Blackhawks

Toews out Tuesday, All-Star game unlikely

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Toews out Tuesday, All-Star game unlikely

Jonathan Toews provides so much to this Chicago Blackhawks team. For at least one game, his teammates will have to go without him and everything he brings.

Toews, who suffered an upper-body injury against Nashville on Saturday night, will be out when the Blackhawks host the Predators on Tuesday. Toews is officially listed as day to day, and coach Joel Quenneville said the injury, which prompted Toews departure in the second period on Saturday, is not serious.

Quenneville also said that Toews appearance in this weekends All-Star game in Ottawa is not likely. Asked if Toews could be ready for the Blackhawks Western Canada trek after the break, Quenneville said, well see. Well get a better assessment after (the break).

You certainly miss his leadership, how important he is to our team, Quenneville said. In a game like Saturday, you dont have him in all the areas. It changes the complexion to what our options are.

Toews was slashed on his left arm during Fridays game against the Florida Panthers, although he did finish that game. Asked if that was part of what caused Toews Saturday injury, Quenneville said there was no defining blow.

If nothing else, Toews injury comes at a time when he gets a good chance to recuperate. The Blackhawks have six days in between Tuesdays game and their next, a Jan. 31 game in Vancouver. With Quenneville deeming the injury not serious, the time could certainly be beneficial.

We miss (Patrick) Sharp already. We have to battle but other guys will have a chance (to play), Marian Hossa said. Im sure weve got everything to win the hockey game.

The Blackhawks altered their lines in Toews absence on Monday. Dave Bolland was centering the top line of Viktor Stalberg and Patrick Kane, and Michael Frolik centered the checking line.

Injuries happen to every team every season. The Blackhawks will be missing a big piece with Toews, although they may not be missing him for long. If nothing else, the Blackhawks face another test to see who else in that locker room can step up and help fill a void.

You get tested along the way; everyone absorbs a little bit more, Quenneville said. It adds more to your (overall) leadership when you lose your captain. You find out things, which is good for us.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: After 20 games, do we know the identity of this Blackhawks team?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: After 20 games, do we know the identity of this Blackhawks team?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast Tracey Myers and Jamal Mayers join Pat Boyle to discuss the teams wins over the Rangers and Penguins.  Have they figured some things out and what is the identity of this team after 20 games?

Jammer weighs in on Artem Anisimov’s big week and are there enough Hawks committed to net front presence?  They also discuss the surging play of the blue liners and did the Hawks fail to send a message to Evgeni Malkin, after he kneed Corey Crawford in the head?

Blackhawks’ much-maligned power play is now clicking

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks’ much-maligned power play is now clicking

It’s an annual rite of passage if you cover or are a fan of the Blackhawks: you question the power play, because there always seems to be an issue with the power play. You wonder why every season, given the talent on this team. And again this fall the power play has sputtered.

But a funny thing happened at the end of the weekend. The Blackhawks’ power play started to look good, started to generate chances and started to score. In 10 games prior to the Blackhawks’ Nov. 12 game against New Jersey they had just three power-play goals in 40 opportunities. In their last three games (vs. the Devils, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins), they’ve tallied five goals on 13 opportunities.

So what’s been working?

“I’ll probably give you the same answer as when it wasn’t working: pucks to the net, guys in front,” Patrick Sharp said. “We have the shot mentality more so than just moving it around and getting it set up. You look at the goals we’ve scored, it’s nothing overly complicated. It’s just getting the puck to the net. Just stay with it.”

Sounds simple enough, but the stay-with-it part has probably been the toughest segment of the equation. When the Blackhawks slumped they really slumped, and their lack of confidence on the power play was as evident as their lack of scoring on it. Yes, stressing over it can have its affect; and when the Blackhawks got those two power-play goals against the Devils it seemed to be a release.

“You get one, that weight gets lifted off your chest a little bit, you can play a little loser and maybe not grip your stick as tight as when things weren’t going well,” Cody Franson said. “When you’re confident out there you’re moving the puck cleanly, things happen a little quicker for you and give you those better looks at good chances. When you’re not that confident sometimes you’re not executing as well and things were moving slower and you’re not generating too much. Confidence definitely plays a big part in it.”

So back to what’s working. The Blackhawks started becoming more active on the power play, cutting down on the passes and increasing the shots. They’ve been there for rebounds. They started feeding off the success, be it with the power play as a unit or with individual performances. Artem Anisimov has returned to being a force at the net again; of his five goals in his last three games, two are power-play goals.

“A couple of broken plays and sometimes you get some breaks. You win a faceoff and make a quick little play after a couple of great opportunities on the prior whistle there that didn’t go in. I just think shots at the net and traffic and off that, sometimes they go in,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Our entries have always been alright this year, so we’re getting zone time and let’s get some simpler looks and sometimes they go in. I think gaining confidence there, it seems like we’re having the puck more and longer and sustaining some offense off it.”

The Blackhawks have struggled more than they’ve succeeded on the power play the last few seasons. But as their overall scoring has increased again, so has their power-play production. Good timing.

“People tend to say the power play can keep you in games and the penalty kill can win you games. Our penalty kill’s been great and has given us chances in a lot of games. [Corey Crawford’s] been playing pretty well,” Franson said. “And when our power play can give us success we find ourselves in better situations to try and win games.”