Blackhawks

Hawks 'outplayed,' shut out by Bruins' Thomas

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Hawks 'outplayed,' shut out by Bruins' Thomas

Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Posted: 9:03 p.m. Updated: 11:12 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

BOSTON The Chicago Blackhawks were coming off one of their most critical victories on Monday night when they faced the same situation on Tuesday.

They needed points, were playing a gritty, defensive-minded team and they needed to rinse and repeat that effort in Detroit.

They couldnt.

Tim Thomas stopped all 32 shots he saw for his ninth shutout of the season, as the Chicago Blackhawks fell 3-0 to the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night.

The Blackhawks held onto eighth place in the Western Conference, but that was little consolation to the opportunity lost to jump past the idle Anaheim Ducks and into seventh. The Blackhawks looked like they were starting to feel the effects of Monday nights overtime victory in Detroit halfway through Tuesday nights contest. But coach Joel Quenneville wasnt buying it.

(The Bruins) were a hard-working team tonight. The first 10 minutes we were on our heels, we got back into it, but we didnt do much after they scored first, he said. We were looking for more tonight. You play good hockey teams on back to back nights, getting two is OK, but you cant be happy with just that.

Corey Crawford stopped 31 of 34 for the loss, including 12 in the first when the Bruins were pushing and the Blackhawks mustered just five shots. Zdeno Chara put the Bruins up 1-0 with 12:02 left in the second period, and the Blackhawks could manage little past that point.
CSNNE.com: Thornton gash requires about 40 stitches, Blackhawks chirping

They out shot us pretty good in the first and we didnt really get rolling, if at all, until later in the game, defenseman Brian Campbell said. They got a couple of deflected pucks go in on Crow and thats tough for him. They outplayed us.

Johnny Boychuk and Nathan Horton also scored for the Bruins, who kept the defensive pressure up throughout the game. Thomas allowed few rebounds, and those he did allow the Blackhawks were unable to capitalize upon.

Theyve got a big defense and thats part of their game. They love to box you out, Quenneville said. There were some good opportunities around the net but we werent hungry enough. (Thomas) saw too many pucks.

Crawford said the Bruins worked for their chances and crashed the net hard. They did what they wanted to do.

The Blackhawks wont play again until Friday when they face Columbus. Where theyll rank in the Western Conference by then, who knows.

Were not just trying to play our best hockey but were trying to get points and thats all that matters, Duncan Keith said. There are no excuses (on Tuesday), no tired legs, nothing. Its all battle and heart and thats what it comes down to.

Injury updates

Patrick Sharp (left knee) is still progressing well, Quenneville said, and the forward could start skating when the Blackhawks get back to town.

Hell be skating soon, but how soon I dont know, he said. I dont think hell be on ice the next couple of days, but we could see him in not too long.

Asked if Sharp could be back for the Blackhawks April 8 game in Detroit, Quenneville said, wed love to have that situation. Whether it happens or not is a question mark. Were optimistic. But I dont think it would be before (that).

Thornton injured

Shawn Thornton said the skate he took near his eye that he needed 40 stitches to close was accidental. But he wasnt too happy with chirping he allegedly heard from the Chicago Blackhawks bench as he skated off.

Thornton skated off under his own power after taking Fernando Pisanis skate near his eye as he fell behind the net in the Bruins 3-0 victory over the Blackhawks. But Thornton said something was said by the Blackhawks that left him angry.

There was some stuff said that Im not happy about, he told Boston media. Im going to find out who it was and Ill deal with it in my own way.

I dont know if its right when someones face is half across the other side of their face, continued Thornton. But its a tough game and people have to live with their actions. If you guys even find out who it is dont be afraid to send me a Christmas card.

Briefly

John Scott was the Blackhawks lone healthy scratch on Tuesday.

The Blackhawks headed home after Tuesdays game. Theyll fly to Columbus on Thursday.

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

Eight-defensemen rotation tricky, but Blackhawks understand juggling act

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USA TODAY

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.