Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: Blackhawks need to dictate pace

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Hawk Talk: Blackhawks need to dictate pace

Wednesday, Jan. 26, 2011
Posted: 6:10 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Joel Quenneville stood at the podium on Tuesday night, appearing to be somewhere between simmer and slow boil. For the second game in a row, the Chicago Blackhawks lost. And for the second game in a row, the Blackhawks started with their trademark pace before letting their opponents and their opponents games take over.

It was like the last game. Philly went up 1-0 and we slowed down. (The Wild) made it 2-2 and we slowed down, Quenneville said Tuesday night. When we slow down and look for plays, we get victimized by the other teams being patient."

This has become a 2010-11 Blackhawks problem: when it comes to tempo and pace, theyve lost their dictatorship. Last years Blackhawks, more often than not, set the tempo and stuck with it. They dictated the pace, the speed set to high, and controlled the puck. And if the opposition couldnt keep up, well, too bad.

Its confounding that this is the Blackhawks problem. Theyve got plenty of speed. Theyre loaded with speed. Speed is the one thing they didnt lose with all their offseason moves. And for the first 20 minutes on Tuesday, that pace and speed was on full display. The Blackhawks were all over the Wild, controlling, skating. Dictating. The result? They went into the locker room with a 2-1 lead and the United Center crowd as revved up as they were.

And then it went away. Whether the Blackhawks just decided to sit back or the Wild decided to lull them into their methodical game, the Chicago's control and successful pace game was gone.

We had a lot of energy, pressure in the first period, captain Jonathan Toews said. We didnt keep that going for 60 minutes. Again, we wanted an easy win and we werent going to get it from that team.

An easy win. There are none of those in the NHL now, especially in the Western Conference where every night is a jockey-for-position fight. At the same time, the Blackhawks have often made it harder on themselves by getting away from their own game. When the pace is there, the victories usually have been, too.

The Blackhawks have had some of their best games this season against similar paced teams. They swept the Los Angeles Kings. Theyve beaten the Detroit Red Wings by a combined score of 8-2 their last two meetings. No worries of pace changing with those two, so no problem.

But not every team has that same mindset and tempo. For every Los Angeles or Detroit theres a Nashville, St. Louis and Minnesota thats going to try to trap you, slow you and methodical play you to death.

The Blackhawks of last year forced opponents to play their game. They were in control. This years group has to do the same thing. The talent and the wheels, especially, are there. The desire to be dictators has to be, too.

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

Four takeaways: Blackhawks follow same script in eighth consecutive loss to Jets

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USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Blackhawks follow same script in eighth consecutive loss to Jets

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-3 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place on Tuesday:

1. No words

We're running out of words to explain the Blackhawks' poor starts. Everyone is. They gave up three goals on 15 shots in the first period, and didn't record their first shot on goal until the 17:36 mark.

At one point the Jets were outshooting the Blackhawks 14-0 while leading 3-0 on the scoreboard. The Blackhawks have allowed the first goal in 11 straight contests and are now being outscored 27-6 in the first period over that stretch.

"At some point talking about it isn't helping," coach Jeremy Colliton said after practice on Monday. "Try to give them some ideas about how to fix it, but not dwell on it. We'll see."

2. Three unanswered

After going down 4-0, the Blackhawks took advantage of a Jets team that took their foot off the gas by scoring three unanswered — two in the second period and one in the third — to cut their deficit to 4-3.

It followed the same script as the past several games, where the Blackhawks get off to a poor start, push back, and then come up short of a potential comeback. They're shooting themselves in the foot and until they get out of their own way, won't make any progress. The Jets scored the next goal to make it 5-3 — the empty-netter put it at 6-3 — and it sucked the life out of any momentum the Blackhawks were trying to build.

3. Careless penalties and a struggling kill

The Jets entered Tuesday with the third-ranked power play, converting on 28.7 of their chances. The Blackhawks committed five penalties — most of which were unnecessary or preventable — and the Jets made them pay three times. And they all came at key times.

Mark Scheifele's put the Jets up 1-0, Kyle Connor's second of the night extended their lead to 4-0 and Mathieu Perreault's was the dagger that put it at 5-3. 

On Sunday, it was missed opportunities on the power play that cost the Blackhawks. On Tuesday, it was the penalty kill. Special teams remains a work in progress.

4. Chemistry developing between Patrick Kane and Dylan Strome?

Time for a positive. The two best forwards on the Blackhawks may have been Kane and Strome, both of whom were on the scoresheet — Strome with a goal and Kane with two assists. 

It was Strome's fourth goal in eight games as a member of the Blackhawks and Kane's second straight multi-point game. Kane also extended his point streak to four games, and has six points (two goals, four assists) over that span.

But back to Kane and Strome as a duo. The two of them were on the ice for 9:34 of 5-on-5 time and controlled 64.7 percent of the shot attempts when they were together, and also generated four scoring chances, according to naturalstattrick.com. When they were separated, Strome's percentage was at 14.3. Perhaps Colliton will go back to that line — along with Alex DeBrincat — to start the game on Wednesday against Pittsburgh and build off the chemistry they're creating.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks prospects edition and World Juniors preview

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks prospects edition and World Juniors preview

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Slavko Bekovic and Charlie Roumeliotis talk about Adam Boqvist's emergence with the London Knights in the OHL, how his game has developed and when we could see him with the Blackhawks.

The guys provide updates on a handful of Blackhawks prospects, including Rockford IceHogs forwards Victor Ejdsell and Dylan Sikura, defensemen Nicolas Beaudin and Ian Mitchell, and NCAA's leading scorer Evan Barratt. Why hasn't Sikura been called up yet and should he be? What kind of player could Barratt turn into?

They also preview the IIHF World Junior Championship and which Blackhawks prospects to look out for.

0:55 – What did Charlie learn in 1-on-1 with Boqvist?

2:00 – How has Boqvist adjusted to smaller ice surface?

3:10 – How has Boqvist developed in OHL?

5:00 – What is the benefit of playing with Evan Bouchard on a loaded team?

6:45 – Boqvist comps with Erik Karlsson

9:35 – What did Knights GM Rob Simpson say about Boqvist?

10:35 – Brian Campbell helping develop Boqvist

12:10 – Boqvist on Sweden’s World Junior roster

14:25 – Sikura, Ejdsell and Louis updates in Rockford

18:45 – Evan Barratt leading NCAA in points

22:15 – Ian Mitchell makes Team Canada preliminary roster

24:40 – Nicolas Beaudin underrated prospect?

28:35 – Could Jokiharju play in the World Juniors?

30:00 – Brandon Hagel a pleasant surprise

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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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