Duncan Keith

Would we want it any other way?

The Blackhawks will start their repeat dreams and open the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs against the St. Louis Blues tomorrow night at 8:30pm at the Scottrade Center.

This will be one of the most fascinating series of the first round that will guarantee a legitimate cup contender is going home early.  These two teams are the big dogs in the central division. They hate each other and that makes it even more exciting to watch.

The Hawks and Blues met five times this season. Chicago won two games in the five-game season series, but recorded a point in every game as St. Louis’ three wins came in overtime.

The last time these two met in the playoffs was the 2014 series and come on who could forget that! Big hits, overtime wins and tons of trash talk, I can smell it already!

As we examine this series a bit more we can’t help but look at the Blackhawks playoff experience it is one of their biggest advantages. They have played a lot of bonus hockey the last few years and with the core group of Toews, Kane, Seabrook, Keith (will miss game 1, he is still serving his six game suspension) and Crawford their experiences is a huge advantage here.

Home-ice in this series is not going to be that big of a deal. The Blackhawks travel extremely well, and St. Louis is literally a hop, skip and a jump away. No advantage here. The Blues edge is that they are big as F*, their physical play and size are apparent in the teams previous meetings; the Blues have the edge on the offensive and defensive side of the puck. Hopefully, they won’t play dirty and try and take any of our guys out. Who can forget the hit David Backes took on Brent Seabrook in the 2014 series.

Two players that you need to know in this series are.


Vladimir Tarasenko
: Tarasenko has played very well against the Blackhawks this year. In the five games these teams played he scored five goals, not too shabby. He is also becoming a playoff animal for the Blues. He netted 10 goals in his last 12 playoff games, and in just five games in April he netted four goals. Needless to say the Blackhawks top defensive pairing are going to have their hands full with Tarasenko. He is just getting started. If the Blues have a chance, he needs to continue his hot streak for the club in the postseason.


Patrick Kane
: Where should I start?! Kane comes into the postseason even hotter than Tarasenko, with seven goals in his last five games. Kane is going to win the Hart Trophy for regular season MVP, it’s locked down.  Kane won’t slow down; look for big things from his line with Artem Anisimov and Artemi Panarin. Yeah, try not to confuse them either!

The schedule for this season series (All times are Central): So you don’t miss a moment of the action

Game 1: Wednesday 8:30 p.m. @Scottrade Center

Game 2: Friday 7 p.m. @ Scottrade Center

Game 3: Sunday 2 p.m. @United Center

Game 4: Tuesday 4/19 8:30 p.m. @United Center

Game 5: Thursday 4/21 TBD @Scottrade Center

Game 6: Saturday 4/23 TBD @United Center

Game 7: Monday 4/25 TBD @Scottrade Center

It’s almost been two decades since the NHL last had a repeat champion. This is going to be a phenomenal series. The hardest thing to do in the playoffs is eliminate a champion that just knows how to win in the postseason. The Blues won’t pull it off. Blackhawks in 6.

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Duncan Keith

Knee surgery… Chicago fans know all too well what knee surgery means to our superstars and teams, advice it’s pretty much a knife in our hearts. However hockey players are different beasts.

Fans shouldn’t worry too much about the Blackhawks announcement yesterday that defenseman Duncan Keith who is the reigning Conn Smythe winner and two time Norris Trophy Winner, underwent surgery on his right knee to repair a torn meniscus, and will be out four-six weeks.

Keith has played a lot of hockey for Chicago over the last few years. To be honest, Keith arguably puts the most wear and tear on his body and is among the NHL minutes leaders every season. Saturday’s 4-1 victory vs. the Blue Jackets, Keith played 25 minutes, 34 seconds, that is no small potatoes in the NHL.

Keith’s injury is a blow to the Hawks, whose core defensemen have been as reliable and healthy as any other team the last few seasons. The Hawks play in one of the NHL’s toughest divisions, and every point could make a difference at the end of the year. Keith is likely headed for long-term injured reserve, giving the Blackhawks some cap relief. The team, who are already spread thin at the blue line, may look to acquire another blue liner, while Keith is recovering. Keith’s absence will give youngsters Trevor van Riemsdyk and Viktor Svedberg, who have a combined 30+ career games between them, an opportunity to show Chicago and the coaching staff what they can do.

In my opinion I think this rest both mentally and physically will help Keith in the long term, and this isn’t the first time the Blackhawks have had to move along while one of their stars is injured.

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#RaiseTheBanner.

Yes, sovaldi Blackhawks fan’s it’s that time of a year, no rx the kickoff to the 2015-16 NHL season. Before we go into a season preview, tonight is a big night for the Blackhawks. They welcome an original six team when the New York Rangers pay a visit to the UC. They will raise the Championship Banner, get their rings and we all will once again party like its 1999. However, once that banner is up it is back to business for the Blackhawks to defend as Stanley Cup Champions.

The Season Ahead

The Hawks have one of the most coveted groups of core players in the league. These six have had their names engraved on the Stanley Cup all three times. Any team in the NHL would jump at the chance to have any of these guys. Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Marian Hossa and Niklas Hjalmarsson. If the Blackhawks have any chance of repeating these guys will need to stay healthy and all have solid seasons. We know these guys are physically tough, but they need to be more mentally tough this year, especially with the off-ice turmoil regarding Patrick Kane. The thought of him being yanked out of the lineup due to legal proceedings is something that I am sure is in the back of everyone’s mind.

The Blackhawks have to feel good with the 1-2 punch with their goaltenders Corey Crawford and Scott Darling. With two cup rings Crawford should finally be able to silence his critics. He is truly one of the best in the game. Darling just played 14 games last season, but his stellar 1.95 GAA and .936 save percentage shows he is capable of taking a larger workload to keep Crow healthy and ready for the postseason.

The Blackhawks have some new faces and for the champs to repeat these guys have some big shoes to fill with the salary cap situation sending Patrick Sharp, Brandon  Saad, etc. to new teams. Several new faces will play significant roles this season.  Trevor Daley, Artem Anisimov, Artemi Panarin, Viktor Tikhonov and Ryan Garbutt are the new kids on the block and the must know new names on the roster. This group needs to step up to any role coach Q asks them to play, Sharp and Saad, etc. were huge parts of last year’s cup run.

Predictions

The question I keep getting, will the Blackhawks repeat? The diehard fan in me says yes, of course they will. The realist in me knows just how hard it is to repeat as champions. In the NHL the last time that happened was 1997-98 by the Detroit Red Wings. I am foolishly going to go with my heart and go out on a limb here and predict, that in fact the Blackhawks will repeat as Stanley Cup Champions. Place your bets in Vegas now! They will finish with 104 points, 3d in the Central and once again put an incredible cup run together in the post season. Can’t wait to watch this season unfold, Go Hawks!

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chicago-blackhawks-vs-st-louis-blues

Bring on the Blues

Folks, online the NHL playoffs are finally here; let the quest for the repeat begin. After an incredible, healing season, it’s time for our beloved Blackhawks to get down to business, and bring Lord Stanley back to Chicago once again. Let’s face it, Stanley likes to party in Chicago.

Yes, the Blackhawks had another exciting season going 46-21-15 and finishing third in the Central Division. However, as the saying goes, it isn’t how you start but how you finish. As we have seen many times before in the NHL playoffs, regular season records will get you good seeding in the playoffs, but do not guarantee a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals.

The Blackhawks are the third seed in the Central Conference and unfortunately don’t have first round home ice advantage; that goes to the Blues. Their first round opponent is the second seeded St. Louis Blues, who the Blackhawks went 2-1-2 versus during the regular season.

Continue on for the must know details and players of this first round matchup.

What You Need to Know:

  • The Blues lost their final six regular-season games. They were outscored 22-5 during that span, #woof. They had a seven-point lead on the Colorado Avalanche in the Central as of April 7. They wound up finishing second in the Central and many aren’t even taking the Blues as a threat.
  • St. Louis Blues

    St. Louis Blues

    In the Blues defense they were without EVERYONE… David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Patrick Berglund, Barret Jackman, Brenden Morrow, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Sobotka all sat out due to injuries in their regular-season finale. The Blues are expected to return some of their stars for Game 1 Backes, Oshie, Jackman, Pietrangelo and Sobotka are all listed as a go.

  • The Blackhawks will welcome back both Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane…Can you say YAHOO?! Both have been out due to injuries the last few weeks of the season. Kane has been skating for more than a week while Toews returned to skating on Thursday. The whole city of Chicago is excited for these two to be back.
  • Brian Bickell & Andrew Shaw

    Brian Bickell & Andrew Shaw

    When everyone is out there, the Blackhawks are loaded. Toews and Marian Hossa are as good as they come in terms of two-way forward play. Patrick Sharp had one of the best seasons of his career. And you know guys like Andrew Shaw and Bryan Bickell will score big goals at some point in this postseason.

 Goalie Matchup:

  • Blues goaltender Ryan Miller has lost his last five starts. He had a 3.60 goals-against average and stopped 107 of 125 shots for a .856 save percentage in that span. He was on fire when he was first traded to the Blues from the Sabres. Blues fans are hoping he returns to prime form.
  • We all know the story… Goaltender gets hot and grows bigger in his net. Once a team gains energy, it can tilt the ice against their rival and skate to the crapper. Corey Crawford had a solid season going 32-16-10. His goals-against average was an impressive 2.26. If Crawford can get in the zone early. He is one of the hardest goalies to beat in the league.

Key Players to Watch on the Blues:

  • David Backes

    David Backes

    Center; David Backes: Backes has been missed by the Blues. He is a dominating force on the ice. Frankly, no Hawks fan can stand Backes. You hate playing him, but would love to have him on your team. He is a big defensive-forward and he makes his presence known with some serious hits. Note to our guys… Keep your head up when Backes is on the ice.

  • Right Winger; T.J. Oshie: The Sochi Olympic sweetheart is
    T.J. Oshie

    T.J. Oshie

    another Blues player that has been bitten by the injury bug. He is listed as day-to-day. Blues head coach Ken Hitchcock is confident that Oshie will play in game 1. The Blues are better with Oshie on the ice. This season he had 21 goals and 39 assists. He is one of the most skilled right wingers in the league. He can create space and make a shot happen when you think there isn’t one. Look for the Blackhawks to try and get Oshie off balance with Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook.

  • Jaden Schwartz

    Jaden Schwartz

    Left Winger; Jaden Schwartz: One of the many reasons the Blues were so lethal when they were healthy was the depth of their offensive ability. The upsurge of Jaden Schwartz as rapid scoring threat off the wing gave them a element they did not have in last spring’s first-round exit against the Los Angeles Kings. Schwartz must continue his strong sophomore play against the Blackhawks. If he can, he is going to be one you need to watch in this series.

Key Players to Watch on the Blackhawks:

  • Patrick Sharp

    Patrick Sharp

    Left Winger; Patrick Sharp: We have come to expect the clutch performances from Patrick Sharp; he has once again proved how valuable he is. He led the team with 34 goals during the regular season, including 10 power-play markers, and 78 points. His play elevated down the stretch when Kane and Toews went down. Look for Sharpie to elevate his game this series and be a one not to miss on the ice.

  • Defenseman; Duncan Keith:
    Duncan Keith

    Duncan Keith

    Keith is having another fantastic year. He is once again in the conversations for Norris Trophy winner (best defenseman) and he should be. Six goals, 55 assists and a +22. Keith is crucial to the Hawks repeating. There is no better assist man in the league and he is dangerous when he has the puck. The Blues need to be worried if Keith gets hot.

  • Patrick Kane

    Patrick Kane

    Right Winger; Patrick Kane: We can finally say that Kaner is back! Kaner, one of the two franchise forwards is integral to getting past the Blues. We all know the Hawks have depth, however when Kaner went down. The Hawks defiantly were in a funk. Kane loves the big games and series, weather the NHL Playoffs or Olympics. If he finds his grove, the Blues better watch out.

First Round Schedule:

Game 1: Thursday, 7 p.m.; Blackhawks at Blues (CSN)

Game 2: Saturday, 2 p.m.; Blackhawks at Blues (NBC)

Game 3: Monday, April 21, 7:30 p.m.; Blues at Blackhawks (CSN)

Game 4: Wednesday, April 23, 8:30 p.m.; Blues at Blackhawks (CSN)

Game 5 (if necessary): Friday, April 25, 7 p.m.; Blackhawks at Blues (CSN)

Game 6 (if necessary): Sunday, April 27, 2 p.m.; Blues at Blackhawks (NBC)

Game 7 (if necessary): Tuesday, April 29, TBD; Blackhawks at Blues (CSN)

What’s Next:

Get ready for playoff beards to pop up all over our city and the Blackhawks bandwagon to get very crowded once again.  It’s time for the Hawks to put together another magical Stanley Cup run just like last season.

The injury situation makes predicting this series difficult. On paper the Blackhawks have the upper hand versus the Blues who are coming into the playoffs with a mental block. However, playoff hockey goes to another level, and if there is anything to get a team out of their funk it is a chance at hoisting Stanley.  This series is going to be a good one; I mean a knock down drag out one. Full of physical battles left and right. I predict the Blackhawks will win this series in seven games. Let’s get rowdy again Chicago… because it’s the Cup! Go Hawks!

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bruins-blackhawks

The Blackhawks (42-16-15) closed out the month of March at the United Center with a 4-2 victory Tuesday night versus the Stars. The Blackhawks will now take their show on the road for a three-game road trip in four days starting tonight in Boston to face their 2013 Stanley Cup Finals opponents, case the Boston Bruins (49-17-6).

It is another jam packed sports night here in Chicago. The Sweet 16 kicks off tonight and while everyone’s bracket is busted, I am still sitting pretty with my Wolverines. However, let’s get back on track.

What You Need to Know:

  • This is the second time these two teams are facing off. The Blackhawks edged out the Bruins 3-2 in OT back in January. Even though these two teams play in different conferences they don’t like each other one bit. It could be because of something called 17 seconds and a Stanley Cup.
  • This game is not one to be missed tonight. The Bruins have already clinched a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference and are poised for the top seed with 104 points. The Blackhawks can clinch a playoff berth with a win tonight in Boston. Let’s get you prepared to switch up the conversation and throw that cutie at the bar a curve ball, proving that you know your hockey just as well as your bracket.

Who to Watch For: The Bruins:

  • David Krejci

    David Krejci

    David Krejci: There is no hotter forward in the league than the Bruins’ Krejci. Krejci leads the team in scoring with 16 goals and 44 assists. Krejci is a huge utility man; he can pretty much do it all. He can make plays happen when there are none. The Hawks defense will have their hands full trying to stop his ridiculous assist abilities tonight.

  • Zdeno Chara

    Zdeno Chara

    Zdeno Chara: It is simply a must to always mention the HUGE 6’9” defenseman from the Bruins. Chara ranks second with 35 points for the Bruins. You simply can’t miss him on the ice; he is a presence and will be up against the Hawks top line. Look for Chara to throw the big body around and watch out for his shot. He has had the hardest shot clocked at over 104mph the last 3 years.

 

Who to Watch For: The Blackhawks:

  • Andrew Shaw

    Andrew Shaw

    Andrew Shaw: Shaw is still on fire with five goals and five assists over the last 10 games. The thing I love about Shaw is that he plays his ass off every night. He molds to the role Coach Q needs him to play. Since Kaner went down with an injury a week ago, Shaw has stepped up his offensive play and it is refreshing to see others take on the role.

  • Duncan Keith

    Duncan Keith

    Duncan Keith: Keith is having his best all-around season. His quality of play on both sides of the puck has gone to a new level this year. He is once again in the Norris Trophy talks and he should be. However, Keith has been under the radar this season and if you ask him, he is ok with that. Keith will be paired up to face Boston’s top players tonight and no one does it better than Keith.

Your Take Away Piece:

“No team has been hotter than the Bruins as they are riding a 13-game points streak with victories in 12 of those games. The Blackhawks have the opportunity to snap the Bruins’ streak and gain another two points and further themselves from the third place Avalanche. It is going to be a great physical game, everything that hockey is about.”

Blackhawks Women's White Indian Head Scoop Neck Tee with Striped Sleeves by Retro Brand, Clark Street Sports: $34.99

Blackhawks Women’s White Indian Head Scoop Neck Tee with Striped Sleeves by Retro Brand, Clark Street Sports: $34.99

What’s Next:

The puck drops at 6:00pm on Comcast SportsNet. With spring weather on the horizon and the Sweet 16 in full throttle tonight, there is no place else to be tonight then at the bar watching the Hawks and NCAA. Go Hawks!

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The Blackhawks (39-15-15) return to home ice tonight after losing last night 3-2 in OT versus the Flyers. The Blackhawks played tough and physical and made big plays, sick but they still couldn’t pull off the W. However, ambulance all of that needs to be forgotten as the Blackhawks look to figure out the St. Louis Blues (47-14-7) after three one-goal losses against their Central Division rivals.

I know everyone’s focus has shifted to their brackets and the madness begins tonight. However, viagra top it off with some original black and blue hockey. You won’t want to miss this one.

What You Need to Know:

Since the Olympic break the Blackhawks have gone 4-5. Not great. but not awful. Yes, the Blackhawks are still in third place in the conference looking up at St. Louis and Colorado. Who just can’t seem to lose these days. However, no one should push the panic button. This team is built for the long haul. The team with the most points heading into the playoffs rarely wins the cup. In my opinion sitting third in the conference and fifth in the division is fine with me.

This is the third meeting between the Hawks and Blues and unfortunately the Hawks haven’t won a game versus the Blues this year and this is starting to become more of a rivalry and that makes us all winners.  The Blues have won three in a row overall and are on a nine-game points streak.

Who to Watch For: The Blues

  • TJ Oshie: We all remember and fell in love with this former HAM during the Olympics. Oshie leads them with 17 goals and 37 assists. The right winger is big and powerful and hasn’t made it easy on Hawks defenders. Oshie is a big reason the Blues have 101 points and are considered one of the best teams in the league. Look for Coach Q to stick super defenseman duo Ducan Keith and Brent Seabrook on Oshie.
  • Ryan Miller

    Ryan Miller

    Ryan Miller: Miller was acquired by the Blues in the trade deadline and has found his Vezina (he won the top goalie award in 2010) stride. Since the trade he is 7-0-1 with a goals against average of 1.61. He is a huge reason the Blues are peaking at the right moment. The Blackhawks are going to have to fight for every goal tonight. Miller doesn’t give them up often.

Who to Watch For: The Blackhawks

    • Marian Hossa

      Marian Hossa

      Marian Hossa: Hossa came back from another injury on Sunday versus Detroit and made an instant impact. His impact was present last night versus the Flyers netting one assist. Hoss is due for a hot streak. I think he will log more ice time tonight and look for him to continue to shoot the puck on net. In a game like this “garbage” goals could determine the outcome.

    • Corey Crawford: When your opposing goalie has a hot streak going you need to bring your “A” game. Crawford has always performed well under fire. With all the talk surrounding Miller and his play, look for Crow to rise to the occasion.

Your Take Away Piece:

“It’s a BIG game folks. It will be a tough and physical game. The Hawks need to come out and score first and engage the home ice crowd. If the Hawks can keep the Blues playing on their heels. As well as bombard Miller with tons of shots the Hawks can finally win one against the Blues this year.”

What’s Next:

The puck drops at 8:00pm on NBC Sports Network. Head to your local watering hole to watch the early March Madness bracket games and stay for the game. Or head to the United Center tickets are still available HERE. Either way it’s a great Wednesday night sports night in Chicago. GO Hawks.

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