Blackhawks

Blackhawks on outside of standings looking in

381569.jpg

Blackhawks on outside of standings looking in

Sunday, Feb. 6, 2011Posted: 4:20 PM
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

CALGARY, Alberta The Chicago Blackhawks may have been a bit surprised when they looked at the standings this morning: the reigning Stanley Cup champions are in 11th place in the West.

Yes, there are miniscule points separating them from the top eight, but there it was nonetheless: Blackhawks 11th.

When you looked at the standings and (coach Joel Quenneville) said it this morning at the meeting, you could see the disbelief on guys faces, Troy Brouwer said.

It is a little hard to grasp for the Blackhawks, who have lost three of their last four entering Monday nights tilt against the Calgary Flames. They are on the outside looking in, and its unfamiliar territory. Still, the Blackhawks are keeping it in perspective.

Its not discouraging for us because of the way we played, but we have to continue to that aspect of our play and going into the next couple of games well be successful, Brouwer said.

The Blackhawks have been a calm bunch since Fridays loss, despite bad calls and another missed chance at two points. But theyre looking at the games ahead of them, not behind.

You look at the standings, everyones really close and we just happen to be in 11th place. Its not a position you want to be in, especially after the 82 games are over. But we have about 30 games left and playing some teams were competing with, too, Patrick Kane said. Every games important. Weve got some tough games ahead of us but I think if we put it all together we should be OK.

Itll start again on Monday against the Flames. As of Sunday, Calgary was one point ahead of the Blackhawks thanks to one of those three-point games about which Quenneville often talks, the Flames 4-3 shootout victory over Los Angeles on Saturday.

Those type of games, and the Blackhawks inability to finish late, have led to 11th place.

We didnt take advantage of a lot of games, 11 games tied or leading in the third period and we come up with no points, Quenneville said. We have to be better no matter where we play here on out.

The Blackhawks were still feeling encouraged by their level of play in Fridays 4-3 loss to Vancouver. If they want extra motivation for Monday, they can always think back on their Nov. 20 game here, when the Flames beat them 7-2. Then again, just getting back into the top eight is motivation alone.

Were sitting in 11th place today. We can all sit around and panic but thats not really the kind of group we have, Kane said. Everyones confident with what we have in here what we can do when we play at the top of our game.

Kanes pain

Patrick Kane just has to deal with and work through his left ankle sprain he suffered on Dec. 5. He was reminded of that on Friday morning when he went down for a few minutes prior to the Blackhawks game against Vancouver.

With this injury, pain goes through the roof for a minute, two minutes, even five minutes sometimes. That one in practice the other day, I definitely felt it right away, after I was OK with it, said Kane, who looked fine in playing 21-and-a-half minutes and taking seven shots on goal -- that night.

If its a nerve or something, I dont know what it is. The pains tough for a bit, Kane said. And it messes with your head because youre down for a little bit and then a couple minutes later youre fine. But Id rather have it that way than the other way around.

Power-play switcheroo

Troy Brouwer took Marian Hossas place on the Blackhawks top power-play unit at Sundays practice. Quenneville said it was just a little adjustment, a little alteration.

Our power play couldve been difference in the game (against Vancouver), Quenneville said. It could be (Brouwer providing more net presence). Weve had it before, but either way we need the net presence.

Crawford in

Corey Crawford will start against Calgary on Monday night, making his first start since suffering a 4-2 loss to Minnesota on Jan. 25. Crawford doesnt anticipate any rustiness after the layoff.

Ive been practicing hard and getting ready the best I can. Thats the only thing I can do is make sure Im good and battle hard, he said. Ill try to do the best I can and hopefully Ill bring my best game.

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

Oilers, Blackhawks' play-in round opponent, release training camp roster

Oilers, Blackhawks' play-in round opponent, release training camp roster

Sunday afternoon, the Edmonton Oilers released their Phase 3 training camp roster. Training camps begin on Monday for teams competing in the NHL's 24-team playoffs under the league's Return To Play program. 

The Blackhawks, who were at No. 12 in the Western Conference at the time of the NHL pause on March 12 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will face the No. 5 Oilers starting Aug. 1 at Edmonton in a best-of-five qualifying round. 

Related: Oiler's Mike Green opts out of NHL's Return To Play program

Edmonton invited 33 players to attend their Return To Play camp.

Forwards Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl headline the team's roster. Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith are among the five goalies listed.

Western Conference teams will head to Edmonton's ICE District hub to prepare for the postseason tournament on July 26.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Blackhawks news and analysis.

How Blackhawks' Corey Crawford's career prepared him for Oilers series

How Blackhawks' Corey Crawford's career prepared him for Oilers series

When the Blackhawks signed Vezina trophy finalist Robin Lehner to a one-year deal last offseason, many thought that would be it for Corey Crawford. They thought Lehner would run away as the No. 1 goalie in Chicago and Crawford would disappear.

Those who still doubt Crawford, a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Hawks, haven't watched his career very closely. 

Just as he battled to lead the Blackhawks to a Stanley Cup championship in 2015 after suffering an off-ice lower-body injury and just as he battled back to be a reliable last line of defense after multiple concussions the last couple seasons, he battled for the Hawks' net this season. 

Related: How will long layoff affect goalies in NHL's 24-team postseason?

NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes thinks it's that experience of battling and repeatedly finding his game after long layoffs from injuries that could make him a dangerous opponent for the Edmonton Oilers in the best-of-five qualifying round in the NHL's 24-team postseason kicking off Aug. 1 at Edmonton, assuming Crawford is the Hawks' starting goalie. The Blackhawks begin their training camp for the postseason on Monday.

"For somebody that hasn't gone through (injuries) before, there's so many unknowns and then maybe there's question marks and the mental elevator starts creeping up at times in ways that aren't helpful," Weekes, a former NHL goalie, told NBC Sports Chicago over the phone. "But the fact that he's had that experience in battling back from injury and coming back a long way and having extended layoffs, this isn't foreign to him. 

"So in that respect, it should be beneficial in a weird way and also give him the chance to heal up and rest up even more by way of this extended pause. I think that those things play in his favor. Those things should be playing in his favor for sure."

Related: How Blackhawks can beat Oilers with 'wealth of success' in qualifying round

This year, Crawford competed hard for the No. 1 goalie role. Leading up to the NHL pause on March 12, he had made 39 starts (16-20-3) and had a goals-against average of 2.77 with a .917 save percentage before the Hawks traded Lehner to the Vegas Golden Knights ahead of the trade deadline. With the Blackhawks, Lehner made 31 starts (16-10-5) and had a goals-against average of 3.01 and a .918 save percentage. Both tenders' numbers were hurt by an often struggling Hawks defense this year.

"I've always been a huge advocate of Crow. Crow's had an excellent run in Chicago," Weekes said. "I think the biggest challenge for him, which we all know, which isn't a state secret, (there's) just been some health challenges and he always battles back. Crow's a guy that'll battle and he's been able to come a long way back and rediscover his game, which is hard to do after layoffs, let alone multiple ones. 

"And I think this year, once he got back, talking to their goalie coach in Jimmy Waite and you got to credit Jimmy because he's put in so much work to be able to regroup Crow, numerous times. So this season specifically, when he first started, it was a little bit of a slow start as expected because he had such an extended layoff. 

Related: What's Blackhawks' key to victory over Oilers in NHL play-in series?

"But, I really think with them having Robin Lehner, it really helped because they didn't have to throw Crow right into the fire. And then Crow hit his stride and he's playing really well. ... He's played really well, coming down the stretch he looked excellent as well and that's great news for the Hawks because they're going to need him, especially in a shorter series in this play-in round against Edmonton and the fact that Crow has the experience that he does, he's played in huge games. 

"He's played in, obviously, Stanley Cup (finals). He's a winner, he's not afraid of the big stage. He's not afraid to play in a place like Chicago, he thrives on that and not to mention, internationally for Team Canada. I think where they're concerned, as far as his ability and his talent, he just looks like himself right now, which is great news for the Hawks and I know that his teammates have a lot of confidence in him so as long as he's able to... I know he's been on the ice, as long as he's healthy and feeling good they've got a good shot because he's been there before and he's done it before. 

"It's a unique opportunity for him and for his team, but he can lean on that experience of having played in big spots like the Stanley Cup Final and playoffs for years. That could be an advantage for the Hawks actually in that respect."

It's not clear who will start in net yet for the Oilers. Mikko Koskinen was 18-13-3 this year with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage and Mike Smith was 19-12-6 with a 2.95 goals-against average and a .902 save percentage. 

Although some of their numbers may measure up to Crawford's, neither goalie's journey can compare to his.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Blackhawks news and analysis.