Blackhawks say goodbye to Johnny’s IceHouse West


Blackhawks say goodbye to Johnny’s IceHouse West

The Blackhawks finished practice with their usual huddle at center ice at Johnny’s IceHouse West and then collectively looked toward the Zamboni entrance. A few moments player players huddled around the Zamboni for a farewell-to-Johnny’s photo.

The West Side rink will still host adult and youth hockey but the Blackhawks’ time there is over. When the Blackhawks next meet for practice it will be at their shiny new facility, MB Ice Arena. Still, Johnny’s will always have its place in Blackhawks history. For us writers, it was working from the Stanley Club perch and flinching whenever a puck flew in our direction, sturdy glass be damned. The Blackhawks have their fond memories, too.

“I think it started with the lockout when we weren’t allowed to go to the NHL rinks,” Patrick Sharp said. “We set up shop in one of these locker rooms and had a good group of guys skating every day and talking about when we were going to get back in the league. That was kind of the start of it. Two championships later we’re [still] practicing here, so some good memories.”

The Blackhawks’ first practices at Johnny’s were during the 2009-10 season. Ironically the players last Johnny’s practice resembled some of their first ones there: “dress-and-drives” from the United Center to Johnny’s and back. As Sharp said it was Johnny’s where he, several Blackhawks and a few Chicago-area NHLers practiced in the fall of 2012, waiting for the lockout to end. It’s at Johnny’s where, that same fall, Marian Hossa skated and worked his way back from the concussion that ended his postseason a few months prior.

Not long after the Bulls opened their practice facility near the United Center the Blackhawks looked into getting one for themselves. Now, it’s a reality. Coach Joel Quenneville and company toured the new facility after Tuesday’s practice. The new place is gorgeous and it will soon be the Blackhawks’ home. But Johnny’s will always have its memories.

“Yeah, a farewell. A lot of good memories over the years here, seven years of good moments,” Quenneville said. “We’re looking forward to going to the new facility. I think everyone’s excited about it but a lot of good things happened here.”

Hawks Talk Podcast: Bold predictions about the Blackhawks' post-All-Star schedule


Hawks Talk Podcast: Bold predictions about the Blackhawks' post-All-Star schedule

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Jamal Mayers and Pat Boyle discuss whether the Blackhawks can get back in the Wild Card race. They tell us which Blackhawks player has been the biggest surprise so far and have they figured out their defensive zone issues?

Jammer weighs in on what he would like to see from this team after the All-Star break, how they can improve their penalty kill and will they be a buyer or seller at the NHL trade deadline?

The guys close out the podcast with their bold predictions for the final 31 games of the regular season.

0:15 Teasing us or can they get into WC race?

2:00 Why is the power play clicking?

3:45 Biggest surprise between Kane, Toews and DeBrincat

6:00 Toews finds confidence

7:30 Biggest surprise from players not named Toews, Kane and Debrincat

10:00 Strome factor

11:30 Have Blackhawks figured out defensive zone issues?

13:30 Jokiharju after the World Juniors

16:00 What would you like to see post All-Star break?

17:00 How do they improve penalty kill?

19:00 Buyer or seller at trade deadline?

21:00 Bold Predictions

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast


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Four takeaways: Power play heater continues as Blackhawks go into break with shootout win

Four takeaways: Power play heater continues as Blackhawks go into break with shootout win

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 shootout win over the New York Islanders at the United Center on Tuesday:

1. Cam Ward bounces back

After allowing six goals on 25 shots in an 8-5 loss to New Jersey last Monday, the Blackhawks gave Ward a chance to redeem himself going into the break. And he did just that.

The 14-year veteran turned aside 34 of 36 shots for a save percentage of .944, which was his second-best percentage in a game this season. He stopped 18 straight to close out the game, including both shots he faced in the shootout. IT was a perfect bounce-back performance.

"We knew coming into this game it was gonna be on our minds for the next eight days here over the break, and it was important that we leave on a good note," Ward said. "I certainly thought that our effort was deserving of the win tonight against a very tough team that’s been one of the hottest teams in the Eastern Conference. It’s a credit to the guys for the way they battled back despite being down, and to come up with a shootout win always feels good for a goaltender.”

2. Power play heater continues

What else can be said about the power play other than it's on fire? The Blackhawks went 2-for-3 in that department, with one of the goals coming during a 5-on-3 advantage.

It's the ninth straight games the Blackhawks have scored a power play goal and the fifth time in the past 12 games they've scored at least two power-play goals in a game. They didn't score more than one in any of their first 39 games of the season.

The Blackhawks are now 19-for-48 on the power play since Dec. 18 for a success rate of 39.6 percent. The second-best team over that span is the Pittsburgh Penguins with a 31.8 percent conversion rate. It's come such a long way in a short period of time.

"We got our confidence," said Jonathan Toews, who scored the second one. "We're relaxed. We know how to get pucks out of tough areas when we take shots or if there's broken plays. Everyone's just feeling confident that if we're mixing around or if I'm in the middle on the wall [Alex DeBrincat] can fill in or [Dylan Strome], [Patrick Kane]. We're filling different positions at different times. We just know where guys are and and we're relaxed. We know that if they dump it down it's no big deal, we're confident in our breakout. We're not forcing anything.

"We're doing a good job of wearing teams down and then eventually the plays work out. It's nice for us to be able to make a big difference for our team right now. For a long time it was almost not a great feeling. When we went on the power play it was almost taking the wind out of our sails, but at the end of the day it should be giving us momentum if we're not scoring. It's huge for us to turn that around. Sometimes when it's snowballing in the wrong direction it's really hard to turn things around and we've done that."

3. Buckling down

On Sunday against the defending Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, the Blackhawks gave up only eight high-danger chances at 5-on-5, according to The Blackhawks allowed seven in the first period alone against the Islanders, and 15 total — 20 in all situations.

That's an area the Blackhawks have been trying to fix all season long, and will continue to be a work in progress going forward. But they responded with a much stronger second period, outshooting the Islanders 18-7 and generating 19 scoring chances to their six.

"I did, I loved our second period," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "Obviously the power play came through but our 5-on-5, I thought we carried the play and put ourselves in good situations a bunch of different times and I'd like to see more of that. I'd like to see us control the territorial battle a little bit more and make it easier on ourselves."

4. Rare first-period blank

Going into Tuesday, the Blackhawks had scored at least one first-period goal in 13 of their past 14 games. But the Islanders, who rank No. 1 in the NHL with a 2.42 goals against average, shut the door in the opening frame and held them to only nine shots on goal — three of which came in the final minute.

It was, however, the 31st consecutive contest the Blackhawks have played in where there was at least one first-period goal (from either Chicago or its opponent), according to NBC Sports Chicago's stats guru Christopher Kamka. Only three out of the 51 Blackhawks games this season have been 0-0 at the end of the first period.

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