Blackhawks offense quiet in loss to Hurricanes


Blackhawks offense quiet in loss to Hurricanes

The Blackhawks went into the Christmas break with a whimper. They came out of it the same way.

Brent Seabrook supplied the only offense – and that was with just three seconds remaining in regulation – as the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Blackhawks 2-1 on Sunday night. It was too quiet a night for the Blackhawks, who hadn’t played since Tuesday and were just three seconds away from being shut out for their second consecutive game.

And for the second time in as many games, the team beating the Blackhawks was playing the second half of a back-to-back.

The Blackhawks had been finding more offense throughout their lineup in those last several games before Christmas. But they now have just one goal in their last two games. Marian Hossa said the problem was easy to identify on Sunday.

“I felt we played too much outside tonight,” Hossa said. “We had a few good chances but not enough. And when we did the goalie [Eddie Lack] saw everything. We got a goal at the end but it was too late.”

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Coach Joel Quenneville agreed about the lack of traffic.

“Not ‘til late,” Quenneville said on when that net-front traffic finally surfaced. “We got a little bit more predictable and we were more effective. They blocked a lot of shots but we were looking to make too many plays either entering their zone or into the slot that were denied. We’ve got to get greasier goals; that’s how you score in our league. You’ve got to take it to the net. I counted about six chances that were either empty nets or potential empty nets that we either misfired or didn’t bear down or weren’t hungry enough. That might have had us in the lead; scoring first was important.”

Justin Faulk got that all-important first goal for the Hurricanes, scoring his 14th of the season with just 18.2 seconds remaining in the second period. Victor Rask’s 10th of the season, which he scored about five minutes into the third period, proved to be the game winner.

The Blackhawks’ third and fourth lines had some of the better chances. Not surprising, considering those six players are the ones usually playing that hard-driving game. At other times the Blackhawks seemed to get caught up in making one pass too many.

“I think maybe we’re a little bit of guilty of trying to be too pretty with the puck instead of just keeping it simple,” Duncan Keith said. “Throw it at the net and have one guy there and just do a better job of getting it to the net and guys going to the net.”

The Blackhawks wanted to come out of the Christmas break rested and playing with energy. They were certainly rested. But the energy, and the drive to get to the front of the net and make life difficult for Lack, wasn’t there.

“I think everyone was well rested so that should be to our advantage. Obviously we didn’t take advantage,” Hossa said. “This game, we should’ve played a little different. We didn’t have enough bodies going to the net and sacrificing to get the ugly goals.”

All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens


All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens

The second wave of Blackhawks defensemen is on the way. That's exactly where all the attention was when prospect camp opened up Monday at MB Ice Arena.

Nicolas Beaudin. Adam Boqvist. Henri Jokiharju. Ian Mitchell. Call it the Big Four. Where are they all at in their development? When will they be ready to make an NHL impact? Who's the most pro ready? 

Lots of questions. Those will slowly start to get answered and it begins now.

While there may not necessarily be an open competition among the group right away, there's certainly a desire to make a strong first impression in front of the upper brass that included Stan Bowman, John McDonough and Joel Quenneville watching on Day 1.

"Every NHL team has a lot of good defensemen prospects, so I mean obviously when you want to go out there you want to showcase yourself as best as you can," Mitchell said. "Obviously you want to be the best defenseman here so that's my goal going into this, I want to prove to everyone that I'm a good defenseman, I deserve to play at the next level. Obviously there's lots of good players here, but you're trying to all succeed."

Said Beaudin: "There's a lot of competition. There's a lot of good, young defensemen. I think you just need to be different when you play when you show what you can do."

Said Boqvist: "I'm trying to be better every day. Of course I will play in the NHL one day and win Stanley Cups, so that's my mindset."

The theme? Focus on your own game, take what you learn out of this week and apply those tools in your game when advancing your development next season. The rest will take care of itself.

Mitchell will go back to Denver for his sophomore campaign to continue his development. Beaudin is expected to return to the QMJHL with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Boqvist signed with the OHL's London Knights, where he will look to get accustomed to the North American style of play.

For Jokiharju, the goal is different. This is his second development camp. He signed an entry-level contract in June. Making the big club is a real goal and a legitimate possibility for a Blackhawks team looking for young, impact defensemen immediately.

"I think if Henri has a really good summer of training, comes into camp, I certainly thinks he gets a good look," Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley told NBC Sports Chicago last month.

Jokiharju showed poise and confidence with and without the puck during drills, like someone who knows this is only the first step towards that ultimate goal.

"Yeah," Jokiharju responded when asked if the expectation is to make it to the NHL this season. "You want to set the bar high, you don't want to set the bar too low. I want to dream big and that's the dream."

That's the dream for everyone. When that happens, it's up to them. This week is a chance to set an early tone.

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery was identified as the victim in an early morning drowning on Sunday at the Hamilton Harbour, Hamilton Police confirmed. He was 35.

According to the Hamilton Spectator, Emery and his friends jumped in the water around 6:30 a.m., but Emery never resurfaced. His body was recovered later in the afternoon.

Emery played in the NHL for 11 seasons, two of which came with the Blackhawks from 2011-13, where he served as a backup goaltender to Corey Crawford.

In 2013, he teammated up with Crawford to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltender(s) with the fewest goals against in a single season, before going on to capture his first Stanley Cup. During that season, Emery went 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals against average, .922 save percentage and three shutouts.

The Blackhawks issued this statement following the confirmation:

The Chicago Blackhawks organization was deeply saddened to hear of Ray Emery’s passing. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. The Blackhawks will fondly remember Ray as a fierce competitor, a good teammate and a Stanley Cup champion.

The hockey community took to Twitter to offer their condolences when news began to spread: