Blackhawks

Blackhawks' Sharp, Kane added to All-Star roster

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Blackhawks' Sharp, Kane added to All-Star roster

Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011
10:29 AM Updated 2:55 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Patrick Sharp has emerged as one of the best players in the NHL. On Tuesday, he was rewarded for that.

Sharp and Patrick Kane were named to the NHL All-Star Game on Tuesday, as the Chicago Blackhawks will now send four players to the event in Raleigh, N.C., later this month. Joel Quenneville and assistant Mike Haviland will also be coaching one of the All-Star squads.

Sharp, whose 25 goals place him third in the NHL, was happy to get the news.

I feel good about it. Its a huge individual accomplishment, said Sharp. I can honestly tell you it doesnt match up to what happened last June. Thats the most important thing. But with everything said, Im very excited and I cant wait to go.

He admitted it was on his mind these last few days.

With the two off days I knew theyd be announcing it and I knew I had a chance to go, Sharp said. You try not to concern yourself too much. You just do what you can on the ice. If those perks come along, its a bonus.

Sharp has been tremendous for the Blackhawks this season, from his consistent play and offense to the six game-winning goals hes provided that tie him for tops in the league (with Steven Stamkos and Dustin Byfuglien).

His goals have been very efficient for us and putting us in a good spot for a win, coach Joel Quenneville said. I think Sharpies elevated his game to be considered among best in the league.

Kane was fifth in fan voting among forwards. He missed several games with his left-ankle injury in December and has 13 goals and 20 assists in 35 games.

Its been an up and down season, between not starting off great and the injury, but the last couple games feeling like myself, Kane said. Ive proven before I can be an All-Star caliber-type player, and maybe thats why I was selected.

Despite suffering that injury, Kane said there was no way he would miss this game.

Two years ago I was going through the same thing with my right foot. I would never risk missing an opportunity like this. These only come along a certain amount of times, Kane said.

Captain Jonathan Toews, who was voted into the All-Star Game along with defenseman Duncan Keith, was happy to get a few more on the trip.

Ive said it a million times when Duncan and I got the nod: it wouldnt feel right if we didnt have guys like Sharpie and Kaner there, he said. Theres a lot going on this weekend and you get to enjoy it with your teammates for sure.

And, of course, the selections were a good opportunity for the Blackhawks All-Stars to have a little fun with each other.

I wouldnt mind going against Kaner. That little rat, Id try to throw him into the glass, Sharp said with a laugh. Then again wouldnt mind him setting me up for some goals, too.

Kane said, (Sharps) talking big in front of the media, before skate he said he wanted to wear No. 88 at the All-Star Game. You have to ask him about that.

Oh captain, a captain?

All-Star captains will probably be chosen sometime next week. Toews said hed be flattered if he was selected but isnt thinking about it too much.

Sharpies joking a bit but I dont see it happening. If so itd be crazy, Toews said. The joke is, if I am, I pick Sharpie last. A lots riding on it. Obviously you want to win that game. Whoever does end up being captain has to put some thought into it for sure.

When told Kane said hed vote for him as captain, Toews said, he wants to be on my line again, too. Hes talking about winning the car for MVP and only way hes gong to do that is if he has me on his line. Well see.

Briefly

Duncan Keith did not practice on Tuesday. Quenneville said it was a maintenance day, and Keith is expected to play Wednesday against the Colorado Avalanche.

Corey Crawford will start against Colorado.

Nick Boynton has the flu and did not practice on Tuesday.

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

Chris Kunitz on in-season coaching change experience with Penguins that led to Stanley Cup

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USA TODAY

Chris Kunitz on in-season coaching change experience with Penguins that led to Stanley Cup

In-season coaching changes are hard to predict in the NHL. There were zero of them last season, which was a rarity. This year, there have already been two so far (Joel Quenneville and John Stevens) and they're usually done for a similar reason: the group is underperforming and teams want to salvage whatever is left of the season.

Chris Kunitz was part of a mid-season coaching change as an alternate captain with Pittsburgh in 2015-16 when Mike Sullivan took over for Mike Johnston on Dec. 12 after the Penguins went 6-6-3 following a 9-4-0 start. It was probably time for a new voice there anyways, but the Penguins lost four straight games in regulation to start Sullivan’s tenure as coach. Things didn’t look great.

But it wasn’t because players weren’t responding. It was more-so the challenge of getting acclimated to a new system and unlearning old habits on the fly. That’s what the Blackhawks are going through right now with Jeremy Colliton.

“Some of the guys have played a different system and haven't played anything like this,” Kunitz said. “Being around the league, I've played in a system like this, I feel comfortable with the changes on the fly. But for some guys, it's not that natural instinct to do something different than they've been doing for 8-10 years."

In many ways, Sullivan and Colliton have a similar coaching style: play with pace, be aggressive on the forecheck, quick and clean zone exits. It helps having a guy like Kunitz in the locker room to help with that transition, for both the younger players and veterans.

Once the Penguins did get accustomed to the new system, they never looked back. They snapped that four-game losing streak on Dec. 21 and didn't lose back-to-back games in regulation the rest of the season. It was exactly what they needed. They went into the playoffs as one of the hottest teams — winning 13 of their final 14 games — and eventually went on to win the Stanley Cup, the first of their back-to-back.

Obviously, the 2018-19 Blackhawks are not the 2015-16 Penguins. But it provides a glimpse into how it takes time to adjust to a different system mid-season while also offering hope that it's not too late for a struggling team going through a coaching change to turn around their season.

"Any time there's something changing, guys want that 'why' or 'how does this affect what's going on out there?' Kunitz said. "It's easier if we talk through it as a group or with coaches to better understand why we're doing it and how we're trying to accomplish it and where the puck is supposed to be at certain times. Whenever we can just have that natural instinct to transition from watching it to doing it on the ice, that's when we'll have more success."

After going winless (0-2-1) in Colliton's first three games as an NHL head coach, the Blackhawks got back in the win column with a 1-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night. They had been making progress, but weren't seeing the end result reflect that.

The Blackhawks got reinforcement that what they're doing is working so far, as long as they stick with it. If they continue to do that, the points will follow. And that's all they can control right now.

"It's starting to believe in yourself," Kunitz said. "... It's a process of understanding the system and getting to the right level of comfort with each other, but also going out there and outworking the other team. That's what it boils down to.

"With changing the systems, it's more learning and trying to educate yourself. Go out and practice, coach says keep it clean, have good passes and the results will come. When we go out there and we keep it clean in the D-zone, when we've come up the ice we've had good things, we've had success. Probably haven't scored as many goals as we should have, but in the end we have to work harder in our D-zone and when we do all that and put a complete game together, I know the end result will be there."

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

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AP

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."