Blackhawks

Hawks shut out Islanders on '61 Heritage Night

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Hawks shut out Islanders on '61 Heritage Night

Sunday, Jan. 9, 2011
8:40 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

A complete game. The Chicago Blackhawks have been looking to have one of those for a while. But on Sunday night, with some of the greats from the 1961 Blackhawks in the arena, the 2011 team got it.

Five different Blackhawks scored goals, with Marian Hossa getting a goal and two assists, as they beat the New York Islanders 5-0 at the 1961 teams Heritage Night on Sunday. The Blackhawks have now won three of their last four, and their four-point weekend moved them up to sixth place in the Western Conference.

Thats huge, said Corey Crawford, who was stellar once again, stopping 29 for his first shutout this season. It seems like you lose a couple games and youre at the bottom of the standings, so it was good to get a couple in a row.

The Blackhawks were getting an Islanders team that was ending a five-game road trip that began on New Years Eve but had won four of their last five. Still, it was a game the Blackhawks needed to have a strong outing in and, more important, needed to win.

Patrick Sharp once again started it, as his power-play goal early in the first period proved to be the game-winner. He now has 25 goals, equaling his total all last season.

The Blackhawks, who peppered Islanders goaltender Nathan Lawson with 45 shots, added four more goals in the second. Hossa, Patrick Kane and Dave Bolland scored, as did Niklas Hjalmarsson, who added his with less than a minute remaining in the period. Finally, the Blackhawks entered a third period with breathing room.

Its been a while since weve had a third period like that, Sharp said. You dont want to develop any bad habits and just go with what works out there and for the most part we did that. We didnt give up too many chances then, but when we did Crow was there to make the save.

And many of the 29 shots Crawford face werent easy ones. The rookie goaltender came up big several times, and another potential Islanders goal was waived off on Jon Sims interference.

All the saves he had to make were high quality, coach Joel Quenneville said. Breakaways, open-side plays, he made several key stops. He was solid.

The Blackhawks in front of Crawford are benefiting from good health right now. Because of that, they can stick with the same lines that the players gained comfort with earlier this season.

The lines are clicking, everybodys coming together now, said Bolland, who had his first goal in seven games. We havent been mixing the lines up so weve had some time together. All four lines are rolling and doing a good job.

The Blackhawks were feeling good after Sundays victory. Theyve got everyone healthy and an opportunity to build off this weekend.

We havent played this type of game for a long time, Hossa said. We didnt have to worry about the score. We were dominating from the beginning and I think we can build on this win.

Should-be All-Star

The remaining NHL All-Stars will be selected on Tuesday, and coach Joel Quenneville said Sharp should be among them.

Absolutely, Quenneville said when asked if Sharp was deserving. Hes had a great season, great consistency. Its been a big part of our offense all year long; his consistencys been very solid.

Sharp, meanwhile, doesnt want to talk too much about it right now.

Its an individual accomplishment. Well talk more about it if it happens, he said.

Ceremony for 61

The current Blackhawks enjoyed watching the ceremony commemorating the 50th anniversary of the 1961 team. This years team said they did get a bit of a charge out of watching the former Cup winners in the 20-minute pregame ceremony.

That was great seeing the guys in their uniforms with the big smiles coming off the ice, Hossa said. The whole thing inspires you and gives you extra jump.

As for the 2009-10 Cup team getting together in 50 years, Hossa had to laugh.

I would like to see Buff, he said.

Briefly

John Scott, Nick Boynton and Ryan Johnson were the healthy scratches on Sunday night.

Niklas Hjalmarssons goal on Sunday was his first since Nov. 26 against the Anaheim Ducks.

The Blackhawks 45 shots on Sunday was their second-highest total this season. They had 47 in a 5-0 victory over Edmonton on Nov. 17.

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.