Hawk Talk: How many room keys would you like?


Hawk Talk: How many room keys would you like?

Thursday, May 20, 2010
6:35 PM

By Chris Boden

Just when the Blackhawks thought they were home, theyre back in a hotel.

Ask any Hawks fan if they like the idea of Joel Quenneville finding them some rooms downtown, and theyll probably flash a thumbs-up, based on their NHL playoff record-tying seven-game road win streak, compared to their 3-3 record this post-season after the Greatest Anthem in Sports. Coach Qs letting them sleep in their own beds (theyre only being diverted between Friday mornings skate and their return to the United Center for the game a few hours later), and there didnt seem to be any grumbling about the idea in the locker room following Thursdays practice. So fire up the Mario Kart for a few hours just be careful with the pregame hotel room wrestling matches, boys. And Brian Campbell said when I (jokingly) asked after Tuesdays win in San Jose about the prospect of hotel time at home, that theyve run out of movies to watch (even chick flicks). So if the boys are gonna get together and pop in a pregame DVD, whats their best bet? Keep it clean. Slapshot? Jaws? Hes Just Not That Into You?

Maybe the best video of all is the way they were ALL over the ice Tuesday night in San Jose. If they re-enact their commitment to checking on both ends, which created longer stretches of puck possession, and fewer shots Antti Niemi had to face, theyll win. Lets see how Dr. Quennevilles formula works out for home success. The Sharks have lost two straight for the first time in these playoffs, but theres a reason they won the West in the regular season. They vow to get mad, play better and, as Dan Boyle says, make a figurative collective gesture with one of their fingers to the naysayers to prove them wrong. But their belief level of whether they can beat the Hawks might be getting tested, if it hasnt been already. Especially beating them four out of the next five. Theyve lost five of six against the Blackhawks this season, including all four in their Tank. The only time they defeated them this season was when the Hawks outshot them 47-14 at the United Center. Included were a couple of bothersome defeats that could get in a teams head, too like blowing a 3-1 second period lead at the United Center, getting blown-out 7-2 at home (trailing 7-0 at one point), and falling in overtime at home after rallying from a 3-0 deficit. Then theres all the falling short of expectations baggage theyve carried for awhile now.

Both teams say theyre treating Game 3 as a must win. Its more like must or bust for San Jose. Unless theyre the Flyers, and the Hawks are the Bruins.

Chris Boden is the host of Blackhawks Pre and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet.

Alex DeBrincat records third career hat trick, but Blackhawks lose to Blues in overtime

Alex DeBrincat records third career hat trick, but Blackhawks lose to Blues in overtime

For Alex DeBrincat, it was probably nice to hear Chelsea Dagger again.

But how about three times?

The 20-year-old rookie snapped out of a 13-game scoring drought in a big way on Sunday night, recording his third hat trick of the season. DeBrincat did all he could to help give the Blackhawks two points, but they only came away with one in a 5-4 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues.

DeBrincat is now the first rookie in franchise history with three hat tricks in the same season, passing Steve Larmer. His last two hat tricks came against the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 27, 2017 and Detroit Red Wings on Jan. 25.

"It's pretty cool," DeBrincat said of his third hat trick, "but I wouldn't be able to do that without the guys we have in this locker room and the linemates I've had. Most credit to them."

Entering Sunday, his last goal was on Feb. 17 against the Washington Capitals.

"Obviously it's frustrating when you go through a slump that like that but what I've learned is to stay positive and there's other things you can help your team win with," DeBrincat said. "Just kind of focus on those things."

He netted goals No. 23, 24 and 25 on the season, tying Patrick Kane for the team lead. He is also tied for second among goals scored by a rookie this season.

DeBrincat opened the scoring with nice wrist shot on the power play to give the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead midway through the first. With less than a minute to go in the period, he tapped one home in front of the net to make it 2-0.

In the third period with the game tied at 3-3, DeBrincat put his team in front 4-3 with 3:13 left in regulation. 

“We were talking about [DeBrincat] today, it had been a while since he had scored," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But whether he scores or not, he does a lot of good things in the game, and he’s very aware of his positioning, and doing the right things, finding pucks, getting in shooting lanes, or denying passing lanes. So he’s effective in a lot of ways, but nice to see him score a nice power-play goal today.”

But Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo even things up again after a shot from the point found its way past J-F Berube with 1:22 left. Patrik Berglund would net the game-winner in overtime to hand the Blackhawks a loss.

"I feel like we’ve played well and we just came up a little bit short," DeBrincat said. "I feel like that’s been the theme of this whole season.”

The pros and cons of reuniting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on Blackhawks top line


The pros and cons of reuniting Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on Blackhawks top line

Jonathan Toews' offense usually comes in spurts. We're seeing it again right now.

But it's no coincidence his numbers have spiked since Patrick Kane joined him on the top line.

After recording another two points in Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, the Blackhawks captain has 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in his past eight games; he had 11 points in his previous 23 games total.

Toews also reached the 20-goal mark for the 11th straight season, joining Kane and Alex Ovechkin as the only three active players to accomplish that feat to open their NHL careers.

Kane has seen his offensive production pick up, too. He has 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in his past 13 games after going five straight without one, which was his longest point drought of the season.

When the two of them are on the ice together at even strength, they control 57.9 percent of the shot attempts. It hasn't quite translated on the scoresheet (14 goals for and 17 goals against) maybe the way it should, but they are certainly spending far more time in the offensive zone than the defensive end and are generating a high volume of shots.

So yes, reuniting the dynamic duo has worked stats-wise.

But it comes at a cost:

— Vinnie Hinostroza and Nick Schmaltz haven't scored in six straight contests.

— Alex DeBrincat's season-long goal drought is up to 13 games.

— Artem Anisimov's last even-strength goal came nine games ago.

When you put Kane and Toews together, you risk losing some balance across the lineup and that's why Joel Quenneville has always been reluctant to go to that nuclear option. He prefers when opposing teams are forced to play 'Pick Your Poison.'

Ideally, you'd like to spread out the scoring, but one thing is for certain: The Blackhawks are better when Kane and Toews are each producing offensively, whether they're apart or together. 

When the wins start to dry up though — and they have — that's normally when it's time to try something different.

Perhaps more importantly, the last thing you want are those scoring droughts mentioned above to stretch even further and get inside the younger skaters' heads, then carrying it with them into the offseason.