Blackhawks

How do the Blackhawks spell relief? Bolland

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How do the Blackhawks spell relief? Bolland

Monday, Jan. 24, 2011
Posted 6:18 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Dave Bollands checking ability hasnt been a problem all season. But for the Chicago Blackhawks center, the offense just wasnt there during the early part of the season.

Lately, however, Bollands scoring as often as those opposing him are not.

Bolland, who scored a power-play goal against the Red Wings on Saturday, has 10 this season and is just nine shy of the career high he set in 2008-09. Prior to the Philadelphia game, Bolland was also on a five-game point streak in which hes tallied five goals and three assists.

When you get a guy whos in a checking role scoring goals, it takes pressure off us, Patrick Kane said. Some of us would like to play a little bit better offensively and start producing some numbers. As far as Bolley, hes been playing great lately.

After early struggles, Bolland is putting together a complete game again. So what gives?

I dont know what it is, if its my pre-game nap or something Im doing. Whatever it is Im going to keep on doing it, Bolland said. I came out slow but second half is going to be better.

Forward Patrick Sharp said Bolland does a lot of things that people dont notice. He gets in the stars faces and shuts them down. But when he can put up points like he has lately its a huge boost to our team.

Bollands ability to shut others down has been pretty consistent this season. But the scoring touch? It just wasnt there early. It probably didnt help that the Blackhawks, struggling with injuries and trying to find chemistry with so many new players, switched forward lines often. But Bolland has found consistency and a comfort level with Bryan Bickell and Fernando Pisani.

The chemistrys cooking, Bolland said. It just took a little bit of time. Sometimes when you start mixing guys around it gets difficult, going from one (line) to the other. When you get that chemistry, you get to know where guys are on the ice. Its going well.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Bollands skating has him back in the scoring business.

Hes got more speed in his game, and when he does he seems to have the puck more, Quenneville said. When you add quickness to your game, you can be more comfortable with the puck. His games definitely been elevated the last little while.

Toews playing

Captain Jonathan Toews did not practice on Monday, but Quenneville said he will play Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild. Toews said he suffered a lower body injury in a collision against the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday but that it was not serious. He played nearly 20 minutes against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.

Briefly

Kane, who will be alternate captain for Nicklas Lidstroms All-Star team, said hes only heard from one player about his possible selection: Just Buff (Dustin Byfuglien). He was saying I better pick him. It would be fun to play with him again.

Defenseman Nick Leddy will face the team that drafted him on Tuesday night. The 19-year-old was the Wilds 16th overall selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft before they traded him to the Blackhawks last February.

Corey Crawford will start against the Wild on Tuesday night.

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.”