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Sharp wins MVP; Blackhawks' stars stand out

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Sharp wins MVP; Blackhawks' stars stand out

Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011
Posted 6:12 p.m. Updated 8:03 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

RALEIGH, N.C. When the NHL All-Star ballot came out a few months ago, Patrick Sharps name wasnt even on it. It seemed a snub, considering the hot start and consistent scoring the Chicago Blackhawks forward had even then.

Several months, a lot more goals and one All-Star game later, Sharp earned the MVP trophy.

Sharp had a goal and two assists on Sunday and was named MVP, but Team Staal fell to Team Lidstrom 11-10 at the 2011 NHL All-Star game at RBC Center on Sunday afternoon. It was another bright moment for Sharp, and one of vindication.

I guess Id be lying if I said I wasnt a little bothered by it, Sharp said of the ballot snub. It was individual motivation to play well this year and really cant argue with it. The Blackhawks have a ton of great names and great players and a lot of guys deserve to be here.

WATCH: Sharp has Hawks bragging rights

Jonathan Toews had a goal and two assists for Nicklas Lidstroms victorious team. Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith each added an assist for Team Lidstrom.

Enjoying his first All-Star appearance, Sharp got two early assists for fellow Thunder Bay native Eric Staals team. He was originally awarded three first-period assists but had one taken away. His Blackhawks teammates said hes earned this.

Hes proven hes one of those guys, one of those stars, Toews said. Hes slowly worked to become a household name. Its not easy but hes done it. You look at the list of former MVPs in this game, youre going to see quite a lineup. Its pretty cool for him to be added to that list.

Kane, Team Lidstroms alternate captain said, its good to see him do well. He was probably a little lonely with all the Blackhawks on this team.

Plusminus

Nicklas Lidstrom and Shea Weber finished plus-7 and plus-6, respectively, in Sundays game. Meanwhile, Keith and former Blackhawk Dustin Byfuglien were each minus-3. When asked if Keith felt he was alone on the blue line, he joked, a little bit. Nah, seriously, it was good, it was fun. Its an all-star game. Guys are trying to make plays. I dont think anyone cares too much.

WATCH: Keith jokes with 'Big Buff'

Tough travel

Sharps great day was made better with his parents in attendance. But they almost didnt make it. Sharp said his parents got stranded in Newark, N.J., when their flight was canceled, but they found other transportation and made the all-night drive to Raleigh.

They jumped in a minivan and drove from midnight to 8 a.m. just to get here and watch the game, Sharp said. I didnt want to let them down.

As for that car that Sharp wins for being MVP, he said his dad and brother will probably fight over who gets it.

Back to reality

The Blackhawks have had a nice respite, but now its back to the Western Conference dogfight and the road. After spending much of December and January at home, the Blackhawks will play nine of 13 this month away from it. They have a test on their hands, but Toews said theyre ready for it.

This is our time to shine, Toews said. Weve gotten better one game at a time, and its time to play that playoff style of hockey. Every games going to count for us. Guys are going to come back fresh, and we know we can take advantage of it. Our focus will be on our team and nothing else.

Shame, shame

Carolinas Eric Staal was teased for his failure as All-Star team captain, with his squad coming up one goal short. But he wasnt going to take all the blame.

We got complacent. Im not going to lie to you, he said. Youre right, Ill take the brunt of it. Leave a little bit of it for (coach Joel) Quenneville, too.

Briefly

Coach Joel Quenneville will head back to Chicago for the Blackhawks Monday afternoon practice. The Blackhawks All-Star players will head directly to Columbus, where they play the Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

Quenneville faced three of his players on Sunday and said there were some moments where he was torn. Certainly, you root for your guys. Then Jonny (Toews) makes it 9-8 and I think, Do I root against Jonny?
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.