Blackhawks

Five Things from Blackhawks-Red Wings: Winning another tight one

Five Things from Blackhawks-Red Wings: Winning another tight one

Let's look at Five Things to take away from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime win over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night:

1. Blackhawks' recent dominance against Detroit continues.

The Red Wings own a 336-269-14-84 record all-time in the regular season against Chicago, but it's the Blackhawks that have had their way with their arch rival in recent years.

With Tuesday's 4-3 overtime win, the Blackhawks improved to 12-1-4 in their last 17 meetings against Detroit. The final meeting of the season will be March 10 at the Joe Louis Arena.

"We were asked today, is there still a rivalry between Detroit and us?" Joel Quenneville said after the game. "I think you could sense it right off the bat, in the building, and the fans, and the chants, and the enthusiasm. ... It was fun playing against these guys. I think the players look forward to it because it’s always a good game and playing the right way against them is something we talk about a lot, that you have to do.

"But I still think there’s still some history there that it’s fun playing these guys. There’s a lot of mutual respect."

2. A productive night for the power play.

The Blackhawks had six power-play opportunities, and cashed in on two of those, most notably the game-winner in overtime thanks to a Duncan Keith slapper from the point.

It's an area the Blackhawks are trying to be more consistent in, and it could serve as a springboard going forward.

"The first one was OK, the second and third one we had a lot of chances," said Brian Campbell, who scored the first of two power-play goals. "We had a couple penalties, so you get 10 seconds on the power play, so it's still an 0-for — I know that makes the PP coach not very happy," he joked. "And obviously [Keith], 4-on-3, we haven't had one in a while but we struggled there early in the season so that was big to get that going."

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3. Brian Campbell back on the scoresheet.

Campbell had a 423-game iron-man streak that ended in December, in large part due to a crowded blue line. Nonetheless, he was still a healthy scratch in two of four games last month, but is starting to get more comfortable as of late.

He scored his fourth goal of the season on the power play in the win, which is now tied for second on the team among defensemen. 

"I think we're starting to roll our lines a lot better," he said. "We're picking up the tempo of the game a little more."

That suits Campbell's style.

4. Third line keeps shining.

The Blackhawks' third line of Ryan Hartman, Tanner Kero and Richard Panik combined for two goals and three assists, continuing their hot stretch. 

While they didn't have great possession numbers — they're certainly improving — the trio is most importantly gaining Joel Quenneville's trust on both ends of the ice.

"They were great tonight," Quenneville said. "You can talk about each one of them and describe their game. They’ve got some physicality in the puck area, they’ve got some separation, counter hits where they’ve got the puck protected. And made some good plays off the rush. They go to the net, they hang around the net. All their goals were like that.

"But they generated a lot of offense and offensive zone time, as well. They’re getting better. That line was outstanding."

5. Blackhawks win another tight one.

The Blackhawks' success in tight games continued with Tuesday's overtime win, improving to 17-6-5 in one-goal games this season. 

What gives?

Keith: "We've played a lot of tight games, and I think that's a good thing. We're finding ways to win some of them. I think we know that there's still room for improvement if we want to be a team that goes all the way. We're not going to get ahead of ourselves. We know there's still half a season here, but we've done good things. We're trying to get better."

Quenneville: "We had a lot of close games. Every game, you look around the league, they’re close games. I think the number of overtime games is a little higher than we’ve seen in the past. Everybody plays comparable. All the teams are pretty even. You look at the standings, you see just about every team .500 or above. I think 28 of the 30 are almost in that same neighborhood. I think teams know how to play to keep themselves in games. And then the score dictates a lot of the way the game is being played. Seems like there’s so much balance in the league, the parity’s as good as it’s ever been, or close as it’s ever been."

Blackhawks give thanks to Mike Gapski, who's set to celebrate 2,500th game

mike_gapski_usa_today.jpg
USA Today

Blackhawks give thanks to Mike Gapski, who's set to celebrate 2,500th game

For 33 years, Mike Gapski has been the glue of the Blackhawks' support staff. He's the longest-tenured head athletic trainer in the NHL, landing the job in 1987 shortly after graduating from the University of Illinois-Chicago.

It's been a dream come true for Gapski to work in his hometown all these years, and on Thursday he is set to be involved in his 2,500th regular season game with the Blackhawks.

Current and former players took the time to congratulate and give thanks to Gapski, and share what he's meant to the Blackhawks:

Kirby Dach:

"It's crazy, you have the same guys in junior, but it's a little bit different level here. These guys take care of us, it's unbelievable the job they do. It's a tremendous accomplishment for Gapper. Couldn't be happier for him. I've only known him for a little bit and he's a really nice guy and helps everybody out and is very kind and caring. And that's what you need in a trainer, somebody who's going to have your best interest at heart. It's good for our group and obviously he's been through a lot with some of the older guys in here. I'm sure it'll be a fun celebration for those guys and for our group as well."

Alex DeBrincat:

"He's great. He's always helping. You try to stay out of the training room, but it's always nice to go in there and talk with those guys. Gapper specifically is a great guy to have around, always fun and lighthearted around there. He obviously knows his stuff, he's been in the league a long time, he's seen a lot of injuries. He's pretty quick to help us out and know what we need to get better."

Steve Konroyd:

"Michael Gapski, congratulations on 2,500 games. You're one of the first guys I ever met when I got traded to the Chicago Blackhawks way back in 1988. You're knowledgeable, you're professional and above all else you're a great guy. I was very proud to have you as a trainer and I think the Blackhawks are very lucky to have you over all these years."

Jamal Mayers:

"Just want to say congratulations to Mike Gapski on 2,500 games. Wow. That's a lot of games, Gapper, congratulations. I know all the players that have ever had you are thankful to have you around. You're a professional, you do things the right way, you really care about the players, it comes across every single day. And thanks for keeping me together when I was 37 and 38 at the end of my career."

Eddie Olczyk:

"Hey Frank, congratulations — 2,500 games standing behind the bench for our Chicago Blackhawks. A tremendous honor, congratulations to you and your family. One thing I love about you, Frank, is you're the same guy today as you were back in the late 90s when we were working together when I was still a player. So congratulations and here's to another 2,500 more."

Patrick Sharp:

"Gapper, Gappity, Frank, Mike Gapski, thank you so much for all the years that you've put in to the Chicago Blackhawks training staff. Countless players have come through the organization, nobody's got a bad thing to say about you. 2,500 games, that's no joke. How about we do another 2,500? Congratulations on all your success. I came to Chicago in 2005 as a young man, spent my whole adult life with having you taking care of me at the rink, so thank you for everything over the years. All the best to you and your family, Frank."

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Recently retired Kris Versteeg to be honored before Blackhawks game

Recently retired Kris Versteeg to be honored before Blackhawks game

Kris Versteeg recently retired and now the Blackhawks are honoring him with the team’s “One More Shift.”

Versteeg began the season with the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, but retired in November after playing six games for the IceHogs this season.

The 33-year-old wrote an emotional letter to the Blackhawks organization after requesting his contract with Rockford be terminated.

Versteeg will be honored before Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Wild. He will join the team on the ice for the national anthem and highlights of his career will be featured in the United Center.

Versteeg won two Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks, in 2010 and 2015. He is part of the Blackhawks celebrating the 10-year anniversary of that 2010 Cup win. Brian Campbell was given the same treatment on Nov. 21.

The first 10,000 fans into the UC can get replicas of the 2010 ring.

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