Blackhawks

Captain carries Hawks to fourth straight victory

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Captain carries Hawks to fourth straight victory

Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011
Posted 8:48 p.m. Updated 10:14 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks are finding ways to get points right now.

Thats good, because the way the Western Conference standings continue to play out, theyre going to need every single one they can get.

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Jonathan Toews scored two goals in regulation and the shootout winner, and Marian Hossa also scored as the Blackhawks took a 4-3 shootout victory over the Phoenix Coyotes on Sunday night. The Blackhawks, who have now won four in a row and five of their last six, are one of four teams with 72 points. Theyre currently listed in ninth place.

It wasnt the most comfortable win for the Blackhawks, who twice had two-goal leads on the Coyotes. But it served its purpose nonetheless.

We know its always going to be close coming into third periods. Its pretty simple what weve got to do better, said Toews. We come out with good starts, we get a couple goals. Its right there in front of us. We just have to carry that effort right through the third.

The Blackhawks didnt, however, as they got into penalty trouble in the second period and their kill wasnt effective. Phoenix fired back with two goals within six minutes of each other, both on the power play, to tie it up 3-3.

There are some areas we can be better, right from the faceoff (on Phoenixs second power play) that ended up in our net, said coach Joel Quenneville. We still had a good third period.

The Blackhawks stymied Phoenix in that period, allowing just five shots while they fired 12 at Ilya Bryzgalov, who stopped 38 of 41 in the loss.
Corey Crawford gets his left pad over to the post before Radim Vrbata can get the puck past him in the shootout. Crawford admitted he wasn't sharp against Phoenix, but felt better in the shootout. (AP)
Corey Crawford stopped 26 of 29 and all three Phoenix shootout attempts for the victory. It looked like Crawford was screened on one or two of the goals he allowed against the Coyotes, but the netminder said he wasnt having his best night, either.

I didnt feel the greatest tonight moving laterally, Crawford said. I wasnt as sharp as usual. I felt good in the shootout though.

The Blackhawks found a way to pull another one out. They had their glitches, for sure, but theyre keeping with the pack.

We understand the situation and were battling more, said Duncan Keith, who played a team-high 30:33 against Phoenix. We need those points and it shows in how were playing. Were a lot happier with the way weve been playing. Theres still more there, another level we can get to, but as the games go by here weve tried to get points out of games and were doing that. We have to keep doing that.

Hendry injured

Jordan Hendry went down in the opening minutes of the third after taking a hit from Shane Doan along the boards. Hendry, favoring his left leg, needed help getting off the ice and into the locker room.

Quenneville said theyll look at where he is Monday and whether or not they need to call up another defenseman. In his absence the five remaining defensemen had to play some extra minutes. Quenneville was pleased with the results, especially with rookie Nick Leddy, who played just over 23 minutes.

Nick Leddy had a special game tonight, he said. I thought he was quick with the puck, he made several elusive moves where passes leaving our zone were tape to tape. Hes absorbing quality minutes. He and Duncs are forming a solid pair for us. I like the trend hes on right now.

Briefly

Hossas goal was his 15th of the season.

Fernando Pisani and John Scott were the healthy scratches on Sunday night.

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

Recapping breakout OHL season for Blackhawks top prospect Adam Boqvist

Recapping breakout OHL season for Blackhawks top prospect Adam Boqvist

The London Knights set high expectations for themselves going into the 2018-19 OHL campaign. They always do. Their roster is usually loaded with top NHL prospects and this season was no different.

After finishing No. 1 in the Western Conference with 99 points, the Knights looked poised to go on a deep run. They got off to a roaring start in the playoffs by sweeping the Windsor Spitfires (4-0) and kicked off the second round by winning three straight against the Guelph Storm. But then, for the first time all season, the Knights lost four in a row to squander a 3-0 series lead and were eliminated just like that. It was a disappointing finish for a team with Memorial Cup aspirations.

One of the bright spots of the postseason was Blackhawks prospect Adam Boqvist. He was tied for first among all skaters with 10 goals through two rounds; no other defenseman had more than six. And he finished with 13 points in 11 games for a points-per-game average of 1.18.

To summarize his season: Boqvist scored one goal in his first 15 games. From that point on, he finished with 29 goals and 60 points in 50 games, including playoffs. He became an offensive driving force.

It's unclear what his future holds, but with Evan Bouchard expected to turn pro and secure a full-time roster spot on the Edmonton Oilers next season, returning to London would put Boqvist in a position where he could be the No. 1 defenseman in all situations.

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Blackhawks 2018-19 season grades: Front office

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AP

Blackhawks 2018-19 season grades: Front office

If we're evaluating Stan Bowman's moves as a whole, we have to go back to July 1 when the 2018-19 season really started.

On that day, the Blackhawks announced three signings: Chris Kunitz (one year, $1 million), Brandon Manning (two years, $2.25 million cap hit) and Cam Ward (one year, $3 million). Not exactly splashy additions after missing the playoffs for the first time in 10 years — although, to be fair, it wasn't a great market to throw money around.

Eleven days later, the Blackhawks traded Marian Hossa and his $5.275 million cap hit to the Arizona Coyotes in a seven-player deal that included top-nine winger Vinnie Hinostroza. Bowman acknowledged after the trade that he tried exploring every possible avenue before surrendering that the financial flexibility became more valuable.

But the trade might've put the team in a better position going into free agency had it been executed before July 1. Because of all that, Bowman's grade isn't looking great so far.

Then we get into the actual regular season.

The biggest move Bowman made was the coaching change on Nov. 6 in going from future Hall of Famer Joel Quenneville to Jeremy Colliton, which was a controversial decision in and of itself, especially the timing of it.

“There’s no perfect way to do things," Bowman admitted. "I think we made the best of it at the time. It’s one of those things where you’ve just gotta get through it. I think he’s gonna benefit from not only having a training camp next year but also we had this whole long stretch of a season. ... We’ve got a lot more things we want to get to, and I think we did a good job of — it’s a good start, but I’m sure Jeremy will tell you that we want to be way better next year and we’re gonna push our players to be better. We’re gonna try to do things differently. It’s not just taking this exact same program and we’ll start that. We want to do different things as well and enhance our team. I think there’s reason for hope there.”

Where did Bowman start to earn high marks? The roster tinkering, beginning in late November.

Perhaps recognizing that Nick Schmaltz wasn't progressing the way the team would have liked in a contract season, Bowman dealt him for a potential future second-line center in Dylan Strome and replenished the top-nine forward they lost in Hinostroza with Brendan Perlini, who showed flashes down the stretch. That's turned out to be a win-win for both sides.

The trade that was very clearly one-sided is the one Bowman pulled off with Peter Chiarelli, who was later relieved of his GM duties with the Edmonton Oilers.

Not only did Bowman acquire rugged winger Drake Caggiula, who became such a valuable part of the Blackhawks' second-half turnaround because he was a perfect complement for Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on the top line, but he unloaded the contract of Manning without having to retain salary or giving up an important piece of the roster. It essentially gave the Blackhawks an extra $2.25 million to work with this summer, which shouldn't go unnoticed when you look at how deep the 2019 free agent class is.

Bowman essentially undid the mistake he made and put the Blackhawks in an even better position going into this offseason by adding a useful player on top of it. So he certainly upped his overall grade.

Now it's time to spend the money he cleared in getting rid of the contracts of Hossa and Manning, and continue building around the current core.

"We're not going to bring the same group back," Bowman said. "That's clear. We don't do that really any year. There's changes to every team, even a team that ends up winning the Cup this year will have some different players. We're going to have some new players next year. What we're going to do is try to improve in the areas where our team needs some help and the way that looks isn't completely clear right now, but we have time over the next couple months to dive in and look at our team in greater detail and figure out how we're going to make that happen.

"There's obviously free agent signings, there's trades, there's growth from within. Those are the ways that your team improves from year to year and we're going to do that. So we're going to have some new players here next year for sure but we have a lot of players that are going to be back and I think a lot of the key guys who had good seasons they're coming back for sure, so we don't need across the board changes but we do need some new players."

Front office: B-

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