Blackhawks

Brouwer's net presence effective for Blackhawks

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Brouwer's net presence effective for Blackhawks

Monday, Feb. 14, 2011
Posted 2:58 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Troy Brouwer was making a pest of himself in front of Phoenix goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov on Saturday night. Down 2-0 at the time, the Blackhawks needed equalizers and a presence there.

Brouwer supplied both, getting the Blackhawks first power-play goal and providing the perfect screen for Duncan Keiths tying one.

Screener, deflector, target, whatever the label, Brouwer has been effective when hes been a net presence. And the Blackhawks will need that nuisance factor during this stretch run where every goal, every point, every game is so critical.

Hes a target that we know is going to be in front of the net and hopefully we dont hit him and we hit the mesh, defenseman Brian Campbell said. He causes traffic down low and finds an open area. Thats what good goal-scorers do and he can do that in a lot of ways. Hes just great at deflecting pucks and works hard.

Brouwer has 16 goals this season, six shy of his career-high of 22 last season, and a good chunk of those have come from right in front. Brouwer said the net work comes from a message he got as a kid.

I had a coach when I was younger who said, if you dont play in front of the net, youre not going to play. Since a young age Ive always been one of the bigger guys, Brouwer said. Its just a job you get accustomed to.

And its a job thats reaped he and the Blackhawks rewards when its been there. Coach Joel Quenneville said it is imperative it continues, especially on the advantage.

I thought (Brouwers) positioning was great (on Saturday). That was the reason why we scored the tying goal was his presence in front of the net, he said. Whether its him or (Tomas Kopecky), its the difference in how effective we are on the power play.
Desperate times
The Blackhawks have 26 games remaining to make waves and get back into the Wests top eight. And the critical label has been slapped on every one of these games.

We really havent given ourselves any room for anything right now. We have to win and we have to win in a good amount here, Brouwer said. If we dont put together a couple of wins here, its going to be almost impossible for us to get back into the playoffs.

READ: Former Hawk Versteeg traded to Philly

The Blackhawks need to be especially diligent at home, where theyll play their next three games. But right now, winning anywhere would be good.

Its critical to win as many games as possible, whether home on the road, Campbell said. We probably need a near-perfect home schedule. Theres no time to have any lapses at this point. We have to come out strong.

Hossa healing

Marian Hossa said hes feeling better after suffering the flu during the Blackhawks victory over Edmonton on Wednesday.

It wasnt fun, said Hossa. I threw up through the second and third periods. I had two days rest (before playing in Phoenix) and they gave me an IV and the next day I felt pretty good. Im feeling much better.

Updates

Patrick Kane and Jake Dowell were out with the flu and defenseman Duncan Keith took a maintenance day on Monday. Quenneville expects all three of them to be back for Tuesdays practice.

Fernando Pisani (upper body) is still day to day and Ryan Johnson (upper body) is on injured reserve.

Line change

Dave Bolland centered a line with Michael Frolik and Marian Hossa on Monday. Quenneville said theyll give that line a try on Wednesday night against the Minnesota Wild.

Theyll get quality ice time and were going to need that line to be effective for us, said Quenneville. Hopefully that line can have the puck a little bit more. I thought the last game (Hossa) played he did have the puck a lot more and was more of a factor.

Frolik, who was acquired on Wednesday from Florida, was working with assistant coach Mike Kitchen long after his Blackhawks teammates were done on Monday.

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

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' overtime loss to Lightning: Missed opportunities and one too many penalties

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday night:
 
1. One too many penalties.

The Blackhawks flirted with danger in the first period when they handed the Lightning three straight continuous power plays, a four-minute double minor high-sticking penalty from John Hayden and a Jonathan Toews hooking call that resulted in a 5-on-3 opportunity for Tampa Bay for 43 seconds. 

The penalty kill unit that ranked fourth in the league entering the matchup, however, killed off all three of those penalties against the NHL's top-ranked power play, and did so in commanding fashion.

The Blackhawks went 5-for-5 on the penalty kill in regulation, but couldn't stop the sixth one — a questionable slashing call on Nick Schmaltz —  in overtime when Brayden Point buried the winner on a 4-on-3 opportunity.

It was also interesting that Jon Cooper elected to go with four forwards (Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Point and Steven Stamkos) and zero defensemen during that man advantage, putting all of his offensive weapons out on the ice. It's something more teams should do in that situation.

2. Patrick Kane gets going.

After scoring just one goal in his previous 10 games, Kane found the back of the net twice in the opening frame against Tampa Bay and stayed hot against a team he historically plays well against. And he nearly netted a hat trick in overtime but couldn't cash in on a breakaway opportunity.

Kane has 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 14 career regular-season games against the Lightning, and extended his point streak to five games. He has three goals and four assists over that stretch.

We wrote about how important it is for the Blackhawks' superstars to get going again with the offensive contributions mainly coming from role players as of late, and Kane getting into a groove is a perfect step in that direction.

3. How about that goaltending battle?

Corey Crawford and Andrei Vasilevskiy showed us exactly why they belong in the Vezina Trophy discussion, and as of this moment, it's hard not to include both of them as finalists. They put on a goaltending clinic, seemingly topping the other as the game went on.

The two teams combined for 71 scoring chances, and Crawford and Vasilevskiy came up big when their teams need them the most.

Crawford finished with 35 saves on 38 shots (.921 save percentage) in the loss while Vasilevskiy stopped 29 of 31 (.935 save percentage), and improved to 15-2-1 on the season. 

4. Missed opportunities.

You couldn't have asked for a better start for the Blackhawks. They scored the first goal 3:49 into the game and the second on the power play at 15:54, killed off three penalties, including a 5-on-3, had 24 shot attempts (13 on goal) compared to the Lightning's 16 attempts (11 on goal) and led in even-strength scoring chances 9-6.

It was a different story the rest of the way.

The Blackhawks took their foot off the gas pedal a bit and let the Lightning back in the game by getting away from what they do best, and that's control the puck. Obviously, you expected the league's best offense to push back and it's certainly not an easy task to keep them off the scoresheet all together. 

But the Blackhawks had their chances to stay in front or retake the lead and just couldn't bury them. Tampa Bay had 50 shot attempts from the second period on while the Blackhawks had only 32, and finished with 44 scoring chances compared to Chicago's 27.

5. Richard Panik in the doghouse?

Joel Quenneville didn't go to his line blender in this one, but he did shorten some leashes. Panik, most notably, had a season-low 12:28 of ice time in the loss and had 15 shifts, which was second-fewest only to Ryan Hartman (13) on the team.

Panik had a prime chance to break a 2-2 tie in the third period but was denied by Vasilevskiy, who made a remarkable left-pad save. Instead, Panik extended his goal drought to 12 games and didn't get a shift in overtime.

He's certainly better and will get his scoring chances when playing on the top line with Toews and Brandon Saad, but the missed opportunities are magnified in tight losses. It doesn't look like a move down in the lineup is coming given the success of Alex DeBrincat, who gives the Blackhawks an offensive weapon on the third line, but perhaps it should be considered.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit first-place Lightning

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit first-place Lightning

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos.

There hasn't been a more dynamic duo in the NHL so far this season than Kucherov and Stamkos, who have combined for 68 points (27 goals, 41 assists) through 20 games, and sit first and second in the scoring race.

They've each recorded a point in every game except three — which coincidentally have been the same games — and they've lost all three of those contests. Kucherov has also scored a goal in 15 of 20 games this season. That's absurd when you consider he's scoring on a consistent basis; it's not like they're coming in spurts.

To put all that into perspective, he reached the 17-goal mark in his 36th game last year and still finished second in the league with 40 goals. He hit the 17-goal mark in 16 fewer games this season. How many can he realistically finish with? 60?

2. Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews.

Tampa Bay knows how dangerous Chicago's dynamic duo can be as well, as evidenced in the 2015 Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks' superstars know how to get up for a big game.

In 13 career regular-season games against the Lightning, Kane has 18 points (six goals, 12 assists). Toews has 14 points (eight goals, six assists) in 14 games.

They're both producing at or above a point-per-game pace, and they're going to need more of that against this powerhouse Lightning team.

3. Something's gotta give.

Tampa Bay's offensive prowess is off the charts up and down the lineup. It has four lines that can come at you at waves, and a strong, active blue line led by potential Norris Trophy finalist Viktor Hedman and Calder Trophy candidate Mikhail Sergachev.

Although Chicago allows the fourth-most shots per game (34.0), it actually hasn't been bad at preventing goals — a large reason for that is Corey Crawford. 

The Lightning rank first in goals per game (3.95) and first in power play percentage (28.0) while the Blackhawks rank sixth in goals against per game (2.65) and four in penalty kill percentage (84.9).

Who's going to crack first?