Chicago Blackhawks: Detroit Red Wings

Power play still an issue for Blackhawks

July, 29, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers
Joel QuennevilleJonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesAn improved Blackhawks' power play would go a long way in helping coach Joel Quenneville hoist the Stanley Cup again next summer.
CHICAGO -- Winning the Stanley Cup eased the type of questions the Chicago Blackhawks front office and coaching staff faced at the team's fan convention, but they still couldn't avoid having to answer once again about a power play that has now struggled for two consecutive seasons.

The Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup last season despite being one of the NHL's most ineffective power-play teams. They ranked 19th in the NHL with a 16.7 power-play percentage in the regular season and 13th in the playoffs with an 11.4 percentage. In the 2011-12 season, they were tied for 25th in the regular season with a 15.2 power-play percentage and were 16th in the playoffs at 5.3 percent.

Last season's Blackhawks and the 2010-11 Boston Bruins have proven you can win a Stanley Cup without a successful power play. But it's still an area the Blackhawks hope to improve next season.

"Special teams is always important," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said on a panel during the convention. "I think we had a great penalty kill last year really from beginning to end. I think our power play is the one area where we had spurts where it was very successful. I think we'd like to get that like the penalty kill, to have that to be a dominant force."

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Hawks to face challenges in repeat attempt

July, 28, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers
Jonathan ToewsBruce Bennett/Getty ImagesJonathan Toews and the Blackhawks know it won't be easy to repeat as Cup champions.

CHICAGO -- Scotty Bowman knows a few things about repeating as Stanley Cup champions.

Bowman accomplished the feat four times in his coaching career. He repeated three consecutive times with the Montreal Canadiens in the 1970s and won back-to-back Cups with the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. That Detroit team is the last one to win consecutive championships.

Bowman, who is the Blackhawks senior advisor for hockey operations and the father of Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman, admitted that the Blackhawks are facing a monstrous climb to become the first team in the 21st century to win consecutive Stanley Cups, but he didn’t believe it was impossible.

“It’s not an easy task,” Scotty said during the Blackhawks convention. “In the past 20 or 20-plus years, it’s only happened a couple of times and there’s a lot of factors going into it because when you do win the target’s on your back throughout the regular season.

“I think the first thing you do when you have a great team is you know you’re going to have some ups and downs. I always looked and now I look at the seven teams in our division; we’ve got to eliminate three of them. We’ve got to get in that top four. We want to be the best we can, but there’s a lot of factors that go into it. You’ve got injuries and you’ve got that target on your back all season long and it doesn’t go away because every time a team plays you they’re playing the Stanley Cup champion of the year previous and that’s the toughest part.”

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Breaking down the Hawks' 2013-14 schedule

July, 19, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers
The Chicago Blackhawks released their 2013-2014 schedule on Friday. Here's what you need to know:

• The Blackhawks' home opener and Stanley Cup banner-raising ceremony will be against the Washington Capitals on Oct. 1. The Blackhawks lost their home opener in the 2010-2011 season to the Detroit Red Wings after winning the Stanley Cup the previous season. Four of the past five Stanley Cup champions have lost their home opener the following season. Just last season, the Blackhawks defeated the Los Angeles Kings 5-2 in the Kings' season opener after they won the Stanley Cup.

• With the Red Wings moving to the Eastern Conference this season, the Blackhawks will now face them just twice in the regular season. They'll play in Detroit on Jan. 22 and in Chicago on March 16. They will also play two preseason games.

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Hawks ready for another demanding Game 3

June, 16, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers
BOSTON -- The Chicago Blackhawks have excelled in Game 1 in all four rounds of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

They’ve taken care of business in Game 5 in the first, second and third rounds.

Where the Blackhawks have run into a roadblock throughout the playoffs has been in Game 3.

The Blackhawks lost in Game 3 of the Western Conference quarterfinals to the Minnesota Wild, in Game 3 of the Western Conference semifinals to the Detroit Red Wings and in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals to the Los Angeles Kings.

And now, the Blackhawks encounter a Game 3 with the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals on Monday. The Blackhawks and Bruins are tied 1-1 in the best-of-seven series.

This time, the Blackhawks hope to prevail in Game 3.

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Saad finally finding his playoff groove

June, 14, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers
Brandon SaadBill Smith/NHLI/Getty ImagesBrandon Saad has one goal and four assists in his first playoff run.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks rookie forward Brandon Saad had it pretty easy in the regular season.

Part of that was Saad's own doing by proving he belonged in the NHL. But from the time Saad was thrown on the top line alongside Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa in the season's second game up until the playoffs, Saad has remained in Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville's graces.

But the playoffs have been a rockier road and a reality check for Saad.

When Saad's play began to decline in the first round against the Minnesota Wild, Quenneville treated Saad like any of his players. Winning was all that mattered, and Quenneville did what he felt was necessary to accomplish that. He first decreased Saad's minutes and then he demoted him to the third line.

"I thought he was OK at the start of the playoffs," Quenneville said after Friday's practice at the United Center. "I thought he had an outstanding regular season. I thought he started at a pretty good pace. Almost kind of represented the way he started the regular season. He was fine in the regular season. Didn't have any production to show for his play. Started the playoffs kind of comparable."

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Adversity now old hat for Blackhawks

June, 9, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks felt they hadn’t experienced any true adversity in their season prior to the playoffs.

A lot has changed since then.

Three playoff series later, the Blackhawks feel like a battle-tested group that can now face any challenge and get through it.

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Blackhawks expect fight to close out Kings

June, 7, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers

CHICAGO -- No team is more up to date on what it's like to be down 3-1 in a series and still cling to the hope of rallying back than the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Blackhawks went through that a round ago and fought back from a 3-1 deficit to knock off the Detroit Red Wings in the Western Conference semifinals.

It's with that recent experience the Blackhawks said Friday that they understand how dangerous the Los Angeles Kings still can be despite the Blackhawks' holding a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference finals. The Blackhawks will have a chance to close out the Kings in Game 5 at the United Center on Saturday.

"We were on the other end of this, so we know what they're thinking," Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya said at Signature Flight Support on Friday. "We know this is not over. This is a really, really good team. We know we said it last night, too; we don't want to go back to L.A. That's a tough place to play and win games. Once again, we have to bring our best performance and best effort to win a game."

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Handzus is what the Hawks hoped he'd be

June, 3, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers
Dustin PennerAP Photo/Nam Y. HuhMichal Handzus has been able to handle any assignment the Hawks have given him.

LOS ANGELES -- Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman made just one move at the trade deadline, acquiring forward Michal Handzus from the San Jose Sharks.

It was the only additional piece Bowman thought the Blackhawks needed to make another run at the Stanley Cup. Handzus filled Bowman’s desire to add a center who had size, experience, was strong on faceoffs, was versatile enough to play in different roles and had some offensive and defensive skills.

Through 14 playoff games, Handzus hasn’t let Bowman down.

Handzus is riding a playoff career-best five-game points streak. He has two goals and three assists in the last five games and has eight total points in the playoffs. He’s also second on the team with a 48.4 faceoff winning percentage and is tied with Duncan Keith for a team-best plus-7 rating in the playoffs.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has utilized the 36-year-old Handzus in a variety of ways. Handzus has played everywhere from the top line to the fourth line and has made an impact in each position.

“He's one of those guys that quietly goes about his business,” Quenneville said on Monday. “He's a smart hockey player, very competitive. Seems like he's always in the right spot. He sees plays, makes plays. He does everything he can to get himself ready to contribute on a regular basis here.

“When we first got him, we figured he'd give us a little more depth. All of a sudden he moved up the ladder where all of a sudden he's playing in that nice slot for us. A big line for us. Have to make sure he doesn't get too high, too low. But he's very competitive. We've got to appreciate his positioning and his awareness.”

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Blackhawks expecting tougher Game 2

June, 2, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- Adversity sometimes provides the greatest lessons, and Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews thought his team was given one about the potential difference between a Game 1 and Game 2 during their second-round series with the Detroit Red Wings.

The Blackhawks cruised to a 4-1 win over the Red Wings in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinals series in Chicago on May 15. A game later, Detroit responded to its dismal performance and lit up the Blackhawks for a 4-1 road win. The Blackhawks lost Games 2, 3 and 4 before rallying with three consecutive wins to take the series.

Coming off a 2-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of their Western Conference finals series on Saturday, Toews believed the Blackhawks now realized how tough Game 2 could be on Sunday.

“Like I said, a lot of it has to do with the other team improving their play,” Toews said prior to Sunday's game. “We got to know that having these first two games at home is an advantage. We have to use that.

“I think we played pretty good [on Saturday]. We did some good things as a team. But we have to build off of it. We have to not be satisfied with being up 1-0. We want to keep control of the series. These home games are huge. We didn't really do that in the last series. We kind of put ourselves in a tough spot. That's something we can learn from.”

Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell expected the Kings to be a motivated group at the United Center on Sunday night.

“Same as what Detroit did,” Bickell said. “I don't think Detroit was happy with the first game, and I don't think L.A. is, either. It's going to be an exciting, different game. I think their offense is going to be a lot better than they had [in Game 1]. We're just looking forward to the challenge.”

Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya also believed Sunday’s game in Chicago was important because the Kings have been so good at home throughout the playoffs. The Kings are 7-0 at home and 1-6 on the road in the playoffs this season.

“Yeah, I hope we learned something [from the last series],” Oduya said. “Being down 3-1, that's something you don't want to do, especially with a team like L.A. I'm not saying it's impossible to get that back like we did last time, but it's not at all a situation you want to be in. We know they're strong at home. This is an important game today.”

Feeling the final four familiarity

June, 1, 2013
By ESPN Stats & Information
The Stanley Cup playoffs resume Saturday with Game 1 in both the Eastern (Bruins-Penguins) and Western Conference (Kings-Blackhawks) Finals. FROM ELIAS: The final four NHL teams won each of the previous four Stanley Cups: the Kings last year, Bruins in 2011, Blackhawks in 2010, and Penguins in 2009. There has been only one "final four" in NHL/NBA playoff history in which each team won its league championship in one of the previous four seasons: the 1945 NHL postseason (Bruins, Red Wings, Canadiens and Maple Leafs).

Western Conference Finals – Game 1
Kings at Blackhawks, 5 ET

* 7th time that a defending Stanley Cup Champion (Kings) will meet the current Presidents' Trophy winner (Blackhawks) in a playoff series since the Presidents' Trophy was first awarded in 1985-86.
In the 6 previous meetings, defending Cup champs and Presidents' Trophy winners each won 3 series.
* Teams have met just once before in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Chicago defeated Los Angeles 4-1 in a 1974 Quarterfinal series.
* Blackhawks: won 2 of 3 regular-season meetings
* Blackhawks: 40-41 on penalty kill this postseason
* Kings: have not allowed more than 3 goals in any of their last 33 playoff games dating to last year, an NHL record
* Jonathan Quick (LA): leads NHL in GAA (1.50 .. 20 GA/799 min), save percentage (.948 .. 362 saves/382 shots) and shutouts (3).

Eastern Conference Finals – Game 1
Bruins at Penguins, 8 ET

* 5th playoff series meeting between Bruins & Penguins (1st since 1992 Wales Conf. Finals); teams have split 4 previous playoff series
* Penguins: 3-0-0 vs Bruins during regular season; won last 6 reg. season meetings vs Bruins
* Penguins: lead 2013 playoffs in total goals (47), goals per game (4.27), power play goals (13) and power play pct (28.3)
* Sidney Crosby & Pascal Dupuis (PIT): tied for playoff goal lead entering Conference Finals with 7 each (tied with Blackhawks’ Patrick Sharp)
* David Krejci (BOS): leads playoffs in scoring entering Conference Finals with 17 points (5 G, 12 A)
* Torey Krug (BOS): tied for playoff goal lead among rookies with 4 (tied with Senators’ Jean-Gabriel Pageau); has yet to score a regular season goal in his career

Hawks expect more physical series vs. L.A.

May, 31, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers
Viktor StalbergJeff Gross/Getty ImagesThe Blackhawks will try to match the Kings' physical impact in the Western finals.
CHICAGO -- As the Chicago Blackhawks prepare for a physical Western Conference finals against the Los Angeles Kings, coach Joel Quenneville shuffled his lines during Friday's practice by putting hard-hitting Bryan Bickell alongside Marian Hossa and Michal Handzus on the first line.

"I think he's earned that opportunity, how he's played," Quenneville said. "Not just his production offensively, but physically, he's been engaged.

"He's got some speed. He's had a lot of puck time. When he did get the opportunity, he did an excellent job. Gives him a little bit more size and more presence."

The 6-4, 233-pound Bickell is excited for that opportunity.

"The hitting part of my game is to spark the team or give space for the players," Bickell said. "Finish your checks to grind down their defensemen or forwards. That's part of my game. I think it's going to be a physical series.

"We haven't had too much of that the first two series, but we're looking forward to the challenge. It should be fun, too."

The Blackhawks said they realize they're getting into a different kind of series than the one they just completed against the Detroit Red Wings or the first-round series against the Minnesota Wild.

The Kings have had 536 total hits and are averaging 41.2 hits a game through 13 playoff games. By comparison, the Red Wings had more than 30 hits twice in their seven-game series with the Blackhawks, and the Wild averaged 33 hits in their five-game series.

"It's almost like they're a better St. Louis Blues," Patrick Kane said. "They play physical, have players that can score. When they do play physical, it seems to work to their advantage.

"Against them, we'll try to worry about what we have to do. If we play our game, play the fast paced game we've been playing the past few games, it should work well for us. We're excited about doing that, especially after last series, finishing off three strong games."

Hossa also thought the key was sticking to their own game.

"They play a physical game," Hossa said. "We know that. We play a quick game. We know how we can beat them. We just have to attack their weakness."

Hawks forward Viktor Stalberg is expecting this series to leave a mark.

"I'm sure there will be a lot of blue arms and backs at the end of it," Stalberg said.

Hawks' penalty kill keying playoff run

May, 30, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- The importance of the Chicago Blackhawks' penalty kill during the playoffs can be understood by their lone failure.

The only power-play goal the Blackhawks have allowed through two series and 12 playoff games came against the Detroit Red Wings in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal series. That goal was costly as it decided the game. The Red Wings won 2-0 with their second goal coming on an empty-netter.

In the playoffs, where goals are at a premium and close games are the norm, the Blackhawks have advanced past two teams and are moving onto the Western Conference finals because their playoff penalty kill has been one of the NHL's best in the past 15 years.

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Seabrook joins D-lighted company

May, 30, 2013
By ESPN Stats & Information
Blackhawks 2, Red Wings 1 (OT) (Blackhawks win series 4-3)

Brent Seabrook will be toasted in Chicago after scoring the overtime goal that gave the Blackhawks a Game 7 win. It was Seabrook’s first goal of the postseason. He becomes just the fourth defenseman in league history to score an OT goal in a Game 7. The goal and win capped a 3-1 series comeback for the Blackhawks, the first time the franchise had pulled that off. They were 0-11 in such series before this game.

The Blackhawks’ win sets up a rare situation in the Stanley Cup Playoffs: the final four won each of the previous four Stanley Cups: the Kings last year, Bruins in 2011, Blackhawks in 2010, and Penguins in 2009. FROM ELIAS: There has been only one "final four" in NHL or NBA playoff history in which each team won its league championship in one of the previous four seasons: the 1945 NHL postseason when the Bruins, Red Wings, Canadiens and Maple Leafs were left.

* Brent Seabrook (CHI): 1st goal of postseason ... 1st career postseason OT goal (he's had 6 OT goals in regular season career)
* Seabrook (CHI): 4th defenseman in league history to score OT goal in Game 7 and first since Darius Kasparaitis of 2001 Penguins
* 37th Game 7 in NHL history to go to OT (2nd this postseason ... Boston's Patrice Bergeron scored OT winner in Game 7 of Eastern Conference Quarterfinals vs Maple Leafs)
* Blackhawks: overcome 3-1 series deficit for first time (were 0-11 before this game)
* Blackhawks: 6-5 all-time in Game 7 (first win since 1995 Conf. QF vs Maple Leafs)
* Blackhawks: 1st OT win in a Game 7
* Blackhawks: play Kings in Western Conference Final (CHI won 2 of 3 regular-season meetings)
* Red Wings: both series this postseason went 7 (won at ANA, lost at CHI)
* FROM ELIAS: The final four NHL teams won each of the previous four Stanley Cups: the Kings last year, Bruins in 2011, Blackhawks in 2010, and Penguins in 2009. There has been only one "final four" in NHL/NBA playoff history in which each team won its league championship in one of the previous four seasons: the 1945 NHL postseason (Bruins, Red Wings, Canadiens and Maple Leafs).

Defensemen to Score OT Goal in Game 7
2013 Brent Seabrook CHI vs. DET
2001 Darius Kasparaitis PIT vs. BUF
1983 Brad Park BOS vs. BUF
1950 Leo Reise DET vs. TOR

FROM ELIAS: It took overtime to decide a winner in Game 7 of the Chicago–Detroit series, which was as close as a series could be heading into extra time, with the teams deadlocked not only in wins but in total goals scored for the series (15–15).

Until last year, the only playoff series in NHL history in which Game 7 went to overtime with the teams having scored the same number of goals in the series was the first-round matchup between the Sabres and Senators in 1997 (won by Buffalo).

But this was the third such series in the last two playoff years, following the Washington–Boston and New Jersey–Florida first-round pairings in 2012 (won by the Caps and the Devils).

NEXT LEVEL: The Blackhawks scored 6 of their 15 conference semifinal goals (40%) against the Red Wings on high shots to Jimmy Howard’s glove side, including the overtime game winner in Game 7. The Blackhawks’ greatest percentage of goals (28%) were to the high glove side this season, an area in which Detroit’s Jimmy Howard limited goals in the 1st round.

Jimmy Howard Goals Allowed High Glove
This Postseason
Total Pct Allowed
vs CHI 6 40%<<
vs ANA 2 10%
>>Worst zone vs Blackhawks

Defending champs standing in Hawks' way

May, 30, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers
Bryan Bickell and Drew DoughtyBill Smith/Getty ImagesThe road to the Cup gets more difficult with the defending champion Kings up next in the West finals.
CHICAGO -- As tough as it was for the Chicago Blackhawks to send the Detroit Red Wings home after seven games, they're expecting an even more difficult task in knocking off the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings in the next round.

The Blackhawks and Kings open the Western Conference finals in Chicago at 4 p.m. on Saturday. Game 2 will be on Sunday at 7 p.m.

"I think we've progressively had a much tougher series from the first round; we expect it to keep getting tougher," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "L.A., they got the Cup. They played two tough rounds in a row. They know how to win. I think that we got to make sure we're well prepared. We're excited about the opportunity. I'm sure these back-to-back games will be fun to be a part of this weekend."

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Seabrook's series comes full circle

May, 29, 2013
Powers By Scott Powers

CHICAGO -- No Chicago Blackhawks player rode the roller coaster of the seven-game series with the Detroit Red Wings more than defenseman Brent Seabrook.

[+] EnlargeBrent Seabrook
AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhBrent Seabrook's redemption was complete with his series-winning overtime goal on Wednesday.
Seabrook experienced the lowest of lows and the highest of highs all within seven games. He went from having his role diminished and his minutes cut substantially to being reunited with old defensive partner Duncan Keith and having his role re-established to finally being the team's hero in the most important game of its season.

On Wednesday, in overtime of Game 7, Seabrook fired the puck into the right corner of the net past Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard for the game-winning and series-clinching goal, giving the Blackhawks a 2-1 win and a trip to the Western Conference finals.

"I'm a defenseman; when I have that much room, I usually screw up, trip or fall or something like that," Seabrook said. "But [Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville] harps on it all the time, put pucks on the net, anything can happen."

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Patrick Kane
64 27 37 10
GoalsP. Kane 27
AssistsP. Kane 37
+/-J. Toews 26
GAAC. Crawford 2.22