Blackhawks in good shape heading into Christmas break


Blackhawks in good shape heading into Christmas break

DALLAS – The Blackhawks left Dallas not happy about their loss to the Dallas Stars, a game in which they were in until the final 20 minutes began.

Outside of that, however, in assessing their game to this point of the season, the Blackhawks don’t mind where they’re at right now.

The Blackhawks enter the Christmas break with 44 points, which is good for third in the very difficult Central Division. The Stars, who beat them 4-0 on Tuesday night, sit atop the division with 54 points and St. Louis is in second place with 46 points. The Blackhawks have been busy through December. They’ve also been successful, winning seven of their last 10 games.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your copy of the One Goal III book]

“We’ve had good stretches here,” coach Joel Quenneville said following Tuesday’s game. “There’s progress in certain areas, some balance starting to come out. Some young guys – I’m encouraged by Phil Danault out here and [Dennis Rasmussen] has been a nice addition. The Russian line with Kaner’s been basically the highlight for the start of the year. [Corey Crawford’s] on a great run right now. It’s been OK.”

Well, it’s been better than OK lately. Now the Blackhawks’ start was best described as OK. The team would have one or two good games, then one or two bad games. Consistency was an issue; so was getting more balance and scoring throughout the lines. Quenneville said not too long ago that he was surprised it was taking so long to get more team chemistry.

Then things started clicking. The Blackhawks, thanks to great goaltending and scoring other than from the second liners, started stringing together some victories. Crawford did his part; entering the break he’s won seven of his last nine starts, and that includes three shutouts.

“The last two, three weeks have been good,” Brent Seabrook said. “Really good.”

Yes they have. Heading into Tuesday’s game in Dallas, the Blackhawks probably were wary of going into the break; they had a full head of steam going and probably didn’t want to stop the forward motion. But by the third period on Tuesday it was evident this team needs a respite.

[MORE: Patrick Sharp leads Stars to shutout victory over Blackhawks]

So the Blackhawks will take a breather. They’ll get rested and they could also get a bit healthier. Quenneville is still optimistic Marian Hossa, who’s missed the last two games with an upper-body injury, could be ready for Sunday’s game against Carolina. He hopes defenseman Rob Scuderi, who took a redirected puck to the face on Tuesday, will be OK by then, too.

The Blackhawks would’ve liked a better ending to this latest stretch but, as big pictures go, they’re in pretty good shape.

“We didn’t quit match in the third, and the score ended up being pretty lopsided [vs. the Stars]. But all in all, we’ve been doing a lot of good things lately and we’ve played a ton of hockey. Not using that as an excuse, but in some way I think the four days we have coming up will be good for us,” Jonathan Toews said. “We’ve got to be ready to come back and play with more energy in the next one than we did [Tuesday].”

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center


Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.

Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.

"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.

"What was said this time around crossed the line."

The Capitals released a statement about the incident:

"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."

The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.

Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.

"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."

The Capitals released the full interview.

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals


Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: