Blackhawks

Crawford's shutout helps Hawks reach 40th win

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Crawford's shutout helps Hawks reach 40th win

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Posted: 10:01 p.m. Updated: 11:15 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Brent Seabrook wasnt looking to do a Patrick Sharp imitation when he stood in the left circle on a late second-period power play. The defenseman just wanted to get a shot, any shot, past Florida goaltender Tomas Vokoun.

One blistering shot later, he had the game-winner.

Seabrook had a goal and an assist and defensive partner Duncan Keith had two assists as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Florida Panthers 4-0 at the United Center on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks, who won their sixth in a row at home, moved back into fifth place in the Western Conference.

Jonathan Toews notched two assists, giving him a new career high of 44. Viktor Stalberg, taking the injured Sharps spot on the top line, scored his 12th of the season. Patrick Kane and Tomas Kopecky also scored as part of the Blackhawks three-goal third period.

The Blackhawks struggled to get one past Vokoun through nearly two periods, as he stopped the first 21 shots he faced. The power play was off, too, as the Blackhawks got nothing on their first three opportunities.

Then Seabrook came through on the fourth advantage, blasting one from Sharps usual power-play spot in the left point for a 1-0 lead the Blackhawks wouldnt lose.

To be honest I just tried to shoot it as hard as I could, said Seabrook, who wore the A in Sharps absence. Toews made a great pass to Duncan and him to me, and I just tried to let it rip and it ended up in the back of the net.

Corey Crawford did the rest on the other end, stopped all 23 Panthers shots for his fourth shutout of the season. It was a sweeter ending for Crawford, who was pulled after allowing three goals on eight shots against Florida on March 8.

I wasnt happy with the last game I played in Florida, just wanted to come back strong and have a good game against them, Crawford said. You cant force anything, especially against a team like this thats pretty much looking for that. We were waiting for them to push the offense and then we capitalized on it.

And with Florida trying to get back in the third, the Blackhawks did exactly that. Stalberg scored 46 seconds into the final frame, and Kane and Kopecky scored within 5:01 of each other late in regulation.

If you watched (Florida) play (Tuesday) night against the Rangers, it was a very comparable start. We just wanted to make sure we didnt change too much, dont get frustrated, coach Joel Quenneville said. Playing with the lead is a lot more comfortable than playing when its anyones ballgame.
Bowman on Bolland

Stan Bowman talked Wednesday about Blackhawks center Dave Bolland, who is still recovering from a concussion he sustained March 9 in Tampa. Bowman said its just about patience with his recovery.

Were always hopeful these things can progress quickly, Bowman said. Its really hard to say; a lot has been talked about with these kinds of injuries that you dont know. It could be rapid, could be slower. Were optimistic, but its just wait-and-see.

Bowman said he was satisfied with the three-game suspension that Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina got for the elbow the league takes a lot of factors into consideration. I accept the way they handled it. He said the league also made the right decision in the lengthy suspension for Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke.

Looking at reaction from league, other players and Pittsburgh (Penguins) themselves, they all concede thats not the type of play we want in our game, he said. We can talk about rules all we want and implementation of suspensions, but at the end of the day, its the players on the ice doing these things to one another. Theyre the only ones who can stop them from happening. The reaction to the leagues actions has been pretty consistent. Hopefully itll modify the way some players play.

Krugers debut

Center Marcus Kruger played just over 10 minutes in his NHL debut on Wednesday night. That included about a minute of penalty-kill work.

He did all right, Quenneville said. Hes aware positionally and I think his instincts are high-end. I thought it was a good start for him.

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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Could Blackhawks become sellers at trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Could Blackhawks become sellers at trade deadline?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd discuss the Blackhawks’ poor effort vs. Detroit, Corey Crawford’s health and what kind of run they will need to go on to make the Staney Cup playoffs.

Konroyd also weighs in on his roster concerns and whether or not the Blackhawks will be buyers or sellers at the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

Joel Quenneville sends message to Blackhawks going into bye week

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AP

Joel Quenneville sends message to Blackhawks going into bye week

The Blackhawks are in a position they've never been in under Joel Quenneville. It's mid-January and they find themselves below the playoff line.

To make things even more difficult, they'll be sitting at home or on vacation for the next five days while they watch other Western Conference teams accumulate points during their league-mandated bye week. That means when they return to action on Saturday they'll have lots of ground to make up and minimal margin for error.

So while the Blackhawks should certainly use their down time to recharge both mentally and physically, Quenneville's message to his team is very clear.

"Mentally, get away," he said following a 4-0 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. "Relax, I guess. Have a little fun. But hockey still has to be in the back of your mind. It’s still going to be on when you’re out there. Certainly knowing it’s going to take a lot more than what we showed in the first half of the season. We’re going to need everyone going all out every single night to have a chance."

And it's alarmingly true.

Here's what the wild card picture looks like going into Monday:

While just three points separate the Blackhawks from the Wild, the Blackhawks are in the worst position among the six teams in the picture. The Stars, who are already ahead by a point, have one game in hand on the Blackhawks, the Sharks have four and the streaking Avalanche have three. Heck, even the Ducks have a game in hand, which means an extra win would put them above the Blackhawks.

Every point is critical for the Blackhawks, not only because it obviously keeps them in the hunt, but because on game's they fail to collect points, they're scoreboard watching five other teams hoping they're coming away with nothing as well.

The Blackhawks will come out of the bye week with three straight home games, and if they don't play with their backs against the wall from here on out, their nine-year playoff streak could be in serious jeopardy.