Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Corey Masisak of NHL.com,
When the Chicago Blackhawks were ascending to the top of the NHL, they had a franchise to measure themselves against, to model their progress after.
That franchise was the Detroit Red Wings, which was the elite organization in the League for a long time. Whether it was on-ice success or a wealth of intangible measures, the Blackhawks wanted what the Red Wings had.
It wasn't really until Chicago beat Detroit in the second round of the 2013 Stanley Cup Playoffs and won a second title that the little brother-big brother dynamic disappeared from that rivalry.
After two championships and four trips to the Western Conference Final in six seasons, the Blackhawks, along with the Los Angeles Kings, have become a franchise others measure themselves against. The Blackhawks will meet one of those teams Thursday in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Nationals Park.
"I think the Blackhawks are probably the gold standard right now in the National Hockey League with success on the ice and success off the ice, having a strong following," Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz said.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Hushed voices. Tear-filled eyes. Hoarse throats.
The Chicago Blackhawks are still struggling to put words to the enormous amount of grief they’ve experienced in the wake of Clint Reif’s death, but there’s an undeniable feeling of loss around the team right now.
A walk inside the visiting locker room at Nationals Park takes you past a stall carrying the name of the equipment manager who was found dead on Dec. 21 at age 34. The makeshift memorial was completely game-ready on Wednesday afternoon with one of the team’s white Winter Classic sweaters hanging in it and a pair of socks neatly folded below.
There will also be “CR” stickers on the back of the helmets worn by both the Blackhawks and Washington Capitals during Thursday’s game — reminders of a man whose presence will be greatly missed at the NHL’s signature event.
“He passed away, but it’s not like we’re going to forget about him,” said Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
This is not just another outdoor hockey game. Not to Washington. Not to the Capitals. Not to Brooks Laich.
Not long ago, the Capitals ranked near the bottom of the NHL in record and attendance. The players would joke they had an “S.O.S.” – a “sold-out section.”
“I remember my first couple years,” said Laich, whose first full seasons were 2005-06 and ’06-07. “You almost couldn’t give your tickets away. People were like, ‘Oh, hockey? No, it’s OK. I’m not interested.’ ”
Thanks to superstar Alex Ovechkin and a high-flying offense, the Capitals changed that. By 2009-10, they won the Presidents’ Trophy as the NHL’s top regular-season team, and they had a new kind of “S.O.S.” – a “sold-out season.” They had 100-percent capacity.
NEW YORK (December 29, 3014) – NHL Network™, NHL.com and NHL Social’s™ programming plans for the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, the outdoor game between the Chicago Blackhawks® and the Washington Capitals® at Nationals Park in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 1 (1 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, TVA) will be filled with several days of exciting, in-depth coverage and activation across the National Hockey League’s media platforms.
from Stephen Whyno of the CP at the Winnipeg Free Press,
For the first time, the crown jewel of the regular season isn't a matchup of long-time rivals. And it's at seven-year-old Nationals Park, not a historic stadium that attracts extra attention.
"I'm sure if you ask the Washington Capitals, there's probably more of a buzz there because it's in Washington and not in Chicago," Blackhawks defenceman Brent Seabrook told the Chicago Sun-Times. "All the fanfare around it, we don't get to see that here."
This will be the eighth Winter Classic since the tradition began in Buffalo in 2008. According to NBC play-by-play broadcaster Mike Emrick, there have been 110 outdoor games since at various levels and in many countries, from Mexico to Russia.
This one is a chance for the NHL to shine the spotlight on Alex Ovechkin and the city of Washington, which has experienced a rejuvenation as a hockey town with the "Rock the Red" era Capitals, who have made the playoffs in seven of the past eight years.
from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times,
Through 35 games, the Hawks have allowed an average of 2.03 goals per game, best in the league and way down from last year’s middling 2.6. If the last month or so has started to feel a lot like the Hawks’ Stanley Cup season of 2013, there’s a good reason. They led the league that season, too, winning the Jennings Trophy by surrendering an average of 2.02 goals per game.
Perhaps most impressive is how the Hawks have been able to shut down opponents who are chasing the lead and taking more chances offensively. The Hawks have given up a mere 21 goals in 35 third periods, again the best in the league. In 2013, they gave up just 35 in 48 games, third-best.
“I think it’s comparable to that year, for sure,” defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “We’re just comfortable out there, playing in our own end when the teams are pressuring. We trust the system that we’re playing and that the coaches want us to play. Everybody in here takes pride on not being scored on.”
The Hawks have been so effective defensively, it hasn’t much mattered who’s been in goal, even when Crawford was twice injured. Crawford, Antti Raanta and rookie Scott Darling all have posted eye-popping numbers.
Follow the Hawks and Caps through the regular season as they get ready to face off in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic outdoor game.
Watch below, scheduled to start at 10:00pm ET.
from Teddy Greenstein of the Chicago Tribune,
The Blackhawks played Sunday night for a man Jonathan Toews said was so integral to the team, "he might as well have been wearing one of these sweaters."
Toews said the team dedicated its 4-0 victory over the Maple Leafs to Clint Reif, the club's assistant equipment manager since 2005. Reif, 34, died Sunday morning shortly after returning to Chicago from Columbus with the team.
"I commend the guys," coach Joel Quenneville said. "It was an emotional, draining day. They channeled their emotions properly, which was good to see."
Those emotions were plain to see after the game. Asked what made Reif so special, Patrick Sharp began to answer but then apologized and walked out of the dressing room.
Duncan Keith, who was perhaps the player closest to Reif, said: "It was tough. To lose a close friend and have to try to play a hockey game on that same day, it wasn't easy."...
Reif, the father of four children, was found unresponsive in his home at 8:32 a.m. Sunday, according to the DuPage County coroner's office. Lombard police and DuPage County officials are investigating the death.
"It's something that has not sunk in for a lot of us yet," said Toews, who scored a third-period goal, his 13th of the season. "We played with heavy hearts out there."
via the Situation Room Blog,
At 8:49 of the third period in the Chicago Blackhawks/Columbus Blue Jackets game, the Situation Room initiated a video review to further examine a play at the Columbus net. Video review determined that the puck deflected off the stick of Blackhawks forward Ben Smith and into the net in a legal fashion after it was kicked by his teammate Marcus Kruger. According to Rule 49.2 (ii) "A kicked puck that deflects off the stick of any player (excluding the goalkeeper's stick) shall be ruled a good goal." Good goal Chicago.
Watch the goal below and my only question is, what about goalie interference?
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
This phenomenon – of starting over again – is not something teams want to acknowledge, because it makes everybody look bad; and really amounts to the hardest sell in professional sport.
Teams genuinely believe they cannot turn to their fan base and blurt out the painful reality – that Plan A didn’t work and so now, they’re off to Plan B. Just trust us, this one will work better. Really, it will....
f the Oilers continue to struggle, they’ll have a chance to land a Toews-like piece in either Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel in the 2015 NHL entry draft. The question they’ll need to ask – and this is why MacTavish is behind the bench right now – is which of the players from spinning-their-wheels stage of the team’s rebuild survive, and which ones move on?
more and Duhatschek uses the Chicago Blackhawks as an example...
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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