Blackhawks must seize opportunities, points


Blackhawks must seize opportunities, points

Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010
12:11 PM

By Tracey Myers

SAN JOSE, Calif. -- The Chicago Blackhawks had one thing in mind when they embarked on this lengthy road trip. Well, actually they had two: get closer as a group on and off the ice and, more important, get points.

According to coaches and players, they're doing well with the former. The latter, however, still isn't up to their standards.

So with that in mind let's talk momentum: creating it, sustaining it, using it. The Blackhawks thought they had some coming into Wednesday night's game against the San Jose Sharks. The team had played, arguably, its best game of the season against Vancouver on Saturday night. Coach Joel Quenneville recognized that it was the benchmark.

"The way we played in Vancouver is something we want to get right back and that's got to be our mindset, got to be our standard," he said following the Blackhawks' practice on Tuesday. Yes, if that game couldn't be completely repeated, then a reasonable facsimile would certainly suffice.

And one of the best ways the Blackhawks could have done that on Wednesday was with their power play. Yes, the Blackhawks were taking their licks via the Sharks' heavy hitters, but some of those hits (including two boarding calls on San Jose) yielded scoring opportunities with power plays.

But given a special-teams shot to take momentum, the Blackhawks couldn't land the shots to do it. They may have missed their biggest chance when they had 44 seconds' worth of a 5-on-3 in the second period. They couldn't gain puck possession immediately, lost several seconds regaining it, then were hesitant on passes to Blackhawks right in front of the net.

Score there, and it's still 3-2 Sharks. But it's a swing nonetheless. The Blackhawks haven't done well with the 5-on-3 at all this year -- 0-for-4 now -- and it's been costly. Even in Vancouver their power play got them just one goal (1-for-8). But when you score six even-strength efforts, you don't have to worry about the power play as much.

Here's a quick look at the Blackhawks' power play on this trip:

vs. Edmonton: 1-for-3, five shots on goal
vs. Calgary: 0-for-2, two shots on goal
vs. Vancouver: 1-for-8, 21 shots on goal
vs. San Jose: 0-for-4, seven shots on goal

Against San Jose, power-play success would've offset their mistakes. It actually may have given them a lead before any of the mistakes even happened. San Jose, meanwhile, went 2-for-6 on theirs.

"We just have to be better on our power play and penalty kill," said Jonathan Toews. "That makes a huge difference for us against a team like that. We weren't good enough in both those areas."

Quenneville wasn't happy with playing from behind on Wednesday. He shouldn't be, because the Blackhawks shouldn't have been. But once it was done the chance to gain the tie, the lead, the momentum remained. It just wasn't done.

The Blackhawks have two more chances on this road trip, with Anaheim and Los Angeles on Friday and Saturday. A .500 road trip won't help a .500 team get too far in the standings.

The Ducks are always heavy on the penalties, so the Blackhawks need their power play working again. They need pucks at the net, traffic in front of opposing goaltenders. The opportunities will likely be there. The Blackhawks need to grab those, and points, soon.

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

Four takeaways: Blackhawks blank Blues to end losing skid, give Jeremy Colliton first win


Four takeaways: Blackhawks blank Blues to end losing skid, give Jeremy Colliton first win

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 1-0 win over the St. Louis Blues at the United Center on Thursday:

1. Jeremy Colliton's first NHL win

For the first time since Oct. 25, the Blackhawks are back in the win column. A weight has been lifted off their shoulders after going winless in their previous eight games (0-6-2).

But it was an extra special night for the Blackhawks, who helped Colliton earn his first victory as an NHL head coach and celebrated by giving him the game puck.

"I’m just here to help them," Colliton said. "So it's kind of awkward, actually. But I do appreciate the gesture and for me, it’s just, hopefully we can get some momentum going and build on it."

2. Corey Crawford puts up a goose egg

Going into the game, Crawford had a 3.07 goals against average and .901 save percentage, which are below average numbers. But he certainly hasn't played that way. He was often the Blackhawks' best player during their losing streak and has deserved better fate than he's gotten.

By stopping all 28 shots he faced, Crawford earned his first shutout since Nov. 4, 2017 when he made 24 saves in a 2-0 win over the Minnesota Wild.

"It's nice," Crawford said. "That's the goal, not let any in. But I thought everyone contributed to that. ... We've been waiting a while, kind of forgot what it was like to win there for a bit."

3. Power play breaks through

Finally. After an 0-for-10 drought, the Blackhawks scored a power play goal on their first try of the night and didn't need much time to do it.

Just 35 seconds into a Vladimir Tarasenko hooking penalty, Brent Seabrook cashed in after his shot trickled past Jake Allen and went in off a Blues defenseman's skate to make it 1-0 at 4:05 of the second period. It was the only goal of the game, proving to be the game-winner. 

The Blackhawks finished 1-for-2 in that department against a Blues team that came into the game with a 27.6 percent success rate, which ranked fifth in the NHL.

"It's a good feeling," Seabrook said. "It was nice to hear some music when they came in here after the game tonight. The boys are all fired up. The way we played going into the second period, being able to score a goal, hold onto the lead I think the way everybody played. Everybody stuck with it. Everybody stuck with the game plan. Everybody worked hard. It was a real team effort. ... It took all 20 guys out there tonight to get the job done."

4. Playing the right way leads to results

For six periods in a row, the Blackhawks have been either the better team or it was evenly matched. Giving up two power-play goals in 66 seconds to the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday was basically the difference in that game and special teams played a major role in this one as well. 

Colliton felt like the Blackhawks were, overall, trending in the right direction despite not getting the end results over the previous three games. He got both against the Blues, which was fitting considering the losing streak started vs. St. Louis.

"That was the part of the package that was missing," Colliton said. "Happy for the guys to get rewarded. It’s not a lot of fun to see the results add up. Very happy for the group, they battled really hard, especially in the third when the game was on the line. We found a way to get some pucks out and win some 50-50s and got a couple saves and hopefully that relieves a little bit of the tension in the team and they can play a little more free. Because we’ve been talking about it, but it’s easier said than done."

How Blackhawks are staying positive and adapting to Jeremy Colliton’s system


How Blackhawks are staying positive and adapting to Jeremy Colliton’s system

It's been a challenging week for Jeremy Colliton. He's winless in his first three games (0-2-1) as an NHL head coach, but has taken over behind the bench for a Blackhawks team that hasn't won since Oct. 25.

There hasn't been a winning feeling in the locker room in almost three weeks, which has certainly been difficult for a rookie coach as he tries to reestablish a winning culture while implementing details of his system on the fly. But they're seeing some progress.

"I had a really good feeling after the game," Colliton said on Tuesday regarding the 3-2 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. "I thought we played pretty well. Of course, disappointed we didn't get rewarded. This team needs some positive reinforcement with points. We can tell them, 'Hey, we're getting better guys,' and showing them the positive progression, but in the end, it's about results and we want to get them. That's going to be the final reminder that we're on the right track.

"When you're in a losing streak, it's hard to get out of it. You need to play really, really well. You need a couple breaks, but you often don't get them. You've got to make your own breaks. And we're close. Once we break through, that tide will turn and we can go on a run."

It's easy to squeeze the sticks a little harder when a losing streak is nearing the double digits, but the Blackhawks haven't shown any signs of that. There isn't any boiling frustration because they know they're close and can give more.

"I know we've got a couple losses, but just trying to get better every day," Brandon Saad said. "He's our new coach. We want to commit to his system and buy into his play. Once we get that going, we're going to have some success. Early on we had a few losses, but it's about keeping that confidence and staying positive. We've got good things going forward.

"It's fun coming to the rink learning every day, talking with him. He's got his knacks and every coach wants you to play a certain way and play within a certain system. For us it's just getting familiarized with that and buying into the system. It's always more fun winning. I think everyone has that hunger and compete level every day, trying to get back on the winning side of things."

A week into Colliton's tenure in Chicago, the Blackhawks are getting more and more comfortable with how he wants them to play the more reps they get. But it's still an adjustment.

"There's definitely some differences and some things we're trying to change and you're trying to do it on the fly," Patrick Kane said. "It's not the easiest thing when you're doing it in the NHL, but we played pretty well [on Monday] and probably could've had a better result, could've had some more goals, had some chances that we didn't really capitalize on. Hopefully it's all coming together here.

"I know we're in a little bit of a skid, but it's one of those things where we want to end it, we want to get some momentum on our side and then I think everyone will start feeling comfortable with where we're at. But he's implemented some things that I think are really going to help us."

It's difficult to make up ground in the Central Division and Western Conference as a whole, but there's still more than 75 percent of the season to go. That doesn't mean they can afford to take their time in snapping out of this eight-game losing streak (0-6-2), but there is time to get it right and go on a run to climb back into the playoff race.

They're not focused on the bigger picture right now though. It starts with winning one game, and as long as the Blackhawks continue to have the right mindset, it will get turned around sooner than later.

"We've got to keep the belief," Colliton said. "In my view, the only thing that gets in the way from us turning the ship around and having a lot of success is if there's doubt in what we're doing, if guys stop believing we're on the right track. So that's our job of the staff and leadership group to make sure we continue to believe we're on the right path. All we've got to do is show them the clips, show them the video. It's pretty clear. We will get it going here."