Blackhawks

Crawford, Hawks edge Red Wings

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Crawford, Hawks edge Red Wings

The Blackhawks were missing their captain and two defensemen entering their matchup against Detroit, a formidable team to face even in optimum health.

But on a night when the Blackhawks needed the team-first mentality the most, they got it.

Jimmy Hayes and Marcus Kruger scored, and Corey Crawford stopped 31 of 32 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Red Wings 2-1 at the United Center. The Blackhawks have won four in a row and remained in sixth place, three points behind fifth-place Nashville, which beat Vancouver tonight.

Both teams were missing their elite centers. Jonathan Toews is day to day with an upper-body injury for the Blackhawks, while the Wings Pavel Datsyuk is out 2-3 weeks after having knee surgery. And the Blackhawks were still minus defensemen Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador.

Despite all that, and a 1-0 deficit early in the first period, the Blackhawks got a hard-working game from everyone to hold off the Wings, who had won six in a row coming into Tuesday.

It just shows you, when were all playing together and everybodys doing the little things defensively -- forwards back-checking hard and being better in our own end and defensemen blocking shots it makes everyones job easier.

Offensively, the contributions came from the Blackhawks youngsters. Hayes, who was recalled on Friday, scored his fifth of the season to tie the game midway through the second. Kruger crashed the net barely two minutes into the third for the game-winner, the first of his NHL career.

Hayes last two games are reminiscent of his strong play when he came up the first time this season.

Its just one of those things, being a big guy, youve got to be in front of the net. The shot got through, (there was) some traffic with Bickell there, and it just popped right on my stick there for a nice tap-in, Hayes said. The atmosphere was huge here. It was a big game for both teams, the one we needed to keep this going in the right direction.

And Crawford took care of his part, too, winning his fourth consecutive game. The Blackhawks No. 1 goaltender has allowed just one goal in each of his last three starts. Coach Joel Quenneville called Crawfords outing rock solid.

Hes been awesome the last couple of (games), said Patrick Sharp, who was stymied several times by Detroits Jimmy Howard. Its a tough position: you get credit when you win and take the heat when you lose. But in our locker room I can tell you we believe in him 100 percent. And to see the way hes working away from games, its definitely paying off.

Crawford said he got plenty of help.

The last 10 minutes of that game they had barely any (shots), Crawford said. Its another good game for us to play when were down for most of it. Again and we just keep playing our game, not trying to do too much to get back. Were playing a simple game, making the plays that we should.

The Blackhawks are playing with the pack mentality. They needed to against a team like Detroit. The losing streak is still in the Blackhawks minds, but more victories like this and itll be a distant memory.

Its a big boost (beating the Wings). Theyre in first place for a reason, Sharp said. That (losing) streak was good for us. Were playing a solid team game now, working hard.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

On the latest edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Charlie Roumeliotis is joined by Scott Powers of The Athletic to discuss Stan Bowman's comments following the Marian Hossa trade and debate whether they're finished making moves this summer.

They also provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks' top prospects and which players have caught their attention as development camp winds down.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

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."