Blackhawks

Flyers ground Hawks in Stanley Cup rematch

370105.jpg

Flyers ground Hawks in Stanley Cup rematch

Sunday, Jan. 23, 2011
Posted: 2:04 p.m. Updated: 3:46 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks needed a second consecutive complete game on Sunday. Instead, they got behind in the second period against a Philadelphia Flyers team that was more than ready to capitalize.

Jeff Carter scored twice and Claude Giroux had four assists as the Flyers beat the Blackhawks 4-1, their first meeting since the Stanley Cup Finals. The loss snapped a four-game home winning streak for the Blackhawks, who didnt push back after the Flyers grabbed control in the second period.

Jonathan Toews played nearly 20 minutes one day after he said he sustained a lower-body injury against Detroit. Toews sat out the final few minutes of that game, which the Blackhawks led late, and said the injury was nothing serious; obviously it felt pretty good (today).

I look at it two ways: youre either good enough to go or youre not. I felt I was good enough, Toews said. Whether playing with something or 100 percent, have to find a way to produce.

The Blackhawks, however, couldnt find that way on Sunday. Marian Hossa scored the lone goal, a penalty shot awarded to him after Flyers defenseman Braydon Coburn put his hand on the puck near the crease. But Flyers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky stopped the other 30 shots, most of which were one-time Blackhawks offerings with no second or third attempts.

It seems like there were a few rebounds around him but we couldnt get there, Hossa said. We have to be, especially in these games, maybe more dirty going to the net and get those little rebounds there.

Both teams brought energy and venom in the first period, which ended scoreless. Bryan Bickell and Scott Hartnells fight added a little more fuel to the opening frame.

But the Flyers turned it up in the second period, swarming around Corey Crawford and fighting for those extra shot opportunities. The Flyers went up 1-0 when Carter, in the midst of a scrum, poked the puck past Crawford.

A lot of it comes from good defense, breaking plays up, and getting odd-man rushes, Carter said. I think weve been pretty solid in that area and hopefully we can keep going at it.

The Flyers outshot the Blackhawks 19-9 in the second. Crawford stopped 30 of 33 for the game.

The bottom line is they started to outwork us, Niklas Hjalmarsson said of the second. They played real good, at the same time we didnt play like we did (Saturday). If you have a couple bad moments against a team like Philly theyre going to score on you.

Nikolay Zherdev scored the game-winner, a wraparound, early in the third. Carter scored his after Giroux grabbed an errant Blackhawks pass less than three minutes later.

We werent on the same page and that made it harder to be predictable, especially in the offensive zone, Toews said. We came out flat, and against a team like that its not easy to come back.

More on Toews

Toews played nearly 20 minutes on Sunday, playing through that lower-body injury. Asked if Toews needs to rest on Monday, coach Joel Quenneville said, well see. We have a big game coming up on Tuesday (against Minnesota, so well see whats going on.
The Cup rematch

The Flyers made their first trip back to Chicago since Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals last June. If the Flyers were thinking about redemption, they werent talking about it.

Its obviously nice to beat Chicago with the way last year ended; nothing was said in the room before, Jeff Carter said. Each guy individually knew what was going on today and it was a big two points for us.

While the Blackhawks have had their ups and downs, the Flyers have just been up. Their 69 points leads not only the Eastern Conference, but its also tops in the NHL.

Theyre a top team for a lot of reasons, coach Joel Quenneville said. Theyve got a lot of weapons and their goalie was strong in net.
Marian Hossa's goal on a penalty shot was the first by a Blackhawk at the United Center and the first overall for the franchise since 1987. (AP)
Murrays reign over

When Hossa converted his third-period penalty shot, he became the first Blackhawks player to score one at the United Center. He was also the first Blackhawk to do it in Chicago since Troy Murray, who put one past Minnesota North Stars goaltender Kari Takko on Dec. 30, 1987.

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

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to Oilers: Connor McDavid adds to highlight reel

10-19_mcdavid_blackhawks_usat.jpg
USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to Oilers: Connor McDavid adds to highlight reel

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night:
 
1. Shake-up on power play doesn't work.

Joel Quenneville spruced up his power play units before Wednesday's game in an effort to snap a dry spell, but the Blackhawks had no luck in that department in the second of a back-to-back.

The Blackhawks went 0-for-5 on the man advantage against an Oilers team that was ranked dead last in penalty kill percentage going into the contest, and failed to capitalize on a 5-on-3 opportunity for 56 seconds in the opening minutes of the season period.

They're getting off a fair amount of shots, but the quality of them isn't there.

2. Ryan Hartman fine after brief exit due to illegal hit.

It was a physical game between the Blackhawks-Oilers, but a line was crossed at the 4:59 mark into the second period when Zack Kassian delivered a huge hit on Hartman, who went face-first into the boards.

Kassian was given a two-minute minor penalty for boarding, a call that didn't sit well with the sold-out United Center crowd of 21,444. Hartman went to the locker room to be checked out after the hit despite getting up quickly and showing no visible signs of distress, but he fortunately returned a few shifts later.

It was a dangerous hit by Kassian, and an avoidable one too. 

Quenneville admitted Hartman getting up quickly perhaps may have "helped" keep it a minor penalty and not a five-minute major, but the Blackhawks coach wasn't focused on that after seeing the result unfold.

"I saw how hard it looked," Quenneville said. "But Hartzy getting up right away, that helped. You don't even measure it anymore after that. That's the one thing you're hopeful for right off the bat."
 
3. Connor McDavid adds another play to highlight reel.

We're only two weeks into the season, but the 20-year-old reigning Hart Trophy winner submitted an early entry for Assist of the Year.

Late in the first period, McDavid flew from his own end into the offensive zone, made a spin-o-rama move on two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith and backhanded a perfect pass to Patrick Maroon, who tapped in a goal at the doorstep.

It looks impossible to defend from anyone watching, and Keith pretty much felt the same way.

"When he gets the speed in the other end there and he's able to skate all the way down, it's tough to stop a guy especially when he's that fast," Keith said. "He's just flying through the middle. I'm just a sitting duck there at the other end of the ice waiting for him to come full speed. It's a hard play to defend against."
 
4. Anton Forsberg sharp again.

It's a small sample size, but the Blackhawks' backup goaltender has looked really sharp in practically every start he's had in a Chicago uniform, including preseason.

He deserved a better fate in his regular season debut last week in Toronto when he stopped 39 of 43 shots in an overtime loss, and the same applied here.

Forsberg tied a career-high with 40 saves, and seemingly got better as the game went on.

"I for sure felt more comfortable, felt like I was more used to the speed," Forsberg said. "It's tough again to lose in overtime, obviously I wanted a win and that's kind of frustrating."

"Excellent games, both games," Quenneville said of his goaltender. "Would've been nice to get him a win tonight."
 
5. Jordan Oesterle keeps it simple in debut.

The Blackhawks' crowded blue line has made it difficult for Quenneville to give all eight defensemen a fair amount of playing time, but Oesterle took advantage of his season debut.

He logged 15:01 of ice time, registered three shot attempts (two on goal), and blocked two shots.

"I liked him," Quenneville said. "Moves the puck."

Said Keith: "I thought he was good. Tough situation for him, he hasn't played all year in a game but I thought he played good. He's got good poise, he's smart back there."

Power play woes continue for Blackhawks in OT loss to Oilers

trahawks.png
USA TODAY

Power play woes continue for Blackhawks in OT loss to Oilers

Mark Letestu raised his arms in celebration, his 4-on-3 power-play goal giving the Edmonton Oilers an overtime victory over the Blackhawks. The home team could only look on in frustration, knowing that if it could have just converted one power play on Thursday it may have been a different result.

Five more power plays, five more opportunities that yielded nothing for the Blackhawks, who are now 6-for-39 (15.4 percent) in that department on the season. The 5-on-4 chances were tough enough but coach Joel Quenneville and several Blackhawks pointed specifically to the 5-on-3 the Blackhawks had for 56 seconds.

“The 5-on-3, we had some great looks around the net,” Quenneville said. “A lot of loose pucks that we just didn’t find the handle [on], we’re not anticipating or sniffing them out around the net. Some close looks but no finish.”

It’s been a recurring theme for the Blackhawks on the power play, and not just this year. Again, in the past the Blackhawks didn’t sweat any power-play issues much; their 5-on-5 scoring was usually strong. This early season, however, things have quieted on that front. On Thursday the Blackhawks cleaned up a lot of the mistakes they made against the St. Louis Blues the previous night. Anton Forsberg was terrific. The Blackhawks’ second line of Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane was looking like it did prior to Schmaltz’s injury. But the power play remained the same.

“Yeah, we had a lot of chances, we made plays to the net. We just didn’t capitalize on the power play which would’ve been the difference,” Ryan Hartman said. “We have a chance on the 5-on-3, which would’ve been nice. Just some chances all around, like [Jonathan] Toews’ shot that just squeaked by. Just some missed opportunities.”

The Blackhawks have looked at ways to get their power play going. They’ve tinkered with personnel – the latest was keeping the top two lines together for their respective power-play shifts. Usually it’s come down to the problems that have hampered them before: not enough movement, not enough shots, not enough hunger around the net for loose pucks. The final issue was especially prevalent on Thursday.

The chances were there on the power play. The home team had the bulk of the opportunities. The visiting one had the finish.

“The 5-on-3 we had some decent looks but that was a chance to get a huge goal for us,” Quenneville said. “The power play late in the second was decent, the third was ordinary, but we’ve been moving personnel around. We have the ingredients to make it work but a lot of loose pucks we didn’t get in our 5-on-5 game comparable around the net on the power play as well. We didn’t smell anything out around there.”