Blackhawks

Crawford's shutout helps Hawks reach 40th win

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Crawford's shutout helps Hawks reach 40th win

Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Posted: 10:01 p.m. Updated: 11:15 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Brent Seabrook wasnt looking to do a Patrick Sharp imitation when he stood in the left circle on a late second-period power play. The defenseman just wanted to get a shot, any shot, past Florida goaltender Tomas Vokoun.

One blistering shot later, he had the game-winner.

Seabrook had a goal and an assist and defensive partner Duncan Keith had two assists as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Florida Panthers 4-0 at the United Center on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks, who won their sixth in a row at home, moved back into fifth place in the Western Conference.

Jonathan Toews notched two assists, giving him a new career high of 44. Viktor Stalberg, taking the injured Sharps spot on the top line, scored his 12th of the season. Patrick Kane and Tomas Kopecky also scored as part of the Blackhawks three-goal third period.

The Blackhawks struggled to get one past Vokoun through nearly two periods, as he stopped the first 21 shots he faced. The power play was off, too, as the Blackhawks got nothing on their first three opportunities.

Then Seabrook came through on the fourth advantage, blasting one from Sharps usual power-play spot in the left point for a 1-0 lead the Blackhawks wouldnt lose.

To be honest I just tried to shoot it as hard as I could, said Seabrook, who wore the A in Sharps absence. Toews made a great pass to Duncan and him to me, and I just tried to let it rip and it ended up in the back of the net.

Corey Crawford did the rest on the other end, stopped all 23 Panthers shots for his fourth shutout of the season. It was a sweeter ending for Crawford, who was pulled after allowing three goals on eight shots against Florida on March 8.

I wasnt happy with the last game I played in Florida, just wanted to come back strong and have a good game against them, Crawford said. You cant force anything, especially against a team like this thats pretty much looking for that. We were waiting for them to push the offense and then we capitalized on it.

And with Florida trying to get back in the third, the Blackhawks did exactly that. Stalberg scored 46 seconds into the final frame, and Kane and Kopecky scored within 5:01 of each other late in regulation.

If you watched (Florida) play (Tuesday) night against the Rangers, it was a very comparable start. We just wanted to make sure we didnt change too much, dont get frustrated, coach Joel Quenneville said. Playing with the lead is a lot more comfortable than playing when its anyones ballgame.
Bowman on Bolland

Stan Bowman talked Wednesday about Blackhawks center Dave Bolland, who is still recovering from a concussion he sustained March 9 in Tampa. Bowman said its just about patience with his recovery.

Were always hopeful these things can progress quickly, Bowman said. Its really hard to say; a lot has been talked about with these kinds of injuries that you dont know. It could be rapid, could be slower. Were optimistic, but its just wait-and-see.

Bowman said he was satisfied with the three-game suspension that Lightning defenseman Pavel Kubina got for the elbow the league takes a lot of factors into consideration. I accept the way they handled it. He said the league also made the right decision in the lengthy suspension for Pittsburgh Penguins forward Matt Cooke.

Looking at reaction from league, other players and Pittsburgh (Penguins) themselves, they all concede thats not the type of play we want in our game, he said. We can talk about rules all we want and implementation of suspensions, but at the end of the day, its the players on the ice doing these things to one another. Theyre the only ones who can stop them from happening. The reaction to the leagues actions has been pretty consistent. Hopefully itll modify the way some players play.

Krugers debut

Center Marcus Kruger played just over 10 minutes in his NHL debut on Wednesday night. That included about a minute of penalty-kill work.

He did all right, Quenneville said. Hes aware positionally and I think his instincts are high-end. I thought it was a good start for him.

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

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

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AP

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

The Blackhawks have said all along that they don't plan on carrying three goaltenders, but wanted to do so during the three games in four days stretch just in case, with Corey Crawford coming back from a 10-month layoff because of a concussion.

After being encouraged by how Crawford has responded to his return, the Blackhawks placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers Monday morning. Teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for the 25-year-old goaltender and would have to keep him on their NHL roster for 10 games and/or 30 days before he's eligible to go through the waiver process again.

His chances of getting claimed by any of the other 30 teams essentially depends on which teams believe Forsberg would be an immediate upgrade over their current backup — or starter, for that matter — or whether there's an injury to one of the team's two goaltenders that requires a placeholder, like we saw the Carolina Hurricanes do by claiming Curtis McElhinney from the Toronto Maple Leafs after Scott Darling's injury in the preseason.

If Forsberg goes unclaimed, the Blackhawks can assign him to the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs. With Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen sharing the goaltending duties in Rockford, it's possible Lankinen gets sent to the Indy Fuel in the East Coast Hockey League to get consistent starts under his belt.

A third option, one that isn't very common but we've seen in the past as recently as last October with Maple Leafs goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, is that Forsberg can be loaned to any AHL team while still being a part of the Blackhawks organization. This would allow the Blackhawks to keep Delia and Lankinen in Rockford while Forsberg gets his starts in the AHL, too.

Or, the Blackhawks could simply trade Forsberg to another NHL team that could stash him in the AHL, as long as he clears waivers. They did it last season with Chris DiDomenico, who cleared waivers as a member of the Ottawa Senators but was then traded to Chicago for Ville Pokka days later. Had DiDomenico been claimed by the Blackhawks, he would have had to stay on the NHL roster as noted above.

Forsberg was 10-16-4 with a 2.97 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 35 appearances last season but has not appeared in a game yet this year. He was acquired as part of the Brandon Saad package for Artemi Panarin in June 2017.

Blackhawks looking for defensive improvement from everyone, not just defensemen

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks looking for defensive improvement from everyone, not just defensemen

The Blackhawks were able to get away with their defensive lapses in the past solely because of Corey Crawford. When he went down with a concussion last December, those issues were magnified because he wasn't there to mask the flaws.

But it's reached the point where they can't rely on their goaltender to bail them out on a nightly basis, which is becoming another trend. Cam Ward allowed six goals to Tampa Bay on Sunday night, but made 49 saves — including 30 in the second period alone. He did everything he could to keep his team withing some sort of reaching distance and without his timely stops, the scoreboard could've looked much worse for the Blackhawks.

Something's got to change. 

When the Blackhawks talk about tightening things up defensively, they're not just putting it all on the defensemen. All five guys on the ice need to do their part and they're not doing it right now.

"I think we're trying to do too much and running around trying to do each other's job," Jonathan Toews said. "Sometimes we just need to simply and finish our checks and support each other."

No team has given up more even-strength high-danger chances through eight games than the Blackhawks at 110. That's 15.77 per 60 minutes. For reference, the New York Islanders finished worst in the league in that category last season and their number was at 12.96.

It didn't help that the Blackhawks spent nearly the entire second period in their own end on Sunday.

"We just couldn’t get it out of our zone, couldn’t get our stick on it, didn’t see pressure, didn’t feel pressure when we had it, were stripped," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Hence, we didn’t advance it. Kept looking like we were going up the ice and there were going to be some odd-man situations and then we’re the ones who were facing it."

That's one way to eliminate those high quality scoring chances, is getting the puck out of their own zone effectively or else it opens the door for Grade-A opportunities because of self-inflicted wounds. And it usually happens at the end of shifts when guys are tired, which often leads to goals.

"We have to learn how to play without the puck better and learn how to keep it," Quenneville said. "Whether it was our execution going up the ice, first pass poor and then we couldn’t change. A lot of things that happened yesterday were there tonight."

The Blackhawks weren't using three games in four nights as an excuse because Tampa Bay was in the same situation. It was an even playing field in that respect.

It's all about execution from everyone involved, forwards and defensemen. And the Blackhawks feel they're correctable issues.

"Of course," Toews said. "We've had some good periods this season so far. The first three, four, five games, everyone was excited and you guys are all talking to us much differently than you are right now. It's just getting back to playing that smart defensive game and playing with effort and letting our offense do the work. We know what's got to improve. It's right there in front of us."