Random News of the Day: Sealing the deal


Random News of the Day: Sealing the deal

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Posted: 8:26 a.m.

By Joe Collins

I took it all for granted. But how was I to know that youd be letting go. Now it cuts like a knife. But it feels so right This wouldnt be the first time things have gone astray. Now youve thrown it all away. Now it cuts like a knife. Bryan Adams, Cuts Like A Knife (1983)

Leave it to one of Vancouvers finest rock stars to put it all into perspective.

Picture this. It's a night out at the bars. You and a few other guys decide to check out this hangout called "Stanley Cup Playoffs. Hey, its the place to hang out this time of year. So you go in, hoist a few, and start people watching. Right away, you notice this amazing girl who is getting chatted up by some dude. Hes a smooth talker, too. He's saying all the right things, she's laughing, they start dancingit seems like a match made in heaven.

This goes on for quite a while. Soon, closing time rolls around. However, this guy who was hitting it big with the hot girl starts having issues. He starts mumbling. He tells a bad joke. Then he spills a drink on her. He goes to ask for her number...and then realizes that he lost his cell phone. You try to feel bad for the guy but also feel like saying, "Hey, nice moves but you have to know how to close the deal."

That guy is the Vancouver Canucks.

READ: Sky-high again, Blackhawks eyeing 7th heaven

The Chicago Blackhawks could complete one of the most epic comebacks in professional sports history Tuesday night-- and contribute to a colossal collapse at the same time. Game 7 between the Hawks and Canucks can be seen on Comcast SportsNet at 9pm. But this will be more than just any old quarterfinal playoff game. One three teams in NHL history have come back from 3-0 deficits to win a playoff series: the 42 Maple Leafs bounced back against the Red Wings to win the Stanley Cup, the 75 Islanders stunned the Penguins in the second round and the Philadelphia Flyers shocked the Bruins last year in the Eastern Conference semis.

For Blackhawks fans, its all gravy this year. The Stanley Cup is already on the mantle. Why not see how much further the house money will go? But for Canucks fans, its something Pepto Bismol couldnt cure. During the last three games, the Blackhawks are resembling that guy that swoops in at the end of the night and gets the hot girls phone number. And theyve done this for two straight seasons nowpossibly going on three. Call it what you want, but dont blame the Blackhawks for exploiting a shaky situation. While the comeback story is intriguing for Chicago, the Vancouver story is nothing short of fascinating. When it comes to professional sports in British Columbia, its the Canucksand a lot of tumbleweeds after that. All eyes are on the guys in blue and green. Right now, the Canucks are the helpless insects. The Blackhawks -- not to mention the Vancouver fans and media -- are the little kid holding the magnifying glass directly over them on a hot, sunny day. And the heat is only going to intensify tonight.

READ: Bickell has wrist surgery, out 6-8 weeks

41 years of failurehave started to weigh on the heads of fans, the media and I think some of the players, Vancouver Sun hockey writer Ian Walker said on Mondays edition of Chicago Tribune Live. There is concern here in Vancouver.

And some of that pressure surfaced Monday in the Canucks locker room. During the scheduled media availability, goalie Roberto Luongo -- the donkey to the thousands of fans holding the tails and pins -- had to excuse himself from the cameras. A reporter asked if he was going to start in net Tuesday night. He called a time out to talk to the public relations guy on what he should say. After a moment, Luongo came back with, "I'm getting ready as if I'm playing. We're not worried where the series is. It's Game 7 and pretty exciting stuff and we've got to take a minute here to realize we're in a situation where we've got to work hard but also enjoy the experience."

Does that sound like a guy, an team, an organization thats ready to seal the deal?

READ: CSN sets new all-time Blackhawks TV ratings record

Things are so micromanaged, Walker added. Players dont know if theyre coming or going. In terms of where Luongos mind is, it seems to be anywhere but on the game right now. Theyre afraid of what to say to the media.

For the record, Luongo will start Tuesday night. But will it matter? I dont think it will. You might think the pressure to win is intense in New York, Chicago or Philadelphia -- but its a different beast in Vancouver. As the Canucks go, so do the fortunes of Vancouver sports fans. Its all or nothing. And the Canucks have proven that the pressure to win is just too much to overcome.

(cue QueenDavid Bowies Under Pressure)

To the Blackhawks: put Vancouver out of its misery. Get the girls phone number. Show Luongo and company how its done.

Its time to seal the deal.

Or something like that.

Alex DeBrincat records third career hat trick, but Blackhawks lose to Blues in overtime

Alex DeBrincat records third career hat trick, but Blackhawks lose to Blues in overtime

For Alex DeBrincat, it was probably nice to hear Chelsea Dagger again.

But how about three times?

The 20-year-old rookie snapped out of a 13-game scoring drought in a big way on Sunday night, recording his third hat trick of the season. DeBrincat did all he could to help give the Blackhawks two points, but they only came away with one in a 5-4 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues.

DeBrincat is now the first rookie in franchise history with three hat tricks in the same season, passing Steve Larmer. His last two hat tricks came against the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 27, 2017 and Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 25.

"It's pretty cool," DeBrincat said of his third hat trick, "but I wouldn't be able to do that without the guys we have in this locker room and the linemates I've had. Most credit to them."

Entering Sunday, his last goal was on Feb. 17 against the Washington Capitals.

"Obviously it's frustrating when you go through a slump that like that but what I've learned is to stay positive and there's other things you can help your team win with," DeBrincat said. "Just kind of focus on those things."

He netted goals No. 23, 24 and 25 on the season, tying Patrick Kane for the team lead. He is also tied for second among goals scored by a rookie this season.

DeBrincat opened the scoring with nice wrist shot on the power play to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead midway through the first. With less than a minute to go in the period, he tapped one home in front of the net to make it 2-0.

In the third period with the game tied at 3-3, DeBrincat put his team in front 4-3 with 3:13 left in regulation. 

“We were talking about [DeBrincat] today, it had been a while since he had scored," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But whether he scores or not, he does a lot of good things in the game, and he’s very aware of his positioning, and doing the right things, finding pucks, getting in shooting lanes, or denying passing lanes. So he’s effective in a lot of ways, but nice to see him score a nice power-play goal today.”

But Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo even things up again after a shot from the point found its way past J-F Berube with 1:22 left. Patrik Berglund would net the game-winner in overtime to hand the Blackhawks a loss.

"I feel like we’ve played well and we just came up a little bit short," DeBrincat said. "I feel like that’s been the theme of this whole season.”

The pros and cons of reuniting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on Blackhawks top line


The pros and cons of reuniting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on Blackhawks top line

Jonathan Toews' offense usually comes in spurts. We're seeing it again right now.

But it's no coincidence his numbers have spiked since Patrick Kane joined him on the top line.

After recording another two points in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, the Blackhawks captain has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his past eight games; he had 11 points in his previous 23 games total.

Toews also reached the 20-goal mark for the 11th straight season, joining Kane and Alex Ovechkin as the only three active players to accomplish that feat to open their NHL careers.

Kane has seen his offensive production pick up, too. He has 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in his past 13 games after going five straight without one, which was his longest point drought of the season.

When the two of them are on the ice together at even strength, they control 57.9 percent of the shot attempts. It hasn't quite translated on the scoresheet (14 goals for and 17 goals against) maybe the way it should, but they are certainly spending far more time in the offensive zone than the defensive end and are generating a high volume of shots.

So yes, reuniting the dynamic duo has worked stats-wise.

But it comes at a cost:

— Vinnie Hinostroza and Nick Schmaltz haven't scored in six straight contests.

— Alex DeBrincat's season-long goal drought is up to 13 games.

— Artem Anisimov's last even-strength goal came nine games ago.

When you put Kane and Toews together, you risk losing some balance across the lineup and that's why Joel Quenneville has always been reluctant to go to that nuclear option. He prefers when opposing teams are forced to play 'Pick Your Poison.'

Ideally, you'd like to spread out the scoring, but one thing is for certain: The Blackhawks are better when Kane and Toews are each producing offensively, whether they're apart or together. 

When the wins start to dry up though — and they have — that's normally when it's time to try something different.

Perhaps more importantly, the last thing you want are those scoring droughts mentioned above to stretch even further and get inside the younger skaters' heads, then carrying it with them into the offseason.