Blackhawks

Hawks miss out on Parise, Suter but Bowman still confident

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Hawks miss out on Parise, Suter but Bowman still confident

The Chicago Blackhawks failed to land coveted forward Zach Parise on Wednesday, but general manager Stan Bowman is confident the Blackhawks will get what they need either through free agency, or through trades.

Parise was pursued by the Blackhawks during this early free-agency period but he went home, literally, signing a 13-year, 98-million deal with the Minnesota Wild. It was a disappointing pill to swallow for the Blackhawks; but Parises decision and that of Ryan Suter, who also signed with the Wild and whom also the Blackhawks were interested in early -- didn't totally surprise Bowman.

"We made a very appealing offer to them, but they didn't grow up in Chicago," Bowman said on a conference call on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks were one of the finalists for Parise, and Bowman said they made a "very impressive offer" for the Devils forward.

"Ultimately it came down to a family decision. Those are things that are sometimes hockey decisions, sometimes family decisions, and you respect that," Bowman said. "Players like to play in their hometowns and there are family considerations with the wife. When those are the things that are the tipping point, you have to wish them well and move on to the next matter at hand. We made an impressive case. That's the feedback we got from the agent."

The Blackhawks also went after veteran goaltender Martin Brodeur, who chose to re-sign with the Devils. But Bowman said approaching Brodeur didn't mean his confidence in Corey Crawford and Ray Emery wavered.

"He's the winningest goalie in the game; youd foolish not to talk with him. But beyond that, I don't think it says anything about (lack of confidence)," Bowman said. "I've said this for a long time: anytime you can talk to a player like that, it doesnt really disparage players. You wouldnt be doing your job if you didnt talk to them."

So what's next?

Matt Carle is one of the bigger free agents remaining. Bobby Ryan and Rick Nash have been mentioned in various trades. Considering the deals handed out for defensemen thus far, Carle could be cashing in on a massive payday. The Blackhawks may not want to get caught up in that.

Bowman said hell continue to look at free agency and trade possibilities to improve the Blackhawks, who are coming off two first-round exits. His objective, however, is not necessarily about making a splash.

Our (objective) is to win hockey games, he said. Its to put a team on the ice to give us the best chance to win the Cup next year. Its not like we have seven holes to fill. Last years team had 101 points and there was a lot more to give. There are ways to be better with that same group. Think there was some growth from within that were going to do, and well look at adding players from the outside.

Trades wont be ruled out, either.

A source said that the Blackhawks were looking at Jay Bouwmeester as the calendar turned to July. The Calgary Flames have nine defensemen including Bouwmeester, who has two years remaining on his current contract (at a 6.68 million cap hit per season).

The Blackhawks didnt land Parise. Neither did the other teams who were in hot pursuit of them. Bowman will continue to look at the options. There does need to be changes off last years team, no doubt. But Bowman wont break the bank, and the Blackhawks dont need a complete overhaul to get where they need to be.

Im not saying were simply going to sit and stand still where were at. Theres always the possibility of making acquisitions, trades, he said. We cant forget that in the season last year, we didnt have ending we wanted. But weve got some good pieces in Chicago, and were fortunate for that.

Eight-defensemen rotation tricky, but Blackhawks understand juggling act

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Eight-defensemen rotation tricky, but Blackhawks understand juggling act

For Jordan Oesterle, the wait really wasn’t a terrible thing.

Sure, he was used to playing more consistently in the past. But he knew with the Blackhawks carrying eight defensemen that several players, including him, would need to practice patience and understanding.

“It hasn’t been too long. It’s only been a week and a half so it’s not terrible,” said Oesterle on Thursday morning, a few hours before he made his Blackhawks debut against his former team, the Edmonton Oilers.

For the second consecutive season the Blackhawks are going with eight defensemen to start the season. In one way, it’s good: if anything goes awry, be it someone’s game or someone’s health, the depth is readily there.

But so are the challenges. It’s a juggling act, a delicate balance between making the right decisions and making sure a player understands that a scratch may be more about the rotation and not his individual game.

Communication, above all, is key.

“It’s not easy being the guys who are in or out, right on that bubble situation where you come in not knowing if you’re going to play. But as a staff we want to keep everyone involved,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We know the depth of your defense is going to get challenged at some point during the year. We feel the eight guys who are here can play but that’s how we’ve always done it: We’ve always let guys know whether you’re in or out. Sometimes you have to be more patient than you’d like but handling it the right way, whether you’re a good pro or teammate, that can be healthy around the environment of your team.”

Based on all outward appearances, everyone has handled it well. Connor Murphy has been a healthy scratch twice – “I mean I just want to see the team win really...if we're winning and guys are playing well that's all that matter,” Murphy said after his first scratch.

Oesterle was a healthy scratch the first seven games. Michal Kempny, who Oesterle replaced, has been scratched the last two games. Cody Franson has also sat seven games. Franson, whose patience has been in place while awaiting contracts in his career, is practicing it again. But he’s appreciated the Blackhawks’ communication on it.

“This situation gets tough when they don’t say anything to you; you don’t know if it’s because of the way you’re playing, you don’t know if it’s something you did or what the situation is. The coaching staff has done a great job of being in our ear, letting us leave our work at the rink and not take it home with us,” Franson said. “That goes a long way in being able to stay positive and in the right mindset through it.”

After starting with eight defensemen last season the Blackhawks eventually went back to seven. Will they do that again this season? Maybe, but whoever gets sent down would most likely have to go through waivers. The Blackhawks reassigned Gustav Forsling last season to get back to seven defensemen and get Forsling more playing time. But this season Forsling and Jan Rutta have been dependable and have pretty much become the Blackhawks’ second pairing.

So for now, eight defensemen it shall be. Being part of the rotation isn’t always easy but so far players seem to get that it’s for the greater good.

“It’s one of those things where we’ve got eight quality guys. I think no matter who’s sitting on any given night, it might not necessary be due to how they’re playing or how they’re doing individually,” Franson said. “I think Q’s done a great job of managing that situation. That’s one of those things where it’s a great problem to have but it’s not an easy one to handle. So we’re all aware of what’s taking place right now and you just try to be as professional about it as you can.”

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 win over Coyotes: Puck don't lie

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 win over Coyotes: Puck don't lie

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night:
 
1. Surviving a crazy first period.

The Blackhawks committed four penalties in the opening frame within a 2:18 span, and escaped unscathed from it despite a pair of 5-on-3 opportunities for the Coyotes.

Of course, the only goal allowed in the period came from a fluke deflection off Jordan Oesterle's stick and slipped underneath Corey Crawford's five-hole.

Joel Quenneville likes to say the team that takes advantage of their 5-on-3 opportunities has a pretty good chance to win the game. It applied in this case, with the Blackhawks coming out victorious after surviving that stretch.

2. Power play comes alive early.

The Blackhawks got off on the right foot in an area that has been an issue for them this season, capitalizing on their first power play of the game 24 seconds into it when Richard Panik redirected a Jonathan Toews shot that tricked past Louis Domingue.

Good thing too, because it was the only man advantage they'd get. Well, excluding the power play they received with 17 seconds left in regulation when the game was already decided. 
 
3. Another controversial review in Arizona.

What's with it with controversial reviews in Arizona and the Blackhawks being on the wrong end of the call?

The Blackhawks appeared to have taken a 3-1 lead when Tommy Wingels converted on a penalty shot, but it was overturned after officials reviewed it and determined the Coyotes netminder got a stick on Wingels' initial shot. Replays didn't exactly show conclusive evidence, but the NHL released a statement proving otherwise:

Video review determined that Wingels shot the puck into the net after Arizona goaltender Louis Domingue made contact with the puck. According to Rule 24.2, "No goal can be scored on a rebound of any kind."

Shortly after, the Coyotes scored in the final minutes of the period to even up the score at 2-2 in a big turn of events at the time.
 
4. ... But puck don't lie.

The overturned penalty shot didn't matter in the end though, because the Blackhawks came away with the victory and Wingels ended up getting his first goal after all on an empty netter that iced the game.

It was Wingels' first goal as a member of his hometown team, and it was well deserved for a guy who was part of the fourth line that turned in arguably their best performance of the season.
 
5. Lance Bouma rewarded with game-winning goal.

Speaking of which, it was fitting that Bouma scored the game winner with 4:24 left in the third period because that trio of Bouma, Wingels and John Hayden was around the net for the majority of the night.

They combined for two goals and two assists, had eight attempts shot attempts (five on goal), eight of the team's 16 hits and four blocked shots.