Blackhawks

Blackhawks on outside of standings looking in

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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.

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."