Hawks help reunite soldier, family for holidays

Hawks help reunite soldier, family for holidays

Tuesday, Dec. 21, 2010
3:01 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Handley family was getting an inside look at the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday. But it was nothing compared to the surprise that awaited them in the locker room.

Lance corporal George Handley was flown into Chicago by the Blackhawks and surprised his family after the teams practice at Johnnys Ice House West. Handley, who just turned 20 on Sunday, flew in from Japan this morning and will be home through early January.

Handleys homecoming was orchestrated by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, along with the USO of Illinois. Toews and Kane gave the Handley family a quick tour through the facility before bringing them into the locker room. A few moments later, George came out from a side room to surprise his family.

Handley hadnt seen his family in seven months and wasnt planning to come home until 2012.

Being overseas, I dont get many opportunities to come home because of the cost, said Handley, who wore a Blackhawks sweater with his name on the back. The Blackhawks gave me a plane ticket. All I had to do is take leave and they were taking care of it. Now I get to see them and Im happy.

Anthony Enrietto of the USO of Illinois, said Kane and Toews did a great job getting it together.

Patrick and Jonathan told the Hawks they wanted to bring a soldier home for Christmas. The Blackhawks contacted the USO of Illinois and we were able to make it happen, Enrietto said. With all the Blackhawks have done with veterans and active duty members on the ice, the awareness of what these guys do every day really just hit home, especially at Christmas.

Toews, who will be having some family in town soon himself, enjoyed the moment.

Im excited to see my little brother for Christmas. I cant imagine what its like for a guy like George to come home unexpectedly and have his brothers and sisters almost in tears when he walks in, he said. We were taking them around the room. I think they were getting bored with us so it was amazing to bring him in.

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

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' shutout win over Bruins

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' shutout win over Bruins

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 1-0 victory over the Boston Bruins on Friday night:

1. A sluggish start.

The Blackhawks have gotten off to some solid starts lately, scoring the game's first goal in the opening frame in five of their last six contests heading into Friday. But they were lucky to get out of the first in a 0-0 tie this time.

They had 15 shot attempts (six on goal) through the first 20 minutes while the Bruins had 30 attempts (17 on goal). Fortunately for the Blackhawks, Scott Darling stopped all of them that came his way.

Boston's third line of Ryan Spooner, Riley Nash and David Backes dominated possession, leading all skaters with a plus-12 Corsi in the period.  

2. Scott Darling steals two points.

Joel Quenneville decided to go with Darling in an effort to give a slumping Corey Crawford a chance to reset, and the Lemont native an opportunity to play in front of his father away from home, where he's used to watching him shine. It's safe to say he made his papa proud by putting on a great show.

Darling turned aside all 30 shots he faced, including 17 in the first period, for his second shutout of the season and fourth of his career. He has now allowed two or fewer goals in eight of his last 12 starts. 

Asked after the game whether he will earn a second straight start Sunday when the Blackhawks host the Vancouver Canucks, Quenneville responded, "We'll see."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Special teams not a factor.

In a game that featured only one goal, you'd think the way to crack the scoresheet would be on the man advantage. That didn't happen.

The Blackhawks went 0-for-3 on the power play, while the Bruins failed to cash in on their only two opportunities. Boston entered the contest by going 7-for-17 on the power play in their previous five games, good for a 41.2 success rate.

It was a nice bounce-back game for the Blackhawks' penalty kill unit, which allowed a goal on the man advantage in their previous two games.

4. Third line steps up at crucial moment.

The Blackhawks' third line of Vinnie Hinostroza, Marian Hossa and Tanner Kero had the worst possession numbers among all skaters, each registering a 24 percent Corsi or below. But when their team needed them the most, they stepped up.

With 1:26 left in regulation, Hossa ended his 10-game goal drought by burying home a terrific feed from Kero to snap a 0-0 tie and give the Blackhawks their second consecutive win. It's Hossa's 17th goal of the campaign, which ties Artemi Panarin for second on the team, and his fifth game-winning goal of the year. His 83 career game-winning goals now ranks 24th in NHL history, surpassing Mike Bossy, and remains fifth among active players.

Hossa's goal also moved him within a tie of Pierre Turgeon for 37th on the all-time goals list with 516.

Kero has six points in his last six games, while Hinostroza has two goals and one assist in his past two.

5. Despite recent struggles, Bruins in good hands with Claude Julien.

It seems like this is a discussion every year, but firing Julien would be a huge mistake for a Bruins team that fell to 3-5-2 in their last 10 games. They're still the No. 1 possession team in the NHL, controlling 55.42 percent of the even-strength shot attempts, and give up the fifth-fewest high danger scoring chances with 326, according the naturalstattrick.com. They average the second-most shots on goal per game at 33.9, and allow the second-fewest at 26.5.

To back it up, their PDO is 97.5 percent, the sum of a team's even-strength save percentage and shooting percentage that usually works it way toward 100, which indicates they're due for a fairly large correction. They're not getting bounces right now, but they're playing the right way and a change behind the bench would be a step in the wrong direction, considering Julien is easily a top-five coach in the NHL.

Marian Hossa scores game winner as Blackhawks beat Bruins

Marian Hossa scores game winner as Blackhawks beat Bruins

BOSTON (AP) — Blackhawks backup Scott Darling insists he isn't trying to take playing time away from No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford.

"I don't know if you guys know who my goalie partner is," Darling said with a smile after beating the Boston Bruins 1-0 on Friday night. "He's one of the best goalies in the world, hands down, no arguments. So I'm just pretty happy to get any games I can."

Marian Hossa scored with 1:26 left to break a scoreless tie, and Darling stopped 30 shots to post his second shutout of the season. Darling is 12-4 and he brought a 2.34 goals-against average into the game, even better than Crawford's 2.54.

"He seems huge there; he's always making key saves," Hossa said. "It's unreal just the way he's always been ready when he hasn't played for a long time. And when he got the chance, he wasn't afraid of it."

A three-time All-Star and two-time Stanley Cup champion, Crawford had started five straight games before taking a night off as the Blackhawks prepare for a six-game road trip that will start at the end of the month.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville wouldn't commit to a starter for the Blackhawks' next game but said of Darling, "He certainly helped himself."

Tuukka Rask made 21 saves for Boston, which has lost three straight games and four of its last five. The Bruins were shut out at home for the second game in a row.

"The winning goal goes through three of our guys and it's in our net with a minute and a half left," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We have to stand there, take the responsibility for our own actions. It's unfortunate because that minute and a half that was left in the game kind of tarnished everything we had done for the first 58 minutes."

It was a rematch of the 2013 Stanley Cup finals, when Chicago scored twice in the final 76 seconds of the third period in Game 6 to overcome a one-goal deficit and claim the NHL title.

This time, the game was scoreless before the Blackhawks made their final charge.

Vinnie Hinostroza picked up the puck at the red line and skated it in, sliding to his right to avoid traffic as he crossed into the Boston zone. He pushed it up to Tanner Kero on Rask's left, and he backhanded it across the crease for Hossa.

"The clock starts ticking down and you think, OK, maybe we are going to play some extra hockey," Darling said. "But, I mean, what a goal."