Blackhawks

NHL realignment doesn't change much for Hawks

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NHL realignment doesn't change much for Hawks

The Blackhawks didnt have a huge stake in the NHLs realignment. Nevertheless, with the leagues Board of Governors vote on Monday night, the Blackhawks will keep their biggest rival in their conference.

The board approved a four-conference alignment format that keeps the Detroit Red Wings in the same group as the Blackhawks. The board authorized Commissioner Gary Bettman to implement the new setup, pending NHLPA input.

The Blackhawks new conference includes them, the Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues and Winnipeg Jets.

Additionally, under the new format every team would play every other team outside of its conference twice once home and once away. That means the Blackhawks will host every team every season instead of every other season, as is the current setup.

That last item was a needed change. Too many seasons big stars werent playing in every building, denying fans a chance to see them. And for Blackhawks fans, that Red Wings matchup remains five or six times a season (an eight-team conference member that plays an opponent six times one season would play it five times the next season).

Oh, and heres the deal with playoffs: the top four teams in each conference qualify, with first place facing fourth and second playing against third. The four respective conference champs would meet in the third round of the playoffs.

Of all the teams in the Blackhawks conference, the Stars are probably the happiest travel-wise. The Stars have long been a member of the Pacific Division, traveling outside of their time zone one or two hours for every other division opponent.

And, of course, Winnipeg will get to see favorite son, Jonathan Toews, three times a year. Not a bad setup.

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

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AP

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:

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

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USA TODAY

Cue Chelsea Dagger: Blackhawks blow out Capitals to snap eight-game losing streak

Win one game.

That was Joel Quenneville’s message during the Blackhawks’ eight-game losing streak, which finally came to an end on Saturday night.

How about a 7-1 victory over the Washington Capitals on home ice for a streak-breaker? Now that’s more like it.

Prior to Saturday, the Blackhawks hadn’t recorded a win in February — or a win at the United Center since Jan. 12. 

Though the Blackhawks will likely miss the playoffs for the first time since Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were rookies, a blowout win over the leaders of the Metropolitan Division Capitals had to have felt great.

"It’s a nice way to get over the hump," Toews said. "Sometimes you might just win a 2-1 game or just kind of grind it out, but it was nice for us to fill the net the way we did tonight."

Added Joel Quenneville, "Certainly feels 100 times better than coming in and trying to explain how we had a lead and were unable to sustain it. The complete 60 minutes, three periods the right way, more consistency in our game, way more pace than we’ve seen recently, composure with the puck, shooting around the net. It was fun but that’s one. Let’s see how we respond to this because there’s a lot of hockey left."

The Blackhawks are 25-26-8 with 58 points, and are 11 points out the final wild card spot, currently held by the Minnesota Wild.

Among the highlights:

— Seven different Blackhawks scored: Toews, Kane, Alex DeBrincat, Brandon Saad, Artem Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman

— The Blackhawks are 74-6-4 in the regular season in which Kane and Toews both record a goal — and 41-0-0 in their last 41 games, according to NBC Sports Chicago stats guru Chris Kamka.

— Kane registered career assist No. 500, becoming the sixth Blackhawk with 500 or more. Kane is also the seventh U.S.-born player with 300-plus goals and 500-plus assists, joining Mike Modano, Keith Tkachuk, Jeremy Roenick, Pat LaFontaine, Joe Mullen and Phil Housley, according to Kamka.

"You think about the amount of great Americans that have played the game, how many players actually play hockey in the United States... Growing up all I wanted to do was play hockey," Kane said. "That means a lot, especially when you talk about American-born players."

— DeBrincat's 22nd goal of the season has him tied for the rookie-lead with Tampa Bay Lightning's Yanni Gourde. DeBrincat and Kane also lead the Blackhawks with 22 goals.