Kukla's Korner Hockey
Neil Hayes of the Chicago Sun-Times reminds Chicago fans what the playoffs are like…
When it comes to the excitement level between the regular season and the playoffs, few sports compare to hockey, which remains primarily an arena sport. On any given night, in most NHL cities, those inside the arena make up a significant percentage of that team’s fans. That means ratings are never as high as league and team executives would like. It also means an electrifying playoff atmosphere for those who don’t remember.
These Blackhawks are capable of winning a series or two, which will only ratchet up the intensity. Can they topple the Sharks or Red Wings, the two dominant teams in the Western Conference? Probably not. But the Hawks have won two straight against San Jose, giving them a puncher’s chance.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
We often talk about “the missing piece” when it comes to Stanley Cup puzzles. That one, elusive block to complete the tower, the one snapshot to complete the image.
Usually it’s a player, a puck-moving defenseman, a shut-down forward, a power-play specialist.
Sitting on a bench near the Tampa harbor is the man who may well be the Chicago Blackhawks’ missing piece. He’s 50 years old with a graying mustache and a steely glare and three teenage children.
Joel Quenneville won’t score a goal for the Hawks and he won’t block a shot, but he is the man who holds the key to a team and a city aching to win its first playoff series since 1996.
NEW YORK/TORONTO (March 21, 2009) – Chicago Blackhawks forward Ben Eager has been suspended for three games, without pay, for a blow to the head of an unsuspecting player during NHL Game #1068 against the Edmonton Oilers on March 20, the National Hockey League announced today
The incident occurred at 7:30 of the third period and involved Oilers forward Liam Reddox. No penalty was assessed.
from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,
Their March swoon allowed the surging Vancouver Canucks to leap-frog the Hawks in the race for home-ice advantage. But with a game in hand, the Hawks had their chance to reclaim fourth Friday night with the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center, a team the Hawks had defeated three previous times this season.
But when things are going bad, it doesn’t matter who comes to town as the Hawks fell 5-4 in a shootout in a back-and-forth contest before a crowd of 22,151. The loss was the Hawks’ fifth consecutive and seventh out of their last eight games, but they did manage a point to pull even with the Canucks in the West with 12 games remaining.
from Tim Sassone of Between
The Circles, Coach Q said after Friday’s morning skate that it was time to ride goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, starting with Friday’s game against Edmonton.
“We want to get him playing games here,” Joel Quenneville said. “We need to give him the net for a while to get on a roll here. I think just prior to him getting hurt it looked like he was going to get the ball and go. The first time he got hurt the same thing.
“He’s positioned himself to get this opportunity and we’re going to rely on him to get the net.”
more on the Blackhawks…
from Tim Sassone of Between The Circles,
Huet wasn’t very good. Neither was Campbell, who continues to make decisions that leave you scratching your head, especially on the power play.
Campbell is pressing big time and seems to be getting worse instead of better.
Three bad goals by Huet, by my count. Definitely not playoff goaltending. He did make a few huge stops, but the goals were killers. Time to play Khabibulin. A lot.
The Hawks have 13 games to play. Nik should play at least 10 of them.
via Tim Sassone of Between the Circles,
Hawks coach Coach Joel Quenneville said after practice Monday that Sammy Pahlsson would make his Hawks debut on Wednesday at Columbus.
Meanwhile, Nikolai Khabibulin will start again Tuesday in New Jersey when Devils goalie Martin Brodeur goes after his NHL-record 552nd career victory.
The Hawks are actually looking forward to trying to deny Brodeur his place in history - at least for a few days. “It’s going to happen. We’d just like to postpone it,” Coach Q said.
via Puck The Media,
NHL Live on NHL Network/XM Sirius just announced that NHL Network will follow Marty as long as it takes to get the record, which means that NHL Network will be airing Tuesday’s Devils-Blackhawks game, with a blackout in the New Jersey/New York metro and Chicagoland areas.
from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,
In need of a boost to yank them out of their doldrums, the Blackhawks will turn to goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin.
The veteran is scheduled to return to action Sunday when the Hawks host the New York Islanders at the United Center. Khabibulin hasn’t played since suffering a lower-body injury Feb. 11 in Atlanta.
With six losses in their last nine games, including three of four, the Hawks are looking for any spark. But Khabibulin knows he alone can’t bring a turnaround.
“You can’t expect one guy to change something like that,” Khabibulin said after Saturday’s practice in Bensenville. “It’s still a team, and we still have to do our jobs. If we’re all going to do our jobs, we should be in good shape.”
... when Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane collided during last night’s game against Columbus.
Both seemed to be OK and played the remainder of the game.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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