Blackhawks, Canucks set to renew hostilities

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Blackhawks, Canucks set to renew hostilities

Sunday, April 10, 2011
Posted: 8:22 p.m. Updated: 10:26 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Joel Quennevilles excitement was palpable even through a conference call.

His Chicago Blackhawks had squandered their chance to get into the playoffs earlier Sunday, but the Minnesota Wild got them back in with their 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars later that night.

Ive never been more excited about a hockey game that Ive never participated in, in my life. I was celebrating like a 5-year-old at a birthday party, Quenneville said a few hours after the Blackhawks claimed the No. 8 seed and a Western Conference quarterfinal matchup with the No. 1 Vancouver Canucks. Its unbelievable. Im shocked, surprised. I cant express my jubilation and excitement.

In the true spirit of this Blackhawks season, even their qualifying for the playoffs wasnt easy. But they got in and now face a Vancouver squad that was head and shoulders above the rest in the West this season.

Games 1 and 2 will be Wednesday and Friday night in Vancouver, 9 p.m. CST starts on both. Games 3 and 4 are April 17 and 19 at the United Center, with 7 p.m. starts. All first-round games will be televised on Comcast SportsNet.

Quenneville, whose Blackhawks went 2-2-0 vs. Vancouver this season and eliminated them the past two postseasons, said his team has to take advantage of this opportunity.

I know that playing against Vancouver we have to be special. The enthusiasm of making the playoffs is something we need to take going forward, Quenneville said. Anything can happen. We saw last year what happened with Philly at the end of (the regular season). All the teams are comparable, probably even. Lets go find out.

Most of the Blackhawks were probably watching this afternoon, too, when Minnesota helped them. Patrick Sharp told NHL Network on Sunday night said he, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith and Marty Turco talked about watching the game together but we werent in the best of moods after the Detroit loss.

Sharp was nevertheless thrilled at the outcome.

Im pretty relieved, thats the least I can say, Sharp told NHL Network. Its pretty exciting. You knew Minnesota came ready to play from the first shift and we had a chance.

Now the Blackhawks have another chance. Despite the Blackhawks recent postseason success against the Canucks, this wont be easy. Vancouver rose to the top of the West and stayed there throughout most of this season, weathering injuries and getting great performances throughout their lineup.

The Blackhawks could be getting some welcome news on the injury front, too. Dave Bolland continues to progress from his concussion, and Quenneville said we hope that hes able to be part of the first round of the playoffs and be a part of them early. Troy Brouwer (right shoulder) will travel for Games 1 and 2.

Nobody would like to play in the Vancouver series more than Brouw, Quenneville said. Were hoping he can be.

The Blackhawks got another chance. Theyre familiar with their opponent and what needs to be done at this time of year. The Wild got them in. Its up to them to move on.

The games were very competitive, very intense and the history of that playoff series against a familiar foe creates whole new level of intensity, Quenneville said. Rivalry becomes part of the culture. Lets respect that. Being smart, being intense, being competitive is what we need to be.

Chicago won the first two meetings, including a 2-1 shootout victory on Oct. 20. But Vancouver got on the board thanks to Roberto Luongo's shutout in a 3-0 win on Dec. 3.

The Blackhawks fired 45 shots at Luongo on Feb. 4, but some questionable calls hurt in a 4-3 loss north of the border.

In the season series, Jonathan Toews continued to bring his best against the Canucks with two goals and an assist. Patrick Kane had a goal and two assists, while Marian Hossa had three assists. Most of the scoring damage was done in one game, however, the Blackhawks' 7-1 massacre in Vancouver on Nov. 20.

Daniel Sedin scored two goals and assisted on three others against the Blackhawks.

Series schedule

DateTimeLocationTVGame 1: Wed., April 13
8:30 Pregame Live
9:00 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
at Vancouver
CSN-HDGame 2: Fri., April 15
8:30 Pregame Live
9:00 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
at Vancouver
CSN-HDGame 3: Sun., April 17
6:30 Pregame Live
7:00 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
CHICAGOCSN-HDGame 4: Tue., April 19
6:30 Pregame Live
7:00 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
CHICAGOCSN-HDGame 5: Thu., April 21
8:30 Pregame Live
9:00 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
at Vancouver
CSN-HDGame 6: Sun., April 24
6:00 Pregame Live
6:30 p.m. puck drop
Postgame Live follows
CHICAGOCSN-HDGame 7: Tue., April 26
TBDat Vancouver
CSN-HD
if necessary

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Patrick Kane leads Blackhawks to win in Buffalo homecoming

Patrick Kane leads Blackhawks to win in Buffalo homecoming

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Patrick Kane felt a little sheepish for being a little too emotional during a fist-pumping celebration after extending Chicago's lead to four goals in the third period.

It certainly wasn't a clutch goal or anything like that. The Blackhawks coasted to a 5-1 win over the Sabres on Sunday night.

Then again, Kane only gets to play in his Buffalo hometown once a year.

"I was a little jacked up for a 5-1 goal," Kane said. "I don't even know what I was thinking after that. It was kind of a blackout in that moment."

At least it had some historical significance.

It was Kane's 20th goal of the season, making the South Buffalo native the league's first American-born player to score that many in each of his first 10 seasons , according to Elias Sports. Kane also became the fifth Blackhawks player to reach the 20-goal plateau 10 times on a franchise career list led by Stan Mikita's 14.

"I think it's a pretty cool number," Kane said, before joking he's starting to feel old for 28.

"It's almost sad how fast it goes by," he added. "I feel maybe not as young as I used to be. ... Hopefully, a lot of great years left."

Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews broke it open with second-period goals for Chicago, which won for the sixth time in seven games. Ryan Hartman and Artem Anisimov also scored, helping the Blackhawks bounce back from a 3-1 loss to Edmonton on Saturday.

Scott Darling, subbing for starter Corey Crawford, made 25 saves in just his seventh appearance in two months.

Evander Kane scored and Robin Lehner stopped 32 shots for Buffalo in its final game before its five-day bye. The Sabres were trying for their first four-game win streak since December 2014.

Patrick Kane, however, was part of the draw given the large number of No. 88 Blackhawks jerseys that dominated several parts of the stands. And he gave them plenty to cheer about in the third period.

First, his one-timer from the high slot set up Anisimov's goal, making it 4-1 at the 3:29 mark.

Some three minutes later, Kane showed off some of his remarkable stick-handling skills. The NHL MVP was set up on the right of the Buffalo net, and was untouched for several seconds before easily depositing the puck inside the right post .

Kane celebrated by skating around the net, dropping down to one knee and pumping his arm, before flashing a big smile at a large number of Blackhawks fans in the stands.

Darling ate it up from the far end of the rink, knowing how special the moment was to Kane.

"It's an emotional game," Darling said. "I was super happy for him to have a highlight-reel goal like that."

Kane has scored in eight straight games against the Sabres. He upped his career total to eight goals and four assists in 13 meetings.

Chicago won its 11th consecutive game over Buffalo. The Blackhawks haven't lost to the Sabres since a 2-1 defeat at Buffalo on Dec. 11, 2009.

The Sabres were unable to match the Blackhawks' speed or depth after Evander Kane tied the game by converting Jack Eichel's centering pass with 6 seconds left in the first period.

Buffalo was outshot 20-14 over the final 40 minutes and 37-26 overall.

"We did too much sitting back, playing in our own zone," Eichel said. "We didn't play aggressive enough. We gave them too much room and the puck ended in our net."

Fatigue could have played a factor for the Sabres, who went 4-2 over a stretch of six games in nine days, including a 3-2 win over St. Louis on Saturday night.

"We can take some time here to rest a bit and try and let ourselves refocus for the last push of the season," Eichel said.

Connor McDavid believes Blackhawks prospect Alex DeBrincat will succeed in NHL: 'He's a special player'

Connor McDavid believes Blackhawks prospect Alex DeBrincat will succeed in NHL: 'He's a special player'

Blackhawks prospect Alex DeBrincat is putting up video-game numbers in the Ontario Hockey League.

He ranks first among all players with 49 goals and 104 points, and has done so in only 50 games. That's an average of more than two points per game.

DeBrincat, the Blackhawks' second-round draft pick (No. 39 overall) in 2015 thanks to the Andrew Shaw trade, became the Erie Otters' all-time leading goal scorer earlier this year and on Saturday, he tied Brad Boyes for second on the team's all-time points list with 309. The only player he's chasing now is teammate Dylan Strome, who has 329 and counting.

Connor McDavid, who ranks fourth in Otters history with 285 points, was there for DeBrincat's rookie season when he scored 51 goals and 50 assists. The 20-year-old Oilers captain very much still pays attention to the Otters, and isn't surprised by the heightened success of his former teammate.

"He’s having another amazing season," McDavid said. "No surprise there."

It was easy to suggest DeBrincat's numbers were inflated because he benefited from having a player like McDavid centering his line. But McDavid insists that wasn't the case.

"Honestly, we helped each other," McDavid said. "It was not a one-way street by any means. He finds a way to score goals. My year they were saying, 'Oh, he was just playing with me.' Then the other year, he’s playing with (Strome). He’s playing with Stromer again. To score 50 three seasons in a row is absolutely incredible no matter who you’re playing with or what you’re doing. Absolute credit to him."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The numbers back it up, too.

DeBrincat's points per game average has increased in each of the last three seasons: 1.53, 1.68 and 2.08, a significant jump from his second to third season. It's especially impressive when you factor in that he's scored only eight of his 49 goals on the power play this year after combining for 34 goals on the man advantage in his first two. 

Initially, McDavid was a little skeptical when informed that newly-signed winger DeBrincat, who's now listed as 5-7, 170 pounds, would be his new linemate. It didn't take long for that to change.

"He kind of just came out of nowhere," McDavid said. "I remember us signing (him) and looking, and it said he was 5-2, 140 pounds, whatever. The GM at the time, Sherry Bassin, said 'I found you a new winger.' I’m like, ‘That guy is going to play with me?’ Sure enough, he comes in and we kind of have that chemistry right away.

"He knows where the net is. He finds a way to score basically every night. He’s got a great shot. He’s one of the feistiest guys I’ve ever played with. It’s really remarkable about what he’s been able to do."

Size is surely to be the biggest concern for DeBrincat at the NHL level, but players such as Cam Atkinson (5-7), Johnny Gaudreau (5-8) and Mats Zuccarello (5-7) are proving that you can be among the league's best despite being undersized. And the game is evolving into more of an up-tempo style where teams built on speed is becoming the new norm.

DeBrincat's willingness to stick his nose into dirty areas combined with his offensively-gifted ability is a big reason why McDavid believes his former linemate will succeed at the highest level.

"I think well," McDavid said when asked how DeBrincat's game will translate into the NHL. "He’s just got such a drive and such a nose for the net that I don’t think he’s going to be stopped. He takes on guys much bigger. I don’t really know how he does it.

"Especially when he was a rookie and I was playing with him, he’s going into scrums against guys that are 6-5, and you’re on the ice thinking, ‘How the hell am I going to help you?’ He definitely picks his fights. He’s a special person and special player."