Blackhawks

Hawks-Flyers, Game 3: Sharks aftershocks

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Hawks-Flyers, Game 3: Sharks aftershocks

Tuesday, June 1, 2010
11:20 PM

By Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.com

PHILADELPHIA No matter how you try to slice and dice the Chicago Blackhawks, it comes up a loss.

In Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Philadelphia Flyers tried to run and gun with the Hawks, and fell short in a 6-5 shootout. In Game 2, the tempo remained high, per Flyers desires, but the game started as an all-out slugfest and Philadelphia came out on the hind end of another one-puck loss, 2-1.

Like the San Jose Sharks found out before them, the Flyers are starting to get the sense that short of poisoning the pregame platter of sammiches, theres no way to upend Chicago.

Not so fast. Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger, whose most memorable move of the Chicago leg of the Finals was to create an unnecessary and silly distraction for his team by picking up pucks and throwing them in the trash at games end, claims that Philadelphia learned a lot in Games 1 and 2. Of course, the gangly veteran made a similarly elusive, hush-hush, on the QT comment before the series about how hed handle Dustin Byfuglien, so the big fella might just be bluffing.

Meanwhile, theres little bluff in the Blackhawks game. They might not necessarily be able to account for exactly how theyve won nine straight, as center John Madden laughingly admitted on Tuesday, but they are finding ways to win.

Theres a lot that has gone Philadelphias way so far in the series, including an overall lead in shots and hits. But for Flyers fans going gaga over their heroes high-octane third period in Game 2, check yourselves. First of all, the club wasnt able to push in a tying goal, much less a winning one, despite a 15-4 shots advantage and Chicago clearly panic napping its way to the final horn. Second, consider that everyone and their sisters know the odds against a lower-seeded team rallying to win the Stanley Cup after dropping the first two games on the road (in case youve been under a rock, welcome back, and its just six percent); the Flyers were playing for the series on Monday and couldnt break through with an absolutely necessary win in Game 2.

Is the Finals undoubtedly over? Of course not. In fact, you have to like the odds of Philly riding the emotion of its return home and taking Game 3thus fueling a million and one I told you sos, Flyers comeback tales and Chicago choke sidebars. Listen, a Game 3 win for the Flyersif it even happensis just one game. The chances of taking four of five from the Blackhawks is somewhere in the vicinity of nil.

For now, the most memorable Flyers play of the Stanley Cup is Dan Carcillo plowing over Jeff Carter on Monday, then catching a little what-for from gangly banger Tomas Kopecky. That conversation shifted to the team benches, where a number of Flyers barked at Blackhawks and the Hawks fired right back. You wonder at what point Peter Laviolette steps in and suggests that, indeed, his Flyers ought to be barking a bit at one another and finding a way to send the series home deadlocked.

Well, too late now. Its been fun, Philly. But the Flyers had a chance to set the tone of the series with a game like Mondays from the outset, but chose instead to try to run with the fast dogs. It failedbarelybut hey, once the game is in the W column for Chicago, it stays there. Regathered with renewed aggression and determination in Game 2, Philly failedbarelybut hey, 2-0 is 2-0.

Close only counts when you spin Stanley Cup yarns for your grandchildren.

Brett Ballantini is CSNChicago.com'sBlackhawks Insider. Follow him @CSNChi_Beatnik on Twitter forup-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Blues: What's up with the power play?

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USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to Blues: What's up with the power play?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 5-2 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night:
 
1. Nick Schmaltz returns but sizzle doesn’t.

You didn’t expect the fireworks of the season opener but you figured Schmaltz, Ryan Hartman and Patrick Kane would connect pretty quickly again. The speed was certainly there. The connections on passes were not. It wasn’t just that second line, though: it was another night on which the Blackhawks’ offense was sluggish. 
 
2. Tripping along.

I joked that tripping is the new slashing. Maybe that’s not the case league-wide but it was for the Blackhawks on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks took five tripping penalties overall, including three in the first period. It was a clear sign that the Blackhawks were trying to play catch-up all night, and they didn’t fare well at it.
 
3. Power play gets something but…

It took until late in the third period (when the Blackhawks’ offense seems to get going lately). The Blackhawks got two late power-play goals, a reminder of what they can do when they battle for the puck and show some spark.

“Our sense of urgency in the puck area, be it 5-on-5 or on the power play, that’s the differential of keeping the puck in the offensive zone and making plays off it is one of our strengths,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We didn’t do that very often and we haven’t won many battles.”
 
4. Starting slow.

Why these are happening is a mystery, and they’ve been most evident in the Blackhawks’ last three games, which have all come against division opponents. Too much relying on Corey Crawford again and not much in terms of shots, be it quality or quantity through the first two periods. The Blackhawks were outshot 17-8 through the first 40 minutes on Wednesday. While they created little they gave up way too much.
 
5. Patrick Sharp OK?

Sharp was injured late on Wednesday night when the Blackhawks-Blues game got chippy in the final five-plus minutes. Quenneville thought Sharp was fine but he wasn’t positive at the time of his postgame press conference.

Blackhawks stumble out of the gates against Blues: 'We were brutal'

Blackhawks stumble out of the gates against Blues: 'We were brutal'

ST. LOUIS – The Blackhawks’ first tripping came barely a minute into the game. Then came another one. And another. And another. And another. Despite welcoming one of their fastest players back into the lineup, the Blackhawks were overall flat-footed and playing catch-up all night, be it on the ice or on the scoreboard, to the St. Louis Blues.

Nick Schmaltz returned but the effect on the second line and the Blackhawks overall wasn’t immediate. Instead the Blackhawks looked sluggish. Their offensive opportunities were few – a one and done here and there but no sustained zone time or pressure on Blues goaltender Jake Allen – their passing was off and they were on the defensive all night.

And then there were the tripping penalties. The Blackhawks’ penalty kill held up through it, nullifying all five Blues power-play opportunities. But the Blues found other ways to inflict their damage.

“They played well and we were brutal,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “That was a bad start, a bad middle and even [though] it was a little excited at the end it wasn’t very good. That’s as close to brutal as you can get.”

The Blackhawks’ last three games have common themes: they’re outshot for a good part of the game, they’re giving up a good amount of quality shots and then the urgency hits them midway through the third period. For the third consecutive contest the Blackhawks scored two goals late and in two of those three games it wasn’t nearly enough.

“Obviously it wasn’t good enough for two periods. If you take any positives out of this game, it’s the way we played in the third,” Patrick Kane said. “At least we know we can do it. Just gotta do it before our backs are against the wall.”

Why it’s taking the Blackhawks so long to get going, however, is the question. Obviously the Blackhawks’ late third-period pushes show how capable they are of producing when necessary. Said Alex DeBrincat, who assisted on Ryan Hartman’s goal late in regulation, “If we’re would’ve been crashing the net like that all game it may have been a different story.”

But they didn’t. The Blackhawks welcomed back a teammate that’s injected speed into their lineup but the team was once again stumbling out of the gate.

“We’re supposed to be out there, giving our all every minute we’re out there and every shift, go out there and take it a shift at a time and give it all you got every shift,” Hartman said. “We have four lines that can roll so there’s no excuse for not going out there and putting all your energy out there for a shift and getting ready for the next one.”