Nationals OF Bryce Harper sports Blackhawks shirt


Nationals OF Bryce Harper sports Blackhawks shirt

It appears Bryce Harper has some Blackhawks fever, too.

The Nationals outfielder made a public appearance today in Chicago serving smoothies while wearing a Blackhawks shirt:

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Harper is in town for the Cubs-Nationals series, where their series finale begins at 7:05 p.m. CT on Comcast SportsNet in a Jon Lester vs. Max Scherzer showdown.

It's no secret Harper has shown some support to Chicago sports teams, specifically their athletes. He and Kris Bryant have developed a friendship and have a friendly rivalry going in their respective sport.

Harper and Patrick Kane have also been in touch throughout the past year, as the two stars teamed up with Gatorade to surprise teams in the Washington and Chicago area with locker room renovations in August 2014.

The two exchanged Twitter messages afterwards as well:

[MORE HAWKS: Blackhawks cookies a big hit at Mount Prospect bakery]

By the end of Wednesday night, Blackhawks fans can only hope they can utter the same words Harper did during last year's postseason run:

How Blackhawks embracing underdog status could work against Oilers

How Blackhawks embracing underdog status could work against Oilers

Ahead of the NHL pause on March 12 — due to the COVID-19 pandemic — the Blackhawks had almost zero chance to be in the playoffs.

They sat at No. 12 in the Western Conference, six points out of a wild card spot with four teams to jump in 12 remaining regular season games.

Now that they'll be facing the Edmonton Oilers in a little over two weeks for a chance to make a run at the Stanley Cup again, they're going to embrace the challenge.

"It’s going to be a tough series against Edmonton," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said following the Hawks' first day of training camp leading up to the postseason on Monday. "They have two of the best players in the world - if not THE two best to players in the world in (Connor) McDavid and (Leon) Draisaitl. But it’s not just those two guys. There (are) other players on their team that are dangerous. They were ahead of us in the standings, so we know we’ve got our work cut out for us. But we’re excited to have this opportunity and show that we belong and we could make some noise as an underdog."

As an underdog, most of the pressure is off Chicago and on Edmonton. The West's No. 5 team at the time of the pause is not only the favorite to beat a team that wouldn't have normally been in the postseason in the Blackhawks, but they have the added expectation of winning as the home ice club with the series being played in Edmonton. 

In March, the Hawks realistically may have either been dwelling on why they came up short again or which golf courses they should hit up. Now, they're thinking about how they have nothing to lose in a postseason they're not supposed to be in, taking on a team they're not supposed to beat. 

"I think we match up pretty well," Hawks forward Brandon Saad said after Day 2 of camp on Tuesday. "It’s something we haven’t touched upon too much here at camp. It’s more about getting ready and focusing on what we can bring to the table. But I think everyone’s looked pretty good in camp for the most part with staying in shape and trying to take advantage of getting the touches and reps in. But they have a good team and I know it’s going to be a challenge for us. But I think for us, we’re confident as a group regardless of who we’re playing. Just focus on what we can do to have success."

After Day 2's practice, Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said the team will begin strategizing for the matchup shortly.

The Hawks finish up their Phase 3 training camp on Sunday, July 26 before traveling to Edmonton to take on the Oilers.

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2020 NHL season restart: Blackhawks-Oilers full schedule and exhibition opponent

2020 NHL season restart: Blackhawks-Oilers full schedule and exhibition opponent

The Blackhawks will take on the St. Louis Blues in their lone exhibition game prior to their five-game play-in series against the Edmonton Oilers, the NHL announced Tuesday. The game will be played on Wednesday, July 29 at 5:30 p.m. CT, which is three days before the qualifying round begins on Aug. 1.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Blackhawks news and analysis.

The league also released the full schedule between the Blackhawks-Oilers:

  •  Game 1 — Aug. 1 at 2 p.m. CT
  • Game 2 — Aug. 3 at 9:30 p.m. CT
  • Game 3 — Aug. 5 at 9:30 p.m. CT
  • Game 4 — Aug. 7 (TBD)*
  • Game 5 — Aug. 8 (TBD)*

*If necessary

The Blackhawks kicked off Phase 3 of formal training camps on Monday at Fifth Third Arena, where they will have a two-week period to prepare before traveling to their hub city of Edmonton on July 26. 

Each of the 24 teams in the NHL's Return to Play format will have an opportunity to play in a tune-up game before hitting the ground running. Is there a better measuring stick for the Blackhawks than the defending Stanley Cup champions?