Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: A Sharp pain?

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Hawk Talk: A Sharp pain?

Monday, March 21, 2011
Posted: 4:29 p.m.

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

The Blackhawks responded to one type of adversity Sunday night in Phoenix. We now await official word on how long they'll need to respond to another type.

The team did not practice Monday upon returning from their hard-earned, gritty, 2-1 victory over the Coyotes, bouncing back from Thursday's ugly, 5-0 loss in Dallas. As a result, there was no update from the team on Patrick Sharp's apparent left knee injury that caused him to require help leaving the ice - and the remainder of the game - late in the first period. The team won't make an announcement until after Tuesday's practice.
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Upon seeing the contact that leg took in a knee-to-knee collision with Rostislav Klesla, the hope is Monday's additional tests reveal something along the lines of a week or two of required recovery, and nothing much longer. A Jobing.com Arena source who saw Sharp leave Sunday night indicated he walked on his own, likely with a brace on. While Sharp's goal production has seen a dip lately (one over the past nine games), his 34 still leads the team, and his presence on the line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane has been a nightmare for opponents. Even a moderate sprain could knock him out most, if not all of the remainder of the regular season. Then again, Toews missed all of two games, when it was expected to be a two-week injury right before the New Year.

With Dave Bolland and Brian Campbell already sidelined, the Hawks would especially need to be prepared for the kind of grind-it-out urgency (which should be in place anyway) over the final ten games in order to help their cause. If there's any time for this team to be in a week where they play just once - until Sunday begins a stretch of three in four nights - now's the time. And when those injured players return, there's always the uncertainty over how productive they'll be right away.

For now, you can tentatively plan on Ben Smith being there for Wednesday's game against Florida. With Jeremy Morin sidelined more than two months now with an apparent concussion sustained against the Wolves, Smith's the most logical, responsible option available to be taken from a Rockford team that's had a rough second half. The former Frozen Four Most Outstanding Player brings in heart, smarts and speed what he may lack in size, and impressed the coaching staff more than some of the earlier "non-Morin" callups earlier in the season.
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It goes deeper than that, though, these final three weeks, especially if Sharp will be out for any significant stretch. Troy Brouwer (three points his last 19 games), Michael Frolik, Bryan Bickell and Viktor Stalberg must find another level of production, and Corey Crawford will have to play the way he did Sunday night down the stretch in order to lock in a playoff spot. The rookie going through this grind for the first time has had a bumpy couple of weeks since a highlight-reel performance in Toronto, and he was back in that form Sunday. It doesn't hurt that the he wasn't seeing frequent odd-man rushes, either, but the two late saves on Ray Whitney had Joel Quennevlle calling them the saves of the season thus far.

Our last "Hawk Talk" detailed how they have the toughest remaining schedule of any of the other Western playoff contenders. Minnesota appears to be going away, and Calgary has the fewest games remaining coming into the week, but if they get some points Monday and Wednesday at Los Angeles and at San Jose, their schedule eases up a bit. Anaheim's goaltending has settled behind Ray Emery and Dan Ellis following the loss of Jonas Hiller. Nashville's been resuscitated through its injuries by the play of kids Jonathan Blum and Blake Geoffrion.

The Hawks need the same from their depth guys to get through this painful patch, physically. They have it in them, no matter the degree of Sharp's diagnosis. If it's long-term, it's a big blow, of course. But if they bring the effort and lock-down mentality these last ten games as they did in the desert after that big dose of humiliation in Big D, we'll be doing a playoff preview three weeks from now.

Chris Boden is the host of Blackhawks Pre and Postgame Live on Comcast SportsNet.

Blackhawks hit new low after epic collapse in St. Louis

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USA Today

Blackhawks hit new low after epic collapse in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS — The Blackhawks needed something to feel good about going into a Central Division showdown against the reigning Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues. A solid 60-minute effort would've sufficed, but a win would've trumped all, no matter how they got it. Two points translates into confidence and confidence turns into belief.

Well, both the Blackhawks' confidence and belief are starting to run thin after hitting a new low in Saturday's 4-3 loss.

For the second time in 10 days, the Blackhawks squandered a three-goal lead in the third period by giving up four unanswered goals in a span of 13:16 to a Blues team that, quite frankly, dominated the entire game. The Blues led in shot attempts (65-40), shots on goal (38-22), even-strength scoring chances (34-13) and even-strength high-danger chances (14-2), according to Natural Stat Trick, but couldn't crack a red-hot Corey Crawford until the third period. 

It was an epic collapse for the Blackhawks, who lost their fourth in a row and for the 10th time in 13 games. And there are no words to describe it.

"It shows where we're at," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "We're not good enough in those situations. All we can do is continue to talk about and show the team and work together to make it better. That's the only way it gets better. We recognize the problem. We've got to find a way to take a step. I think we have taken steps at times, but it's not consistent enough."

The Blackhawks are a fragile team right now and you could see it in their body language from the opening faceoff, almost as if they're starting the game already down a couple goals. Can you remember the last time they opened a game by dictating the terms?

In dark times like these, your best players have to step up and take control and they did that on Saturday.

Brandon Saad scored twice, Jonathan Toews registered two primary assists, Patrick Kane ended a six-game goal drought and Crawford stopped the first 32 shots he faced before the Blues' third-period onslaught. And yet it still wasn’t enough.

Brent Seabrook and Toews — two members of the Blackhawks’ leadership group — were sitting at their stalls after the game awaiting the media and made no excuses. They accepted responsibility and acknowledged being in this position is unacceptable.

"Being out there in those situations, you got to take pride in it," Seabrook said. "I know I take a lot of pride in it. ... I know I'm on there for two [goals], the second and third one. It's a critical part of the game and I've got to be better in those moments."

"That sucks to blow that one with the lead that we had," Toews said. "But there's situations where we've got to get pucks out and I lost my check a few times."

So what now? Where do the Blackhawks go from here? Will it get worse before it gets better? 

Is the season even salvageable?

"Why not? One game at a time," Toews said. "We had a rough week. ... It's easy to look at the storyline and get really discouraged and come up with the wrong mentality in your mind about what can happen going forward, but it's the wrong way to go about it. We've just got to focus on tomorrow night and build off the things we keep doing well. Each guy has to look at himself and try to find ways to bring more out of himself every night."

The Blackhawks have been searching for answers all season and they’re not getting any closer to finding a solution. They’re getting further away from it.

A drastic change might be necessary, but the frustration stems from the Blackhawks knowing what the problem is on the ice and still not doing anything about it.

"We need to, when the game's on the line, buckle down, stop and start, make the right read,” Colliton said. “I know they know and I know we as a group know what we have to do to have success and it's just a matter of doing it."

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3 Takeaways: Blackhawks lose 4-3 against Blues

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USA Today

3 Takeaways: Blackhawks lose 4-3 against Blues

The Blackhawks lost 4-3 to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. Here are three takeaways: 

Blackhawks blow three-goal lead 

After Patrick Kane's beautiful stick-side snipe at 4:16 of the third period, the last place Hawks led the defending Stanley Cup champs 3-0 in St. Louis. It was going to be a huge moral victory for Chicago, who had lost three straight games and been outscored 10-3 in their past two. 

Twenty four seconds later, Tyler Bozak scored the first of four unanswered Blues' goals to give St. Louis their first lead of the game, and the final score in regulation, 4-3.

"Sucks to blow that one with the lead that we had, but there's situations where we've got to get pucks out, and I lost my check a few times," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said after the game. "Those guys can make plays when you turn the puck over and you lose your check, so just got to keep going back to the drawing board."

Alex Nylander turned the puck over in Chicago's D zone to Robert Thomas near the high slot, who gave the puck to Bozak for the Blues' first goal of the game which sprung three more. 

“If we benched every player who made a mistake, we wouldn’t have any players," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said after being asked if he thought about benching Nylander after the mishap.

Shot suppression has to happen

As they've done a lot this season, the Hawks allowed the opposition way too many shots on their net. The Blues were able to pepper Corey Crawford with 38. 

"I thought we had a good start to the third, obviously," Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook said. "Crow was huge for us all night, really kept us in the game the whole game and I think we let him down."

Crawford and Robin Lehner have been leaned on too much this season by a struggling defense who's definitely missed Calvin de Haan (right shoulder) and Duncan Keith (groin) the past few games. Even before the pair's injuries, the netminders facing around 40 shots was happening too frequently. 

"We all take responsibility," Colliton said. "With the coaches, we have to find a way to prepare these guys better so that they can execute those types of reads when the game's on the line. So, that's it."

Colliton also said Keith began skating in Chicago. There's no set timetable for his return, but it should be sooner rather than later now. 

Saad doubles down

Forward Brandon Saad scored his ninth and tenth goals of the season in St. Louis on Saturday. His first goal came 19 seconds into the first period, assisted by Toews.

Saad's second goal of the game came 30 seconds into the third period. Toews used his body to maintain possession on the boards and feed Saad the puck in front of the net for his second helper. 

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

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.