Blackhawks

Hawk Talk: Surviving without their stars

338589.jpg

Hawk Talk: Surviving without their stars

Sunday, Dec. 12, 2010
3:45 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The news out of San Jose on Saturday morning, albeit a bit vague, was still pretty positive: some combination of the injured Blackhawks trio (Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Fernando Pisani) will be taking the ice soon in Chicago. One or more could be out there today. Same goes for Monday.

Good news, indeed, for a team thats been forced again to patchwork a lineup together in the hopes of finding success. But since this latest injury bug began at the end of their circus trip, the Blackhawks have somehow found a way to gather up some much-needed points. Granted, it hasnt been easy. They flirted with disaster against St. Louis and Dallas. Theyve called upreassigned Jeremy Morin enough that the kids frequent flyer miles probably rival mine. Theyve had to turn defensemen into forwards again.

Yet here they are with 35 points, good for fourth place in the Western Conference on a Sunday morning. And during this latest rash of injuries, beginning with Pisanis prior to the Nov. 27 game in Los Angeles, the Blackhawks have found a way to go 4-1-1. Thats without key penalty killer Pisani (upper body) and scoring stars Hossa and Kane.

So how did the Blackhawks get on a roll despite all of that? Theyve certainly banded together and played the team game, but a few individuals have stood out and in one case, sometimes stood on his head. Corey Crawford has been huge during this run, and if the 25-year-old hasnt been given a bunch of thank yous and steak dinners yet, he should be. Even in Saturday nights overtime loss to San Jose, Crawfords work was stellar. Without his big saves, that waived-off Viktor Stalberg goal is an oh-by-the-way mention instead of the potential game-winner. Coach Joel Quenneville said it couldve been Crawfords best game. Its hard to argue otherwise.

The Bryan Bickell-Dave Bolland-Troy Brouwer line has brought checking and some offense. John Scott has ignited the team with a few brawls.

Jonathan Toews has also been a force. He fired five shots on goal and was a threat throughout the night against the Sharks. The captain has been in top form lately and Im guessing the Blackhawks are feeding off that as much as the no-excuses mentality he and the team has no choice but to embrace.

Were at that point where its time to start expecting to play our best hockey, he said prior to the San Jose game. Right now I think were really starting to see some real results. Even though we have some injuries its time to go out and make things happen. We still have the guys who can do it.

The good news is, the reinforcements will soon return. The better news is how well the Blackhawks weathered the storm without them.

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

Four takeaways: Strong start wasted as Blackhawks winless streak extends to five games

Four takeaways: Strong start wasted as Blackhawks winless streak extends to five games

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 loss to the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Thursday:

1. Strong start wasted

The Blackhawks came out of the gates flying. They recorded the first nine shot attempts (four on goal) and didn't allow the Rangers to get their first shot on net until the 6:35 mark.

The Blackhawks were rewarded when Brandon Saad scored at 5:41 to put his team up 1-0. But the Rangers responded with a pair of goals within 4:18 of each other towards the latter stages of the frame to go up 2-1.

It was a tough way for the Blackhawks to go into the first intermission, happy with the start but not the result.

2. High-quality scoring chances

The Blackhawks gave up three goals at 5-on-5 and one empty-netter. And they'll quickly realize when reviewing the tape that they didn't do Collin Delia any favors.

Each of New York's first three goals came from the lower slot area, and they were seemingly all preventable. That's the positive, but also the negative because the Blackhawks are making it tough on themselves.

The Rangers finished with 14 high-danger chances at even strength compared to the Blackhawks' three. Below is a heat map of the shot chart at 5-on-5, courtesy of naturalstattrick.com:

3. Power play stays hot

The Rangers aren't a great team in the penalty kill department. They went into Thursday's game ranked 26th with a 77.1 percent success rate. But they were coming in hot, having killed off 14 in a row in the last three games.

That wasn't enough to stop the Blackhawks' scorching power play, which potted two more on three opportunities (goals by Saad and Alex DeBrincat). It's the seventh straight game the Blackhawks have scored at least one power-play goal, upping their percentage to 37.2 (16-for-43) since Dec. 18 — a span of 14 games, which ranks first over that stretch.

The power play continues to be a bright spot, and the Blackhawks have to be pleased with the consistency of it over the last month now.

4. Strome vs. Strome

For the third time in his NHL career, Dylan Strome went head-to-head with older brother Ryan, the latter of whom had gotten the best of his younger brother in the first two meetings — once when Ryan was with the Islanders and the other when he was with the Oilers, both against Dylan's Coyotes.

But Ryan stayed 3-for-3 against Dylan even though they were both on different teams this time.

Dylan was on the ice against Ryan for 8:46 of 5-on-5 time, which is the most he faced against any other Rangers skater. Ryan's line generated nine scoring chances and allowed only one during that time.

Dylan did get the better of his older brother in the faceoff department (58.3 percent vs. 53.3 percent), but it was Ryan that came away with the result that matters to both of them and that's the two points in the standings.

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.

White Sox Talk Podcast: Inside the White Sox prospects trip to the Dominican Republic

0621-eloy-jimenez.jpg
USA TODAY

White Sox Talk Podcast: Inside the White Sox prospects trip to the Dominican Republic

Thirteen of the White Sox top American born prospects are in the Dominican Republic this week for a cultural exchange trip organized by the White Sox, giving players like Dylan Cease, Nick Madrigal, Zack Collins and Dane Dunning a first-hand experience to learn about the country where many of their Latin teammates like Eloy Jimenez call home. Chuck Garfien speaks with Ryan McGuffey who is covering the trip for NBC Sports Chicago. They talk about the White Sox training academy in the Dominican Republic (3:50), what the players are learning and how they're bonding on the trip (6:30), the crazy atmosphere going to a Dominican Winter League game (11:10), going with Reynaldo Lopez to the home where he grew up (14:40), personal stories from the trip (23:15) and more.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below: