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Killer B's: Brouwer, Bolland boost Blackhawks

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Killer B's: Brouwer, Bolland boost Blackhawks

Sunday, Jan. 16, 2011
Posted 8:34 PM Updated 10:10 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks were getting frustrated and outplayed after 20 minutes against the Nashville Predators on Sunday. They were taking terrible penalties, giving up power-play goals again.

Someone had to say something. So during the first intermission some of the Blackhawks players got vocal. Then they all responded.

Dave Bolland had two goals and Troy Brouwer scored the tying and game-winning goals in the third period as the Blackhawks scored four in the third to beat the Nashville Predators 6-3 at the United Center.

The Blackhawks, who lost a 2-0 lead and eventually the game in a shootout to the Predators on Saturday, rebounded to take three of a possible four points out of the two games.

Nashville coach Barry Trotz gave his Predators a verbal lashing between the second and third periods Saturday night, and they rallied for a shootout victory. Off to an awful first period on Sunday, Brouwer said some Blackhawks players did the same.

There were a couple players around the room who made their voices heard in the intermission. Guys take exception to that, especially who they come from, said Brouwer, whose goals came 40 seconds apart in the third. Im not going to say who said them, but when those guys say things like that, it gets everybodys attention.

WATCH: Brouwer, Bolland elated

So its safe to say captain Jonathan Toews was one of them, right?

Yeah, I mean the good thing is it wasnt just one or two guys. We all knew we had to be better after that first period, Toews said. I think we were all pretty positive, pretty talkative in the locker room. When they scored in the third to go up one goal, we knew that wasnt going to be enough to stop us. We wanted to repay the favor when they came back from a two-goal deficit yesterday. In our building, we wanted to make sure we came up with two points.

WATCH: Toews should have passed 100th goal?

Coach Joel Quenneville, who said hes usually not in the room when players hash things out, was just fine with their talk.

Sometimes theres nothing wrong with players addressing certain situations. As a coach, were all aware of whats going on, he said. Sometimes, coming from them its a good thing.

The Blackhawks still had a bad penalty or two in the second and J.P. Dumonts power-play goal put Nashville up 2-1. But Bolland came through with his second goal, and it was a beauty. Bolland took the pass from Tomas Kopecky, juked Predators defenseman Ryan Suter and scored to tie the game 2-2.

Its fun to make those moves, Bolland said. And it was a big goal for us.

MUST WATCH: Bolland's sweet goal

Down 3-2 with just over 10 minutes remaining in regulation, the Blackhawks traded their verbal tirades for a scoring one. Brouwer scored on a Duncan Keith rebound to tie it 3-3, then skated right into the slot and fired another past Anders Lindback 40 seconds later for a 4-3 advantage.

Bryan Bickell and Toews added two more to complete the comeback. Marty Turco, getting his first start since Dec. 30, stopped 20 of 23 for the victory.

When the time comes you just try to go play and I just want to win. It was nice to see the boys rally tonight after being down three different times and played a third period like we could, Turco said. I was the benefactor of some good hockey tonight in the third."

The Blackhawks salvaged their weekend, which was key heading into this five-day break before their next game. They talked it out. More important, they played it out.

Thats what we have to start doing is close teams out like that, Bolland said. We have a tendency of lacking off in the third period. We all have to be a lot better in the last 10-15 minutes of the game with putting the nail in the coffin.

BrieflyBlackhawks players congratulate Jonathan Toews after scoring his 17th goal of the season in the third period. The goal was No. 100 of Toews' career, coming in his 267th game. (AP)

Toews goal was the 100th of his career. Toews, 22, is the fourth-youngest player in franchise history to reach that milestone, after Jeremy Roenick, Bobby Hull and Denis Savard.

Bolland played in his 200th career game on Sunday night.

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

Are Blackhawks starting to find their early season form again?

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USA TODAY

Are Blackhawks starting to find their early season form again?

The goals came in bunches for the Blackhawks in their Oct. 5 season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins. For the Blackhawks, it was a nice memory, albeit one that seems far away given they went from scoring at will through their first two games to not being able to buy a goal for a sizeable stretch.

As for the Penguins, well, you figure their memoires of that game means they’ll be more than a little ticked off when the Blackhawks arrive on Saturday night.

“We’ve been on the wrong side of a few losses like that,” Patrick Sharp said. “You certainly remember them more than other losses.”

This is kind of/sort of about the Penguins, who in the first meeting were clearly tired not only from two Stanley Cup runs but also from their season opener/banner raising the prior night. But it’s more about the Blackhawks who, after a lengthy scoring drought, are starting to get their offense going again (15 goals in their last three games).

And while they’d like to shore up their defense – they blew a 4-1 lead vs. New Jersey and just about did it again vs. the New York Rangers – overall they’re trending in the right direction. And just as they face the team against whom they played their best game of the season.

“I’m sure [the Penguins] will be excited about playing us and making things better. They’re playing well, winning some games. For [us], we’re looking for more consistency in our game with the puck and we’re generating some offense,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I still think it has some ways to improve. That was one night, whether it was the quality of the plays we made or [what], we seemed like we had the puck a lot and did some good things with it. We haven’t seen much of that lately so I think that maybe we can recapture a little bit of that with the puck as well.”

In the past three games the Blackhawks haven’t just reignited their offense, they’ve regained their confidence. Their lines are finding some chemistry. As frustrating as their scoring drought was, they’re hoping it’s behind them.

“At some point in the season I feel like every team goes through it, either in the beginning, the middle or toward the end. You just don’t want to have it right at the end of the season,” Ryan Hartman said. “You can look at it in in a positive way. Hopefully we got that part over with and now we’re just coming in confident and hopefully we put the puck in the net.”

The Blackhawks got off to a hot goal-scoring start against the Penguins by doing the right things: shooting, pouncing on rebounds, getting traffic in front of the net and capitalizing. As they head into their 20th game of the season, the Blackhawks are finally getting back to what worked so well in Game 1.

“Things dried up for a bit but I think we have a good rotation going here with the lines; the chemistry’s starting to fill in a little bit. Some guys are stepping up. [Artem] Anisimov had a big night and Brinsky’s [Alex DeBrincat] playing great. It’s good to see those guys step up. It makes you want to be that next guy who’s called up to step up in the next game,” Patrick Kane said. “It’s good to see some goals go into the net. More important, it’s good to see some wins. But we’re playing the right way and hopefully this will trend in the right direction for us.”

Reasons to be optimistic about a Blackhawks turnaround

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USA TODAY

Reasons to be optimistic about a Blackhawks turnaround

It's mid-November, and the Blackhawks are on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It's unfamiliar territory for Chicago, which is accustomed to seeing its team as a perrenial Western Conference favorite and Stanley Cup contender.

Since starting the season 3-0-1, the Blackhawks are 6-8-1 in their last 15 games and haven't won more than two in a row yet. It's a little concerning.

But there are reasons to be optimistic about a potential turnaround.

Let's start with the obvious concern: The offense.

If you take away the first two games in which they combined for 15 goals, the Blackhawks would rank 27th in the league in goals per game (2.59). They also went through a stretch where they scored only two goals or fewer in nine of 12 games.

Since then, the Blackhawks have erupted for 15 goals in three games and they're continuing to generate shots at a high rate.

In their last nine contests, the Blackhawks are averaging 38.9 shots per game and rank fifth overall at 34.6. The problem on offense has never been the quantity of shots, it's the quality. They're slowly starting to get both.

And the weird part is? Patrick Kane has four goals in his past 17 games, Duncan Keith has zero goals in 19 games this season, Brandon Saad has one goal in his last 13 and Jonathan Toews has two goals in his last 14, one of which was an empty netter. Those are Chicago's top four horses who are struggling collectively to get on the scoresheet.

Their individual track records suggest they won't stay dry forever.

The Blackhawks' recent offensive hot streak is being spearheaded by role players such as Artem Anisimov (eight goals in his last nine games) and Alex DeBrincat (six goals in seven games this month), the latter of whom has emerged as a darkhorse candidate for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie. While it would be unfair to expect him to continue scoring at a goal-per-game pace, DeBrincat's emergence shows he's starting to get comfortable in the NHL and we're seeing exactly what he can bring to the table.

The biggest reason the Blackhawks are staying afloat while the offense figures itself out is the elite goaltending they're getting from Corey Crawford.

Chicago is giving up 33.8 shots per game, which is fourth-most, yet Crawford is making an early case for the Vezina Trophy, sitting at fifth with a 2.26 goals against average and tied for second with a .930 save percentage, including two shutouts.

If there are any doubts about Crawford coming back down to earth, he had a 92.99 save percentage at even-strength last year and 93.32 in 2015-16. Through 16 appearances this season, he's actually a bit below that at 92.47, according to naturalstattrick.com.

Now, in the previous two seasons, the Blackhawks averaged 31.4 and 30.8 shots against, respectively, but the point remains the same that you can consistently count on Crawford playing at a high level.

Did we mention the Blackhawks have the sixth-best penalty kill percentage (82.9) dating back to Oct. 29, 2016? That's a great combination, especially when you have one of the league's best goaltenders to bail you out at times.

Ultimately, the Blackhawks' success hinges on their star players playing like it. Once they get going, the rest will follow. The question is, when will that happen?