Blackhawks

Myers: Hawks more of a team without full lineup

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Myers: Hawks more of a team without full lineup

Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010
12:16 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

"Sometimes it helps not having a full lineup, knowing you have to be more of a team."

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marty Turco was talking shot totals and all things positive following the team's 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild, when that statement came out. It was a simple statement and, given the Blackhawks' performance, very on-target.

The Blackhawks entered Saturday's game coming off their worst performance of the season, a 7-4 loss to Edmonton on Friday in which their lapses and shortcomings were magnified and capitalized upon by a young and hungry Oilers team. And when a third teammate was ruled out by an injury, the Blackhawks had two choices: they could come apart more or exemplify Turco's statement on the ice.

They chose the latter. They embraced it, ran with it, won with it.

"The type of game we played, it was by far our best positionally," Turco said. "We played a patient game. We're going to need that type effort."

The Blackhawks were already down two strong starters in defenseman Brian Campbell (right knee MCL) and right wing Marian Hossa (upper body). On Saturday they lost center Dave Bolland (upper body) for at least two games. It wasn't good, and it could have gotten worse against the Wild. Instead, the Blackhawks got inspired performances.

Troy Brouwer's early hit earned him an in-game line promotion and he scored his first goal this season. Patrick Kane looked like himself again. The fourth line was on the ice in the waning minutes when the Wild went empty net. The team blocked 21 shots, a jolt from the scant six they had against Edmonton. Turco rebounded from Friday's early yank, stopped 25 of 26 shots and returned to his active, puck-playing self.

Everyone got it.

"It was a team game, for sure," coach Joel Quenneville said.

Perhaps it was just simplifying their game. Or maybe it was that backed-into-a-corner-come-out-fighting sense. Whatever it was, it worked.

"Guys weren't trying to do too much," said Brouwer. "It's tough losing players especially way Hossa was playing. Guys like Tomas Kopecky and Jonathan Toews take more onto themselves; even Jake Dowell's stepping up. The guys who aren't looked upon to do those things are chipping in.

"It's going to be the entire team having to do a little more," he said. "Saturday gave us good confidence."

The Blackhawks need to remember Saturday's outing. Bottle it, refer to it and, by all means, keep copying it. The Blackhawks are starting to get good news out of their injury situation. Campbell is getting stronger by the skate and could return any game now. Bolland's is listed as day to day. Hossa could be back in two weeks.

Injuries, thin depth and the need for call-ups all happen in the midst of an 82-game (or more) campaign. The Blackhawks' lineup will change a few times this season. Their commitment to the team game can't.

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

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are Blackhawks doomed to miss playoffs without Crawford?

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USA TODAY

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Are Blackhawks doomed to miss playoffs without Crawford?

Jesse Rogers (ESPN Chicago), Patrick Finley (Chicago Sun-Times) and Dan McNeil join Chuck Garfien on the panel.

Corey Crawford is reportedly suffering vertigo-like symptoms and there’s a chance he might not return this season. Are the Blackhawks playoff chances gone if he doesn’t come back?

Plus, the guys talk Bears coaches, preview Conference Championship weekend and Jesse discusses if the Cubs are saving their money for next winter’s big free agent class.

Listen to the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast right here:

Why Corey Crawford situation is tricky for Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Why Corey Crawford situation is tricky for Blackhawks

The Blackhawks have been tight-lipped about Corey Crawford's status ever since he was placed on injured reserve on Dec. 27 with an upper-body injury, and it's fueled rampant speculation on social media about what's really going on. That came to an end on Tuesday when Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times reported that there's growing concern within the organization that its star goaltender could miss the remainder of the season with vertigo-like symptoms. (Blackhawks senior adviser Scotty Bowman went on Sportsnet 590 The Fan on Wednesday to clarify it's post-concussion syndrome).

And while there's at least some clarity surrounding Crawford's condition, it's opened up more questions about what the Blackhawks may do going forward.

On Monday we broke down the unfavorable playoff picture for the Blackhawks going into the bye week, which was a glaring concern in and of itself. Add in the possibility that Crawford could be sidelined for the rest of the campaign and those chances absolutely diminish.

So what course of action should the Blackhawks take ahead of the Feb. 26 trade deadline? That's where the tricky part comes in.

Because of the nature of Crawford's injury, the Blackhawks aren't at a point right now where they want to put him on long-term injured reserve because that would require him to miss a minimum of 10 games or 24 days, and they're still holding out hope that he could come back within that timeframe. The problem with it is that nobody really knows. It could be days, weeks or months, and putting a restriction on that doesn't make much sense in the middle of a playoff run even though it would open up significant cap space.

Which brings us to our next point. There are certainly some decent rental goaltenders (Robin Lehner, Petr Mrazek or Antti Raanta, to name a few) on the market if the Blackhawks choose to go that route, but that might not be the wisest thing to do.

Given their spot in the standings and the chances Crawford could return, why risk giving up future assets for a playoff run that may not happen? It would be different if the Blackhawks wanted to add some insurance for the stretch run and postseason, but there's no guarantee it'll happen.

If the Blackhawks did, however, want to go that route, they would need to act quickly because there's no point in waiting closer to the deadline. Every point is crucial from here on out.

Perhaps the best and most logical idea is to stand pat.

Let it ride with Anton Forsberg and Jeff Glass and hope they can hold the fort down until a potential Crawford return. Let the young guys continue to grow. Maybe add a defenseman to patch up the back end, but don't empty the tank. There's no reason to. The Blackhawks are hoping to sign highly-touted prospect Dylan Sikura after his college season ends, which would serve as a deadline acquisition by itself.

It will be tempting for the Blackhawks to be aggressive at the trade deadline in the wake of Crawford's injury, and they're surely already having these discussions as they continue to explore the different avenues. But this might be a rare case where doing nothing is the right way to go.