Blackhawks

Random News of the Day: Sealing the deal

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Random News of the Day: Sealing the deal

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

By Joe Collins
CSNChicago.com

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.

Was Dennis Gilbert's Sunday scrap the right move for Blackhawks?

Was Dennis Gilbert's Sunday scrap the right move for Blackhawks?

When Blackhawks defenseman Dennis Gilbert skated after Jason Demers, hitting him into the boards, challenging him to fight and beating the doors off him in the second period with Chicago leading 3-2, he was sticking up for a teammate and trying to give the Hawks some life, but it cost them a puck in their own net.

So was it the right move?

"It is if we kill it," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said of the Hawks being forced to kill Gilbert's instigator penalty. "And I think it sends a good message to the rest of the players that we're in this together and we're going to take care of each other. 

"But I would have liked us to react better the rest of the game after that and that's what we should do to protect each other. I thought that the penalty kill, we were looking for goals at times and when we had the chance to get the puck 200 feet down the ice, we didn't always do that. And I'm not against scoring goals, but let's be smart about it. It cost us."

Gilbert was responding to Demers' hit on Alex DeBrincat in front of the Coyotes' bench near center ice that caused DeBrincat to fall hard into the wall.

"Well, I think it was [a] pretty blatant [penalty] that was missed," Hawks defenseman Calvin de Haan said. "Alex's head went right off the boards. I don't know how they didn't call that one. But good on Dennis to step up and sometimes it takes a big set of cajones to do that. 

"He tried to get a spark for us and I think trying to stick up for your teammates is still part of the game, especially on a hit like that. Kudos to him and I think it was a key time in the game for us and he tried to turn the tables for us."

Gilbert received the instigator for going after Demers, which resulted in a Coyotes' power-play goal from Carl Soderberg. It was Gilbert's second fight in two games. 

"I think it fires us up," DeBrincat said. "I think he’s protecting me. I think he obviously thought it was a dirty hit and takes control of the play. 

"I think it makes a good play for me. I like that he does that. Obviously, at the same time we get a penalty out of it which is not always the best. 

"I think our bench can roll with that and try to kill that off. Unfortunately, we didn’t. Any other penalty we can probably kill off from that one."

Sticking up for a teammate in that fashion goes a long way. The Hawks have been missing a player that makes the opposition answer for their sins the way Gilbert does. You'd like to avoid taking an instigator, but the Blackhawks had an issue with a dangerous hit not being penalized.

It's up to the penalty kill to make that a good penalty. Unfortunately for Gilbert and company, they didn't get the job done. 

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Blackhawks are who we think they are: 'We're inconsistent'

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AP

Blackhawks are who we think they are: 'We're inconsistent'

Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton has always preached focusing on the performance and letting the results take care of itself. Over time, water eventually finds its level.

The Blackhawks are a hard team to figure out.

When they're clicking, the Blackhawks look like a group that can compete with anyone because they can outscore any opponent and win the goaltending battle with either Corey Crawford or Robin Lehner between the pipes. When they're not, they look like a team that's closer to the basement of the NHL than the playoff bubble.

Take the past four games as an example.

The Blackhawks outshot the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues 38-30 but lost 4-0 in a game that didn't feel very close. Then they went to Boston, where they knocked off the NHL's best team 4-3 in overtime despite squandering a three-goal lead in the third period.

Next up was New Jersey, where the Blackhawks and lowly Devils looked to be on the same playing field before the visiting team won 2-1 in a shootout. And on Sunday, the Blackhawks led 30-24 in even-strength scoring chances but racked up 27 penalty minutes and it proved to be the difference in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Arizona Coyotes, who are now tied for the Pacific Division lead.

It's challenging to evaluate who the Blackhawks are as a team because it changes on a nightly basis. So who are they?

"Well for now that is what we are," Colliton said. "We're inconsistent. And it's up to us to commit to doing the things shift-to-shift that will allow us to turn into something more. Simple as that." 

The good news for the Blackhawks is only six points separate themselves from the second wildcard spot and last place in the Western Conference. The bad news is the numbers show they're exactly where they should be.

As of Sunday, the Blackhawks have a PDO — a metric that combines on-ice shooting percentage and save percentage — of 100.7 during 5-on-5 play, according to Natural Stat Trick. The league average is 100, which suggests this is who the Blackhawks are through 30 games.

"We've just got to keep building on it," Robin Lehner said. "We got a point today, this time we've just got to respond. Next game is the most important game of our season because we've got to keep getting points here now."

Sunday marked the start of another tough stretch where the Blackhawks play seven of the next eight games against teams currently sitting in a playoff spot, all of whom are in the Western Conference, which only heightens the importance of these games.

The Blackhawks will take it one game at a time, but which team shows up for each of them is anybody's guess.

"They're all big," Colliton said of the next game. "It is important how we respond. Because we've had this up and down with our game and we can't expect to get where we want to go if that continues. ... You can have off nights, but then it's how you respond. So we got to respond."

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.