Blackhawks

Hawks outlast Detroit behind Kopecky, Crawford

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Hawks outlast Detroit behind Kopecky, Crawford

Friday, Dec. 17, 2010
Posted 10:04 PM Updated 11:20 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Its become a mantra for the Chicago Blackhawks, so much so that coach Joel Quenneville emphasized it again on Thursday. The Blackhawks, he said, need to be harder to play against.

On Friday, against the best in the West, they were.

Tomas Kopecky scored twice and Corey Crawford stopped 29 of 30 shots as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Chris Chelios Heritage Night at the United Center.

On a night when the Blackhawks honored one of the best defensemen to ever play, they played one of their best defensive games of the season. Save a Patrick Eaves goal early in the first, the Blackhawks kept the Wings offense at bay and never let their potent power play see the ice.

It just seemed like tonight was as close to a perfect game as you could get, said Brent Seabrook, who had two assists and was a plus-1 on the night. We feel confident we can play that game all the time and we have to continue to do that. We need to bring what made us successful tonight to every game.

Friday was a good start and the Blackhawks helped their own cause by getting out to a 2-0 lead within the first five minutes. Patrick Sharp scored on the only power play of the night and Bryan Bickell tallied his third goal in as many games.

Tomas Kopeckys goal put the Blackhawks up 3-1 midway through the second, when Brian Campbell hit him with a pretty pass on a delayed penalty call.

I initially wanted to pass it wide but they cheated on it, Campbell said. Kopy did a great job skating through. I saw him late, I got it to him and he did the rest.

Kopecky, a former Red Wing, added an empty netter late in the third. It was Kopeckys first goals since he scored one on Nov. 30 against St. Louis.

Crawford was once again solid in goal. He stopped the initial shots, and the Blackhawks didnt make him see many rebounds.

That was probably our best game in the last few. It was nice to get out to an early lead. That was our best third period in a while, too, Crawford said. Guys were moving the pucks out, especially in the third. They were picking off passes in front of the net.

The Blackhawks were harder to play against on Friday. Thats the kind of game theyve wanted to play all along this season and the one they know they need to play to stay among the Top 8 in the conference.

Its easy to get excited about the rivalry of the game and playing Detroit, you know every shift is critical to the outcome, Quenneville said. The focus was in the right place tonight. I like their mindset of playing with a purpose.

Kane, Hossa update

Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa both lower body are expected to skate Saturday morning. Kane said he is hopeful to play Sunday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

Part of the injury I have is that youre going to feel pain, whether practice or a game, Kane said. For me, its something Im going to have to deal with a little bit. Hopefully it stops sooner rather than later.

Hossa wasnt sounding quite as optimistic for Sunday, but he was encouraged by his Friday skate.

After two days off coming back on the ice I feel much better. Right now, I feel its getting closer, Hossa said. It all depends on how I feel (Saturday) or (Sunday). But I definitely feel better than I did Monday and Tuesday.

Briefly

Fernando Pisani returned on Friday after missing eight games with an upper-body injury. He played just under 18 minutes, recorded an assist and finished plus-1.

Bryan Bickells goal was his fifth in his last six games.

Jack Skille had a team-leading nine shots on goal on Friday.

Viktor Stalberg was out on Friday night. Quenneville said theyd see where he was on Saturday morning.

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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: After 20 games, do we know the identity of this Blackhawks team?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: After 20 games, do we know the identity of this Blackhawks team?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast Tracey Myers and Jamal Mayers join Pat Boyle to discuss the teams wins over the Rangers and Penguins.  Have they figured some things out and what is the identity of this team after 20 games?

Jammer weighs in on Artem Anisimov’s big week and are there enough Hawks committed to net front presence?  They also discuss the surging play of the blue liners and did the Hawks fail to send a message to Evgeni Malkin, after he kneed Corey Crawford in the head?

Blackhawks’ much-maligned power play is now clicking

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks’ much-maligned power play is now clicking

It’s an annual rite of passage if you cover or are a fan of the Blackhawks: you question the power play, because there always seems to be an issue with the power play. You wonder why every season, given the talent on this team. And again this fall the power play has sputtered.

But a funny thing happened at the end of the weekend. The Blackhawks’ power play started to look good, started to generate chances and started to score. In 10 games prior to the Blackhawks’ Nov. 12 game against New Jersey they had just three power-play goals in 40 opportunities. In their last three games (vs. the Devils, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins), they’ve tallied five goals on 13 opportunities.

So what’s been working?

“I’ll probably give you the same answer as when it wasn’t working: pucks to the net, guys in front,” Patrick Sharp said. “We have the shot mentality more so than just moving it around and getting it set up. You look at the goals we’ve scored, it’s nothing overly complicated. It’s just getting the puck to the net. Just stay with it.”

Sounds simple enough, but the stay-with-it part has probably been the toughest segment of the equation. When the Blackhawks slumped they really slumped, and their lack of confidence on the power play was as evident as their lack of scoring on it. Yes, stressing over it can have its affect; and when the Blackhawks got those two power-play goals against the Devils it seemed to be a release.

“You get one, that weight gets lifted off your chest a little bit, you can play a little loser and maybe not grip your stick as tight as when things weren’t going well,” Cody Franson said. “When you’re confident out there you’re moving the puck cleanly, things happen a little quicker for you and give you those better looks at good chances. When you’re not that confident sometimes you’re not executing as well and things were moving slower and you’re not generating too much. Confidence definitely plays a big part in it.”

So back to what’s working. The Blackhawks started becoming more active on the power play, cutting down on the passes and increasing the shots. They’ve been there for rebounds. They started feeding off the success, be it with the power play as a unit or with individual performances. Artem Anisimov has returned to being a force at the net again; of his five goals in his last three games, two are power-play goals.

“A couple of broken plays and sometimes you get some breaks. You win a faceoff and make a quick little play after a couple of great opportunities on the prior whistle there that didn’t go in. I just think shots at the net and traffic and off that, sometimes they go in,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Our entries have always been alright this year, so we’re getting zone time and let’s get some simpler looks and sometimes they go in. I think gaining confidence there, it seems like we’re having the puck more and longer and sustaining some offense off it.”

The Blackhawks have struggled more than they’ve succeeded on the power play the last few seasons. But as their overall scoring has increased again, so has their power-play production. Good timing.

“People tend to say the power play can keep you in games and the penalty kill can win you games. Our penalty kill’s been great and has given us chances in a lot of games. [Corey Crawford’s] been playing pretty well,” Franson said. “And when our power play can give us success we find ourselves in better situations to try and win games.”