Tag Archives: Blackhawks

The Grandest Of Finales?

First and foremost, I’d like to take the time to congratulate Fan Interference on celebrating its one year anniversary yesterday. Cheers!

Now, all I want for graduation is a Stanley Cup Final that lives up to the hype of the Conference Finals that come before it. In turn, not to be subjected to a similar fate of years past by having a curtain in the form of an anti-climatic close to what the NHL heralds as “a best versus best” series.

With that in mind it may be hard to duplicate the atmosphere of a  Chicago v Los Angeles or a Washington v Montreal match up with a trip to the Cup Final on the line. Considering how often those previous teams play one another. What may not be difficult to request is, having a Final reach a winner takes all game 7. Its been noticeably absent, in fact you have to go back to 2011 when the Boston Bruins went into Vancouver and came out on the other side 4-0 victors.

We, as fans have been robbed of such a luxury in the years between. In 2012, Steve Bernier plastered Kings defensemen Rob Scuderi into the glass, resulting in a major penalty. Los Angeles then bombarded Marty Brodeur on the ensuing 5 minute major on their way to a 6-1, game 6 victory. In 2013 Chicago tallied two goals in 17 seconds crushing Bostons late 3rd period lead in their last ditch effort to force a game 7 in Chicago. In 2015, Chicago yet again doubled down scoring the only two goals against Tampa Bay in game 6 to hoist their 3rd Cup in 5 years. Lastly, 2016 saw the a narrowly focused, much matured Sidney Crosby land his second ring, in a series where San Jose was never out of it but also never truly in it either.

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For a multitude of reasons 2017 has been a year of interesting narratives, putting it lightly. But in terms of hockey, what it could potentially offer is that game 7 that has eluded fans for quite some time. Washington, who easily up to this point has established themselves as the best team in the league, beefed up by trading for Kevin Shattenkirk. Clearly the mentality is to win, now more than ever.

We’ve been teased with the notion that this is Washington’s year many a time in the past. But, with the additions of players like Justin Williams, TJ Oshie, Lars Eller, Brett Connolly, and the recently mentioned Kevin Shattenkirk. It be difficult to argue that the road to the Cup, does in fact run through Washington. Much forgotten the years of repeated playoff disappointments which come as early as last years defeat at the hands of Sidney Crosby. Washington has reloaded, beefed up, and have a frightening mental infatuation with putting those less than fortunate seasons behind them, forever.

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Chicago, since the 2008-09 season has established themselves as the poster child of consistency in the NHL. Currently running through their opposition as if they were constructed of wet tissue paper, including their eyebrow raising 4-1 victory Wednesday night over Pittsburgh. Patrick Kane is back to his form which saw him win league MVP last season, while Jonathan Toews has recovered from his mid season slump.

Go down the roster, if you fancy, and attempt to pick out a match up in which your favorite team has the clear cut advantage. Even Bill Belichick would quiver in his boots at the thought of a 7 game series against the NHL’s most formidable playoff foe. Home ice advantage for the Hawks means you best win every game on your home turf, something Chicago doesn’t always let their opposition do.

Chicago has the experience, bar none. With the lethal combination of Kane and Toews.

Washington has the firepower and the confidence to go shot for shot with anyone in the league. Not to mention that Ovechkin and Backstrom go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Washington versus Chicago is the series you didn’t realize you needed in your life until right now. For the Caps they have a charismatic captain desperate for the one piece of hardware needed to complete his star studded resume. For the Hawks, one more Cup would put them in the realm of immortality, along with Gretzky’s Oilers, and Bossy’s Islanders of the 80’s.

Separately the journey to this years Cup Final won’t be easy on either side. Washington will surely see Pittsburgh again, while Chicago will have to take care of Minnesota and Los Angeles. But a hockey nut can dream, right?

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If, by chance these two organizations meet for the right to compete for hockey’s ultimate prize, you best not blink. As for those smiles? Surly they won’t last.

#MakeAmericaHockeyAgain

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A Cut Above The Rest

When you think of the Chicago Blackhawks you generally categorize them mentally as the leagues best and brightest. Similarly when all star defense men Duncan Keith is brought up in conversation, instinctively you should think Hall of Famer who goes above and beyond for the city of Chicago. Well, that reputation took a ‘swing’ for the worst in Tuesday nights 4-1 loss to rival Minnesota.

Recently, Chicago’s inconstant play has left many hockey gurus questioning the powerhouses ability to go the distance. It’s safe to say this team isn’t use to dealing with this type of adversity at this stage of the season. Make no mistake, Chicago is making the playoffs and for all I know they will turn it around and be back in the Stanley Cup finals in early June.

However it’s impossible to ignore the visible signs of frustration throughout their bench.

Duncan Keith, as eluded to earlier, is heralded as one of if not the NHL’s best all around defense men. His ability to skate effortlessly through traffic and always get back defensively to make the perfect play, is dare I say Orr-esque. While it may be a crime to compare him to Bobby Orr, you simply cannot ignore Keith’s three Stanley Cup rings.

Now nobody is without sin, as the saying goes.

Tuesday night wasn’t just another hockey game. Minnesota desperately needed two points to remain in the playoff hunt. While Chicago was in dire need themselves of a moral boosting victory.

Just 10 minutes into the game Minnesota winger Charlie Coyle upends Keith. In retaliation Keith swings his stick counter clockwise across Coyles jaw clipping his nose in the process. Intentional? You be the judge.

While at first glance it appears that Keith doesn’t do it intentionally. Almost as if it was a natural swing of the stick due to landing on his back. It’s not until you slow it down that you realize it was absolutely on purpose.

Keith is no stranger to the department of player safety, according to a recent USA Today article covering the incident. In the 2013 Western Conference final he was suspended a game for a retaliatory slash to Jeff Carter. In 2012, he was suspended 5 games for his elbow to Daniel Sedin.

Without a doubt Keith deserves to miss considerable time heading into the playoffs. Plays like this are dangerous and can cause serious injury, had Coyle not been wearing a visor lord only knows the damage that could have been done. Now, suspend him into the playoffs that is an appalling notion.

What is even more appalling here is the fact it happened in the first place. As a member of the Chicago Blackhawks, one of the best coached teams in the NHL you’d like to think incidents of this caliber wouldn’t happen.

Duncan Keith by no means is a goon, nor is he a dirty player. In both the Carter and Coyle incidents he, to a degree, was instigated which you can clearly see. Hockey is a violent sport and slashes to the face have happened. That being said that kind of action cannot be taken, its simply not a move you want your veterans to make.

When you think of a team like Chicago, they’re usually bull rushing their competition at this juncture of the season. Call it an abnormality or lack of puck luck. But from what anyone with a fully functioning pair of eyes can see, it’s pure frustration boiling over. I won’t hold this against Keith. After all with guys like Chris Pronger and Scott Stevens in the Hall of Fame and considering what they got away with in their day this looks like playful bandier.

With a handful of games remaining there’s no doubt in my mind the Blackhawks would rather have Keith piloting them through this storm, rather than watching them on his couch.

And its looking like the latter is the reality.