Blackhawks

Hawks make it eight straight with win over Leafs

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Hawks make it eight straight with win over Leafs

Saturday, March 5, 2011
Posted: 9:11 p.m. Updated: 10:15 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

TORONTO You dont win eight consecutive games without doing a few things right.

Right now, the Chicago Blackhawks are doing a lot of things right.

The Blackhawks got goals throughout their lineup again and Corey Crawford was stellar again as the Blackhawks won again, this time a 5-3 decision over the Toronto Maple Leafs at Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.

The Blackhawks, who have now collected points in 12 of their last 13 games, are still fourth in the Western Conference with 80 points. Theyre two points ahead of Phoenix and just two behind San Jose, which played late Saturday against Dallas.

If there was any uncertainty coming out of Saturdays game it was the status of defenseman Duncan Keith, who took a shot to the right hand in the third period and missed the last several shifts.

Im feeling like I would have played if I felt better, said Keith, who remained on the bench through those final minutes. Were going to look at it (Sunday) and see how it is.

The Blackhawks were on the offensive attack early and often again on Saturday. And after so many games where just their top line was scoring, now its everyone. Marian Hossa scored 70 seconds into the game off a bad Toronto pass, and Michael Frolik converted another Leafs miscue about three minutes later. Jonathan Toews continued his torrid streak, scoring his 27th goal to put the Blackhawks up 3-0 after one.

Toews now has a nine-game points streak and seven goals in his last five games.

Viktor Stalberg and Bryan Bickell scored for the Blackhawks, who took a 5-1 advantage after two.

Our guys, its incredible the way were scoring goals, said Crawford, who stopped 30 of 33 for his eighth consecutive decision. The only thing is, when we get up by a couple, not to just let it go and try and stay focused and battle for every shot. This is another huge win for us.

The Blackhawks did have their skittish moments in this one, as would be somewhat expected for a team thats played five games in seven days. When they made mistakes, Crawford was there to clean up the mess.

He was great, especially in the third period, said coach Joel Quenneville. (He made) big saves, the save on the (Mikhail Grabovski) penalty shot and a couple right down the gut. He was huge.

Crawford said he was feeling a little fatigue on Saturday.

I was a little tired tonight. It was really hot on the ice so that played a little factor, said Crawford, who started his 11th consecutive game. It affects everyone. You just have to battle through it and keep working. I feel good.

The Blackhawks are generating offense from everyone and getting great goaltending along with it. They knew this latest stretch was going to be a challenge. With five games in a week complete, its so far, so good.

All year long weve said we needed a roll. Right now were on it, Quenneville said. Lets try to sustain it.

Stalbergs return

Stalberg was rewarded for his work in the second period, when a goal originally given to Tomas Kopecky was later changed to Stalbergs. The left wing, who was traded from Toronto for Kris Versteeg this past offseason, deflected Kopeckys shot for his 10th goal of the season.

I think it was pretty obvious. Kopy would probably like to have it but Im not that nice of a guy, Stalberg said. I dont get too many of those. If I get one, Ill take it.

Ring-ing endorsement

Blackhawks president John McDonough presented a 2010 Stanley Cup ring for the Cup display at the Hockey Hall of Fame here on Saturday afternoon. The ring will is displayed alongside the first Stanley Cup ring from 1893, former Blackhawk and current HHoF chairman Bill Hays 1961 ring, Daryl Seamans 89 ring with the Calgary Flames and Bob Johnsons 91 ring with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Sopel headed to White House

Defenseman Brent Sopel will join his former Blackhawks teammates when they visit the White House on Friday.

Sopel, who was traded from Atlanta to the Montreal Canadiens a few days before the deadline, told canadiens.com on Saturday I got my invite and the team was nice enough to let me go since its between games. Im quite excited for that experience. Ill make my way down to Washington on the 11th and have some fun at the White House. I dont know what the details are yet, but anytime I can see the Stanley Cup with my name on it, it never gets old.

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

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to Blue Jackets: Looking at the bigger picture

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to Blue Jackets: Looking at the bigger picture

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Saturday night:

1. Blackhawks squander two leads.

For the 13th time in their past 16 games, the Blackhawks scored the first goal of the game. They had won their previous three instances when doing so, but couldn't seal the deal this time and fell to 5-6-2 in those 13 games.

What strung even more is that the Blackhawks held two one-goal leads and couldn't hang on to either of them. They have the seventh-worst win percentage (.571) when scoring the first goal this season with a 20-10-5 record.

2. Vinnie Hinostroza continues to produce offensively.

If you're trying to look for a rare bright spot on the Blackhawks roster this season, here's one. Hinostroza registered a secondary assist on David Kampf's goal for his fifth point in six games, and was on the ice for 16 shot attempts for and seven against during 5-on-5 play for a team-leading shot attempt differential of plus-9 (also known as Corsi).

For the season, Hinostroza has 20 points (six goals, 14 assists) in 32 games and he's doing so while averaging only 13:27 of ice time. His point-per-game average is up to 0.63, which is tied with Jonathan Toews for third on the team; only Patrick Kane (0.92) and Nick Schmaltz (0.71) are producing at a higher rate.

Hinostroza deserves more minutes, but at the same time his ability to produce on any of the four lines has allowed Joel Quenneville to put him in a bottom six role for balance.

"I like his speed," Quenneville said recently on why Hinostroza has been so effective. "I think with the puck, he's been good with it as well. More strength, on it, managing it, better decisions with it, and good plays off it. He definitely brings you energy and some speed, he can catch people with that quickness."

3. Ryan Hartman's benching.

Hartman was part of the fourth line that contributed to the Blackhawks' first goal of the game, and he was on his way to having a strong one. But that changed quickly after he took an ill-advised penalty in the first period.

Already leading 1-0, the Blackhawks had a 2-on-1 opportunity developing involving Hinostroza and David Kampf but Hartman was whistled for high-sticking at 17:06 behind the play. The Blue Jackets converted on the power play, and that was the end of Hartman's night.

He took only five shifts and finished with a season-low 4:16 of ice time, with Quenneville using it as an opportunity for a teaching moment.

4. Tomas Jurco building confidence back up.

It's been a tough season mentally for Jurco. He started the season with the AHL's Rockford IceHogs after failing to make the team out of camp, and compiled 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 36 games. 

It earned him a call-up on Jan. 8, with Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman praising the way he progressed: "He looks like he's totally different, in terms of his composure and ability to make plays. That's why we brought him up here."

The problem? He was a healthy scratch for five straight games and went two weeks without seeing game action with the Blackhawks. Not exactly the best way to keep someone's confidence building. And since then, he's been fighting for a spot in the lineup.

For the last three games, Jurco has been given a shot on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane and he cashed in for his first goal of the season tonight and first since March 27, 2017. It's also the second straight game he's recorded a point.

While he may not be worth much if the Blackhawks were to deal him ahead of Monday's deadline, perhaps a change of scenery to a team that believes in him as a fit will bring out the best of his abilities. The Blackhawks tried and it just hasn't worked out.

5. Blue line observation.

This is more of a big-picture takeaway, but the Blackhawks have gotten only 20 goals from their defensemen this season. The Blue Jackets have gotten a combined 19 from just Seth Jones and Zach Werenski. Last season the Blackhawks had 30 total.

The Blackhawks just haven't gotten the offensive production needed from their back end and it's so important as it helps alleviate some of the pressure off the forwards.

I asked Quenneville about this after Friday's game and here's what he had to say: "Whether you score or not, you need the D to be part of your attack, be it off the rush, in zone. But I think the whole game, the whole league is four-man rush game, five-man attacks, coming at you, night-in, night-out, wave after wave.

"But you need to get your D involved in your support on the attack and you need them on the offensive zone off the point. You need some shooters on the back end that can get them through as well. I think offensive production from the back end in today’s game really enhances your offense and your possession game."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks hit road to face Blue Jackets

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. One big reunion.

The Blackhawks will square off with the Blue Jackets for the first time since Oct. 7, which was the second game of the season. In that game, they won 5-1 led by Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, each of whom scored a goal and added an assist.

Of course, that was the first game since the offseason trade that sent Artemi Panarin to Columbus and Saad back to Chicago, along with Anton Forsberg. Artem Anisimov, of course, was part of the original deal that sent Saad to Columbus in 2015, so there are a lot of emotional ties between the two teams.

Forsberg didn't get a chance to face the Blue Jackets in the first meeting, but there's a chance he will this time with it being the second of a back-to-back and Jean-Francois Berube getting the start in Friday's 3-1 win over San Jose.

2. Panarin and Kane bromance.

The emotions of a difficult break-up have probably died down by now, but Panarin and Kane gave us this moment at center ice during pregame warmups in their first game against each other and it hit Chicago right in the feels:

Panarin has spent enough time apart from Kane for people to realize how big of a star he is in his own right, leading the Blue Jackets in all three scoring categories: goals (17), assists (32) and points (49).

He hasn't gone more than three games this season without recording a point, and is looking to extend his point streak to four games, which would tie a season high.

3. Struggling Blue Jackets special teams.

The Blue Jackets got off to a great start but are barely clinging onto a wild card spot going into Saturday's game, and a big reason for that slide is their lack of success on special teams. Usually one can pick up the slack for the other, but they've been brutal in both departments.

The Blue Jackets are 0-for-9 on the power play in their past five games and are ranked 31st overall, converting on only 14.1 percent of their opportunities. They also have own the 27th-ranked penalty kill with a 76.3 percent success rate.

So if there's an area the Blackhawks can exploit, it's that. But, you know, still be mindful of that Russian winger's one-timer from the faceoff circle.