Blackhawks

Toews a motivator, but shouldn't have to be

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Toews a motivator, but shouldn't have to be

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011Posted: 7:50 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

When the Blackhawks entered the first intermission down 2-0 in St. Louis on Monday, Jonathan Toews did what any good captain should. He made some noise. He barked, he pointed some things out and probably used a few choice words in the process.

Maybe I got after the boys a little too much but we saw how the guys responded to it, Toews said after the Blackhawks rallied to a 5-3 victory. Thats whats frustrating. We say what we have to do before the game and then we play that way the first 20 minutes. That was unacceptable.

Thats great that Toews talk can move the Blackhawks to Mondays outcome. Motivating is his job, or at least the inside-the-locker-room part of it. But at this point of the season, with whats at stake, he shouldnt have to.

The Blackhawks finally found their urgency in the second period on Monday, 20 minutes after they shouldve had it. They fought back. They scored in bunches. They got points from 10 different players. And most importantly, they won. Once again, the get-them-going onus fell on their captain.

The 22-year-old shoulders the weight well. Given his start-to-finish work ethic in games, combined with that C he wears on his sweater, Toews is the perfect candidate to throw a few verbal daggers at his underperforming teammates.

But the Blackhawks should start listening at games start, not 20 or more minutes into it. And they shouldnt have to look to their captain at intermission for vocal inspiration. If they want motivation, all they have to do is look at the standings. They should make a copy of them, tack them to the board prior to every game and circle their position with a big red Sharpie (pen, not Patrick). Eleventh. Entering Tuesday nights games, the defending Stanley Cup champions are 11th in the West.

Now with a couple more victories, the Blackhawks could move from outer edge of the playoffs to right in the middle of the pack again. Yes, welcome to the ridiculous Western Conference. Theres more motivation. So was that come-from-behind victory in St. Louis on Monday. From the second period on it was great hockey. The Blackhawks pushed the pace, got all their lines involved and took advantage of Blues miscues.

Toews said Monday that the leaders in this locker room held the rest of the team accountable. Hopefully that means he wasnt the only guy talking during the first period. There are a few remaining in that room that went to the pinnacle, know what it takes to get there and wants to stoke the fire in others, too.

Theyve got 22 games remaining to conjure up that consistent hockey that was so much a part of them last season and has been so absent this one. Theyve shown at times. Now they have to put it together in a good, solid string. Theyve got it in them.

But from here on out, the Blackhawks shouldnt need Toews to make a mid-game motivational speech off the ice. They should just follow his lead from the start on it.

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

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.

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

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Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks visit Niklas Hjalmarsson, Coyotes

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Arizona Coyotes Saturday night on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Niklas Hjalmarsson's new home.

Brace yourselves, Chicago. It's going to be a weird site seeing Hjalmarsson in a different sweater other than the Blackhawks, where he spent his first 10 NHL seasons and won three Stanley Cups.

Now he serves as an alternate captain and blue-line anchor for the Coyotes, who are the only team still seeking its first win of the season. You know they'll be hungry to snap that skid, especially when there's extra motivation for a player on their team facing a bunch of old friends.

2. Connor Murphy returns to Arizona, too.

The man Hjalmarsson was traded for will also be returning to a place he called home for four years. Murphy's role with the Coyotes increased every year before he was dealt to the Blackhawks as part of a shake-up for both teams, so you know he's going to play with something to prove.

Murphy is a physical defenseman, and has laid several notable big hits this season. His former teammates surely know it, and may want to keep their heads up.

3. Patrick Kane 2.0?

Ever since he was drafted with the No. 7 overall pick in 2016, Clayton Keller has drawn comparisons to Kane. They're both undersized, offensive playmakers, possess supreme stick-handling abilities and are American-born players.

Keller got a brief taste of NHL action last year, but he's secured a full-time spot with the Coyotes this season and has been arguably their best player so far.

The 19-year-old forward paces all rookies with five goals and ranks second with seven points, and leads the Coyotes in both categories. Expect to see his name as a finalist for the Calder Trophy for the league's top rookie at the end of the season.