Blackhawks triumph helps Chicago recover from Great Fire of 1871 (SATIRE)

chicago fire

With every postseason win, the Chicago Blackhawks take another step towards drinking the blessed waters residing within Lord Stanley’s Cup. The possibility of tasting these pure waters lifts the spirits of Windy City Citizens still yearning for a ray of light to guide them through the dark devastation brought on by the Great Chicago Fire in October of 1871.

[Read more…]

NHL Central Division Week in Review

patrick kane shirtless

As the Columbus Blue Jackets are positioning themselves in 242 days for either top amateur prospects Nail Kabulov or Filip Forsberg in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, and as I primarily cover the Blue Jackets, I am left with little to write about in a positive manner.

Therefore, as part of a continuing series, here is a summary of the NHL Central Division for the first two weeks of the season (in order of the current Central Division standings):

[Read more…]

NHL Western Conference Predictions/Previews

This is the third year Ed Cmar has offered predictions as to how the Western Conference will sort out. But unlike how he assessed the predicted outcomes in prior seasons by determining who would be in (the playoffs), who would be out of playoff consideration and who would be on the fringe, he’s modified my predictions by where I believe each team will place, overall.

While this changed method is subject to more error, when it comes to the NHL and its playoffs, your seeding/position doesn’t matter.

With that, here are my predictions (in ascending order, from 1st to 15th):

[Read more…]

Blackhawks Acquire Capitals Draft Pick, Select Phillip Danault in 1st Round

The Chicago Blackhawks have acquired the 26th overall selection in the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft from the Washington Capitals in exchange for forward Troy Brouwer.

With the addition of the 26th pick, the Blackhawks now have two first-round selections (18, 26), four of the Draft’s first 43 picks (18, 26, 36, 43), and eleven selections overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

[Read more…]

BlackHawks’ Goalie Antti Niemi Grows Up

antti_niemi

By Paul M. Banks

Heading into game one of the Western Conference Finals, Chicago Blackhawks rookie goaltender Antti Niemi had not faced the opposing San Jose Sharks this season. But after turning back 44 of the 45 shots he faced, Niemi showed that he has all the resolve and experience he needs.

[Read more…]

Points From the Paint: Armageddon Edition

 

By:  Bryan Vickroy

When the owners locked the players out of the NHL during the 2004 – 2005 season, they essentially erased any credibility and traction the sport had gained in the years of Gretzky, Lemieux, Roy, and Messier.  The Stanley Cup Playoffs used to be a must see event for the whole country, like the World Series, but with Jack Bauer like drama and roller coaster thrill rides of sudden death hockey well into the early morning hours.  Despite Gary Bettman’s best efforts to screw up the sport, a must see event has returned to the sport, possibly setting a new course and direction for the league.  Game 7.  Pittsburgh.  Washington.  The game’s first chance to shine with its reformulated product.

As short as two years ago, the national coverage of hockey was so bleak that games couldn’t even be seen in the executive suites at the arena where the games where being played (Anaheim, 2007) due to the region’s cable provider not carrying Versus on the basic cable tier.  The NHL’s television contract has gotten in the way of growing the sport the way it should be.  The Washington/Pittsburgh series has finally given the league a chance to shine a light on the product on the ice, and not the distractions off the ice.

 

With teams like Phoenix and Tampa Bay hemorrhaging money in this economic crises, and attacks on the style and types of actions and play that are allowed on to occur on the ice, bad publicity is usually the only publicity the league can get.  Showing the skills and revolution in play style of the latest wave of players is a trio of snipers:  Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Alexander Ovechkin.  These three have combined to rack up scoring titles, goal titles, and MVP awards in the short time they’ve been in the league.  On a national level, Crosby and Ovechkin seem to be the only players to regularly receive any type of attention.

Since the first pick in the 2005 draft, the league has ridden on the hope that Sidney Crosby could salvage the league’s image, and bring hockey back into the mainstream.  Sid the Kid was to the NHL what LeBron was to the NBA:  the can’t miss, mass marketable, guaranteed superstar.  By his ending up in Pittsburgh, it saved a franchise from collapse, and even got them the arena they long desired.  A run to the Stanley Cup Finals last year was supposed to be the coming out party for a string of Penguin Cup appearances.  The struggles of the team to adjust to roster changes in the offseason set them teetering out of the playoffs at the All Star break.  Veteran influences, and a coaching change stabilized the team, and settled them into a home ice advantage in the first round. 

Alexander Ovechkin came into this season with individual accolades already achieved, and ready to create a whole team.  The Capitals learned from their taste of the playoffs last year and responded by winning their division for the second straight year, and claiming the East’s second best record.  After sweating through the first half of their first round game, they coasted through a seven game win, and two home wins against the Penguins.

Home ice has been the key to this series.  The last two games are the only road victories in the series.  The three stars have all been phenomenal, all three leading the playoffs in scoring (Ovechkin, Crosby, Malkin) and totaling a Nintendo like 55 points so far between them. 

A seven game series between these two teams is the lifeline the league has been holding onto since it returned.  Not only does the league need another game to match the intensity and quality of the first six games, but also needs an audience that is willing to watch the game and let it grow on them. 

 

 

The ratings for this game may not look good in the end run.  After all, the rest of the games have been lucky to pull one million viewers.  Its not highly likely it will do much more than that.  But hockey has rejoined the mainstream conversation, if only for a brief period of time.  Most will let it be forgotten with all the other filler of our daily lives.  Hopefully some will latch on, and help grow the game.  Every game can’t be Sid the Kid vs. AO, but every game has the intensity and unpredictability that can’t be beat by any other event, program, or scenario.   Hockey still has a long way to climb back from its self-inflicted wounds; hopefully this series is the start of a new national love interest.  Unfortunately, the results may not be seen for some time yet.