WBEZ | NHL http://www.wbez.org/tags/nhl Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Can we call this a Blackhawks dynasty? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/can-we-call-blackhawks-dynasty-107848 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_toews_cup_elise_amendola.jpg" style="float: right; height: 226px; width: 300px;" title="Could there be more future Cup hoisting for the Blackhawks? (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)" />Can we dare say this Blackhawks team may be turning into a dynasty?</div><p>Winning the Stanley Cup in 2010 and now 2013 is a very good indicator that this team is on the right track.</p><p>It is up to the club&rsquo;s front office led by Stan Bowman with a lot of input by his highly regarded father, Scotty Bowman.</p><p>After 2010&#39;s win, Bowman had to make difficult decisions to shed players and payroll to meet the hard salary cap.</p><p>Gone were very important cogs to that title: Dustin Byfuglien, Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg, Troy Brouwer, Brian Campbell, Tomas Kopecky, Ben Eager, Adam Burish and Antti Niemi.</p><p>The most important aspect was keeping the team&rsquo;s core players in place: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Marian Hossa, Dave Bolland, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson.</p><p>Hjalmarsson was a restricted free agent after the 2010 season and the Blackhawks matched the San Jose offer to retain the young defenseman.</p><p>Now the club has a similar scenario: Nick Leddy is also a young, restricted free agent. His quickness is a huge asset and he has room to grow.</p><p>The other big decision is what to do with free agents Bryan Bickell, Viktor Stalberg and Ray Emery.</p><p>Bickell, a former second round draft pick, had a heck of a post season. He scored nine playoff goals, including the game tying goal, in the now famous 17 second scoring spurt of the deciding Game 6.</p><p>The game winner by Bolland could be his last as a Hawk. There has been speculation that he could be traded. So again, Stan Bowman has the tough task of tinkering with his newly crowned championship roster.</p><p>Last year he stood pat with his club and made one deal at the deadline that didn&rsquo;t seem significant: acquiring Michal Handzus. The 36-year-old center had some good moments during the playoffs. It was very touching to see Toews make the first handoff of the Cup to the veteran Handzus.</p><p>Now the core of the team has capture two titles. And Kane is just 24; Toews is 25. Both have won the Conn Smythe Trophy and once coach Joel Quenneville put them together on the top line their production was a major factor for winning.</p><p>Patrick Sharp led the NHL with 10 post season goals. He rebounded well after suffering a shoulder injury during the regular season. Seabrook and Keith were stellar with their defensive play. Seabrook snapped out of a bad stretch early in the playoffs. &nbsp;</p><p>One of the reasons, beside roster issues, that the Hawks can be a dynasty is the man behind the mustache: Quenneville. He made adjustments with his lines, he sat players that needed to realize playing time is tied into good play and he didn&rsquo;t make excuses. During the strike-shortened season, the Blackhawks coach did a masterful job of resting his players with limited practices. He used both his goalies, Corey Crawford and Ray Emery, with the condensed schedule. Once Quenneville settled on Crawford for the playoffs (Emery&rsquo;s injury made the decision easy), he remained a strong supporter to his young goalie. In my mind, Crawford had only one glitch in the playoffs, Game 5 of the Stanley Cup and he won. The Hawks goalie really should have won the Conn Smythe Trophy. His role was very significant for all of the playoffs. This isn&rsquo;t a knock on&nbsp; Patrick Kane. But to me Crawford had the toughest job and came out on top.</p><p>During the season, the team has developed some young players to add to their core, Brandon Saad (20), Andrew Shaw (21), Marcus Kruger (23) and Michael Frolik (25). Kruger and Frolik have become a great duo on the penalty kill. There are also some players to watch on the Rockford minor league team.</p><p>So maybe the Blackhawks can bank a few more Stanley Cup victories in the years to come. Maybe we have a dynasty in the making in Chicago.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a> and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame </a></em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Wed, 26 Jun 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/can-we-call-blackhawks-dynasty-107848 Seven ways the Blackhawks can steal back the series http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/seven-ways-blackhawks-can-steal-back-series-107760 <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_bickell-jagr_game_3_ap%20elise%20Amendola.jpg" style="float: right; height: 215px; width: 300px;" title="Bryan Bickell gets hit by 41-year-old Jaromir Jagr in Game 3. (AP/File)" />On social media, Blackhawks fans make it sound like the Stanley Cup is a lost cause. After losing 2-0 on Monday, tonight they play Game 4 in Boston with the Bruins up 2 games to 1 in the Finals.</div><p>While fans are in a state of panic, Hawks players remain confident in Boston since they believe they can rebound and stay in this playoff series for the long haul.</p><p><strong>What do the Blackhawks have to do to even up the series?</strong></p><ul><li><strong>Power outage.</strong> With scoring at a premium it would nice if they could solve their huge problem with the power play. They are 0-11 in this series and the Bruins have scored twice with the man advantage. Not that they can magically make it right (since it has been wrong all season), but at least get some shots in.</li><li><strong>Win a face off.</strong> The Hawks lost 40 of 56 chances overall in Monday&rsquo;s game. Bruins center Patrice Bergeron was nearly perfect handling that chore on Monday. Dave Bolland and Mike Handzus (and to a lesser extent, Jonathan Toews) were completely handcuffed in face-offs. If you don&rsquo;t control the puck then, you relinquish your opportunities to score.</li><li><strong>Don&rsquo;t get frustrated</strong> (Talking to you, Bolland.) That plays into the Bruins hands with turnovers and dumb penalties. Boston can frustrate a team: they know how to take advantage when they get into a player&rsquo;s head.</li><li><strong>Get some traffic in front of the net</strong> Yes, Zdeno Chara is a big dude and the Bruins are tough. In the first game, Andrew Shaw did a decent job there. Bryan Bickell has not been a factor since the previous playoff rounds. Another aspect missing from the first game, Hawks also did plenty of hitting, that hasn&rsquo;t been the case since that overtime win.</li><li><strong>Set some goals.</strong> All this points to is putting the pressure on Boston goalie Tuukka Rask. The Blackhawks speed and skill has been negated by the Bruins defense.</li><li><strong>Hoss in the saddle</strong>. Coach Quenneville said yesterday that Marian Hossa will likely play tonight. Hossa is one of the most productive players on the ice: he has 14 points in 9 playoff games this year. Ben Smith is a good player, but is limited to match what the Slovak winger can bring this situation.</li><li><strong>Line dancing.</strong> Quenneville has to make the right moves with his lines. The Hawks&#39; coach has been able to mix and match and it has worked more often than not. Now he has to be almost perfect, especially if his team suffers another loss. Going with Viktor Stalberg or Brandon Bolig should work, and maybe putting Patrick Kane and Toews together. Heads were still scratching with Ben Smith replacing Hossa since Smith had not played in quite a while. Coach Q was asked several questions about the mystery surrounding not the injury, but when it happened and how it was handled. There was no direct answer.</li></ul><p>Both teams had optional work-outs yesterday, so few players practiced. Trying to read the body language of the Blackhawks in the locker room, you would have no clue they are down in this series. Mainly, they know if they even the series tonight, then all, or most, of the problems have been solved by the Hawks. It is hard to tell if their confidence is wavering. That will be determined when the puck drops for Game 4 in Boston.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a> and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame </a></em></p></p> Wed, 19 Jun 2013 09:02:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/seven-ways-blackhawks-can-steal-back-series-107760 Blackhawks in Boston for Game 3 tonight http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/blackhawks-boston-game-3-tonight-107721 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_1crawford_game_2_charles_rex_arbogasst.jpg" style="height: 391px; width: 620px;" title="Corey Crawford couldn't make the save in overtime. (AP/File)" />It&#39;s back to work for the Blackhawks tonight with the series in Boston tied at one game apiece. There&#39;s a feeling that the Bruins may have not only stolen the home ice advantage but also taken the momentum.&nbsp; It was a bitter pill for the Hawks to swallow losing Game 2 in overtime at home. The Bruins clearly played better in the extra period.</p><p>So now the next two games will be Boston Monday and Wednesday night. The Blackhawks know the crowd will be as loud as the one the Bruins faced at the United Center. &nbsp;</p><p>Chicago&#39;s Duncan Keith says it won&#39;t faze the team.</p><p>&ldquo;We go into these games knowing that everybody in the building&rsquo;s going to be against us,&rdquo; Keith said. &ldquo;I think we just try and block everything out.&rdquo;</p><p>One matter the Hawks have to cure: scoring when they have the opportunity. The Hawks peppered Boston goalie Tuukka Rask in the opening period and then it was a stone wall after that.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s not like you&rsquo;re going to have momentum or dominate a full three periods,&rdquo; Hawks winger Patrick Kane said.</p><p>The Bruins have clogged up the center of the ice and stopped the flow of the Blackhawks transition game.</p><p>Coach Joel Quenneville tried to put a finger on what Boston is doing to his team.</p><p>&ldquo;The neutral zone, the way they check, defend, they&rsquo;re very patient in that area,&rdquo; he said. &nbsp;</p><p>Watch the Blackhawks on the power play. This has been a problem all season long, so there is no surprise that they are still unable to notch a goal with their opportunity. &nbsp;</p><p>At least they still have a solid penalty kill, anchored by Michael Frolik and Marcus Kruger. Their chemistry during the kill has been extraordinary. The only time the Bruins have scored on the power play Frolik was in the penalty box.</p><p>The NHL announced all the individual player awards and only one Hawk received an honor: Jonathan Toews. He won the Selke trophy for top defensive forward. Brandon Saad came in third for the Calder award for the top rookie.</p><p>Of course, the only trophy Toews and his teammates want to win is the Stanley Cup. They need to win one of the two games in Boston to get back the home ice advantage. In the post-season Game 3 has been difficult for the Hawks: they are 0-3. Maybe they can break that trend tonight.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a>&nbsp;</em></p></p> Sun, 16 Jun 2013 23:16:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/blackhawks-boston-game-3-tonight-107721 Blackhawks (and fans) rest up, Bulls memories and Bears camp http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/blackhawks-and-fans-rest-bulls-memories-and-bears-camp-107695 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Lions%20hockey%20Scott%20eisen.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 300px; float: right;" title="Blackhawks own the town this weekend. (AP Photo/Scott Eisen)" />Had enough rest after game one of the Stanley Cup Finals? Everyone has one more day before the Blackhawks and Bruins get back into action at the United Center. The teams will hold workouts and look to make any adjustments. This match-up could be one for the ages. The national and local television ratings are the highest in 16 years. It is great to still hear Eddie Olczyk, but it is a shame it is without Pat Foley.</p><p>I suggest listening to the game action on WGN Radio or WGN online. John Wiedeman and Troy Murray do a terrific job on the broadcast. John&rsquo;s play by play is really astounding, crisp, accurate and very exciting, coupled with the former Hawks Murray, they are an underrated pair doing radio sports in Chicago.&nbsp;The Hawks own the attention in Chicago this weekend. Both the White Sox and Cubs are on the road. This has been an abysmal year on both sides of Chicago baseball.</p><p><strong>Remember when the Bulls owned this month?</strong></p><p>June use to be a great month for NBA Finals for Chicago. Twice on this day the Bulls won NBA Championships: beating Portland in 1992 and Utah in 1998. &nbsp;</p><p>The game against the Trailblazers was one of the most unbelievable comebacks. The Bulls were down by 15 in the fourth&nbsp;quarter and Phil Jackson put all bench players, like Bobby Hansen, into the game. They went on a 14-2 run and earned their second title with a 97-93 final.</p><p>The 1998 NBA Championship was Michael Jordan&#39;s last game in a Bulls uniform and the sixth and final title. Jordan went out in style: the Bulls were down by one and Jordan stole the ball and scored the winning bucket with 5.2 seconds left it gave the Bulls an 87-86 win over Utah.</p><p>After the game, some of the Chicago media was around when the Jazz Stadium crew was dismantling the floor and baskets. A pair of scissors gave us an opportunity to get a piece of the netting from the basket that Michael made his final basket. &nbsp;At the time, we had no idea that it would be his final shot ever as a Bull.</p><p><strong>Football on a break</strong></p><p>The Bears wrapped up a mandatory mini-camp this week. New head coach Marc Trestman believes the team is absorbing his playbook. It was hard to tell from the sidelines what strides the Bears have made. We&rsquo;ll know more when they put on the pads in Bourbonnais next month. That will also be the first time since rookie camp the team&rsquo;s number one draft pick Kyle Long will be able to join them. Because of NCAA regulations, Long has had to wait until his school semester is finished. However, he was in town all week. Kyle likes to tweet a lot about his whereabouts.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a>&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 14 Jun 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/blackhawks-and-fans-rest-bulls-memories-and-bears-camp-107695 Blackhawks beat Bruins 4-3 in 3OT Cup opener http://www.wbez.org/news/blackhawks-beat-bruins-4-3-3ot-cup-opener-107668 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/AP593189709261.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>The Chicago Blackhawks know all about Andrew Shaw&#39;s reputation around the league. They also know the pesky little forward is so much more than just another irritant for opposing players.</p><p>The diminutive Shaw sparred with Zdeno Chara, dished out nine hits and was in the right place when his team needed him the most Wednesday night in a thrilling start to the Stanley Cup finals.</p><p>Shaw popped back up after he was knocked down and skated to the front of the goal to get a deflection on Dave Bolland&#39;s tip for the winning score in the Blackhawks&#39; 4-3 victory over the Boston Bruins in the fifth-longest game in the history of the NHL&#39;s biggest series.</p><p>&quot;We knew it wasn&#39;t going to be pretty at that point,&quot; Shaw said. &quot;You could tell both teams were physically exhausted. We&#39;ve preached it: Go to the net, you&#39;ll find a way to get a greasy goal. We did a heck of a job of it there in the third overtime.&quot;</p><p>Shaw was knocked down near the boards but got up as the puck came out to Michal Rozsival, who started the winning sequence with a shot from the right point into traffic. Bolland&#39;s tip then went off Shaw&#39;s right leg and past Tuukka Rask at 12:08 for his fifth goal of the playoffs.</p><p>And just like that, the longest finals game in five years was over. Shaw skated off to the side and pumped his arms furiously, then joined his teammates for a weary celebration.</p><p>&quot;I mean, I think you could ask players on other teams and they&#39;ll tell you that he&#39;s not the type of guy that they like to play against,&quot; Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. &quot;But that&#39;s what we love about him. We love having a guy like that on our team. He&#39;s not afraid.&quot;</p><p>Generously listed at 5-foot-10 and 180 pounds, Shaw still decided to shove the 6-9 Chara after play stopped in the first. Bruins coach Claude Julien called Shaw an agitator who is &quot;good at embellishing, too, at times.&quot;</p><p>But he also has four assists in the playoffs after he had nine goals and six assists while playing in all 48 games during the regular season.</p><p>&quot;The bigger the stage, the bigger the challenge, he rises to the occasion,&quot; Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said.</p><p>Milan Lucic had two goals and an assist for the Bruins, who had won five straight and nine of 10. Patrice Bergeron scored a power-play goal and David Krejci finished with two assists.</p><p>&quot;Not disappointed in our effort,&quot; Julien said. &quot;There&#39;s certain things you&#39;re going to want to fix for next game. But as far as the game is concerned, it was a hard-fought game.&quot;</p><p>Rask made an astounding 59 saves in a finals marathon that surpassed Pittsburgh&#39;s 4-3 win over Detroit on June 2, 2008, when Petr Sykora scored at 9:57 of the third overtime.</p><p>Game 2 is Saturday night at the United Center.</p><p>&quot;That&#39;s playoff hockey,&quot; Bruins center Rich Peverley said. &quot;It&#39;s fun to watch, so we&#39;ll think about this until we get out of here and then shake it off and get ready for Saturday.&quot;</p><p>Bolland and Johnny Oduya scored in the third period for Chicago, which never would have made it to the third overtime if not for an impressive performance by goaltender Corey Crawford. Brandon Saad had his first goal of the playoffs.</p><p>Crawford gave the Blackhawks a chance by standing his ground when the Bruins had repeated opportunities in the extra sessions.</p><p>Shawn Thornton and Daniel Paille skated in for a 2-on-1 in the first OT, and Crawford turned away Thornton on the doorstep. He denied Peverley and Tyler Seguin in rapid succession, and helped Chicago kill off two power plays when it was whistled twice for too many men on the ice.</p><p>Nathan Horton hit the post in the first extra session, and Chara&#39;s slap shot deflected off Jaromir Jagr and then the inside of the right post at the very end of the second overtime.</p><p>&quot;It&#39;s exhausting,&quot; said Crawford, who had 29 of his 51 saves in the overtimes. &quot;I just try to tell myself to make the next save, and we&#39;re going to score on our next shot.&quot;</p><p>The action was so fast and furious that it took a toll on the players with Horton skating off during a power play with an injury &mdash; likely a serious one to leave the ice during that pivotal moment.</p><p>The Blackhawks trailed 3-1 in the third period before they turned up the pressure on Rask, who stepped up when he faced a similar attack from Pittsburgh in the Eastern Conference finals. This time, he coughed up the lead, hurt by one unlucky carom.</p><p>First, Bolland converted a nice pass from Shaw for his first goal of the playoffs. Then Oduya&#39;s long slap shot went off the left skate of Boston defenseman Andrew Ference and into the net for the tying goal with 7:46 remaining in regulation.</p><p>Oduya&#39;s shot was going wide and wouldn&#39;t have gone in if it hadn&#39;t hit Ference&#39;s skate.</p><p>&quot;We were up two goals and all of a sudden the game was tied,&quot; said Chara, who had more than 45 minutes of ice time. &quot;We&#39;ve got two days to regroup and get ready for the next game.&quot;</p><p>The sellout crowd of 22,110 cheered as Krejci and Toews stared each other down for the opening faceoff of the first Stanley Cup finals between Original Six franchises in 34 years.</p><p>And it almost didn&#39;t happen.</p><p>Game 1 came exactly five months after the official end of a long and bitter lockout. The labor dispute wiped out 510 games, but the sides managed to come together in time to save an abbreviated 48-game season and playoffs.</p><p>They were rewarded with a final playoff series between two big-market teams with passionate followings and scores of top players. The Blackhawks returned to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since they won it all three year ago. Boston won the title the following season, and the same core of players is at the center of this year&#39;s playoff run.</p><p>It was enough to attract the attention of President Barack Obama, who has a home in Chicago and made it clear whom he was pulling for before the opener. He wished the Blackhawks good luck over Twitter before adding: &quot;hope to welcome you back to the White House again as #StanleyCup champs.&quot;</p><p>Boston countered with a Rolling Stone: Mick Jagger tweeted a photo of himself holding a Bruins jersey before a show at TD Garden.</p><p>The Bruins got off to fast start behind Lucic, who scored in each of the first two periods. The Blackhawks got on the board when Marian Hossa stole the puck from Dennis Seidenberg in the Boston end and fed Saad, who one-timed it past Rask at 3:08 in the second.</p><p>Saad&#39;s goal ended a scoreless streak of 149 minutes, 36 seconds for Rask dating to Game 3 of the sweep against the Penguins.</p></p> Thu, 13 Jun 2013 08:10:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/blackhawks-beat-bruins-4-3-3ot-cup-opener-107668 Get on board with the Blackhawks http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/get-board-blackhawks-107603 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_patrick_kane_charles_rex_arbogast.jpg" style="height: 272px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Patrick Kane's hat trick is part of the fun of the Blackhawks. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)" />Have you caught the Blackhawks fever yet? Here are the symptoms:</p><ul><li>Twisted stomachs</li><li>Lots of yelling</li><li>Knowing the chorus to Chelsea Dagger</li><li>Cheering at the top of your lungs as Jim Cornelison sings the National Anthem at the United Center</li></ul><p>Being late to the party is just fine. But it&#39;s time to give your full attention to the Stanley Cup Finals as Chicago takes on the Boston Bruins.</p><p><strong>A Stanley Cup for the history books</strong></p><p>Everyone who knows a little bit about hockey knows that this is a very special pairing of teams from the &ldquo;Original Six&rdquo;.&nbsp; For decades Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Montreal, Toronto and New York (Rangers) were the whole league. After the expansion in 1967, the NHL added more teams and diminished the spotlight on these six clubs. These teams do not have many meetings during the regular season. And not since 1979&#39;s Rangers vs. Canadians match up have two of the original teams met in a Stanley Cup Final.</p><p>That are good reasons this is a special match-up it is a way for history to be told and for history to be made. That is the way with most sports leagues-we know how much it means in Chicago when the Bears met the Packers. It is not just the proximity of the teams, it is big city versus small town USA- it is the history of these original NFL teams.</p><p><strong>Interesting twist from the NHL lockout</strong></p><p>The NHL&rsquo;s lockout stumbled into a compelling storyline: since the league only had 48 regular season games, it scheduled only games within the Eastern and Western Conferences. That makes this Final intriguing because the teams haven&#39;t faced off yet this season. Blackhawks Coach Joel Quenneville admitted he has watched all the Bruins playoff games.</p><p>Talking to the Hawks after Saturday&rsquo;s thrilling 4-3 double overtime win, questions about Boston came up. Andrew Shaw spoke about the physical nature of the East coast team, but he hasn&rsquo;t experienced it yet. He talked with fresh bruises and cuts on his face from the Los Angeles Kings. He will definitely feel the brawn of his opponents in this round.</p><p><strong>Boston&rsquo;s heartbreak will be felt</strong></p><p>Just a few months ago, the Boston Marathon bombing affected that city and the rest of the country. When that horrible incident happened it tore at the heart of that city, but it didn&rsquo;t diminish the resolve of Boston. The sports teams in that city, including the Boston Bruins, galvanized the strength and resolve of the Bostonians. So this championship series will likely spotlight the aftermath of that tragedy. Sports have a way of re-kindling the spirit of fans and you can expect that will happen in Boston.</p><p><strong>Quoting Ozzie-yes without profanity</strong></p><p>There is a quote that former White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen used, &ldquo;Winning is fun and fun is winning.&rdquo; &nbsp;Even if you are not a hockey fan, or don&rsquo;t know anything about the blue line or high sticking, you can revel in the fun and just join in. That is what these past few weeks have been with the Blackhawks. Watching Bryan Bickell breakout in the playoffs, Corey Crawford mature into an excellent goalie and Patrick Kane score the third goal of his hat trick in double overtime-that is fun!&nbsp;</p><p>Grip the railing and enjoy the ride: there may be another Stanley Cup for Chicago when it ends. &nbsp;</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a>&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 10 Jun 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/get-board-blackhawks-107603 Blackhawks steals one in LA and Chicago baseball hope they picked some stars http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/blackhawks-steals-one-la-and-chicago-baseball-hope-they-picked-some <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_kane_score_in_la_chris_carlson36951234801.jpg" title="Patrick Kane finally scores against LA (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)" />The Hawks did something last night that no other team was able to do this post season: win in Los Angeles. The 3-2 victory by the Blackhawks over the Kings gives them a decisive 3 game to 1 lead over the defending Stanley Cup Champions.</p><p>The Kings were able to grab the lead early in the first period when their high scoring defenseman Slava Voyva took advantage of a Hawk turnover and scored his seventh&nbsp;goal of the playoffs.</p><p>As the Blackhawks best defenseman Duncan Keith was suspended for his retaliation hit on Los Angeles&#39; Jeff Carter, Nik Hjalmarsson was outstanding on the ice. He did all the little things to keep his team in the game. Hjalmarsson had two assists, one in the first period with Michael Frolik that allowed Bryan Bickell to knock in another playoff goal (his eighth). Bickell&rsquo;s post season offensive output has been the most intriguing story this year.</p><p>In the second period, the Kings took a 2-1 advantage when Dustin Penner was able to poke the puck in on a Corey Crawford misplay. Later in the period, it was Hjalmarsson shooting the puck towards the net. Bickell re-directed it and Patrick Kane tipped it in to knot up the game at 2. It was Kane&rsquo;s first goal of this series. Boy, the Blackhawks need him score.</p><p>The best came in the final period when the Hawks took advantage of a LA line change. Slovakian national teammates went to work, Marian Hossa got a pretty pass from Michal Handzus and Hossa scored his tenth&nbsp;playoff game winner. The Hawks held on with the Kings pulling goalie Jonathan Quick at the end. There were no streamers last night at the Staples Center, just shocked fans and Kings players.</p><p>Now the triumphant Blackhawks will come home and have a great opportunity to close out the Western Conference Finals at the United Center on Saturday. It should be a wild night.</p><h2><strong>Bleak outlook for Chicago baseball</strong></h2><p>Last night the future for the Cubs and Sox were in the spotlight with Major League&#39;s Baseball&#39;s 2013 draft.</p><p>The Cubs had the more significant pick since they had the second overall selection. They went with a position player when one of the top pitchers was still available. The Cubs grabbed right-hand hitting third base slugger Kris Bryant next. The 6&#39;5&quot; player is considered a real plum pick to add to this rebuilding team.</p><p>A native of Las Vegas, Bryant is a junior from the University of San Diego and this year he led the nation with home runs (31), runs scored, walks (66) and slugging percentage (.820). As to the player the Cubs passed up, Johnny Gray from Oklahoma went next to Colorado, he is a dominating right hand pitcher. It won&#39;t take long to figure out if the Cubs did a good job with their pick. Bryant will likely be in the minors a year or two.</p><p>The White Sox had a lot of needs to fill since the cupboard is pretty bare in their minor league system. They went with a junior college shortstop, Tim Anderson from Tuscaloosa, Alabama. He is considered a speedy, athletic prospect who hit .495 with 10 home runs and 41 stolen bases for East Central Community College in Decatur, Mississippi. For the second straight year the Sox took an African American player as their top pick.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame&nbsp;</a></em></p></p> Fri, 07 Jun 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/blackhawks-steals-one-la-and-chicago-baseball-hope-they-picked-some Kings squash Blackhawks winning streak http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/kings-squash-blackhawks-winning-streak-107537 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_blackhawks_king_game_3_bickell.jpg" style="height: 369px; width: 620px;" title="Bryan Bickell scored the lone Hawks goal in Game 3 loss to LA.(AP Photo/Jae Hong)" />With the latest NHL Championship banner hanging over their heads in Los Angeles, the Blackhawks knew they would have a fight on hand in Game 3. The Kings controlled most of the action and skated to a 3-1 win at the Staples Center. Now the Hawks lead in&nbsp;the series has been cut two games to one.</p><p>Kings goalie Jonathan Quick rebounded well after being pulled in Game 2, but the Hawks didn&rsquo;t challenge him as much as they did at the United Center.</p><p>It didn&rsquo;t take Los Angeles long to get on the scoreboard in the first period. Justin Williams was able to bounce the puck off Corey Crawford and it went over the Blackhawks goalie&rsquo;s left shoulder.</p><p>The Kings were able to take a 2-0 lead over the Hawks in the second period. LA defenseman Slava Voynov broke his stick on his shot and scored his fifth goal of the playoffs.</p><p>The penalty kill was strong again for the Hawks and they really needed it in the second period after Duncan Keith nailed Kings Center Jeff Carter in the mouth with his stick. Keith was assessed two minor penalties and his teammates successfully killed off the four minutes of power play. The Blackhawks killed off all five Kings power plays chances for the game. They are tops in the league for the playoffs killing 51 of 53 penalties. As usual, the Hawks were unable to cash in on their two power play chances for the game.</p><p>Nearing the end of the second period, the Hawks finally got on the scoreboard. After Jonathan Towes won the faceoff and Marian Hossa getting the attention of the Kings in the boards, Bryan Bickell grabbed the puck and scored an unassisted and uncontested goal. Bickell has scored twice in this Western Conference Final and has 7 goals for the playoffs. You wonder if Bickell hears a cha-ching sound effect every time he tallies a score with his impending free agency.</p><p>It is amazing to think the Blackhawks had only three shots on goal during the second period and one lead to a score.</p><p>The Blackhawks worked hard at the end of the game to try to tie it up and almost had an opportunity when LA made a strange line change. Duncan Keith was called off-sides which stopped the scoring chance. The Kings&#39; Dwight King was able to score an empty netter when Crawford was pulled out of the net in the final minutes of the game. Defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson; he was hit on his left knee blocking a shot in the third period. He did return to play, but it may be a concern going forward.</p><p>The loss stopped a five game winning streak for the Blackhawks. They will have a day to regroup and try to find a way to have more puck control in Thursday&rsquo;s game. It is not surprising that the Kings were able to pull out the win. Their defense and goaltending is stabilized on the home ice.</p><p>The Kings remain perfect at the Staples Center this post season, winning all eight home games. The Hawks aim is to break that streak and steal back any momentum LA may glean after last night&rsquo;s win.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a>&nbsp;</em></p></p> Wed, 05 Jun 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/kings-squash-blackhawks-winning-streak-107537 Blackhawks doubled their pleasure this weekend http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/blackhawks-doubled-their-pleasure-weekend-107484 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_blackhawks_la_charles_rex_arbogast.jpg" style="float: right; height: 410px; width: 300px;" title="Hawks goalie Corey Crawford helps his Captain. (AP)" />Back to back games this weekend resulted in back to back wins for the Blackhawks over the LA Kings.</p><p>Last night&#39;s final was 4-2 in Game Two at the United Center. Beating Jonathan Quick, the top goalie in the NHL playoffs the last two years, was a feat.&nbsp; After Michal Handzus scored the Hawks&#39; fourth goal in the second period, Kings Coach Darryl Sutter pulled his goalie and inserted Jonathan Bernier. It was too little too late for the defending Stanley Cup Champions.</p><p>Looking back, the tone of the game was set when the gritty Andrew Shaw was given a beautiful pass by Viktor Stalberg. Then Brent Seabrook&rsquo;s slap shot scored on the power play (a rarity for the Hawks). It was another clean look.&nbsp;</p><p>The fun really got going in the second period, when Bryan Bickell and Handzus tallied two more goals for the Blackhawks.</p><p>Bickell has really come alive this post season and it may pay off after this play-off run is completed. He is an unrestricted free agent and last night when he scored the Hawks third goal of the night, it was his sixth of the playoffs. Bickell has been opportunistic as he creates traffic in front of the net. It&#39;s a familiar scenario: that is what Dustin Byfuglien did when Chicago celebrated the Stanley Cup win in 2010. He also was a free agent after a tremendous post-season and was unable to remain because of salary cap issues. That may happen again with Bickell.</p><p>After the victory there were plenty of accolades given to young players by Coach Joel Quenneville. One was Brandon Saad, who contributed with two assists.</p><p>&ldquo;He was dangerous, a threat off the rush [and] had a lot of puck time,&rdquo; Quenneville said.</p><p>Another player who not only played big Sunday night, but has stood tall most of this post season, is Corey Crawford. He made 29 saves yesterday and has won five straight playoff games. Crawford has become a United Center favorite&mdash;finally. He cemented their adulation when he came to the defense of Jonathan Toews during an altercation the with Kings&rsquo; Kyle Clifford.</p><p>In the post-game press conference, Crawford explained why he helped the team&rsquo;s Captain.</p><p>&ldquo;The guy grabbed him, got a couple free shots,&rdquo; the Hawks goalie said. &ldquo;I figured it was enough. I just decided to go in there and grab his head.&rdquo;</p><p>Crawford did give up two Kings goals, one late in the second period to Jeff Carter. Then in the waning minutes of the game, Los Angeles scored on the power play from Tyler Toffoli. It was the first power play scored by a Hawks playoff opponent at the United Center and the second overall.</p><p>After Saturday&rsquo;s 2-1 win by the Hawks, there was plenty of conversation about playing consecutive hockey games in just over 24 hours. You have to say the Hawks were unaffected by it. The Kings may not feel that way. The Rolling Stones may have lost some West Coast fans. It ws their concert schedule that forced the NHL to jam the two games back to back.</p><p>While the road has been tough on LA, home has been perfect for them at 7-0. The Kings were in this same position in their opening round against St. Louis&mdash;down two games to none&mdash;and came back. The Blackhawks are aware of the difficulties that lie ahead when they travel to the Staple Center to play Tuesday and Thursday.</p><p>Despite that, the Hawks feel pretty darn good right now. Why not? They have been controlling the games since they were down three games to one against Detroit. With these two wins, the Blackhawks pursuit of the Stanley Cup is down to just six more wins. That will be the ultimate satisfaction.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a>&nbsp;</em></p></p> Mon, 03 Jun 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-06/blackhawks-doubled-their-pleasure-weekend-107484 Blackhawks take on LA Kings in Chicago this weekend http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-05/blackhawks-take-la-kings-chicago-weekend-107447 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rsz_hawks_seabrook_nam_y_huh.jpg" style="height: 245px; width: 350px; float: right;" title="Blackhawks have finished celebrating and move on to play LA (AP/File)" />The Blackhawks bandwagon is welcoming any and all fans that want to join the playoff party. Just think, one week ago today, the Hawks were down three games to one to Detroit. Now the Chicago hockey team is on the eve of opening the Western Conference Final after grabbing one of the most exciting Game 7 in the team&rsquo;s history. Brent Seabrook nailing his shot past Red Wing goalie Jimmy Howard in the 2-1 overtime is just a memory It&#39;s time to take on the Los Angeles Kings.</p><h2><strong>Double your pleasure</strong></h2><p>Be prepared for back-to-back playoff games Saturday at 4 p.m. and Sunday at 7 p.m. at the United Center. The Hawks hope to maintain home-ice advantage with this odd schedule. During the compact 48 game regular season, they had 10 back-to-back game scenarios. The Blackhawks had good success, only dropping 2 of the 20 games and no consecutive losses. The Kings played seven 2-game sets; they lost 5 games. In fact, their final back-to-back in late April resulted in two losses.</p><h2><strong>Mick and the boys</strong></h2><p>The NHL decided to squeeze these games together because of the Rolling Stones playing tonight and again on Monday at the United Center. The breaking down of the stage and setting up the ice has made some busy activity for the band&rsquo;s stagehands and hockey crew. The league obviously wanted to take advantage of having these games on the weekend. We&rsquo;ll see if this will help or hurt the Blackhawks. You know: &quot;You can&rsquo;t always get what you want.&quot;</p><h2><strong>Dethroning the Kings</strong></h2><p>The Hawks would love to recreate the season opener, where they went into LA and downed the last year&#39;s NHL champs 5-2.&nbsp;The Blackhawks won two of the three meetings this season.&nbsp;The Kings are a tough, physical team and have the reigning Conn Smythe winner, goalie Jonathan Quick. The Kings have had trouble scoring this post season. They are only averaging two goals a game in the playoffs.</p><p>The road has been a real problem for Los Angeles too. They have tallied just eight times in six games in the playoffs. The Blackhawks hope their speed and scoring ability can prevail. But Quick is truly the cream of the crop between the pipes.&nbsp;</p><p>There are a few familiar faces on the Kings roster: Colin Fraser was a member of the Hawks 2009-2010 Championship team. And of course, LA head coach Darryl Sutter played his whole career in Chicago. Sutter coached the Hawks for three years 1992-1995 (strike shorten season). He may want to win this series more than anyone.</p><h2><strong>The golden ticket</strong></h2><p>Tickets are only available through Ticketmaster today after noon. There have been big concerns about the counterfeit tickets that have been sold around the United Center. Don&#39;t get burned buying fake tickets.</p><h2><strong>Thank you, Detroit!</strong></h2><p>This may sound strange, but the Blackhawks should thank the Red Wings. The Hawks had coasted the regular season and the first playoff round. The hard fought seven game series with their arch rivals may have brought out the tenacity the Hawks need as they move forward. The hitting and grabbing that went on with Detroit may be what the Hawks needed to toughen them up for the Kings.&nbsp;Sometimes adversity brings back focus.</p><p>If there is one area that would be nice to see the Blackhawks get on track, it&#39;s the power play. They only had one game where it worked. They better improve or it may come back to haunt them.&nbsp;</p><p>The Blackhawks are halfway to winning the Cup. It doesn&rsquo;t get any easier from here.</p><p><em>Follow Cheryl on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/Crayestout" target="_blank">@CRayeStout</a>&nbsp;and Facebook <a href="http://www.facebook.com/CherylAtTheGame" target="_blank">Cheryl Raye Stout #AtTheGame</a>&nbsp;</em></p></p> Fri, 31 May 2013 06:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/cheryl-raye-stout/2013-05/blackhawks-take-la-kings-chicago-weekend-107447