Blackhawks

Three strikes by Hawks' top line not enough

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Three strikes by Hawks' top line not enough

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Posted 9:16 p.m. Updated 10:32 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

TAMPA, Fla. For the second consecutive night, the Chicago Blackhawks were down a few goals and fighting to work their way back to getting points.

On Wednesday, they at least got one.

WATCH: Lightning cheat at shootout?

Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews scored in regulation, but the Blackhawks couldnt get one past Dwayne Roloson in the shootout as they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Martin St. Louis had the shootout winner on a spin-o-rama move that had the Blackhawks debating whether it shouldve been allowed.

The Blackhawks, who were down 3-1 early in the second period, now have 81 points and, at games end, that kept them in fourth place. That could change later on Wednesday; Calgary and Dallas, both with 79 points, were playing against each other.

The Blackhawks also had to go without two players. Brian Campbell was a late scratch with a lower body injury. Coach Joel Quenneville said hes day to day. Center Dave Bolland was lost in the first period after taking an elbow from Tampa Bay defenseman Pavel Kubina. Quenneville said Bolland will be re-evaluated on Thursday.

Toews, Kane and Marian Hossas shootout attempts were all stopped. Meanwhile, two Lightning tried spin-o-rama moves. Steven Stamkos effort yielded the post but St. Louis hit.

Rule 24.2, which outlines procedure for a penalty shot shootout rules defer to these says this about the spin-o-rama: The spin-o-rama type move where the player completes a 360 turn as he approaches the goal, shall be permitted as this involves continuous motion.

Quenneville believed that you cant lose forward motion or momentum. It looked like there was a complete stop. Goaltender Corey Crawford, who challenged it, later said it was close. It looked like he may have stopped for a second and kept going.

Toews, who also had two assists, said as far as I was concerned I saw the original play and you can still see his left foot moving forward. It looked all right to me.

Crawford stopped 27 of 30 and got stronger as the game wore on. But he admitted he wasnt his best early and the Lightnings potent offense took advantage.

I thought I struggled again in the first half of the game. I was finally able to feel good and start seeing the puck again, Crawford said. It was nice to battle back and get that extra point but I still think we couldve won the game.

The Blackhawks bigger concern was staying in the playoff hunt. Theyll do that, although they wont get that extra point. They were able to overcome this deficit just enough to get something.
The Blackhawks' top line scored all three goals against the Lightning and the combination of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp have a combined 38 points in the last 10 games. (AP)
We worked hard, Quenneville said. We were down by two and they had a lot of things going for them early. We chipped away. It wouldve been nice to get two.

Injuries

Brian Campbell tried to give it a go in pregame, Quenneville said, but was unable to do so. When asked if Campbell re-aggravated that right knee injury from earlier this season he suffered an MCL sprain at the end of training camp, Quenneville said, I dont think its that. But its that part of the lower body. It may not be necessarily what were talking about.

As for Bolland, hell be re-evaluated on Thursday. Michael Frolik moved to center, the first time in several years hes played that position, in Bollands absence. Quenneville was happy with Frolik there.

Sometimes you get to try something you might have in the back of your mind. Its not by choice but by chance, and he did a great job there, Quenneville said. He was great on draws (Frolik won five of eight) and looked good in that role and in that spot.

Pisani returns

Fernando Pisani was back in the lineup on Wednesday for the first time since he suffered a concussion in Dallas on Feb. 11. Pisani played just over 11 minutes with fourth-liners Ryan Johnson and Tomas Kopecky.

Viktor Stalberg was a healthy scratch.

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.