Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: The Ugly Truth

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Hawk Talk: The Ugly Truth

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

Its a good lesson.

Thats how Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville described his teams unfathomable, fall-from-ahead, 6-5 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild three months ago. With the Blackhawks slipping to 15-12-4 since that fateful Jan. 9 night in Minnesota, its clear that whatever lesson that horrific game taught, it wasnt soaked up by the Hometown Heroes.

So lets take a minute out of the current free-fall and compare that Blackhawks team, all blustery and confident and healthy and full of promise, to the current incarnation.

If you are a fan more fascinated with the agony of defeat than the thrill of victory, dig back into the archives for the promise-filled look at that Jan. 9 game or an assessment of the current club written just a few days ago, and thus shorting them just a couple of losses.

For the rest of you less-hearty souls, heres the side-by-side.

Blackhawks Before and After
on 1-9-10
on 3-31-10
Wins3146Losses1022Last 10 Games
8-2-03-5-2Points6599Points Percentage
.739.660NHL Ranks
Simple Rating System
1.27 (1st)
.660 (fourth)
Power Plays
.207 (T-seventh)
.183 (T-14th)
Penalty Kills
.868 (second)
.846 (fifth)
Faceoffs.532 (third)
.524 (second)
Penalty Minutes
12.4 (14th)
11.4 (seventh)
Team Leaders
GoalsPatrick Kane (19)
Patrick Kane (28)
AssistsDuncan Keith (32)
Duncan Keith (54)
PointsPatrick Kane (50)
Patrick Kane (82)
Plus-MinusBrent Seabrook (22)
Sharp, Hossa (21)
Penalty Minutes
Ben Eager (79)
Ben Eager (116)
ShotsPatrick Sharp (146)
Patrick Sharp (248)
Shooting Percentage
Troy Brouwer (.186)
Troy Brouwer (.184)
Ice Time
Duncan Keith (26:32)
Duncan Keith (26:44)
Central Division Lead
105Western Conference Seed
12Projected Quarterfinals Opponent
L.A. Kings
L.A. Kings
InjuriesDave Bolland
Brian Campbell
Adam Burish
Kim Johnsson
Top Line
Toews-Kane-BrouwerToews-Sharp-HossaSecond Line
Sharp-Hossa-LaddVersteeg-Byfuglien-Brouwer
Third Line
Madden-Versteeg-Byfuglien
Bolland-Ladd-BrouwerFourth Line
Fraser-Kopecky-EagerMadden-Burish-Eager

Other facts about the Jan. 9 loss that dont really fit above:

Cristobal Huet had won three of his last four games vs. the Wild, with a sparkling 1.26 goals-against average. In Chicagos first two wins of the season vs. Minnesota, he allowed just one goal.
The Blackhawks entered play Jan. 9 with power-play goals in eight of their previous nine games.
Minnesota out-hit the Blackhawks 46-12 on Jan. 9, Cal Clutterbuck leading the way with nine.
With the win, the Wild became the first NHL team to earn at least a point when trailing by four goals entering the third since the Philadelphia Flyers did so on Dec. 11, 2008.
It was the first time the Wild had ever won a game in which they were four goals down.

Brett Ballantini isCSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnikon Twitter for up-to-the-minute Hawksinformation.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Niklas Hjalmarsson's new home.

Brace yourselves, Chicago. It's going to be a weird site seeing Hjalmarsson in a different sweater other than the Blackhawks, where he spent his first 10 NHL seasons and won three Stanley Cups.

Now he serves as an alternate captain and blue-line anchor for the Coyotes, who are the only team still seeking its first win of the season. You know they'll be hungry to snap that skid, especially when there's extra motivation for a player on their team facing a bunch of old friends.

2. Connor Murphy returns to Arizona, too.

The man Hjalmarsson was traded for will also be returning to a place he called home for four years. Murphy's role with the Coyotes increased every year before he was dealt to the Blackhawks as part of a shake-up for both teams, so you know he's going to play with something to prove.

Murphy is a physical defenseman, and has laid several notable big hits this season. His former teammates surely know it, and may want to keep their heads up.

3. Patrick Kane 2.0?

Ever since he was drafted with the No. 7 overall pick in 2016, Clayton Keller has drawn comparisons to Kane. They're both undersized, offensive playmakers, possess supreme stick-handling abilities and are American-born players.

Keller got a brief taste of NHL action last year, but he's secured a full-time spot with the Coyotes this season and has been arguably their best player so far.

The 19-year-old forward paces all rookies with five goals and ranks second with seven points, and leads the Coyotes in both categories. Expect to see his name as a finalist for the Calder Trophy for the league's top rookie at the end of the season.

Anton Forsberg is giving the Blackhawks exactly what they need

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USA TODAY

Anton Forsberg is giving the Blackhawks exactly what they need

Anton Forsberg had just finished an extended morning skate Wednesday morning in St. Louis. The backup goaltender had played in one regular-season game for the Blackhawks to that point, so getting in extra work to stay sharp was helpful.

“I try to keep my focus in practice and work extra every day, get a few extra shots in practice with the extra guys who are out there, work with Jimmy and try to keep my game shape,” Forsberg said, referring to Blackhawks goaltending coach Jimmy Waite.

Whatever Forsberg’s working on in practice and skates seems to be working, because in two games with the Blackhawks he’s looked sharp. Forsberg probably deserved a victory on Thursday night when he stopped 40 shots in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers. It’s the backup life to wait and see when that next start will come, but Forsberg has been ready.

“For sure I felt more comfortable today, more used to the speed,” he said following Thursday’s game. “I felt I read the game better, felt I had more time moving around. It’s tough, again, to lose in overtime. Obviously I wanted to win and it’s frustrating.”

Frustrating for sure, but Forsberg is giving the Blackhawks exactly what they want and need: a dependable backup that gives them a chance to win. The two goals Forsberg gave up on Thursday weren’t softies, either — Patrick Maroon’s goal off a ridiculous Connor McDavid pass and Mark Letestu’s over game-winner that deflected off Brent Seabrook’s stick.

“He kept us in a tight game like he did in Toronto, got us to overtime. I kind of feel bad we didn’t get him a win in either of those,” Ryan Hartman said. “He played well both of those games. It’s nice to have a guy on the back end like that.”

Forsberg has blended in well with the Blackhawks. It helps that he already knew two of them, Brandon Saad and Artem Anisimov, his former teammates in Columbus. He and Corey Crawford already have a good rapport. Same goes for he and Waite, and Forsberg has soaked up any information they’ve given him.

“I feel like both him and Corey teach me a lot. We talk about different situations, especially all the reads,” Forsberg said. “I get to know how (Crawford) thinks the game. He’s been around a long time and has been doing well, so it’s interesting every day to hear what he has to say. Even Jimmy’s been around same thing there, discussing my game, what we want to improve, what we want to do different, what to keep the same and go from there.”

The extra work in practices and skates appears to be working as Forsberg has done a lot right in just his first two games, which were 10 days apart. The Blackhawks have had a good run of backup goaltenders; two games is a small sample size but Forsberg could be the latest reliable backup.