Blackhawks

Poor calls, power play hurt Hawks in Vancouver

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Poor calls, power play hurt Hawks in Vancouver

Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011
Posted Feb. 4, 11:38 p.m. Updated 1:08 a.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia The opportunity was there in the second period.

The Chicago Blackhawks were getting power-play chances in a bunch midway through the period. There were chances to erase the bad taste of the disallowed Dave Bolland goal and the allowed Christian Ehrhoff puck-in-the-neutral-zone goal. And there were chances to add to the 2-1 lead the Blackhawks took despite the first-period head-scratchers.

But the power play, the Blackhawks bread and butter, went quiet when it couldve made the difference.

Jonathan Toews, Nick Boynton and Bolland scored, but the Blackhawks went 0 for 5 on the power play, which included 47 seconds of 5 on 3, in a tough 4-3 loss to Vancouver at Rogers Arena.

The Blackhawks played strong 5 on 5 hockey against the NHL-best Canucks. They had great pace. They fired 45 shots on a stellar Roberto Luongo, who stopped 42 of them. And the bad goaltender interference call on Troy Brouwer and questionable Ehrhoff goal didnt phase them much. They answered those with Toews and Boyntons goals early in the second.

WATCH: Brouwer's take on the call

But their special teams cost them. Besides the 0-for power play they allowed the Canucks two goals on four advantages. Daniel Sedin scored the game-winner on the Canucks final power play with four minutes remaining.

(Special teams) were tough, especially when we have the 5 on 3 to distance ourselves in the second. We have to be better on that, said Toews, who also had an assist. Weve had some big games where weve worked hard. The penalty kill and power play need to be better.

The Blackhawks were up 2-1 midway through the second when the Canucks started heading to the penalty box. Then the Blackhawks got that 5 on 3 and the momentum. But 47 seconds later they had nothing to show for it.

That wouldve been real big for us, Brouwer said. Were up a goal at the time and thats a big opportunity to try and put them away and get some separation. But it didnt happen.

The Blackhawks want to bring that 5 on 5 game the rest of this road trip. It was fast, it was strong and if not for a tremendous outing by Luongo it may have yielded them the desired result on Friday. But the special teams hurt, and thats something they dont want repeated.

We couldve been better there, defenseman Duncan Keith said. At the end of the day we get a chance there in the second to get a great grip on things and we didnt capitalize on that. We let it get away, and thats the story.

Brouwer call

Brouwer said he was a little surprised he was whistled for goaltender interference that cost the Blackhawks an early lead. But he wasnt raising Cain about it.
Troy Brouwer crossed in front of Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo on Dave Bolland's goal that would have given Chicago a 1-0 lead. However, the goal would not be allowed after the referee claimed Brouwer interfered with Luongo while in the crease. (AP)
I dont think I touched him. I think he said I didnt give him space. Its going to be his call and it happens real quick, Brouwer said. (Bolland) saw an overview and said I gave him space. But the ref isnt looking from the sky. Hes looking from the ice and he has to make the call he thinks is right.

Toews also wasnt going to use any calls as an excuse.

We had our chances on the power play, he said. Theyre going to make calls and whether you disagree with it or not, it is what it is. Were not looking at that as a reason we didnt win that game.

Motivation?

Did the Blackhawks lopsided victory over the Canucks on Nov. 20 lead to Vancouvers success since? Perhaps. The Canucks are 23-4-6 since that 7-1 loss at Rogers Arena, although opinions vary if that was the turning point for the NHLs top team.

Possibly, yeah. It was an embarrassing loss, said defenseman Kevin Bieksa. We were playing pretty good hockey before that and that put us back in our place. We knew what we were doing out there wasnt good enough.

Coach Alain Vigneault thought otherwise.

I dont think it was anything more significant than being a tough loss against a real good opponent that took it to us that night, he said. If my memory serves correct, we lost the next night, too (3-2 to Phoenix). You play to win every game, but not going to win every one in an 82-game schedule. We bounced back extremely well.
Truce

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault wasnt happy with coach Joel Quenneville and what he perceived as running up the score when the Blackhawks beat the Canucks 7-1 back in November.

Vigneault was particularly unhappy with the Blackhawks power-play personnel, which included Toews and Patrick Kane, late in that lopsided game. But Vigneault said thats all behind them now.

Joel and I have kissed and made up. I saw him at the All-Star Game, said Vigneault, who was assistant coach to Peter Laviolette for Team Lidstrom. Quenneville and assistant coach Mike Haviland lead Team Staal. I still stand behind what I said, but hes doing a great job.

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

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to Oilers: Connor McDavid adds to highlight reel

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USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to Oilers: Connor McDavid adds to highlight reel

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Thursday night:
 
1. Shake-up on power play doesn't work.

Joel Quenneville spruced up his power play units before Wednesday's game in an effort to snap a dry spell, but the Blackhawks had no luck in that department in the second of a back-to-back.

The Blackhawks went 0-for-5 on the man advantage against an Oilers team that was ranked dead last in penalty kill percentage going into the contest, and failed to capitalize on a 5-on-3 opportunity for 56 seconds in the opening minutes of the season period.

They're getting off a fair amount of shots, but the quality of them isn't there.

2. Ryan Hartman fine after brief exit due to illegal hit.

It was a physical game between the Blackhawks-Oilers, but a line was crossed at the 4:59 mark into the second period when Zack Kassian delivered a huge hit on Hartman, who went face-first into the boards.

Kassian was given a two-minute minor penalty for boarding, a call that didn't sit well with the sold-out United Center crowd of 21,444. Hartman went to the locker room to be checked out after the hit despite getting up quickly and showing no visible signs of distress, but he fortunately returned a few shifts later.

It was a dangerous hit by Kassian, and an avoidable one too. 

Quenneville admitted Hartman getting up quickly perhaps may have "helped" keep it a minor penalty and not a five-minute major, but the Blackhawks coach wasn't focused on that after seeing the result unfold.

"I saw how hard it looked," Quenneville said. "But Hartzy getting up right away, that helped. You don't even measure it anymore after that. That's the one thing you're hopeful for right off the bat."
 
3. Connor McDavid adds another play to highlight reel.

We're only two weeks into the season, but the 20-year-old reigning Hart Trophy winner submitted an early entry for Assist of the Year.

Late in the first period, McDavid flew from his own end into the offensive zone, made a spin-o-rama move on two-time Norris Trophy winner Duncan Keith and backhanded a perfect pass to Patrick Maroon, who tapped in a goal at the doorstep.

It looks impossible to defend from anyone watching, and Keith pretty much felt the same way.

"When he gets the speed in the other end there and he's able to skate all the way down, it's tough to stop a guy especially when he's that fast," Keith said. "He's just flying through the middle. I'm just a sitting duck there at the other end of the ice waiting for him to come full speed. It's a hard play to defend against."
 
4. Anton Forsberg sharp again.

It's a small sample size, but the Blackhawks' backup goaltender has looked really sharp in practically every start he's had in a Chicago uniform, including preseason.

He deserved a better fate in his regular season debut last week in Toronto when he stopped 39 of 43 shots in an overtime loss, and the same applied here.

Forsberg tied a career-high with 40 saves, and seemingly got better as the game went on.

"I for sure felt more comfortable, felt like I was more used to the speed," Forsberg said. "It's tough again to lose in overtime, obviously I wanted a win and that's kind of frustrating."

"Excellent games, both games," Quenneville said of his goaltender. "Would've been nice to get him a win tonight."
 
5. Jordan Oesterle keeps it simple in debut.

The Blackhawks' crowded blue line has made it difficult for Quenneville to give all eight defensemen a fair amount of playing time, but Oesterle took advantage of his season debut.

He logged 15:01 of ice time, registered three shot attempts (two on goal), and blocked two shots.

"I liked him," Quenneville said. "Moves the puck."

Said Keith: "I thought he was good. Tough situation for him, he hasn't played all year in a game but I thought he played good. He's got good poise, he's smart back there."

Power play woes continue for Blackhawks in OT loss to Oilers

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USA TODAY

Power play woes continue for Blackhawks in OT loss to Oilers

Mark Letestu raised his arms in celebration, his 4-on-3 power-play goal giving the Edmonton Oilers an overtime victory over the Blackhawks. The home team could only look on in frustration, knowing that if it could have just converted one power play on Thursday it may have been a different result.

Five more power plays, five more opportunities that yielded nothing for the Blackhawks, who are now 6-for-39 (15.4 percent) in that department on the season. The 5-on-4 chances were tough enough but coach Joel Quenneville and several Blackhawks pointed specifically to the 5-on-3 the Blackhawks had for 56 seconds.

“The 5-on-3, we had some great looks around the net,” Quenneville said. “A lot of loose pucks that we just didn’t find the handle [on], we’re not anticipating or sniffing them out around the net. Some close looks but no finish.”

It’s been a recurring theme for the Blackhawks on the power play, and not just this year. Again, in the past the Blackhawks didn’t sweat any power-play issues much; their 5-on-5 scoring was usually strong. This early season, however, things have quieted on that front. On Thursday the Blackhawks cleaned up a lot of the mistakes they made against the St. Louis Blues the previous night. Anton Forsberg was terrific. The Blackhawks’ second line of Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane was looking like it did prior to Schmaltz’s injury. But the power play remained the same.

“Yeah, we had a lot of chances, we made plays to the net. We just didn’t capitalize on the power play which would’ve been the difference,” Ryan Hartman said. “We have a chance on the 5-on-3, which would’ve been nice. Just some chances all around, like [Jonathan] Toews’ shot that just squeaked by. Just some missed opportunities.”

The Blackhawks have looked at ways to get their power play going. They’ve tinkered with personnel – the latest was keeping the top two lines together for their respective power-play shifts. Usually it’s come down to the problems that have hampered them before: not enough movement, not enough shots, not enough hunger around the net for loose pucks. The final issue was especially prevalent on Thursday.

The chances were there on the power play. The home team had the bulk of the opportunities. The visiting one had the finish.

“The 5-on-3 we had some decent looks but that was a chance to get a huge goal for us,” Quenneville said. “The power play late in the second was decent, the third was ordinary, but we’ve been moving personnel around. We have the ingredients to make it work but a lot of loose pucks we didn’t get in our 5-on-5 game comparable around the net on the power play as well. We didn’t smell anything out around there.”