Blackhawks get back on track with win over Coyotes

Blackhawks get back on track with win over Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Blackhawks were relieved more than reveling late Thursday night. 

For the first 20 minutes it looked like the desert air was good for what was ailing them. They were shooting, they were scoring – even on the power play – and they were manhandling the Arizona Coyotes in every facet of the game. But a bad second period had the Blackhawks clinging to a one-goal lead instead of playing with a three-goal one, and they found a way to hang onto it.

Patrick Kane scored a power-play goal, as did Marian Hossa, and the Blackhawks survived a terrible second period to beat the Coyotes 4-3 on Thursday. The Blackhawks remain in second in the Central Division, four points behind the Minnesota Wild. The Wild, who were idle on Thursday, still have three games in hand.

But the Blackhawks weren't in the most celebratory mood after this one. They'll take the two points and snapping a three-game losing streak. But terrible miscues in the second period turned what looked to be a lopsided game into one that ended up way too close.

"Just kind of let them back in the game. Gave it to them. We just can't do that against any team. That's one of the bottom teams in the league and they still come back," Corey Crawford said. "It's a good lesson for us."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!] 

The lesson almost went unheeded. The Blackhawks were Dr. Jekyll through the first 20 minutes, Mr. Hyde in the next 20. Their first period may have been their best period of the season, and two power-play goals (Kane and Hossa) and Ryan Hartman's 11th goal of the season staked them to a 3-0 advantage.

Then came the second, and just 10 seconds into that the Blackhawks were on the penalty kill. Nine seconds after that they gave the Coyotes a two-man advantage on which Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored. Oh, and then there were the delay-of-game penalties. Three of them. In one period.

Asked if the second period was the Blackhawks' worst of the season, coach Joel Quenneville said, "it was the worst shooting the puck in the crowd."

"We gotta keep it in the building on three occasions there. Tough to lose momentum on plays like that," Quenneville said. "We played a great first period, great start to the game, had everything going, give up a 5-on-3 and almost got through it, but it got them going."

Trevor van Riemsdyk wouldn't say how blue the conversation got in the second intermission. He said the Blackhawks just took stock of where they were, despite that second.

"We just knew that we had a great first and the second wasn't according to the plan. But if you look at it from afar, one goal up on the road with a chance to win isn't a bad spot," he said. "You just kind of gotta look at it that way, come out and try to mirror that first period or just play the way we know we're supposed to [play]."

The Blackhawks eked one out. It was a night where they'll take the points, but they know a second period like that cannot happen.

"Big two points for us," Crawford said. "You want to play solid the whole game and I think that's just a good one for us to get two points and build off of all the positives."

NHL to potentially discuss emergency goalie rules at general managers meetings

USA Today

NHL to potentially discuss emergency goalie rules at general managers meetings

The NHL general managers meetings are set to begin next week and one of the topics on the docket to be discussed may be emergency backup goalie (EBUG) procedures. The recent interest in reevaluating EBUG rules come after 42-year-old David Ayres suited up to play for the Carolina Hurricanes in their 6-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs this past weekend.

The issue of EBUGs comes up so rarely that NHL GMs don’t typically give it much thought. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly spoke about EBUGs this Tuesday during the Washington Capitals and Winnipeg Jets game.

“It's something we've given some consideration to over the years. As recently as last year, we discussed [it] with the general managers. It happens very, very rarely, but when it happens, it obviously raises everybody's attention to the issue and whether there are fixes that need to be made to that particular issue,” he explained. “We have to work with the [NHL] Players' Association. Who's a player? Who's not a player? What qualifies all of that? But obviously we want what's best for the game, and we want to make sure people aren't putting themselves in danger by playing goal in a National Hockey League game. ... So that's obviously something we have to continue to work through."

Currently, the 2019-20 NHL official rules state, “if both listed goalkeepers are incapacitated, that team shall be entitled to dress and play any available goalkeeper who is eligible."

Ayres drives the Zamboni at the Mattamy Athletic Center in Toronto and frequently practices with the Leafs. Ayres stepped in the net after Hurricanes goalies James Reimer and Petr Mrazek were both injured. He made eight saves and is the oldest goalie in NHL history to make his regular season debut.

The Blackhawks had their own instance of needing an EBUG in 2018 against the Winnipeg Jets. Scott Foster, a then-36-year-old accountant stepped in the net at the United Center after Corey Crawford and Collin Delia were sidelined by injury. Foster saved all seven shots on goal, making him the first EBUG to make a save and a hometown hero in Chicago. 

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How Blackhawks are trying to stay upbeat despite roster subtractions

How Blackhawks are trying to stay upbeat despite roster subtractions

ST. LOUIS — The NHL trade deadline is a unique time of year for fans because it serves as a chance to get a read on what the management group feels about your respective team's current state.

There are the buyers who feel they're good enough to make a deep postseason run, the sellers who admit they're looking more towards the future and the ones who stand pat because they're somewhere in between. But to what degree is telling as well.

For example, the Columbus Blue Jackets went for it all last season by acquiring Matt Duchene, Ryan Dzingel and two other players in exchange for a roster player, three prospects and seven draft picks that included a pair of first- and second-rounders, fully knowing all four players could walk away for nothing in the summer. And they did.

Last season, the Blackhawks stood pat. They didn’t have many assets to sell, but they were knocking on the door of a playoff spot and decided to let it ride.

This season was a different story.

Erik Gustafsson and Robin Lehner were traded in separate deals for asset management purposes, and intentionally or not, the message was sent that the Blackhawks weren't good enough to keep the group together for a legitimate playoff push. Despite how deflating the roster subtractions could make them feel, the Blackhawks are trying to maintain a positive attitude for the remainder of the season.

"No letdown, no taking any steps back," Jonathan Toews said before Tuesday’s 6-5 loss to the Blues. "Stay on your routine, stay on your commitment, keeping that upbeat feel in the locker room and going out there having fun, working hard and putting your best foot forward [for] a win and getting two points every night, so that's all we can do."  

Head coach Jeremy Colliton commended his group for how they reacted to the outside distractions leading up to the trade deadline. He expects them to respond after it.

"It's our job to compete at the highest level," Colliton said. "I give the guys credit, those two games before the deadline we responded really well to the uncertainty. Pulling a player at the last second and they played hard, and that's what we expect going forward. The team-first priorities at all times and sticking together and playing to the end no matter what. If we do that, we'll get our results and let's see what happens."

It would take a miraculous run for the Blackhawks to make the playoffs at this point after falling below .500 based on points percentage following Tuesday's loss to the Blues. But they're not waving the white flag just yet, even though it would psychologically be easy to pack it in.

"You always want to be in the hunt and just fighting for a playoff spot," Patrick Kane said. "Obviously we'd have to go on a pretty big run to make the playoffs this year, but just take it a game at a time here. We've been playing pretty well as a team to be honest with you. I know the results haven't been there, but we've been playing pretty good, we've been playing some tough teams. I think if we continue on this turn we're probably going to get better results down the stretch."  

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