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Blackhawks convention brings laughs, some insight regarding Daniel Carcillo’s addition

To some extent, the Chicago Blackhawks’ resurgence was propelled by luck. Their rebuild was sparked by getting the right picks (Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, among others) at the right time while their modernization – like, say, televising home games -was made possible by Bill Wirtz’s passing.

That being said, Blackhawks management deserves credit for navigating the treacherous waters of the post-2010 Stanley Cup salary cap purge without losing too many crucial parts and for taking some clever measures to keep fans engaged. (This is an especially wise path to take since many of those fans are still pretty new to a team that was profoundly inept for quite some time.)

One of their best ideas is running an annual convention for fans to meet up with some of their favorite players. CSNChicago.com’s Tracey Myers captured the scene during the “Kids Only” press conference, when young Blackhawks fans asked Kane, Toews and Corey Crawford some amusing questions.

The youngster approached the microphone at the Kids Only press conference on Saturday, his question for Patrick Kane.

“How did you really break your wrist?” the child said to roaring laughter.

“What do you mean by that?” said Kane.

Apparently you don’t have to be a grizzled fan or long-time follower of gossip sites to know that Kane has a rather … controversial reputation in the sports world. Speaking of players with controversial reputations, some Blackhawks fans and writers were a bit perplexed by the addition of noted pest Daniel Carcillo.

Chicago GM Stan Bowman gave a functional explanation for the signing while Toews’ answer seemed to focus (perhaps surprisingly) on Carcillo’s potential impact in the locker room.

“Carcillo is one of those guys who is very annoying to play against. But when he’s on your side he keeps the other team on edge,” Bowman said.

“He’s going to make sure they don’t take liberties with our star players. All you have to do is ask (Jonathan) Toews or Kane or (Patrick) Sharp about these kind of players when they’re on your team, and they like that because they like to do their thing and not always be looking over their shoulder at guys coming after them. It’s going to make teams think twice about targeting our stars.”


“That’s what we like,” Toews said Friday. “I’ll never say anything bad about our locker room last year, but we wanted to add some of that charisma, personality. A noisy locker room is always better than the opposite.”

It might be a bit surprising to see Toews praise the merits of known troublemaker Carcillo for his locker room habits, but maybe this group can keep him in line. Then again, maybe Carcillo will play nice simply because he’s on a one-year contract and needs to justify his existence as an NHL player.

Kesler believes Ducks are ‘too good to not be in the playoffs’

Shane Doan, Ryan Kesler
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It’s been 24 games for the Anaheim Ducks, more than a quarter of the season, and still they’re having trouble winning.

Friday against Chicago, they surrendered two goals in the last two minutes of regulation and lost in overtime.

Currently, the Ducks sit five points out of a playoff spot with a record of 8-11-5.

Still, forward Ryan Kesler is confident they’ll find a way into the postseason.

“If we keep playing like we are, we’re going to get into the playoffs — this team is too good to not be in the playoffs,” Kesler told The Province ahead of tonight’s home game versus Vancouver.

“We had a bad start and, to be honest, some guys weren’t ready to start the season. There’s a lot of hockey to be played and we’re ready for the challenge.”

To match the 45-30-7 record the Flames squeaked into the playoffs with last year, the Ducks would need to go 37-19-2 over their next 58 games.




Depends who you ask.

Anaheim’s playoff chances will depend a lot on how Pacific Division teams like San Jose, Arizona, and Vancouver finish. The Ducks may need to leapfrog two of those three to get in.

Yes, there’s always the chance four teams from the Pacific qualify, because it’s not like Colorado, Winnipeg, and Minnesota don’t have their problems. Even Nashville you have to wonder about lately. Heck, even Chicago isn’t assured of anything yet.

Bottom line, though, the Ducks have dug themselves a hole, and it’s starting to look a lot like the one the Kings dug last year.

In the NHL, even good teams don’t always climb out.

Related: Boudreau does the playoff math, and it’s no ‘easy task’ for Ducks

Video: Ryan Suter doesn’t seem very happy with his coach


As you can see in the video, apparently Ryan Suter doesn’t like being paired with fellow lefty Jonas Brodin.

The Wild defenseman rather openly questioned the coaching staff’s decision-making today after practice.

“Yeah, I don’t know what they’re thinking,” said Suter. “I need to play with a right-handed defenseman. To give me more options. Neutral zone. Offensively. And even coming out of the D zone, it’s not fair to put a guy on his off side.”

Suter didn’t know if the pairings were just for practice or not. The Wild play tomorrow in Chicago. Minnesota has just one win in its last seven games.

Suter also had something to say about that.

“It does no good to pout and get pissed off at each other,” said Suter. “You’ve got to come together and dig out of this. Now’s when you need leadership more than ever. It’s easy to be a coach and a leader when things are going good.”

Yeo, by the way, has not been very happy with the Wild lately.  In fact, one could go so far as to say he’s been acting pretty “pissed off.”

For example, at today’s practice:

The Star Tribune has more on what went down today.

Yeo, you may recall, went a little “nuts” during a Wild practice last season.

Goalie nods: Sparks to make NHL debut for Leafs

Garett Sparks

We already knew this yesterday, but in case you missed it, Garret Sparks will make his NHL debut in goal for the Toronto Maple Leafs tonight against Edmonton.

Sparks, 22, has been excellent in the AHL this season, going 8-2-1 with a .938 save percentage. He spent most of last season in the ECHL, where he also posted good numbers.

Sparks is getting the nod tonight because James Reimer is hurt and Jonathan Bernier has been struggling badly.

“He’s got an opportunity like lots of kids have had before him and it’s up to him to grab it,” Leafs coach Mike Babcock said, per NHL.com. “He’s got the [second-best] save percentage in the AHL and he’s winning all the time down there. Obviously we’re in need of some saves and we’ll have to play well in front of him for sure. But it’s an opportunity for him.”

Bernier, meanwhile, will have to sit and watch. The 27-year-old has allowed at least four goals in four of his last five starts. His save percentage has fallen all the way to .888.

Anders Nilsson will be in net for the Oilers.


Cam Ward for the Hurricanes. Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers, who will try not to rely on him so much.

Semyon Varlamov for the Avs. Thomas Greiss for the Isles.

— The Canucks aren’t saying if it’ll be Ryan Miller of Jacob Markstrom. For the Ducks, it’ll be John Gibson.

Vigneault: ‘After three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention’

Alain Vigneault

Alain Vigneault has maintained for much of the season that the New York Rangers needed to play better.

The head coach said it a week ago, after the Blueshirts had beaten the Predators, 3-0, despite getting outshot, 31-19.

He’d said it a couple of weeks before that, after they’d beaten the Hurricanes in very similar fashion. (Final score: 3-0. Shots: 33-23 for Carolina.)

But as long as the Rangers kept winning, it was tough, according to Vigneault, to get the message across.

“Sometimes, the results might be going your way, so when you’re pointing out certain things, it might be a little bit more challenging for them to understand because the results are so positive,” Vigneault said, per the New York Post.

“But after three losses in a row, I think we’ve got everybody’s attention.”

Derek Stepan‘s injury — he’ll miss 4-6 weeks with broken ribs — has no doubt captured their attention as well. (Oscar Lindberg will center Chris Kreider and Jesper Fast tonight at home to Carolina.)

The Rangers also play Wednesday, in Brooklyn against the Islanders (on NBCSN).