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Blues/Avalanche vs Blackhawks

(Page 4 of 4)
Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

Quenneville spreads wealth with Blackhawks' offense

Tuesday, 04.15.2014 / 4:13 PM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- It looks like Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is going to experiment with his team's wealth of talent to start the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Quenneville rolled out some interesting new forward lines Tuesday during an hour-long practice. It's likely he will use them Thursday at Scottrade Center against the St. Louis Blues to start Game 1 of a tough first-round series in the Western Conference (8 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC).

Captain Jonathan Toews and right wing Patrick Kane returned to a full practice for the first time since injuries knocked them out of the final stretch run in the regular season, but their lines weren't the same.

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X-Factor: Blackhawks need Bickell's best to repeat

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:25 AM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Chicago Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell has big shoes to fill. They happen to be his own.

"I don't just want to be a one-hit wonder," Bickell told NHL.com.

Bickell soared up the charts last season with his performance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He played a starring role in Chicago's championship run with nine goals, including two game-winners and the tying goal with 76 seconds left in Chicago's Cup-clinching win in Boston. He also had eight assists for 17 points in 23 games, playing top-line minutes with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on many nights.

His memorable postseason earned Bickell a four-year contract extension worth $16 million. He hasn't been memorable since, but the Blackhawks need him to be now because they know how important a 6-foot-4, 233-pound power forward with skill around the net is to their championship hopes.


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Cup contenders Blues, Blackhawks clash early

Monday, 04.14.2014 / 2:00 AM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

NHL.com

The St. Louis Blues and Chicago Blackhawks have been two of the top teams in the NHL all season, but a late-season slide by both will result in one of them being out of the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs after the first round.

St. Louis and Chicago each finished with at least 107 points, but both finished behind the upstart the Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division. The Blues and Blackhawks will stage the second opening-round series in Stanley Cup Playoffs history where both teams have at least that many points. The San Jose Sharks and Nashville Predators also had at least 107 in 2007.

The Blues were in position to not only win the Central but the Presidents' Trophy as the top team in the NHL as recently as April 3, but six straight losses to end the season left St. Louis in second place in the division. There is uncertainty about what the roster will look like for Game 1, because six regulars were out of the lineup at the end of regular season.

When healthy, the Blues were a defense-first machine that could score a lot of goals when needed. Coach Ken Hitchcock's philosophy combined with the talent and depth general manager Doug Armstrong assembled looked like a team primed to challenge the Blackhawks for division and NHL supremacy.

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Blackhawks' Saad responded after late benching

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 10:30 PM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Joel Quenneville wasn't going to let it drag on for another minute.

After watching 21-year old Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad steadily spiral downward through the second half of the regular season, the coach of the NHL's defending champion addressed it with four games left. Quenneville, who coached the Blackhawks to Stanley Cup titles twice in four seasons, handled it the same way he has with most players in similar circumstances.

He benched Saad on March 6 for a big game against the St. Louis Blues at United Center, sending an unmistakable message to the player. It didn't matter that top forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane were out with injuries.

Saad sat, and the message was received.

"There are elements and there's a process to get to the point where you don’t play," Quenneville said a couple days after Chicago beat St. Louis, 4-2. "It's not like it was just a rash decision."

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Why the Blues will win the Stanley Cup

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 8:15 PM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The St. Louis Blues are so serious about winning the Stanley Cup this season that in a blockbuster trade Feb. 28 they gave away a No. 1 goalie for a player widely considered to be a better No. 1 goalie.

It was a smart move by general manager Doug Armstrong because Ryan Miller will be the reason the Blues win the Stanley Cup for the first time in franchise history.

Before the trade with the Buffalo Sabres, which also brought forward Steve Ott to St. Louis, the Blues had enviable depth up front and arguably the best defense corps in the NHL, with an elite top pair of Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester. They even had solid goaltending, but Armstrong found a way to upgrade at that position without damaging the roster by replacing Jaroslav Halak with Miller as part of the blockbuster with Buffalo.

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X-Factor: Sobotka's versatility instrumental to Blues

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 8:10 PM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Vladimir Sobotka isn't even the most-heralded Vladimir on the St. Louis Blues. But he is the most important.

Sobotka trails behind the still-injured Vladimir Tarasenko in notoriety, but he's as vital to the Blues' chances of winning the franchise's first Stanley Cup as any other forward on the roster because of the role he plays and how coach Ken Hitchcock uses him.

"He absolutely despises losing, and that to me is No. 1 when you look at the character of Vladimir Sobotka," Blues television analyst Darren Pang told NHL.com. "There is no player more grumpy after a bad play, bad loss or a bad effort than Sobotka. He absolutely carries everybody into the fight with him."

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Miller, Blues hope late-season union paves Cup run

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 8:10 PM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS – On multiple occasions, Lindy Ruff has experienced when goaltender Ryan Miller played above and beyond great to steal a game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Ruff, now the Dallas Stars coach, coached Miller while the two were with the Buffalo Sabres for 10 seasons. They paired for some great postseason runs together.

"I still look back when we were heavy underdogs against Ottawa [in 2005-06], and they were one of the best teams in the League," Ruff said of the Senators, who were the top seed in the Eastern Conference. "We ended up winning that series [four games to one]. Ryan played a huge part in it.

"You can be a strong enough team sometimes to overcome average goaltending. I don't think at that time we were, but I thought he gave us a lot of confidence. And then the rest of the way, we knew we were going to get key saves. Our team really played well after that."

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Why the Blackhawks will win the Stanley Cup

Sunday, 04.13.2014 / 12:00 PM / Blues vs Blackhawks - 2014 SCP First Round

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The Chicago Blackhawks will win the Stanley Cup this season for the same reasons they won the Stanley Cup last season. They're simply better than every team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

There's no mystery with Chicago, no element of surprise. Their opponents know exactly what the Blackhawks want to do, and more often than not they can't defend it. Nobody will be able to defend the Blackhawks successfully enough to beat them four times in a seven-game series this spring.

Chicago is virtually the same team it was last season with 19 returning players. The differences between the 2012-13 version and this season are subtle and offsetting.

The Blackhawks had a dominant penalty kill and a weak power play last season; this season their PK was average, but their power play was in the top-third of the NHL. Chicago allowed more goals per game this season, but because of the bump in power play they scored more and had the puck more often, which is impressive considering they were a dominant possession team last season too.

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Quote of the Day

[He's] real confident with the puck now, getting it off his stick quick and no second-guessing. We need that. He's such a good guy in the room. He works so hard. That's the big thing. For not a big man, he just fights for every puck and when he scores, the guys appreciate that even more.

— Winnipeg Jets coach Paul Maurice on Mathieu Perreault, who scored two goals in win against Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday