Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: Blackhawks lighting up the scoreboard

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Hawk Talk: Blackhawks lighting up the scoreboard

Sunday, March 5, 2011
Posted: 10:40 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

TORONTO Goaltender Corey Crawford wasnt tremendously busy at the start of the Blackhawks victory over Toronto on Saturday. So he must have enjoyed watching the scoring show at the other end.

Our guys, its incredible the way were scoring goals, said Crawford, who like any goaltender appreciates the big number on his teams side of the scoreboard. Obviously our top lines been unbelievable, probably one of the best in the league. But the other lines are smart and making the right plays.

It wasnt that long ago the Blackhawks offensive game was buoyed by three guys: No. 1-liners Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. More than a week ago, Toews said that the trio was feeling the pressure to score. It didnt help that the line Nos. 2, 3 and 4 were pretty quiet. They were not coming up with the big goals, not giving their opponents much reason to be very wary of them.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the current eight-game winning streak: the other lines started picking up the slack.

The Blackhawks are reveling in their offensive balance right now, getting scoring from every line and in every situation. In five games of this eight-game surge, the Blackhawks have scored four or more goals.

Chemistry helps. Enjoying a relatively healthy run right now, the Blackhawks have been able to commit to and stick with their line combinations. Players are attuned to what each other is doing, and its shown.

Of course the Blackhawks top line has continued to do its top-line duty, scoring in bunches and often doing so in top-line style. As Viktor Stalberg quipped after the Blackhawks latest victory, Toews, Kane and Sharp have had a couple of Harlem Globetrotter goals out there.

But others are following suit. Marian Hossa has retuned to his Hossa-like ways, garnering six goals and five assists in his last seven games. Linemates Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland have two goals and two assists each in their last three games.

Michael Frolik has led the third-line charge. Working hard but point-less in his first nine games since the Blackhawks acquired him from Florida, now has two goals and two assists in his last three contests. Fourth-liners Ryan Johnson and Stalberg have supplied the game-winners in the Blackhawks last two games.

Our line as a group worked well (Saturday) tonight. We kept getting in there, getting the puck, said Stalberg, who deflected Tomas Kopeckys shot for his 10th of the season. Weve got four lines rolling right now. Were spreading the ice out a little better.

Speading the ice out, spreading the scoring around, its all led to the recent run of success. The Blackhawks have been opportunistic, feeding off each other and making the opposition pay for mistakes.

The Blackhawks are a confident group right now, from their goaltender to their defensemen to their forward lines. Yes, theyve still had a few of those nail-biting third periods but their balanced scoring attack has them winning those games now instead of squandering them.

The Blackhawks scoring show is back. And its top three stars are joined by a strong supporting cast.

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

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Should Blackhawks' One Goal be to tank?

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, Danny Parkins (670 The Score), Seth Gruen (Big Ten Unfiltered) and Jason Goch (SB Nation Radio) join Kap on the panel. 

The Blackhawks drop their 8th straight. So should their “One Goal” be to tank?

Plus, Jon Lester isn’t a fan of the new pace of play proposals. Is he right?

Listen to the full SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

With playoff chances all but over, what can Blackhawks do at trade deadline?

After losing their eighth straight game and falling 12 points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference, the Blackhawks' playoff chances have dipped to a season-low 0.2 percent. It would take a miracle for them to extend their postseason streak to 10 at this point, where getting just one win seems like a monumental task.

The Blackhawks were probably never really going to be buyers before the Feb. 26 trade deadline even if they were still in the hunt, but it's hard to imagine they had plans to be sellers. Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman has reiterated over and over again that he's confident in this group, one that's getting younger and faster.

But now they've reached a territory where they have to consider selling off spare parts simply to coup some draft picks or prospects that they could perhaps retain or use as sweeteners in the offseason.

So which players could the Blackhawks realistically sell?

Let's start with the two players getting rewarded with top-six ice time as of late: Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels.

These are two players that play with high energy and go to the greasy areas, something that's important in the playoffs when scoring goals becomes more difficult. They can clean up rebounds. Wingels, particularly, likely has more value and it's showing given his recent success on the power play as a net-front presence guy. He also isn't a stranger to the playoffs with 54 games under his belt compared to Bouma's five.

Both of them are pending unrestricted free agents and are making $1 million or fewer, which certainly works in the Blackhawks' favor considering they won't cost much and their cap hits are easy to fit in on any interested team.

Maybe a team would like to take a flyer on Tomas Jurco, who's a restricted free agent at the end of the season, but that would be a move somebody makes as more of a longer term project than strengthening your depth for a playoff run this spring.

On the back end, Michal Kempny and Jan Rutta could be in play for a contender looking to ensure some depth as a sixth or seventh defenseman. Again, each of them are making less than $1 million so it's a low-risk situation for clubs whose Plan A or B fall through and may be interested in at least getting something.

While they don't have much NHL experience, they're both 27 years old and have played the sport long enough to know what they can bring to the table.

Once Feb. 26 passes and potential roster spots open up, expect the Blackhawks to start calling up the kids. 

Matthew Highmore deserves a look after leading the Rockford IceHogs with 20 goals and 32 points. John Hayden has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 15 games since joining Rockford, and belongs in the NHL. Even Anthony Louis, who's taken a step forward, should get a taste of the action as he continues his development.

Carl Dahlstrom is getting his shot now. Erik Gustafsson is in that process as well. Gustav Forsling had another extended look during the first half of the season before the team decided it would be wise to continue his development in Rockford, where he can play top-pairing minutes.

All of this would give the Blackhawks a better indicator of how they can approach the upcoming offseason, and which young guys they can possibly add into the mix for 2018-19. But first, we have to see how the end of February plays out before making those calls.