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Posts Tagged ‘Kris Versteeg.’

Blackhawks show Niemi the door; usher in Turco as number one goalie

Marty Turco now a Blackhawk (nhl)

Marty Turco was not offered a new contract by the cost-cutting Dallas Stars a few weeks ago.

But now, that’s all a memory as he will now be playing for the Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks.

Turco replaces Stanley Cup hero Antii Niemi as the Blackhawks’ top goaltender. He could’ve got a longer contract with more money with another team, but he wants a championship ring. Turco’s deal is one-year for $1.3 million.

The Blackhawks have high expectations from the 34-year-old Turco, a Michigan product, who has played all nine of his NHL seasons with Dallas. The three-time All-Star has never advanced past the conference finals in six playoff appearances with the Stars.

Niemi, 26, helped Chicago win the Stanley Cup this past season after earning $826,875 as a rookie. He was awarded a $2.75 million salary for next season by an arbitrator last week, which would’ve put the team in a tight spot. The NHL’s salary cap is $59.4 million next season and some hockey experts said that with Niemi’s new salary, it would’ve put the Blackhawks over the limit.

Niemi becomes an unrestricted free agent. The Finn played all but one period of Chicago’s postseason run to the NHL title, going 16-6 with a 2.63 goals-against average, .910 save percentage and two shutouts.

Niemi will make the eighth player to leave the Blackhawks since the winning the Stanley Cup. The others include Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager, Dustin Byfuglien, Brent Sopel, Adam Burish, Colin Fraser and Kris Versteeg. 37-year-old John Madden, another unrestricted free agent, has yet to sign with a team.

compiled from Chicago Blackhawks and NHL news

Blackhawks on the brink of a Stanley Cup; defeat Flyers 7-4

compiled from staff and wire reports

The Chicago Blackhawks had everything going their way on Sunday night,  balance scoring, home ice advantage and mixing up the scoring lines which put them one win away from a Stanley Cup.

Dustin Byfuglien and Patrick Kane both were moved out of the number 1 scoring line, but they had two goals and two assists to lead Chicago to a 7-4 win over Philadelphia, allowing them to take a 3-2 series lead.

Dustin Byfuglien (nhl)

Byfuglien, who at 257-pounds looks like a defenseman intead of a winger, had eight goals in the first three rounds of the plyoffs but none in the first four games against the  tough Flyers defense, scored a power-play goal in the second period and added an empty net goal in the closing seconds of the third period.

The scoring line of Jonathan Toews, Byfuglien and Kane that was effective earlier in the playoffs, was split up, and the strategy worked to perfection. They had a combined 1 goal and four assists in the first four games against the Flyers.

Brent Seabrook added a power-play goal, Dave Bolland, Kris Versteeg and Patrick Sharp also scored for the Blackhawks.

Chicago can capture their first Stanley Cup since 1961 with a win in Philadelphia on Wednesday.

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS UPDATE: Games 1, 2, 3; Chicago up 2-1

compiled from staff and wire reports

GAME 1

The Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers had a wild opening game to the Stanley Cup playoffs. The winning goal came from an unlikely hero.

Tomas Kopecky, scratched in the previous five games and playing because of an injury to Andrew Ladd, took a great pass from Kris Versteeg in the third period and scored from a tough, acute angle past Backup goalie Brian Boucher to give Chicago a 6-5 victory on Saturday night.

GAME 2

Chicago goalie Antii Niemi back in his native Finland used to make a few extra bucks driving a Zamboni at the hockey arena. He’s now clearing pucks in the NHL for more than a few extra bucks.

Antii Niemi (nhl)

Niemi made 14 of his 32 saves in the third period and Chicago beat the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 Monday night to take a 2-0 series lead.

Niemi held his poise as the Flyers put on the extra attacker the last 1:44 of the game, but couldn’t score.

GAME 3

Claude Giroux scored 5:59 into the overtime period to give the Philadelphia Flyers a 4-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night, cutting  the Blackhawks lead in the series to 2-1.

Minutes after the Flyers thought they scored the winner only to have a video review uphold the on-ice call of no goal, Giroux redirected Matt Carle’s pass past Antii Niemi to end the third straight one-goal game in the series.

Giroux was picked four years ago in the NHL Draft by then-general manager Bobby Clarke who forgot his name up on the podium.

Clarke, who led the Flyers to their only two championships in 1974 and 1975, couldn’t recall Giroux’s name after Philadelphia chose him with the 22nd overall pick in the 2006 NHL entry draft. It was Clarke who scored Philadelphia’s last overtime goal in the finals against Boston in Game 2 of the 1974 series.

Blue Jackets start fast en route to demolishing Chicago, 8-3

Columbus, Ohio–The Columbus Blue Jackets have rarely had a so-called easy game this season. But Thursday night’s Central Division clash against the Chicago Blackhawks would definitely qualify as one.

Columbus scored in every period, 2 in the first, 4 in the second and 2 in the third to completely baffle the number 1 team in the Western Conference. It’s baffling because the Jackets came into the game 0-2-2 against Chicago this season.

The Jackets came out of the locker room with much aggressiveness as they scored in the first :32 seconds of the game as Mike Commodore, not known as scorer, shot the puck off a tough angle and past Chicago’s shaky goaltender Cristobal Huet, for a quick 1-0 lead.

Chicago, a little perturbed about being behind to a team that they should handle easily, tried to get a fight started as RW Adam Burish got tangled up in the corner with Derek Dorsett of the Blue Jackets. The officials gave Dorsett a roughing penalty on the play. Then defenseman Brent Seabrook got tangled up with Dorsett later in the period, but nothing came of it.

Samuel Pahlsson had 2 assists (CBJ)

Columbus went up 2-0 as Rick Nash had an open shot, but got the puck to Kristian Huselius who also was open, and he put it past Huet to make it 2-0 at the 12:08 mark of the first period. It was Huselius’ 3rd goal against Chicago and 22nd of the season.

The Blackhawks did come alive towards the end of the first period but it was clear, that they did not come out of the locker room ready to match the Blue Jackets intensity.

In the second period, Chicago started to show why they’re the number 1 team in the Western Conference with 99 points. They came out of the locker room with an urgency and it paid off as RW Kris Versteeg scored off a rush at the 2:15 mark to cut the lead down to 2-1 Columbus.

Everybody in Nationwide Arena started buzzing after that goal, because they’ve seen it happen over and over all season, that the Jackets will dominate the first period and come out flat in the second and fall behind in the game. They’ve seen it happen against the Blackhawks before, but on this night the Blue jackets were not going to be denied or stopped in beating the Blackhawks.

Columbus continued to take advantage of gaps in the Chicago defense and scored another goal to answer Versteeg’s tally. Kristian Huselius, who has seen consistency and a rebirth in his game since Claude Noel took over for Ken Hitchcock as the coach, scored on a rebound shot at the 4:58 mark and it was 3-1. Huselius scored his 4th goal of the season versus Chicago and 23rd on the season.

Mike Commodore scored :32 into game (CBJ)

Then, all 14,573 in attendance saw something that they rarely see in a hockey game, a penalty shot. Jakub Voracek, one of the up-and -coming stars on the Blue Jackets team, was off-to-the-races with the puck, moving in 1-on-1 against the goalie when one of the Blackhawks defenseman took him off his skates. So that meant a penalty shot for Voracek going one-on-one against Cristobal Huet who was already having a bad night in goal.

Voracek drove towards the goal, and got Huet out of position and put the puck into the low right side of the net and shockingly it was 4-1 Columbus. The last time Columbus had a home penalty shot goal,  prior to last night was on March 19, 2001 vs. Nashville, when David Vyborny beat  Tomas Vokoun at 18:01 of the third period in a 2-1 loss.  The scoring wasn’t over by any stretch of the imagination.

Antione Vermette was about to get into scoring column. He took a Chicago mistake and went streaking in on goalie Cristobal Huet and he scored unassisted at the 14:17 mark and it was 5-1 and the rout was continuing. By now, Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville had seen enough of  Huet and decided to give Antti Niemi a shot at cooling down the Jackets for the rest of the second period anyway.

It was to no avail as center Andrew Murray picked up a loose puck and shoveled it past Niemi making the score 6-1. The Blue Jackets amazingly had scored 4 goals against one of the NHL’s best teams and best defenses in  the second period to open up daylight at 6-1.

The Blackhawks came out in the third period and scored a couple of goals but the Blue Jackets did the same with Antione Vermette scoring his second of the night and 25th of the season and Mike Blunden his first of the campaign.

The Blue Jackets by far, had played their best game of the season and left fans and media wondering where were all of these goals, inspirational, physical and emotional play back in December and January when the team basically fell out of playoff contention.

Maybe it was a glimpse of what we’ll see in 2010-2011.

SOUNDS FROM THE POSTGAME LOCKER ROOM (to listen to an audio file, simply click on the number)

44 648 Adam Burish Chicago Rw Chicago was mistake prone all game long

44 651 Adam Burish On goalie Cristobal Huet taking the heat for another bad game

44 654 Antione Vermette Columbus Finally an easy game for a change

44 656 Antione Vermette Scoring in the first 32 seconds of the game got them rolling

44 657 Antione Vermette A career high 25th goal tonight feels good in a win

44 659 Antione Vermette Was he surprised that they embarrassed Cristobal Huet in goal

GAME NOTES

* The Blue Jackets are 19-11-7 at home.

* Columbus is 30-32-12 for 72 points on the season.

* Are 25-24-7 vs. Chicago.

* Are 15-10-4 vs. Chicago at Nationwide Arena.

* The CBJ are 20-12-5 when scoring the first goal of the sesason.

* Columbus is 13-7-5 when leading after the first period.

* 23-6-4 when leading after the second period.

* The eight goals scored by Columbus matches a club single game record overall and is most the club has scored at home.

The club record of eight goals was set March 7, 2009 at Detroit, a game Columbus won 8-2.

The previous high for goals scored at home was seven, set February 8, 2006 against Los Angeles in a 7-4 victory.

* The five-goal margin of victory matches a club record at home.

The record had been set four times previously (February 26, 2009 vs. Calgary, 5-0–most recent).

* The 11 combined goals between the clubs also matches a home franchise record.

The record had been set three times previously (December 28, 2006 vs. Detroit, a 7-4 loss–most recent).

* The Blackhawks currently sit atop the Central Division with 99 points, ten points clear of second-place Nashville with two games in hand.

* Chicago has not won a division title since finishing in first place in the Norris Division in 1992-93 season.

* The Blackhawks have occupied first place in the Central Division since November 9. The last time Chicago did not own at least a share of first place in the division was on November 8 when they were in second (8-5-2) behind first place Columbus (9-5-2). That was when the Blue Jackets were playing well.

* Chicago has won 11 of its last 14 games against Central Division opponents, and owns a 14-6-0 mark against division rivals overall. Washington (17-3-1) in the Southeast Division is the only NHL team with a better record within their division.