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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013 – Day 57

Day-57 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
INKTIME on RINKTIME Observations and Random thoughts by Chris Madsen:

AND ON THE 56TH DAY OF THE STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS–CHICAGO PARTIED…INTO THE 57TH DAY:  It will be :17-seconds of hockey that will be talked about for years to come.  Trailing 2-1 to the Bruins, with just 1:16 to play, the Blackhawks Jonathan Toews proved why he is one of the best young Captain’s in the game when he out-battled a pair of Boston defenders and spotted an open Bryan Bickell to breathe new life into the Hawks:

Leading up to an unlikely hero stepping up to seal the deal for Chicago:

This remarkable comeback added an exclamation point to an incredible season for Chicago that started with an unprecedented run of at least a point registered in each of their first 24 games of the season, that culminated with their second Stanley Cup Championship in four seasons.

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AND ALL OF THAT TAKES US TO THE ONE THING THAT SEPARATES THE NHL FROM ALL OF THE OTHER MAJOR SPORTS:  I especially want you to play close attention to when Bruins Defenseman Zdeno Chara greets Blackhawks Captain Jonathan Toews.  Tell me what other sport out there has two warriors–one who beat the other physically (Chara) and the one who beat the other offensively (Toews) embracing in the end…

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IN THE FINAL ANALYSIS:  This has been a blast for me–and I sincerely hope that you could recognize the passion I have for this game in every word I have written.  In my 33 years of covering the National Hockey League, this was the first time I was asked to openly prognosticate the Stanley Cup Playoffs start to finish–and if I may say-so myself–I went a respectable (11-4) from the Opening Round to the Final…and picked the Blackhawks to win the whole thing from the get-go.

I want to thank RINKTIME Founder John Kirker for the opportunity to re-connect with many of my hockey fans and I want to thank you–our loyal followers–who tuned in from around the globe to check-out my musings.

So, I will closeout this blog that same way I closed out every Mighty Ducks telecast over nine seasons…”Until the next time we lace ‘em up and hit the ice…I’m Chris Madsen”

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013 – Day 56

Day-56 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
INKTIME on RINKTIME Observations and Random thoughts by Chris Madsen:

BREAKING NEWS ON BERGERON and TOEWS:  Bruins Center Patrice Bergeron did not take part in today’s morning skate in preparation for Game-6 of the Stanley Cup Final tonight.  Bergeron remains listed as day-to-day after leaving Game-5 on Saturday night in Chicago with an undisclosed injury.  Carl Soderberg took Bergeron’s place between Jaromir Jagr and Brad Marchand at the skate.

The good news for Blackhawks fans, is that Captain Jonathan Toews‘ was on the ice for the Hawks’ skate taking his usual turns with Bryan Bickell and Patrick Kane.

LISTEN (closely) AND LEARN:  In 33 years of covering professional sports, the one thing I have learned is that even though I make the majority of my living by “flapping my jaw”, I, more often than not, absorb more valuable information when my mouth is shut and I just listen.

As the So-Called Experts (SCE) tried to speculate as to what was wrong with Bruins star Patrice Bergeron I decidced to pipe-up and just listen to a select couple of guys who always seem to burrow their way to the “Inside” information.  At first, they offered me nothing out of the ordinary when trying to decipher the most ambiguous of NHL animals–the dreaded “Upper Body Injury”.

The usual check-points of the “Upper Body Injury” starts with the head, and works its way down to the neck, shoulder, obliques, abdominals, chest, ribs, elbows, wrists, fingers, etc.–essentially anything above the waistline.

The SCE’s went back to the video tape and the closest they could come to addressing a potential issue was a clean Michel Rozival shoulder-to-shoulder hit on Bergeron–which immediately brought on discussions of Bergeron’s past issues with head injuries.

But then, one of the respected SCE’s declared “could it be his shoulder, could it be his wrist, a spleen.”   A spleen? …A spleen? That’s a ways away from the shoulder and the wrist and potentially more life threatening.  And then I got to thinking.  Why would he even throw that out there, unless the spleen had at least been alluded to by someone much closer to the situation than any of the rest of us?  And, then again a spleen  would certainly explain why an ambulance was summoned to the United Center.

More than one Boston source zeroed in on Bergeron’s spleen in their Post Game-5 loss to the Blackhawks, but then again, one would have to believe that if the spleen is the source of his discomfort–and ruptured–there is no way he would have been released from the hospital in time to join his teammates on the Bruins charter flight home.

Now we wait to the pre-game skate tonight and whether or not Patrice Bergeron suits-up.  If he doesn’t, arguably the B’s have not only lost one of the best face-off guys in the league, but also one of the most impactful big game players in the NHL.  And if you don’t believe me, just ask the Toronto Maple Leafs how big Bergeron comes through!

THE HEAT IS ON:  It is a very hot and humid day in Boston and that is having an affect on an ice surface that has already drawn much criticism from the players.  As players from both sides went through their morning drills, they cut through a very light fog nestled over the TD Garden surface.

FELLING THE HEAT:  Bruins Norris Trophy winning Defenseman Zdeno Chara is under the microscope after carding a minus-5 over the last two games, while also being on the ice for 8 of the Blackhawks last 9 goals against.

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UNTIL THE NEXT TIME WE LACE ‘EM UP AND HIT THE ICE!–Chris Madsen

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TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE:

Chicago     at Boston     8:00 PM EST

 

 

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013 – Day 55

Day-55 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
INKTIME on RINKTIME Observations and Random thoughts by Chris Madsen:

WHAT DO YOU THINK?:    We all know by now that the Blackhawks have taken a 3-games-to-2 Series advantage in the Stanley Cup Final following a 3-1 victory in Game-5, but the big question now is whether or not Boston’s Johnny Boychuk should face disciplinary action after leveling Hawks Captain Jonathan Toews.  Although there was no penalty on the play, Boychuk appears to thrust both arms–from the chest out–missing Toews’ shoulder and landing and crushing blow right along the jaw-line:

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Toews has “an upper-body injury” and added that  he is “hopeful” Toews will be able to play in Game-6, Monday night at Boston.

Considering the Bruins are on the brink, it doesn’t matter how gutsy a call it would be to level a possible suspension…but would it simply be the right thing to do as the League continues its commitment to protect the players.? Toews, BTW, remained on the Blackhawks bench throughout the 3rd Period, but did NOT take a shift.  Please share your COMMENT below.

In the meantime, if you missed it, the Toews-Patrick Kane and Bryan Bickell gave Boston fits–again–with Kane registering two goals, including the game winner:

Meanwhile, the Bruins didn’t skate away from this game unscathed, either.  Although, if you watch the sequence, there is no clear evidence as to why Boston Center  Patrice Bergeron  left the game:

In fact, the B’s confirmed that Bergeron was taken by ambulance for observation but offered no indication as to the nature of his ailment, according to Bruins coach Claude Julien :  “No update.  I think there’s no concern until you get an update.  As far as we’re concerned he’s just getting evaluated right now, so not much I can say on his situation.  He may be in next game.”

IT’S NOT OVER YET:   Since the NHL went to a best-of-7 format for the Stanley Cup in 1939, the winner of Game-5 in a dead-locked series has gone on to win the title 15 times in 22 occasions.  However, Boston is one of those seven teams who defied the odds during their 2011 Cup run v. Vancouver and came back to win it all.

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UNTIL THE NEXT TIME WE LACE ‘EM UP AND HIT THE ICE!–Chris Madsen

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TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE:

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013 – Day 53

 

UNDER WATER:  No, this isn’t about teams struggling with gate receipts or trying to deal with the forthcoming Salary Cap.  Instead, this is about a team and city whose building is literally “under water.”  The Saddledome in Calgary apparently fell victim to massive flooding in the area.  According to several reports, the waters have risen to as high as the 10th row of the lower bowl!

Even if you’ve never had the pleasure of watching a game in this building, imagine your favorite venue…then picture in your mind flood waters 10 rows high!

Furthermore, it is a common practice between events to lower the Jumbotron to floor/ice level.  That is also the case here–so that is toast.  And, if the water is 10 rows high, need I tell you that the locker rooms are also submerged.

The Mayor of Calgary Naheed Nenshi commented on the state of the Bow River: “looks like an ocean at the
moment.”  Canadian Forces are deploying 1,200 troops to the area, while as many as 100,000 people were preparing for evacuation.

View image on Twitter  Photo courtesy of Glenn Street

If you are not familiar with the Saddledome, this is the area where team buses typically pick-up and drop-off players…and the fans line the fencing in hopes of scoring an autograph.

Flooding at the Calgary Saddledome                                  Photo by Julie Van Rosendaal

Of deeper concern, is that there is a heavy rainfall warning in rainfall warning in effect for the next two days.

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UNTIL THE NEXT TIME WE LACE ‘EM UP AND HIT THE ICE!–Chris Madsen

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TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE:

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Stanley Cup Playoffs 2013 – Day 52

Day-52 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs:
INKTIME on RINKTIME Observations and Random thoughts by Chris Madsen:

HERE COME THE BANDWAGONERS, AGAIN:  After the Bruins stymied the Blackhawks–again–to gain a 2-games-to-1 Series advantage, social media was ablaze with reasons why it was time to “wait till next year.”  Fair-weather Hawk fans posted things like “put a fork in them”…”oh well, it was fun while it lasted”…”no power play, no chance.”  Obviously tired of the blitz, a long-time media friend of mine posted a challenge to all “Blackhawk Bandwagon Riders” on his Facebook page:

Define this battle cry and who said it ? :  “The Legs Feed the Wolf”

While you contemplate the two part answer to that question, the Blackhawks were the epitome of its underlying meaning.  Scoring first, winning battles and a net-front presence that obviously got into the head of Bruins Goaltender Tuukka Rask.  And pay close attention to the battle between the Hawks Jonathan Toews and the Boston’s big man Zdeno Chara.  Toews establish himself in that same area during three different Chicago goals…playing the role of the Captain (wolf) to perfection:

THE ANSWER:   “The Legs Feed the Wolf” is a phrase that was used by the late Herb Brooks to inspire the players of the Gold Medal Winning 1980 US Olympic Hockey Team.  It’s meaning stems from the hunting behavior of wolves who must locate, stalk & then chase their prey. Some wolves have been known to chase their prey for up to 13 miles.   A wolf must be able to outrun and outlast its prey in order to eat and ultimately survive.  The same can be said of those who wish to prevail in a Series.   In order to be successful, you must be able to outlast and out-will your opponent.

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Another long-time friend of mine is catching a plane for Game-5 in Chicago and wanted to get together so he could borrow a HOME Blackhawks sweater and blend in with the crowd at the United Center for Game-5 on Saturday.  He asked me if I thought the Hawks had a chance?  I said, why not re-unite Toews and Patrick Kane!  This way, you’ll also get a second line that features Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa…and he agreed.

Well…it worked!  The Toews-Kane-Bickell line combined for two goals and three assists and was plus-7. Plus, Bickell and Kane both had assists on the winning goal–and as I pointed-out above–Toews was creating havoc out front of Rask.  Furthermore, Sharp had 8 S-O-G!…including a goal.

I’ve got a feeling Coach Joel Quenneville will stand pat:  “Maybe it looks like I didn’t know what I was doing.  You always get second-guessed.”

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BY THE NUMBERS:  Coming into Game-4, the Bruins had won 7  straight at home, outscoring their opponents 21-10.  Plus, B’s Goalie Tuukka Rask has won 7-straight at TD Garden and ran his shutout streak to 186-minutes, until the Blackhawks opend the scoring.

But then, the tide turned…as Rask surrendered 6 goals against, while former Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara suffered through a Minus-3 night.

Now, the Stanley Cup Final boils down to a best of 3!

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UNTIL THE NEXT TIME WE LACE ‘EM UP AND HIT THE ICE!–Chris Madsen

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TONIGHT’S SCHEDULE:

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