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CHICAGO | Cynics might have dived cackling toward the United Center ice like flesh-hungry crows in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” halfway through the first period Sunday.
CHICAGO | The Roar returned, way late compared to other years on an Arctic night, but it was there in midseason form.
CHICAGO | Quibble about goaltending issues or slow starts in some games, but you'd be stretching things to say the Blackhawks have any significant troubles going into their four-day Christmas break today.
CHICAGO | There have been a few thousand words written under this column banner since the Stanley Cup season on how Marian Hossa needs to score more and just how are you going to do it, Hoss?
CHICAGO | The massive home opening night crowd of 21,674 on Saturday -- a sea of red sweaters in the hoi polloi's 300-level seats with every suite above that section packed -- witnessed the initial payback of the off-season hoopla in the first period.
CHICAGO | Marian Hossa appeared trim, even buffed when he walked into a hotel reception room as the Blackhawks Convention got under way.
CHICAGO | If Blackhawks training camp two months from now will work like a general election, then forward Ben Smith and defenseman Nick Leddy will have to really fumble their campaigns to latch onto the opening roster.
CHICAGO | Although contentment and a serene, affable demeanor work well personally for Rocky Wirtz, the most accessible of this city's sports owners, he knows he can never coast or relax in his stewardship of the Blackhawks going forward.
CHICAGO | One by one, Blackhawks luminaries starting with general manager Stan Bowman paraded to a United Center lectern Thursday with positive valedictories of a season wrapup that salvaged pride and self-respect from too much earlier underachievement.
CHICAGO | From dominating Stanley Cup champions to the die-hard kings of the NHL.
CHICAGO |It's 7:23 p.m. Sunday, and where are your big-name Blackhawks?
CHICAGO | A picture is worth a thousand words, but none exist for public consumption of the Blackhawks' moods at 7:25 p.m. Sunday.
Simply put yourself in the athlete's situation.
They pay the Blackhawks to skate. But these days, the red-sweater gang also better summon up whatever shreds of knowledge they recall from long-ago math classes.
The crazy thing is Dave Bolland talked about both the worries he and his NHL colleagues experienced about head injuires -- and then days later the Blackhawks center's worst fears were realized.
If Jonathan Toews seemed so much better than almost all his Blackhawks' teammates earlier this season, what does that say about the performances of the on-fire Toews and his suddenly enabled supporting cast down the stretch?
CHICAGO | Two points.
CHICAGO | Glenn Hall looks at his Blackhawks successors many times removed and marvels. What he could have done with what they take for granted.
CHICAGO | All-Star breaks are traditional times for stock-taking and soul searching, if nothing else to fill the down time that punctuates the season-long grind.
CHICAGO | There's only one way for the Blackhawks to gain momentum to separate themselves points-wise from borderline playoff contention: To win seven of eight and move up to the top three of the Western Conference.
CHICAGO | On a Sunday night featuring both honors for a long-ago champion and breaking news about statues for the two franchise pillars, the present-day Blackhawks didn't dare pull another letdown endemic of this season.
Marian Hossa's out, in, out again and back in again -- but not at full efficiency. Patrick Kane's in, trying to get going, and then he's out. As soon as Kane comes back in, Jonathan Toews is out.
CHICAGO | Maybe the Blackhawks did not want to be left in the dust of the end-of-year surges by the Bears and Bulls, their main competition these days for the entertainment dollar and couch potatoes' loyalties.
The Blackhawks' season has wobbled sideways so often in the first half that any shred of momentum, any good omen, is interpreted as the one that really gets a franchise out of the muck.
The biggest role model for what Corey Crawford is accomplishing this season is always around the United Center in the form of Hall of Famer Tony Esposito, now one of the Blackhawks' "ambassadors."
Struggle. There's no other good description for the Blackhawks' first post-Stanley Cup season.
The key to the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup was the placement of almost all players in just the right spots, where they could thrive and not try to rise above their station on the ice.
CHICAGO | Query Patrick Sharp about the concept of consistency and offensive stardom -- what he believes it takes to have a real breakout year in the NHL -- and he didn't hear you right at first.
CHICAGO | A clutch goal...at home.
CHICAGO | The Blackhawks were a dominant Stanley Cup champion overall, even more so in the United Center. The roaring 21,000-strong, craving a 49-year delayed title while garbed in a sea of red sweaters provided a home-ice advantage virtually unmatched elsewhere in the NHL.
CHICAGO | Help wanted on the Blackhawks: Goal scorers. Experience a plus, but not necessary. Apply to Coach Q. Advancement to first line not out of question.
CHICAGO | Speed kills.
CHICAGO | Marty Turco's primary personal mission was to join up with the Stanley Cup champions to complete his own long-deferred quest to win a title.
CHICAGO | One bit of advice for the Blackhawks marketing mavens: Just let the fans carry the day (or night).
CHICAGO | Remember the little -- and big -- nuances of the Blackhawks' four-round run to the Stanley Cup?
CHICAGO | The same question came fast and furious to assorted Blackhawks at the start of training camp: which player would be the go-to guy in the locker room for the pithy quote and homespun humor now that Adam Burish is gone?
CHICAGO | Hundreds of thousands of people, if not more, wanted a piece of Patrick Kane on Friday.
The most affable and approachable Wirtz accepted his first championship with grace and aplomb as well-wishers walked gingerly in his direction on the Wachovia Center ice late Wednesday night, minutes after the Stanley Cup was firmly in his team's grasp.
PHILADELPHIA | The Blackhawks had just won the Stanley Cup, wiping away 49 years of frustration, all the bad management, bad bounces and bad, er, no home TV coverage.
The most important reason why the Blackhawks should outdo their stellar effort from Game 5 tonight at the Wachovia Center is simple: Clinching the Stanley Cup is the pinnacle of their profession, the fulfillment of every Hawk's dream since childhood.
If the Blackhawks had been paying close-enough attention, they'd walk away from the Stanley Cup Finals with a graduate course in working the system from Chris Pronger.
CHICAGO | We will run out of words here, especially cliches.
CHICAGO | We will run out of words here, especially cliches.
If the Blackhawks don't win two of the next possible three games remaining in the Stanley Cup Finals, they will be a party to an upset of historic proportions.
PHILADELPHIA | You could sense something was up, not in the circus-like shootout of Game 1, but like a little wave building and building into a bigger threat starting midway through Game 2.
PHILADELPHIA | Put Chris Pronger up at a podium, and the body English he displays says as much as his mouth, which gets a good workout anyway.
PHILADELPHIA | The Detroit Red Wings may forever be the Death Star in Blackhawks' fans hearts, but there's a new bunch of brutes on the Chicago hit list.
CHICAGO | Often you can't go home again.
CHICAGO | Every minute that ticks away to the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals presents an unfolding popular, pulp script for the masses.
CHICAGO | Almost everything Troy Brouwer does these days is accomplished in duplicate.
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