NHL Playoffs

Never count a defending champion out. The Blackhawks backs were against the wall a few days ago as they faced a 3-1 first-round series deficit, however like post seasons before the Blackhawks surged back to tie the series up and it all comes down to Game 7 tonight in St. Louis.

In my series preview I said the Blackhawks would win in six, but this series deserves a winner take all Game 7, it has been fantastic to watch. Is it just me or is there a pattern here? The start of every playoff series the Blackhawks play like shit and then once Game 5 hits, it’s like a whole new team.

The Hawks have an advantage with their Game 7s experience. The Hawks have played in four of them during the Quenneville era and have won two, including Game 7 of last season’s Western Conference finals against the Ducks in Anaheim, advantage Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks want to keep their hopes for another Stanley Cups alive (that would be four in seven years, not too shabby), while the Blues are desperately trying to end a three-year streak of being ousted in the first round. Blackhawks take Game 7, by a score of 3-2. Go Hawks!

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The month of March is one the Blackhawks would like to forget. I don’t blame them; my March Madness bracket took a real ugly turn, early. Thanks Sparty (never trust the green and white), but hey congrats to Villanova, who had that one picked?! With all the excitement about the upcoming baseball season, it is hard to stay focused, but come on.

The Blackhawks have three games left in the regular-season and are fighting for better playoff positing at this point. The Blackhawks will host Arizona tonight and they currently sit six points behind the Blues.

In the beginning of March the Hawks were one of the best teams in the league, if not the best and as a mentioned before the month of March was not kind to them.  The Hawks went an awful 7-6-2 and have pretty much looked like sh!t and going from an apparent Cup contender to looking like the Maple Leafs (the worst team in the league).

The Blackhawks are one of the most talented teams in the league, they literally have an All-Star player at every position, so what gives for the shitty play?

Let’s face it the Hawks just aren’t getting to the net as successfully as they use to, and their scoring opportunities are less than 50% and that’s 23rd in the league. Not something that a Stanley Cup winning team wants to boast about. Can someone tell my why when Toews and Kane are off the ice, this team gets scored on more than Fiona in Shameless? This team has too much depth and top tier talent. They really need to get into a defensive mindset.  Speaking of defense, they will open the series without Duncan Keith; he will miss the series opener because of his six-game suspension for whacking Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle in the face with a high stick last week.

They seem to be on a collision course to meet the Blues in the first round, and they have the talent to beat anyone in the playoffs at any time. The Blackhawks have been just fine the last six seasons winning three Cups, can they repeat. My heart says yes, the stats tell me to look the other way. Any way you slice it, its playoff hockey in Chicago and let’s bring home Stanley once again!

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It’s been another long and painful five days since the Blackhawks eliminated the Wild in the second round of the playoffs, viagra and the wait is finally over. The Western Conference Finals begin this afternoon, right in time to close out the weekend with the hottest team on ice looking to get one step closer to bringing my bff Stanley home once again.

It’s hard to believe that the playoffs are half way over and the Blackhawks just need eight more wins, yes just eight to be the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions since the 1997-1998 Detroit Red Wings.

It’s hard not to get excited, however, we still have plenty of work to be done. The Blackhawks next round opponent are the third seeded Los Angeles Kings. The Kings took out the first seeded Anaheim Ducks in seven games in the last round and they are ready to take on the defending champs.

The Blackhawks will once again receive home ice for this series, which makes me giddy with joy our city will be rocking; will you be part of it? The Blackhawks and the Kings squared off three times this season with the Hawks winning all three. Confident? Hold your horses folks, this is NOT the same Kings team, this is for a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals. Both teams will bring their A games and this is going to be a fantastic series.

Continue on for the must know details and players of the Western Conference Finals.

What You Need to Know:

  • The Kings are the team that won’t die, they have been down in both their series with the Sharks (0-3) and Ducks (2-3) and they came back to win both. This team is relentless and they play to the end.
  • Patrick Kane is on fire – he has six goals in 12 games and his confidence is at an all time high. Look for him to be great in this series.
  • Crawford & Quick

    Crawford & Quick

    I sometimes repeat myself and this is one of those times. A HOT goalie can make or break you in the postseason. This series will feature two goalies who are on a hot streak. Corey Crawford has been clutch, however so has Kings net-minder Jonathan Quick. Look for a goalie battle in this series and both teams forwards trying to figure out how to put the lotion in the basket.

  • The Blackhawks have had five days rest. While the Kings will just have one day to rest those legs. Look for that to help our boys in game 1 and 2.
  • The Kings have been hurting on defense. The Hawks need to take advantage of this. The Kings Robyn Regehr who is a beast and one of the best in the NHL was hurt in Game 1 against the Ducks and hasn’t played since. Willie Mitchell was hurt against the Sharks; and hasn’t played since, either.

Key Players to Watch on the Kings:

  • Marian Gaborik

    Marian Gaborik

    Right Winger: Marian Gaborik: When the Kings acquired Gaborik they got a big player with all the right stuff. Gaborik has not disappointed in the postseason he has nine goals and six assists. He has found superb chemistry with his line and the Blackhawks will need to know where he is on the ice at all times.

  • Right Winger; Justin Williams:
    Justin Williams

    Justin Williams

    Williams has been the breakout star of the Kings postseason if you ask me. He is a big time player and all he does is score and win game 7’s. He is a two way forward that can do it all and he loves to be on the ice for the big plays and big games and I am ok with that, he is very easy on my eyes. Actually a majority of the Kings roster is (Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, etc.).

  • Anze Kopitar

    Anze Kopitar

    Center; Anze KopitarKopitar is one of the best centers in the league and he and his line mate, the previously mentioned Gaborik, have been one of the best lines this postseason. Kopitar is definitely a guy who should get more credit, but I think he likes to fly under the radar. The Blackhawks defense will have their hands full with Kopitar he is the lead scorer in the postseason so far, the boys on the blue line will be busy.

Key Players to Watch on the Blackhawks:

  • Patrick "Mullet" Kane

    Patrick “Mullet” Kane

    Right Winger; Patrick Kane: The power of the “magic mullet”. I can sum this up in two sentences why Kaner is one to watch this series. He is on fire on the score sheet and his moves on the ice will dazzle even the novice fan.

  • Left Winger; Bryan Bickell: Everyone was worried when Bickell was slumping during the regular season, but not this girl. Every player goes through a funk and the only thing that matters is that Bicks
    Bryan Bickell

    Bryan Bickell

    has started to surge when he needs to! Bickell is tied with Kaner on points this postseason and he hasn’t been afraid to use his big body. The Kings injured blue line will need to find a way to shut him down, if they want to stay in this series.

  • Niklas Hjalmarsson

    Niklas Hjalmarsson

    Defenseman; Niklas Hjalmarsson: Hammer has been the standout defenseman this postseason. No disrespect to the top two Keith and Seabs have been great, however Hammer has been everywhere in every play doing the small things that have set him apart. He is fun to watch and his willing to do anything attitude has Chicagoans smiling from ear to ear.

Western Conference Finals Schedule:

All times Central

Game 1, Sunday: Kings at Blackhawks, 2:00 p.m. (NBC)

Game 2, Wednesday: Kings at Blackhawks, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)

Game 3, Saturday, May 24: Blackhawks at Kings, 7 p.m. (NBC)

Game 4, Monday, May 26: Blackhawks at Kings, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)

Game 5, Wednesday, May 28-*: Kings at Blackhawks, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)

Game 6, Friday, May 30-*: Blackhawks at Kings, 8 p.m. (NBCSN)

Game 7, Sunday, June 1-*: Kings at Blackhawks, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)

What’s Next:

It is go time and this is for a trip to go get Stanley for the second straight year. The city is going to be in full force, don’t be the one left out of the party.

The Kings are the team that refuses to give up with out a fight, they have been down in series 0-3 and on the brink of elimination each of their series and came back to win, sound familiar? These guys are not going to be easy and with two HOT goalies Crawford and Quick this is going to be one hell of a series. I predict the Blackhawks will win this series in seven INCREDIBLE games. It’s the Cup, I don’t have to say anything else folks?!?! Go Hawks!

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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 vs. Blackhawks Game 5 Cheat Sheet

We’ve had three days to recover from Wednesday’s Game 4 high-scoring Blackhawks’ win that sent every Hawks fan’s heart racing. With the series now tied at 2-2, stuff tonight’s Game 5 will be the turning point for either team.

Game 4 was an offensive explosion by both teams with a total of 11 goals scored between the two, thumb but it was Brent Seabrook’s missile OT goal that locked it for the Hawks 6-5 giving our boys the momentum shift heading into tonight’s game – a series changer.

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Tonight’s game is a must win by both teams, you win and you’re one game away from hoisting Lord Stanley, you lose and you are one game away from crushing your city’s hopes and dreams (I know, dramatic, but true).

It’s Saturday night, Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals – our city will be out enjoying the summer weather and ready to P-A-R-T-Y! Here’s what you need to know to talk Hawks/Bruins Game 5 with the best of them.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

  • The Boys Are Back in Town: Coach Q reunited Bryan Bickell, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in Game 4 and it paid off! The line was on fire and gave the Hawks the added boost they needed to light the lamp over and over. The Hawks found offense from all of their lines and if they can carry that over to Game 5 look out.
  • Wednesday was fun…but: The back-to-back scoring we saw in Game 4 was great to watch and sure made the night fun if you were high-fiving and cuing up Chelsea Dagger, but don’t expect another loose defensive game tonight like we saw Wednesday. Sure, the Hawks can let is slide, because they WON, but the fact is Crawford gave up five goals, the most of these playoffs and the Hawks’ d-men let too many past the blue line. Both teams need to button it up defensively, and we can probably expect a much lower scoring game tonight because of it.

    Corey Crawford

  • Build Off The Power Play: Patrick Sharp came through for the Hawks and finally scored on the power play in Game 4. The Blackhawks need to build off of that. If they get the opportunities they need to capitalize. Boston is physical and a great penalty killer team. The Hawks power play has been pathetic and hopefully they can get it going again in Game 5
  • What Goalies Will Show: Tuuka Rask and Corey Crawford have both had their ups and downs this series and Game 4 was ugly for both of them, giving up a combined 11 goals. Both of these goalies have something to prove. For Crawford, it is finally silencing his critics that said he would never be a #1 goalie. For Rask it has been “Can he be as good as Tim Thomas?” and so far he has been. If Rask can win a cup for Boston many will say Tim Who?

YOUR TAKE AWAY PIECE:

“This is a pivotal game and I’m sure glad it’s on home ice where the Hawks have been so strong this season. The Blackhawks need to come out and attack offensively just like in Game 4. As we have seen throughout this series, it is not how you start, but how a game is finished. Scoring first has become a curse in this series. The boys will be revved up and the Madhouse will be ready to blow its roof off.”

Clark Street Sports, $29.99

WHAT’S NEXT:

The momentum is in the Hawks’ favor as the series returns home to the Madhouse. Hope you have your plans secure ladies, because tonight is going to be outrageous. With a 7PM puck drop our city will be starting early for this one, so plan accordingly and get out to cheer out boys on to victory! GO HAWKS!

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Blackhawks vs. Bruins Game 4 Cheat Sheet

If you are still dazed and confused as to what the hell happened to the Blackhawks in Game 3, sovaldi well my friends, look you are not alone. Everyone in Chicago wants to forget about Game 3 and lucky for all of us there weren’t too many days in between game 3 and 4.

The Hawks fell to the Bruins 2-0 on Monday night in a pathetic showing, their first loss of the series in regulation that ended with a heated brawl. Man, how I miss Game 1’s offense.

Boston now leads the series 2-1 and will be looking to steal another win from the Hawks on home ice at the Garden to send them back to Chicago down 3-1. It’s a Wednesday night must-win road game for the Hawks and our city is looking for a reason to celebrate. Here’s what you need to know to talk Hawks/Bruins Game 4 with the best of them.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:

  • What Lines Will We See: In Game 3 the Hawks’ lines were shifted and chaos erupted before the guys even took the ice, resulting in what many think caused Marian Hossa’s warmup injury. Coach Q says Hoss is “most likely” to go tonight. If not, I hope they have a better back up plan than in game 3. The Hawks need something/someone on their 4 lines to get the scoring going. If they can get back to their game 1 offense, they will have an excellent chance of coming back to Chicago with the series tied.
  • Will Emotions Take Over: At the end of Game 3 there was a bit of a scrum featuring Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw against the Bruins’ Zdeno Chara and Brad Marchand. At least the Blackhawks showed some life, however a little too late. I don’t think the emotion-fueled incident will carry over into tonight’s game, but look for more intensity from the Blackhawks tonight and not just in the last five minutes.
  • Will The Power Play or Superstars Show: Oy vey! The power play stinks; at this point in the playoffs it is laughable. I am not sure what if anything the Hawks can do to get the pp back on track, except for scoring on it! I don’t think there are any magical line changes or formulas except to shoot and shoot often. As for the disappearing Hawks’ stars, again this is a theme that has resonated throughout the entire post season and at this point I feel Jonathan Toews is robbing the Blackhawks with the money he is collecting. Not limited to Toews, Kane has been MIA and it is time for Coach Q to start calling these guys out.
  • Boston’s Players Are In The Zone: Boston’s forwards have shown up every game and continue to out work the Blackhawks forwards. Daniel Paille, Patrice Bergeron and Milan Lucic to name a few have all shown up and their utility guys have come to play too. Doing the little things, winning face offs, being physical, everything it takes to win a cup. I simply can’t ignore the play of their defenseman, not only is Zdeno Chara a beast physically but he wreaks havoc everywhere he is.  Dennis Seidenberg may not show up on the score sheet, but this bad ass defenseman has been everywhere in this series and frustrated the Hawks left and right. He is definitely a name to drop this evening.
  • Must Win, or In Trouble: It has to be said and the Hawks have to play with urgency. Game 4 is a must win; there is no way to beat around the bush. If the Hawks lose Game 4 and come back to Chicago down 3-1 it is going to be extremely hard to repeat history (aka: Detroit series – the Bruins are NOT the Red Wings).

YOUR TAKE AWAY PIECE:

“We knew this series was going to be old time hockey, and so far it has been very entertaining to watch. However, Game 4 is a must win for our boys. Boston is simply too good for the Blackhawks to head back to Chicago down 3-1, especially when neither the power play nor our big guns are showing up. The Blackhawks need to get back to their Game 1 offense, get physical and score earlier or this one will get ugly.”

WHAT’S NEXT:

It’s a 7:00PM puck drop at the TD Garden in Boston and Beantown will be ready for the Hawks. Grab your girlfriends and head out to Happy Hour this one is going to be exciting and one you are going to want to share with your friends.

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