Author Archives: Brad Vandenberk

Central division race tightens; Avs pull to within a point of the Hawks after 4-2 win at the UC

By Brad Vandenberk

Now that the Olympics have claimed its victor and the Stadium Series business is behind us, its time to shift focus to the NHL playoff chase.  On the eve of the trade deadline, the Chicago Blackhawks host the Colorado Avalanche.  The Avs entered the contest trailing the Hawks by three points in the standings.  To make Tuesday night’s matchup even more meaningful, Colorado also has a game in hand on the defending champs in a tight race atop the Central division between the Avs, Hawks and Blues.

As we sit on March 4, 2014 the Hawks have 20 games remaining in their schedule with the pesky Avs nipping at their heels. While the St Louis Blues began the evening tied with the Hawks at 86 points (St. Louis won 4-2 over Tampa on Tuesday night to climb to 88 points].  This will make for a great finish heading into the playoffs.  The bad news coming out of the Madhouse on Madison is that Marian Hossa will be on the shelf for approximately 2-3 weeks with an upper body injury suffered in Saturday night’s affair at Soldier Field.  This next stretch without him will be a very tough test as no one can play as good a 200 foot game as Hossa.  Brandon Saad started out on the top line Tuesday night as a first-laid plan to replace Hossa alongside Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp for the time being.   Read more »

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Dominant 2 goal Kane performance lifts Hawks to 5-3 win over the Kings at Staples Center

By Brad Vandenberk

At the halfway point of their current six game road trip, the Hawks are collecting points and slightly staying ahead of the St Louis Blues in the Central Division.  Before entering game four in Los Angeles on Monday evening, the Hawks were 1-0-2.  They were still struggling to close the deal in OT and or the Shootout adding to their league’s worst 14 overtimes with a point lost. LA on the other hand is currently looking for goal scoring being shutout in most of their games.  Bryan Bickell made his return to the line up on the 3rd line along side Andrew Shaw and Brandon Saad.  Bickell is slowly creeping his way out of the Q’s dog house and knows he needs to use his physicality on the ice.  Marian Hossa has been taking a few maintenance days missing morning skates.  He remains in the line up but with the Olympic break just 5 days away, fatigue can be a factor.  You wouldn’t think with the Big Hoss, as his game is already getting Selke nods.  The fourth line has been exactly what the Hawks have asked for, playing good minutes, establishing the forecheck and actually tucking a few in at key times.  Read more »

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Blackhawks overtime woes extend in Calgary

By Brad Vandenberk

After an abysmal week that saw the Hawks go 0-2-1, it’s now time to embark on a 6 game road trip spanning over 12 days and playing some difficult opponents out on the West coast.  These are the last six games that the Hawks will play before the Olympic break starting February 9-26.  The Hawks are suffering through a mid season slump and what better team to bust this slump then the streaking Calgary Flames.  These same Flames gave the Hawks trouble during their last meeting back on November 27th until Patrick Kane threw a backhand over Reto Berra with just 18 seconds left in the 3rd period winning 3-2.  The start of this current road trip is also game one of a back to back with a quick visit to Van-city on Wednesday before heading south to enjoy some fun in the sun, with San Jose, LA, Anaheim and Phoenix waiting patiently.  Read more »

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Hawks take battle of West titans, 4-2 at the UC

By Brad Vandenberk

The Anaheim Ducks are not quacking their way to the top of the NHL standings they are literally steam rolling teams and now have a commanding 6 point lead in first place over all.  The only team that is that 6 points back are your Chicago Blackhawks.  The Ducks have won 18 of their last 19 games in convincing fashion especially embarrassing their last victims the Vancouver Canucks 9-1.  The Hawks last affair was a 3-2 loss to the Avalanche at home on Tuesday.  This game will be a determining factor to see how the Hawks match up against an elite team that they will have to prove beatable in order to make their way back to the Cup finals. Read more »

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Toews’ OT penalty costly; Avalanche prevail 3-2, hand Hawks a 5th January loss

By Brad Vandenberk

After a victory on Sunday night at the UC over the woeful Oilers, the Blackhawks are slowly trying to climb out of this mini slump that they have on the go.  The road ahead did not get any easier when the Colorado Avalanche invade the United Center on Tuesday evening.  Then, on Friday it’s the NHL best team the Anaheim Ducks.  And finally, an afternoon Stanley Cup rematch is on tap on Sunday at 11:30 a.m. when the pesky Boston Bruins come to town.  The Avalanche would be a great test for the reigning Cup champs to test their ability as a team and try to start racking up some wins.  Read more »

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Crawford not sharp early, Hagelin 3rd period goal lifts Rangers to 3-2 win at the UC

By Brad Vandenberk

NBC Wednesday rivalry came to town on Wednesday night for the New York Rangers lone visit to the United Center this season.  After coming off a shootout loss on Sunday against the Sharks, the Blackhawks were looking to continue their eastern conference domination.   New York also lost their last game in a shootout as well.  The excitement was high for this one as the Hawks tied the league for most Olympic athletes sending 10 players to Sochi.  Only the Blues and Red Wings are the only other teams that share this honor.  The Hawks haven’t necessarily rung in the New Year in style.  They are 1-0-2 in 2014.  With an Olympic break looming in less than 4 weeks, most players are looking to rest and enjoy the time off.  Read more »

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Hawks top Preds 3-1, avenge brutal November loss in Music City

By Brad Vandenberk

Remember November 16, 2013?  That was the last time the Hawks entered Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.  The game ended looking more like a murder scene than a hockey game.  The Predators taught the Hawks a lesson, defeating them 7-2.  After that game, the Hawks went on to win their next seven out of eight, which included their circus road trip. If we look back to Saturday night when the Hawks were blown out on the road 7-3, we start to see a trend here. The Hawks then came home on Sunday to play a complete effort beating up on the LA Kings 3-1.  Now it’s back to the scene of the crime to show why Chicago are the defending Cup champs.  Read more »

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Hawks rebound from Saturday’s loss in TO, halt Kings’ winning ways with 3-1 victory at the UC

By Brad Vandenberk

After a complete debacle in Toronto on Saturday night, and the Blackhawks not getting home on Sunday until 3am, the Hawks were back in action Sunday at 6pm taking on the Los Angeles Kings.  The Kings are coming off an afternoon game in Ottawa on Saturday.  Both teams were playing on a back to back but the Kings have gone 18 straight games without allowing a first period goal.  The Hawks, on the other hand, are still trying to pick up the pieces from being embarrassed 7-3 at the ACC.  On the good news front, Bryan Bickell sounds like he will make the trip to Nashville on Tuesday with his return in question.   The Hawks also bolstered their goaltending situation, acquiring Jason Labarbera on Saturday afternoon for a player to be named later. Read more »

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Hawks special teams near perfect in Dylan Olsen and Jimmy Hayes’ return to United Center; Hawks beat Panthers 6-2

Corey Crawford leaves game in 1st period with “lower body” injury

By Brad Vandenberk

After losing a close affair against the Ducks on Friday, it was time for the Hawks to play their final eastern conference match against the Florida Panthers at the UC.  This would be the first visit for Jimmy Hayes and Dylan Olsen since being traded down south.  This was also Kris Versteeg’s first game against his old team playing for his old team.  Fatigue seems to be creeping its ugly head into the dressing room of the Hawks.  They are currently suffering from a 3-game losing streak.  Though, they have battled in all 3 games to try and stay atop the western conference.  There was some good news coming into this game.  Bryan Bickell has begun skating again and is close to a return.  Andrew Shaw did play in this game after missing the last 2 with an upper body injury.  Michael Kostka was back on the Hawks roster after being activated off the IR.  Finally Nikolai Khabibulin is working his tail off in the gym, but is still some time away from returning. Read more »

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Hawks fire 50 shots on Lehtonen, yet lose 4-3 to Stars

By Brad Vandenberk

Remember the phrase “Home sweet home”?  Well the Blackhawks have finally returned back to the United Center with faint smells of horse dung still lingering in the air.  The circus has travelled to its next destination and the Indian head shines bright at center ice once again.   The opponent on Tuesday was the same Dallas Stars that the Hawks played in Big D five days prior.  That game went to a shootout with Ben Smith grabbing the victory as the 11th shooter, ripping one over Kari Lehtonen’s glove.  The league leading Hawks completed their best circus trip going 6-1 and winning 6 straight after losing to Colorado to begin the trip.  I smell another streak on the horizon, better scent than horse droppings.  All four lines are clicking for Coach Q making it easier to have any given line out against any of the oppositions attack.  Duncan Keith is making a strong case for a Norris nod being named 3rd star of the week with 6 assists.   The Stars will be without one key element heading into Chicago.  Tyler Seguin is suffering from concussion like symptoms and was sidelined for this event. Read more »

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