The New York Islanders are currently on the outside looking in on the final match-ups of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The Pittsburgh Penguins, who elimated the Isles in six games, are currently set to battle the Boston Bruins to see who will fight for the Cup from the Eastern Conference (Photo credit: douglasgallery30/Flickr).
One Islanders skater, Travis Hamonic, has been spending time in his cottage up north in Canada, enjoying some personal time away from the game.
The 22-year old defenseman is someone I have followed since his days in the WHL after being drafted by the Islanders with the 53rd overall pick of the 2008 Entry Draft. Since then, he has emerged from an inexperienced rookie into a reliable top-four defender, responsible for shutting down an opponent's top scorers.
Hamonic called me this afternoon (once he found a spot with good cell service) to discuss his game, the first round match-up against the Pens and the culture that has overtaken the Islanders locker room.
As the series shifts to the Motor City it is now the best of five series with each club notching a victory. Chicago has now lost home ice advantage in this series and need to reclaim it quick. The Blackhawks do not have to wait long with a quick turnaround time.
Games one and two were mirror images of each other with vastly differing results for each club. In game two Detroit found their skating legs with ample time off to rest and it appears they have recovered from the Anaheim Ducks series and are looking like the Detroit Red Wings that have gone to 22 consecuti...
On the same day at the Preakness Stakes, the Blackhawks were off to the races early against the Detroit Red Wings.
Unfortunately, much like a race horse, they were spent for the afternoon after the first initial sprint, and got out-skated and out-worked the rest of the game.
Patrick Sharp got a breakaway late in the third. After getting Detroit goalie Jimmy Howard to commit to defending him, Sharp passed it across the ice via Michael Handzus to Patrick Sharp. Howard lunged across the goal, but couldn't stop the Blackhawks sniper making it 1-0, 5:55 into the first.
Detroit was committed to defense after a poor showing in game 1, and displayed better pas...
With Pittsburgh beating Ottawa 4 - 1 and Los Angeles beating San Jose 2 - 0 last night, The Checking Line: Isles Edition will take a look into the other two semifinal series. (Photo Credit: Torch Creative)
In what has been a truly amazing year the Blackhawks ended their regular season at the United Center in the fashion that they began – winning. The game was really never in doubt from the moment the puck dropped on the Indianhead at center ice.
Like the past couple of games, again the Blackhawks had little to play for except that this group of extraordinary athletes has set a standard for themselves which they have not faltered from all season.
The Hawks jumped on top of the Flames early and often. The score could have been much higher save bounces not going the Hawks way. They completely dominated the Flames in the first period.
The Chicago Blackhawks and the Vancouver Canucks renew one the National Hockey League’s most bitter rivalries. This game could be a Western Conference finals preview.
The Blackhawks are coming off of a shootout loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. The Canucks come off of a shootout win of their own over the Detroit Red Wings. It’s going to be weird if Detroit doesn’t make the playoffs. That’s another blog for another day.
Both teams are in the NHL’s top ten in penalty kill percentage. The Blackhawks check in at number four while Vancouver checks in at number seven.
Coming into this game the Blackhawks had absolutely nothing to play for other than their pride and improving themselves and continuing a seven game winning streak. The Phoenix Coyotes on the other hand were fighting for their playoff lives and had everything to play for.
The Blackhawks have to be commended for their character and focus. Everyone knows these games mean nothing to them and are really just glorified practices since they clinched their division and conference. They still managed to gain a point and come from behind to tie the game up and push the game to overtime and eventually the shoot out.