley Cup in franchise history.

Earlier today the Blackhawks announced the official panels for the Convention, via its site. The bulk of the panels will take place in both the International and Continental Ballrooms with the weekend starting Friday, July 26, at 5:00pm, and the final set of events starting Sunday, July 28, at 9:30am.

If you've been going through withdrawal over not hearing enough Chelsea Dagger, or simply forgot just how handsome Patrick Sharp really is, then load up the family truckster and zip down Michigan Avenue to take in a variety of events, which includes an improv set with members of Second City to re-living the Stanley Cup Final with WGN-TV's Dan Roan. Consider it your own personal Methadone clinic, sure to ease the anxiety away.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jul 22 2013

Eight Blackhawks Named To Olympic Camps

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png The Blackhawks have announced that eight of its players will attend Olympic Orientation Camps, which lead to the 2014 Games in Sochi. The organization has a league-high five players invited to the Canadian team with Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford getting the call. Camp for Team Canada will be in Calgary in August with 42 other Canadians hoping to make the squad.

Three other members of the Blackhawks have been invited to the United States Men's Hockey Team with Conn Smythe winner Patrick Kane, Nick Leddy and Brandon Saad getting the honor. The three Hawks players will head to Arlington, VA, on August 26 and 27. They will join 45 other U.S.-born players in hopes to make Team USA.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Jul 19 2013

Blackhawks 2013-14 Schedule Announced

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It seems like only yesterday Dave Bolland scored the Cup-winning goal to beat the Boston Bruins in Game 6. That was 25 days ago. Since then, the team has whisked the Cup all over town, Bolland was shipped to Toronto, the NHL draft happened, with Stan Bowman wheeling and dealing the afternoon away, and free agency kicking in.

And now, just earlier today, the Blackhawks officially posted its 2013-14 schedule, with the first preseason game on Tuesday, September 17, against the Red Wings at the United Center.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jul 01 2013

Blackhawks Wheel and Deal at 2013 Draft

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After a successful parade downtown and rally in Grant Park, players on the Blackhawks began to take turns showing off Lord Stanley amongst the faithful in the Chicagoland area. Dan Carcillo took his date to a Rush Concert, parrot-headed Patrick Kane at the Jimmy Buffet concert, and the rest with upcoming dates on fishing boats and swimming pools.

While the players took in the fun, management found itself on the doorstep of the 2013 NHL Draft in New Jersey. No rest for the weary, as general manager Stan Bowman looked to secure future celebrations, while trimming salary in order to sign and resign key free agents.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Jun 26 2013

Blackhawks Plan Parade For Friday

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After winning its second Stanley Cup in four seasons, the Hawks have been on a city-wide tour from The Scout Bar in the South Loop to Rockit Bar with a shower of bubbly to boot. There's no telling where Lord Stanley will pop-up next, with maybe the exception of Patrick Kane's appearance on "Late Show With David Letterman" tonight, but what has been confirmed locally is the parade this coming Friday.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel made it official yesterday by stating the city would host a celebration for the Hawks on Friday, June 28, that would be like a "'Ferris Bueller's Day Off' for the entire city."

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jun 24 2013

Blackhawks Hoist The Stanley Cup

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's almost unfathomable what went down Monday night in Boston, but then again, just as Game 6 hung on a thread, so did the entire 2013 season.

Just think about it -- the entire lifeline of professional hockey in 2013 was left in the hands of billionaires, agents, lawyers, union officials and prayers just as the eleventh hour struck on a season, which was so close to not happening. But then on Sunday, January 6, the NHL and Players' Association finally struck a tentative deal, which kick-started the heartbeat of the NHL. Turns out, it was the first of many hurdles the Hawks would face this year.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jun 24 2013

Blackhawks Game 6 Preview

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png The Blackhawks look to close out the 2013 season tonight in Boston for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. The Hawks lead Boston three games to two, after an impressive win Saturday night at the Madhouse on Madison by the final of 3-1.

Patrick Kane returned to form and scored two goals by staying aggressive near the net and beating Tuukka Rask. Corey Crawford also bounced back and stopped 24 of 25 shots with only Zdeno Chára's slapper getting through in the third period.

A few items to note were the exit of both Jonathan Toews and Patrice Bergeron in Game 5. Toews took a shot near the head at the end of the second period from Johnny Boychuk and was sent straight to the locker room. Toews eventually came back out, but was regulated to bench duty. Bergeron, on the other hand, was sent to the hospital with a reported spleen injury.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Sat Jun 22 2013

Blackhawks Win Game 5 -- One To Go

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png So it's come down to this: Game 6 on Monday night, for the whole kit and caboodle. If you'd have asked yourself earlier this year if this even would have been possible, when Gary Bettman and the like were trying to sort out millions, would you have believed it?

In any rate, here we are. On the precipice of reliving the ecstasy from 2010 when the Hawks downed the Flyers in Game 6 -- a road game, which this Monday will require calming your nerves with every superstition, Old Style, heck, every Malört shot your body can take, within arms' reach, in order to counter-balance all the stress that comes attached. Yeah, we've been here before, and no one is complaining.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Thu Jun 20 2013

Blackhawks Win Game 4 By A Biscuit

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png And just like that, we have a new series. The Blackhawks went into Game 4 in Boston last night, down two games to one, and with a facelift on its first line. They came out of it having scored six goals with the winner coming in overtime.

After yesterday morning's skate, it was reported that head coach Joel Quenneville would revert back to a line consisting of Bickell-Toews-Kane, which proved to be successful against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference Finals. It also was expected that Marian Hossa, who missed Game 3 from an injury, would in fact suit up and play in Game 4. (Hey, Tony Amonte. Zip it.) What wasn't expected was how Michal Handzuš would get the whole thing started.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Jun 19 2013

Quenneville To Potentially Beef Up Top Line For Game 4

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It's being reported out of Boston, after the Blackhawks' morning skate, that head coach Joel Quennville very well could pair his top line as Bickell-Toews-Kane for Game 4 tonight. This potential pairing could provide the Hawks with more scoring chances up front, compared to the Game 3 line of Kruger-Toews-Frolik.

This potential move should help the captain attempt more shots during his ice time, with Kane able to move the puck his way. The move also should provide a bigger presence at the net with Bickell camping out in front of his good buddy Zdeno Chára.

According to behindthenet.ca, Toews' time on the ice per 60 minutes (TOI/60) is just under 17 at full strength, during the 2013 playoffs. During that time, he leads his team with a +28.15 CORSI number. (CORSI measures how many shots are taken on net by a team while that player is on the ice.) That leads both teams with players who have played at least 19 games.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Tue Jun 18 2013

Stanley Cup Final Game 3: Advantage Bruins

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png The fog which moved into Chicago Tuesday morning might be a direct result of Hawks fans fuming on their way to work amongst the cool breeze. Game 3 shifted out east to Boston Monday evening, and began with a mysterious Marian Hossa scratch, which may or may not have resulted from a puck in the face during warm-ups. It just depends on who you ask.

Either way, the Blackhawks were staring down an 0-3 performance in its previous Game 3s, a raucous TD Garden crowd, and a triple fist pump from Rene Rancourt. No worries -- that is, until, the drop of the puck.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jun 17 2013

Blackhawks Poised For Game 3 In Beantown

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png After another thrilling overtime game in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, which for whatever reason was aired on NBC Sports Network instead of NBC national, the Blackhawks now find themselves tied at one game apiece with the Boston Bruins. The Hawks came out guns blazing in the first period, outshooting the Bruins 19-4. But another bad day at the office for faceoffs and the power play helped lead to a 2-1 loss to tie the series up.

With the series now shifting out east to Bahhh-ston, the Hawks look to gain back home ice and shake off what was a bad turnover, which led to the game-winning goal for Daniel Paille. The turnover came off the stick of Brandon Bollig, who was filling in for the "healthy-scratched" Viktor Stålberg, which was a decision by Coach Joel Quenneville for who knows what reason. But you can't blame one guy for the loss -- it just was a bad play all around.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Jun 14 2013

Blackhawks And Bruins: Game 2 Preview

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Considering everyone just woke up from the Game 1 triple-overtime thriller, now seems like a good time to preview tomorrow night's Game 2 matchup between the Blackhawks and Bruins. The Hawks won Game 1 by the final of 4-3, after nearly playing the equivalent of a doubleheader Wednesday night/Thursday morning. The game was the fifth-longest Stanley Cup Final game in NHL history, which simultaneously sobered everyone up inside the United Center (beer sales cut off after the second period), while making insomniacs out of everyone else at home or at their local watering hole.

Looking back on Game 1, it's safe to say the Hawks dodged a bullet, especially after watching Zdeno Chára hit the post with 11.5 seconds left in the second overtime. Outside of baseball, hockey relies a lot on lucky bounces and lucky breaks (see every post hit by the Hawks versus the Red Wings). Yes, the Hawks are very good, but if Chára's shot is one inch to the left, there would be a vastly different narrative and mood coming from each respective city.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Jun 10 2013

Blackhawks And Bruins For The Cup

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png So it's all come down to this -- the Chicago Blackhawks, a team which had many questions about its starting goaltender; its coach; its oft-pickled left-winger, coming into this season, a season which almost didn't happen, now finds itself four wins away from winning its second Stanley Cup in four seasons.

No one could have imagined back on opening day that Corey Crawford eventually would be co-recipient of the William Jennings Trophy (his teammate, Ray Emery, was the other recipient) and would post a 1.74 GAA through three rounds of the playoffs; that coach Joel Quenneville eventually would make brilliant line changes that included the re-pairing of two veteran defensemen in Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook that would make a difference in a Game 7 against its oldest rival; and that party boy Patrick Kane would improve upon not only his numbers from previous seasons, but also his attitude with, perhaps, a little bit of help from his own mother while in Switzerland.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Jun 07 2013

5 Reasons the Blackhawks Can Close Out the Kings Saturday

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThe Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Los Angeles Kings last night 3-2 to take a commanding 3-1 series lead into game five of the Western Conference Finals this weekend. The Blackhawks are in position to end this series sooner than later. Admittedly, I didn't think it would happen so quickly but here we are.

Here are five reasons why the Blackhawks can close out the Kings tomorrow at the United Center.

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Mon Jun 03 2013

L.A. Story: Hawks Up 2-0 in Western Conference Finals

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It can't be this easy, can it? The Hawks are up 2-0 against the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, after holding home court at the United Center on back-to-back nights (thank you very much, Rolling Stones) this past weekend.

It's possible the backhand the Hawks received across the back of their collective heads from the Detroit Red Wings woke them up in time for Darryl Sutter's bunch in these Western Conference Finals. Brent Seabrook is back to his old self, Bryan Bickell is doing his best 2010 Dustin Byfuglien impression, and Jonathan Toews isn't throwing tantrums on the ice. A perfect recipe for a 2-1 win in Game 1 and a 4-2 win in Game 2.

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Jim Crago

Hockey Sat Jun 01 2013

3 Things The Blackhawks Can Continue To Do Vs. Kings

Red Wings Blackhawks Hockey.JPEG-07bd3.jpg

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Tue May 28 2013

Hawks Still Alive Against Red Wings

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png It doesn't get much better than a Game 7 in any sport, but when it happens in hockey, and your opponent happens to be your biggest rival, it's the best thing going. All together now, everyone, take a deep breath...now exhale.

The Hawks' 4-3 win over the Red Wings in Game 6 last night put smiles on a lot of faces, but not before fans raised alert status to DEFCON 1, while flipping over to the Cubs and Sox game. Those who stuck it out witnessed a classic effort from the Hawks, which almost turned into disaster at the end of the game. Nevertheless, game over, Hawks win, Game 7, all is right with the world (for now), and someone tell the Stones to end their show early tonight so that the stadium crew can get the rink ready.

The recent turnaround from Coach Joel Quenneville's squad is becoming something of legend and mystery. Here was a team which broke records during the lockout-shortened season and looked every bit the part of a champion which would raise Lord Stanley's Cup come June. But then came Games 2, 3 and 4, and a Hawks squad that resembled a pee-wee league team, dressing against a 1970s Russian national squad.

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Sat May 25 2013

Come Back Home Blackhawks

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This is it.

The Chicago Blackhawks are down their last bullet. Before things get any worse,the following players and a key component need to be found by before tonight's game.

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Mon May 20 2013

Panic in Detroit: Hawks and Wings Tied Up

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png The Western Conference semis are here and, as sometimes the case with the Hawks, Games 1 and 2 had a very "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" feel to them. Game 1 witnessed a barrage of shots on goal from the Hawks (41) with four of those getting through Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, all the while, Corey Crawford stood on his head, stopping 20 of 21, and all was right with the universe.

Then there was Game 2, a Saturday matinee at the United Center, which was the exact opposite of anything Hawks fans have seen all season, let alone from Game 1. Sloppy play, too many turnovers in their own zone, and shots taken from area code 847, with most of those being blocked, led to the 4-1 pantsing at home.

Yep, it was a real eye-sore, which had many Hawks fans asking themselves, "I woke up at 11:00 AM for this?" and, "Exactly how much sugar did Viktor Stalberg pour into Quenneville's tank?" or, "What channel are the Cubs on again?"

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Fri May 17 2013

Patrick Kane Nominated for Lady Byng Trophy

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThe regular season awards trophy case might be a little crowded after all is said and done. Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane was named one of three finalists for the Lady Byng Trophy this week. Kane was the third player on the team to be named a finalist for a regular season award along with Brandon Saad (Calder) and Jonathan Toews (Selke).

According to the National Hockey League's website, "The Lady Byng Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the player adjudged to have exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability."

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Tue May 14 2013

Hawks v. Wings And Why Detroit Sucks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With the seventh-seeded Detroit Red Wings taking out the Anaheim Ducks in Game 7 Sunday evening, the Hawks will now take on their most hated rival in the second round of the playoffs. After the Hawks dismantled the Wild in five, there was nothing left to do except to rest and wait to see who they would play.

After the San Jose Sharks swept the once-mighty Vancouver Canucks, the formula became simple: if Anaheim wins, the opponent would be the Sharks; if Detroit wins, the battle of I-94 would be set. There's no doubt Hawks fans, the NHL, and NBC were hoping for Hawks v. Wings, and now it's a reality.

Of course the Hawks players and coaching staff are approaching this series as though the Wings were a number-one seed themselves, which is what you want to hear. But in the end, there's only one thing Hawks fans need to concern themselves with in regards to this series: Red Wings fans.

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Jim Crago / Comments (4)

Hockey Sun May 12 2013

Making The Case For San Jose and Detroit

Detroit Red Wings

NHL realignment will make these two long-time rivals distant cousins. Blackhawks fans along with hockey purists would love to see these Original Six rivals duke it out one last time on a regular basis. The Stanley Cup semifinals would be a good place to end such a bitter rivalry on the high note. Expect the pace to be ratcheted up for the aforementioned reasons. Even though the Blackhawks have had their way with the Red Wings this season, don't expect more of the same. It should be noted that Detroit has taken a team in Anaheim, whom the Blackhawks lost to three times this season, to a seventh game. The coaching staff has to have their eye on that. That could be one of the reasons Coach Joel Quenneville switched up the lines in yesterday's practice. Brandon Saad and Viktor Stalberg were removed from the top four lines. PREDICTION: Blackhawks in five.

San Jose Sharks

The last time the Chicago Blackhawks faced the San Jose Sharks in the playoffs, they on their way the to the Stanley Cup finals. This time around,the goalie who helped them get there, Antti Niemi ,is now a Vezina Trophy finalist with the Sharks. Also, Raffi Torres is now on the team. Expect for Torres to get booed as soon as the steps onto the United Center ice. San Jose is a lot more physical than than Detriot is. San Jose will use physical play to get the Blackhawks off of their game. That is what most teams do when the want to rattle their cage.The most offensively gifted team will win the series eventually. That will be the men wearing the sweater with the Indian head on it. PREDICTION: Blackhawks in six.

Either way, a formidable opponent will stand in the way of postseason greatness for the Madison Street Hockey Club.

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Mon May 06 2013

Must-Win Wild Cut Hawks Lead In Half

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and his players have said it all along about the Minnesota Wild: they're a tough team who shouldn't be taken lightly in the playoffs. And while the rest of Hawks nation rolled its eyes at the comment, the truth is, the coach was right about the Hawks' first-round opponent.

All signs pointed to the Hawks sweeping its way through a team which backed its way into the playoffs and suddenly had lost its starting goalie in Niklas Backstrom before the puck dropped in Game 1. The series suddenly had become laughable, but that's why they play the games.

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Jim Crago

Hockey Sat May 04 2013

Five Reasons Why The Blackhawks Will Get The Sweep

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThe Chicago Blackhawks will take a commanding 2-0 lead into their next game against the Minnesota Wild on Sunday. Even though they struggled in game one against Minnesota, they found a way to pull out an overtime victory. Last night, the game was never in doubt as the Blackhawks coasted to a 5-2 victory. Except more of the same from the Madison Street Hockey Club during their stay in the land of 10,000 Lakes. Here are five reasons why:

1. The Minnesota Wild do not have offensively gifted stars like the Blackhawks do.
Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa. There's no one on the Minnesota Wild that can keep up with those players except Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Even though those two are great players, they can't be everywhere at once. The Blackhawks roll four lines deep. That amount of depth will be too much for the Wild to overcome.

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Evan F. Moore / Comments (2)

Blackhawks Mon Apr 29 2013

Hawks To Face Minnesota After Wild Season

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Well, here we go again. It only seems a mere 22 years ago that the Hawks won the Presidents Trophy and skated into the first round of the playoffs against Minnesota - only to skate out as first-round losers. Here's hoping this outcome is a different one.

The Hawks, who set all kinds of records this season, including a final record of 36-7-5 - 77 points, will match up against the Wild, a team which they went 2-0-1 against, and beat 1-0 just 20 days ago, behind a Ray Emery shutout.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Apr 26 2013

Revisting Preseason Blackhawks Predictions

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngWith two games left, it is safe to say the Chicago Blackhawks have had a stellar season. Most people who follow the team did not know what to make of the team before the lockout-shortened season started. It's been one hell of a ride thus far.

A record setting points streak; two goaltenders in the top ten in most statistical categories, and several players and their coach are in line for postseason awards. They couldn't do much better, and they recently clinched the President's trophy for having the most points in the National Hockey League.

Let's look back on the predictions I made before the season started.

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Mon Apr 22 2013

No Rest for the Weary - Hawks Enter Final Week

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png With the Western Conference all wrapped up, and the President's Trophy (award given for best overall record in the league; includes home-ice advantage in Cup Final) within grasp, the Hawks find themselves looking back on a season in which pretty much everything went right. It's hard to believe that nearly three months ago to the day, Joel Quenneville's squad was taking to the ice for the first time in what otherwise appeared to be another lost season due to a lockout.

Cooler heads prevailed, and now the Hawks have the most points (73), the second most goals scored (146) and the least amount of goals against (94) in the entire league. The awards and accolades are all great, and obtaining the President's Trophy would be a great honor, but one question arises in this and every sport: is it best to rest your top players, or do you keep riding into the playoffs with momentum?

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Jim Crago

Hockey Fri Apr 19 2013

Blackhawks' Postseason Award Winners

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngSince the Chicago Blackhawks' record-setting regular season is coming to an end soon, it's time to take a look at some predictions of the National Hockey League individual awards. The playoffs are coming up soon and due to the type of season the team has had thus far, the NHL awards night will be another feather in the cap of the league's best team. The Madison Street Hockey Club has several players and a coach that has a realistic possibility of winning the following awards.

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Mon Apr 15 2013

Hawks Win Central - West and Cup in Sight

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png In this lockout-shortened season, coach Joel Quenneville laid out a three-step goal for his team before the first game: win the Division, win the Conference, win the Cup. Along the way, his squad just so happened to go on a streak that broke franchise and NHL records, which has made this dream season one for the books.

The Hawks (32-5-4; 68 points) clinched its 15th division title in franchise history Friday after beating the Detroit Red Wings in a 3-2 shootout. For good measure, they then cleaned the rink with the St. Louis Blues yesterday afternoon, 2-0, to give them a nine-point cushion ahead of the Anaheim Ducks for the top seed in the Western Conference.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Apr 12 2013

Possible Playoff Opponents For The Blackhawks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngAfter a season of an immense rise in popularity, a Sports Illustrated cover and a record setting points streak, the Chicago Blackhawks are just about set for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. After all, winning the whole thing is the biggest priority. Anything short of a Cup victory, and this lockout-shortened season will be looked at as an abject failure. No one is going to care about all the exciting things the team did this season if a trophy doesn't come home in June.

Case in point, recent seasons saw the Vancouver Canucks and the Washington Capitals breeze through their seasons to win the President's Cup but not Lord Stanley's Cup. No one in Chicago wants a regular season trophy. The "One Goal" slogan isn't about that.

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Mon Apr 08 2013

With Playoffs Approaching, Emery Deserves Start in Net

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png A lot can happen during the course of the NHL playoffs. For my money it's the most exciting event in any sport, mostly because the intensity level is dialed up a notch and there aren't any shootouts.

But increased defense during a seven-game series is where the drama is born and makes me a nervous wreck every year the Hawks make a play towards June. With that comes stellar goaltending, which can ride a team to the ultimate prize: Lord Stanley's Cup.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Apr 05 2013

The Skinny On New Blackhawks Center Michal Handzus

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThis week, the Chicago Blackhawks brought San Jose Sharks centerman Michal Handzus into the fold. Most fans wanted more of a splash, but the acquisition helps the team in several areas. Size, depth, and experience were a few of the things that helped the team to a Stanley Cup win a few seasons ago, and Handzus can provide all three -- some of which was on display during last night's game vs. St. Louis.

Most fans might remember him from an eight game stint with the team during the 2006-2007 season. He's the type of player the team needs at this point in the season. The Hawks have struggled all year in the face-off department, and Handzus immediately becomes the team's second best center in terms of faceoff percentage this season (won 165-of-297 -- good for 55.6%).

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Mon Apr 01 2013

Blackhawks Drill the Red Wings - Rivalry No More?

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png I was heading to the south side for Easter with my family yesterday morning, when it occurred to me that the Blackhawks were going to be playing the Red Wings in Detroit for an early tilt. Odds were that I wasn't going to get to watch much of the game, which ended up being the case, but I figured it would be close and I'd try to catch a score on my phone when I could.

The better part of the midday Easter festivities got the best of me, when I overheard my father-in-law mention in the other room that the Hawks were up 3-0 after the first period. Sure enough, I checked my phone and read that recent Rockford call-up Jeremy Morin, Brandon Saad and Dave Bolland had all three scored.

By the time we were on our way back home, I had heard the Hawks eventually won the game 7-1 and, thus, making the Red Wings their sacrificial lamb on this holiest of days. The Hawks were 6-1-2 against Detroit coming into yesterday's game, which made me smile with delight.

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Jim Crago / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Fri Mar 29 2013

Blackhawks Should Take A Look At Derek Roy

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThe Chicago Blackhawks need a second line center. After the captain Jonathan Toews, a precipitous drop off in faceoff percentage has taken place. After the this week's trade speculation focused on then Calgary Flames captain Jarome Iginla, the Blackhawks should look into acquiring a second line center. Iginla would not have worked out in Chicago. The team is stacked at right wing, and it's doubtful Iginla would have played left wing or center. He eventually went on the Pittsburgh -- probably to the betterment of the Hawks.

Dallas Stars center Derek Roy is a player the Blackhawks can make use of. Yes Roy had an injury plagued season in Buffalo last year. At one point in time, he was a number one center in the NHL. He's also an unrestricted free agent this summer. Being a part of an extended playoff run can influence any player to resign.

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Mon Mar 25 2013

Stan Bowman: The Gambler - NHL Trade Deadline

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is sitting at the poker table, peering over his stack of chips with a grin on his face. Everyone else at the table knows he has a great hand.

No one exactly knows what he plans to do, but the 39-year-old GM is looking to go all in and cash out with Lord Stanley's Cup come June.

With the NHL's trade deadline approaching on Wednesday, April 3 at 2pm, the biggest question isn't if the Blackhawks are going to make the playoffs as the number-1 seed, but with whom they'll be starting throughout. The annual buzz and current front runner is the Calgary Flames' Jarome Iginla. The right winger is 35-years-old and he wants to play for a winner. So much so that he's recently been quoted as saying he would welcome a trade to Boston, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, or right here in Chicago.

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Jim Crago

Hockey Fri Mar 22 2013

Blackhawks Saw Themselves in the Anaheim Ducks

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThe Chicago Blackhawks played some top-notch competition in their last game. Even though fans didn't like the outcome, they had to like how the game was played. Another thing that they should have noticed was that the Anaheim Ducks are a spitting image of the Blackhawks. Even the radio team noticed the various similarities between the two teams. Just like the guys in red who can score multiple goals in seconds, the Ducks did the same in the third period of Wednesday night's game. Most people probably thought the game was in hand up until that point. Remember during the points streak when the Blackhawks pulled out games at the last minute by scoring a flurry of goals to even a game or put a game out of reach against the opposition? It wasn't much to see the tables turned in such as dramatic fashion.

Both teams have a strong core of offensive stars. The Blackhawks have Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. Anaheim has Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, Corey Perry and Francois Beauchemin.

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Fri Mar 15 2013

NHL Realignment Impacts Blackhawks Rivals

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngHawks fans, be prepared to get "Detroit Sucks" out of your system. An argument can be made that you should have already done so.

The National Hockey League's Board of Governors approved realignment this week. The league will be split up into four divisions divided up based on geography.

Many Blackhawks fans don't like it because of the 87-year rivalry with the Detroit Red Wings will come to an end. Rocky Wirtz recently told ESPN.com that losing Detroit as a division rivals is a good thing for the league.

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Mon Mar 11 2013

Blackhawks Fall To Oilers But Not Without A Fight

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Since we last talked earlier last week, the Blackhawks started a new streak: going winless in their last two games. Not as sexy as their last streak, but a streak nonetheless. Let's hope this one doesn't garner as much attention.

The loss against Colorado was bound to happen. An ugly 6 to 2 beat down that would have made a red-headed stepchild jealous. They were playing their sixth game in nine nights, and made me tired watching them.

Last night's game against the Edmonton Oilers started the same way (slow, sluggish, no fight), and before you could ask "is there a new 'Walking Dead' episode on tonight?" the Hawks were down 4 to 0.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Mar 08 2013

Hawks Fans Shouldn't Care About Non-Hockey Lovers

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThis week, ESPN pundit Stephen A. Smith got on the wrong side of Blackhawks fans everywhere with the following comments.

"Excuse me ... it wasn't 21 games. It was really an 8-game streak. There are three ties. I'm sorry, that doesn't count.

"I'm not into the tie business. This isn't soccer. OK?

"And and and and and and the hockey stuff, I'm sorry, I'm not buying it.

"Not only that: If you go to the overtime you get a point. If you win the game, you get a couple of points. I'm sorry, you want a cookie? Last time I checked, when you take to the ice, it's to actually win. It's not to tie. So I don't get all of this stuff. Hockey's clearly all about points, because if you go to overtime 20 times you get 20 points. I don't understand that. You either win or you lose in sports.

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Tue Mar 05 2013

Blackhawks Streak Reaches 22

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png The Blackhawks (19-0-3) found yet another way to keep their streak of starting the season without a regulation loss, this time by beating the rival Red Wings (10-8-4) in Detroit with a 2-1 win decided by a shootout. Patrick Kane scored the game-tying goal with 2 minutes, 2 seconds left in regulation, as well as the game-winning goal in the shootout.

I've never had high blood pressure in my life, but after watching this instant classic, which was nationally televised for all to see, I may have to make doctor's appointment later in the week. After the Hawks got past the Blues last Thursday, I had Sunday morning's game circled as a potential for the streak to end. The Red Wings, who started the season rather flat, have come on as of late, and there was no doubt Joe Louis Arena would be packed with whoever hasn't moved away from the nation's worst city in which to live.

(OK, Chicago was ranked fourth. Fine. But I'm sure we'll fall back down the list after we clean up all this violence.)

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Mar 01 2013

Blackhawks Have Enviable Goalie Pair

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThe Blackhawks have won games this season in every way possible: Defense, offense, grit, etc. Most observers like to point out that the team has a goaltending tandem most team would love to have.

Starter Corey Crawford and backup Ray Emery have provided the stability at a position that has long been a problem for the Blackhawks. During the Stanley Cup run, no one wanted to see Christobal Huet in goal if something happened to Antti Niemi. This time around, no matter who's in goal, the team doesn't seem to mind.

Everyone is aware how a goaltender's play can either elevate or torpedo the season for any team. Remember what Tim Thomas and Jonathan Quick did for their respective teams? As soon as those players turned it on, the Bruins and the Kings were unstoppable.

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Mon Feb 25 2013

Blackhawks Keep Rolling Behind Crawford Shutout

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png Corey Crawford returned between the pipes for the Blackhawks last night, recording his second shutout of the season in a 1-0 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Andrew Shaw scored the game's only goal in the second period, as the Blackhawks extend their winning streak to open a season at 18 games (15-0-3).

All is right with the universe, as the Hawks are in overdrive nearly 40 percent of the way through the season. And after gaining another two points by toying with the lowly Blue Jackets (if you watched the game, you know that the score was in no way any reflection of the sharp play from Columbus, but more or less the lackadaisical play on behalf of the Hawks), it looks as though the Central Division is all but theirs.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Fri Feb 22 2013

Is Jannik Hansen related to the Hanson Brothers?

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngAfter the Blackhawks defeated the Vancouver Canucks the other day, most fans and media talked most about the hit Vancouver Canucks winger Jannik Hansen put on Marian Hossa. When I first saw it, I remember tweeting something to the effect of, "Here we go -- typical dirty play from the Vancouver Canucks."

That type of blow to the back of the head is outlawed in boxing and mixed martial arts -- it has no place hockey either.

When I saw what Hansen said about the hit to the back of the head, I wanted to believe his excuse since the puck was in the air and Hossa appeared to be backing up towards him as well, but then I realized what team Hansen plays for.

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Evan F. Moore

Hockey Tue Feb 19 2013

ND & UW Prevail In OfficeMax Hockey City Classic

logo.jpgNotre Dame edges Miami 2-1 in game one at Soldier Field

The first big moment of the game took place when Notre Dame's Mike Voran was hit with a five minute major and game disqualification for a check from behind on Miami's Taylor Richart. The Fighting Irish were able to manage in his absence.

Notre Dame's first goal came from Mario Lucia in the second period, followed by the game winner that came when forward Anders Lee made a rush toward the net to setup a rebound goal by Jeff Costello.

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Tue Feb 19 2013

Blackhawks Shoot for Record Tonight Against Canucks

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The Blackhawks are looking to tie an NHL record for starting the season without a regulation loss at 16 games, set by the Anaheim Ducks during the 2006-07 season. There's no doubt that Joel Quenneville's squad has been playing lights out after opening the first 15 games with an astounding 12-0-3 record, but they shouldn't let this be a distraction.

There's no doubt the Hawks will suffer a regulation loss this season. It has to happen. It defies all logic and every set of odds that they would go unbeaten in regulation, even in a shortened season such as this.

The hated Vancouver Canucks roll into town this evening and will try to extinguish the fire of Patrick Kane, Jonathan "Buster" Toews, and a red hot Ray Emery, who will start again in place of an injured Corey Crawford. The last time these two teams faced each other, the Blackhawks "lost" in a shootout back on February 1.

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Jim Crago

Blackhawks Mon Feb 11 2013

The Anatomy of Payback

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngHard hits have been a part of hockey as long as anyone can remember. Especially on teams that are regarded as being soft.

Hawks fans may not want to hear this but I'm going to go ahead and say it. They know the scouting report says: Be physical. Every team in the NHL knows that the Hawks are an offensive team. The derogatory term for that is "finesse."

After Raffi Torres laid out Marion Hossa in last season's playoffs, Hawks fans wanted blood when the team played the Phoenix Coyotes last week.

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Evan F. Moore

Hockey Tue Feb 05 2013

Hockey City Classic Opening Ceremony Recap

logo.jpgEver since the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup three years ago, not only has the popularity of the team grown, the demand for the sport in Chicago is higher than ever. The festivities at Soldier Field last Friday might be a stepping stone to bigger and better things as far as hockey in Chicago is concerned.

The Chicago Park District, Office Max and the Chicago Blackhawks Alumni Association, along with members of the ICE (Inner City Education), held the "Light the Lamp" event last week. The ceremony kicked off the OfficeMax Hockey City Classic Winter Festival, a two-week celebration of winter activities capped off with the first outdoor college hockey games ever to be played at Soldier Field. The festival will include several activities for Chicagoland hockey fans, including free public skating, community hockey events, along with high school and college hockey games. The events will take place on a newly constructed hockey rink at Soldier Field.

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Mon Feb 04 2013

Ray Emery's Game For The Ages

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"That was criminal.We have to call the cops after that performance. We stole two points, he was spectacular. I've never been out-chanced and out-played like that in my life. It was a special performance."- Coach Joel Quenneville

"We obviously got out-played and shouldn't have won that game but he was the only reason we did." - Right Winger Patrick Kane

The team is clearly thanking their lucky stars for a goaltending performance that the Chicago Blackhawks faithful won't soon forget.

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Evan F. Moore

Chicago Mon Jan 28 2013

Blackhawks' Unbeaten Streak Continues

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThe Chicago Blackhawks are on a roll, having started this lockout-shortened season a perfect 6-0. Win number six came last night against the hated Detroit Red Wings, on the heels of defenseman Nick Leddy's overtime shot past Jimmy Howard in the extra stanza. Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, the game's number-one star, came up huge, stopping 29 of 30 shots, thus taking his season record to 5-0 and dropping his goals against average to 1.78.

The Blackhawks looked sharp in the first period, while the Red Wings stumbled around the rink, looking to fill the void left behind by future Hall-of-Famer Nicklas Lidstrom, who announced his retirement back on May 31. Duncan Keith got things started early for Chicago in the first period with his first goal of the season. Johan Franzen tied things up in the third, with the Blackhawks beginning to show signs of fatigue. Then, with 2:15 left in overtime, Leddy finally ended the game with his shot to give the Blackhawks the 2-1 win.

There's certainly a lot to be excited about with this team, especially since it has never started a season with six straight wins in its 87-year history. An even-keeled Patrick Kane, the comeback of Marian Hossa, and a deep bench has this team being compared to the one which hoisted the Cup after the 2009-'10 season. Coach Quenneville's team will hit the road, this time on a six-game venture, starting this Wednesday at Minnesota.

Reaching the league's all-time best start of 10-0 ('93-'94 Maple Leafs and '06-'07 Sabres) seems like a stretch, but certainly isn't out of reach. For now, it's time for some much-needed rest before a long road trip, and the final seven-eighths of the season.

Jim Crago

Blackhawks Wed Jan 23 2013

Blackhawks Hit The Ground Running

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.png14 goals in three games. 3-0 record. That's more like it.

The action has been fast and furious. So fast that it is hard to keep up.

The Blackhawks opened up the 2013 season with a win against the Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings. The Hawks spoiled the championship celebration by beating the Kings 5-2. Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa (2), Michael Frolik and Jonathan Toews scored goals for the Blackhawks.

The next night, they beat the Phoenix Coyotes. The team that eliminated them from last season's playoffs. Goals were scored by Dave Bolland (2),Patrick Sharp,Marian Hossa, and Viktor Stalberg. Backup goaltender Ray Emery made 25 saves.

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Evan F. Moore

Hockey Thu Jan 17 2013

Your 2013 Blackhawks Schedule Breakdown & More

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThe Chicago Blackhawks released their 2013 schedule this week. Here are some keys dates to pay attention to:

Jan. 19 - Season opener against the defending Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings.

Jan. 22 - Home opener vs. the St. Louis Blues.

Jan. 26 - vs. Columbus Blue Jackets. These games against Columbus makes Viktor Stalberg look like Wayne Gretzky.

Jan. 27 - vs. Detroit Red Wings. Yes, Pavel Datsyuk still plays for the Wings. Do Hawks fans still dislike this team? At this point in time, there is plenty of dislike for St. Louis and Vancouver to go around.

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Wed Jan 09 2013

NHL Lockout Over: What Blackhawks Fans Should Know

Blackhawks hockeyHockey fans all over woke up Sunday morning to find that the lockout had ended. Thanks to a marathon bargaining session Saturday night, a 48-game season will start Jan 19. After 113 days of he-said-he-said, hockey is upon us. The deal was agreed to at approximately 4:40am, and it was announced jointly by National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman and NHLPA Executive Director Donald Fehr.

Commissioner Bettman released this statement: "Don Fehr and I are here to tell you that we have reached an agreement on the framework of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, the details of which need to be put to paper. We have to dot [sic] a lot of I's and cross a lot of T's. There is still a lot of work to be done, but the basic framework has been agreed upon."

Will the shortened season affect the Blackhawks?

The players who played overseas during the lockout, like Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell, Michael Frolik and Viktor Stalberg, should be fine. The players who have been working out at Johnny's Ice House during the lockout might need more game action. Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Dave Bolland, Daniel Carcillo, Corey Crawford, Jamal Mayers and Sheldon Brookbank are among the players who have participated in "practices" during the lockout.

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Evan F. Moore

Blackhawks Wed May 09 2012

Quenneville Quashes Talk of Leaving Hawks

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThe Blackhawks' coaching staff has been doing some shuffling in the wake of the season. Assistant General Manager Marc Bergevin left to take the General Manager job with the Montreal Canadiens and his space was quickly filled by the promotion of Director of Player Personnel Norm Maciver.

In a surprising move a day later, Mike Haviland, who is recognized as one of the top assistant coaches in the NHL, was relieved of his duties, and the Blackhawks are searching for a replacement. Amid the whispers of new leadership and coaching shifts, a story rose to the top that coach Joel Quenneville might be leaving Chicago as well.

There is a conspicuous vacancy in Montreal's staff for a head coach. Bergevin has already begun to recruit old friends like former Blackhawks colleague and current Leafs Director of Player Personnel Rick Dudley, who will likely be the next assistant coach for the Canadiens. A familiar face, Quenneville would be a welcome addition to the staff, and after a season of turmoil, a new challenge with a blank slate could sound tempting.

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Janna Dons

Blackhawks Wed May 02 2012

Hawks Have Offseason Decisions to Make

Chicago BlackhawksThe lockers have been cleared. The playoff ice has melted. A number of other hockey teams still play like it matters. But for Chicago, it's the offseason, and it's time to get ready for next year.

Coach Joel Quenneville and general manager Stan Bowman have some choices to make. After a disappointing end to a rollercoaster of a season, no position on the team can be counted as truly secure. Some players may be worth more in a trade than they are on the ice. That said, it's not time to trade out the stitching on those jerseys just yet.

This year Patrick Kane has been a favorite for trade rumors. He had a lackluster year on points. He scored 23 goals in the regular season, and none in the playoffs. However, Kaner played a supportive role on the team, filling a gap by playing center, and stepping up in leadership when Jonathan Toews was injured. Bowman and Coach Q have stood by the 23-year-old through it all. Chances are good Kane and Toews will still be the faces of the franchise come October.

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Janna Dons

Blackhawks Thu Apr 26 2012

Hawks: Season in Review

Chicago BlackhawksAfter so many comebacks and difficult games, the Game 6 loss was a frustrating end to the Blackhawks season. Maybe they wouldn't have gone all the way this year, but a first-round elimination was a hard letdown.

The Hawks have had a dynamic year though. Coming off another disappointing first-round elimination in the 2011 playoffs, the team had worked to recoup and make adjustments in the off-season. They looked like a promising team in October.

As the season got fully underway, however, the Hawks hit a few bumps. Long road trips tended to leave them sluggish. In mid-November their performance left something to be desired after six straight games on the road. But that was nothing compared to the nine-game losing streak that started in late January and carried on through most of the nine away games in a row, marking their record with an atrocious nine-game losing streak. But the men in red recovered, returning with a hot streak and a few stellar performances by goalie Corey Crawford. They pulled themselves up by their laces and earned a playoff spot with hard fought and well-deserved victories in March.

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Janna Dons

Blackhawks Tue Apr 24 2012

Hawks Season Ends in Game 6 Loss

Chicago BlackhawksPhoenix didn't win Game 6. The Blackhawks out skated, outmaneuvered and out shot the Coyotes nearly two to one. Goaltender Mike Smith won Game 6.

The arena pulsed with excitement as the game commenced. If there was a Coyote fan in the crowd, they certainly didn't make themselves known. From the national anthem to puck drop and into the game the Mad House lived up to its name.

The team was likewise exhilarated. Marion Hossa, who was missing his third straight game due to an injury stemming from Raffi Torres' reckless hit in Game 3, stopped by the United Center earlier in the day to provide some encouragement for the team. The Hawks were also getting rookie forward Andrew Shaw back on the ice after being suspended for three games for a hit on Smith.

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Janna Dons

Blackhawks Fri Apr 13 2012

Hawks Fall in OT to Coyotes in Game 1

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngIn typical Blackhawks fashion, there was no such thing as a dull moment or a sure thing for either team in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs. The Hawks were skating circles around the Coyotes in the first period, wearing them down with quick, intense play. Jonathan Toews returned to the ice with flare, coming up with a goal within the first few minutes after missing 22 straight games. Coyotes goalie Mike Smith is a force to be reckoned with in the net, so Tazer's goal is a sign that the Blackhawks' concussed captain is back in action and ready to reclaim his lead scoring position.

Though the Hawks dominated the first period, the second belonged to Phoenix as they put two goals past Corey Crawford. The Coyotes held the lead through intense back and forth. Both teams got physical, with a brawl breaking out shortly after the second goal. Phoenix targeted Toews, at one point landing a blow to the back of his head, no doubt hoping to put him out of commission. Hawks teammates like Brian Bickell however, made sure to return the favor.

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Janna Dons

Blackhawks Fri Apr 06 2012

Hawks Wrapping Up the Regular Season

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngAnother shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild on Thursday doesn't necessarily inspire confidence as the Hawks prepare for playoffs. The Wild is looking at their possible worst season finish in 10 years. Though, the team seems to be going out with a fight - taking their last five games past regulation with a 4-0-1 record to show for it. That said, playing casually, as Coach Quenneville described it, isn't a great way for the Blackhawks to get in the postseason mindset.

Saturday, they face the Detroit Red Wings in the regular season finale. This game determines which team the Blackhawks will face in the first round of playoffs. A win will put the Hawks in fifth place in the division, pitting them against the Predators in Nashville territory to begin the series. A loss puts the Hawks in a position to play the potentially weaker Pacific Division champ, which is currently a tight race between Los Angeles, San Jose and Phoenix.

Despite the hype of being the regular season finale, this isn't necessarily a "must win" game. The Predators have been a tough competitor, beating the Hawks in four of their last six meetings. A win may put the Blackhawks in just as challenging (if not more so) of a position as a loss.

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Janna Dons

Blackhawks Wed Apr 04 2012

Hawks Clinch 4th Straight Playoff Berth

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngSaturday's win over the Nashville Predators clinched a playoff spot for the Blackhawks. This will be the fourth consecutive year that the Hawks have made it to the postseason. Currently they are ranked sixth in the Western Conference and eighth in the NHL.

With two games left in the regular season, they'll be wrapping up with the Wild followed by the Red Wings. While their standings aren't at the top of the heap, the Hawks have some good things, and players, going for them as they prepare for playoffs.

First of all, Tazer is no longer concussed! Fans are celebrating the long awaited news that Captain Jonathan Toews has been cleared for contact. He's been skating regularly for two weeks now and the club announced his status on Saturday. He did not play in Sunday's home game against the Wild, but with the next one coming up on Thursday, it's possible Toews will see ice time in at least one more regular season match. The center is a huge asset for the offence. Despite missing 20 games in a row, he still has the second-most points on the team.

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Janna Dons

Blackhawks Fri Mar 30 2012

Oduya Proves to be a Good Move for Hawks

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngWay back in February, when the trade deadline was fast approaching, the world of hockey was wondering what Chicago would do to shake their team up. They had just surfaced from a nine-game losing streak and needed a good center and a stronger defense. Rumors flew that something big was going to happen. Some even talked about trading Patrick Kane for a new goalie.

In the end, the Hawks sent John Scott to the New York Rangers in exchange for a fifth-round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and traded second- and third-round picks in the 2013 Draft for Swedish-born defenseman Johnny Oduya. It wasn't the press-stopping decision that was expected, but a month later it's clear that the pick paid off all the same.

Oduya.jpgThe moment he came to Chicago, Oduya blended beautifully with the team, as though he'd been there all along and adapting easily to Joel Quenneville's style. He plays with patience under pressure and uses his head. He's a great puck mover and five games in, the defender slipped one in the back of the net to break the Blackhawks' streak of nine scoreless power-plays. Oduya has claimed four assists since and taken a significant role in the power-play.

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Janna Dons

Blackhawks Mon Mar 19 2012

Web Show Takes Hawks Fans Inside Practice

Thumbnail image for GB blackhawks icon.pngThis month, the Blackhawks took a typical game-day morning practice and transformed it into a full production. Morning Skate Live debuted on March 9 before their match up with the New York Rangers and was streamed live online and on mobile apps. The first production of its kind, it gave fans the chance to watch some of their favorite players practice and listen to commentary.

Airing the practice gives fans an inside look on how their Hawks spend their game days, and the empty stadium setting feels more intimate without screaming admirers trying to get into the shot and hold up signs in the background.

Morning skates aren't, in and of themselves, thrilling events. It's a practice. They skate. They pass. They shoot. However, the practice served more as a background image than the main event.

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Janna Dons

Blackhawks Thu Mar 15 2012

Hawks' Rookie Enforcer is All Smiles

One of the beautiful things about hockey is the fighting. In just about any other sport, aside from boxing, it's considered petty, rude, immature, and ungentlemanly. But in hockey, it is strategic, aggressive, and, if you're Brandon Bollig, it might just be good old-fashioned fun.

The rookie left-winger was recalled from the IceHogs in February. He made his NHL debut on Feb. 29 against Toronto and threw his first NHL punch against Luke Schenn. The Hawks seized a win that night, and Bollig established himself as a fearless victor.

Bollig fights with ferocity and lands some solid blows, but his most entertaining fighting feature isn't in his fists. He smiles through most every battle, like a brother wrestling with his siblings, not a hockey player drawing blood. The 25-year-old fought in five of his first seven NHL games, grinning through them all.

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Janna Dons

Blackhawks Fri Mar 09 2012

Hawks Score With Cinematic Salute to Hull & Mikita

Photo courtesy of the Chicago Blackhawks

Before Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, there was Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull, the iconic duo that brought the Blackhawks to life in Chicago in the 1960s and reinvigorated this hockey town when they returned as team ambassadors in 2008. They are a crucial piece of Hawks history, and after 50 years, points of civic pride.

This month, the Blackhawks and Navy Pier are celebrating their contributions with free screenings of Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita: Monuments to Excellence, an in-house documentary that chronicles the life and career of the two Hockey Hall of Famers.

Produced by Blackhawks TV, the film uses the creation of the bronze statues of Hull and Mikita, which joined Michael Jordan's at the United Center last year, as a pivot point to reflect on exactly why this pair was, and still is, so incredible.

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Janna Dons

Blackhawks Tue Mar 06 2012

Hawks' Bolland Delivers Off the Ice

Blackhawks center Dave Bolland has been active on and off the ice these days - recently announcing the launch of his new charity, The Dave Bolland Foundation. The goal to provide support to marginalized and at-risk youth is evident in the chosen beneficiary organizations. The foundation will benefit the international organization, Easter Seals, which is committed to enhancing the quality of life of people with disabilities, and The Remix Project, a Toronto-based organization that provides resources to underserved youth interested in a creative career.

While those efforts focus on his native Canada, Bolland is also investing in Chicago directly by supporting Beyond the Ball, which uses sports as a basis for teaching both athletic skills and life skills, while building a stronger community. The organization operates in Little Village, which has 40,000 youth under the age of 20, giving it the youngest median age of any neighborhood in the city, yet the least amount of green space per capita.

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Janna Dons

Blackhawks Fri Mar 02 2012

Hawks Make a Few Tweaks

As the trade deadline approached, the Blackhawks had been struggling with game after game of inconsistent play. For a GM, this means it's time to shake things up.

But Stan Bowman gave the Hawks more of a gentle nudge: He traded enforcer John Scott to the New York Rangers to make room for Johnny Oduya, a defenseman from the Winnipeg Jets.

There are a slew of talented players already on the roster, and it is possible that Bowman's conservative moves are a vote of confidence in the guys he has, but that's a dangerous way to trade, especially given the number of injuries and missed opportunities the Hawks have seen this year. The trades could also reflect a limited market. When more teams are within reach of playoff positions, there's simply less on the table.

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Janna Dons

Blackhawks Mon Feb 27 2012

Young Guns Give Hawks a Boost

The Hawks have gone through a fair amount of ups and downs in the past week, from snapping the Red Wings' winning streak to breaking down defensively in a 4-0 loss to the Kings. And while some of the big names like Jonathan Toews and Niklas Hjalmarsson have been injured, two new names are emerging.

Jimmy Hayes, a 22-year-old Boston native, is putting away some solid goals. Dylan Olsen, 21, has competed in a dozen NHL games but is seeing significant ice time. The two may just be carving out a place for themselves on the team.

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Janna Dons

Blackhawks Fri Feb 17 2012

Stay Strong, Hawks Fans

Before last night's 4-2 win at Madison Square Garden, the Blackhawks had lost nine straight games. It was an epic free fall that sparked plenty of conversation about changes -- and one win isn't going to end the questions.

Maybe the Blackhawks should ditch Joel Quenneville. Maybe it's time to trade an underperforming scorer for a decent goaltender.

Or maybe they shouldn't change a thing.

On January 20, the Blackhawks took the NHL lead from Detroit. Not long before, Coach Q had been lauded for reaching his 600th win. The team was boasting two goalies with competitive talent and increasing potential.

Little changed during the nine-game skid. It's essentially the same big names, the same goalies, the same captain and the same coaches.

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Janna Dons

Blackhawks Mon Feb 13 2012

Pressure's On For Hawks After 8 Straight Losses

The Blackhawks haven't won a game since Jan. 20 against the Florida Panthers. They've now dropped their eighth straight game, and tenth on the road. They have also allowed thirteen goals in their last three games. Their latest game against the Phoenix Coyotes was their sixth shutout loss this season, losing 3-0.

It's safe to say the Blackhawks need to find themselves and win their next game badly. The next three stops on their nine-game roadtrip aren't going to make that an easy goal to achieve either. The next three opponents the Nashville Predators, New York Rangers, and Columbus Blue Jackets are all going to take the ice in much better positions than the Hawks.

The Predators and Hawks have meet three times so far this season, and the Hawks have only been able to win one of those games. They have a clean slate with the Rangers, hopefully getting a win for their first encounter.

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Breeann Tuch

Blackhawks Wed Feb 01 2012

Hawks Fall in Overtime to Canucks

The Blackhawks fell 3-2 in overtime Tuesday night against the Vancouver Canucks, extending the team's losing streak to three in a row. The game had the feel of postseason hockey with game-changing saves by both goalies, a few unfortunate calls by officials and an intense overtime.

The Hawks' two points over the evening would have been a little easier to swallow had officials called Vancouver's Dan Hamuis' slash against Viktor Stalberg, who had a breakaway in overtime.

There were some familiar faces back on the ice for the Hawks. Patrick Sharp came back from missing eight games with what was believed to be a broken bone in his left wrist. Captain Jonathan Toews returned to the ice as well after his own wrist injury.

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Breeann Tuch

Blackhawks Wed Dec 28 2011

Hawks Continue Surge

Thumbnail image for blackhawks.gifWhile the Blackhawks weren't at their best Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, the team was able to snap out of it and bring home a 4-1 victory after their four-day Christmas break.

The Hawks continued their December domination, winning their second consecutive game and being the first in the league to reach 50 points. They are 9-1-1 this month, with home games on the horizon tonight against the Kings, Friday against the Red Wings and Monday against the Oilers.

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Breeann Tuch

Blackhawks Tue Dec 20 2011

Hawks Put Out Flames to Extend Win Streak

Thumbnail image for blackhawks.gifThe Blackhawks' 4-2 victory Sunday night against the Calgary Flames brought lots of cheer to the festive crowd at the United Center. Coach Joel Quenneville hit a career milestone by becoming the 10th NHL coach to earn 600 victories.

The Hawks also extended their winning streak to five in a row, and put their team above the Minnesota Wild for the most points in the league with 46. Out of their last eight games the Hawks have been able to pick up 15 of a possible 16 points.

The victory had a lot of characteristics that Cup-winning hockey does. They were able to hit well, hold the Flames to only three shots in the first period and only 11 after 40 minutes, and the offense was very productive. Goalie Ray Emery also helped the team to victory with 22 saves.

While the victory had its fine moments the dirty hit on defensemen Brent Seabrook was not. Seabrook took a hit from behind by Flames winger Rene Bourque, sending his face first into the glass and leaving the game in the first period, while Bourque was ejected immediately.

Luckily for Seabrook and the Hawks, the defensemen seemed to be doing better after the game and headed to Pittsburgh with the team for their matchup with the Penguins tonight.

Breeann Tuch

Blackhawks Mon Dec 12 2011

Hawks Gain Momentum Late, Win in Overtime

Thumbnail image for blackhawks.gifEven though the Blackhawks were able to come back in overtime and bring home a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Sunday night's game, the overall performance of the team was a bit confusing at times. There seemed to be three different teams on the ice last night, the Sharks, and two very different Blackhawks teams.

Facing former teammate Antti Niemi in goal, the Hawks forgot to apply pressure on him and lay on heavy traffic in front of the net for the first two periods. Luckily for the Hawks and a packed United Center they were able to rally back in the third period to tie up the game with one minute left.

The Hawks have had problems with slow starts this season, some not ending as nicely as Sunday's. The Sharks, who played Saturday night in St, Louis, seemed crisper and much more active on offense than the Hawks, who only had 13 shots through two periods.

The momentum quickly turned around in the third period when the Hawks outshot the Sharks, 16-3, sending the game into overtime. Between taking shots and getting traffic in front of the net the Hawks were able to come out on top.

Heading into OT the Hawks continued with their newly found presence and with 33.2 seconds left Patrick Sharp got one past Niemi for the victory. Sunday night's win was the Hawks second straight win and fourth victory in the last five games.

Breeann Tuch

Blackhawks Tue Dec 06 2011

Hawks Rally Isn't Enough

Thumbnail image for blackhawks.gifJust when you think the Blackhawks are about to hit a small winning streak, and that maybe they've finally reached their stride this season, they start off slow and fall short. The Hawks fell 4-3 in a shootout against Phoenix on Monday at home, losing not only the game but also a point.

The team's slow starts, especially prevalent while playing the Coyotes the past two times, have cost them games. Luckily the team was able to rally back from a 3-0 deficit on the shoulders of captain Jonathan Toews last night ensuring the loss wasn't a shutout.

Toews had two goals and an assist, while Patrick Kane had one goal and an assist, giving the team the morale boost most fans thought necessary to bring home the win. Unfortunately that wasn't enough to get the puck past Coyotes' goaltender Mike Smith during the shootout and the Hawks went home disappointed.

It's no secret the team is still searching for their identity this season, ranging from small winning streaks to a mediocre circus road trip. When the Hawks come out of the gate strong they're a force to be reckoned with, and when they start off slow they give up points.

Breeann Tuch

Blackhawks Thu Nov 17 2011

Hawks Stomp Canucks to Continue Hot Start

Thumbnail image for blackhawks.gifThe Blackhawks not only got revenge on their rivals the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday with a 5-1 victory, they also began their long circus road trip with a win.

The Hawks avenged a brutal 6-2 loss against the Canucks on Nov. 6. Among the highlights of the game last night was a power play goal by Andrew Brunette, who has scored all four of his goals this season on the power play. Patrick Kane scored on the Hawks' second power play of the evening, putting Chicago up 2-1 midway though the second period.

Patrick Sharp, Steve Montador and Jonathan Toews all put the puck past Canucks backup goalie Cory Schneider in the third period. Toews' goal was his fourth in the past five games.

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Breeann Tuch

Blackhawks Thu Nov 10 2011

Hawks Hindered by Losing Streak?

blackhawks-logo.gifCompared to last season, the Blackhawks are off to a much better start than this time last year. The Hawks have an 8-4-3 record with 19 points, whereas this time last year they were 7-7-1 with 15 points.

Of course it's nice to see them come out at swinging this season after such a lackluster start in 2010, but the Blackhawks have some obvious kinks to work out at the moment. The team has looked a little sloppy, struggled with routine passes, and haven't been moving their feet enough.

Hindered by their first losing streak this season, the Hawks are looking to right their wrongs as soon as possible.

The Hawks have the worst power play percentage in the NHL at 8.8 but have been able to counteract that with one of the top penalt- killing units in the league. However, even that has begun to falter. The team is on a 0-2-1 drift, allowing seven goals out of nine opportunities -- including five brutal ones to Vancouver on Sunday for a 6-2 loss.

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Breeann Tuch

Blackhawks Tue Nov 01 2011

Hawks Trick Opponent's Goalie and Treat Fans to a Win

Last night's game against the Nashville Predators marked the second straight game Swedish left winger Viktor Stalberg has won for his team. Stalberg scored twice in the Hawks' 5-2 victory against Columbus on Saturday. Last night he scored with 2:18 left in overtime to put the Hawks ahead of the Predators 5-4.

Stalberg's speed paid off as the Hawks and Predators skated 4-on-4 in overtime Monday night. The puck escaped Nashville's goaltender Pekka Rinne to end the festive evening at the United Center and extended Stalberg's point streak to all seven games the Hawks have played at home.

With the second straight victory, the Hawks' record was lifted to 7-2-2, with an at-home record of 5-0-2 -- their best start since the 2008-09 season's 6-0-2 start.

Stalberg may have made the game-winning goal but center Patrick Kane also had his threatening moments with the puck and walked away from the game with two goals and an assist.

Bryan Bickell and Nick Leddy also scored, while Marian Hossa had three assists and Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook had two each.

The Hawks played a lot of the game without defenseman Duncan Keith, who suffered an upper-body injury and left the game in the second period. Keith's injury is considered day-to-day at the moment.

Goalie Corey Crawford was able to finish strong with 24 saves after beginning the game a little rough. He was able to stop two Predators breakaways while the game was still wide-open and helped the team record another victory.

Up next for the Hawks is a stretch of road games, 10 out of the next 13, beginning Thursday night, Nov. 3 in Florida against the Panthers.

Breeann Tuch

Blackhawks Thu Oct 27 2011

Hawks Win First Shootout

Thumbnail image for blackhawks.gifAfter two consecutive failures in shootouts this season, the Blackhawks came out on top against the Anaheim Ducks Tuesday night with a 3-2 victory. The win also extended the Hawks' point streak to seven games.

The Ducks' Teemu Selanne had an assist on Getzlaf's power-play goal in the second period that put the Ducks ahead by a score of 2-1. The Ducks' goal was the first against the Hawks since their second game of the season against Dallas Oct. 8. The goal may have given the Ducks the lead, but it was their only goal in six power-play opportunities throughout the night.

Despite Selanne putting the Ducks in front, the Hawks' Patrick Sharp, with an assist from Patrick Kane, sent the puck past Hiller in the third to send the game into overtime and eventually into a shootout.

Kane had a highlight reel game with two assists in regulation, one of which is causing quite a stir among hockey fans. Kane does a no-look spin pass around Ducks defenseman Toni Lydman, sending the puck to Marian Hossa, who simply had to guide the puck into the wide-open left side of the net.

The pass also broke a streak of three games for Kane without a point after he started the season off with two goals and four assists within his first four games.

Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller had 33 saves while the Blackhawks' Corey Crawford had 29. Crawford stopped shots from Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf in the shootout for the Hawks, who choose to go second.

Captain Jonathan Toews and Kane beat Hiller in the shootout to give the Hawks the two points to come away with the win.

The Hawks head down south to take on the Carolina Hurricanes tonight, Oct. 28 where they look to extend their point streak even further. The puck drops at 7pm.

Breeann Tuch

Hockey Tue Oct 25 2011

Our Lesser Known Hockey Team: Chicago Steel

chicagosteel.jpgChicago's main focus may be on their Stanley Cup winning Hawks, but the city has plenty more hockey to offer. Most know about the popular Chicago Wolves and the Rockford IceHogs as well, and most recently the Chicago Express. Hidden away in Bensenville is the Edge Ice Arena, home to the Chicago Steel, a Tier 1 junior ice hockey team that plays in the Eastern Division of the United States Hockey League.

The Steel, formerly known as the Fargo-Moorhead Ice Sharks, moved to Chicago in 2000, where they became the Steel. The team stayed around .500 until the 2003-04 season when rookie Head Coach Wil Nichol directed the Steel to their first Eastern Division title.

The current GM and head coach of the junior team is Scott McConnell, who was promoted from assistant to head coach in February of this year when Jon Waibel was relieved of his duties after leading the team to a 9-27-7 record.

The team named their captains for the 2011-12 season early last week, putting Joel Benson, Theo DiPauli, Zach Saar and Andy Miller in charge. Benson will be the 15th captain in history for the team, while the rest will serve as alternate captains.

The Steel had a rough home opener this season looking 3-0 to the Youngstown Phantoms. The team hasn't been able to find its stride, posting a 5-9 record so far this season.

The Steel's next game will be Friday, Oct. 28 against Team USA U-17 (under 17 years old) at home in Elk Grove Village at 7:30pm.

Breeann Tuch

Blackhawks Thu Oct 20 2011

Hawks Take First of Two Road Games

Thumbnail image for blackhawks.gifThe Blackhawks took on the Phoenix Coyotes on Tuesday in their first of two road games, and they rolled to a 5-2 victory.

Winger Marian Hossa also came back to join the second line with Patrick Kane and Daniel Carcillo after missing the team's game against the Boston Bruins on Saturday. In his first game back after suffering an upper-body injury, Hossa scored on a 5-on-3 power play at 15:06 in the first period.

The Hawks (3-1-1) out-shot the Coyotes 35-16 in their best effort so far this season. Phoenix goalie Jason LaBarbera had 30 saves in his second start of the season, including the first 13 shots before Hossa's goal with 4:54 left in the first period.

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Breeann Tuch

Blackhawks Tue Oct 18 2011

Hawks Look for a Win Against Coyotes

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for blackhawks.gifThe Blackhawks begin a two-game road trip tonight in Phoenix where they take on the Coyotes at 9 p.m., and then head to Colorado to face the Avalanche on Thursday. The Hawks and Coyotes have the same 2-1-1 record.

In addition to coming off a tough loss in a shootout, the Hawks are also hoping to see Marian Hossa back on the ice against the Coyotes. The team won't know until close to puck-drop whether the winger will hit the ice. Hossa has been out of the lineup and hasn't skated for four days due to an upper body injury.

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Breeann Tuch

Chicago Thu Oct 13 2011

The Chicago Express Roll Into Inaugural Season

The Chicago Express, the latest addition to the East Coast Hockey League, will begin their inaugural season on Oct. 22 at the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates against the Kalamazoo Wings. This is the first time "AA" hockey has been back in Chicago since the pitfall of the United Hockey League team the Hounds in 2007.

Head Coach Steve Martinson brings to the table 15 years of experience -- his teams have never missed the postseason. Along with never missing the playoffs Martinson also has won six championships over the years. He also has 12 years of professional skating under his belt while playing for various teams in the NHL and AHL. The team's owner, Craigh Drecktrah of C & S Family Sports, also has experience with team ownership, as he was part owner of the Rockford Icehogs when they were part of the United Hockey League.

The Express is not affiliated with any hockey teams in the city, but rather with the Springfield MA Falcons (AHL) and the Columbus Blue Jackets (NHL).

Wondering where the name "Express" came from? Over the summer, the team asked fans to submit name suggestions to its website. Fans then voted online for their favorite choices before the top four were picked. Marc Johnson of Bartlett was the winner of the competition for submitting Chicago Express and won season tickets and the opportunity to drop the puck at the first home game.

Tickets range between $8 and $15, so not only is it fun for the kids but also a value for families. Friday night home games will feature $1 hotdogs and $1 beers throughout the season. Fans are also invited for free postgame skates with the team after every home game.

Breeann Tuch

Blackhawks Wed Oct 12 2011

Hawks Split Opening Pair With Dallas

Thumbnail image for blackhawks.gifThe Blackhawks didn't start strong during their game Friday against the Dallas Stars, but they came back with vengeance on Saturday to show they'll be scoring points early this season.

The season opener in Dallas was a clean slate for the team after their "Stanley Cup hangover" season last year and even though goaltender Corey Crawford had a solid start with 31 saves it wasn't enough in a 2-1 loss.

Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen muted the Hawks' offense, stopping 37 of 38 shots on goal. Nick Leddy was the only Hawk to break through with 13.6 seconds left in the game to deny Lehtonen the shutout.

Coach Joel Quenneville produced some line changes due to injuries or suspension but even then the team wasn't running four full lines. We saw Michael Frolik join Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp for a bit, and Patrick Kane did the same towards the end of the game.

Luckily the Hawks had a second chance on Saturday at their home opener to get some retribution. Maybe it was the anger from losing the first game, or the excitement from being back at the United Center with a roaring crowd of 21,674 but the Hawks came through with a 5-2 win.

Continue reading this entry »

Breeann Tuch

Blackhawks Tue Sep 27 2011

Blackhawks: a Preview

There's no doubt that last season the Blackhawks got rocked on the ice more than they would like to admit. Patrick Kane's black eye at the end of the season was a nice reminder of their lack of hard hitters and winning puck battles in front of the net.

Luckily during the offseason General Manager Stan Bowman set out to bring some players in who would make the Hawks a little rougher. Bowman brought in Steve Montador, Jamal Mayers, Andrew Brunette, Daniel Carcillo, Brett McLean and veteran Sean O'Donnell all on one-year contracts.

The Hawks also signed Corey Crawford to a three-year contract over the off season. He will no doubt start in goal this season after his rookie year with a 2.20 goals-against average and a combined record of 33-18-6 in 57 regular season games. He's also looking to put a nix to the "sophomore jinx" this season by continuing on the path he started last year with the team.

Even though Quenneville hasn't outright said the Hawks are missing something in the center, he has been looking into moving Kane to the middle, as a potential forward for the second line with Hossa. This could be Quenneville's only choice for a while due to Patrick Sharp still in recovery after an emergency appendectomy on Sep 12. Sharp played center a lot for the second line last year, but due to the surgery and his only now beginning to skate on his own, the Hawks have begun to put Kane in the middle during preseason.

Along with the possible move to center, Kane has also come back from his injury (a broken bone in his wrist) earlier this summer and begun leading players in exhibition. Proving he really meant what he said at the end of last season promising to do whatever it took to become an "elite."

With all the moves made over the summer the Hawks should have no problem starting off much stronger than they did last season.

Breeann Tuch

Wolves Tue Sep 06 2011

Wolves Prepare for 2011 Season

The Chicago Wolves will gear up for their 2011-2012 season starting with opening training camp on Sept. 26, where they will play three preseason games in the seven-day training camp. One of the three games will be a home game on Oct. 1, when the Wolves play the Milwaukee Admirals at Triphahn Community Center and Ice Arena in Hoffman Estates.

They will then follow up training camp with a handful of promotional appearances around Chicagoland, stretching from the Brookfield Zoo to a stop at the Skokie Skatium grand re-opening on Oct. 2 at 2pm.

Following their promotion appearances, the Wolves will hit the road for the opening of the season with trips to San Antonio, Houston and Milwaukee. They will then head back to Chicago for their home opener on Oct. 15 at 7pm against the Milwaukee Admirals.

Breeann Tuch

Blackhawks Sun Jun 26 2011

Hawks Continue Retooling With Draft-Day Trades

Thumbnail image for blackhawks.gifThe Blackhawks added 11 youngsters in the NHL entry draft this weekend, including four of the first 43 picks, but it was a pair of departures that had Chicago fans buzzing.

Two more members of the 2010 Stanley Cup-winning team were sent packing: Brian Campbell, traded to the Florida Panthers for undistinguished winger Rostislav Olesz; and Troy Brouwer, traded to the Washington Capitals for a first-round pick.

GM Stan Bowman didn't get much in return, but he was mostly just trying to clear some money under what's expected to be a $64 million NHL salary cap next season. Tribune beat writer Chris Kuc explains:

The trade of defenseman Brian Campbell and his anchor of a contract that carried an annual salary-cap hit of $7.1 million along with the deal that sent winger Troy Brouwer -- who was due a substantial raise from his salary of $1,050,000 -- has taken the financial shackles off Bowman. He has had very little wiggle room under the cap since taking over for Dale Tallon as GM in 2009 and now has around $14 million to spend as he retools the roster of a team that is one season removed from winning the Stanley Cup.

Chicago reunited Campbell with Florida's Dale Tallon, who as Blackhawks GM in 2008 signed the defenseman to an eight-year, $56.8 million contract that has been tough to live up to.

Any true assessment of the trades will have to wait until we see what the Hawks do with the money they've freed up -- the NHL free agency period officially opens Friday -- but the initial reaction in many corners is skeptical at best.

Continue reading this entry »

Jim Reedy

Blackhawks Wed Jun 22 2011

Say Cheese

Yes, that's Patrick Kane, in full Colorado Avalanche regalia, getting his picture taken years ago with Joe Sakic. He's featured several times in our favorite new single-serving Tumblr blog, NHL Players as Kids.

It's pretty much what it sounds like.

They've got a bunch of Blackhawks: Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Brent Seabrook, Troy Brouwer and a gloriously Slovakian-looking Marian Hossa.

To your right is Toews, looking adorable in his holiday best.

If you're wondering, Kane grew up in Buffalo. I'm not sure why he would be dressed in Avalanche gear. (I think his hat says "Sakic"?) But hey, they were really good in the late '90s.

Jim Reedy

Blackhawks Wed Apr 27 2011

Hawks' Season Ends With Epic Game 7 Loss

On the brink of playoff elimination for four games, the Blackhawks gave their fans one last thrill Tuesday night, raising heart rates all over Chicagoland when Jonathan Toews tied Game 7 with a short-handed goal with less than two minutes remaining.

Thumbnail image for hawks canucks vertical.PNGBut the excitement was short-lived: Vancouver's Alexander Burrows scored at 5:22 of overtime after a Chris Campoli turnover, lifting the top-seeded Canucks into the second round with a 2-1 win.

The fat lady has sung; the Stanley Cup run is officially over. But after losing the series' first three games, the Hawks went out with a bang, winning decisively twice before the series turned on a pair of overtime games.

Tuesday's finale was no less exciting.

A physical Vancouver team came to play, with goalie Roberto Luongo showcasing the confidence and skill (and little bit of luck) that got him through the first three games with ease. He was matched by an equally impressive Corey Crawford, who ended the night with 36 saves.

Burrows gave the Canucks a 1-0 lead just 2:43 into the game, but overall, Crawford was all you could ask for. The same could not be said for the Hawks attack.

Despite 32 shots on goal, Chicago didn't seem to have the aggression and fire of the previous games. Coach Joel Quenneville must have taken notice, as he switched up the lines multiple times during the final two periods, most noticeably replacing Patrick Kane with Marian Hossa in the third.

In the end, Hawks fans have nothing to be ashamed of. The team fought hard, but finished their season with the same theme they kept throughout: coming up short.

Sarah Luckett

Blackhawks Tue Apr 26 2011

Blackhawks Survive Wild Ride to Game 7

College is a funny thing.

You go into it not really knowing what to expect for certain, but have high expectations founded strictly in teen movies and the occasional wild stories from parents and older siblings.

Thumbnail image for hawks canucks vertical.PNGYou live it up freshman year, going out on weeknights and drinking far too much of the cheap liquor someone got with a fake ID from the place that knows they're serving college freshmen. You make out with other random freshmen, and skate through your introductory courses. You're thinking that this whole college thing is going to be a blast.

Then, you move on to the next two years of school, where the party to study ratio shifts dramatically. You start to remember why you came to college in the first place, and pack your schedule with tough courses and internships. You get your ass kicked during finals and get your first C in a class. You sit through hours-long lectures by professors who tell you that you'll never make it, and that your industry is dead. (Thanks for that, journalism department.)

Finally, you make it to your senior year. At this point, you're over it. You're ready to just get it over with. The memories of wild nights and drunken adventures have faded fast, and are replaced with frequent panic attacks about the future and the increasing amount of energy it takes to drag yourself to class.

Then, there's the light at the end of the tunnel. There's the massive excitement that you're about to begin your true adult life, the pride that you accomplished something not everyone does, and the hope that you'll continue that success.

As overly sentimental as it sounds, I can't help but feel the same way about the Blackhawks' season.

Continue reading this entry »

Sarah Luckett

Blackhawks Mon Apr 25 2011

Hawks Win in Overtime to Force Game 7

After more than 75 minutes of playoff hockey, the list of heroes was long for the Blackhawks last night at the United Center:

Thumbnail image for hawks canucks vertical.PNGDave Bolland, the third-line center just back from injury, whose forecheck created the turnover that led to Chicago's first goal, tying the score in the first period;

Patrick Kane, the dashing, mulleted man about town, whose quick thinking and quick wrists set up Bolland in the second period for another tying goal;

Michael Frolik, the right winger acquired mid-season, who tied it still a third time in the opening minutes of the third period with the first penalty-shot goal in Blackhawks playoff history;

Corey Crawford, the precocious rookie goalie, whose 32 saves helped Chicago force overtime and survive chance after chance for the top-seeded Canucks in the extra session;

And finally, at long last, Ben Smith, the little 22-year-old with the patchy beard, who scored on the rebound at 15:30 of overtime, giving the Blackhawks a 4-3 win that tied this first-round playoff series at three games apiece.

After a roller-coaster regular season, a humble No. 8 playoff seeding and three straight losses to open the series, there will be a Game 7 for the defending Stanley Cup champions. Tuesday in Vancouver, the Hawks will aim to become the fifth team in North American sports history to win a playoff series after trailing 3-0.

Jim Reedy

Blackhawks Wed Apr 20 2011

Hawks Stay Alive With Raucous Win

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Vince Vaughn mocks Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo in the second period
Tribune photo: Brian Cassella

It's not over yet, y'all.

Scoring four times in the second period, the Blackhawks crushed the Vancouver Canucks 7-2 in last night's Game Four, putting Chicago down 3-1 in the series. It could have been the final loss that would allow Vancouver to sweep the series, but the Blackhawks came out fighting at home.

Thumbnail image for hawks canucks vertical.PNGThe story of the game was Dave Bolland. The Blackhawks center was stellar in his first appearance in 17 games, helping Chicago take a 5-1 lead in the second period with a goal and three assists. Bolland had been out with a concussion since early March, but returned to create a power line with Brian Bickell and Michael Frolik, all of whom scored goals Tuesday.

Duncan Keith, Brian Campbell and Patrick Sharp (2) also scored as the Hawks scored six straight goals and threw in a couple fights for good measure.

The underdog Chicago team got into the head of all-star goalie Roberto Luongo, giving the Hawks the opportunity to rack up the points. Luongo ended the game with six goals allowed before he was pulled for backup Chris Schneider near the end of the game.

The sellout crowd at the United Center couldn't have helped the frustrated goalie, as nearly 22,000 fans tauntingly chanted "LUUU!" throughout the game, mocking the Canucks fans' traditional cheer after each save.

Continue reading this entry »

Sarah Luckett / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Mon Apr 18 2011

Canucks Push Hawks to the Brink

Through all the trials and tribulations of a frustrating season, the Blackhawks could fall back on their position as defending Stanley Cup champions. But now they're one loss away from losing that title after Vancouver won 3-2 on Sunday night, taking a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven first-round series.

Thumbnail image for hawks canucks vertical.PNGDuncan Keith and Patrick Sharp scored for the Hawks, but Christian Ehrhoff and Daniel Sedin matched them in the second period and Mikael Samuelsson put the Canucks ahead at 6:48 of the third.

The dirty hockey of the Canucks' regular season made its first true playoff appearance, with winger Rafi Torres handing out the ugliest hit. Torres' head check on Brent Seabrook landed him only two minutes in the box, but will likely be met with a multi-game suspension from the NHL on Monday. [UPDATE: Or not.] This is nothing new for Torres, as Sunday night's game was his return from a four-day suspension for a similar cheap shot.

Continue reading this entry »

Sarah Luckett

Blackhawks Sat Apr 16 2011

Hawks Outplayed Again in Vancouver

In what can only be described as improvement after Wednesday's shutout, the Blackhawks lost 4-3 to the Vancouver Canucks in Game Two of their first-round playoff series on Friday night. Jannik Hansen, Daniel Sedin (2) and Alexander Edler all scored easily for Vancouver, blowing past the Chicago defense to land beautiful shots in the back of the net.

hawks canucks vertical.PNGBen Smith scored twice for the Hawks, his second and third career goals. Viktor Stalberg scored early into the third period, only to be answered quickly by Daniel Sedin, pushing the Vancouver lead back to 4-2. Smith's second goal gave Chicago one last-ditch chance to tie the game at the end of the third, making for a furious, extra-attacker finish in the final 1:30.

The Canucks' early first-period goal means their record of wins after scoring in the first stands at 42-2-6, easily the best in the league.

In a major step up for the blatantly out-sized Blackhawks, they were only out-hit by Vancouver 45-40, compared to Wednesday's 47-21. However, an increase in Chicago's physical presence wasn't enough to translate to a win on Friday.

Overall, turnovers were the key to the loss. Vancouver finished with 15 takeaways, compared to Chicago's eight. The Blackhawks struggled to get the puck in Vancouver's zone, let alone set up offensive plays. Once again, the Canucks' defense kept the Blackhawks' passing lanes closed, forcing the Hawks to lose puck possession more than twice as much as they took it.

Continue reading this entry »

Sarah Luckett

Blackhawks Thu Apr 14 2011

Hawks Start Title Defense With Shutout Loss

Despite 32 shots on goal -- three of them off the post -- the Blackhawks were shut out by Roberto Luongo and the top-seeded Vancouver Canucks in Wednesday's playoff opener, losing 2-0 after allowing two first-period goals.

hawks canucks vertical.PNGRight-winger Troy Brouwer made his return to the ice after being out since early March with an upper body injury, but in keeping with this season's Blackhawks' injury curse, Tomas Kopecky left the game because of an upper body injury after only 2:22 on the ice.

The Hawks were blatantly outplayed in the first period, with both of the Canucks' goals scored in the first 20 minutes. The Hawks' defense couldn't get past the physical play of Vancouver, with the Canucks out-hitting Chicago 47-21.

The second period showed significant improvement from the Blackhawks, with Luongo barely saving their biggest scoring chance with the toe of his right skate.

Continue reading this entry »

Sarah Luckett

Blackhawks Wed Apr 13 2011

Hawks vs. Canucks: Keys to Springing an Upset

Humbled by a frustrating, injury-plagued season, the Blackhawks begin their defense of last year's Stanley Cup title as the eighth and final seed in the Western Conference. Their reward for scratching out a playoff berth on the final day of the regular season: a date with the Vancouver Canucks, Presidents' Trophy winners with a league-best 117 points.

hawks canucks vertical.PNGThere's no doubt the 97-point Hawks are underdogs against a powerful Vancouver team led by star forwards Daniel and Henrik Sedin and goalie Roberto Luongo, but No. 8 seeds have a better chance in hockey than any other sport.

Here are three things Chicago can do to pull off the upset, starting with Game 1 on Wednesday (9 p.m., CSN):

1. No room for error in goal

Calder Trophy contender Corey Crawford has had a phenomenal rookie season, but he will be facing the terrifying Sedins on their home ice. Crawford might also have the pressure of matching his counterpart Luongo, who is going into the playoffs with a career-low 2.11 goals against average and a .928 save percentage that ranks second-best in his 11 seasons.

Crawford also will have to live up to the standard set last year by Antti Niemi, a breakout star of Chicago's Cup run who outplayed Luongo when these teams met in the West semifinals.

While Crawford has easily outshined veteran backup goalie Marty Turco, moving into the starting spot early in the season, he'll need to play out of his head throughout the Vancouver series to give the Hawks a chance.

2. Defense is imperative

If the Blackhawks can't keep the puck in Vancouver's end, they'll be in major trouble. This could pose a problem against the Canucks' sheer size and strength, but the Hawks will need to use their speed and skating skills to control the game.

Chicago might get help from forwards Dave Bolland and Troy Brouwer, who might make their returns to the ice just in time for the first round of playoffs. Bolland missed the past 14 games after suffering complications from a concussion he received on March 9 in Tampa, while Brouwer has missed the past three with a shoulder injury from the Montreal game on April 5.

The duo can help out the Hawks defense in keeping the Sedins in their own zone and drawing penalties from the twins. Either Bolland or Brouwer could take some defensive pressure off the first line, allowing the Jonathan Toews-Patrick Kane team to get to work offensively.

Speaking of Kane, look for him or Tomas Kopecky to be hanging around the goal when the Hawks are on the offensive. No doubt coach Joel Quenneville will try to find someone to fill Dustin Byfuglien's cherry-picking spot from last year.

3. Avoid key penalties

The Blackhawks can't afford the bad penalties that haunted them in early March. The team will have to come out calm and steady, avoiding any costly mistakes that could lead to Canucks power plays. This is especially true for defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson, who cost the team valuable minutes after sloppy delay-of-game penalties during consecutive games.

Although the Canucks aren't the first team Blackhawks fans think of as rivals, this is a grudge match. The Canucks have been knocked out of the playoffs by Chicago the past two seasons, and they're ready to make up for it this time. This could lead to more scuffles than usual, and Chicago has to make sure they don't throw the first punches that could lead to time in the box.

Sarah Luckett / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Mon Apr 04 2011

Hawks Struggle Through Ugly Weekend

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Jonathan Toews and the Blackhawks are looking at a tough stretch run / Tribune photo: Nuccio DiNuzzo

Sunday night's 2-0 Blackhawks' loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning wrapped up a weekend of ugly Chicago hockey that may leave their playoff fate in the hands of their Western Conference rivals.

After Friday's 4-3 shootout win at Columbus, a huge victory wasn't expected Sunday night. The Hawks' numbers far outshined the Blue Jackets' going in, but they played down to their level, unable to clinch a victory in regulation time. Sloppy penalties didn't help, with a combined total of 16 minutes spent in the box.

If viewers felt a sense of déjà vu during Sunday's game, it's because referees' whistles once again haunted the team.

The Hawks outshot the Lightning 31-15, but couldn't manage to get the puck in the net, trailing 1-0 for most of the game before a last-minute empty-netter. Bad penalties again didn't help the team, with the Lightning scoring just seconds into a first-period power play caused by a questionable delay of game penalty on Niklas Hjalmarsson. Hjalmarsson spent two minutes in the box for the same call Friday.

Continue reading this entry »

Sarah Luckett

Blackhawks Wed Mar 30 2011

Injuries Have Hawks on Playoff Precipice

toews down.jpg

Jonathan Toews and the Hawks are still down and out / Tribune photo: Chris Sweda

As the reigning Stanley Cup champions continue clawing for a playoff berth, casual and avid Blackhawks fans have the same question: What happened this season?

Eighth in the Western Conference after a rousing win in Detroit and a dispiriting loss in Boston, the Hawks aren't out of the running just yet. But with six games left in the regular season, it's been a long fall from the lofty heights of last year.

Aside from the glaring fact that the Hawks lost a notable amount of players from the Cup champions, a large struggle for the team seems to be keeping remaining talent on the ice.

Both Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland are currently out, with Sharp nursing a knee injury that could keep him out for the rest of the season and Bolland sidelined by a concussion.

The current injuries are just the latest in what seems to be a long string of hurt Hawks. Brian Campbell just returned from a foot injury that followed an illness. Before that was Jordan Hendry's season-ending ACL tear and a flu bug that wiped out Bryan Bickell and half the bench.

Continue reading this entry »

Sarah Luckett

Blackhawks Thu Mar 17 2011

The 7 People You Meet at a Blackhawks Game

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Patrick Kane hoists the Cup at last year's victory parade / Tribune photo: William DeShazer

My love of sports is rivaled only by my love of people-watching. It's a habit I developed as a child that I've never been able to shake. Combine the two at a Blackhawks game and you find seven types of people. Chances are you've met them too.

White-Collar Hockey Elite

These men are hard workers -- typically VPs or CEOs -- heading to the game straight from the office. They have season tickets to schmooze their clients and impress their suppliers. These fans are the easiest to spot: a Chelios jersey (he's the captain, right?) over their white oxford shirt, dress slacks and loafers. (Tie optional.) These fans sit in the 100 level and sip Glenlivet instead of beer.

My Honey's Jersey

While some girls love hockey (myself included), others were clearly tricked into going to the hockey game. I'm sure he probably called and said, "I've got a big surprise for you tonight," then showed up with two XXL sweaters: one for him and a Toews one for her. Instead of the romantic dinner she'd envisioned, they are in the 300 level awkwardly eating undercooked French fries smothered in ketchup. Not only do these girls hate hockey, they don't care to understand it either.

Fauxhawks

Since it's too cold to meet at Wrigley Field for a Cubs keg party, these guys migrate to the United Center. They talk on their cell phones incessantly and break all the commandments of hockey. They get up to get more beers before the whistle and scream "SHOOT IT" every time the Hawks have the puck. They are drunk by the end of the first period because they pre-gamed heavily at a bar in Lincoln Park. They puke on the No. 19 bus on their way back to the Brown Line.

Continue reading this entry »

Cee Angi

Hockey Sun Oct 10 2010

Behold the New Blackhawks Banner

Blackhawks banner raising ceremony 10/9/10
A scene from the Blackhawks banner raising ceremony on October 9. Photo by Tailgate flickr pool member Hockey Broad.

David Schalliol / Comments (1)

Blackhawks Fri Oct 01 2010

Hawks Wrap Up Preseason, Get Rings

As the Hawks finish up preseason play with a pair of home games against the Penguins tonight and the Blues Sunday afternoon, it's the last chance for many of the team's younger players to impress and earn a roster spot before Thursday's opener in Colorado. (Tailgate will have a full season preview leading up to that game).

The team enters tonight's game with a 1-4 record, not necessarily surprising given the turnover from last season's Cup winning team. Training camp has moreso been about evaluating the talent gained and finding players ready to take the next step and fill some of those skates. However, with final roster cuts coming and the team's title defense ready to begin, the Blackhawks are looking to end the preseason on a winning note.

Speaking of that title, there was two last bits of business to take care of from last season: the handing out of the championship rings, and the engraving of the Cup itself. Pictures and more info on that after the jump.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

Blackhawks Tue Jun 08 2010

Just Asking for Trouble

chrissypronger.jpg
The Tribune ran a "very special" poster in today's paper of Flyers enforcer "Chrissy" Pronger wearing a skirt and tights, with the subhead "Looks like Tarzan, skates like Jane." Not surprisingly, it has Flyers fans riled, but doesn't elicit a reaction from Pronger himself. He'll answer on the ice tomorrow night, no doubt.

Andrew Huff / Comments (1)

News Wed Apr 28 2010

Hizzoner Wagers Half Acre Against Vancouver's Beer

***Update*** Following Mayor Daley's press conference today, The Trib's City Hall blog, Clout Street posted a whole rundown of the wager.

We here at Gapersblock love the Half Acre Beer. Those guys are the best, seriously. They have delicious weird beers (Ginger Twin, Invasion) and standard libations (lagers/pale ales, whatnot). So it should as no surprise that when Mayor Richard Daley wants to throw down with the Vancouver Canucks and the municipal governance of that Canadian city, that Daley goes to Half Acre for a wager.

Our city's Mayor, Mr. Richard Daley, has chosen Half Acre Beer Co to take part in a friendly wager with Vancouver, Canada on behalf of the Chicago Blackhawks. 1 case of 24/16oz of Daisy Cutter Pale Ale Cans & Gossamer Golden Ale Cans will go up for grabs as the Hawks face the Canucks in the Western Conference Semifinals.


Okay, 'Hawks, you're repping Chicago and now America against that Northern Menace. Do us proud and win some (hopefully) non-Molson for Daley to guzzle in his palatial manse. Of course, the last time an American leader challenged a Canadian leader in a hockey bet, it didn't work out. Well-played, America Jr.

Brian Lauvray

Baseball Fri Mar 26 2010

WGN Cancels Sports Central

WGN Radio has decided to drop its nightly sports talk show. Sports Central will cease to be on April 12. Host David Kaplan will remain on-air and continue doing sports. Kaplan will now work on the expanded "10th inning" show after Cubs games.

Upon first hearing this news I was taken aback. How do you honestly cancel a show about sports in one of the greatest sports towns in America? Whoever made this decision needs to have their head examined. If it wasn't for Cubs baseball on WGN I really wouldn't have a reason to tune in.

Brian Livingston

Hockey Mon Mar 01 2010

Obama Owes Canadaian PM a Case of Beer

Canadian Prime Minister, Stephen Harper will be tasting the delicious ale from Pennsylvania, Yuengling, after Team Canada claimed the gold against Team USA in the Olympic men's hockey tournament. Prior to Sunday's showdown Obama made a frfiendly wager with Ottawa-officed Harper over which nation's squad would end up winning gold. Following Canada's 3-2 overtime win, Barry owes a case of 24 from the United State's oldest brewery, Yuengling. Had Team USA won, Harper would've been shipping a case of Molson "south of the border, eh".

Brian Lauvray

Hockey Thu Feb 25 2010

Americans Face Feisty Finns in Semis, All Hawks Olympians in Action

After surviving a tough battle to beat Switzerand 2-0 on Zach Parise's pair of goals, the United States hockey team takes on Finland at 2pm today live on NBC and streaming at nbcolympics.com.

The Swiss and goalie Jonas Hiller put up a fight, but the U.S. continued to throw shots at the net until Parise finally connected after a number of close calls. Parise's empty-netter closed it out to set up a rematch with the team that knocked the Americans out of the 2006 games in Turin.

Finland also survived a tough game against the Czechs, earning a similar 2-0 shutout. Both teams are known for their physical grit, and with how U.S. goalie Ryan Miller and Finland goalie Mikka Kipprusoff have been playing, the first team to score may be the winner. While Finland is looking to return to the gold-medal game they lost in 2006, the Americans will have their first chance to medal since the 2002 Salt Lake City games, using a team that brought in an infusion of youth, like Blackhawks star Patrick Kane and the Devils' Parise. Though Sabres goalie Ryan Miller has carried the Americans with his strong play, the U.S. needs to get their offense, and specifically their power play, more involved to have a shot at the gold.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

Hockey Tue Feb 16 2010

Hawks players in action as Olympic hockey begins

Men's Olympic hockey begins this afternoon, and the NHL is on hiatus until the conclusion of the tournament and the games. However, a half-dozen Blackhawks players are playing for their home countries, and 4 of them will be on the ice today.

First at 2 p.m. CST, Patrick Kane will join with the rest of the U.S. team to battle the Swiss, led by Anaheim Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller. Then at 6:30 p.m., Jonathon Toews, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook will play for the host Canadians as they take on Norway. Hawks forwards Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky will compete for the Slovakian national team tomorrow.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

Blackhawks Mon Nov 30 2009

Blackhawks Uniforms Through the Years

Blackhawks_origuni.png

Did you know the Blackhawks' original jersey was black and white? Check out all the team's uniforms through the years on The Hockey Uniform Database.

Andrew Huff / Comments (2)

News Fri Oct 23 2009

Short Hops


Ken Green

Hockey Wed Oct 21 2009

Shtick Handling

Our Official Favorite Blackhawk Player of Tailgate (Ok, maybe just my favorite player), Adam Burish, isn't letting a little thing like an ACL tear in his right knee keep him out of action. Sure, he's sidelined for the next six months or so, but he was wiling to step out on thin ice the other night when he joined the cast of Second City for a benefit performance in Northbrook. While comedy is obviously not his forte, from reports he seemed to aquit himself well, portraying a caveman in one skit and even singing in another. We've reported on Burish's comedic talents before, so his foray into on-stage improv doesn't seem all that surprising.

Ken Green

Bears Thu Oct 15 2009

Bear Down, Chicago Blackhawks

They've got one of the hottest quarterbacks around in Jay Cutler and are sitting very nicely in the NFC North with a 3-1 record. But there's nothing that says the Bears can use a little of that Blackhawks mojo.

Aligning themselves with the young up-and-coming Hawks, the Bears have cut a series of commercials with the city's NHL franchise designed to boost the profile of both teams. In the sports, expected to air in a few weeks, five Bears players (Cutler, Devin Hester, Greg Olsen, Robbie Gouls and Lance Briggs are paired, respectively, with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Brian Campbell, Patrick Sharp and Brent Seabrook (Ed. Note: Surprisingly, they somehow manged to leave off our favorite and most animated Hawk, Adam Burish though his being out of action for about six months may have something to do with it).

Actually, it was the Blackhawks who approached the Bears with the idea of the commercial collaboration to raise their profile, even though the Blackhawks are probably garnering more magazine covers and video game boxes than the Bears. At least for right now.

Ken Green

Hockey Fri Oct 09 2009

Chelios Skating Closer To Home?

As noted here earlier, former Blackhawk fan favorite and hometown guy Chris Chelios was reportedly contemplating a return to Chicago as a professional hockey player - not wearing the red,white and black of the Hawks but the maroon and gold of the Chicago Wolves.chelios.jpg

That possibility moved a step closer to reality when it was announced today that Chelios will skate with the Wolves on Monday as a possible precursor to signing a contract with the American Hockey League team, though Chelli has expressed a desire to remain in the NHL.

At 47, Chelios has played in more NHL games (1,645) than any other American-born player.

Ken Green

Blackhawks Sat Oct 03 2009

0-For-Europe

Man, Europe has been pretty rough on Chicago in the past 24 hours. As you may have heard, the International Olympic Committee gave the big heave-ho to the city's bid for the 2016 Games, treating us like a steak at a vegan dinner. How bad did it look to the rest of the country that Chicago got bounced out in the first round of voting in Copenhagen? Even New York City is feeling sorry for us (although an editorial still managed to turn their sympathy into a tweak at Chi-Town resident President Obama's expense). Normally, after a loss like that we'd come back with a "wait'll next year", but unfortunately that doesn't apply.

And not long after that, our next best hope for a victory on European soil fell short as well as the Blackhawks dropped a 4-3 shootout to the Florida Panthers in Finland. Their 55 shots on goal were made null and void by a shootout goal by Florida's Ville Koistinen (a native of Finland, naturally). The two teams meet again today in Finland and you can watch the game on an outdoor screen at the Country Music Festival in Grant Park beginning at 10:30 a.m.

Look, maybe we should give this European thing a rest for a bit after this. Is "See American First" still a valid slogan?

Ken Green

News Thu Aug 27 2009

Short Hops

  • The Hawks' Patrick Kane and his cousin plead guilty to a noncriminal charge in their incident with a Buffalo cab driver. While he breaths a sigh of relief, his teammate Jonathan Toews is a little nervous while practicing for the Canadian Olympic team.
  • The Cubs' Milton Bradley is not happy. So what else is new? Besides, he's now the Ricketts family's problem.
  • The White Sox have lost four in a row and five of their last six. The Bleacher Reporter ask if they're heading in the wrong direction. Hmmm...let me think about that one.
  • Don't let Jay Cutler's cool demeanor fool you. According to ESPN he's a little jittery about returning to Denver as a member of the Bears this Sunday. Elsewhere on the Bear beat, Matt Forte is looking for balance and Dusty Dvoracek is looking at a doctor this Friday.
  • As if running a triathlon (like the Chicago Triathlon this weekend) wasn't difficult, try throwing cold, rainy weather into the mix. Here at some tips for coping with that.
  • While the state debates video poker, the real thing is going on in a tournament in Arlington Heights tonight. Wanna play? Ante up here.
  • The Chicago Sky host a benefit this Friday to promote breast cancer awareness.
  • Chicago - home to the next generation of cricket superstars?
  • Chicago - home to the next generation of dodgeball superstars?
  • No matter what you think about the Lingerie Football League, one fact remains: It's football. Played in lingerie.
  • With their season unceremoniously over, the Chicago Bandits wave bye-bye to pitcher Kristina Thorson, who is leaving to play for an Italian pro softball team.

Ken Green

Wolves Wed Aug 19 2009

Chelios Coming Home?

His restaurant's here, his family's here and some would say he had the best moments of his career are here. So is Chris Chelios looking to wrap things up here?

After being let go by the Detroit Red Wings, Cheli has been shopping himself around in hopes of extending his career a bit longer, a career that spanned nine years. And in addition to sniffing around NHL teams, Chelios is reportedly also talking with the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League. It wouldn't be the first time the Evergreen Park native has played for a lower tier pro team after a season in the majors. In 2004, when the NHL cancelled their season because of a contract dispute with the player's union, he played for the Motor City Mechanics of the United Hockey League.

Ken Green / Comments (2)

Blackhawks Wed Aug 19 2009

Let's Make A Deal!...

It looks like the ony stripes Patrick Kane will be seeing on his clothing will be the ones on his Blackhawks jersey. The 20-year-old winger for the Hawks will reportedly accept a plea agreement for his role in the alleged beating patrick-kane.jpgof a 62-year-old Buffalo cab driver on August 9. Kane, along with his 21-year-old cousin, were arrested and charged in the incident but may see it reduced to a misdomeaner charge and avoid jail time. So no Michael Vick or Thomas Kostopoulos jokes, please.

Kane is currently taking part in the Team USA Olympic orientation camp in Woodridge this week

Ken Green

Blackhawks Mon Aug 17 2009

Kane: I'm Sorry.

Eight days after his run-in with a cabdriver in his hometown of Buffalo, N.Y., Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane issued an apology for putting himself in "the wrong place at the wrong time". In issuing a "mea culpa" to the Hawks, the cities of Chicago and Buffalo, Kane, 20, also stated that he couldn't discuss the specifics of the indicent, in which a 60ish Buffalo cabbie claimed that Kane and his cousin assaulted him after a dispute over 20 cents. Both Kane and his cousin were charged with second-degree robbery, a Class C felony, and fourth-degree criminal mischief and theft of services, both Class A misdemeanors.

The occasion of Kane's apology was the opening of the 2009 Men's Olympic Orientation Camp at Seven Brides Ice Arena in Woodridge, which, incidentially, is open to the public. Kane is attempting to make the team.


Ken Green

Hockey Thu Aug 06 2009

Jeremy Roenick Retires

Jeremy Roenick, whose name is synonymous with the Blackhawks in the early '90s (especially 1994), announced today that he is retiring from hockey.

Roenick was selected by the Blackhawks as the eighth overall pick of the 1988 draft and spent eight seasons in Chicago before being traded to the brand-new Phoenix Coyotes in 1996. He went on to play for the Philadelphia Flyers, LA Kings, the Coyotes again and finally the San Diego Sharks for the past two seasons. While his later seasons showed a player in decline, Chicago fans will always remember him for his scrappy play and outspoken personality.

Now the question is, will the Blackhawks retire his number 27? And will we be seeing him in the broadcasting booth?

Andrew Huff

Hockey Fri Jul 24 2009

Da Bears Or Blackhawks it Ain't

No, that's not Brian Urlacher passing the biscuit to Patrick Kane. It's merely your routine video of BEARS!!??!! playing hockey. I'm somewhat dubious of this --I mean, it's gotta be a fake, or from Russia, or a Russian fake-- but, c'mon! it's BEARS!!!! playing hockey. Hello, weekend!

--H/T: Gregg Sparks

Brian Lauvray

Blackhawks Wed Jul 22 2009

Did Hawks Get A Broken Wing?

marian-hossa-122906.jpgAre the good times over (or at least stalled) for the Blackhawks before they even start? The Daily Herald is reporting that highly-touted new Hawk aquisition Marian Hossa, formerly of the Detroit Red Wings, might miss a good chunk of the season because of a shoulder or rotator cuff injury that may require surgery. While the Hawks have great young scorers that will more than make up for being with out Hossa, the injury does put them in a bind with regards to trades for additional talent. And Hossa's potential to score 40 goals, as he did last year, will sting a little as well.

Ken Green

Blackhawks Fri Jul 17 2009

Convention Heats Up Hawk Talk

The soldout Blackhawks convention kicks off today and once more the buzz surrounding the event gets even louder than the year before. Much of that buzz this time is centered around the recent firing/demotion/whatever of Dale Tallon, replaced by Stan Bowman. Add to that the recent acquisition of high scoring Marian Hossa and Tomas Kopecky, both from the much-despised Detroit Red Wings, and there's more than enough to keep fans chattering. And as they say on those late-night commercials, "But, wait, there's more!..." For instance, is a trade needed blackhawks-logo.gifto keep the Hawks' young stars Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith in the fold, financially-speaking? And did the front-office shake-up really disrupt the "We Are Family" feel the team has been trying to build (and we think we know Martin Havlat's opinion)?

All in all, it should be a lively convention.

Ken Green

Blackhawks Tue Jul 14 2009

Blackhawks Fire Dale Tallon

In a surprising move the Blackhawks have fired their General Manager Dale Tallon.This coming after the Blackhawks reached the Western Conference Finals. It was the first time they reached the Conference Finals since '92. The Hawks are expected to make a formal announcement Tuesday.

Brian Livingston / Comments (1)

News Thu May 28 2009

Short Hops

  • Wipe your tears, Hawks fans. According to USA Today, the young team's gotta wear shades ('80s music reference).
  • Not only are Derrick Rose's academic endeavors at Memphis under scrutiny, but it looks like the grade hanky-panky extends back to high school.
  • So does this SAT probe mean anything for the next batch of NBA hopefuls, many of whom will be here in Chicago for the annual pre-draft camp?
  • Answering the cries of many Cubs fans, GM Jim Hendry says the trading of Mark De Rosa isn't the problem. Meanwhile, The Bleacher Reports thinks moving Alfonso Soriano to second is one of the answers. And if the sale of the team to the Ricketts family doesn't go through, Sam Zell says "don't worry".
  • So who's the most important Bear on the team right now? If you think the answer is obvious, think again.
  • Even with deep dish pizza and Italian beef sandwiches all over the place, Chicago is pretty average when it comes to fitness. We're 25th out of 50.
  • Someone found the Tampa Bay Rays 2008 AL Championship trophy in a thrift shop in Chicago. Well, not the ACTUAL trophy...
  • The Chicago Fire's Gonzalo Segares gets the "up-close-and-personal" treatment from Goal.com.
  • It sounds like a sweeps week "special report": Are playgrounds endangering our children? Watch "Not Just Fun and Games", a special investigative report...

Ken Green

Blackhawks Sat May 16 2009

A Hockey Conversion

For a long time I have claimed that I am the problem with the NHL. Growing up in Chicago, I was hockey obsessed. For nine months a year, I was on the ice five to six days a week, living and breathing the sport. Yet, I have spent most of my life not caring at all about the NHL. It is the sport that I have the most experience playing and the one I can best understand the strategies involved, but I let the professional game completely fall out of my life sometime during the 90's. Amid all the expansion teams and unrecognizable faces they brought, the clutch and grab defense that slowed down the game and inability for the Blackhawks to produce a competitive team, my interest in professional hockey simply waned away. When the Stanley Cup was canceled in 2005, it didn't even faze me. I figured if the NHL going down the tubes could not affect me, a guy raised by the sport, what chance did professional hockey ever have of coming back into prominence?

But suddenly hockey is back in Chicago and the reemergence of the sport sparked my interest. Maybe, I thought, the NHL is not dead after all. I followed passively during the regular season; just enough to keep tabs on the sport but not enough to care if I didn't like the outcome. But I had forgotten about one thing about professional hockey: the playoffs are one of the most exciting times in all of sports. The intensity, the rivalries, the incredible combination of brutal force and extreme finesse; they all peak together to produce a month of fabulous games. It was like a slap to the head, "Oh yeah, THIS is why I loved the sport!" Certainly having a home town team to follow made watching the playoffs easier at first, but once I was back I wondered why I had ever left. And I would like to use this opportunity to thank the city of Chicago, for being ahead of the curve on hockey and proving to me that this sport is not dead. No matter how this next series turns out for the Blackhawks, I am excited to see a classic, original six rivalry take place on such a high level. Of course, I am hoping that I will be able to see the Hawks make it to the finals but in some ways, I am just grateful the game has returned into my life and I have only the good sports fans of Chicago to thank.

Michael Longhini

News Fri May 15 2009

Short Hops

  • If you were looking for the results of today's Cubs-Astros game, forget it. Rain washed it out.
  • For his uncharacteristic helmet-throwing incident, the White Sox' Jermaine Dye gets suspended and fined, meaning he's going to miss most of their series against Toronto.
  • Speaking of Chicago vs. Toronto, the Fire travel to the Great White North to take on Toronto FC this weekend. Other Fire news: the team has qualified for the 2009 SuperLiga tournament and kick off their annual Community Soccer Series net week.
  • Meanwhile, Chicago's other pro soccer team, the Red Stars have a budding star with the free-spirited midfielder Megan Rapinoe. Elsewhere, ESPN shows the Red Stars some by singing out goaltender Caroline Jonsson as one of the standouts in the Women's Professional Soccer League's inaugural season.
  • Vancouver is still trying to hold its collective heads up high after being bounced by the Blackhawks. But at least they don't welch on a bet.
  • If you had a brand-new boat (and really, in this economy, who doesn't?), the Chicago Park District has given you two new harbors.
  • Yahoo! Sports has the Bears finishing 11-5 this season. Hmmm...what changed?
  • As long as the Arena Football League is gathering mothballs, former Rush coach Mike Hohensee figures he's better earn a buck somewhere else.
  • Tired of movie dates, candlelit dinners and walks along the beach? Try antigravity yoga (among other alternative and physical date ideas).
  • New video game upstart retail outlet Play N Trade opens a new store in the Chicago area.
  • Seeking to assert their masculine superiority, the baseball-playing Schaumburg Flyers will take on the Chicago Bandits, the 2008 National Pro Fastpitch champions, in a fastpitch softball game. Why am I temped to bet the house on the Bandits?
  • This song? Get used to it.

Ken Green

News Thu May 07 2009

Short Hops

  • It's do or (almost) die time tonight for the Blackhawks in their playoff series against the (boo) Vancouver Canucks.
  • Now that he's back in the fold, the White Sox' Scottie Pods wants his old number back. Meanwhile, manager Ozzie Guillen thinks the team has more pressing needs.
  • Speaking of the Sox, they hold their first Volunteer Day this Saturday. It's not too late to sign up for the event, inspired by their No. 1 fan.
  • Derrick Rose? Jay Cutler? Patrick Kane? Who's Chicago's most marketable athlete?
  • Handball fanatics, the place to be this weekend is Elgin. Yes, Elgin.
  • The Bulls' playoff run been berry berry good to Comcast Sports.
  • As if the Chicago Rush didn't have enough problems, what with their entire league collapsing, now they're accused of sticking it to one of their fans.
  • Yet another tribute to venerable Wrigley Field.
  • A website called "Ride The City" needs your help in mapping out Chicago's cycling routes.
  • From Lemont, Illinois to Venice, Italy: cyclist Christian Vande Velde has come a long way.
  • Walk with a purpose. The 10th Annual Breast Cancer Walk comes to the Beverly neighborhood.
  • Look out Robert Morris College: Roosevelt University is getting back into the intercollegiate athletics action.
  • Fresh off their victory over Kansas City, the Chicago Force take their undefeated record to Detroit to take on the Demolition in Women's Tackle Football action.
  • The equally unbeaten Chicago Fire, meanwhile, face the New England Revolution at Toyota Park.

Ken Green

News Thu Apr 09 2009

Short Hops

  • The Great Dewayne Wise Experiment is over. Ozzie's going with Chris Getz in the leadoff spot for tonight's game. Getz says he's ready for the change.
  • Bears tracks: Orlando Pace says he came here to play with a winner; Will Cutler fit in with the Bears, and if so, will he be throwing to this guy?
  • ESPN's much-ballyhooed (never thought I'd write that word) Chicagocentric website debuts Monday.
  • If you like your sports bloody and brutal (other than badminton, I mean), you probably already have your tickets to the upcoming World Extreme Cagefighting match at Allstate Arena
  • A Pennsylvania man is biking 840 miles to Chicago to bring awareness to the fight against brain tumors and take part in a special 5K.
  • The Chicago area just missed out on another championship as the Chicago Mission lost in the title game of the USA Hockey Nationals.
  • The first-year Red Stars are looking to succeed where other Chicago soccer franchises have failed and their victory over St. Louis puts then on the right path. You can see for yourself at their home debut on April 19.
  • The Chicago Force kick off their 2009 season this Saturday, April 11, in Iowa vs. the Crush, before returing to North Park University for their home opener April 18 against the Wisconsin Warriors. You can hear head coach John Konecki discuss the upcoming season this Friday on AM 1240 (11 a.m.) and on WJJG-AM 1530 at 4:15 p.m.

    Ken Green

News Thu Mar 05 2009

Short Hops

  • Now that Terrell Owens has been released by the Cowboys, would he be a good fit for the Bears? And how long before he brings Kyle Orton to tears?
  • Speaking of Bears quarterbacks, a Sporting News blog says that Rex Grossman's eminent departure is bad news for Chicago. And while he is visiting Cincinnati, Dallas seems more than eager to welcome him there.
  • Sure Blackhawks defenseman James Wisniewski was as fan favorite, but Daily Herald sports blogger Tim Sassone says give his replacement, Sami Pahlsson, a chance.
  • At the risk of being labeled a Cub-hater: Seriously, shouldn't there be a moratorium on these "Why The Cubs Will Win The World Series in (fill in the year)" stories that crop up at the start of every season?
  • Thornton High School rules the top spot in the Tribune's final boys high school basketball rankings. The highest Chicago school, De La Salle, finished third.
  • ESPN sheds more light on its new Chicago-specific sports website.
  • NBA.com writer David Aldridge gives props to Norm Van Lier and Red Kerr.
  • To paraphrase Douglas MacArthur, displace cheerleaders never die, they just hook up with other sports teams.
  • Registation may be closed, but there's still plenty of action to be had on and off the course as the annual Chiditarod runs this Saturday. Shopping carts have never seen this much action.

Ken Green

News Tue Feb 03 2009

Blago On Thin Ice

Sure, he's lined up to appear on Late Night with David Letterman tonight. But that doesn't mean that former Governor Rod Blagojevich is no longer the butt of a national joke. Of course, pretty much everyone knows of the shots taken at him by SNL. But now sports has gotten in on the act, namely a minor league hockey team in Las Vegas which recently held its "Gov. Rod Blagojevich Prison Jersey Night" in which the Las Vegas Wranglers donned old school black-and-white striped uniforms while their opponents, the Bakersfield Condors, wore the more modern orange jumpsuits (the refs naturally wore prison guard-styles outfits). While this all ignores the fact that Blago hasn't been on trial yet, let alone been send to prison (remember, we said "yet"), it proved to be pretty popular as these video clips show.

And if all of those reported book and TV show offers don't materialize, Blago can, if he so wishes, find himself surrounded by big, sweaty men (and, again, we're not talking about prison). He's been offered the job of temporary "chairman" of TNA Wrestling's Main Event Mafia, a collection of the organization's more popular characters that include Kurt Angle, Kevin Nash and Booker T. The organization will even give Rowdy Roddy the chance to sell a seat...no, not the senatorial kind, but the metal folding kind used to subdue opponents.

Ken Green / Comments (1)

News Sat Jan 10 2009

Short Hops

Ken Green / Comments (1)

News Fri Dec 26 2008

Short Hops

A day late, but...

  • Does the idea of "Governor Ditka" appeal to you? If so, we have a website for you.
  • And while a sports guy gets pushed into the political arena, another politician looks to athletic endeavors for relief.
  • It's a lousy holiday season for the Chicago Rush.
  • A Colts fan is thankful he's not a Bears fan. Yeah, but you still have to live in Indiana.
  • The top Chicago sports story of the year? The Cubs and Sox making the playoffs. The worst? What happened after they made it...
  • Sosa's thinking about making a comeback. Pharmacists get their preseciption pads ready.
  • The Houston Texans are thinking "spoiler" for their game against the Bears this Sunday
  • Chicago in January might not seem like a tourist destination... unless you're the outdoorsy type.
  • As the Winter Classic nears, the Blackhawks are the toast of the NHL. Their East Coast affiliate... no so much.
  • Real Serious Sports (a satirical website) has Sarah Palin throwing out the first pitch at a Cubs game. You betcha.
  • White Sox/California Angels trade talks heat up, with Paul Konerko's name being mentioned.
  • But not to worry: there are top prospects waiting in the wings.
  • One high school hoops team finds a way to hold red hot North Chicago under 100 points. Boring, but effective
  • The holiday hoops tournament season heats up.

Ken Green

Lacrosse Thu Dec 18 2008

Short Hops

  • When they last met, the Packers beat the Bears 37-3. While the Green Bay tries to figure out how to do it again, the Bears are working on how to avoid a repeat this Monday night.
  • The Bleacher Report asks: What if Terrell Owens was a Bear? We answer: All hell would break loose.
  • White Sox World: Ozzie plays Alan Greenspan, Jenks shrugs off trade talk and the Sox and Dodgers start acting like roomies.
  • The Cubs announce a minor league managerial switch. No, not this guy. This guy.
  • The city's annual Holiday Sports Festival kicks off soon. This year it has an ulterior motive.
  • The Sporting News' reaction to the Wrigley Field hockey spectacular: meh.
  • Meanwhile, the Hawks' Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews are first and sixth, respectively, among forwards in NHL All-Star Western Conference balloting. Brian "Soup" Campbell is third in balloting for defensemen.
  • The Gay Games and the Outgames kiss and make up. Er...
  • Sure, they have Derrick Rose. But what exactly are the Bulls building?
  • Bo knows indoor sports facilities.
  • Bollingbrook and Whitney Young are at 10 and 15, respectively, in the rankings of the top 50 girls high school basketball teams. And on the boys side? De La Salle manages to squeak in at No. 44.

Ken Green

News Thu Dec 11 2008

Short Hops

  • A Las Vegas minor league hockey team joins the army of "jokesters" who are sticking it to Rod Blagojevich.
  • The Cubs dream of obtaining Jake Peavy is dead. So what better way to commemorate this non-event than...
  • The Cubs did however add to their roster. Just not with Peavy.
  • Do high school sports still matter? Sounds like a silly question, but...
  • A Chicago consulting firm looks at how avatars might help in winning at online poker.
  • In local soccer new, the Fire's Soccer Development Academy plays in three matches while the Storm slate their own holiday appearances in the coming days.
  • Soup's on...and it's paying dividends for the Blackhawks
  • A French newspaper seems to think that the election of Barack Obama means softball will be back in the Olympics. Huh?
  • Are Thursday NFL games a "recipe for disaster"? Depending on when you read this, you may already have the answer.

Ken Green

Feature Thu Dec 04 2008

Short Hops

Ken Green

Blackhawks Wed Dec 03 2008

Root, root root for the...Blackhawks?

With less than a month til the Winter Classic at Wrigley, NBC has started to build the hype with this ad featuring the Blackhawks Jonathon Toews and Patrick Kane, along with a familiar voice.

Have to say, kudos. A great a/v mixture that merges the tradition of Wrigley with the historic event Jan 1., featuring two of the NHL's most storied franchises. The spot definitely gets me a little more excited for the game.

On the ice, the Hawks return home to the United Center after a 6-game circus trip. While starting the trip 3-0, the offense disappeared and the team went 0-2-1 in the final trio of contests. After losing a tight OT game to powerhouse San Jose (and losing goalie Nicolai Khabibulin to injury in the process), the team battled the Anaheim Ducks in a nail-biting 1-0 loss, before a disheartening 5-2 loss to the L.A. Kings ended the trip on a sour note.

The Ducks are back in town for a rematch tonight, where before the game the Blackhawks will honor right-winger Steve Larmer as part of the team's "Heritage Night" series this season. Larmer was a fixture for the Hawks throughout the '80s and early '90s, scoring 923 points in 891 career games in Chicago. Upon his first full year with the Hawks in 1982 he played in 884 consecutive games wearing the Indianhead sweater, an NHL record for most consecutive games with a single franchise.
The streak was broken in 1993 when Larmer missed the start of the season after a trade request, which saw him sent to the N.Y. Rangers, where he won a Stanley Cup in 1994 before retiring during the 94-95 lockout.

Larmer epitomized a lot of what the Hawks were to me growing up in the 1980s, pairing with Al Secord and Denis Savard in a talented line that mixed scoring prowess and grit, and is one of the best right-wingers to ever play in Chicago. Tonight's Heritage Night is a well deserved accolade, and it wouldn't surprise me to see Larmer's #28 raised to the rafters at some point in the future.

Jeremy Piniak

News Thu Oct 30 2008

Short Hops

  • The Blackhawks keep getting kudos for their turnaround, if primarily on a marketing basis. The latest huzzah comes from Forbes magazine.
  • Derrick Rose has inked an endorsement deal with Wilson Sporting Gods. Take that, Nike.
  • A trio of British hockey stars recount their experience running the recent Chicago Marathon.
  • The Bulls' Luol Deng gets a bit of pub from the Telegraph of the UK. Deng has played with the Great Britain national team.
  • As if Cubs fans didn't have enough reasons to cry in their beer, this guy has given them one more: Philadelphia won it all.
  • That FiveThirtyEight.com website that has political junkies all geeked up? It came from the mind of Chicago sports number-cruncher Nate Silver.
  • The Chicago Outfit, the city's other roller derby team, hold their Dia de los Muertos clash. It'll be the Sugar Skulls vs. the Zombies.
  • Pitcher Julio Castillo, the Peoria Chiefs player who hit a fan with a ball? He's been indicted. If you haven't see it, the video is below.


Ken Green

Blackhawks Fri Oct 24 2008

A-Dam, A-Dam, A-dam....

Most athlete-written blogs are pretty mundane stuff. While I fully acknowledge that the vast majority of the guys writing them are not masters of the written word (most likely opting for something generic like "business" as a college major rather than English or journalism), they still manage to lack the attention-grabbing insight that you'd think a blog written by a professional athlete would automatically contain. No stories about that wild night at the strip club (a shocker, I know...Packman Jones could have a new posting every day), or which teammates are a-holes or what it feels like to trash a sports car (C'mon, Lance Briggs, give us some insight).

No, most of them deal with ho-hum subjects like practice ("The coach made us work really hard today." Great), the (legal) things they do in the offseason ("I attended an autograph signing session and, boy, is my wrist tired!") and the occasional commentary or fellow players, although for the most part it skews toward praise ("He's really tough to hit. Man, I sure hate facing him!"). Curently, you can find Curt Shilling taking about iPhones, Donovan McNabb talking about how great (!) Philadelphia is as a sports town, Jeff Samardzija giddy because he scored tickets to Saturday nights UFC fight at the Allstate Arena and Greg Oden chatting about video games and the summer charity event he sponsors.

All nice, but...yawn.

And then there's the Blackhawks' Adam Burish, who is quickly becoming my favorite athlete sports blogger.

Continue reading this entry »

Ken Green / Comments (3)

News Fri Oct 17 2008

Short Hops

  • The Minnesota Vikings' Bernard Berrian expects boos when he returns to this old stomping grounds at Soldier Field this Sunday. C'mon Bears fans, don't let him down.
  • If his contract doesn't discourage the White Sox from resigning him, Ken Griffey Jr.'s recent knee surgery might.
  • Evanston remembers one of his favorite sons, former MLB pitcher Kevin Foster.
  • Speaking of favorite sons, new Wolves head coach Don Granato is happy to be back home as he prepared for the team's home opener Saturday night.
  • Remember the Cubs' "fan" who tried to auction off his loyalty on eBay? He may have found a buyer and a kindred spirit in the Boston Red Sox.
  • In the battle of sports radio on Chicago (well, it's actually just a two-horse race), WSCR-AM has taken the lead.
  • De La Salle's Mike Shaw is being touted by ESPN as the "next big thing" in Chicago high school basketball.
  • Even if you're not entered in this weekend Urbanathlon, you can still go down and enjoy the party.
  • The Windy City Rollers are holding tryouts. If you think you have what it takes (and can come up with a clever alias like "Val Capone" or "Lucy Furr"), come to a scrimmage preview on Monday. Incidentially, the WCR All-Stars made it to the national finals in Portland, Oregon.

Ken Green

News Wed Oct 15 2008

That's The Ticket... Or Not

cubsseatingchart.jpgIt doesn't help that the economy is currently in or headed directly for the proverbial crapper, but the price of tickets to sporting events show no sign of coming down to meet the slightly thinner pockets of the buying public, according to an article on "Medill Reports".

Currently, the average ticket to a Cubs' game rose to $42.49 in 2008, according to the report, a 42 percent increase from 2004. And that two-parents-two-kids-at-the-game measuring stick they're always using in the yearly reports on how much a day at the ballgame will cost (officially known as the Fan Cost Index)? This season it was $251.96 for a Cubs game. And it doesn't appear likely to come down even with the "occurances" of this past season.

The Bears were the most expensive ticket in town at an average price of $88.33. The White Sox were a better baseball bargain with an average ticket price of $30.28 and an FCI of $214.61. The Blackhawks were the city's best professional sports value at $34.88, although that could change next year if the team makes the progress everyone expects.

Ken Green

Blackhawks Fri Oct 10 2008

Fighting Words from Adam Burish

It's the age-old question, mostly asked by peripheral or not-at-all hockey fans: What's up with all the fighting? Blackhawks hard-hitting forward Adam Burish takes the opportunity of the team's much anticipated season opener to try to explain it in his new Sun-Times blog. Granted, a lot of his explanation might be brushed off by some as "macho bull...", but hey, he's playing the game and we're not so...

And to see what he's talking about, he's a clip of him in action.

Ken Green

News Thu Oct 09 2008

Short Hops

  • OK, look, baseball in Chicago in 2008 is OVER. Can't we all just get along?
  • But before we go, a final look back...
  • OK, maybe one more look, from a fan trying to come to grips with his affliction.
  • The Sky re-signs Canty and Wyckoff.
  • Feeling down after recent sporting results in Chicago? The Daily Illini has the answer.
  • Got golf fever? Snow is for quitters.
  • When it comes to the Chicago Marathon, last year is, well, so last year.
  • And to get you in the mood...


Ken Green

Feature Thu Sep 18 2008

Short Hops

  • If Chicago is the stress capital of the U.S., the New York Times has one reason why.
  • Meanwhile, The Trib's Steve Rosebloom sticks by his Cubs/White Sox World Series prediction. Um, has he looked at BOTH teams' bullpen?
  • Ozzie being Ozzie, part 37.
  • The good news: Carlos Quinten's cast has been removed. The bad news: They're not rushing him back.
  • Ok, so Kosuke Fukudome didn't exactly set the Chicago baseball world on fire. There could be another Japanese baseball star trying to make his mark at Wrigley Field next season.
  • They haven't had their first match yet, but the Chicago Red Stars already look like the team to beat, thanks to three new additions to their roster.
  • A survey says nearly every kid plays video games. Will the Jumbotrons of today be the playing fields of tomorrow?
  • Apparently he wasn't punched enough the first time. A local boxing promoter is returning to action IN the ring.
  • In case you missed it, the Chicago Open crowned a squash champion recently.
  • The Chicago Storm joined the four-team Xtreme Soccer League. You know it's wild because they spell it "Xtreme".
  • Check it out: U.S. Women's Soccer vs. Ireland at Toyota Park. The Chicago Cyclocross Cup at Jackson Park. The Blackhawks Training Camp Festival. The AIDS Run/Walk at Grant Park. Tuesday Night Pub Quiz at The Globe.

Ken Green

Feature Thu Sep 11 2008

Short Hops

  • No, we didn't expect the Bears to beat the Colts last Sunday night either. But if they're going to build on that, there are three things they must do to beat the Carolina Panthers this Sunday.
  • Even if they don't win the game, the Bears are still scoring touchdowns at the bank.
  • Arguing over who gets the last drumstick is one thing. But a Cubs-White Sox World Series could drive one family nuts.
  • REALLY old school White Sox fans will mourn the death of former manager Don Gutteridge.
  • Current White Sox star Carlos Quentin hopes to be healthy by the playoffs. Question is: will he be playing or watching?
  • Patrick Kane and Jonathan Towes, the Blackhawks' Teen Titans (OK, they're not really teens but it's not far off) get some more (inter)national publicity.
  • From Kansas City to Chicago on a bike: Are gas prices THAT high?
  • The marathon gold-medalist from this year's Olympics, Constantina Tomescu-Dita of Romania has joined the field (pdf) of runners for the 2008 Chicago marathon. Hopefully, we'll have better weather this year.
  • The Sky take on the New York Liberty in their next-to-last game of their WNBA regular season.
  • Chicago teams finished third, fourth and fifth in the 2008 North American Gay Amateur Athletic Association Gay Softball World Series.
  • You're in Lisle. You're riding your bike. You have a hankering to see a play. What are you going to do?

Ken Green

Blackhawks Mon Aug 25 2008

Hawks Ink Deal With Aliu

The Blackhawks have reached a deal with Nigerian-born right winger Akim Aliu, signing him to a three-year contract.

The well-traveled Aliu (born in Nigeria, raised in Ukraine, moved with his parents to Toronto in the '90s) was the Hawks' third pick in the '07 draft. Read about the deal here and see a bit of Aliu in action here.

Ken Green

News Thu Aug 14 2008

Short Hops

  • It may not make it to the side of a milk carton, but the Chicago Fire fan club Section 8 is missing their banner.
  • Some people might have an opinion about who they are, but a new book of photos entitled "We Are Cubs Fans" seeks to define the loyalists visually. The obligatory Ronnie Woo Woo photo is included.
  • Speaking of the Cubs, Sports Illustrated joins the rest of the country in being amazed that they AND the White Sox are both in first place and may make the playoffs in the same season for the first time since 1906.
  • And speaking of the Sox, Fox Sports calls the acquisition of Carlos Quinten the steal of the century. OK, they call it the steal of the season. It just LOOKS like the steal of the century.
  • The Bears are set to unveil a major advertising blitz. Too bad they can advertise for a quarterback.
  • Tickets for the National Pro Fastpitch softball championships go on sale this Saturday at Judson Sports Complex in Elgin, home of the Chicago Bandits. The Bandits are one of the four teams who will be participating.
  • Now that the Blackhawks are enjoying a resurgence in popularity, new fans might want to read about one of the team's legends featured in a story from the Sports Illustrated vaults.
  • Mark them on your calendar: The Human Race, the cycling National Championships in Downers Grove, Chicago Gems women's baseball, Windy City Rollers action and gay rodeo.

Ken Green

Hockey Thu Aug 14 2008

Restoring the Roar

While the ongoing Olympics and continued baseball division battles (not to mention the great weather) have made it hard for many Chicagoans, myself included, to think about winter, Monday saw single-game tickets go on sale for the upcoming Chicago Blackhawks season, starting with the October 13 home opener against Nashville.

In years past, this date would have come and gone with nary a blip on the sports pulse of Chicago, but despite my distractions, the results showed many fans are counting down the days until the season starts. The team reported that more than 57,000 single-game tickets were sold Monday. Combined with a season ticket base that has reached 12,000, there are currently more than 500,000 tickets allotted for during the season. Compared to this point a year ago, the team has seen ticket sales increase 300 percent.

Tickets are currently available here, but are going fast.

Although no games are currently listed as sold out, certain games, including the home opener, Oct. 25 against Detroit, and Feb. 27 against Pittsburgh, have only standing room tickets available. It is possible to get seats for these games by purchasing partial or full-season ticket packages. Note, the Jan. 1 Winter Classic game has yet to officially go on sale, as that game is controlled by the NHL. Full-season ticketholders will have the opportunity to purchase tickets to the Wrigley Field game.

Needless to say, anticipation is higher than at any time in recent memory, and with a strong start, the Hawks can be playing to capacity crowds reinventing the Madhouse on Madison for a new era.

Jeremy Piniak

News Thu Jul 24 2008

Short Hops

  • In case you’ve forgotten, the Chicago Force are going for the IWFL title this Saturday at North Park University’s Holmgren Athletic Complex. Cheer them on.
  • The White Sox’ Juan Uribe to the Red Sox? It might make a lot of people happy.
  • Cook County Commissioner Mike Quinn got a lot of Detroit Red Wings fans ticked off when he managed to skewer the team in his resolution celebrating the outdoor game against the Blackhawks at Wrigley Field...
  • ...But here’s guessing he’ll have an easier time getting tickets to the game than you do.
  • A half-game lead (as of Thursday afternoon)? Are the Cubs done for? One writer seems to think so (though he admits he’s a Sox fan but insists that has nothing to do with it… right.)...
  • ...But never fear Cubs fans, there are enough pro-Cubby blogs to ease the pain. In fact, there’s a whole army.
  • The need for (man-powered) speed: The Chicago Criterium is this weekend.
  • A Chicago hospital offers a free women’s sports injury prevention pamphlet
  • ...Which you might need if you attend tryouts for the Grand All Star League (GALS, get it?) women’s basketball tryouts for females 50 and over.

Ken Green

Hockey Fri Jun 20 2008

On ice tidbits

A few hockey highlights while the rest of Chicago is focused on the Crosstown Classic.

In tonight's NHL draft, the Chicago Blackhawks used the 11th pick to select Kyle Beach, an 18-year-old center from Everett in the Western Hockey League. Although the team's more pressing needs were at left wing and defense, the 6-3, 205 power forward unique mix of scoring touch and grit was too much for Hawks GM Dale Tallon to pass up. The Hawks minor-league system is already somewhat deep, and unlike last year's No. 1 overall pick Patrick Kane, Beach isn't expected to contribute right away, letting the team take a chance on a player with a high upside. Expect the Hawks to address their other needs with veterans the rest of the offseason.
Rounds 2-7 of the draft continue tomorrow, and the Hawks have six more picks, starting with No. 72 in the third round.

Heading to the suburbs, Wolves coach John Anderson has earned a long-deserved promotion, as he was hired today as the head coach of the Atlanta Thrashers. Anderson led his team's to 4 championships in his 11 years as Wolves coach, including this year's Calder Cup. Anderson's Wolves teams posted a 506-283-24-28-47 (a .688 winning percentage) with him behind the bench, and all but one of his teams qualified for the postseason. His track record in the minors has earned him a shot in the NHL, and his familiarity with many of the younger players in Atlanta should help him implement his system with the team.

Jeremy Piniak / Comments (3)

News Thu Jun 19 2008

Short Hops

  • A Major League Baseball story on the Cubs' days as a WEST Side ballclub includes some interesting bits of information, including the time in 1908 when a woman gave birth in the bleachers. Contrast that with today when...nah, too easy.
  • Belmont Harbor will be the launching site of a major international boating event when 84 boats from around the world compete in the 2008 Etchells World Championships. The weeklong event kicks off this Friday.
  • Another bout has been added to the boxing card at the Aragon Ballroom this Friday, which we told you about yesterday.
  • After a surprising and promising 2008 season for the Blackhawks, this weekend's NHL draft will be as important for the Hawks as the NBA draft will be for the Bulls. A hockey prospects resource site gives the lowdown.
  • He may not be in the Hall of Fame, but South Carolina residents are not forgetting their native son, White Sox legend Shoeless Joe Jackson and are building a museum in his honor. The organizers are hoping that the tribute helps the HOF committee forget about Jackson's role (or non-role) in the whole Black Sox scandal.

Ken Green

Wolves Tue May 20 2008

Wolves still hunting

After dropping Games 4 and 5 to the Rockford IceHogs, the Chicago Wolves rallied to victory in Games 6 and 7, advancing to the Western Conference finals against the Toronto Marlies. The series opened Friday with a 4-1 Wolves victory, led by AHL MVP Jason Krog’s hat trick. In Sunday’s Game 2, Krog quickly added two more tallies in the first 3:08, and rookie goalie Ondrej Pavelec took care of the rest, earning the shutout in a 5-0 victory. The Wolves took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven matchup as the series shifts to the Great White North tonight and tomorrow for Games 3 and 4.

Whew, all caught up.

The Conference finals are familiar turf for the Wolves, who have reached the round eight times in their 13-year history. Their most recent trip was a year ago, when Chicago’s prolific offense was shut down by the Hamilton Bulldogs in a 4-1 series defeat. This year’s team still focuses on the offense, but has seen a stronger defensive corps (along with the emergence of Pavelec) help shut down its opponents. Pavelec has posted 2.05 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in 15 post-season games in '08, leading all active netminders.

The Marlies won the North Division and finished second in the West to the Wolves with 109 points to Chicago’s 111. The two teams split their season series, each earning a victory on home ice, a trend that continued for the Wolves in the first two games of the finals. Chicago is 3-3 on the road this postseason, and their 8-3 loss in Toronto on April 8 was a daunting defeat, but the team is hoping the momentum from the first two games carries over into tonight.

The next home game, if necessary, will be Friday at the Allstate Arena at 7:30 p.m, and as always, tickets are available, along with that complimentary pregame meal.

Jeremy Piniak

Wolves Fri May 09 2008

Home is Where the Win Is

The Wolves and the Rockford IceHogs enter tonight's Game 5 at Allstate Arena knotted at two games apiece. After jumping out to a 2-0 nothing lead (including a 7-3 drubbing in Game 2), Chicago was unable to pick up a victory in Rockford's MetroCentre.

Game 3 saw the Hogs shutting down the Wolves high-powered "O" in a 3-1 win, with the lone Chicago tally coming with 1:16 left in the game by center Bryan Little. In Game 4, Rockford jumped out to a 3-0 lead before holding off a late Wolves rally for the 3-2 lead and the series tie.

The common factor in the first four games has been the home ice advantage, a trend that existed during the team's regular season matchups as well. Chicago was 5-0 against Rockford in Rosemont, but could only win one of the five games on the road. With two of the possible three games remaining slated for Allstate Arena, the pattern bodes well for Chicago, though a Game 7 is always a risky proposition.

Despite the even series, Wolves netminder Ondrej Pavelec has been stellar in net during his first career postseason. Rockford has averaged 37 shots per game, but Pavelec has posted a .932 save percentage and not given up more than three goals in any game yet.

Looking at tonight's game, a fast start may be the key to victory. The team scoring first has earned the 'W' in all four games so far, and while the Wolves lead the AHL in the regular season with 93 first period goals, they've struggled to start in the previous two games. A quick start tonight could get Chicago back on track to the Conference finals.

As always, tickets for tonight's game are available here, and the free food buffet always bears repeating. Schedule after the jump.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

Blackhawks Tue May 06 2008

Foley Returns to Fold?

In the May installment of of righting the wrongs of years past comes news the Blackhawks have parted ways with TV play-by-play man Dan Kelly, with many people expecting that famed broadcaster Pat Foley will return to the Hawks fold next season.

Foley called Blackhawks games on TV and radio for more than 25 years before the team withdrew a new contract offer in 2006, ending his longstanding tenure over unspecified "personal" reasons. Foley was a fan favorite both for his excitable and passionate play-by-play and his unabashedly honest assessment of the team's strengths and weaknesses, which is the factor many believe led to his ultimate dismissal.

Foley moved to Allstate Arena to call games for the Chicago Wolves, but with his contract up at the end of the year, Hawks President John McDonough appears primed to welcome back the "Voice of the Blackhawks" in the latest attempt to rebuild the bridge to the team's storied history.

Dan Kelly was behind the mike for two uneven seasons, with many fans unhappy with his style and the frequent tangent discussions with partner Eddie Olczyk that often resulted in missed calls. A change was becoming necessary in any event, but the return of Pat Foley will make many a Hawks fan's day.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

Hockey Thu May 01 2008

Rivalry gets ramped up

Although I’ve been giving myself over to baseball the past few weeks (Go Sox!) the recent cold snap reminded me that hockey is in the midst of its playoff stretch, and lo and behold, the Chicago Wolves did advance past the Milwaukee Admirals with a 4-2 series victory Saturday.

Leading the way was netminder Ondrej Pavelec, who recorded his first career postseason shutout in a series clenching 3-0 Game 6 victory. After an offensive attack failed to tickle the twine in a 2-0 loss in Game 4 last Wednesday the Wolves rebounded the next night with a 4-1 victory in Game 5, led by goals from Brett Sterling and Darren Haydar in the first period.

The victory sets up a highly anticipated showdown between the Wolves and the Blackhawks affiliate Rockford IceHogs, starting with Game 1 tonight at the Allstate Arena. The top two seeds in the West division literally fought tooth and nail throughout the season, with the teams accumulating more than 150 penalty minutes in a pair of brawl-filled games late in the season. The battle was tight on the scoreboard as well, with six of the 10 overall games decided by a single goal. The Wolves did garner a 6-3-1-0 record against Rockford during the regular season, including a perfect 5-0 at Allstate.

With all the animosity between the two squads, expect the series to be a chippy, hard-hitting physical affair, but the Wolves should have the offense to prevail in what should be a captivating matchup.

And don’t forget, free food!

Find the full 7-game schedule after the jump, and buy tickets here.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

Wolves Fri Apr 18 2008

Wolves Still in the Hunt

Yes, Chicagoland, there is still playoff hockey to be had this year.

Wednesday night the top-seeded Wolves opened their quest for the Calder Cup by welcoming the Milwaukee Admirals to the Allstate Arena for Game 1 of the West Division Semifinals. The Ads were uncouth guests, coming back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to steal a 4-3 victory in overtime.

Chicago looks for revenge tonight in Game 2, which is currently in progress in Rosemont. (Yes, this post was meant to be made well before Friday night, but human error made that not happen.)

The remaining first-round playoff schedule is located after the jump.

In addition to the thrill of playoff hockey, there's an added bonus for fans attending any home playoff game. Every ticket purchase valued at $20 or more will include a complimentary pregame meal for all postseason games. Fans can enjoy a buffet with pastas, salads, chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs, along with chips, desserts and soda in the Skyline Room of the Allstate Arena 90 minutes prior to each game starting tonight.

Tickets can be purchased via the usual Ticketmaster means, or by calling the Wolves directly at 1-800-THE-WOLVES.

Continue reading this entry »

Jeremy Piniak

Blackhawks Tue Apr 01 2008

A New Era

In a historic announcement this afternoon, the Blackhawks made official plans to broadcast their entire 82-game schedule, as well as playoff games, including all home games from the United Center.

And no, despite the date, this is not an April Fool's joke. Believe it, people. The Blackhawks are on TV, every game!

Combining with the team's current agreement with Comcast Sportsnet, the Hawks announced a three-year deal with WGN Television that will see the station broadcast up to 20 games per year in HD, with Comcast televising the remaining contests.

The agreement reestablishes a link between 'GN and the franchise from the '60s and '70s, when the station was the home of the Blackhawks. In fact, WGN broadcast the clinching game of the Hawks' last Stanley Cup, way back in 1961.

It's Christmas on April Fool's day for Blackhawks fans.

In other news, this year's squad is still harboring playoff aspirations, sitting four points out of the final spot with three games remaining, including tomorrow's home game against the rival Red Wings. A loss tomorrow will end the team's hopes; in fact, it can't afford to lose any of its games. But meaningful hockey in April is a rare sight, and a successful finish will help the young team carry over into next year's TV-laden season.

Jeremy Piniak

Blackhawks Sat Mar 29 2008

Rock-y, Rock-y!

Given the recent success of the Blackhawks, the Trib profiles the team's chairman, Rocky Wirtz, and surveys the current state of the team.

David Schalliol

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