Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: Rookie Morin proving his worth

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Hawk Talk: Rookie Morin proving his worth

Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2010
Posted: 11:03 a.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Jeremy Morin sat at his stall following the Blackhawks' victory over the Blues on Tuesday night, the stitches across his bruised nose earned in a late fight with someone he apparently scrapped with in the minors earlier this season.

Be it the brawl, his energy, his hits or his odd-but-effective pass that hit glass, bounced funny and turned into his first NHL point ("I'll take it and it wasn't what I drew up, that's for sure," he said), Morin was making the most of his third NHL game.

"I think he's trying to make a name for himself and stick here for a bit," said Patrick Kane.

Yes, he is. And yes, he should.

Morin was called up when Marian Hossa went down with a lower-body injury at Monday's practice. He's not here to replace Hossa. Not many can do that. But bring energy? Enthusiasm? A little grit? He can do that. And because he's doing that, he deserves to stay a little while.

Hey, we know Hossa's out for a bit, likely 2-3 weeks as coach Joel Quenneville told us all Tuesday morning. And on Saturday night in Los Angeles, general manager Stan Bowman said the salary cap was not a problem in bringing players up from Rockford.

"We can bring a guy up tomorrow if we want to," he said. "It's not a salary cap issue."

Bowman said that when the Blackhawks were healthy the lines were rolling and there was no need to bring up another body. Now they're ailing again and they could use Morin. Tomas Kopecky said Morin's outing on Tuesday was "huge."

"He was involved and he was unafraid," Kopecky said. "Even the first goal when I scored, he made the great play in the offensive zone with a big hit there. The second goal -- maybe you don't see those little things, but it was all his work along the boards -- he caught that pass and got it to (Patrick Sharp) and he scored. I like the way he played."

Morin said Tuesday morning that playing for the Rockford IceHogs has helped him prepare for the faster pro game. Neither that, nor his first call-up, however, helped him quell the butterflies entering Tuesday.

"I think I definitely had some nerves," he said. "I come here and I'm expected to perform. I just try to take a different approach, get some hits early and that kind of loosens me up a bit."

The 19-year-old Morin was oh-so close to making this Blackhawks roster out of training camp. He earned respect there. He earned more in his first call-up earlier this month in Atlanta when he blocked a shot off the back of his knee, curled up for a few moments on the ice, then tried to play again a few minutes later.

On Tuesday, he added a few more respect-earning moments. Morin was everywhere on Tuesday, landing a big hit here, logging some power-play minutes there and adding plenty of zip.

His teammates have noticed it all.

"He's done some crazy things since he's been in our lineup," Jonathan Toews said. "That shot block he came up with in Atlanta, everybody on the bench was in pain when we saw him take that puck to the back of the leg. It was surprising to see him go after the guy he did (St. Louis' Chris Porter on Tuesday). It's fun to see that. As long as he doesn't get hurt, it gives our team the energy."

He gave them plenty on Tuesday. So at least let him stay while Hossa's sidelined. He's earned it.

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

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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

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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.”