Posts Tagged ‘Columbus Blue Jackets’

Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team This week the Blackhawks reached one milestone, but fell short of another. The Hawks established an all-time single-season attendance record Wednesday night before their contest against the Columbus Blue Jackets. It’s amazing what putting home games on television, welcoming back iconic players and broadcasters, hosting the Winter Classic, developing a young winning team etc. can do for a franchise previously in need of rejuvenation!

Laura Fontana-Vena of Elmhurst was the 8,547th fan to pass through the United Center’s turnstile on Wednesday, marking the Blackhawks’ 835,972 this season, surpassing the former record of 835,971 established during the 1995-96 season. Fontanta-Vena was presented with a Blackhawks jersey with “835,972” on the name plate before performing the ceremonial puck drop. The Blackhawks’ new record is through 39 regular-season contests at the United Center, all of which have drawn capacity crowds. chicago-blackhawks

Now for the bad news, the Hawks lost that contest against Columbus, 4-3 in an overtime shootout.

However, they picked up a point in the standings, giving them a C-note for the season: a milestone they haven’t reached in 16 years. They now need just one point to clinch the 4th seed in the Western Conference- and with it home ice advantage for the playoffs’ first round. The Hawks have just two games remaining, a home and home with their hated rival Detroit. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville discussed the Red Wings. “I think both teams want to go into the playoffs on a strong and high note. They’re a dangerous team and we haven’t beaten them yet and I think we’ll be excited to finish strong,” the bench boss stated.

Should that option fail, Chicago can also grab the coveted 4th seed if the two teams chasing them, Vancouver and Calgary, both stumble somewhere in their last two. Calgary has a home and home with mediocre Edmonton. Vancouver faces off against two bottom feeders: the cellar dwelling Colorado Avalanche and the third-from-last Los Angeles Kings.

Wednesday night’s second period intermission was noteworthy as NBC Chicago’s own Paula Faris took part in the popular “Coca-Cola Shoot-the-Puck challenge.” The much ballyhooed on-ice promotion gives contestants three chances to win hundreds of dollars if they can put the puck in the net from the center line. Unfortunately Faris, like the Blackhawks themselves, fell short of her goal on this night and missed all three shots. However, I did hear from Hawks personnel that she made three in a row while practicing before the game.

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times and The Sports Bank

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team

It’s been a long time coming, but we’re finally going to see some postseason hockey action on Chicago’s West side, so now it’s time to look ahead.

Of course, the most boring and mind-numbing cliche in all of sports is “we don’t look ahead, we’re taking them one game at a time,” but we’re not athletes here. Both fans and us media types love to look down the road.

Click here to read the rest of this post on nbcchicago.com.

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team Last week the Chicago Blackhawks lost and later regained the Western Conference’s fourth seed and with it the final home ice advantage for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. They’re currently two points ahead of the fifth place Vancouver Canucks – who come to town Sunday for a slightly important regular season game- and five points ahead of the 6th place Columbus Blue Jackets.

The Hawks are helped immensely by the return of pure scorer Patrick Sharp. Number ten looked as sharp as hispatrick_sharp namesake during his first game back Sunday. Sharp had 2 goals and an assist in a 4-1 victory over Los Angeles. It was also nice for the United Center crowd to hear ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man” played in celebration of goals again. Especially since we’re getting sick of the usual goal-scoring song- that annoying tune – Amstel light commercials. Chicago is 38-22-11 on the season, but went just 6-7-3 without Sharpie. “You add a player like that to our lineup, you have 3 lines that can all produce and are dangerous. So it’s a really nice addition,” Coach Joel Quenneville said.

The Hawks are just three points behind third place Calgary, but do not hold a realistic chance of obtaining third place, because the top three slots are reserved for division champions and the Hawks have no chance at catching the Central leading Detroit Red Wings. Seven of Chicago’s final 11 are at home, where the Hawks are 19-7-7. If Vancouver is to catch them, they’ll have to do it away from Canada with 7 of their final 11 on the road. And don’t forget about that youngster franchise in Columbus. The Blue Jackets have already set a franchise record for points in a season and are getting hot at the right time. During this final stretch, Chicago will try to get the same type of separation from the muddled middle that San Jose and Detroit currently possess.

“Being in the middle of this pack again, it certainly gets your attention. I think everyone has some stretches; during the course of the year we had some bumps. I think March was extended and I think we can learn something from it. Maybe we let off the gas pedal a little bit, and we know now: that can’t happen,” Quenneville stated on Sunday. Maintaining a position with home ice is crucial, because as star defenseman Duncan Keith recently told me, “We feed off that. When there’s 22, 21 thousand people cheering for you, it helps.”

See more of Paul M. Banks’ work at the Washington Times and The Sports Bank

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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank 
The Chicago Blackhawks currently possess the second best scoring offense in the NHL, and their 8th overall rank (4th on the road) in power play percentage is a big reason why.

Last year, when the Hawks missed the playoffs, they ranked just 24th in the league in power play conversion percentage. Currently, Chicago has the third best record in the Western Conference on the heels of their four game winning streak.

Click here to read the rest of this article on nbcchicago.com.

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