Hawk Talk: Second season off second chance

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Hawk Talk: Second season off second chance

Monday, April 11, 2011Posted: 7:10 p.m.

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

No matter how much it hurt, the sun was still going to come up Monday.

Turns out, even though it was still overcast in the Chicago area this morning, the new day, and new life, couldnt have been shining any brighter for the Blackhawks. Consider their thank-you note in the mail for the Minnesota Wild, whose coach (Todd Richards) was still fired after their 4-3 win Sunday night over Dallas punched the defending champs ticket back to the post-season. Monday, there was a plane to catch for Vancouver for Wednesdays opener of the best-of-seven first-round playoff series.

Obviously, youre praying Minnesotas gonna win. It was tough after our game, said Patrick Kane, who watched the game at home with his parents, who were in town. You feel like you kind of gave it away, and to have second life, maybe its one of those things we can appreciate now.

I was at home, watching TV with my brother, added last Junes Conn Smythe winner, Jonathan Toews. I was kinda texting Sharpie, and hes like, Whats wrong with you? How come youre not watching the game? I started watching the second half. I honestly couldnt believe it.

For Duncan Keith, the phrase backing-in doesnt apply.

I definitely feel fortunate they (Dallas) didnt win, but at the same time, looking at the standings we deserve to be in. You go by points, we have more points than Dallas. It was definitely nerve-wracking watching that game, hoping they wouldnt get two more points. Having said that, we want to make the most of this opportunity.

The Blackhawks have been the Canucks demon the last two years, sending them into the off-season. Its Vancouvers pressure-cooked opportunity to exorcise the ghosts of the last two springs. Its the Hawks opportunity to approach this series with a nothing-to-lose, underdog mentality. Theyve been dealing with their own pressures the last three months in the wild West just to get back into the playoffs.

We dont spend every day in Vancouver, but definitely when youre there you get the feeling that they feel this is the year for their team, according to Toews. They had a great regular season. Youve got to think theyre putting a lot of pressure on themselves to win the whole thing. We dont feel like the underdog, but its easy to play that role a little bit go out there and try to make things as tough as we can for their team.

Theyre first in the league, and we just snuck into the playoffs, so obviously theyre the team I thinks got more pressure than us as far as trying to get through and win the Cup, offered Keith.

Chris Kamka from our Comcast SportsNet staff researched that since the NHL went to its current playoff format in 1994, there have been nine 8 over 1 seeded upsets, including one in each of the last two years. Back in 2006, the Edmonton Oilers made it all the way to the Stanley Cup Final, only to lose in the seventh game to Carolina, still the last team not to make the playoffs the season after winning the title. The only time the Blackhawks were an 8th seed in that format was in 1997, when they lost, four games to two, to Colorado.

If the Blackhawks are to make it ten, theyll have to do it without at least two key ingredients to their success against the Canucks off-season departures Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien. The latter, in particular, was the Nucks Nightmare. Byfuglien collected six goals and nine points in the last eight playoff encounters, and screened and jostled his way onto goalie Roberto Luongos doorstep, leading to many other goals.

Its a new look, its a new team, said head coach Joel Quenneville. But certainly being around the guys who have that experience theres things that can be related to these guys. Getting (them) exposed to the excitement and the emotions of playoff hockey can raise the pace of that 82-game grind and find that one more hurdle I think that can help us across the board, as well.

Another crucial component was Dave Bollands defense on the high-scoring Sedin twins, increasing their frustration factor as those series have gone on. Bolland missed the last 14 regular season games with a concussion, but returned to non-contact practice Saturday. Troy Brouwer, the Vancouver-area native whos capable of providing a net presence, missed the final three games after sustaining an upper-body injury last Tuesday in Montreal. Both traveled with the team to British Columbia Monday, and Quenneville said he expects both to play at some point in the series.

Other things to Mull-et

Kane said the first thing he did after the Wild win was call his barber, get him to open his downtown shop, and get a fresh mullet, his signature styling during last springs Stanley Cup run. Yes, he has the steps carved into the sides, above the ears. Toews claimed Viktor Stalberg was particularly excited about growing a playoff beard. He might be a candidate for strongest facial showing in this group, following the departures of Ladd and John Madden. But Kane had an interesting theory, stating 20-year-old Nick Leddy sports whiskers of a 38-year-old. Kane thought another 20-year-old, Marcus Kruger, might have the toughest time growing one.

The Hawks recalled four players from Rockford to have available for injury insurance in the playoffs: Forward Jeff Taffe, who played in one regular season game for the Hawks, defenseman Jassen Cullimore, who played in 36 games with the big club before Leddys recall after the first of the year, veteran defenseman Garnet Exelby, and goalie Hannu Toivinen.

The Hawks signed defenseman Joe Lavin, a fifth-round draft pick in 2006 (126th overall) to a two-year contract, beginning with the 2011-2012 season. The 21-year-old captained Notre Dame to the Frozen Four this past weekend.

Chris Boden is the host of Blackhawks Pre and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet.

Report: Former Blackhawks winger Kris Versteeg to sign with Swiss League

Report: Former Blackhawks winger Kris Versteeg to sign with Swiss League

After struggling to find a new home this offseason as an unrestricted free agent, Kris Versteeg is expected to leave the National Hockey League and sign with SC Bern of National League A, better known as the Swiss League, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.

The former Blackhawks forward, who spent five seasons in Chicago from 2007-10 and 2013-15, scored 15 goals and 23 assists in 77 games last year with the Carolina Hurricanes and Los Angeles Kings.

It was his highest point total (38) in a season since 2011-12 when he tallied 54 with the Florida Panthers.

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There's no question Versteeg can contribute on the bottom-six for a contender in the NHL, but at 30 years of age and already with two Stanley Cups under his belt, perhaps he feels he can play a larger role elsewhere and will look to accomplish that overseas.

Bouncing around six different times (all via trades) certainly takes a toll, too.

In 550 career games, Versteeg has 131 goals and 182 assists across nine seasons in the NHL with the Blackhawks, Toronto Maple Leafs, Philadelphia Flyers, Panthers, Hurricanes and Kings. 

He was drafted in the fifth round (No. 134 overall) of the 2004 draft by the Boston Bruins.

Blackhawks Marketing Department wins Golden Matrix Award

Blackhawks Marketing Department wins Golden Matrix Award

The Blackhawks organization doesn't only win on the ice.

The team announced Wednesday that their Marketing Department's #WhatsYourGoal campaign, specifically the #WhatsYourGoal: Jenny spot with Head Coach Joel Quenneville, was honored with the Golden Matrix Award for the Best Promotional Video at the 2016 Information Display Entertainment Association (IDEA) Conference for the second consecutive year. 

Additionally, the Blackhawks Game Operations Department and United Center Scoreboard Operations Department were named the NHL's Best Overall Video Display and Production for the second year in a row. These same departments also received the Golden Matrix Award for Best Overall Video Display in the NHL at the 2008 and 2009 IDEA Conferences. 

IDEA recognizes superior achievement throughout the large screen video and matrix display industry by awarding its Golden Matrix Awards (GMAs) at the annual IDEA Conference. The purpose of the GMAs is to recognize artistic and technical excellence in the programming of large screen video and matrix displays located at stadiums, arenas, racetracks, convention centers and other public assembly facilities.

Just last month, Blackhawks players Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin took home multiple awards at the NHL Awards ceremony for their impressive performances on the ice in 2016. Kane won the Hart Trophy for most valuable player, as well as the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's regular-season scoring leader and the Ted Lindsay Award as the league's most outstanding player. Panarin was named the Calder Trophy winner for top rookie in the NHL this past season.

Blackhawks to appear on NHL-high 21 nationally televised games

Blackhawks to appear on NHL-high 21 nationally televised games

The Blackhawks announced their 2016-17 regular-season national television schedule Thursday, and there will be plenty of opportunities (21, to be exact) for people across the country to catch a Chicago Blackhawks game on television this year.

The Blackhawks will be making a league-high 21 national television appearances starting with their season-opener on Wednesday, Oct. 12 when they host the St. Louis Blues at 7 p.m. on NBCSN.

Stay tuned for CSN to release the entire local television schedule, including the preseason broadcast schedule, at a later date.

Here is the full Blackhawks' national television schedule: