Blackhawks

Penalty keys Hawks' loss to Edmonton

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Penalty keys Hawks' loss to Edmonton

The Chicago Blackhawks wanted to avenge their ugly 9-2 November loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Monday. Instead they had another mistake-riddled game and suffered another loss to them.

Former Blackhawks forward Ben Eager had the game-winning goal, and a Daniel Carcillo five-minute boarding call led to two Oilers goals in their 4-3 victory over the Blackhawks. It was Edmontons first road victory in its last eight games.

Jonathan Toews and Andrew Brunette scored, and Jimmy Hayes tallied his first career NHL goal for the Blackhawks, who started off January with a loss and could be without Carcillo for a bit.

Carcillo was whistled for boarding after pushing Edmonton defenseman Tom Gilbert face-first into the boards. Carcillo, who was given a game misconduct, also injured his left knee on the play. Coach Joel Quenneville said hed know more about Carcillos injury status tomorrow. There could also be more disciplinary action for Carcillo.

Im not going to argue the call (on Carcillo), Quenneville said. He beat him to the counter-hit. It wasnt intent; both guys went for the same type of a play and he beat him, had better position on the guy. Its unfortunate what happened.

Oilers coach Tom Renney said the hit (on Gilbert) speaks for itself and the penalty does as well. I think at least to this point its been addressed and Im hoping that itll be looked into even further.

The Blackhawks faced a five-minute penalty kill and they couldnt come out of it unscathed. Ryan Smyth scored 16 seconds into it and Taylor Hall added another before it ended to give the Oilers a 2-1 lead.

That kind of changed the momentum of the game, Patrick Kane said. But, you know, theres still no excuse to lose to a team like that. Maybe we just thought we were going to come in and do the same thing they did to us last game. But its not going to happen in the NHL, especially when you have that mindset.

Goaltender Corey Crawford said he shouldve had two of Edmontons goals. Quenneville expressed unhappiness at giving up Andy Suttons goal.

I gave them two goals, Crawford said. A team like that, they thrive on power plays and the more you give them, the more jump and the more energy theyre going to have. It was just a tough one, one we think we shouldve gotten points out of.

Defenseman Duncan Keith said the lengthy power play didnt cost the Blackhawks the game. But it didnt help, either.

We need to do a better job penalty killing there but I dont think thats the reason why we lost, he said. We made a lot of mistakes, and at the end of the day we have to start outworking teams. We need to bear down and kill that off.

Despite that, the Blackhawks still had a chance. Hayes scored late, and the Blackhawks had three power plays in the final 10 minutes of regulation including a double minor high-sticking. But the power play came up empty once again.

Its a tough stretch, said Quenneville of the power play, which is now 1 for 21. Well tweak it and well look at doing different things with different people.

The Blackhawks loss to Edmonton in November was ugly in every way, and especially on the scoreboard. The score wasnt so brutal in Mondays game, but it still wasnt pretty.

In games like this we need to take it upon ourselves, Keith said. Its one game. But for us to get better and to do what we want to do at the end of the season everybody has to try to get better, to be the guy and be the difference.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: After 20 games, do we know the identity of this Blackhawks team?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: After 20 games, do we know the identity of this Blackhawks team?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast Tracey Myers and Jamal Mayers join Pat Boyle to discuss the teams wins over the Rangers and Penguins.  Have they figured some things out and what is the identity of this team after 20 games?

Jammer weighs in on Artem Anisimov’s big week and are there enough Hawks committed to net front presence?  They also discuss the surging play of the blue liners and did the Hawks fail to send a message to Evgeni Malkin, after he kneed Corey Crawford in the head?

Blackhawks’ much-maligned power play is now clicking

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks’ much-maligned power play is now clicking

It’s an annual rite of passage if you cover or are a fan of the Blackhawks: you question the power play, because there always seems to be an issue with the power play. You wonder why every season, given the talent on this team. And again this fall the power play has sputtered.

But a funny thing happened at the end of the weekend. The Blackhawks’ power play started to look good, started to generate chances and started to score. In 10 games prior to the Blackhawks’ Nov. 12 game against New Jersey they had just three power-play goals in 40 opportunities. In their last three games (vs. the Devils, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins), they’ve tallied five goals on 13 opportunities.

So what’s been working?

“I’ll probably give you the same answer as when it wasn’t working: pucks to the net, guys in front,” Patrick Sharp said. “We have the shot mentality more so than just moving it around and getting it set up. You look at the goals we’ve scored, it’s nothing overly complicated. It’s just getting the puck to the net. Just stay with it.”

Sounds simple enough, but the stay-with-it part has probably been the toughest segment of the equation. When the Blackhawks slumped they really slumped, and their lack of confidence on the power play was as evident as their lack of scoring on it. Yes, stressing over it can have its affect; and when the Blackhawks got those two power-play goals against the Devils it seemed to be a release.

“You get one, that weight gets lifted off your chest a little bit, you can play a little loser and maybe not grip your stick as tight as when things weren’t going well,” Cody Franson said. “When you’re confident out there you’re moving the puck cleanly, things happen a little quicker for you and give you those better looks at good chances. When you’re not that confident sometimes you’re not executing as well and things were moving slower and you’re not generating too much. Confidence definitely plays a big part in it.”

So back to what’s working. The Blackhawks started becoming more active on the power play, cutting down on the passes and increasing the shots. They’ve been there for rebounds. They started feeding off the success, be it with the power play as a unit or with individual performances. Artem Anisimov has returned to being a force at the net again; of his five goals in his last three games, two are power-play goals.

“A couple of broken plays and sometimes you get some breaks. You win a faceoff and make a quick little play after a couple of great opportunities on the prior whistle there that didn’t go in. I just think shots at the net and traffic and off that, sometimes they go in,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Our entries have always been alright this year, so we’re getting zone time and let’s get some simpler looks and sometimes they go in. I think gaining confidence there, it seems like we’re having the puck more and longer and sustaining some offense off it.”

The Blackhawks have struggled more than they’ve succeeded on the power play the last few seasons. But as their overall scoring has increased again, so has their power-play production. Good timing.

“People tend to say the power play can keep you in games and the penalty kill can win you games. Our penalty kill’s been great and has given us chances in a lot of games. [Corey Crawford’s] been playing pretty well,” Franson said. “And when our power play can give us success we find ourselves in better situations to try and win games.”