Blackhawks

Seabrook skates; Canucks in new mental state

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Seabrook skates; Canucks in new mental state

4Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 11:09 a.m. Updated: 4:34 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com
And so, theyre back.

The Blackhawks have gotten this series with the Vancouver Canucks back to being a series again, and the Blackhawks are riding a wave of momentum entering Game 6 Sunday night at the United Center.

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault recognizes that momentum surge. He also knows his team needs to grab it away.

Weve got to get our urgency without a doubt to match their level of desperation, he said. Ever since Game 4 their (desperation) has certainly gone to another level and we need to do that also.

So the Canucks have their plan: play Game 6 like its a Game 7. No holding back, no acting like theres another game to close this series out and send the Blackhawks packing for good.

It puts us on the same frame of mind as the other guys, Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo said. Theres no more room for mistakes. We want to make sure were playing as desperate as the other side tomorrow.

The Blackhawks have piled a ton of goals into these last two games, outscoring the Canucks 12-2. The Blackhawks were basically free to do what they wanted in Game 5, thanks to a wealth of space on the ice. Its one of the biggest concerns the Canucks want to shore up in Game 6.

Not that Vigneault was going to tip his hand as to how theyd do that.

Were aware of the situation. Well put something in place and see if we can do a better job, he said. The Blackhawks have a lot of weapons. We need to get ready for their different weapons.

Seabrook hopeful

Brent Seabrook skated with his Blackhawks teammates on Saturday and coach Joel Quenneville hopes the defenseman can play tomorrow night.

It was the first time Seabrook has skated since he suffered a concussion from a Raffi Torres shoulder-to-head hit in Game 3 last Sunday. It sounds like Seabrook would have to pass the necessary tests tomorrow morning to play.

Obviously getting on the ice with the guys it was a lot of fun out there, said Seabrook, who added that he started feeling some symptoms entering Game 4 last weekend, the first game hed missed all season. He said he felt pretty good on Friday and is symptom-free today.

Im just overall excited to go, he said.

Quenneville said the Blackhawks will know more tomorrow on whether Seabrook can go. Seabrook did not skate among the top-six defensemen during drills; he was paired with Jassen Cullimore through practice. John Scott has played in Seabrooks place the past two games.

For Seabrook, its been tough to watch these last two games from the sidelines. He traveled to Vancouver for Game 5 and his sweater hung in the locker beside partner Duncan Keith.

Obviously I want to be out there with the guys, he said. I was talking with them and asking for another chance to get into the lineup. They did an unbelievable job and played two great games. Hopefully tomorrow's a better day for me and I can get back in there and help the guys out.

Tennis, anyone?

The Canucks opened their Saturday practice by passing and shooting with tennis balls. Vigneault said there was nothing strategic about it.

Its just a new way to warm up, he said. Were always looking for new ways to warm up.

Elbows and slashes

Troy Brouwer said he talked to officials in Game 5 after Vancouver defenseman Alexander Edler caught him with an elbow. The chat, however, didnt help Brouwers cause.

The ref that was behind me, I had a quick chat with him and his angle was blocked by my body, so its tough to see. You know, he called a slash (on me), Brouwer said. So, he can see sticks but not elbows, I guess.

Edler said he did nothing wrong.

I didnt try anything with an elbow. I saw that he was coming and tried to cut him off at the net a little bit.

He said it

Roberto Luongo on the United Center crowd: Ive always liked playing in this building. I love it when the crowd yells at me, even when I got pulled.

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

Eight-defensemen rotation tricky, but Blackhawks understand juggling act

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USA TODAY

Eight-defensemen rotation tricky, but Blackhawks understand juggling act

For Jordan Oesterle, the wait really wasn’t a terrible thing.

Sure, he was used to playing more consistently in the past. But he knew with the Blackhawks carrying eight defensemen that several players, including him, would need to practice patience and understanding.

“It hasn’t been too long. It’s only been a week and a half so it’s not terrible,” said Oesterle on Thursday morning, a few hours before he made his Blackhawks debut against his former team, the Edmonton Oilers.

For the second consecutive season the Blackhawks are going with eight defensemen to start the season. In one way, it’s good: if anything goes awry, be it someone’s game or someone’s health, the depth is readily there.

But so are the challenges. It’s a juggling act, a delicate balance between making the right decisions and making sure a player understands that a scratch may be more about the rotation and not his individual game.

Communication, above all, is key.

“It’s not easy being the guys who are in or out, right on that bubble situation where you come in not knowing if you’re going to play. But as a staff we want to keep everyone involved,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We know the depth of your defense is going to get challenged at some point during the year. We feel the eight guys who are here can play but that’s how we’ve always done it: We’ve always let guys know whether you’re in or out. Sometimes you have to be more patient than you’d like but handling it the right way, whether you’re a good pro or teammate, that can be healthy around the environment of your team.”

Based on all outward appearances, everyone has handled it well. Connor Murphy has been a healthy scratch twice – “I mean I just want to see the team win really...if we're winning and guys are playing well that's all that matter,” Murphy said after his first scratch.

Oesterle was a healthy scratch the first seven games. Michal Kempny, who Oesterle replaced, has been scratched the last two games. Cody Franson has also sat seven games. Franson, whose patience has been in place while awaiting contracts in his career, is practicing it again. But he’s appreciated the Blackhawks’ communication on it.

“This situation gets tough when they don’t say anything to you; you don’t know if it’s because of the way you’re playing, you don’t know if it’s something you did or what the situation is. The coaching staff has done a great job of being in our ear, letting us leave our work at the rink and not take it home with us,” Franson said. “That goes a long way in being able to stay positive and in the right mindset through it.”

After starting with eight defensemen last season the Blackhawks eventually went back to seven. Will they do that again this season? Maybe, but whoever gets sent down would most likely have to go through waivers. The Blackhawks reassigned Gustav Forsling last season to get back to seven defensemen and get Forsling more playing time. But this season Forsling and Jan Rutta have been dependable and have pretty much become the Blackhawks’ second pairing.

So for now, eight defensemen it shall be. Being part of the rotation isn’t always easy but so far players seem to get that it’s for the greater good.

“It’s one of those things where we’ve got eight quality guys. I think no matter who’s sitting on any given night, it might not necessary be due to how they’re playing or how they’re doing individually,” Franson said. “I think Q’s done a great job of managing that situation. That’s one of those things where it’s a great problem to have but it’s not an easy one to handle. So we’re all aware of what’s taking place right now and you just try to be as professional about it as you can.”

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 win over Coyotes: Puck don't lie

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 4-2 win over Coyotes: Puck don't lie

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday night:
 
1. Surviving a crazy first period.

The Blackhawks committed four penalties in the opening frame within a 2:18 span, and escaped unscathed from it despite a pair of 5-on-3 opportunities for the Coyotes.

Of course, the only goal allowed in the period came from a fluke deflection off Jordan Oesterle's stick and slipped underneath Corey Crawford's five-hole.

Joel Quenneville likes to say the team that takes advantage of their 5-on-3 opportunities has a pretty good chance to win the game. It applied in this case, with the Blackhawks coming out victorious after surviving that stretch.

2. Power play comes alive early.

The Blackhawks got off on the right foot in an area that has been an issue for them this season, capitalizing on their first power play of the game 24 seconds into it when Richard Panik redirected a Jonathan Toews shot that tricked past Louis Domingue.

Good thing too, because it was the only man advantage they'd get. Well, excluding the power play they received with 17 seconds left in regulation when the game was already decided. 
 
3. Another controversial review in Arizona.

What's with it with controversial reviews in Arizona and the Blackhawks being on the wrong end of the call?

The Blackhawks appeared to have taken a 3-1 lead when Tommy Wingels converted on a penalty shot, but it was overturned after officials reviewed it and determined the Coyotes netminder got a stick on Wingels' initial shot. Replays didn't exactly show conclusive evidence, but the NHL released a statement proving otherwise:

Video review determined that Wingels shot the puck into the net after Arizona goaltender Louis Domingue made contact with the puck. According to Rule 24.2, "No goal can be scored on a rebound of any kind."

Shortly after, the Coyotes scored in the final minutes of the period to even up the score at 2-2 in a big turn of events at the time.
 
4. ... But puck don't lie.

The overturned penalty shot didn't matter in the end though, because the Blackhawks came away with the victory and Wingels ended up getting his first goal after all on an empty netter that iced the game.

It was Wingels' first goal as a member of his hometown team, and it was well deserved for a guy who was part of the fourth line that turned in arguably their best performance of the season.
 
5. Lance Bouma rewarded with game-winning goal.

Speaking of which, it was fitting that Bouma scored the game winner with 4:24 left in the third period because that trio of Bouma, Wingels and John Hayden was around the net for the majority of the night.

They combined for two goals and two assists, had eight attempts shot attempts (five on goal), eight of the team's 16 hits and four blocked shots.