Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: Divergent Paths to a Collision Course

Hawk Talk: Divergent Paths to a Collision Course

Monday, May 24, 2010
10:45 PM

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

Blackhawks versus Flyers.

The other Keystone State team as a Finals foe, after Pittsburgh swept them last time.

Back on March 13th, Cristobal Huet played one of his better games as the goalie competition was still up for grabs, leading 2-1 with just over two minutes left at the Wachovia Center. But a breakaway goal tied it, and Chris Pronger capped a rush for the winner with just 2.1 seconds left. in the only meeting this season. One of Pronger's main jobs now will be trying to quiet down Dustin Byfuglien. 6'4, 260 against 6'6, 220 with an extremely nasty streak. This is where the Flyers expected him to take them when they acquired him last off-season. He won a Norris Trophy in one of his nine seasons in St. Louis, playing under Joel Quenneville. These Flyers have two more regular D-Men 6'3 and another 6'5.

You want questions in the crease? They also have a goalie named Michael Leighton. In, out, waived by Carolina, on to Philly, hurt, back in again, and the owner of three shutouts in the East Final versus Montreal. He was a sixth round pick of the Hawks in 1999, went 8-21-10 for them when he got his first Big Chance in '02-'03 and '03-'04. Duncan Keith was a minor league teammate at Norfolk. His backup: Brian Boucher: 1-10-3 with the Hawks three years ago. Patrick Sharp and Ben Eager will face their most recent ex-teams before being traded to the Hawks.

Keith, Seabrook, Pronger, Toews, Richards. Team Canada.

Philly's gotten healthier after showing the heart of Rocky by stunning Boston in coming back from the brink, down three games to none, in round two. They made the playoffs on the final day of the regular season - beating the Rangers in a shootout, then stunning heavily-favored New Jersey in the opening round.

They're getting strong secondary scoring now. Sound familiar? They've got guys for United Center fans to hate: Carcillo, Hartnell, Laperriere.

They fired their coach in December when they were above .500, then hired a guy who won a Cup in Carolina (with Andrew Ladd), and they promptly started 2-8 under Peter Laviolette.

Their captain eagerly grabs the Prince of Wales Trophy Monday night. Our captain acted as if the Campbell Trophy would give him a life-threatening illness if he touched it Sunday afternoon.

They're the latest team to participate in the Winter Classic and make the Stanley Cup Finals - where they've lost in their last five attempts. Just like the Blackhawks. At least their last Cup-hoisting was a mere 35 years ago. Not 49.

How soon can Saturday get here?

Four takeaways: Jets win in overtime, but Blackhawks building momentum

Four takeaways: Jets win in overtime, but Blackhawks building momentum

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center on Friday:

1. Top guns lead the charge for Jets

The Jets are one of the best teams in the NHL because they're absolutely loaded up front and get their scoring from everywhere. The Blackhawks know this of their Central Division foes and after seeing them for the third time in two weeks.

On Nov. 29, it was Nikolaj Ehlers who had a hat trick. On Tuesday, Kyle Connor had a two-goal night. On Friday, it was Mark Scheifele (two goals, one assist) and Blake Wheeler (three assists) leading the way for the Jets with three-point efforts. The top guys have been a thorn in the Blackhawks' side this season, with Scheifele scoring the game-winner 50 seconds into overtime for their third victory against Chicago in 15 days.

"You can play really well against them for 58 minutes, but it only takes just an instant and then it’s in the back of your net," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "That’s something that we gotta learn, to play against those guys and in those situations if you’re going to be able to go head-to-head. A lot of it we were really good, we had let downs and it made it tough for us. But we did a lot of good things."

2. Last-minute goals

In all three periods, there were last-minute goals that changed the flow of the game. 

After the Jets took a 1-0 lead in the first period, Jonathan Toews responded for the Blackhawks with 10.2 seconds left to even it at 1-1. In the second, Mathieu Perreault scored on a breakaway coming out of the penalty box with 18 seconds remaining to put the Jets back in front 3-2. And then in the third, Erik Gustafsson tied it at 3-3 with 7.5 left to force overtime. 

"It's tough after a loss in overtime, but it felt good," said Gustafsson, who missed the previous two games with an illness. "I didn't know it was 7 seconds left, but it was good to see it go in. ... It was good to be back here with the team, too. I wasn't in the last game. We came out hard the first period and I think we played a solid 60 minutes. Tough break in the overtime."

3. Captain Consistency

Toews usually produces on the scoresheet in spurts. Historically, he'll go through stretches where his offense dries up for several games in a row. And then he'll follow that up by getting really hot. This season has been different.

The Blackhawks captain's longest point drought this year is three games. After scoring two more goals, his season total is up to 16 through 34 games, taking over the team lead from Patrick Kane. He had 20 goals in 74 games last season, showing just how far he's come from a year ago.

Toews is on pace to finish with a career-high 39 goals — his current personal best is 34, set in 2008-09. The Blackhawks need him to continue producing at that rate, and there's no reason he can't.

"Our line played well and created a lot of chances," Toews said. "If it's me scoring or [Dominik Kahun] or [Brandon Saad], it doesn't really matter. As long as we're making plays when we've got the puck out there, we're happy about that."

4. Jets power play stays hot

The best advice when you play the Jets: Stay out of the penalty box. Because they'll make you pay.

Entering Friday, they had the top-ranked power play with a 30.4 percent success rate. The Blackhawks gave them three opportunities and they cashed in on one, giving them eight power-play goals on 17 attempts in their past four games (47.1 percent conversation rate). They also improved to 5-for-11 (45.5 percent) in three games against the Blackhawks.

To the Blackhawks' credit, they killed off two key penalties in the third period before the first TV timeout and it allowed them to keep it a one-goal game and ultimately force overtime by scoring the next goal.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Is Dylan Strome the key to the Blackhawks success?

dylan_strome_blackhawks_ap.jpg
AP

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Is Dylan Strome the key to the Blackhawks success?

SportsTalk Live hits the road. Jimmy Greenfield and Scott King join Kap at Queenie's Supper Club and Cocktails at the United Center.

0:00- Pat Boyle joins the panel to discuss the Blackhawks' much-needed win over the Penguins and look ahead to what young players will be key when the Hawks compete for a playoff spot once again.

5:00- It's a big game for the Bears Sunday night. The guys debate whether or not the Beloved can finally beat Aaron Rodgers at Soldier Field to clinch the NFC North?

8:00- Will Perdue joins the panel to talk about the state of the Bulls. He discusses the Jabari Parker trade rumors, the Bulls leadership committee and the former NBA champ gets emotional when he talks about how the Bulls dysfunction affects him.

21:00- Patrick Sharp joins the guys to talk about the Blackhawks' mindset to end their 8-game slide and tells the guys why Dylan Strome may be the key to the Blackhawks success in the future.

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

Sports Talk Live Podcast

Subscribe: