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Posts Tagged ‘Columbus Blue Jackets’

Chicago Blackhawks Better Gear Up For The Muscle

Posted by sportsmaven on January 4, 2009

Indications from the last 3 games (the two Detroit games and tonight’s 5-2 victory against the Calgary Flames) appear that teams are now trying to take the Chicago Blackhawks out of their game by muscling them around on the ice.  Coming off their recent 9 game winning streak, the Detroit Red Wings were unbelievably physical in blanking the Hawks 4-0 on Tuesday.  The Wings came hard at young Hawks RW Patrick Kane and C Jonathan Toews, injuring Kane and clearly disturbing Toews on many occasions.  The Hawks enforcers were silent in protecting their stars, something that will need to change for the Hawks to keep moving forward.

Calgary Flames' Mark Giordano, left, fights with Chicago Blackhawks' Colin Fraser during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Calgary Flames' Mark Giordano, left, fights with Chicago Blackhawks' Colin Fraser during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, Jan. 4, 2009, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

The Red Wings continually sent ex-Hawk and RW Daniel Cleary after Kane, eventually forcing Kane out of the game.  This will become the new strategy of teams taking on the Blackhawks, as teams used to be able to beat the Hawks on talent alone, but now the times have changed.

With the emergence of RW Patrick Sharp and D Duncan Keith, along with the rapid development of youngsters Toews and Kane, the steady play of a surprising healthy RW Martin Havlat and the addition of now three time All-Star D Brian Campbell, the level of talent on the Hawks has shot through the roof of the United Center.  The addition of Calder Trophy contender LW Pat Versteeg has made the Hawks the youngest, most dynamic new team and propelling them into the top non-division leader in the Western Conference with 49 points, but 8 points behind the Central Division leading Red Wings but 9 points ahead of the team directly below them, the Columbus Blue Jackets.

The good news for the Blackhawks are that teams can no longer just show up and beat them any longer.  The gap of talent that has existed over the last few seasons has been closed, virtually eliminated through very shrewd work by Hawks GM Dale Tallon, assisted by assistant GM Stan Bowman and new special advisor Scotty Bowman, as well as the addition of veteran coach Joel Quenneville.  When the gap of talent is non-existent, teams like the Red Wings often resort to physical intimidation, imposing their will on their opponents.  For a young team such as the Blackhawks, this tactic is quite effective, displayed by home and home victories and the 0-4 record against the Red Wings for which the Blackhawks are proud owners.

The next step for the Blackhawks is to begin learining how to match physical play with physical play without taking themselves out of their game plan.  Tonight’s victory over the Calgary Flames was a start.  Hawks D Colin Fraser, RW Ben Eager, D Matt Walker, and RW Dustin Byfuglien set the tone tonight with 5:00 fighting penalties (Byfuglien with a 10:00 game misconduct penalty at the end of the game).  With the success of the 2009 NHL Winter Classic on New Year’s day, the 3 Hawks starters on the All-Star team, and the overall rise of an Original Six team deep in the ashes of despair, the young Hawks are now a target for teams to take their shots.  How the Hawks respond to that challenge is what will determine if their success will continue.

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Chicago Blackhawks Deliver On National Television

Posted by sportsmaven on February 12, 2007

The Chicago Blackhawks were on national television today, believe it or not. So were their opponents, the Columbus Blue Jackets. How this game got on national television, i’m not sure. Both these teams entered today with losing records. So this is what the NHL wants to showcase in a limited national television opportunity? I’m not sure what the NHL braintrust (or maybe it was the networks, who knows these days?) was thinking on this one, but the Hawks game out smoking in the first period with 3 goals and hung on for a 5-4 victory in Columbus, Ohio.

Blackhawks Beat Blue Jackets 5-4
(AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

Martin Havlat led the Hawks with 3 points on a goal and two assists. Nikolai Khabibulin back between the pipes made some key saves down the stretch to preserve this victory. The Hawks are 4-2 on the seven game roadtrip with their last game on Wed. in Pittsburgh against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Martin Havlat clearly sets the pace for this Blackhawks team. When he plays well, the team tends to play well and it shows on the scoreboard and the standings. The Hawks stuggled mightily when he missed 19 games with a high ankle injury earlier this season. The Hawks are now at .500 (15-15-5) under Denis Savard since he took over for Trent Yawney as head coach.

The goals should be simple now, get back to .500 as soon as possible and then make a push for that 8th spot in the playoffs. Currently the Hawks are 15 points out of that last spot, a longshot, but anything could happen.

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Chicago Blackhawks Own The Road

Posted by sportsmaven on February 8, 2007

The Chicago Blackhawks roadshow sets down in Vancouver tonight, playing the Vancouver Canucks. G Patrick Lalime makes his Blackhawks debut tonight, after 3 months on the injured list after back surgery. Lalime wastes no time making a splash by logging a shutout, joining G Brian Boucher as the only Blackhawks goalies to log shutouts this season (oh, Nikolai, Nikolai, where are you, Nikolai??) The Blackhawks have won 4 of their last 5 games after breaking a 10 game losing streak on Jan. 28th against the Calgary Flames and the United Center.

Blackhawks Beat CanucksBlackhawks Beat Canucks with Lalime

The only other shocking attribute of this game is that the Blackhawks scored 3 goals, although the last 2 goals were empty netters with under a minute left in the game. Of course, the Blackhawks power play was non-existent again tonight, going 0-3 in that department. The Blackhawks are 21-26-7 after tonight’s game and have two strong wins against Calgary and Vancouver in their road trip bank.

The Blackhawks move past the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight into 13th place in the conference, 13 pts. out of the 8th and final playoff spot with 28 games left in the season. If the Blackhawks have a run in them, it has to start now. I believe Lalime has earned another start, as Nikolai Khabibulin wasn’t even the backup tonight and has been struggling of late. It’s nice to log 2 wins in a row….would be even nicer if Coach Denis Savard can coax some consistency out of this crew…..

(Photos courtesy of AP/ESPN)

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