Blackhawks

Blackhawks can't solve Luongo, trail series 1-0

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Blackhawks can't solve Luongo, trail series 1-0

Thursday, April 14, 2011
Posted: April 13, 11:40 p.m. Updated: 1:02 a.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia The Chicago Blackhawks know exactly what kind of start they needed to have against a hungry Vancouver Canucks team eager to knock them out.

Nevertheless, when the Canucks hit, the Blackhawks didnt hit back in the early going. And over the final 40 minutes, they just couldnt come up with any other answers.

Chris Higgins and Jannik Hansen scored in the first period and the Blackhawks could get nothing past Roberto Luongo in their 2-0 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in the Western Conference quarterfinal opener. The Canucks took a 1-0 lead in the series, setting the tone early and letting Luongo do the rest down the stretch.

WATCH: Luongo more lucky or good?

It was a tough start. In the first they came at us in waves and we had no response, coach Joel Quenneville said. (We needed) more urgency right off the bad. The first playoff game, pace is not regular season. Its all out.

Corey Crawford stopped 31 of 33 shots in the loss.

Canucks initiated contact on Crawford

Despite the venom between the two teams and the atmosphere, the Blackhawks came out flat. The Canucks came out determined and hitting, eventually recording 47 hits to the Blackhawks 21. It was a physical beginning that the Blackhawks expected from the Canucks, but for which they had no answer.

Its something we need to respond to. We cant just lay around and take that, said captain Jonathan Toews. Throughout the game we werent moving our feet enough. We make ourselves easy targets for those checks. We didnt play hard enough in their corners and in front of their net.

The Blackhawks got more opportunities after the first period. But there they were either snake-bitten or didnt get quality opportunities. The Blackhawks hit four posts one Toews shot went through Luongos legs, then hit metal but they also got little traffic in front of the Vancouver goaltender.

I dont think we sustained enough of a fore-check throughout the game to have a solid net presence and solid traffic, said Troy Brouwer. We had some shots from the outside but most of them he was able to see. For us, we didnt accomplish that at all. Its one of a few things were going to have to improve upon in Game 2.

Campbell: We're not going to shy away

Still, Luongo was stellar. His best save came late in the first period, when he made a right-toe stop on Brian Campbells one-timer. Campbell thought he had scored, but the shot went off Luongos toe, hit the post and stayed out.

I was hoping (I scored), Campbell said. He didnt get all of it. He made a great save, but I shot it back into his toe and it hit his toe and off the post. There was room there. Hes a world-class goaltender and hes going to be tough to beat. But we have to find ways to get past him.

The Blackhawks didnt have the urgency necessary to start out Game 1. Theyll need it throughout for Game 2.
Patrick Kane battles two Canucks up along the boards in Game 1. The Blackhawks understand the need to match Vancouver's physical play and win more battles for the puck. (US PRESSWIRE)
We came out a little bit flat. They came out, they played hard and they had something to prove. They wanted to have a good start and they did, Brouwer said. We played a little bit better in the second but we need to have a better start otherwise were going to be coming from behind this entire series.

Briefly

Tomas Kopecky suffered an upper-body injury late in the first period and did not return. Quenneville said theyll re-evaluate Kopecky on Thursday.

Ryan Johnson was injured by a hit along the boards late in the third period. He stayed on the bench but did not play another shift. Quenneville said he is fine.

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

Eight-defensemen rotation tricky, but Blackhawks understand juggling act

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USA TODAY

Eight-defensemen rotation tricky, but Blackhawks understand juggling act

For Jordan Oesterle, the wait really wasn’t a terrible thing.

Sure, he was used to playing more consistently in the past. But he knew with the Blackhawks carrying eight defensemen that several players, including him, would need to practice patience and understanding.

“It hasn’t been too long. It’s only been a week and a half so it’s not terrible,” said Oesterle on Thursday morning, a few hours before he made his Blackhawks debut against his former team, the Edmonton Oilers.

For the second consecutive season the Blackhawks are going with eight defensemen to start the season. In one way, it’s good: if anything goes awry, be it someone’s game or someone’s health, the depth is readily there.

But so are the challenges. It’s a juggling act, a delicate balance between making the right decisions and making sure a player understands that a scratch may be more about the rotation and not his individual game.

Communication, above all, is key.

“It’s not easy being the guys who are in or out, right on that bubble situation where you come in not knowing if you’re going to play. But as a staff we want to keep everyone involved,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We know the depth of your defense is going to get challenged at some point during the year. We feel the eight guys who are here can play but that’s how we’ve always done it: We’ve always let guys know whether you’re in or out. Sometimes you have to be more patient than you’d like but handling it the right way, whether you’re a good pro or teammate, that can be healthy around the environment of your team.”

Based on all outward appearances, everyone has handled it well. Connor Murphy has been a healthy scratch twice – “I mean I just want to see the team win really...if we're winning and guys are playing well that's all that matter,” Murphy said after his first scratch.

Oesterle was a healthy scratch the first seven games. Michal Kempny, who Oesterle replaced, has been scratched the last two games. Cody Franson has also sat seven games. Franson, whose patience has been in place while awaiting contracts in his career, is practicing it again. But he’s appreciated the Blackhawks’ communication on it.

“This situation gets tough when they don’t say anything to you; you don’t know if it’s because of the way you’re playing, you don’t know if it’s something you did or what the situation is. The coaching staff has done a great job of being in our ear, letting us leave our work at the rink and not take it home with us,” Franson said. “That goes a long way in being able to stay positive and in the right mindset through it.”

After starting with eight defensemen last season the Blackhawks eventually went back to seven. Will they do that again this season? Maybe, but whoever gets sent down would most likely have to go through waivers. The Blackhawks reassigned Gustav Forsling last season to get back to seven defensemen and get Forsling more playing time. But this season Forsling and Jan Rutta have been dependable and have pretty much become the Blackhawks’ second pairing.

So for now, eight defensemen it shall be. Being part of the rotation isn’t always easy but so far players seem to get that it’s for the greater good.

“It’s one of those things where we’ve got eight quality guys. I think no matter who’s sitting on any given night, it might not necessary be due to how they’re playing or how they’re doing individually,” Franson said. “I think Q’s done a great job of managing that situation. That’s one of those things where it’s a great problem to have but it’s not an easy one to handle. So we’re all aware of what’s taking place right now and you just try to be as professional about it as you can.”

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 win over Coyotes: Puck don't lie

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 win over Coyotes: Puck don't lie

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night:
 
1. Surviving a crazy first period.

The Blackhawks committed four penalties in the opening frame within a 2:18 span, and escaped unscathed from it despite a pair of 5-on-3 opportunities for the Coyotes.

Of course, the only goal allowed in the period came from a fluke deflection off Jordan Oesterle's stick and slipped underneath Corey Crawford's five-hole.

Joel Quenneville likes to say the team that takes advantage of their 5-on-3 opportunities has a pretty good chance to win the game. It applied in this case, with the Blackhawks coming out victorious after surviving that stretch.

2. Power play comes alive early.

The Blackhawks got off on the right foot in an area that has been an issue for them this season, capitalizing on their first power play of the game 24 seconds into it when Richard Panik redirected a Jonathan Toews shot that tricked past Louis Domingue.

Good thing too, because it was the only man advantage they'd get. Well, excluding the power play they received with 17 seconds left in regulation when the game was already decided. 
 
3. Another controversial review in Arizona.

What's with it with controversial reviews in Arizona and the Blackhawks being on the wrong end of the call?

The Blackhawks appeared to have taken a 3-1 lead when Tommy Wingels converted on a penalty shot, but it was overturned after officials reviewed it and determined the Coyotes netminder got a stick on Wingels' initial shot. Replays didn't exactly show conclusive evidence, but the NHL released a statement proving otherwise:

Video review determined that Wingels shot the puck into the net after Arizona goaltender Louis Domingue made contact with the puck. According to Rule 24.2, "No goal can be scored on a rebound of any kind."

Shortly after, the Coyotes scored in the final minutes of the period to even up the score at 2-2 in a big turn of events at the time.
 
4. ... But puck don't lie.

The overturned penalty shot didn't matter in the end though, because the Blackhawks came away with the victory and Wingels ended up getting his first goal after all on an empty netter that iced the game.

It was Wingels' first goal as a member of his hometown team, and it was well deserved for a guy who was part of the fourth line that turned in arguably their best performance of the season.
 
5. Lance Bouma rewarded with game-winning goal.

Speaking of which, it was fitting that Bouma scored the game winner with 4:24 left in the third period because that trio of Bouma, Wingels and John Hayden was around the net for the majority of the night.

They combined for two goals and two assists, had eight attempts shot attempts (five on goal), eight of the team's 16 hits and four blocked shots.