POSTED ON Monday, 06.20.2016 / 10:33 AM CT
By Harvey Wittenberg - Web Contributor / The Blackhawks Blog

Last week's trade with Carolina has given the Blackhawks a second-round pick (50th overall) in Buffalo this week, and based on recent drafts, Senior VP/GM Stan Bowman's scouting staff has been able to make some excellent choices, even in the late rounds.

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POSTED ON Monday, 05.9.2016 / 2:39 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog
Vinny Hinostroza is one of five Blackhawks representatives at the 2016 IIHF World Championship. (Getty Images)

As of Monday afternoon, five Chicago Blackhawks representatives have played three games for their countries at the IIHF World Championship, held in Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg). Below, a summary of how each player has fared thus far:

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POSTED ON Monday, 05.2.2016 / 10:00 AM CT
By Harvey Wittenberg - Web Contributor / The Blackhawks Blog

Yes, it was a disappointing finish for Blackhawks fans, but no NHL team has been able to repeat since 1998 when the hard salary cap went into effect, and our Blackhawks have been able to accomplish what no other NHL team has: THREE CUPS in SIX SEASONS! In contrast, imagine the struggle of Canadian fans: Not one of their seven teams made into the playoffs.

The seven-game battle with St. Louis certianly had the feel of a Stanley Cup Final, as Blues Head Coach Ken Hitchcock expressed. When you are playing in the toughest division in the toughest conference, just making it to the playoffs is an accomplishment. Blackhawks Head Coach Joel Quenneville has consistently said it's tough to make the playoffs.

Boston was the last Eastern Conference team to win the Cup in 2011, and they have missed the playoffs the last two seasons. Preseson predictions had Washington the favorite in the East and Anaheim in the West. Going into playoffs, the favorites were Washington and Los Angeles. In the West, both the Kings and Ducks have been ousted.

Looking back on the Blackhawks' series with the Blues, you could argue that twice hitting two goal posts in two different games could have changed the results. Two suspensions to two key Blackhawks players didn't help, despite the outstanding play of goalie Corey Crawford. It's easy to point fingers at individual players in every game, but captain Jonathan Toews summed it up best: "We win as a team, and we lose as a team."

So far in the playoffs, the visiting teams have enjoyed a great deal of success. Despite the fact that the Blackhawks won two games in St.Louis, the series was really decided when the Hawks were unable to win at least one of of the first two games at the United Center and put themselves in a hole by having to battle back from a 3-1 deficit.

Now Blackhawks fans have to look forward to next season, while SVP/GM Stan Bowman tries to continue his success in finding the right path by juggling the difficult salary cup situation. Hopefully the pattern of the last six seasons will return for the 2016-17 campaign, as the Hawks have won the Stanley Cup every other year over that span.

Harvey Wittenberg's latest updated edition of "Tales from the Chicago Blackhawks Locker Room" includes new features from the 2013 and 2015 Cup teams in addition to many more from Blackhawks players from the 1960s through 2015!

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 04.19.2016 / 3:58 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog

While the Blackhawks of today are busy battling St. Louis in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Blackhawks of tomorrow are busy with postseason preparations of their own. Two 2015 draft picks are set for a head-to-head battle in the conference finals of the Ontario Hockey League Playoffs, while in Rockford, the IceHogs will begin their quest for the Calder Cup on Wednesday.
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POSTED ON Friday, 04.8.2016 / 2:33 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog
Nick Schmaltz scored with 56.8 seconds left in the third period to lift North Dakota over Denver, 4-2. (Getty Images)

Among all of the highlight-reel moments that 2014 first-rounder Nick Schmaltz has compiled this season alongside linemates Brock Boeser and Drake Caggiula, there may not be a more important—or exciting—entry than Thursday's late winner to send North Dakota to the NCAA title game on Saturday. They’ll face top-ranked Quinnipiac for their first shot at a title in 11 years, getting past the hurdle that stumped them six times since.

North Dakota and Denver staged a cagey first period, combining for just eight shots on goal despite two power plays for the Pioneers. Caggiula struck twice in 6 minutes in the middle frame to give the Fighting Hawks a two-goal lead heading into the third period. Through 40 minutes, North Dakota’s team defense was a big factor, blocking 16 shots while allowing just 13 on net.

Undaunted, Denver fought back with two goals of their own in the third period, banking the tying goal in off a defender’s stick. For a while, it looked like North Dakota might have let another opportunity to compete for a title slip.

That’s when the “CBS Line” struck.

With a minute left, Boeser won an offensive zone faceoff, and the puck slid to Caggiula. The senior’s initial shot was blocked, and Boeser collected the puck and sent a backhand attempt toward net. Instead of allowing the shot through to the goalie, however, Schmaltz—who had slipped behind his defender and was on the doorstep—caught the puck on his stick and flipped it into the net with 56.8 seconds left in regulation.

Denver fashioned some late opportunities to force overtime, but NoDak held on to cap off another impressive defensive effort, something the team has excelled at all season, ranking second in the nation with just 24.9 shots allowed per game. In the eventual 4-2 victory, they limited the Pioneers to 23 SOG, killing off four penalties along the way.

The one dark cloud to the proceedings was the loss of Luke Johnson, Chicago’s fifth-round pick in 2013 and the team’s best shutdown center. The junior, who has made the Frozen Four in each of his three collegiate seasons, suffered a leg injury in the second period and did not return to the game; he’s unlikely to be available for Saturday's matchup after compiling 21 points (11G, 10A) in 43 games this season.

Earlier on Thursday, Quinnipiac defeated Boston College 3-2 to confirm their own spot in the title tilt, ending Chris Calnan’s junior season. The 2012 third-round pick finished the year with 11 points in 29 games. The NCAA championship game will take place on April 9 at 7 p.m. CT, and the game will be broadcast live on ESPN2 and available via streaming on ESPN3.

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POSTED ON Monday, 03.21.2016 / 1:52 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog

On Mondays, the Blackhawks Blog will highlight players who stood out for their minor-league, junior, college, or European teams in the previous week’s action. All prospect/system stats will be updated weekly throughout the 2015-16 season.

(Photo courtesy University of Michigan Athletics)

1st Star: RW Tyler Motte, University of Michigan (BIG10)
The Line: 2GP, 2G, 2A

After a three-year absence from the NCAA tournament, the Wolverines punched their ticket last weekend by winning the B1G title, and Tyler Motte was at the center of the action. In Friday’s 7-2 semifinal win over Penn State, he contributed two assists, giving him 23 on the year. The next night, the 2013 fourth-round pick opened the scoring on the power play against Minnesota with his 30th tally of the season before adding an empty-netter to seal the 5-3 result. Michigan will open the NCAA tournament against old CCHA rival Notre Dame on Friday at 4:30 p.m. CT.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 03.20.2016 / 4:30 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog
Five Blackhawks prospects will be in action in the NCAA Midwest regionals next weekend in Cincinnati.

Any Blackhawks fans living in the vicinity of Cincinnati, Ohio, might want to swing by U.S. Bank Arena next weekend, as five prospects will be in contention for a trip to the 2016 Frozen Four in Tampa Bay early next month.

The NCAA revealed the field of 16 on Sunday. Here’s how the regional brackets break down, along with the full list of Blackhawks representatives:

East (Albany, N.Y.) - March 26-27
1 Quinnipiac vs. 16 RIT
8 Yale vs. 9 UMass–Lowell
Prospects: Yale C John Hayden (2013, 3rd)

West (St. Paul) - March 26-27
2 St. Cloud State vs. 15 Ferris State
7 Boston University vs. 10 Denver
Prospects: none

Midwest (Cincinnati) - March 25-26
3 North Dakota vs. 14 Northeastern
6 Michigan vs. 11 Notre Dame
Prospects: North Dakota C Nick Schmaltz (2014, 1st), North Dakota C Luke Johnson (2013, 5th), Northeastern C Dylan Sikura (2014, 6th), Michigan RW Tyler Motte (2013, 4th), Notre Dame D Dennis Gilbert (2015, 3rd)

Northeast (Worcester, Mass.) - March 25-26
4 Providence vs. 13 Minn–Duluth
5 Boston College vs. 12 Harvard
Prospects: Boston College RW Chris Calnan (2012, 3rd)

All regional games will be broadcast on the ESPN network, and the Blackhawks Blog will have continuing coverage of the NCAA tournament.

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POSTED ON Monday, 03.14.2016 / 4:56 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog

On Mondays, the Blackhawks Blog will highlight players who stood out for their minor-league, junior, college, or European teams in the previous week’s action. All prospect/system stats will be updated weekly throughout the 2015-16 season.

(Tyler Ingham/UND Sports)

1st Star: C Nick Schmaltz, University of North Dakota (NCHC)
The Line: 2GP, 3G, 3A

Last weekend produced another offensive outburst for Schmaltz, who picked up six points for North Dakota in a two-game sweep over Colorado College. The 2014 first-round selection contributed two goals and an assist—his first multi-goal game in the NCAA—in Friday’s 7-1 win, then added a tally and two helpers in the 5-1 clincher the next night. Schmaltz now has 40 points in 31 games this season and shares fifth in the nation with 32 assists. UND will face Minnesota–Duluth in the NCHC semifinals on Friday.

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POSTED ON Monday, 03.7.2016 / 2:25 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog

On Mondays, the Blackhawks Blog will highlight players who stood out for their minor-league, junior, college, or European teams in the previous week’s action. All prospect/system stats will be updated weekly throughout the 2015-16 season.

(UND Athletics/Peter Bottini)

1st Star: C Nick Schmaltz, University of North Dakota (NCHC)
The Line: 1GP, 1G, 3A

Schmaltz may have scored just five goals for North Dakota this season, but a couple of them have been highlight-reel material. Case in point: this beauty from UND’s big 8-1 win over Western Michigan on Friday. Chicago’s first-round pick in 2014 also added three assists to match his season high of four points in a game, and the sophomore now ranks third on the team with 34 points in 29 games, while his 29 helpers are seventh in the nation.

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POSTED ON Monday, 02.29.2016 / 12:07 PM CT
By Emerald Gao - chicagoblackhawks.com / The Blackhawks Blog

On Mondays, the Blackhawks Blog will highlight players who stood out for their minor-league, junior, college, or European teams in the previous week’s action. All prospect/system stats will be updated weekly throughout the 2015-16 season.

(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)

1st Star: C Tanner Kero, Rockford IceHogs (AHL)
The Line: 3GP, 4G, 3A

Kero collected points in all three of Rockford’s contests last week. On Wednesday, the 23-year-old matched a season high with three points—a goal and two helpers—to help the IceHogs post a 6-4 win in Milwaukee. Kero then tallied twice in a 5-4 loss to Lake Erie on Friday before adding a helper the next night in a 3-2 overtime loss. The Michigan native now has a four-game point streak going and paces Rockford with 16 goals this season; he ranks sixth with 26 points in 38 games.

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