Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: D-flating Weekend for Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: D-flating Weekend for Blackhawks

Sunday, Mar. 14, 2010
9:41 P.M.

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

Niklas Hjalmarsson is one of the least-experienced Blackhawks at the NHL level. But he spoke wise beyond his years in assessing the team's play of late after a second come-from-ahead loss in 24 hours. In essence, he said they'll only last a "few games" in the playoffs if they continue playing as they have lately.

That's the bigger story coming out of Sunday's 4-3 home defeat than the severity of Alex Ovechkin's penalty for his hit on Brian Campbell. And the absence of Ovechkin only made the pain of the defeat hurt a little more. Tack on the fact that the much-criticized goalkeeping was actually solid for both games, and the concerns might be considered even greater. After all, that's what the players have been telling us during this goaltending debate.

The Hawks have a month to fix it so their young defenseman's prediction doesn't come true. The defensive coverage - or lack of - created those opportunities against the Flyers and the Caps, who are still pretty potent without their two-time MVP. Those are the kinds of games that'll be sitting there when the post-season bell rings - late 2-1 leads on the road....3-0 third period leads at home. And unfortunately for the guys in the middle of the roster "scratch" game, two of them ended up taking costly high-sticking penalties in that last period - Jordan Hendry and Colin Fraser. That's asking for nothing but trouble against the NHL's top power play. Not to mention one third period shot on goal for a team that racks up the most per game in th entire league.

Stan Bowman's main moves prior to the trade deadline were for defensive depth, acquiring the likes of Nick Boynton, Danny Richmond, and Jassen Cullimore - guys with NHL experience to be on-call at Rockford. Judging by the first impression of the way Campbell landed, he may have to tap into those resources for at least one, and perhaps two if Kim Johnsson needs some time. Dustin Byfuglien could move there in a pinch, as well. But another issue will be continuing to search for ways to decrease the reliance upon Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook while trying to correct the defensive issues down the stretch. Keith had almost 59 minutes of ice time in those 24 hours, Seabrook 53.

The Hawks are off to some warm weather this week. That alone won't solve things, because it's three games in four nights, and the Ducks, Kings and Coyotes will try to exploit them in similar ways until they show they can deliver again for 60 minutes. Vancouver's also back home after their 8-5-1, 14-game road trip, and might start nipping at their heels for the 2 seed if the Hawks aren't careful. If it comes to that, the Hawks might avoid the much talked-about "18" or "27" matchup, but it certainly wouldn't help erase Hjalmarsson's concern.

Like all slumps that each of us eventually encounters in our various walks of life, part of it is probably mental now. Once the first signs of "uh-oh" pops up, the thing snowballs. That is, until they figure out a formula to stop it. Even though they're a respectable 13-8-5 since that infamous third period, maybe they need that trip to Minnesota to close out this month. Perhaps they'll find some of that mojo that hasn't quite seemed the same since that 5-1 lead after two disapperared in a flash during their last trip there in early January.

Why NHL All-Star Games never get old for Patrick Kane

Why NHL All-Star Games never get old for Patrick Kane

ST. LOUIS — Patrick Kane is in his 13th NHL season and he's participating in his ninth career All-Star Game this weekend, which is the most of any player that's attending. And both of those numbers will continue to go up.

But don't tell Kane that. He may be 31, but he sure doesn't feel like he's the old guy around here.

"I don’t want to be considered the Old Man," Kane said during Thursday's Media Day session. "I’m still only 31 years old. Obviously there’s a lot of young talent in the NHL and a lot of guys I like to watch playing and that I recognize are really good players, so it’s fun to meet them and talk to them and just talk about your seasons and your team and what’s going on around the league. I feel like I’m just another hockey player."

To Kane, he's just another hockey player. But to others around the league, he's more than that.

Twenty of the 44 All-Stars this season are participating in their first one and many of them have idolized Kane growing up.

Quinn Hughes, who played with Kane for Team USA at the 2019 IIHF World Championship, is one of them. Even as a defenseman, Hughes watched Kane every chance he would get as a kid.

"Yeah, thanks Quinn," Kane said with a smile. "I feel a little bit older now, so thanks."

But even though Kane is one of the older players here, he doesn't take it for granted. He attends every year because it's a good opportunity to represent the Blackhawks and the NHL, and it's also a chance to pay it forward.

“I can remember Joe Thornton being in the locker room, that was pretty cool to see him,” Kane said of who he was excited to meet at his first All-Star appearance. “I remember when I was in Ottawa, I was preparing for that little breakaway challenge ... and I had to go to the rink that morning to practice some of it and see how it’d all come together. And I remember [Pavel] Datsyuk coming to the rink as well and he got on the bike and just worked out. It was just me and him on this big bus and then whoever else we had with us.”

Each All-Star Game stands out for Kane. And now he’s looking to create more memories.

On Friday, Kane will participate in the “Shooting Stars Challenge,” where players will shoot pucks at a variety of targets from the stands. It’s the first time the NHL is incorporating this event into the competition.

On Saturday, Kane hopes to be on the winning side of the 3-on-3 All-Star Game because the Central Division has yet to win it since the format changed in 2016. 

“All of them have their own memories,” Kane said. “You look back on Montreal was my first one, Ottawa had the Superman thing, LA was the top 100, even Columbus we had like five of us there, or six of us. Each of them have their own memory. It’s one of things where, when you’re done playing, you look back and say, ‘I went to this many All-Star Games.’ That’s where my head’s at right there.”

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Wayne Messmer on the most memorable anthem rendition in Hawks history

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Wayne Messmer on the most memorable anthem rendition in Hawks history

During a trying time in America's history the NHL All-Star game in 1991 was set to start. Singer Wayne Messmer delivered one of the most memorable renditions of the anthem Chicago has ever seen and showed a tradition at Blackhawks games that still goes on today. NBC Sports producer Slavko Bekovic is in for host Pat Boyle as he talks with Wayne Messmer about that night that.
 
(1:02) - Wayne Messmer's anthem rendition in 1991
 
(4:32) - When did Messmer start singing?
 
(8:50) - Hard to not let the emotions overtake you while your singing
 
(11:18) - Wayne's anthem was the introduction to the world about the Hawks tradition
 
(14:12) - Lead up to the All-Star game
 
(17:05) - After finishing Messmer got really emotional
 
(19:40) - The impact the anthem had on fans
 
(22:50) - Messmer will always love hockey

You can listen right here or in the embedded player below: