Blackhawks stay hot, score big road win in Detroit


Blackhawks stay hot, score big road win in Detroit

DETROIT Marian Hossa recently said that this latest road trip, and the playoff-type atmosphere that came with it, was going to be a good challenge; were going to see where were at.

So far, the Blackhawks are meeting that challenge.

Patrick Sharp scored a power-play goal and Ray Emery stopped 23 of 24 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 on Sunday afternoon. The Blackhawks have won three in a row and remain in sixth place in the West, four points behind idle fifth-place Nashville.

In another game where the Blackhawks needed a complete team game, they got it. Emery was solid once again, and the penalty kill and team defense was strong against a Red Wings team thats always dangerous.

Its kind of what were looking for coming off the Ottawa game. We had to play another perfect road game and we did a lot of good things tonight, coach Joel Quenneville said. We (were good with) details, we had purpose and we were positionally aware. Everybodys contributing and we stuck together.

It was typical Blackhawks-Wings hockey on Sunday: close, combative and entertaining. And the Blackhawks power play, which had been so anemic for so long, came through early for them when Sharp scored for an early 1-0 lead.

Its a big difference when the power play can get one like that, said Sharp, whose shot got through a Jamal Mayers screen up front. Our penalty kill was solid all night long. Thats the way things are going to be down the stretch: tight, and goals are going to be hard to come by. Well take it.

Sharp was it it again late in the second period, with a sweet behind-the-back feed to Patrick Kane, who backhanded one past Joey MacDonald for the eventual game-winner.

I dont know if (Sharp) had eyes in the back of his head or said his prayers and put it into the slot, said Kane, who now has goals in three of his last four games. But it was a great play all around and a huge goal, especially at the end of a period.

The Blackhawks are getting more consistent in recent games. Their defensive pairs look more confident both Quenneville and Duncan Keith were again complimentary to new defenseman Johnny Oduya and Emery has been strong in several games. The Blackhawks top players are finding their offense again.

Its that time of year when games are tighter and the emphasis on them is big. The Blackhawks knew when they embarked on this trip they were in a precarious position in the West. With their last two games, theyre helping their situation plenty.

Its important were still winning games, Emery said. Were not scoring big numbers but were getting it done. Come playoff time, those are the kind of wins you have to have.

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch


Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.