Chicago Blackhawks: Stanley Cup finals

Breaking down the Hawks' 2013-14 schedule

July, 19, 2013
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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Banged-up Bickell plays tough in finals

June, 25, 2013
 Bryan BickellAP Photo/Charles KrupaBryan Bickell celebrates his game-tying goal with Jonathan Toews and Michal Handzus.
BOSTON -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has gotten to the point that he has nearly perfected the art of sidestepping questions.

One he skillfully avoided throughout the Stanley Cup finals was why he waited until Game 4 to reunite the line of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Bryan Bickell. The trio had accounted for three goals and four assists in the Blackhawks’ Western Conference finals series-clinching Game 5 win over the Los Angeles Kings.

It seemed only logical to keep the line together as the Blackhawks rolled into the Stanley Cup finals to face the Boston Bruins. Quenneville opted to split them up, though, and explained it as wanting more balance throughout the team.

But Quenneville wasn’t telling the truth then, and he came clean about it after the Blackhawks clinched the Stanley Cup with a 3-2 win over the Bruins in Game 6 on Monday.

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Trying to stay calm with Cup on the line

June, 24, 2013

BOSTON -- Chicago Blackhawks rookie forward Brandon Saad had a nap scheduled between the team's morning skate and Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins on Monday.

Whether he'd actually fall asleep, Saad wasn't sure.

With the Stanley Cup headed for TD Garden on Monday night and the Blackhawks just win away from them hoisting it, Saad and his teammates were in a battle Monday afternoon with their nerves leading into Game 6.

"It's amazing," Saad said after the morning skate. "Trying to keep my nerves down and be excited about it. It's going to be a lot of fun. ... [This afternoon will be] pretty routine. Get a meal in me. Take a nap, or try to take a nap and stay relaxed. It's going to be an exciting one.

"[I didn't sleep Sunday night] as good as usually, but I think it was the best I could, and we're all looking forward to it."

Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw was feeling something similar. Shaw thought handling his emotions would be easier once the game arrived.

"There's obviously going to be nerves," Shaw said. "You can't focus on that. Focus on the game. We know they're a great team. They're going to play their best game of the postseason. You know their backs are against the wall. That's when teams are most dangerous. We got to focus on each shift, in and out, just keep moving forward.

"[The nerves] kind of settle when that puck drops. You're not thinking ahead. You're just playing the game. You're just thinking I'm here now and try to keep pushing it and working for each other."

In hopes of relaxing everyone, a number of the Blackhawks who played on the 2010 Stanley Cup team shared their experiences with their teammates on Sunday night.

"[They said] just to stay calm and live in the moment," Saad said. "Enjoy the process. It's not every year, you might not ever be here again. Lay it all on the line and play your best."

Shaw said, "There were obviously some great words said. We ended it off everyone was excited, ready to get the game started."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville remembered his players sharing similar stories prior to winning the Stanley Cup in 2010.

"I think it's very beneficial," Quenneville said. "We look back, back in 2010, we were in the same situation. Johnny Madden had been there, and [Marian] Hossa had been there, and it was nice listening to those guys that had been in that situation.

"I think it prepares the guys with the right frame of mind. And between [Sunday] and [Monday's] game and [Monday,] and basically it's about the approach. You want to make sure you have confidence going into [Monday's] game, but let's make sure the energy is going to be in the right place. Let's make sure there's a purpose with it. But at the end of the day, we all dream about this challenge and this opportunity, and let's go take advantage of it."

Hawks, Bruins have been here before

June, 23, 2013
BOSTON -- The Chicago Blackhawks and Boston Bruins have both won a Stanley Cup in the past four seasons by being in the exact same position they are now in this season’s Stanley Cup finals.

The Blackhawks currently lead the Bruins 3-2 in the series after winning Game 5 in Chicago on Saturday. Game 6 will be in Boston on Monday. If necessary, Game 7 would be in Chicago on Wednesday.

[+] EnlargeNiklas Hjalmarsson
Harry How/Getty ImagesBlackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said winning Game 6 would be one of the most difficult challenges of his career.
In 2010, the Blackhawks defeated the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 5 in Chicago to take a 3-2 advantage in the Stanley Cup finals, and they closed out the series by winning on the road in Game 6.

In 2011, the Bruins faced a 3-2 deficit to the Vancouver Canucks in the Stanley Cup finals after losing Game 5 on the road. The Bruins won Game 6 in Boston and captured the Stanley Cup by winning in Vancouver in Game 7.

Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp knows his NHL history, so he was aware of the situation.

“You know, it's a similar feeling [to 2010], especially having the series tied 2-2, taking Game 5 at home and coming on the road for Game 6,” Sharp said at TD Garden on Sunday. “You've got to be careful; you’ve seen a couple years ago Boston was down 3-2, they won at home and then won Game 7 in Vancouver. We know this team is capable of coming back.

“For us, I know it's a big game, but you want to play it like it's any other game, play the way we have all season, and try to pull one out here on the road.”

Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson went as far as saying winning Game 6 would be one of the most difficult challenges of his career.

“It's going to be tough, obviously,” Hjalmarsson said. “We've got confidence, too. We were in the same situation in 2010 and won on the road. We're obviously going to try to win the game [Monday].

“We all know it's going to be the toughest game of the year, maybe in my whole career so far. It's going to take a lot for us to get away with a win here. We're all looking forward to it. It's going to be a great challenge. It's going to be a great atmosphere, and this is the type of games you want to play. This is the type of game where you want to perform and have good games.”

On the other side, the Bruins also possessed confidence because of their familiarity with the scenario.

“We've been in this position before, and it's obviously a tough one to be in,” Bruins forward Brad Marchand said. “But we just want to make sure that we focus and lay it all on the line. There could be no tomorrow, so you have to make sure that we give everything we've got.”

Now, both will be looking to repeat history come Game 6 on Monday.

Blackhawks lucky to have Kane

June, 23, 2013
CHICAGO -- If luck is truly the residue of design, then Patrick Kane knew it was coming all along.

Kane is known for his speed and his skill, but like a fourth-line grinder, he isn’t afraid to take his buddies’ leftovers and close the deal. He's more Finish than Teemu Selanne.

Kane, the boy king of Chicago hockey, scored the first two goals in the Blackhawks’ 3-1 win in Game 5, putting them one win away from their second Stanley Cup in four years.

Read the entire column.

Corey Crawford returns to form in Game 5

June, 23, 2013
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford has endured his share of nightmarish games, much like any goaltender who has ever tried to protect a 72-by-48-inch goal frame in the NHL.

What separates the top-tier goaltenders from the average ones is their ability to plug the holes soon after and not allow those dreadful nights to stack up, especially when it comes to the playoffs.

[+] EnlargeCorey Crawford
Jamie Squire/Getty ImagesCorey Crawford makes a stick save in the Blackhawks' Game 5 win.
Crawford experienced one of those disastrous games Wednesday in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals. He allowed five goals, all to his glove side, and was bailed out by a six-goal effort from the Blackhawks in an overtime win against the Boston Bruins.

Crawford’s subpar performance was criticized by fans, resulted in Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville having to answer whether backup goaltender Ray Emery could replace Crawford and led to countless questions to Crawford about his glove-side struggles. Crawford accepted it all and said he knew he had to do better.

A game later, Crawford was better.

As Crawford has done all season, he dispensed of his forgettable game and replaced it with a memorable one. He held the Bruins to one goal on 24 shots and helped the Blackhawks take a 3-2 series lead with a 3-1 win over Boston in Game 5 on Saturday.

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Video: Niklas Hjalmarsson on Game 5

June, 22, 2013

Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson discusses the 3-1 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Rapid Reaction: Blackhawks 3, Bruins 1

June, 22, 2013

CHICAGO -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals Saturday at the United Center.

How it happened: There wasn’t much to separate these two teams through four games, and that was the case again in Game 5. The game wasn’t decided until Blackhawks forward Dave Bolland scored an empty-netter in the final seconds. Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane gave his team a 2-0 lead with a rebound goal in the first period and another rebound goal in the second period. Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara cut the Blackhawks’ lead to 2-1 at 3:40 of the third period. Both goaltenders bounced back from a high-scoring Game 4. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 23 saves, and Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask made 29 saves. Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron was taken to the hospital due to an injury. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was on the bench but did not play in the third period.

Player of the game: Kane has often proved to be a big-game player, and he came through again Saturday. He has nine goals and 10 assists for a team-leading 19 points in the playoffs.

What it means: The Blackhawks take a 3-2 lead in the series and will have a chance to close it out in Boston. The Blackhawks are 11-2 at the United Center in the playoffs this season. The Bruins are 6-4 on the road.

What’s next: The series moves to Boston for Game 6 on Monday. The Bruins are 8-3 at TD Garden in the playoffs this season, and the Blackhawks are 4-5 on the road.

Marian Hossa to play Game 5

June, 22, 2013
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa will play in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals on Saturday, according to coach Joel Quenneville.

Hossa will be in the lineup despite missing Friday's practice and Saturday's morning skate.

Hossa was a late scratch from Game 3 against the Boston Bruins on Monday due to an unspecified upper-body injury. He sat out the team's morning skate on Wednesday and played in Game 4 in Boston later that night.

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Leddy focused on winning, not playing time

June, 21, 2013
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy said Friday he wasn't concerned about his recent lack of playing time and was staying focused on the goal of winning the Stanley Cup.

Leddy played just four shifts and a career-low 2:37 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday. He has two assists, a minus-7 rating and averaged 15:13 of ice time in 21 playoff games this season.

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Blackhawks challenging Bruins' Chara

June, 21, 2013
Chara/ToewsBill Smith/NHLI/Getty ImagesJonathan Toews said the Hawks need to use their speed to deal with Zdeno Chara.
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks haven't lost their respect for Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, but they have ceased to fear him.

The Blackhawks stopped trying to avoid the 6-foot-9, 255-pound Chara in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday and discovered they could have success against him as they scored five of their six goals with Chara on the ice. Chara finished Game 4 with a minus-3 rating, which was his worst rating of the playoffs.

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Hawks encourage Leddy after reduced role

June, 20, 2013
Adam McQuaid, Nick LeddyDave Sandford/NHLI/Getty ImagesNicky Leddy played four shifts and a career-low 2:37 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals.
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook knows precisely what fellow defenseman Nick Leddy is going through after Leddy played just four shifts and a career-low 2:37 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday.

It wasn't that long ago Seabrook had to deal with having his own minutes drastically reduced by Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville. Seabrook went from getting one of Quenneville's larger workloads to playing a season-low 12:03 in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings.

Seabrook eventually worked his way back into the rotation, got his minutes returned and provided the overtime game-winner in Game 7 against the Red Wings. He also came through with the game-winner to defeat the Boston Bruins in overtime in Game 4 on Wednesday.

Seabrook said Thursday it was key for Leddy to realize his chance to contribute in the Stanley Cup finals could still be out there and not to be beaten down by his reduced role.

“Yeah, Nick is a great player,” Seabrook said at the United Center on Thursday. “He brings a lot to the table. You know, that was a coaching move [in Game 4] that happened, and Nick is a great kid. You know, he works hard. He battles, and he's got to keep his head up, like you said, and just keep going.

“He's got such a great talent that anything can happen when he's out there on the ice. He's got great legs, he can shoot the puck real well, he's got a good hockey sense. I think for Nick, just in talking with him and a few of the boys, just told him to keep his head up and keep going, and I think that's the biggest thing for Leddy.”

The 22-year-old Leddy's minutes have fluctuated throughout the playoffs. He's had five games of playing 19-or-more minutes, 10 games between 14-17 minutes and six games of fewer than 13 minutes, including two under 10 minutes.

Leddy averaged 17:25 of ice time to go along with six goals and 12 assists in 48 regular-season games this season. His lowest regular-season ice time was 12:21 against the Red Wings on Jan. 27. Prior to Wednesday, his previous career-low was 6:12 which came during a regular-season game against the Red Wings on March 28, 2011 in his rookie season.

Quenneville said Thursday the game and the way the Blackhawks' five other defensemen were playing dictated Leddy's situation in Game 4.

“We went into the game, I think we were waiting to see how things played out,” Quenneville said. “Certain match-ups you're looking for in the course of a game. And we're on the road sometimes you can't get it, and sometimes the score reflects it and sometimes you get deeper in the game and you're going to wait and see, but I think that was probably the case [Wednesday] with the lead.

“[This season we] felt our depth on the back end, we've been much better than we've ever seen here. [In Game 4,] those five guys basically assumed those same kind of minutes across the board and rotated those guys evenly. Basically the first time we did that all year, and we'll see how that goes out.”

Quenneville spoke positively of Leddy on Thursday and said he would look to get Leddy more involved in Game 5 on Saturday.

“Well, Nick has got some nice assets, and I think quickness, getting up in the attack and turning pucks from defense to offense right away is one of his strengths,” Quenneville said. “And in the puck area, make sure we're killing plays and defending quickly in the puck area and eliminating players with a puck possession game by them in their zone, is what we're looking for.

“But at the same time, Nick gives us a nice presence on the back end, gives us nice balance. We didn't play him a ton [Wednesday,] obviously not much, but we still think that we'll be home [Saturday,] we look to get him back going. “

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said he realized what Leddy was experiencing wasn't easy, but Toews admired him for his attitude and still considered him an important piece to the team.

“It's not easy to keep your confidence and then go out there and be prepared for the next shift or to go and do your job when maybe you haven't been on the ice for quite a while,” Toews said. “There's some guys that maybe get their minutes or their opportunities reduced here and there, guys like [Viktor Stalberg] and Ledds. You try to talk to those guys just to stay with it because you know when they're out there, they can really make a difference for us.

“That's a huge sacrifice that guys like that have to make for our team, and we know mentally they're going to be ready, and those sacrifices aren't going unnoticed by their teammates.”

'Mr. Overtime' Seabrook delivers again

June, 20, 2013
Brent SeabrookMichael Ivins/USA TODAY SportsBrent Seabrook scored his second OT goal of these playoffs in Game 4 on Wednesday.
BOSTON -- Patrick Sharp had a new nickname for Brent Seabrook after he scored his second overtime playoff goal in Wednesday's 6-5 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals.

"He's 'Mr. Overtime,'" Sharp said.

Seabrook has developed that reputation because he's scored twice in these playoffs, and both happened to be game winners. Seabrook's first OT goal won Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Detroit Red Wings. That one lifted the Blackhawks to a 2-1 win and completed their series comeback after being down 3-1.

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Crawford comes through in the end

June, 20, 2013
CrawfordBruce Bennett/Getty ImagesIt wasn't Corey Crawford's best night, but he did enough to make it a successful night.
BOSTON -- Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford kept pushing his mind beyond the thought of each goal he allowed in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals against the Boston Bruins on Wednesday.

That wasn't an easy task because Crawford had to do it five separate times, but he kept focusing on the next task before him and eventually was rewarded as the Blackhawks pulled out a 6-5 overtime win at TD Garden and evened the series at 2-2.

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Bruins have Kane well covered

June, 18, 2013
BOSTON -- If time and space are the currency of success for an offensive star, Patrick Kane is broke.

Roughly 13 periods into the Stanley Cup finals between Kane's Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins, and the Hawks have managed just five goals. They trail in the series 2-1 after being blanked 2-0 on Monday night. Game 4 is Wednesday.

Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa (who was injured and did not play in Game 3), Bryan Bickell and Kane are all without a goal.

It is easy to say, then, that for the Hawks to reassert themselves in this series, those players must produce.

What makes the issue more complex and perhaps in the end more compelling is that those players -- specifically Kane -- must find a way to solve the puzzle that is the Bruins' defense.

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Patrick Sharp
78 34 44 13
GoalsP. Sharp 34
AssistsD. Keith 55
+/-M. Hossa 28
GAAC. Crawford 2.26