Blackhawks

Keith's clutch shot nets Blackhawks vital point

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Keith's clutch shot nets Blackhawks vital point

Saturday, Feb. 12, 2011
Posted 9:43 p.m. Updated 10:50 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE, Ariz. On Friday the Chicago Blackhawks barely held on to get to a shootout. On Saturday they clawed their way back into one.

It was a little more satisfying how the Blackhawks got that one point on Saturday compared to the day before. But it was nonetheless frustrating that they couldnt come up with one more.

Troy Brouwer and Duncan Keith scored power-play goals but the Blackhawks came up empty in the shootout in a 3-2 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes on Saturday night. The Blackhawks went 2-2-2 on this road trip and remain in 11th place in the tight Western Conference race.

Dave Bolland had two assists for the Blackhawks. Radim Vrbata was the lone scorer in the shootout, beating Corey Crawford with a high backhand shot.

You never know whats going to happen in a shootout. Thats why you try not to get it that far, said defenseman Brian Campbell. We didnt capitalize on the first period or overtime. Its frustrating not to come out with two points.

Still, as opposed to Friday when the Blackhawks squandered a 3-0 lead against Dallas, they rallied on Saturday. They were down 2-0 barely a minute into the second period and dug their way out on the strength of their power play.
Radim Vrbata scores the only goal of the shootout to defeat the Blackhawks 3-2. However, the way the Blackhawks fought back to earn a point felt a little better to players than picking up the point in Dallas the previous evening. (AP)
It was better, captain Jonathan Toews said. We played a much more efficient and smart game. We played hard for each other and the way our team is supposed to. You get down a goal or two to that team it isnt an easy thing. It was a good job by our power play.

The Blackhawks had to have felt some fatigue entering this one. It was their fourth game in six days, second in as many nights. Despite all that, the Blackhawks came out strong once again.

They peppered Ilya Bryzgalov with double-digit shots through the opening minutes, with the Phoenix netminder holding strong. Vrbatas breakaway on a long clearing pass put the Coyotes up 1-0.

I thought we had a real good start to the game, coach Joel Quenneville said. That breakaway couldve been preventable and they got a lot of momentum off it.

The Blackhawks got their power play going again at the right time, with Brouwer taking Marian Hossas pass in the slot and firing one past Bryzagalov. Keiths effort tied it with less than five minutes remaining in regulation.

Was Saturdays one point more enjoyable than Fridays? Considering how each was reached, probably. But the Blackhawks know that one point here or there isnt going to make much headway.

At least we got one. But at this point we need more two-point games than one-point ones, said Crawford, who stopped 23 of 25 in the shootout loss. We battled back, got in a little trouble, I gave up a tough one and gave them a ton of momentum but we were able to hold them back and came back pretty strong. That shows a lot of character.

Injury update

Fernando Pisani was out on Saturday night and coach Joel Quenneville said hes still day to day with an upper body injury sustained against the Stars on Friday night.

Ryan Johnson was placed on injured reserve on Saturday after suffering an upper-body injury Friday in Dallas.

Jake Dowell missed Saturdays game with the flu.
Briefly

Marian Hossa returned after missing Fridays game with the flu. His assist on Troy Brouwers goal gave him his 800th career NHL point.

The Blackhawks called up Jeff Taffe from Rockford on Saturday. He played just over four minutes against the Coyotes.

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.