Blackhawks

Bickell has wrist surgery, will miss 6-8 weeks

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Bickell has wrist surgery, will miss 6-8 weeks

Monday, April 25, 2011
Posted: 5:34 p.m. Updated: 8:46 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Blackhawks have ridden the roller-coaster of teammate emotions during this series against the Vancouver Canucks. Theyve experienced euphoria when Dave Bolland returned for Game 4. They dealt with frustration and anger at the two-game loss of Brent Seabrook. And now theyre taking a downturn on that ride again.

Bryan Bickell underwent surgery today to repair a lacerated tendon in his wrist that he suffered in Game 2, Dr. Michael Terry said in a statement today. Bickell, who according to the statement just wanted to play as much as he could before the inevitable surgery, will fully recover in 6-8 weeks.

Its just one more thing for the Blackhawks, who got into the playoffs thanks to Minnesota, struggled without the checking and stabilizing abilities of Bolland and played inspired hockey without Seabrook. Bickell has brought his own strong outings to these playoffs, as hes been part of that successful checking (and scoring) line with Bolland and Michael Frolik.

Oh yeah, and then theres a Game 7 and a likely very angry Vancouver Canucks team to contend with on Tuesday night. Half this team went through the Stanley Cup playoff fire last season. Consider this one more test for them and the new Blackhawks, some of whom have caught up quickly in these playoffs.

So what do the Blackhawks do now? Theyll have to take the approach they have these last three games, regardless of who has or hasnt been in the lineup: its another elimination game, theyre a man down and they need everyone to contribute and play their best road game of this series.

The Blackhawks did that in Game 5. From Duncan Keiths monster night on one end of the ice to Corey Crawfords 36 stops at the other, the Blackhawks were focused. They need that again.

We think all year long weve been effective on the road, Quenneville said following Sundays Game 6 overtime victory that forced this Game 7. We want to sustain it, keep it. We expect a fun building.

One mans fun building is anothers hostile environment with a very angry team on the other side. The Canucks played arguably their best game of the series on Sunday and barely lost. Despite all the talk of mind blocks and unknown starting goaltenders, the Canucks are going to come out angry, determined and opportunistic. The Blackhawks cant expect anything less.

The Blackhawks won on Sunday despite their top players once again going quiet. Their top line was Bollands, which supplied three regulation goals. Rookie Ben Smith, who now has three goals this postseason as many as Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp combined was the surprising overtime hero. Coaches always welcome checking-line scoring. Its a bonus. But he needs his top lines to do it.

The legs have to be there, too. Henrik Sedin said after Game 6 that the Blackhawks were tired. Considering the Hawks third and overtime, he may be onto something. Facing one-goal deficits a couple times on Sunday, the Blackhawks forwards got a lot of work. Some were double-shifting. John Scott, thrown on the fourth line to keep the peace, played just one minute.

Now theyre minus another forward and someone will have to step in with Bolland and Frolik. Those two still have great chemistry and they should probably stay together at this point.

The Blackhawks have already had to deal with some things in this series. A good deal of it was self-inflicted, with their going down 0-3 to the No. 1 Canucks. Still, theyve worked regulars back into the lineup, worked around injuries and worked their way back. Theyre on the verge of making history, becoming this seasons Philadephia Flyers. Theyve dug down deep once or twice already. Theyll have to do it at least one more time.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Are Blackhawks starting to find their early season form again?

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USA TODAY

Are Blackhawks starting to find their early season form again?

The goals came in bunches for the Blackhawks in their Oct. 5 season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins. For the Blackhawks, it was a nice memory, albeit one that seems far away given they went from scoring at will through their first two games to not being able to buy a goal for a sizeable stretch.

As for the Penguins, well, you figure their memoires of that game means they’ll be more than a little ticked off when the Blackhawks arrive on Saturday night.

“We’ve been on the wrong side of a few losses like that,” Patrick Sharp said. “You certainly remember them more than other losses.”

This is kind of/sort of about the Penguins, who in the first meeting were clearly tired not only from two Stanley Cup runs but also from their season opener/banner raising the prior night. But it’s more about the Blackhawks who, after a lengthy scoring drought, are starting to get their offense going again (15 goals in their last three games).

And while they’d like to shore up their defense – they blew a 4-1 lead vs. New Jersey and just about did it again vs. the New York Rangers – overall they’re trending in the right direction. And just as they face the team against whom they played their best game of the season.

“I’m sure [the Penguins] will be excited about playing us and making things better. They’re playing well, winning some games. For [us], we’re looking for more consistency in our game with the puck and we’re generating some offense,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I still think it has some ways to improve. That was one night, whether it was the quality of the plays we made or [what], we seemed like we had the puck a lot and did some good things with it. We haven’t seen much of that lately so I think that maybe we can recapture a little bit of that with the puck as well.”

In the past three games the Blackhawks haven’t just reignited their offense, they’ve regained their confidence. Their lines are finding some chemistry. As frustrating as their scoring drought was, they’re hoping it’s behind them.

“At some point in the season I feel like every team goes through it, either in the beginning, the middle or toward the end. You just don’t want to have it right at the end of the season,” Ryan Hartman said. “You can look at it in in a positive way. Hopefully we got that part over with and now we’re just coming in confident and hopefully we put the puck in the net.”

The Blackhawks got off to a hot goal-scoring start against the Penguins by doing the right things: shooting, pouncing on rebounds, getting traffic in front of the net and capitalizing. As they head into their 20th game of the season, the Blackhawks are finally getting back to what worked so well in Game 1.

“Things dried up for a bit but I think we have a good rotation going here with the lines; the chemistry’s starting to fill in a little bit. Some guys are stepping up. [Artem] Anisimov had a big night and Brinsky’s [Alex DeBrincat] playing great. It’s good to see those guys step up. It makes you want to be that next guy who’s called up to step up in the next game,” Patrick Kane said. “It’s good to see some goals go into the net. More important, it’s good to see some wins. But we’re playing the right way and hopefully this will trend in the right direction for us.”

Reasons to be optimistic about a Blackhawks turnaround

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USA TODAY

Reasons to be optimistic about a Blackhawks turnaround

It's mid-November, and the Blackhawks are on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It's unfamiliar territory for Chicago, which is accustomed to seeing its team as a perrenial Western Conference favorite and Stanley Cup contender.

Since starting the season 3-0-1, the Blackhawks are 6-8-1 in their last 15 games and haven't won more than two in a row yet. It's a little concerning.

But there are reasons to be optimistic about a potential turnaround.

Let's start with the obvious concern: The offense.

If you take away the first two games in which they combined for 15 goals, the Blackhawks would rank 27th in the league in goals per game (2.59). They also went through a stretch where they scored only two goals or fewer in nine of 12 games.

Since then, the Blackhawks have erupted for 15 goals in three games and they're continuing to generate shots at a high rate.

In their last nine contests, the Blackhawks are averaging 38.9 shots per game and rank fifth overall at 34.6. The problem on offense has never been the quantity of shots, it's the quality. They're slowly starting to get both.

And the weird part is? Patrick Kane has four goals in his past 17 games, Duncan Keith has zero goals in 19 games this season, Brandon Saad has one goal in his last 13 and Jonathan Toews has two goals in his last 14, one of which was an empty netter. Those are Chicago's top four horses who are struggling collectively to get on the scoresheet.

Their individual track records suggest they won't stay dry forever.

The Blackhawks' recent offensive hot streak is being spearheaded by role players such as Artem Anisimov (eight goals in his last nine games) and Alex DeBrincat (six goals in seven games this month), the latter of whom has emerged as a darkhorse candidate for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie. While it would be unfair to expect him to continue scoring at a goal-per-game pace, DeBrincat's emergence shows he's starting to get comfortable in the NHL and we're seeing exactly what he can bring to the table.

The biggest reason the Blackhawks are staying afloat while the offense figures itself out is the elite goaltending they're getting from Corey Crawford.

Chicago is giving up 33.8 shots per game, which is fourth-most, yet Crawford is making an early case for the Vezina Trophy, sitting at fifth with a 2.26 goals against average and tied for second with a .930 save percentage, including two shutouts.

If there are any doubts about Crawford coming back down to earth, he had a 92.99 save percentage at even-strength last year and 93.32 in 2015-16. Through 16 appearances this season, he's actually a bit below that at 92.47, according to naturalstattrick.com.

Now, in the previous two seasons, the Blackhawks averaged 31.4 and 30.8 shots against, respectively, but the point remains the same that you can consistently count on Crawford playing at a high level.

Did we mention the Blackhawks have the sixth-best penalty kill percentage (82.9) dating back to Oct. 29, 2016? That's a great combination, especially when you have one of the league's best goaltenders to bail you out at times.

Ultimately, the Blackhawks' success hinges on their star players playing like it. Once they get going, the rest will follow. The question is, when will that happen?