Each Monday, the Blackhawks Blog will highlight prospects who stood out for their minor-league, junior, college, or European teams in the previous week’s action. All prospect stats will be updated weekly throughout the 2015-16 season.
|(Photo by Amber Fry)|
1st Star: LW Fredrik Olofsson, University of Nebraska-Omaha (NCHC)
The Line: 2GP, 2G, 2A
Olofsson had a breakout game last Friday, posting a pair of goals and a pair of assists in Nebraska-Omaha’s 4-3 win over Vermont. The 2014 fourth-round pick tallied the Mavericks’ first two goals of the contest, then assisted on the last two. Olofsson’s five points in four games share first among college freshmen, as he continues to impress in his debut NCAA season.
The fans voted, and the results are in! ESPN The Magazine released the rankings for the 2015 Ultimate Standings. All 122 franchises across the four major pro sports leagues were ranked, and the Blackhawks came in at No. 17, making the organization the top team in Chicago for the third year in a row.
The Blackhawks came in fifth in the NHL behind playoff rivals such as the Tampa Bay Lightning and Anaheim Ducks. In Chicago, the Blackhawks finished ahead of the Bulls (66) and Cubs (77).
Winning three Stanley Cups in six years might have something to do with it, but playoff success only accounted for a small portion of the vote. Calculations were broken into eight categories, with the most weight placed on fan relations and "bang for the buck." Other areas included the team’s effort on the field and ownership of the team.
ESPN surveyed over 100,000 fans to rate their favorite franchises in 25 areas, from “has honest ownership” to “connects me to information I want about the team online or via mobile devices.” Mix that in with some calculations of how efficiently teams convert the money fans spend into on-field wins, and they came up with their formula.
Click here to view the full list of rankings.
|(Photo courtesy Rockford IceHogs)|
1st Star: C Tanner Kero, Rockford (AHL)
The Line: 2GP, 2G, 1A
The Rockford IceHogs opened their 2015-16 campaign with a decisive 4-2 victory against the San Jose Barracuda on Oct. 9, powered by the line of Tanner Kero, Jeremy Morin and Marko Dano. Kero netted the team’s first goal of the season just 1:01 into the contest and tallied on a redirect early in the third period for the eventual game-winner; he also added an assist for a career-high three points. Kero is in his first full professional campaign after joining Rockford for the tail end of 2014-15, when he scored five goals in six regular-season games.
With six Stanley Cups captured in 88 NHL seasons, the Blackhawks are setting their aim on number seven and are trying to become the first to repeat since Detroit turned the trick in 1997 and 1998, prior to the start of the hard salary cap.
It is interesting to note that when the Blackhawks won their first three Cups in 1934, 1938 and 1961, they opened the season at home. The most recent three Cup-winning campaigns in 2010, 2013 and 2015 saw the Blackhawks begin their schedule on the road.
Naturally, there is a ton of hockey with an 82-game schedule that will be decided before the regular campaign ends on April 9.
Taking nothing for granted, Coach Joel Quennville has repeatedly said the toughest task is making the playoffs. After all, the Los Angeles Kings failed to reach the playoffs last season after winning the Stanley Cup in 2014.
The Blackhawks are 38-31-17 (including two overtime losses) all-time in openers. The 1934 and 1961 Blackhawks teams both tied their openers, while the 1938 Cinderella team—which won the Stanley Cup, despite a losing regular-season record—was shut out in their first game.
The 2010 team lost in a shootout at a game played in Finland, but in the 2012-13 opener, the Blackhawks spoiled L.A.'s banner-raising ceremony; last season the Blackhawks beat Dallas 3-2 in a shootout.
Winning the first game of the season after enjoying the banner-raising ceremony against the Rangers would be great, but the long-term plan remains "One Goal" in retaining the coveted Stanley Cup for Blackhawk fans!
|ESPN Insider Corey Pronman ranked Artemi Panarin No. 34 on the list of top 100 NHL prospects for the 2015-16 season.|
Winning the Stanley Cup three times in the past six years has only made the Blackhawks hungry to win more, and in order to do tjat, Hockey Operations is always looking into the future. With that comes making sure the next generation of players are ready when their numbers are called. ESPN Insider Corey Pronman recently ranked the top 100 NHL prospects for the 2015-16 season, and the Blackhawks landed three players on the list: Artemi Panarin, Ryan Hartman and Ville Pokka.
Winning the Stanley Cup for the 2015-16 has several meanings. Every opponent has now placed a special target on the Blackhawks, and each team will use their opportunity to measure how they shape up against the champions!
Head Coach Joel Quenneville knows there's parity around the NHL, and there are no easy games. The pressure on the Blackhawks will be there from the opening faceoff to the closing buzzer.
Last season, the Blackhawks registered 24 victories each at home and on the road. Going into the third period with a lead, they were perfect during the regular season (25-0-0) and carried that momentum throughout the playoffs. The Blackhawks were 35-9-2 when they scored first. They were 9-3 in shootouts, while posting a 22-13-6 mark in one-goal wins.
The Blackhawks will have one fewer set of back-to-back games this campaign (13) compared to last season, although nine of them are on the road. The Blackhawks swept 10 back-to-backs and split the other four last season. The first set will be games two and three with the Islanders in October, while the annual November road swing has two tough sets in Calgary and Vancouver followed by Anaheim and Los Angeles.
January will provide three challenges, starting with back-to-back games against Pittsburgh. Later in the month, the road tests include Original Six matches in Montreal and Toronto, plus the following week in Tampa Bay and Florida.
March features another road battle against Boston and Detroit, before the Blackhawks wind back up in Calgary and Vancouver.
The Blackhawks have four sets of four straight home games, while the November road trip features six. There are also two other four-game road swings at the end of January and March.
For the third straight year, the Blackhawks will again play outdoors when they meet the Wild in Minnesota on Feb. 21.
As we eagerly await the drop of the puck on Oct. 7 against the Rangers, the Blackhawks’ aim remains "ONE GOAL!"
|Jay Sinden and his son, Max, enjoy their outdoor rink with family and friends. (Photo Courtesy of Mike Peeling, Brant News)|
Most kids ask Santa for a new toy, but not 3-year-old Maximus Sinden. It was back in October when Max sat down in his Brantford, Ontario, home to make his list. He wanted one thing: for Santa to build him a hockey rink in his backyard.
Max’s father, Jay, said he remembers talking to Max right away about his Christmas wish.
“I had to say to him, ‘Maximus, Santa Claus isn’t capable of building a hockey rink, but Daddy is.’”
Jay knows how much his son loves hockey and knew this would be the ultimate gift for his son.
What does it take to be a Stanley Cup Champion? GQ Magazine caught up with Swedish defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to see how he fuels his body during the hockey season. Hjalmarsson said he doesn’t go on a special diet, but does keep his meals consistent throughout the playoffs.
“I try to think smart and if there’s anything special I do, I drink a lot of juices,” he said.
From omelets to steak, everything stays the same from the start of the playoffs up until the finish line: “You eat the same kind of food for two months and it gets pretty old, but you have to refuel your body. You eat as much as you can, but it’s a struggle.”
However, he does vary his lunch menu, as his wife is the one that does the cooking. She cooks traditional Swedish meals, which are usually heavy on starch and protein.
During the summer, Hjalmarsson heads back to Sweden and goes right for the pizza.
“Right after the season I take three weeks without caring at all what I eat, just to get rid of that craving," he said. "So after those three weeks I can just focus on working out and being healthy.”
Check out Niklas Hjalmarsson’s playoff menu:
Three-egg omelet with onion and chorizo
Greek yogurt and berries
Juice made from spinach, kale and romaine lettuce
Beef/pork meatballs with lingonberry jam and mashed potatoes
Watermelon, mint and turmeric
Carrot and jalapeño
Pineapple, pomegranate and ginger
|Andrew Shaw mimics an emoji during the 2015 Blackhawks Convention.|