Blackhawks

Hawks ground Hurricanes for seventh straight

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Hawks ground Hurricanes for seventh straight

Friday, March 4, 2011
Posted: 10:02 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

In their last two victories, the Chicago Blackhawks held on after allowing more third-period goals than they wouldve liked. On Friday, they were scoring most of them instead.

Five different Blackhawks scored goals, with Ryan Johnson, Dave Bolland and Patrick Kane recording theirs in the third period, as they beat the Carolina Hurricanes 5-2 at the United Center on Friday night. The Blackhawks have now won seven in a row, their longest winning streak since November of 2009, and at head into Saturday in fourth place in the Western Conference.

Theyre just four points (78) behind third-place San Jose (82).

The Blackhawks had a 2-1 lead entering the third on Friday as opposed to the three-goal leads theyve had their previous two games. But on this night, the Blackhawks didnt get into defensive mode to stave off the Hurricanes. They kept pushing, getting three goals within four minutes and 28 seconds of each other. Johnson, who scored his first of the season, and Bollands goals were just 67 seconds apart.

Its something weve talked about for a while, just keeping our foot on the gas and tonight we did that, said Duncan Keith. Its nice to finish strong there in the third, something we didnt do in the last couple games.

Jonathan Toews is now on a season-long eight-game scoring streak after he tallied his 26th goal just 55 seconds into the game. Bryan Bickell also scored and Corey Crawford stopped 18-of-20 for his seventh consecutive victory.

We keep getting a ton of chances and score a ton of goals. For a goaltender, thats kind of nice when the guys are scoring that many, Crawford said. Weve been good all year, especially offensively. That hasnt really changed.

Newly acquired defenseman Chris Campoli added two assists, including the primary one when he led the charge on Johnsons goal.

Im just reading the play, said Campoli, whos already made a solid pair with Brian Campbell. He gave me the room and Im just taking what they give me and I guess maybe its that I feel more comfortable.

For the Blackhawks, the third-period barrage was just one high point. They got balanced scoring throughout their lines. They were also stellar in the faceoff circle, winning 47-of-66 draws. Johnson won 14-of-19, Toews took 13-of-18 and Jake Dowell was 11-of-12.

That was a big night. I think everybody had significant numbers there, coach Joel Quenneville said. It helps starting with the puck when you attack. That puck possession is complementary to our team game.

The Blackhawks head out for the next four games, all against Eastern Conference opponents. Nevertheless, Quenneville said they have to approach them like theyre fellow West teams jostling for a playoff spot.

Well face some (Eastern) opponents we havent seen but we still have to approach it like theyre 4-point games and take care of what we can control right now, he said. Where were at right now, we want to forge ahead and at least solidify where were at. Thats our motivation.

Good duo
The Campoli-Campbell defensive combo is only two games old, but its working out well thus far. Quenneville likes how the two feed off each other, and Campbell concurred.

He gets open well and hes an easy guy to play with, Campbell said of his new partner. We talk a lot on the bench, discuss things, and he made a great play on the (Johnson) goal tonight. We just keep working things out and were fine.

Briefly
Patrick Sharp and Marian Hossa each had two assists on Friday.

Patrick Kane played in his 300th game on Friday, becoming the second-youngest Blackhawk to do so at 22 years, 105 days old. Grant Mulvey was the youngest at 22 years, 32 days.

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

The Blackhawks' thinking behind Henri Jokiharju's development

The Blackhawks' thinking behind Henri Jokiharju's development

A little more than a month ago, the Blackhawks were in the basement of the entire NHL. And Henri Jokiharju's minutes were dwindling.

At the time, it probably made sense to send him to Rockford, where he could regroup mentally and play in all situations on the top pairing. But things have changed rather dramatically now that the Blackhawks are in the middle of a legit playoff race.

On Friday, Jokiharju was recalled on an emergency basis because Brent Seabrook (abdominal strain) was out and Carl Dahlstrom (flu-like symptoms) was a game-time decision. Jokiharju played, and logged a season-low 9:14 of ice time. He took just three shifts in the third period.

The reports after Friday's morning skate were that Jokiharju's stint wouldn't necessarily be temporary. But it was, with the Blackhawks sending him back to Rockford on Saturday morning.

"I just think the other guys played pretty well," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "When I look at Henri's game, we're happy. I see a growth from when he left us to go to Rockford to now. Circumstances required us to bring him for the game, just with Seabs and Dahlstrom. Dahlstrom probably could've played in the end, but we didn't know that in the morning. So we wanted to get Henri since we called him up, but we feel that he's where he should be in Rockford and we're happy with his progression and how he's handling it. He's playing 21, 22 minutes every night and we're seeing a growth in his game, so that's a positive."

There are two sides to this development: The Blackhawks obviously want Jokiharju to be playing heavy minutes and developing as an elite defenseman. But they also want him playing in meaningful games.

The easy thing to wonder is, why can't he do that in Chicago rather than Rockford? Isn't he one of the team's better defensemen? Well, yes. But the Blackhawks don't want to run him into the ground at age 19. Young guys tend to struggle with the grind of an 82-game season because it takes a toll physically and mentally to do that against grown men in the NHL.

In the AHL, it's less taxing and, quite frankly, there's not as much pressure because he's not in the spotlight every night. There's value in developing at your own pace and doing it out of the spotlight, and the Blackhawks are looking at it from that lens.

"He's been great," Colliton said of Jokiharju's attitude. "We've had really good feedback, talked to [IceHogs interim coach Derek King] and [assistant coach] Anders [Sorensen] obviously, how he's been down there. He's been a pro. I think that's been good for him too. Initially when we sent him down he wasn't very happy. But when he got there, it was like, 'Oh OK, maybe this is a good thing.' And that was the reaction last night too.

"Yeah, he wants to be in the NHL, he wants to be a great player, an elite player and that's what we want too. But he's where he should be right now."

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MVP? Patrick Kane has Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews' vote for Hart Trophy

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USA TODAY

MVP? Patrick Kane has Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews' vote for Hart Trophy

At age 30, Patrick Kane is playing the best hockey of his career. Even better than his MVP campaign in 2015-16 when he also won the Art Ross Trophy with 106 points.

On Friday, Kane became the seventh player in NHL history to record multiple point streaks of at least 20 games, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, joining Wayne Gretzky (7), Brett Hull (3), Guy Lafleur (2), Mario Lemieux (2), Adam Oates (2) and Steve Yzerman. All six of those players are in the Hall of Fame, and it's not hard to see Kane joining them one day.

Through 61 games this season, Kane ranks second in goals (39), first in even-strength goals (30), fourth in assists (54) and second in points (93). He's on pace for 52 goals, 72 assists and 124 points, which would be career highs in all three categories. And he even missed a game with an illness.

MVP? Kane has the Blackhawks captain's vote.

"Relative to his team, absolutely," Jonathan Toews said. "You see who won the Hart Trophy last year, and in my book there’s no doubt that he should be taking home some hardware at the end of the season this year. But we all know he’s not worried about that right now. He’s worried about keeping his streak going and staying hot and playing his game, and every night he’s a big part of our offense, so it’s pretty incredible to see him do it night after night.”

Taylor Hall was named the Hart Trophy winner in 2017-18 after recording 93 points in 76 games for the New Jersey Devils, who finished as the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference. Toews doesn't see how this is any different, especially if the Blackhawks find a way into the Stanley Cup playoffs. Kane has strapped this team on his back.

Kane hasn't gone more than two games this season without picking up at least one point, and is one of the main reasons — if not the primary — why the Blackhawks have gone from last place in the NHL to competing for a wild card spot in a month. 

Kane's biggest competition is Tampa Bay superstar Nikita Kucherov, who is having a historic year for the Lightning. He's already topped the 100-point mark through 62 games, and is on pace for 132 points. Kucherov would become the first player to hit that point total since 1992-93 when Teemu Selanne and Pierre Turgeon each finished with 132 points.

But Kane isn't far off at a 124-point pace, and he's doing it on a team that has relied heavily on his services. The Blackhawks wouldn't be where they're at in the standings without his consistent production.

"He's been great, no doubt about that," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I can just speak for our team, he's been tremendously valuable. He's at times carried us on his back. ... He's probably going to find another level too."

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