Blackhawks

Blackhawks' win streak snapped; Toews injured

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Blackhawks' win streak snapped; Toews injured

Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010
Posted 9:39 PM Updated 11:02 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks were outhit, outhustled and outplayed by the St. Louis Blues for 60 minutes on Tuesday night. If not for their goaltender, it wouldve been a lot worse.

Marty Turco stopped 40 of 43 shots, but the Blackhawks could muster little in defense or offense as the Blues beat them 3-1 at Scottrade Center on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks didnt have much jump from the start on Tuesday, and it didnt get any better when Jonathan Toews was lost to an upper-body injury 13 minutes into the game.

Toews was hit by Blues forward Matt DAgostini near the boards, his right shoulder going into them as he fell. Coach Joel Quenneville said theyll know more Wednesday on how Toews is.

Turco, meanwhile, was outstanding. In his second consecutive start, Turco was once again busy, active and big. He made 18 of his 40 stops in the first period.

Marty was great, coach Quenneville said. Its 1-1 going into the third period, a great spot to be in. We werent deserving of it at all.

Patrick Sharp said Turco was our best player, no question about that. He saved us on a number of opportunities and created scoring chances for us. That (outing) was not good enough for us as a team and we know that.

For Turco, it was his second consecutive strong outing.

It was good to get in the last game; slapping the posts makes a big difference. I felt better than I thought I would, Turco said. (Tuesday) you want something so bad, to play well on the road and get a win. Its less about me and more about us.

The Blackhawks were actually down three players in about a 10-minute span in the second period. Troy Brouwer took a puck to his left leg and left for a few minutes, as did defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson. Both returned and finished the game.

But even in those opening minutes when the Blackhawks were at full strength, they had no jump, no fire and no push against the physical and pace-pushing Blues. Quenneville called it brutal.

Maybe we get (Patrick) Kane and (Marian) Hossa back and we think its going to be easy again, he said. We need to play hard and simple. We need to get rid of that cutesy stuff.

Even John Scotts lengthy and successful fight against Cam Janssen early couldnt spark the Blackhawks. Scott and Janssen went at it for several minutes, with Scott landing a couple of big rights on the Blues right wing, who refused to go easily.

I dont know if we were complacent or wanted an easy game, but we just didnt want to battle, Scott said. They were all over us in the first. It was just a bad game for us all around.

Kane returns

Patrick Kane returned to the lineup on Tuesday, playing his first game since sustaining his left-ankle injury on Dec. 5. He played just under 20 minutes.

I definitely couldve played better, Kane said. I think after an injury like that you try to feel it out a little bit. But I can bring more for sure.

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

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: 'Our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs'

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: 'Our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs'

Jonathan Toews watched a lot of playoff hockey this spring. 

"Quite a bit," he admitted Wednesday before making his Chicago Pro Hockey League debut at MB Ice Arena. "More than usual."

That's because the Blackhawks missed out on the postseason for the first time since his rookie year in 2007-08. It's obviously not a position he'd like himself or his team to be in, especially after experiencing three Stanley Cups in a six-year span.

But you have to find a way to take the positives out of it at this point and let it fuel you for the upcoming campaign.

"You always want to be there playing," Toews said. "But when you can maybe step away from the game a little bit and just kind of breathe and — at the same time, look back and realize you’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of success. Obviously there’s no satisfaction there, but you understand it’s not the worst thing to stop and smell the roses and appreciate what you’ve been able to experience, because I think failing to get to the playoffs makes you realize how difficult it really is and maybe it’s something you took for granted.

"But watching more hockey this spring, I think, is something that was really motivating and kind of inspiring and exciting to want to get back to that level again. You dream of playing in the NHL, but at the end of the day, you want to play playoff hockey. That’s what it’s all about."

There were plenty of things that went wrong for the Blackhawks last season and contributed to why they watched the playoffs from home, whether it's the Corey Crawford injury, the down season from Brandon Saad, or the inexperience on the blue line.

For Toews, who turned 30 in April, it's about regaining that old form that made him one of the top players in the NHL and hoping it can filter down the rest of the Blackhawks lineup.

"For me, it’s part of just recapturing that energy, that motivation, excitement and that mindset of a young player who takes nothing for granted, that you had in your younger days," he said. "But also carrying the experience with you and understanding the impact of what you say, what you do, how you carry yourself can impact your teammates, especially the young guys. For me, it comes down to knowing what to say at the right time. But letting my play be the thing that helps me lead by example. No better time than now to use that experience and that excitement trying to rebound off the season we had last year."

If there's any reason to have belief that the Blackhawks can turn it around quickly, look no further than the two teams that collided in the Stanley Cup Final: Vegas and Washington. 

The Golden Knights had the longest odds to win it all at the beginning of the season while the Capitals' championship window was perceived to be closed after they failed to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017 in the second round yet again with a loaded roster. But it's not about what's on paper.

"Watching that last series, you just knew it came down to who had the most, the deepest belief in themselves," Toews said. "I even had a hard time predicting who was going to win every series. It could’ve gone either way in a lot of situations. It’s not only motivating, seeing how fast that play was and to have missed out on playoff hockey this year and to have the drive to get back there, but knowing if you do sneak into the playoffs it doesn’t matter. You can go a long way.

"For us, thinking, 'OK, we're gonna back and win a Stanley Cup this year,' it sounds like a long shot. But as always, our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs and being ready to hit our stride when we get there."

Stan Bowman explains how Blackhawks may utilize extra cap space

Stan Bowman explains how Blackhawks may utilize extra cap space

The Blackhawks had cap space to use this summer but elected to shore up their depth rather than make a splash when free agency opened up on July 1. Perhaps a large reason for that was because Marian Hossa's $5.275 million cap hit over the next three years complicated what they could do exactly in the short term without jeopardizing the long term.

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman admitted Tuesday that they had had discussions about moving Hossa's contract for a year now. But it finally reached a point where they simply needed to get it off their hands, even if it meant giving up Vinnie Hinostroza as a sweetener.

"We tried to make that deal work in every other way possible but they obviously said he had to be in it," Bowman said of including Hinostroza.

That's how important it was to free up even more cap space. By trading Hossa's contract in a nine-piece trade with the Arizona Coyotes, it created more options for the Blackhawks and financial flexibility going forward.

"It was a difficult trade from a sentimental perspective, because we'd love to not have to do that," Bowman said. "But on the practical matter, it was becoming challenging to try to operate with that contract here. It necessitated us trying to make the move that we did make. You don't know when those opportunities are going to come to try and make that type of a move. ... When this presented itself, we talked it through and got to the point where we thought it was something we had to take advantage of."

The problem for the short term is, it's mid-July and the big-name free agents are off the market. There's not much the Blackhawks can do to improve their roster externally unless they make a trade, which would require dipping into the pipeline.

And it's unfair to put a grade on the Hossa trade as a whole without seeing how they utilize that extra cap space. Could that be before the 2018-19 season starts?

"It's an option if we can find the right player or the right situation," Bowman said. "We certainly have more options now than we did before. I wouldn't say we have to do something. Having cap space is an asset in and of itself, so things will come along maybe in the summer or maybe in the beginning part of the year where teams have a couple players that make their team unexpectedly and that makes some other players more expendable. In the past we probably haven't really been a good match for those types of situations because we didn't have the cap room at that time, so now we're going to be in the mix for those types of things.

"Whether we use it right away or whether we use it during the season, I think the nice thing is we have the flexibility now going in to the coming years where we're going to need cap room, all that and more, to sign the young players."

It doesn't sound like there's much urgency to pull something off between now and when training camp rolls around in September. At least for now.

That doesn't mean there won't be once the market picks back up again. 

"Each year teams have surprises, good and bad, in camp," Bowman said. "Our team’s the same way. You have ideas on how your lines are going to look or how your players are going to be ready. Sometimes guys surprise you in a good way, sometimes it’s not what you think. There’ll be some adjustments around the league, but probably not a lot of activity.

"If you look back the last couple of seasons, late July and August are quieter as far as transactions. But there are some arbitration cases coming up around the league; those may get settled ahead of time. But if they do go to arbitration, if the number's not the way the team likes it, they may look to do something. There’s the possibility of moves, but probably closer to training camp is more when changes may happen."