Posts Tagged ‘Duncan Keith’

Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank, NBC Chicago Street Team
Since the opening face off, the Chicago Blackhawks first round playoff series with the Calgary Flames has been a very physical one. Game one contained lots of good solid checking, but it didn’t have all the punches of games two and three. Monday night’s loss in Calgary saw even more checks get cashed in the currency of pushes, shoves and punches. Downright dirty and nasty, if these series trends continue maybe we’ll see Ken Shamrock or Oscar de la Hoya on skates in game six. Usually the postseason brings less fighting than the regular season because teams don’t want to risk obtaining dumb penalties within tight playoff games, but emotion has taken over for logic at certain points of this series so far. And since game three was a little more lopsided down the stretch than the first two, the physicality was ramped up even further.

Hawks defenseman (or “defenceman” in Canadian English) Duncan Keith sees the physical quotient increasing as the series goes on. “Every game’s going to be tougher and tougher that’s the mentality you have to have. Naturally, the more times you play a team, the more issues, whatever you want to call it, you’re going to have against guys out there. Obviously, they’re trying to key on certain guys on our team, and we’re trying to hit them as much as we can as well,” Keith stated.sharks_blackhawks17b

Both teams combined earned 5 penalties for 12 minutes in game one. The second game total jumped to 9 infractions- 18 minutes while game 3 at the Saddle Dome saw a whopping 13 penalties for 86 minutes combined!

The Hawks lead the series 2-1 and in order to maintain control, they must keep a cool head when considering possible retaliation against the Flames. “It’s something we’ve talked about in here. We try to play as hard as we can whistle-to-whistle and be in their face as much as they’re in ours without taking penalties. Discipline is a huge part of the game in the playoffs and that’s something we’re addressing,” said Hawks forward Patrick Sharp.

As this series between the 1988 Winter Olympic host city and a 2016 Summer Olympic bid city progresses, expect the skills and fundamentals inherent to a few Olympic events (boxing, wrestling, possibly tae kwon do) to play a significant role.

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 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, NBC Chicago Street Team Now that being a Chicago Blackhawks fan is as trendy now as it was in the 60s during the franchise’s glory days, the team’s marquee players: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and (to a lesser extent) Brian Campbell are all essentially local celebrities. But this team has some other All-Star level talent that you’ve never heard of. They’re currently fourth in the Western Conference despite having no one among the top 40 in the league in scoring- a testament to their depth. Beyond “Kaner,” “Taser,” and “Soupy,” (are you picking up the unofficial hockey player nickname generating formula yet?) these are the names you should know.

Patrick Sharp- “Sharpie,” the team’s leader in goals scored may be the most underrated player on the squad.

Duncan Keith- not to be confused with 90s one-hit wonder Duncan Sheik,versteeg_200 he’s the Hawks other blue-liner with an All-Star appearance on his resume.

Kris Versteeg- Hawks bench boss Joel Quenneville described the NHL’s rookie scoring leader thusly: “He’s a competitive guy that doesn’t get distracted by any of the stuff that goes on during a game: got good quickness, good imagination without the puck.”

Martin Havlat- started slow, but came on in January, when the team badly needed an offensive lift and is now second on the team (behind Kane) in scoring.

Goalie tandem of Cristobal Huet and Nikolai KhabibulinAlthough they tried to shop Khabibulin earlier in the season, the fact that he’s playing solid hockey here now is a warm, fuzzy feeling. When the playoffs come, having both the Bulin Wall and Huet, another goalie the Hawks acquired via a big money free-agent contract, sharing the net will be advantageous over other teams that lack fresh goaltending.

In addition to hosting the NHL’s marquee regular season game (Winter Classic), the Hawks have the premier position in three key off-the-ice criteria. The Indian head was voted the most recognized logo in NHL and the Hawks currently lead the league in attendance and merchandise sales. This shows how much they’ve built the brand. If they go far in the ’09 Stanley Cup playoffs, and later make an annual habit of doing so, the names I mentioned above will be instantly recognizable in this city.

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

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