Blackhawks

Hawks failure to ground Jackets could loom large

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Hawks failure to ground Jackets could loom large

Friday, Feb. 18, 2011
Posted 10:07 p.m. Updated 11:25 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks were starting to see better results on their penalty kill in recent games. But on a night they needed it to come up big, it allowed two big goals.

Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane each had three-point nights, with Sharp reaching the 30-goal plateau, but the Blackhawks allowed two Columbus power-play goals in the second en route to a 4-3 loss Friday night.

WATCH: Frustrated Kane denies internet report

As losses go it was a jarring one, as the Blackhawks remain in 11th place but are now tied, at least in points (64), with those same Blue Jackets.

The penalty kill had been shoring up lately but came up empty twice in the second period. Acting coach Mike Haviland said not winning faceoffs led to bad endings.

They got two goals right off the draw. Certainly thats key when youre killing a penalty, Haviland said. You want possession and we wanted to kill at least 20-25 seconds by sending it down. We didnt win one draw on the kill and both ended up in the back of our net. That was obviously a momentum swing there.

And it was momentum lost from the first period, when the Blackhawks took a 2-1 lead thanks to the top lines work. Sharp scored on a breakaway off a Kane pass to tie the game early, and two and a half minutes later Sharp took a Jonathan Toews feed from behind the net.

WATCH: Sharp remains confident

But when the Blackhawks got in penalty trouble in the second period, the Blue Jackets took advantage. Antoine Vermette scored the first power-play goal and Anton Stralman added the other to put Columbus up 4-2.

We take some penalties and they get two goals on the power play. That deflates you a little bit, especially when you have a nice lead going into the first intermission, Kane said. That second period just killed us.
Blue Jackets center Derek MacKenzie taps in a puck that rolled through Corey Crawford in the second period. It was part of a three-goal stretch in 5:54 of the frame to turn a 2-1 Blackhawks lead into a 4-2 deficit. (AP)
Corey Crawford stopped 32 of 36 in the loss. Steve Mason, who came up big several times in this one, stopped 37 of 40.

Kane came back with a goal 21 seconds after Stralmans, a 2-on-1 with Toews that pulled the Blackhawks within one. But they could muster no more, despite getting their third power play with 2:28 remaining in the third period.

You get a 6 on 4 (with the empty net) for the last minute 15 (seconds), we had some good looks, Kane said. They just made some nice blocks and we couldnt get any by (Steve) Mason.

The Blackhawks broken record is playing again. The same mistakes are hurting them again. And with every missed opportunity, their shot at making the playoffs gets that much more difficult.

In the second we got a little bit more on the offensive side of it and thinking we wanted to score goals instead of playing the system we had going into the game, Haviland said. They started outworking us. Thats unacceptable this time of the year for sure.

Briefly

Theres been no change in the day-to-day status of Fernando Pisani (head). He and Nick Boynton (healthy) were scratched on Friday night.

Ryan Johnson is still on injured reserve for the concussion he suffered against the Dallas Stars. The center said hes hoping to return on Sunday.

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

Welcome back: Return to the booth is Eddie Olczyk's 'best medicine'

Welcome back: Return to the booth is Eddie Olczyk's 'best medicine'

ST. LOUIS – Eddie Olczyk’s morning at Scottrade Center was full of hugs and handshakes, of questions and encouraging words, of smiles and even some tears.

It was a busy morning but a good one for Olczyk, who Wednesday night will do his first hockey broadcast since being diagnosed with colon cancer in August. For the first time in a while, Olczyk felt like himself.

“It feels normal. It feels comfortable,” said Olczyk, who will be alongside Doc Emrick when the Blackhawks face the St. Louis Blues. “I just feel invigorated. Seeing a lot of familiar faces, guys busting chops and a lot of well wishes.”

Olczyk went through his usual game-day routine, including quick chats with Blackhawks players following skate. On Wednesday those talks were that much more special, for both sides.

“Great to see him,” said Ryan Hartman. “When I first saw I was pretty excited to see him back. It’s definitely a presence you know when you’re watching games, that voice you heard growing up. He looks good, looks healthy. He’s in a battle but he looks really good.”

Olczyk will also be in the booth on Thursday night when the Blackhawks host the Edmonton Oilers. Past that, he’ll play it by ear. He’s talked to NBC and Blackhawks president John McDonough, who Olczyk said gave him an “open canvas” in terms of scheduling. If Olczyk feels good on Saturday and the Blackhawks play on Sunday, he’ll try to get back in the booth.

“We think about him every day and we’ve had the pleasure of having him come by a couple of times. Having him be here today for a road game is great to know,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “But he has a tough battle ahead of him and he’s doing everything he can to fight it. We support him every single day.”

Olczyk started chemotherapy treatments in September and he has his good and bad days. Those will continue for a while. So will his fight to completely beat this. But for at least the next two nights Olczyk gets to return to a normal routine, and that’s the perfect panacea for a trying time.

“I’m overwhelmed with everybody,” Olczyk said. “But this is the best medicine I’ve had in a long time.”

Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

Lance Bouma took his place at fourth-line left wing as the Blackhawks rolled their forward rushes on Tuesday morning. As the Blackhawks have tinkered with their trios, Bouma, whose final two seasons with the Calgary Flames were filled with uncertainty, has found a consistent role in this lineup.

“Obviously I was brought here for a reason,” Bouma said. “Things didn’t go the way I wanted them to in Calgary. To come here to Chicago and have that role, it’s been a lot of fun so far.”

The Blackhawks knew what they wanted from Bouma and his fellow fourth liners: some physical play, some energy and if there are any scoring opportunities, bonus. It’s a second chance for Bouma, whose contract was terminated by the Flames on June 30.

“I think it’s definitely a motivator knowing that you get in that situation where all of a sudden, ‘OK, I have to almost start over again and I have to prove to a new team that I belong in this league and I can play,’” coach Joel Quenneville said on Tuesday. “There are always circumstances where teams make decisions like that. We’ve been a part of it. And moving forward as a player, you’ve gotta look at it as a fresh opportunity. It’s an opportunity to get back to playing your game.”

After recording 16 goals and 18 assists in the 2014-15 season, Bouma signed a three-year, $6.6 million deal with the Flames. The next two seasons didn’t go as planned as Bouma dealt with injuries, inconsistent play and healthy scratches. So getting that call from the Blackhawks was a huge lift.

“I was just looking forward to a fresh start and something new,” he said. “I just was ready to come into camp and have a great season and it’s been great so far.”

[MORE: Eddie Olczyk expected to return to broadcasting booth this week

Tommy Wingels, who has centered the Blackhawks’ fourth line the last several games – and will again vs. St. Louis on Wednesday – said Bouma looks “refreshed” this season.

“Obviously whether it’s a team doesn’t want to bring you back or it’s a trade or buyout, there’s certainly something that deep down gets you going,” Wingels said. “I think it was a good summer for him mentally to come to a new organization, come to a new group of guys and re-establish his game. It’s tough when you’re with the same coaches, same team for so long; maybe what you do gets taken for granted. He looks good and he’s skating really well and I think he moves really well for a big man. He’s strong on the pucks and he’s a good asset for us.

Bouma isn’t here to be a top-six player. He’s not here to fulfill a contract that he no longer has. The Blackhawks needed depth, energy and a physical presence and in brining that, Bouma has earned steady work.  

“We knew the player coming in that we wanted him to play that style and he’s done a good job of it, too,” Quenneville said of Bouma. “So it’s something we were looking for in our needs and it fit perfectly."