Blackhawks

Blackhawks visit Blues in Monday matinee

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Blackhawks visit Blues in Monday matinee

Monday, Feb. 21, 2011
10:31 a.m.

Associated Press

A pair of new acquisitions already helped the St. Louis Blues continue their recent success.

Chicago, meanwhile, is making its own push to get back into the playoff picture while awaiting the return of a familiar figure.

The new-look Blues try for a fourth consecutive victory Monday against the visiting Blackhawks in a matchup of Central Division rivals desperate to move into playoff position.

Hours after being traded by Colorado to St. Louis (27-21-9) for former overall No. 1 pick Erik Johnson and Jay McClement, third-year forward Chris Stewart scored twice in a 9-3 win over Anaheim on Saturday.

"It was a perfect start," said Stewart, who had two goals his last 13 games with Colorado after returning from a broken hand. "It was an easy adjustment."

Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who came over with Stewart a day after the Blues traded captain Eric Brewer to Tampa Bay, added an assist as the Blues posted their highest-scoring game of the season.

"We lost three teammates, great guys, and it was a bit of a shock," forward Andy McDonald said. "It wasn't like we had a few days to adjust. I think the guys handled it pretty well."

St. Louis is 13th in the Western Conference, five points out of the final playoff spot. The Blues are three points behind 11th-place Chicago (30-23-6), which is two points in back of the eighth and final postseason berth.

Looking to win consecutive games for the first time since Jan. 16-22, and trying to avoid a fourth straight loss at St. Louis, the Blackhawks could be without coach Joel Quenneville for a fourth straight game.

Quenneville was released from the hospital Saturday after being treated for gastrointestinal bleeding brought on by a small ulcer.

The Blackhawks improved to 2-1 under assistant Mike Haviland after Sunday's 3-2 shootout win over Pittsburgh, but they still have plenty of work left in order to defend their Stanley Cup title.

"We've got to be confident we can find a way to pull it out," captain Jonathan Toews said.

Though the teams split four meetings this season, the Blues have outscored the Blackhawks 7-3 to win both in St. Louis. The Blues have outscored opponents 15-5 during their current three-game winning streak.

McDonald and T.J. Oshie each had two goals with an assist against the Ducks. McDonald has four goals and five assists in six games, but only one assist versus Chicago this season.

Oshie has three goals with two assists in two games, and three assists in two against the Blackhawks in 2010-11.

Despite being pulled after allowing three goals on five shots Saturday, Ty Conklin could be in net. He was roughed up in a 7-5 loss at Chicago on Nov. 30, but stopped 25 shots in a 3-1 win over the Blackhawks on Dec. 28.

Three of Patrick Sharp's team-leading 31 goals have come against St. Louis, but the All-Star MVP was held without a point in that December contest.

Sharp scored his third in two games Sunday and Patrick Kane had the lone shootout goal as the Blackhawks won for the fourth time in 11 games.

Kane has two goals and two assists against the Blues this season, but he's been held without a point his last three trips to St. Louis.

Chicago plays 14 of its final 23 games on the road where it has lost four of five.

Copyright 2010 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

What Jeremy Colliton has learned about the Blackhawks after one week

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USA TODAY

What Jeremy Colliton has learned about the Blackhawks after one week

It’s been a week since Jeremy Colliton took over as head coach of the Blackhawks. In some ways, it feels longer than that. In reality, he's just getting started.

Coming into a situation where the team had lost five straight games didn't help make the transition easy for Colliton, and dropping his first three contests as an NHL coach hasn't been ideal, either.

But he's been around long enough to get a feel for what he has in the locker room and how his players are responding to the adversity. 

Asked what he's learned from this group so far, Colliton didn't hesitate.

"I've learned that they want to win," he said. "They're extremely open to feedback. They want to get better. They want the video. They want the meetings. They want to talk. They want these ideas. They want to know how we can win. What's the plan? And it's right on down the line. The youngest guys I knew that because I had them in Rockford. But the oldest guys, they're almost the most excited about talking hockey and how we're going to turn this around. So that's been a pleasant surprise and makes me very excited about the future."

There are nine players on this Blackhawks roster with at least two Stanley Cups on their resume. Yet, none of them are satisfied with where they're at right now, which isn't surprising to anybody in Chicago. That’s why they’re winners.

The Blackhawks want to turn this losing skid around as quickly as possible and it's the veterans who are leading the charge in that respect, both on the ice and in the film room. That's the kind of leadership they have and need to have in the locker room, especially as a 33-year-old rookie NHL coach looks to gain respect of the group on the fly.

Gustav Forsling call-up comes at perfect time for Blackhawks

Gustav Forsling call-up comes at perfect time for Blackhawks

The Blackhawks recalled defenseman Gustav Forsling from the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League and placed forward Marcus Kruger (left leg) on injured reserve retroactive to Nov. 9, the team announced Tuesday.

Forsling, who underwent wrist surgery in the offseason, was sent to Rockford on Oct. 22 perhaps more-so as a conditioning stint and appeared in five games. He missed four contests with a groin injury, but is coming off a two-assist game against the Chicago Wolves over the weekend.

"It's been a long summer with the injury," Forsling said. "It's good to be finally back here."

The 22-year-old defenseman had three goals and 10 assists in 41 games with the Blackhawks last season before getting assigned to the IceHogs for the remainder of the campaign. He recorded five points (two goals, three assists) in 18 regular-season games and five points (one goal, four assists) in 13 postseason contests, where he really proved himself.

"Happy to have him here," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We think he can help us. He's a fantastic skater, moves the puck clean, with his gap he can really defend lines well, we think he can add something to our group.

"Really pleased with how we played in the playoffs for us in Rockford. He played a huge role, not so much power play, but 5-on-5 and killing penalties and that's probably how we see him here for now. But he can move the puck and he can shoot the puck and he's got a lot of tools. Watching his play down in Rockford since he's come back, he's picked up where he left off and he can play the left and the right side, so it's a positive for our team."

Forsling said Colliton was a "huge" reason why Rockford went on such a deep playoff run last season, but also credited his new coach for the role he played in his development.

"He helped me a lot [in getting] my game to be at the top and I felt like I did very good in the playoffs down there," Forsling said. "He just wanted me to be consistent and show up every night, play good defensively. And I felt like he brought that out of me."

The Blackhawks' roster currently sits at 23 players, meaning they will be carrying eight defensemen for now despite the team's reluctance to do so again this season after it backfired a year ago — Colliton said he's not against the idea, but isn't for it, either. Brandon Davidson (right leg injury) did not practice on Tuesday, which was believed to be a reason for bringing up Forsling, but Colliton dismissed the thought that Forsling is only here for insurance.

"No, we think he can play," Colliton said. "We feel that he's back up to speed and it's up to him to prove himself."

Forsling's call-up certainly comes at a desperate time for the Blackhawks, who have lost eight in a row (0-6-2) and could use all the help they can get on the back end. 

"More competition the better," Colliton said. "It's going to push everyone to be better. Guys got to earn what they get and that's good for our group, that's good for the minimum level of our team. They know they've got to perform every night. It's up to us to be clear with what we're asking from the guys, so when they go out or come out, they know why, they know what they have to do to go in, they know what they have to do to stay in, and I think the overall performance of the team will go up."