Blackhawks

What Blackhawks fans should watch for in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

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USA TODAY

What Blackhawks fans should watch for in the Stanley Cup Playoffs

It's a weird time in Chicago.

Usually in April, the Blackhawks are gearing up for a lengthy postseason run. This year? They're already gone for the summer and will be watching from home for the first time since 2007-08.

But there are still plenty of reasons to watch the Stanley Cup Playoffs if you're a Blackhawks fan.

Here are five of them:

1. The Blackhawks and Penguins are tied for most Stanley Cups in the salary cap era with three. Can Pittsburgh three-peat to break the tie?

The Blackhawks became the first team in the salary cap era to win three Stanley Cups, doing so in 2010, 2013 and 2015. The Penguins became the first team in the salary cap era to win back-to-back titles in 2016 and 2017, and matched the Blackhawks with three total after picking up their first in 2009.

It's a deadlock. Will Pittsburgh become the first team to win four and three-peat? 

2. With the Predators winning the Presidents' Trophy, will Chicago native Ryan Hartman go from a non-playoff team with the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup winner in Nashville?

The Blackhawks didn't want to trade Hartman at the deadline, but the Predators presented a package too juicy to pass up and were forced to pull the trigger. That's what happens in a season like the Blackhawks had, where almost everything is on the table.

It was difficult for Chicago to see one of their own be traded to a Central Division rival, but would anybody be really disappointed to see Hartman win his first Stanley Cup? Surely, it would be painful to see him do it in a Predators sweater but it would make for a nice story, going from a non-playoff team to an instant winner in a span of a few months.

3. Can Artemi Panarin help the Blue Jackets advance past the first round for the first time in franchise history?

The Blue Jackets were looking for an offensive playmaker this offseason to help get them over the hump, and that's exactly why they acquired the Bread Man from the Blackhawks.

Panarin set a franchise record for most points in a single season (82), which was also a new career high for him, and is the best forward on a team looking to move past the first round for the first time. And if they can do that, who knows how far they can go until the train stops.

4. Tommy Wingels fell two games shy of winning his first Stanley Cup in 2015-16 with the Sharks. Can he do it this time around with the Bruins?

Here's another Chicago native with a legitimate chance at getting his first Stanley Cup with a different team after starting the year with the Blackhawks. And you better believe he'll be playing with a chip on his shoulder.

Wingels fell two games short of winning it all with the Sharks in 2015-16 after losing to the Penguins in six games. 

Wingels will turn 30 years of age on Thursday when the Bruins host Game 1, and you never know how many opportunities you'll get once you reach the back half of your career. This is a prime chance for Wingels to make a mark and add a Stanley Cup to his resume.

5. Michal Kempny has appeared in one career playoff game. How will the former Blackhawks defenseman fare with the Capitals, who are searching for their first Stanley Cup in team history?

The Blackhawks were hoping Kempny could turn into an every-day player on the blue line this season, but he struggled to crack a  young, crowded group on a consistent basis.

He's getting that opportunity with the Capitals, where he's playing in a top-four role and has recently spent time with John Carlson on the first pairing.

The Capitals are still searching for their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Heck, they're just looking to get to the Conference Final. Kempny was brought in to help shore up their defensive depth and, in the larger picture as a team, ultimately change their playoff fate.

Check out the full playoff schedule on the networks of NBC here!

Where do Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews rank among NHL jersey sales in 2017-18?

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USA TODAY

Where do Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews rank among NHL jersey sales in 2017-18?

The NHL announced their final jersey sales from the 2017-18 regular season, and there's a new name at No. 1.

Reigning Calder Trophy winner Auston Matthews edged out last season's winner Sidney Crosby as the top-selling jersey after finishing fourth in 2016-17.

The Blackhawks may have missed the playoffs for the first time since Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were rookies, but that's not stopping fans from purchasing their merchandise.

Each of them stayed inside the top 10, although it's a drop-off from a year ago when Kane was second and Toews was third.

Here what the rest of the Top 15 looked like:

A behind-the-scenes look at Dylan Sikura's journey from college to Blackhawks

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Blackhawks Originals

A behind-the-scenes look at Dylan Sikura's journey from college to Blackhawks

It's not often you see NHL-ready players stay all four years of college, but that's exactly what Dylan Sikura did because of his desire to help Northeastern win a championship and also complete school.

It fueled a little speculation among the fanbase about whether Sikura would actually sign with the Blackhawks after his season ended, probably because it happened to them before when Kevin Hayes, their 24th overall pick in 2010, decided to test the market after college in 2014.

But the Blackhawks were confident all along that Sikura would ink an entry-level deal once his career at Northeastern ended and he did.

In a web documentary released on Friday, the Blackhawks provided a behind-the-scenes look at Sikura's journey from college to the NHL, reaffirming that internal belief from the beginning.

It's well-done, and covers a lot of ground in 11 minutes and 38 seconds, ranging from following him around to class, practices and games, taking us inside the Blackhawks' pro scout mid-season meetings and Sikura's arrival at O'Hare Airport and leading up to his NHL debut on March 29.

Check it out here: