Blackhawks

Intense Blackhawks drill Oilers for crucial win

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Intense Blackhawks drill Oilers for crucial win

Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011
Posted Feb. 9, 10:55 p.m. Updated 12:19 a.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

EDMONTON, Alberta The Chicago Blackhawks had to get their focus and emotions together quick.

They had just said goodbye to teammate Jack Skille, who, along with two others in the Blackhawks system, was sent to Florida for forward Michael Frolik and Alexander Salak. But about an hour later they had to face the Edmonton Oilers.

MORE: Stan Bowman thrilled with trade

With all that was going on, the Blackhawks got what they needed: a quick start, a solid game and two much-needed points.

Patrick Sharp scored his 27th goal of the season and Patrick Kane added a power-play goal and an empty-netter in the Blackhawks 4-1 victory over Edmonton at Rexall Place on Wednesday night.

The victory snapped a two-game losing streak and kept the Blackhawks in 11th place; most of the teams in front of them also won on Wednesday. Corey Crawford stopped 23 of 24 for the victory and Bryan Bickell added his 13th goal of the season.

The Blackhawks didnt have much time to digest the trade, as it happened minutes before they took the ice.

Its weird, especially right before the game. Jacks getting ready just like everyone else and the next thing you know hes not in the locker room, said Jonathan Toews, who had two assists on Wednesday. Hes a good guy, a good teammate and we wish him the best. At the same time were looking forward to the player coming in.

But the Blackhawks got focused quick, coming out fast against the Oilers and taking a 1-0 lead after one on Sharps goal.
Bryan Bickell made a nice move in tight on a breakaway for his 13th goal of the season and first since Jan. 16. The goal gave the Blackhawks some breathing room with a 2-0 lead in the second period. (AP)
A good start can give you confidence through the rest of the game to keep that going, said Duncan Keith. Its nice to get the lead and we used our speed and puck possession. We didnt throw pucks away. We were holding onto those pucks and causing them to commit penalties.

The Oilers went to the box plenty on Wednesday, giving the Blackhawks six power plays. The advantage was still quiet for the Blackhawks until their final one, when Kane took a pretty Tomas Kopecky pass to beat Devan Dubnyk.

That last power play was kind of a bang-bang play, Kane said. Well take the goal but (the power play) wasnt very good at all. You get six, especially with the talent we have here, you have to score some goals.

Still, the Blackhawks got enough of everything on a night they needed something positive. They used their speed. They stayed out of the penalty box until late. They switched up their defensive pairs and coach Joel Quenneville was happy with the results of the changes sometimes a fresh look you discover things. All the pairs added a little more pace to our game, he said.

The Blackhawks will meet their new teammate in Dallas when they fly in on Thursday night. Lineups will change. The Blackhawks need to get results like Wednesday night cant.

This was a very important game, Quenneville said. You look at the standings, everyone in our neighborhood had winning nights. We had to take care of our own business and we did.

Saying goodbye

The Blackhawks said it felt strange to have a trade come so close to game time and it wasnt easy saying goodbye to Skille.

Its kind of tough to see a guy traded before the game. Thats the first time its ever happened to me, Kane said. Frolik is a pretty good player; Ive played against him. Hell definitely help our team. Jack was good in the locker room and someone I got close to the past couple of months. Hopefully its better for the team and hopefully it works out.

Duncan Keith said a few emotions were felt.

That was kind of weird but thats hockey for you, he said. Its always sad to see a teammate go. Ive known Jack for a long time. Hes a good guy, a good teammate and I wish him nothing but the best in Florida.

Defenseman Brent Seabrook said its tough to lose a teammate right before the game. But were professionals and its part of the game. You know we wish Jack the best. He was a great player for us and we wish him well.

Hossa hurt

Marian Hossa suffered an upper-body injury in the second period on Wednesday and did not return. Quenneville said Hossa is day-to-day, and his injury is not serious.

WATCH: Coach Q explains injury
Briefly

Ryan Johnson and Jordan Hendry were back in the lineup on Wednesday. Johnson played 10 minutes, 31 seconds with two shots and a blocked shot. Hendry, who was paired with Brian Campbell in the defensive switches Nick Leddy was with Keith and Seabrook was with Niklas Hjalmarsson played 13 and a half minutes.

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.”