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Blackhawks look ahead after 12-game win streak ends

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TAMPA — The longest winning streak in Chicago Blackhawks’ history ended Thursday when they lost 2-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. But coach Joel Quenneville feels the defending Stanley Cup champions have put themselves in a strong position for the remainder of the season by running off 12 consecutive victories.

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The Blackhawks were 13 points out of first place in the Western Conference after a 2-1 home loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 27. They began the streak two days later, and despite wholesale jerseys the loss to the Lightning are three points ahead of the Dallas Stars for the top spot in the Central Division and the Western Conference.

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Quenneville feels the winning streak has the Blackhawks in a good position with 32 games remaining.

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“[The streak] put us in a great spot,” he said. “You’re in that 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 [position in the standings] basically almost all year, I’d say even 10. You want to try to keep yourself out of that position. There’s a lot of hockey left to be sorted out but I really liked what we did. We still have to keep pushing.”

Moving forward was the prevailing message after the game.

Chicago (31-14-4) won’t have much time to think about the loss to the Lightning; the Blackhawks visit the Florida Panthers on Friday. The Panthers also had a 12-game win streak, from Dec. 15 to Jan. 10, but they are 0-3-1 in their past four games. That’s something the Blackhawks would like to avoid.

“It will be fun to play Florida,” defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson Jerseys said. “I bet they are pretty hungry too. I think they’ve lost four in a row. It’s going to be a big challenge.”

Chicago returned to Amalie Arena for the first cheap nhl jerseys time since Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, a 2-1 victory that gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 series lead. The Lightning entered the game Thursday on a six-game winning streak and used a smothering defense to frustrate the Blackhawks: Tampa Bay outshot Chicago 33-18 and won 32 of 48 faceoffs.

The top line of Jonathan Toews Jerseys, Marian Hossa Jerseys and Andrew Shaw Jerseys was held to two shots on goal. Lightning coach Jon Cooper dispatched the line of Ryan Callahan, J.T. Brown and Valtteri Filppula to keep them contained.

Callahan was credited with three hits. He also created two good scoring chances in the first period that were denied by Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford Jerseys.

“You can feel [the energy] in the building, going into the game.” Callahan said. “I think anytime we play Chicago cheap custom jerseys now you’re going to look across and you remember playing them in the Finals and you remember that feeling of losing to them. The extra emotion is there.”

Crawford made 31 saves but had his nine-game winning streak snapped. He said the Blackhawks have to focus on the next game.

“It was definitely a turning point cheap custom jerseys for our season,” Crawford said of the 12-game streak. “We are feeling good and have chemistry throughout the lines. It was definitely important to get on that streak and move up the standings.”

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Patriots excited as Winter Classic preparations begin

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Hardcore fans of the New England Patriots Jerseys, celebrating their team’s 12th win of the season, remained scattered across the parking lots of Gillette Stadium on a brisk, but by no means frigid, Sunday night in New England while work crews from the National cheapjerseys us com Hockey League took control of the building to begin the transformation toward the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

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While the post-game tailgate festivities ended, when the snarled traffic along adjoining Route 1 abated, NHL employees worked throughout the night, putting down flooring and performing other set-up tasks to prepare the stadium for a rink-building process that will begin in earnest Monday in preparation of the Winter Classic between the Boston Bruins and the Montreal Canadiens here on Jan. 1 (1 p.m. ET; NBC, CBC, TVA Sports).

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The Bruins and Canadiens will have practices at Gillette Stadium on Dec. 31 before an alumni game between players from each organization will take place at 3:30 p.m. (NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).

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For some of the Patriots, the transformation, which began soon after they finished streaming out of the stadium after a 33-16 victory against the Tennessee Titans, was an exciting beginning to a process they will observe at arm’s length for the better part of the next two weeks.

“It’s going to be awesome, a great atmosphere [for the Winter Classic],” said Jimmy Garappolo, the backup quarterback to starter Tom Brady Jerseys. Garappolo, a Chicago Blackhawks fan while growing up outside of the Windy City, admits he is “turning over to the Bruins” since arriving with the Patriots this summer and is looking forward to seeing the rink take shape.

The defending Super Bowl champion Patriots finished their home schedule Sunday, going 7-1 at Gillette Stadium for the season. They finish the regular season with away games against the New York Jets (Dec. 7) and the Miami Dolphins Jerseys (Jan. 3) before they start the NFL postseason after the first-round bye they earned with a victory Sunday and a loss by the Denver Broncos later in the afternoon. They will play a second-round game during the weekend of Jan. 16-17.

The Patriots won’t play at Gillette Stadium for almost a month at the earliest, but they will be around, using the practice facilities adjacent to the stadium. They will have a first-hand view of the rink-build process, which will be supervised by Dan Craig, the NHL’s Senior Director of Facilities Operations.

Garappolo says he is excited to see the rink take shape while the Patriots spend the next two weeks preparing for the rest of the regular season.

Growing up in Arlington Heights, Ill., Garappolo followed the Blackhawks pretty closely. He says Jonathan Toews Jerseys is his favorite player and he loves the character of the recent Blackhawks teams. He says he played hockey for one year when he was younger, as a defenseman. To hear him tell it, he was not very good and he quickly turned his attention to football.

Alan Branch, a defensive lineman with the Patriots, says he grew up playing a bit of roller hockey as a kid before embracing football full-time. He played football at the University of Michigan, where he says he saw “a lot of good hockey.” He missed the “Cold War II” outdoor game at The Big House between the Wolverines and Michigan State and was already in the NFL when the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs visited the Michigan football stadium for the 2014 Winter Classic.

“That is really exciting, pretty cool,” Branch said when told about the impending Winter Classic. “Outdoor hockey is old-school. I didn’t grow up being a hockey fan, but merged into one as an adult. It should be an awesome game.”

Right guard Josh Kline Jerseys, another Chicago-area kid, has been with the Patriots since 2013. One thing he has learned in his three years with New England is that the sports fans here know how to split their loyalties to embrace all of the area teams.

“It’s going to be a great experience,” said Kline, who says he follows the cheapjerseys us com NHL when his schedule allows. “Obviously they love the Bruins around here, so it should be a real good experience.”

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Blackhawks’ Anisimov has winning instincts

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CHICAGO — Artem Anisimov Jerseys can’t explain exactly what he’s trying to do when playing alongside Chicago Blackhawks wingers Patrick Kane Jerseys and Artemi Panarin.

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He just does it.

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“I don’t know, actually,” the 27-year-old Russian Anisimov said. “I don’t think about this stuff. I just go on the ice and play.”

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He was just playing when he knocked the puck to Panarin as he was cutting to the net for a goal against the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday. He was just playing when he skated wide into the offensive zone, caught the defense off guard as he burst to the net and scored while coming across the crease against the Florida Panthers last month. He’s just playing when he battles and wins pucks, shields opposing goaltenders with his 6-foot-4, 198-pound frame, while his two wingers fire off shots. And he’s just playing when he puts himself in position to break up plays in the defensive zone.

Anismov’s instincts have served him well. More so, they have served Kane and Panarin — two of the league’s hottest players — extremely well.

“There’s been a lot of plays this year too where he may have not gotten an assist or a goal on the play, but he could be the biggest reason we scored that goal,” said Kane, who has produced 12 of his 17 even-strength points with Anisimov on the ice.

Anisimov’s addition has so far worked out better than Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman even imagined. Bowman had his eye on the center for years, and he was close to trading for him last season. The deal fell through, but Bowman got another shot in late June.

When it became apparent Bowman and Brandon Saad Jerseys weren’t going to agree on an extension after last season, Bowman turned to the Columbus Blue Jackets and worked out a deal to acquire Anisimov. Bowman finally had his man and the Blackhawks finally had a permanent second-line center.

“You look around the league, there’s only really a handful of big centermen in the league,” Bowman said. “Maybe five or 10 that are 6-3. … He had been someone we had watched and we liked. You rarely get the chance to acquire those guys because teams that have them tend to keep them.

“He’s still got the prime of his career ahead of him here. It’s a very important position I think for us to have somebody. cheap bike jerseys It’s hard to break in at center. Like sometimes those 21-year-old centers, it takes them a little bit. He’s already gone through that learning curve. He’s sort of ready to take on a big role on the team.”

Bowman made sure Anisimov was interested in a contract extension before the trade, and the two sides agreed on a five-year, $22.75 million extension, which runs through the 2020-21 season. Anismov’s agent Mark Gandler didn’t have to sell his client much on the Blackhawks either.

“Just like Stan was looking for a match for his team, we were looking for a match for Artem,” Gandler said. “We felt, knowing the organization well, we felt that it would be a match. It was a no-brainer to put it together.”

Patrick Kane Jerseys, center, and Artemi Panarin, right, are first and second on the Blackhawks in points, playing with Artem Anisimov Jerseys. Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The trade came at a perfect time for Anisimov. He felt a change was needed after three seasons with the Blue Jackets. Last season was especially frustrating for him because of injuries. He missed two months of the season because of a torn triceps muscle.

And his numbers also dropped as he had seven goals and 27 points in 52 games — down from 22 goals and 39 points in 2013-14. He already has eight goals and 14 points in 20 games this season.

“It’s a great opportunity to start over,” Anisimov said. “It’s like a new chapter in my life to get traded here. It’s obviously like a good team, like everyone wants to play on this team. I was happy.”

The Blackhawks have had a revolving door at center on the second line in recent years. Since coach Joel Quenneville decided to put Kane and Jonathan Toews Jerseys on separate lines in 2013, Kane has played with an assortment of centers. Dave Bolland was his main center in the 2012-13 season, Michal Handzus in 2013-14 and Brad Richards Jerseys in 2014-15. Altogether, Kane played with 10 centers in those three seasons.

Richards and Kane clicked last season, but Quenneville wasn’t always sold on Richards’ defensive game. Richards didn’t get a long look at second-line center until nearly 20 games into the season. Anisimov earned Quenneville’s trust in that respect in the preseason.

“I think we liked him right away,” Quenneville said of Anisimov. “I think that line had a little bit of chemistry right off the bat being together. I think it’s an important position for us, and he’s been a good fit. But we like his overall game, not just with the puck. Defensively, he’s been very useful.”

St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock also acknowledged the cheap jerseys defensive part of Anisimov’s game before a recent meeting with the Blackhawks. Hitchcock even went as far as comparing Anisimov to another Blackhawks forward who is respected for his all-around game.

“I think he’s just a solid two-way player,” Hitchcock said. “He’s a lot like [Marian] Hossa. He’s a guy, he doesn’t make mistakes. He’s smart on the ice. He’s smart [with] positioning. Whoever he’s playing with, because he manages the middle of the rink so well, he’s going to [make] look good. He fits with those guys because he manages ice. He’s more than willing to go down low and work in his zone and help out. I think he surprises people with his determination. He’s a strong player, goes to the net hard. He’s just a good add.”

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Powers: Blackhawks’ Panarin not letting language barrier hold him back

Despite coming to Chicago as a rookie without a lick of English, Russian winger Artemi Panarin is finding a home on the Blackhawks’ No. 2 line.

Among those many little things Anisimov does this season, he translates between Kane and Panarin, who is also Russian and speaks very little English. Anisimov has felt at home with the Blackhawks partly because he’s had fellow Russians Panarin and Viktor Tikhonov as teammates. The three of them often hang out.
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The second line’s early success, of course, has also helped Anisimov’s transition to a new team. He has found playing alongside Kane, who leads the Blackhawks with 31 points, and Panarin, who is second on the team with 21 points, to be easy.

“It’s simple,” Anisimov said. “I think it’s simple because everyone brings something to the table on the ice. We just connected somehow when we played.

“[Kane] has a great skill obviously. He’s one of the most dangerous guys in the league. He sees the ice so well. He can make plays. He can do whatever on the ice, just play the game. I knew [Panarin] a little bit before. I know what he’s capable of doing and it’s helped me here how he plays. They’re kind of similar players in most aspects. I have fun playing with those guys.”

As for what Anisimov brings to that table, he didn’t have an answer again.

“I don’t know,” Anisimov said. “Just do something. Just play hockey, you know.”

Kane and Panarin know.