Keith's clutch shot nets Blackhawks vital point


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

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.

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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?


Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Jonathan Toews sits down with Pat Boyle for a 1-on-1 interview. Toews weighs in on his season with Brandon Saad, whether he expects major changes this offseason and has the championship window closed?

Also, Adam Burish joins the podcast and plays the game: “Building block, not sure, or no thanks.” Burish runs down the Blackhawks forwards and predicts whether or not they have a future with the team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

What should the Blackhawks do in goal next season?

What should the Blackhawks do in goal next season?

The last time the Blackhawks were in Winnipeg they exploded for three first-period goals en route to a 5-1 victory on Dec. 14.

The roles were reversed on Thursday.

It appeared the Blackhawks might be headed for another drubbing when Brandon Saad scored 11 seconds into the game and they were awarded an ensuing power play following a failed offside challenge by the home team, but the Jets killed it off then responded with five unanswered goals over the next 11:53 and didn't look back as Chicago lost 6-2.

Anton Forsberg was pulled for the sixth time in his 27th start this season after allowing three goals on six shots, while J-F Berube gave up two goals on his first five shots before stopping 27 straight. It was the 14th time the Blackhawks allowed five or more goals in a game this season, having done that only eight times last season.

Needless to say, it's been a roller coaster in goal as of late.

To make matters worse, the Blackhawks aren't as optimistic about Corey Crawford returning before the season ends and maybe that's for the better.

But there's a big question mark between the pipes when you factor in Crawford's health and the inconsistency from their backups, which has included Jeff Glass, Forsberg and Berube.

The Blackhawks weren't expecting Forsberg to be the next Scott Darling when they included him in the trade package involving Saad and Artemi Panarin this past offseason, but they were certainly hoping he would be around the league average in save percentage (.913).

Instead, it's slipped to .905, which ranks 43rd of 52 goaltenders that have started at least 20 games this season. That's also his 5-on-5 save percentage, which is 49th out of 52 among goalies with 800-plus minutes of ice time.

When it rains, it often pours with Forsberg in net and he hasn't shown signs of progression to prevent the bleeding from getting worse.

The backup goaltending position is more important than ever in this day and age, especially for the Blackhawks with Crawford likely going into next year having not faced a shot in game action in nine months.

For those reasons, it might be wise for the Blackhawks to strongly consider rolling with Berube as the No. 2 to at least start next season if an external option isn't the preferred direction.

It would allow Forsberg to fine-tune his mechanics, build his confidence and continue his overall development with the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League, where he backstopped the Lake Erie Monsters to their first ever Calder Cup championship in Columbus Blue Jackets franchise history two years ago.

Berube and Forsberg are both under contract for the Blackhawks in 2018-19, and it's no secret there's a belief within the organization that Forsberg has a higher ceiling. He just hasn't been able to reach it yet in the NHL for whatever reason.

There are 11 games left, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Berube get more than half of those.

Yes, his save percentage is one percentage point below Forsberg's at .904. But three of his eight appearances have come in relief.

In his five starts, he has a .908 percentage; in his three relief appearances, it's at .893.

Berube deserves a longer look, one that could carry weight when determining next season's backup.