Blackhawks

Carcillo's chatter, contributions hard to ignore

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Carcillo's chatter, contributions hard to ignore

Daniel Carcillo is just itching to connect on a goal.

The Blackhawks left wing has come close a few times, including Wednesday night against the Anaheim Ducks, but figures hes just pressing too much right now.

Nevertheless hes looking forward to that first goal. OK, and even that first fight.

You cant buy one in the West anymore. My first year in Phoenix (with the Coyotes), it was every night, said Carcillo, whose been biding his time in that category. Obviously you dont want to fight when youre up unless someone takes liberties on a teammate. That hasnt happened. Its just little things I think about, just a way to chip in.

He has been chipping in. Its just that, so far, hes done it with his forecheck instead of his fists.

Carcillo has fit just fine on a line with Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, a combination that balances Carcillos penchant for attracting opponents attention with his linemates thriving in the space that creates. He was there again on Wednesday, giving Kane enough space to send that highlight-reel pass to Hossa for a goal.

You see Kanes highlight a lot but Danny was driving the net and distracting the goalie and defenseman, coach Joel Quenneville said. I dont think hes that one-dimensional guy who just provides energy. He has skill, ability, and hell get better playing with those guys once hes more familiar with them.

Kane appreciates Carcillos work on the ice, if not his talking off it.

Sometimes you have to tune him out on the bench because he talks too much, Kane said with a laugh. Hes good for us because hes that personality on the ice; teams are more worried about him than just focusing on us two. So its nice to have that out there.

Its not a total surprise to see Carcillo among the top lines. In his first season with the Flyers he was with Mike Richards and Simon Gagn for a good chunk of games. And hes reveling in this opportunity.

I know I can play with those types of guys. I never wanted to be just a fourth-line kind of guy in this league, he said. Every games different; Q likes to shuffle lines, so if its not going one particular period itll get changed up. Its a particular game I play and if Im not playing it, its noticeable. So I just have to be ready every night.

The line most thought wouldnt last past a game or two is still doing just fine through nearly three weeks. Still, Carcillo admitted he was taken aback when he originally found out this assignment.

Its been a bit of a surprise, coming back from (a two-game) suspension and being thrown on that line. I didnt expect that, he said. But I know what my job is, whatever line I play on and especially with those guys: get them the puck and get on the forecheck. Theyre two of the best in the league, so I just have to play Xs and Os.

So for now, the potential KOs will take a backseat. Carcillo has behaved himself, avoiding pot-stirring incidents. Quenneville said he commends Carcillo on his early-season discipline and is happy with his work with Kane and Hossa.

Carcillo is happy with his opportunity.

This is a good situation, he said. I just wanted to come here and show what I can do. And I think Ive been doing pretty good.

Briefly

Corey Crawford will start Friday night against the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Blackhawks will be looking for their first victory in Carolina since Jan. 14, 1998 (they won 4-1).

Was Dennis Gilbert's Sunday scrap the right move for Blackhawks?

Was Dennis Gilbert's Sunday scrap the right move for Blackhawks?

When Blackhawks defenseman Dennis Gilbert skated after Jason Demers, hitting him into the boards, challenging him to fight and beating the doors off him in the second period with Chicago leading 3-2, he was sticking up for a teammate and trying to give the Hawks some life, but it cost them a puck in their own net.

So was it the right move?

"It is if we kill it," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said of the Hawks being forced to kill Gilbert's instigator penalty. "And I think it sends a good message to the rest of the players that we're in this together and we're going to take care of each other. 

"But I would have liked us to react better the rest of the game after that and that's what we should do to protect each other. I thought that the penalty kill, we were looking for goals at times and when we had the chance to get the puck 200 feet down the ice, we didn't always do that. And I'm not against scoring goals, but let's be smart about it. It cost us."

Gilbert was responding to Demers' hit on Alex DeBrincat in front of the Coyotes' bench near center ice that caused DeBrincat to fall hard into the wall.

"Well, I think it was [a] pretty blatant [penalty] that was missed," Hawks defenseman Calvin de Haan said. "Alex's head went right off the boards. I don't know how they didn't call that one. But good on Dennis to step up and sometimes it takes a big set of cajones to do that. 

"He tried to get a spark for us and I think trying to stick up for your teammates is still part of the game, especially on a hit like that. Kudos to him and I think it was a key time in the game for us and he tried to turn the tables for us."

Gilbert received the instigator for going after Demers, which resulted in a Coyotes' power-play goal from Carl Soderberg. It was Gilbert's second fight in two games. 

"I think it fires us up," DeBrincat said. "I think he’s protecting me. I think he obviously thought it was a dirty hit and takes control of the play. 

"I think it makes a good play for me. I like that he does that. Obviously, at the same time we get a penalty out of it which is not always the best. 

"I think our bench can roll with that and try to kill that off. Unfortunately, we didn’t. Any other penalty we can probably kill off from that one."

Sticking up for a teammate in that fashion goes a long way. The Hawks have been missing a player that makes the opposition answer for their sins the way Gilbert does. You'd like to avoid taking an instigator, but the Blackhawks had an issue with a dangerous hit not being penalized.

It's up to the penalty kill to make that a good penalty. Unfortunately for Gilbert and company, they didn't get the job done. 

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Blackhawks are who we think they are: 'We're inconsistent'

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AP

Blackhawks are who we think they are: 'We're inconsistent'

Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton has always preached focusing on the performance and letting the results take care of itself. Over time, water eventually finds its level.

The Blackhawks are a hard team to figure out.

When they're clicking, the Blackhawks look like a group that can compete with anyone because they can outscore any opponent and win the goaltending battle with either Corey Crawford or Robin Lehner between the pipes. When they're not, they look like a team that's closer to the basement of the NHL than the playoff bubble.

Take the past four games as an example.

The Blackhawks outshot the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues 38-30 but lost 4-0 in a game that didn't feel very close. Then they went to Boston, where they knocked off the NHL's best team 4-3 in overtime despite squandering a three-goal lead in the third period.

Next up was New Jersey, where the Blackhawks and lowly Devils looked to be on the same playing field before the visiting team won 2-1 in a shootout. And on Sunday, the Blackhawks led 30-24 in even-strength scoring chances but racked up 27 penalty minutes and it proved to be the difference in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Arizona Coyotes, who are now tied for the Pacific Division lead.

It's challenging to evaluate who the Blackhawks are as a team because it changes on a nightly basis. So who are they?

"Well for now that is what we are," Colliton said. "We're inconsistent. And it's up to us to commit to doing the things shift-to-shift that will allow us to turn into something more. Simple as that." 

The good news for the Blackhawks is only six points separate themselves from the second wildcard spot and last place in the Western Conference. The bad news is the numbers show they're exactly where they should be.

As of Sunday, the Blackhawks have a PDO — a metric that combines on-ice shooting percentage and save percentage — of 100.7 during 5-on-5 play, according to Natural Stat Trick. The league average is 100, which suggests this is who the Blackhawks are through 30 games.

"We've just got to keep building on it," Robin Lehner said. "We got a point today, this time we've just got to respond. Next game is the most important game of our season because we've got to keep getting points here now."

Sunday marked the start of another tough stretch where the Blackhawks play seven of the next eight games against teams currently sitting in a playoff spot, all of whom are in the Western Conference, which only heightens the importance of these games.

The Blackhawks will take it one game at a time, but which team shows up for each of them is anybody's guess.

"They're all big," Colliton said of the next game. "It is important how we respond. Because we've had this up and down with our game and we can't expect to get where we want to go if that continues. ... You can have off nights, but then it's how you respond. So we got to respond."

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