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Posts Tagged ‘Patrick Sharp’

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

In Kane and Sharp, the Chicago Blackhawks possess two young star forwards named Patrick. “Sharpie” the lesser known of the two, is having a much better Western Conference Finals than “Kaner.” Down 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings, the Hawks will need both of them, (and more reinforcements) to be on their A game if Chicago is going to stand any chance of advancing to the Stanley Cup Finals. Sharp is often overshadowed by Kane, the 2008 Calder Memorial Trophy winner and face-of-the-franchise, but it was Sharpie who was on pace to lead the team in goals this season before being sidelined by injury down the stretch.
Kaner is having a rough series, sporting an ugly -7 in the +/- department, and he didn’t even make it onto the score sheet until notching a game 4 assist. Red Wings Coach Mike Babcock talked about how his team shut down Kane.

“Till today we always played Nick (All-Star defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom) against him. Today, we didn’t have that option so we just try to play a really good five man unit and limit their touches the best we can. I think Osgood did a good job, but you’re never going to shut a guy like that down totally with the amount of skill level he has. I thought the other night in game three even though he didn’t get on the sheet, I thought that line with Byufglien and Toews dominated the shifts territorally- just couldn’t get the puck in the net,” Babcock saidkane_8x10

As ugly as the 6-1 game four home loss to Detroit was, both young stars have breakout game performances in their recent memory.
Before entering this current slump, Kane recorded his first career hat trick in game 6 of the Western Conference Seminfinals, in eliminating the Vancouver Canucks. After the exciting 7-5 win, Kane told the media the criticisms from Canucks defenceman Willie Mitchell fired him up. “I got a wake-up call from old Willie Mitchell over there. He made some comments saying I couldn’t play five on five, I don’t know if you want to fire up a player like that. I scored three goals five-on-five, so you’ll have to ask him about that one,” Kane said.
Friday night, Sharp was the number one star of the conference finals’ game three with two goals, including the overtime game winner. That was pretty exciting to be in the building at that point, I’ve had some double overtime ones in the minors but, it was pretty loud when the puck went in and it was exciting,” Sharp said in describing perhaps the biggest night of his career. Both Patricks will need to have more games like that as Chicago faces elimination.

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

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

The last time the Chicago Blackhawks won a playoff series was 1996 — a first round triumph over the Calgary Flames. If history repeats itself in 2009, the series MVP could likely be Hawks Center Jonathan Toews, who was 8 years old back then.

He was born the same year the Flames’ home arena, the Pengrowth Saddledome, hosted Winter Olympic hockey in 1988. With 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists), team captain Toews is leading the Hawks in scoring this postseason.

Click here to read this entire post on NBCChicago.com.

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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

When the Chicago Blackhawks named 20 year old center Jonathan Toews their team captain last off-season, he became the youngest guy in the NHL (third youngest in league history) to wear the capital “C” on his jersey. With this honor came the responsibility of taking accountability to the media grilling after games, including the tough losses when no players feel like talking. Toews has a captaincy style similar to White Sox leader Paul Konerko: serious, soft-spoken and always ready to analyze and discuss the state of his team. When the Hawks encountered their last rough patch, Toews spoke candidly about it:

“We know there’s going to be tough stretches during the schedule. At the end of the day there’s always going to be little things nagging at you: injuries, fatigue whatever it is, but those excuses don’t matter. Everyone knows we’re a young team, but we showed what kind of a team we are in December and we want to keep going down that path and getting better,” Toews said following a recent disappointing home loss to St. Louis. toews-blackhawks-392

Recently Toews has talked a lot with his game. With 6 points in the last 5 games (including the Hawks’ only hat trick this season on February 27th) Toews is getting hot down the stretch. With star forward Patrick Sharp away from the ice on injured reserve, Toews is now the leading goal scorer on the Western Conference’s fourth seeded team. In just his second season, the 3rd overall pick of the 2006 NHL draft is far from the most tenured player on the team. However, it’s Toews, not one of the older veterans in the Hawks locker room, who puts the ups-and-downs of the 80 game grind in perspective.

“It’s a long season, we’re not going to make excuses, even the best teams have their rough spots, we just got to learn to battle through and not accept that. We got enough character and will in this room to be a successful team and the success we had early on- we know that’s not good enough. We’re not satisfied,” Toews said describing the big picture.

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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Paul M. Banks a.k.a. The Sports Bank Chicago Blackhawks top scorer Patrick Kane, along with teammate Jonathan Toews, was recently voted to start for the Western Conference in the NHL All-Star Game on the 25th. Together, the two young forwards serve as poster children for a revitalized franchise that leads the league in attendance and merchandise sales and team that is third in the league in scoring. “Kaner” recently answered questions about this banner season on conference call.patrick-kane52

He mentioned fellow Hawks currently flying under the radar. “I would probably have to say Patrick Sharp. With the Blackhawks, you mention names, you always hear about Kane and Toews, Campbell. Duncan Keith goes unnoticed. He is probably one of the biggest underdogs on the team, Sharpy, too. They never seem to get enough recognition, them two. It’s a shame they were not on the All-Star ballot. Duncan made it last year and Sharpy had 36 goals last year and he has 20 already. He’s a great goal scorer and definitely an All-Star in this league. Definitely those two guys are underappreciated,” Kane said.

Although the Hawks have been winning a lot of games lately, they still struggle against their hated rivals, the Stanley Cup Champion, Detroit Red Wings. Kaner spoke about the Wings’ postseason run last year:

“Guys like Zetterberg, Datsyuk; they are so fun to watch. You have a guy like Franzen who is scoring all these goals. It was fun to see a team with so much skill win where in the past it’s been teams like the Ducks who were kind of real physical and had a couple big lines that dominated down low,” Kane said before describing how different his sophomore season in Chicago has been from his rookie year.

“I think last year coming in, you’re just so happy to be in the NHL. Started playing a couple games and you realize the building is empty and you want to do something to try to fill it up. It’s amazing how quickly it’s happened. You look at the team, it’s pretty much been a total 180 from where we were at the beginning of last year. It’s unbelievable. Obviously the credit goes to the players, the management, Dale Tallon, Denis Savard obviously, Joel Quenneville, John McDonough, Rocky Wirtz, guys like that that have really helped turn us around and it’s just fun to be a Blackhawk right now.”

Paul M. Banks is a contributor for The Washington Times and founder of the webzine The Sports Bank.net

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