Three strikes by Hawks' top line not enough


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

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.


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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?


Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Has the championship window closed?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Jonathan Toews sits down with Pat Boyle for a 1-on-1 interview. Toews weighs in on his season with Brandon Saad, whether he expects major changes this offseason and has the championship window closed?

Also, Adam Burish joins the podcast and plays the game: “Building block, not sure, or no thanks.” Burish runs down the Blackhawks forwards and predicts whether or not they have a future with the team.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

What should the Blackhawks do in goal next season?

What should the Blackhawks do in goal next season?

The last time the Blackhawks were in Winnipeg they exploded for three first-period goals en route to a 5-1 victory on Dec. 14.

The roles were reversed on Thursday.

It appeared the Blackhawks might be headed for another drubbing when Brandon Saad scored 11 seconds into the game and they were awarded an ensuing power play following a failed offside challenge by the home team, but the Jets killed it off then responded with five unanswered goals over the next 11:53 and didn't look back as Chicago lost 6-2.

Anton Forsberg was pulled for the sixth time in his 27th start this season after allowing three goals on six shots, while J-F Berube gave up two goals on his first five shots before stopping 27 straight. It was the 14th time the Blackhawks allowed five or more goals in a game this season, having done that only eight times last season.

Needless to say, it's been a roller coaster in goal as of late.

To make matters worse, the Blackhawks aren't as optimistic about Corey Crawford returning before the season ends and maybe that's for the better.

But there's a big question mark between the pipes when you factor in Crawford's health and the inconsistency from their backups, which has included Jeff Glass, Forsberg and Berube.

The Blackhawks weren't expecting Forsberg to be the next Scott Darling when they included him in the trade package involving Saad and Artemi Panarin this past offseason, but they were certainly hoping he would be around the league average in save percentage (.913).

Instead, it's slipped to .905, which ranks 43rd of 52 goaltenders that have started at least 20 games this season. That's also his 5-on-5 save percentage, which is 49th out of 52 among goalies with 800-plus minutes of ice time.

When it rains, it often pours with Forsberg in net and he hasn't shown signs of progression to prevent the bleeding from getting worse.

The backup goaltending position is more important than ever in this day and age, especially for the Blackhawks with Crawford likely going into next year having not faced a shot in game action in nine months.

For those reasons, it might be wise for the Blackhawks to strongly consider rolling with Berube as the No. 2 to at least start next season if an external option isn't the preferred direction.

It would allow Forsberg to fine-tune his mechanics, build his confidence and continue his overall development with the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League, where he backstopped the Lake Erie Monsters to their first ever Calder Cup championship in Columbus Blue Jackets franchise history two years ago.

Berube and Forsberg are both under contract for the Blackhawks in 2018-19, and it's no secret there's a belief within the organization that Forsberg has a higher ceiling. He just hasn't been able to reach it yet in the NHL for whatever reason.

There are 11 games left, and it wouldn't be surprising to see Berube get more than half of those.

Yes, his save percentage is one percentage point below Forsberg's at .904. But three of his eight appearances have come in relief.

In his five starts, he has a .908 percentage; in his three relief appearances, it's at .893.

Berube deserves a longer look, one that could carry weight when determining next season's backup.