Blackhawks

Blackhawks fall, make playoffs after Stars lose

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Blackhawks fall, make playoffs after Stars lose

Sunday, April 10, 2011
Posted: 2:01 p.m. Updated: 7:35 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The looks on some of the Chicago Blackhawks faces were telling: frustrated, bewildered, stunned. They had their playoff destiny in their own hands and in their own building.

But they squandered their chance. Now they need someone else to give them a second one.

Michael Frolik, Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith scored, but the Detroit Red Wings played the spoiler role well in their 4-3 victory at the United Center on Sunday afternoon.

The Blackhawks, who needed one point to clinch a playoff spot, finished with the eighth seed thanks to the Minnesota Wild's 5-3 victory over the Dallas Stars Sunday night.

Its so frustrating that its come down to this. Im pretty much speechless, said Jonathan Toews. The fact that were completely at another teams mercy right now, I cant believe it.

Coach Joel Quenneville, who along with many Blackhawks players will be watching that Wild-Stars game, said I should call the (New York) Rangers. The Rangers needed Tampa Bay to beat Carolina on Saturday to get to the playoffs; the Lightning did.

Were certainly not where we want to be, he said. Its a rotten spot to be in, fingers crossed, rooting for your season.

Patrick Sharp echoed those sentiments.

Its a horrible feeling to be sitting here. Youre helpless, he said. But well watch that game and see what happens.

The Blackhawks got the lead they wanted when Frolik scored about five minutes into the second period. But just one minute, 38 seconds later a bad Viktor Stalberg pass went right to Tomas Holmstrom, who scored. Sixty-two seconds later, Pavel Datsyuk gave the Wings a 2-1 edge.

That was tough, said Patrick Kane. We score and then we gave up one a shift or two right after and then another. Its tough when you do that. We had chances in the third and chances to tie it up. It just didnt go our way, I guess.

Detroit took two-goal leads twice, with the Blackhawks narrowing them down to one each time. Seabrooks laser shot made it 3-2 about four minutes into the third before Daniel Cleary put the Wings up 4-2. Keiths backhand rebound made it 4-3.

The Blackhawks got three power plays, including one in the final three minutes of regulation. But they couldnt find the tying goal.

On power plays, sometimes you need to keep it simple and get pucks to the net and get a greasy goal, Keith said. The puck was bouncing out there, and especially when its bouncing on the ice you have to keep it simple.

Now the Blackhawks play the toughest waiting game of all. The Red Wings spoiled their Cup banner-raising ceremony in the home opener. They may have demolished the Blackhawks Cup defense chances in the home finale.

I dont know how many times we seemed to address the same question: You wanted to avoid the situation where you were playing game 82 to get in, Quenneville said. We didnt get that luxury. Now we have to root for game 83.

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

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

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AP

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

The Blackhawks have said all along that they don't plan on carrying three goaltenders, but wanted to do so during the three games in four days stretch just in case, with Corey Crawford coming back from a 10-month layoff because of a concussion.

After being encouraged by how Crawford has responded to his return, the Blackhawks placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers Monday morning. Teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for the 25-year-old goaltender and would have to keep him on their NHL roster for 10 games and/or 30 days before he's eligible to go through the waiver process again.

His chances of getting claimed by any of the other 30 teams essentially depends on which teams believe Forsberg would be an immediate upgrade over their current backup — or starter, for that matter — or whether there's an injury to one of the team's two goaltenders that requires a placeholder, like we saw the Carolina Hurricanes do by claiming Curtis McElhinney from the Toronto Maple Leafs after Scott Darling's injury in the preseason.

If Forsberg goes unclaimed, the Blackhawks can assign him to the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs. With Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen sharing the goaltending duties in Rockford, it's possible Lankinen gets sent to the Indy Fuel in the East Coast Hockey League to get consistent starts under his belt.

A third option, one that isn't very common but we've seen in the past as recently as last October with Maple Leafs goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, is that Forsberg can be loaned to any AHL team while still being a part of the Blackhawks organization. This would allow the Blackhawks to keep Delia and Lankinen in Rockford while Forsberg gets his starts in the AHL, too.

Or, the Blackhawks could simply trade Forsberg to another NHL team that could stash him in the AHL, as long as he clears waivers. They did it last season with Chris DiDomenico, who cleared waivers as a member of the Ottawa Senators but was then traded to Chicago for Ville Pokka days later. Had DiDomenico been claimed by the Blackhawks, he would have had to stay on the NHL roster as noted above.

Forsberg was 10-16-4 with a 2.97 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 35 appearances last season but has not appeared in a game yet this year. He was acquired as part of the Brandon Saad package for Artemi Panarin in June 2017.

Blackhawks looking for defensive improvement from everyone, not just defensemen

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks looking for defensive improvement from everyone, not just defensemen

The Blackhawks were able to get away with their defensive lapses in the past solely because of Corey Crawford. When he went down with a concussion last December, those issues were magnified because he wasn't there to mask the flaws.

But it's reached the point where they can't rely on their goaltender to bail them out on a nightly basis, which is becoming another trend. Cam Ward allowed six goals to Tampa Bay on Sunday night, but made 49 saves — including 30 in the second period alone. He did everything he could to keep his team withing some sort of reaching distance and without his timely stops, the scoreboard could've looked much worse for the Blackhawks.

Something's got to change. 

When the Blackhawks talk about tightening things up defensively, they're not just putting it all on the defensemen. All five guys on the ice need to do their part and they're not doing it right now.

"I think we're trying to do too much and running around trying to do each other's job," Jonathan Toews said. "Sometimes we just need to simply and finish our checks and support each other."

No team has given up more even-strength high-danger chances through eight games than the Blackhawks at 110. That's 15.77 per 60 minutes. For reference, the New York Islanders finished worst in the league in that category last season and their number was at 12.96.

It didn't help that the Blackhawks spent nearly the entire second period in their own end on Sunday.

"We just couldn’t get it out of our zone, couldn’t get our stick on it, didn’t see pressure, didn’t feel pressure when we had it, were stripped," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Hence, we didn’t advance it. Kept looking like we were going up the ice and there were going to be some odd-man situations and then we’re the ones who were facing it."

That's one way to eliminate those high quality scoring chances, is getting the puck out of their own zone effectively or else it opens the door for Grade-A opportunities because of self-inflicted wounds. And it usually happens at the end of shifts when guys are tired, which often leads to goals.

"We have to learn how to play without the puck better and learn how to keep it," Quenneville said. "Whether it was our execution going up the ice, first pass poor and then we couldn’t change. A lot of things that happened yesterday were there tonight."

The Blackhawks weren't using three games in four nights as an excuse because Tampa Bay was in the same situation. It was an even playing field in that respect.

It's all about execution from everyone involved, forwards and defensemen. And the Blackhawks feel they're correctable issues.

"Of course," Toews said. "We've had some good periods this season so far. The first three, four, five games, everyone was excited and you guys are all talking to us much differently than you are right now. It's just getting back to playing that smart defensive game and playing with effort and letting our offense do the work. We know what's got to improve. It's right there in front of us."