Blackhawks

'Worst period of season' ends Hawks' streak

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'Worst period of season' ends Hawks' streak

Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Posted: 9:09 p.m. Updated: 9:57 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

SUNRISE, Fla. Marian Hossa didnt mince words.

WATCH: Hossa brutally honest

That was our worst period of the season, said Hossa, referring to the Chicago Blackhawks first 20 minutes against the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

It was hard to argue with him. And for the Blackhawks, that lousy start was too much from which to recover.

Hossa and Patrick Kane scored in the second period, but it wasnt enough to offset the Blackhawks horrible start en route to a 3-2 loss to the Florida Panthers. The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak for the Blackhawks, who remain fourth in the Western Conference.

It was only the second time since Feb. 7 (loss to Calgary) that the Blackhawks didnt pick up at least a point in a game.

After so many strong games the Blackhawks came out flat and sloppy on Tuesday. The Panthers, meanwhile, were flying, jumping on loose pucks and rebounds and took a 3-0 lead after the first period. David Booth and Clay Wilson scored for the Panthers, as did Marty Reasoner, with just seven seconds left in the first period.

It was all about the first period and the start of the game. They outworked us and we had lazy habits, coach Joel Quenneville said. All three goals were preventable.

Corey Crawford was pulled after that first period. It was the first time this season Crawford, who allowed all three goals on eight shots, has been yanked early. Quenneville said it was more to wake the Blackhawks up than anything. Crawford understood.

I think it was the right move, he said. It was just one of those nights it wasnt going our way.

The Blackhawks did respond in the second period, outshooting the Panthers 15-4 and putting two on the board. Kane scored his 22nd of the season and Hossa added his 19th. But despite another 14 shots in the third, the Blackhawks couldnt get another past Panthers goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who stopped 37 of 39 on the night.

Marty Turco, who came in to relieve Crawford, said it was a lesson learned.

I saw our game at a different level (the last two periods), he said. Hopefully we realize we can play that way for 60 minutes the rest of the year. Good things happen when that type of effort is there.

The Blackhawks are right back at it Wednesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The first 20 minutes was certainly forgettable. Its the final 40 the Blackhawks want to take into Tampa.

We played well the last two but we lost the game, Hossa said. You cant take time off. We just have to play 60 minutes.

Blackhawks disrespectful?

Calgary Flames veteran Brendan Morrison is still sidelined from a knee injury he sustained against the Blackhawks last week. The center was also disappointed in taunts some Blackhawks allegedly said to him while he was laboring to get off the ice during that game.
Calgary Flames center Brendan Morrison claims he was disrespected by the Blackhawks while skating off the ice with a knee injury during their game on March 2. "I don't think it's very professional," he said. "But they'll learn." (AP)
What was a little disappointing was coming off and guys from the Chicago bench being a little disrespectful. That was uncalled for, Morrison told the Calgary media on Tuesday. I dont know if they understood what was gong on, but some young guys on their team were standing up and yelling. I dont think its very professional. But theyll learn.

State meeting

The Blackhawks will host the 2011 Illinois State High School Hockey Championships at the United Center on Sunday, when 09 champion New Trier will take on 07 and 08 champs Glenbrook North. The game will be shown on Comcast SportsNet Chicago at 6:05 p.m. Judd Sirott, Steve Konroyd and Chris Boden will have the call.

Tickets for the day-long event are now on sale. The Chicago fire and police departments will play at 10 a.m. which requires a separate ticket followed by the Illinois Girls State championship at 1 p.m. and a skills competition at 3:30 p.m. This is the 24th year that the Amateur Hockey Association of Illinois has hosted the state championship at United CenterChicago Stadium.

Tickets, which include parking, are available for 5. To purchase tickets or to get more information, go to chicagoblackhawks.com or call 312-455-7000.

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

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.”