Barring a miracle, the Blackhawks' nine-year playoff run will come to and end in April. But is this a one-season blip? A flash in the pan? A fluke? "Let's hope so," said veteran defenseman Duncan Keith before the Hawks departed on a three-game road trip that began in San Jose on Thursday. "We were out in the first round the last two years. I don't think that's very good either."No it's not, but those two teams won 50 and 47 games.This one will be lucky to win 40 and has struggled for a variety of reasons.Yet, a healthy Corey Crawford and a rebound year from Brandon Saad would certainly put the Hawks back on the right path in 2018-19. You have to figure Nick Schmaltz and Alex DeBrincat will continue to improve. The power play can't get any worse.Defensemen Jordan Oesterle, Gustav Forsling and Jan Rutta (if he re-signs) should be better on the back end. Perhaps Stan Bowman accelerates Henri Jokiharju's timeline and the 2017 first-round pick surprises with a big season.Really, it … [Read more...] about With Blackhawks season all but over, Keith reflects on how to improve
Not that long ago, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman railed about things he considered unacceptable for a championship organization — and this was last April after a 109-point season that preceded a playoff sweep.Less than a year later, Bowman sounded a different tone after dealing former first-round draft pick Ryan Hartman to the Predators for a nice return as the hapless Hawks became sellers at the trade deadline. Yes, sellers. Like the rest of the NHL teams with their noses pressed against the playoff glass.A not-so-funny thing happened to the Hawks on their way back to the postseason. They got lost. This wasn’t part of Bowman’s plan no matter how many times you hear about rebuilding on the fly or all the players they have under the age of 25. This wasn’t a team that expected to be golfing in April.We are conditioned to let the Hawks have it both ways in Chicago. We point to their three Stanley Cups since 2010, thank the hockey gods for allowing us to … [Read more...] about Why should we accept what the Blackhawks once deemed unacceptable?
Joel Ward is injured and will be out of the lineup for the first time this season when the Sharks face the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday night at United Center. Ward was hurt in the final seconds of Friday’s game against the Ottawa Senators as he was hit from behind and into the boards by Mark Borowiecki, who was given a boarding penalty. Ward’s head and right shoulder made contract with the boards but he remained in the game. He is considered day-to-day. “Totally unnecessary. No other word for it,” Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said of the hit after Friday’s game. “Ridiculous.” Ward, 35, is fourth on the Sharks with 10 goals and 23 points as he’s off to the best offensive start in his nine-year NHL career. He’s mainly been used on the Sharks’ second line and has also been part of San Jose’ first power play unit with Logan Couture out of the lineup. For Sunday’s game, Patrick Marleau will … [Read more...] about Joel Ward out vs. Chicago Blackhawks, Ben Smith returns
Defenseman Justin Braun is out with an upper body injury and will not play in Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks as the Sharks open a three-game homestand. Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said Braun played with the injury during the team’s six-game road trip, and “just wasn’t in a good enough place when we got back here for him to play tonight. So day-to-day I would term him.” Braun’s absence means the Sharks will switch up their bottom two defensive pairs. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, who is normally paired with Braun, will skate with Brenden Dillon and Matt Tennyson will be with Mirco Mueller. The Sharks’ top pairing of Brent Burns and Paul Martin remains intact. Braun had averaged 21 minutes and 29 seconds of ice time per game so far this season, a career high. He also had six assists in 21 games. Braun played 28:02 in Saturday’s Sharks win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, second most on the team that night next to Vlasic (28:55). … [Read more...] about Justin Braun injured, as Sharks adjust defensive pairs for game vs. Blackhawks
A lot of words that could describe what life has been like for Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Desjardins the past several months. One word, though, is as succinct and accurate as any. Perfect. “My year last year couldn’t have been any better,” Desjardins said Wednesday inside the visitor’s locker room at SAP Center. “Had my baby boy, got to hold the Stanley Cup. The last six months, it was just a crazy feeling. You can’t draw it up any better than that.” Desjardins, dealt by the Sharks at the trade deadline in March for forward Ben Smith and a conditional draft pick in 2017, will be back at the Shark Tank for the second time Wednesday as a visiting player. The Desjardins deal was part of a bigger late-winter purge by Sharks general manager Doug Wilson, who also dealt Tyler Kennedy, James Sheppard and Freddie Hamilton, and waived Tye McGinn. Desjardins had been a scratch in a handful of Sharks games leading up to the trade deadline. … [Read more...] about Sharks vs. Blackhawks pregame: Desjardins loving Chicago, Zubrus ready for first game in teal and DeBoer focuses on winning special teams battle