Blackhawks

Crawford can't save listless Hawks

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Crawford can't save listless Hawks

RALEIGH, N.C. Coach Joel Quenneville warned his team about this.

He knew the Carolina Hurricanes would come out fast, they would come out hungry and the Blackhawks had better be ready for it.

The Hurricanes did, and the Blackhawks werent.

Corey Crawford was strong once again but the rest of the Blackhawks were stymied in a 3-0 loss to the Hurricanes on Friday night. The Blackhawks struggled out of the gate and didnt challenge Carolina goaltender Cam Ward with enough tough shots.

Quenneville did not like the Blackhawks compete level or lack thereof.

We got dominated in all areas and we werent very good tonight, he said. They were the more determined team and that was clear from the outset. I didnt like how we played.

Tim Brent, Brandon Sutter and Jiri Tlusty scored for the Hurricanes. The Blackhawks fired 30 shots at Ward but most were of the distant and unscreened variety.

We were playing against one of the top goalies in the league. We made it fairly easy on him, shots from the oustide and not a whole lot of traffic, Patrick Sharp said. Maybe were being too cute up there. Sometimes simple is the best.

Jonathan Toews, who was stopped on a breakaway in the second period, said Ward saw everything. Hes one of those goalies thats so technically sound and he also has that coordination and quick reaction. When we had guys at the net we tried to make plays instead of shooting the puck. We have to be a better judge of when to let those shots go and get traffic there.

The Blackhawks came up empty on three power plays, although they had their best chances on that final advantage. Still, Carolina made them pay as that last one ended, with Sutter streaking out of the box for a breakaway goal and a 2-0 lead.

Crawford, meanwhile, was once again giving the Blackhawks a chance at the other end. He stopped 30 of 33 shots, getting beat on Brents double-deflected goal, Sutters breakway and Tlustys 2-on-1 score. He also stopped an Eric Staal penalty shot.

He was great again, Sharp said. The guys in front of him could be better to put some pucks on net and score some goals for him.

The Blackhawks had a lousy game. They were on a seven-game point streak entering this one, so it was bound to happen at some point. The Blackhawks werent using that as an excuse and Quenneville wasnt worried about the one-game total lack of compete. But theyd rather not repeat the same mistakes again on Saturday night.

Everyone still wants to be best they can be. (The Hurricanes) may have come off a game where they were disappointed, but tonight they were certainly better than us.

Emerys chance?

Ray Emery hasnt played since the Blackhawks third game of the season, but it looks like he may get another shot Saturday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Emery has done his best to be prepared.

Youre just working on different things and brushing up on certain areas, said Emery, who was coming off a flu bug when he helped the Blackhawks beat Winnipeg 4-3 on Oct. 13. But when the game comes around it helps to do your homework and study that teams top players. Obviously if theres a layover between games, you have to make sure youre sharp. But you can compensate in those other areas.

Emery may also debut his new goaltending mask, which he just got Friday morning.

Welcome back: Return to the booth is Eddie Olczyk's 'best medicine'

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Welcome back: Return to the booth is Eddie Olczyk's 'best medicine'

ST. LOUIS – Eddie Olczyk’s morning at Scottrade Center was full of hugs and handshakes, of questions and encouraging words, of smiles and even some tears.

It was a busy morning but a good one for Olczyk, who Wednesday night will do his first hockey broadcast since being diagnosed with colon cancer in August. For the first time in a while, Olczyk felt like himself.

“It feels normal. It feels comfortable,” said Olczyk, who will be alongside Doc Emrick when the Blackhawks face the St. Louis Blues. “I just feel invigorated. Seeing a lot of familiar faces, guys busting chops and a lot of well wishes.”

Olczyk went through his usual game-day routine, including quick chats with Blackhawks players following skate. On Wednesday those talks were that much more special, for both sides.

“Great to see him,” said Ryan Hartman. “When I first saw I was pretty excited to see him back. It’s definitely a presence you know when you’re watching games, that voice you heard growing up. He looks good, looks healthy. He’s in a battle but he looks really good.”

Olczyk will also be in the booth on Thursday night when the Blackhawks host the Edmonton Oilers. Past that, he’ll play it by ear. He’s talked to NBC and Blackhawks president John McDonough, who Olczyk said gave him an “open canvas” in terms of scheduling. If Olczyk feels good on Saturday and the Blackhawks play on Sunday, he’ll try to get back in the booth.

“We think about him every day and we’ve had the pleasure of having him come by a couple of times. Having him be here today for a road game is great to know,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “But he has a tough battle ahead of him and he’s doing everything he can to fight it. We support him every single day.”

Olczyk started chemotherapy treatments in September and he has his good and bad days. Those will continue for a while. So will his fight to completely beat this. But for at least the next two nights Olczyk gets to return to a normal routine, and that’s the perfect panacea for a trying time.

“I’m overwhelmed with everybody,” Olczyk said. “But this is the best medicine I’ve had in a long time.”

Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

Lance Bouma took his place at fourth-line left wing as the Blackhawks rolled their forward rushes on Tuesday morning. As the Blackhawks have tinkered with their trios, Bouma, whose final two seasons with the Calgary Flames were filled with uncertainty, has found a consistent role in this lineup.

“Obviously I was brought here for a reason,” Bouma said. “Things didn’t go the way I wanted them to in Calgary. To come here to Chicago and have that role, it’s been a lot of fun so far.”

The Blackhawks knew what they wanted from Bouma and his fellow fourth liners: some physical play, some energy and if there are any scoring opportunities, bonus. It’s a second chance for Bouma, whose contract was terminated by the Flames on June 30.

“I think it’s definitely a motivator knowing that you get in that situation where all of a sudden, ‘OK, I have to almost start over again and I have to prove to a new team that I belong in this league and I can play,’” coach Joel Quenneville said on Tuesday. “There are always circumstances where teams make decisions like that. We’ve been a part of it. And moving forward as a player, you’ve gotta look at it as a fresh opportunity. It’s an opportunity to get back to playing your game.”

After recording 16 goals and 18 assists in the 2014-15 season, Bouma signed a three-year, $6.6 million deal with the Flames. The next two seasons didn’t go as planned as Bouma dealt with injuries, inconsistent play and healthy scratches. So getting that call from the Blackhawks was a huge lift.

“I was just looking forward to a fresh start and something new,” he said. “I just was ready to come into camp and have a great season and it’s been great so far.”

[MORE: Eddie Olczyk expected to return to broadcasting booth this week

Tommy Wingels, who has centered the Blackhawks’ fourth line the last several games – and will again vs. St. Louis on Wednesday – said Bouma looks “refreshed” this season.

“Obviously whether it’s a team doesn’t want to bring you back or it’s a trade or buyout, there’s certainly something that deep down gets you going,” Wingels said. “I think it was a good summer for him mentally to come to a new organization, come to a new group of guys and re-establish his game. It’s tough when you’re with the same coaches, same team for so long; maybe what you do gets taken for granted. He looks good and he’s skating really well and I think he moves really well for a big man. He’s strong on the pucks and he’s a good asset for us.

Bouma isn’t here to be a top-six player. He’s not here to fulfill a contract that he no longer has. The Blackhawks needed depth, energy and a physical presence and in brining that, Bouma has earned steady work.  

“We knew the player coming in that we wanted him to play that style and he’s done a good job of it, too,” Quenneville said of Bouma. “So it’s something we were looking for in our needs and it fit perfectly."