Blackhawks

Blackhawks White House visit 'icing on the cake'

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Blackhawks White House visit 'icing on the cake'

Friday, March 11, 2011
Posted 6:47 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. Patrick Kane was taking in the whole White House experience, from the tour to the kids street hockey game to President Barack Obamas speech.

WATCH: President Obama's speech

I was happy with his speech. I got mentioned three times in his speech, Kane said laughing, as he played hockey with kids on the south lawn. I dont know who was counting but somebody told me.

The Chicago Blackhawks enjoyed their final congratulatory moment of their Stanley Cup season when they visited the White House on a chilly Friday afternoon. The Blackhawks took a tour of the White House before being honored in front of a few hundred guests and media on the south lawn.

It was really cool, really elegant, Kane said of the White House. It goes back a long while obviously. I guess the first (president) to live there was (John) Adams. It was pretty cool to be part of that history, to walk through that house.

Introductions between Obama and players apparently yielded a few funny moments.

Everyone was introducing themselves, first and last name, and Hjalmarsson just said, Im Nick, Kane said. So it was funny to hear that.

While the Blackhawks who werent part of the Cup team were part of the lawn audience, the Cup members including visiting Brent Sopel and Cristobal Huet -- stood behind Obama during the festivities.

Blackhawks owner Rocky Wirtz called the visit the icing on the cake.

Obama gave about a six-minute speech congratulating his home-town Blackhawks championship and recognizing team ownership and specific players namely Jonathan Toews great work, Duncan Keiths postseason tooth loss and Kanes playoff mullet I thought it was pretty sharp.

Obama received a Blackhawks sweater and also got a chance to try on the Blackhawks championship ring that's what you call some bling, right there, Obama said.

We have a proud tradition in Chicago of believing that no matter how long it takes, how much we have to endure its only a matter of time before our team finally wins it all, Obama said to laughs. The waiting builds character. We have a lot of character.

During the playoffs, even the Michael Jordan statue had a Blackhawks uniform on. And when the Hawks visited Wrigley Field during the Crosstown Classic, they did something even tougher than winning the Cup -- they got 40,000 Sox fans and Cubs fans to stand up and cheer at the same team, Obama said. (Thats) never happened before.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville enjoyed meeting Obama.

Hes real genuine, a regular guy with a great attitude, he said. He was pretty excited. I had the pleasure to speak with him after we won the championship and he was excited then. One of the most amazing things was how excited the city was, and that was across the board. He was excited about it then and today as well.

The Blackhawks have enjoyed a lot of celebrations for that Cup victory, the most prestigious coming on Friday. While they keep moving forward trying to make the playoffs again this season, they enjoyed one last look at the past, presidential style.

He was very eloquent, very kind about the Blackhawks, team president John McDonough said of Obama. He really did his homework. He really gave Patrick Kane a lot of love.

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

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

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USA TODAY

Jean-Francois Berube impressed in his first Blackhawks start

Jean-Francois Berube got his first start of the season on Friday night, and it couldn't have gone any better.

The 26-year-old goaltender stopped 42 of 43 shots, a career-high for him in saves, in the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks at the United Center.

Since Corey Crawford went down with a head injury last December, the Blackhawks have been searching for consistency in the crease. 

The pair of Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass — who was assigned to Rockford on Feb. 15 and replaced with Berube — have had their ups and downs since then. With the Blackhawks out of the playoff picture, Berube had an opportunity showcase his skills, and he didn't disappoint.

"We were very happy with him," said coach Joel Quenneville. "I thought he did a great job. He was comfortable. I thought he was very patient in his net. Absorbing a lot of pucks with people in front of him was good. Closed some gaps and got … of the top of the paint. Rebound control was effective. Nice response from a long absence."

Berube's last — and only — appearance with the Blackhawks prior to Friday's game came on Dec. 6, relieving Forsberg in a game against the Washington Capitals. He recorded 12 saves of 14 shots. 

When Crawford got injured, Berube was the primary candidate to become the team's backup goaltender. The only problem? He was injured too, so the Blackhawks promoted Glass.

"I didn't want to sit and think about it," Berube said of his injury. "At the same time, it was great for Glasser. He was one of those guys that probably deserved it earlier in his career and he finally got his chance. Sometimes you need a guy to go down to have your chance. So I was mostly happy for him.

On Friday night, he got his chance.

"You always want to have a good impression for your first game," Berube said. "I know what I can do at this level, so it was just a matter of getting the opportunity to play and showing people what I can do."

Celebrating his 22nd birthday, Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. Artem Anisimov scored an empty-netter.

"It's a lot more fun coming to the rink when you're winning, enjoying each other, playing well as a team," Schmaltz said of the Blackhawks' win, which have now won three of their last four games. "Hopefully we can keep that good energy and bring it to the rink every day, and build off of that.

"You never know where this team can go, a lot of great players, lots of guys that have had a lot of success. Hopefully we can continue to put together solid efforts."