Blackhawks

Third period nightmares continue for Blackhawks

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Third period nightmares continue for Blackhawks

Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010
Posted 10:07 PM Updated 11:30 PM
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks were in decent shape against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night. They were shaping up better defensively, as Mondays see-saw scoring battle was replaced by a tight 1-1 game through two periods.

Then Jordan Hendry was whistled for a four-minute high-sticking on Colorado center Daniel Winnik early in the third. And while the call and a sticks role in it seemed questionable, the Avalanche made the Blackhawks pay nonetheless.

Tomas Fleischmann tallied a third-period hat trick, with two of his goals coming on that double minor, as the Avalanche beat the Blackhawks 4-3 at the United Center on Wednesday night. It was another frustrating loss for the Blackhawks, who have now dropped three in a row.

And the way it happened was even more frustrating.

Hendry was going for a puck along the boards when Winnik skated in and soon went down. On first glance it looked like Winnik hit Hendrys arm, but he was called for a double-minor high-sticking. Apparently, Winnik ran into Hendrys glove, not the stick.

I didnt see the play live but I just looked at the replay and I totally disagreed with the call. But we still have to get through that, said coach Joel Quenneville. Hit (Hendrys) glove. From the outside I dont even know how you can see something like that. You watch the replay and (the official) doesnt even see the guy. I dont know how he couldve made that call. Youve got to be right when you make that call.

Hendry said he wasnt sure what happened.

It was just kind of a battle in the corner there, I dont know, he said. Its a tough call. I think because of the rules with blood they have to call it four (minutes).

The Blackhawks may also be missing another forward. Viktor Stalberg was hit from behind by Colorados Ryan OByrne midway through the second. Stalberg went face-first into the boards, skated off a few moments later but went to the locker room for the rest of the game. Quenneville said theyll have to see how Stalbergs doing on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks were still in this one through the first two periods. Tied 1-1 heading into that double minor, Fleischmann scored near the end of each penalty to give the Avs a 3-1 advantage. He added his third with about five minutes remaining.

Bryan Bickell, Jonathan Toews and Troy Brouwer scored for the Blackhawks, who were frustrated again after this one.

We were doing everything right, we were right there. But our PK wasnt very good in the third, Brent Seabrook said. We want to continue to get better every day. We have to be prepared to play full 60 minutes.

Corey Crawford stopped 19 of 23 in the loss.

Thats the game right there, Crawford said of the power-play goals. I think we were in control. I dont know what to say about it. Its just tough.
Kane, others close

Patrick Kane said he felt good after skating with his teammates on Wednesday morning. The right wing, who appeared to suffer a left ankle injury on Dec. 5 against Calgary, said hell test it again on Friday morning and, if all goes fine, could play that night against the Detroit Red Wings.
Fernando Pisani skated on Wednesday morning but did not play against the Colorado Avalanche. He is still listed as day to day.

Marian Hossa did not skate on Wednesday but Quenneville said he has been skating the past few days. His return date is still unknown.

Soldier honored

Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, who recently received the Medal of Honor, the nations highest military decoration, was honored prior to the Blackhawks-Avalanche game on Wednesday night. Giunta, who had two deployments in Afghanistan, received the honor after engaging two enemy fighters and rescuing a wounded comrade. The 25-year-old Giunta is the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since Vietnam.

Giunta, an Iowa native, was enjoying his time in Chicago and loved the atmosphere at the Blackhawks game.

To be able to stand on the ice and hear the national anthem and that reaction, its pretty incredible, he said. To feel that kind of support and response, thats what we need as servicemen. It makes you feel good inside.

Rooms available

Guest rooms for the fourth annual Blackhawks Convention are now on sale at the Hilton Chicago. The 2011 convention is scheduled for July 11-15. Room packages are available for one or both nights of the convention. A one-night stay includes two free convention passes, the weekend package includes two free convention passes and a guaranteed autograph during the event. To make a reservation, call the Hilton Chicago at 1-877-865-5320.

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

Reasons to be optimistic about a Blackhawks turnaround

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USA TODAY

Reasons to be optimistic about a Blackhawks turnaround

It's mid-November, and the Blackhawks are on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. It's unfamiliar territory for Chicago, which is accustomed to seeing its team as a perrenial Western Conference favorite and Stanley Cup contender.

Since starting the season 3-0-1, the Blackhawks are 6-8-1 in their last 15 games and haven't won more than two in a row yet. It's a little concerning.

But there are reasons to be optimistic about a potential turnaround.

Let's start with the obvious concern: The offense.

If you take away the first two games in which they combined for 15 goals, the Blackhawks would rank 27th in the league in goals per game (2.59). They also went through a stretch where they scored only two goals or fewer in nine of 12 games.

Since then, the Blackhawks have erupted for 15 goals in three games and they're continuing to generate shots at a high rate.

In their last nine contests, the Blackhawks are averaging 38.9 shots per game and rank fifth overall at 34.6. The problem on offense has never been the quantity of shots, it's the quality. They're slowly starting to get both.

And the weird part is? Patrick Kane has four goals in his past 17 games, Duncan Keith has zero goals in 19 games this season, Brandon Saad has one goal in his last 13 and Jonathan Toews has two goals in his last 14, one of which was an empty netter. Those are Chicago's top four horses who are struggling collectively to get on the scoresheet.

Their individual track records suggest they won't stay dry forever.

The Blackhawks' recent offensive hot streak is being spearheaded by role players such as Artem Anisimov (eight goals in his last nine games) and Alex DeBrincat (six goals in seven games this month), the latter of whom has emerged as a darkhorse candidate for the Calder Trophy as the league's top rookie. While it would be unfair to expect him to continue scoring at a goal-per-game pace, DeBrincat's emergence shows he's starting to get comfortable in the NHL and we're seeing exactly what he can bring to the table.

The biggest reason the Blackhawks are staying afloat while the offense figures itself out is the elite goaltending they're getting from Corey Crawford.

Chicago is giving up 33.8 shots per game, which is fourth-most, yet Crawford is making an early case for the Vezina Trophy, sitting at fifth with a 2.26 goals against average and tied for second with a .930 save percentage, including two shutouts.

If there are any doubts about Crawford coming back down to earth, he had a 92.99 save percentage at even-strength last year and 93.32 in 2015-16. Through 16 appearances this season, he's actually a bit below that at 92.47, according to naturalstattrick.com.

Now, in the previous two seasons, the Blackhawks averaged 31.4 and 30.8 shots against, respectively, but the point remains the same that you can consistently count on Crawford playing at a high level.

Did we mention the Blackhawks have the sixth-best penalty kill percentage (82.9) dating back to Oct. 29, 2016? That's a great combination, especially when you have one of the league's best goaltenders to bail you out at times.

Ultimately, the Blackhawks' success hinges on their star players playing like it. Once they get going, the rest will follow. The question is, when will that happen?

Second line back? Anisimov, Kane, Schmaltz looking to build on wonderful Wednesday night

Second line back? Anisimov, Kane, Schmaltz looking to build on wonderful Wednesday night

Artem Anisimov was creating at the net, much like he did on a regular basis the last two seasons. Nick Schmaltz looked as comfortable on the wing as he did at center, and Patrick Kane was getting better shots on net. On Wednesday night the second line of this season looked like the line of the past. Now to build off it.

The way things have been going for the Blackhawks so far this season, you take any one game for what it’s worth. For the Blackhawks’ second line, Wednesday’s outing was a good one, as it was a big part of the team’s comeback victory over the New York Rangers. And the quicker that line finds consistency, perhaps it spreads throughout the lineup.

“Some good things,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Schmaltzy on the wing gives us some speed off the attack, and it’s not just Kaner coming up with the puck. Arty’s got some familiarity with Kaner, and he goes to the net and all of a sudden scores three goals by being right at the net. So I think with Schmaltzy and Kaner and their patience and ability to travel, they bring something different to the table. It was an effective night.”

Schmaltz has said before that he feels best at center, but the move back over to wing hasn’t slowed him down a bit. That helps Quenneville keep Schmaltz and Kane together and brings Anisimov, who thrived in his time with Kane in the past, back into the second-line fold.

“Yeah, just play the game,” Anisimov said. “It doesn’t matter where you play; just go out there and play as hard as you can and have fun.”

Well, sometimes it might matter where you play. Anisimov has shown he just works better with Kane, who holds onto the puck more and allows Anisimov to focus on getting to the net. So if they can all recapture the magic, so be it.

The Blackhawks’ offense has come back to life in their last three games. On Wednesday the second line had a big hand in that offense. Now to find consistency.

“It felt pretty good,” Schmaltz said. “The Rangers did a pretty good job of limiting time and space, so I thought we did a god job of managing the puck, getting it into their zone and forechecking and creating some turnovers that way. We got a few big goals there and got some contributions with a few guys last night.”