Blackhawks

Myers: From here on, every game counts

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Myers: From here on, every game counts

Thursday, Feb. 3, 2011
4:21 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Ah, home sweet home. For the Chicago Blackhawks so far this season, its been anything but. Whether theyve gotten into startstop mode too often, gotten too pretty or just havent shown up at all, the Madhouse has been maddening.

Well, now theyre going into enemy territory for a while. A long while, it seems. The Blackhawks will play 19 of their next 31 on the road, including this five-game trip that takes them through Western Canada and the southwest U.S. If the Blackhawks are going to be successful on it, they are going to have to get back to that simple, hard-hat hockey that fared so well for them on their Circus Trip back in November.

And theyre going to have to live by their own mantra: from here on out, every game truly does count.

We went into the break disappointed, so lets channel our energy in a proper way, coach Joel Quenneville said prior to the Blackhawks 7-4 victory over Columbus on Tuesday. You want to make sure guys are focused and youre ready to start.

The Blackhawks victory over the Blue Jackets exemplifies what these final 31 are probably going to be like: tough, sometimes mucky, fights to the end. Shaking off All-Star break rust and overcoming two deficits, the Blackhawks gritted one out. It came with no style points.

None of the remaining games should have style points. The Blackhawks just need to play hard, 60-minute games.

They need Patrick Kane to get his scoring going again. Same for Marian Hossa. They need Patrick Sharp to keep doing what hes been doing. Same for Jonathan Toews. They need both their goaltenders, Marty Turco and Corey Crawford, playing every night like theyre trying to grab the No. 1 job away from the other. They need their defense to be as sound as it was last season.

As Quenneville said, lets make sure theres a purpose. We all want to max out no matter what the situation.

Entering Thursday nights games, the Blackhawks were eighth in the Western Conference with 58 points. Four through seven are Nashville (61), San Jose (60), Anaheim (60) and Phoenix (59). Can they leap into fourth place with a couple of victories? Sure. Can they fall just as fast with some bad games? Absolutely.

The Blackhawks have been inconsistent this year. Ill argue the entire conference has been, save Vancouver and Detroit. You dont get a logjam like the one were seeing because everyones running on all cylinders.

For as much as the Blackhawks have squandered, they still have more than enough opportunities to climb back near the top. Theyve got to put their hard hats on again. Theyve got to play 60-minute games every night. And theyve got to embrace the road-game mentality every minute, every second.

The road beckons once more. The Blackhawks have some time to bond, regroup and recognize the task at hand. They can get there with simple, hard-played hockey.

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

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

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USA TODAY

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

It’s official: The Blackhawks are headed back outdoors.

The NHL announced that the 2019 Winter Classic will be held at Notre Dame Stadium, featuring the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1.

"The Blackhawks and Bruins, two of our most historic franchises, will be meeting outdoors for the first time at the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "Notre Dame Stadium, with its capacity approaching 80,000, will provide an ideal setting for this ground-breaking event and will host the largest live audience ever to witness a game by either of these teams."

"The Chicago Blackhawks are honored to be participating in this marquee event at an iconic venue like Notre Dame Stadium," Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough said in a statement. "The University of Notre Dame has strong alumni roots in both Chicago and Boston, and, with an established rivalry between the Blackhawks and Bruins, fans will be treated to an exciting game in a unique atmosphere. We appreciate the invitation to the game and look forward to what will be a great day for both franchises and the National Hockey League."

It's the sixth time the Blackhawks will be playing outdoors, and their league-leading fourth Winter Classic. The Blackhawks are 1-4-0 in outdoor games, and are winless in three Winter Classic games.

Chicago's only outdoor win came against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2014 Stadium Series Classic, a 5-1 victory at Soldier Field.

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.”