Blackhawks

Hawks moving by Dallas, on to next 'big game'

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Hawks moving by Dallas, on to next 'big game'

Saturday, March 19, 2011Posted: 4:40 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

GLENDALE Troy Brouwer tried to forget about Thursdays loss as soon as it was over. Not that there were many memorable moments the Blackhawks could take with them.

You just wash it, for me at least. There were no positives you can take out of that game, Brouwer said. You learn from the negatives and then you just forget about it.

What the Blackhawks are very mindful of, however, is the task at hand. Theyre seventh in the Western Conference, and theyll probably be in the same spot Sunday when they face the surging Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena.

And all those phrases that contain big game, critical game or must win are in full effect again.

Its for sure the biggest game to date. And well probably say that 10 more times, said coach Joel Quenneville, whose Blackhawks have 11 games remaining in the regular season. Its definitely a huge game and its going to be very important.

The Blackhawks thought about that all through Saturdays practice, which featured plenty of puck-battle drills and 5-on-5 defensive zone work, two things that were lacking against Dallas on Thursday.

We were doing OK (early Thursday) but not generating any chances. When youre not getting chances youre not scoring goals, Brouwer said. We got away from the game plan, giving away too many odd-man rushes. We played right into what they wanted to do. We just try to shake it off as much as we can and learn a little bit.

The Blackhawks had a solid practice on Saturday but Quenneville said that has to flow over into Sunday.

It was more workmanlike than some days but we have to play that kind of way, he said. We need to be hard to play against. That defensive mind type of mentality in all areas of the ice is what makes us effective.

The Blackhawks were working as one during their eight-game winning streak. They got away from that in Dallas and need to get it back against a Phoenix team that has thrived on playing a team game lately. The Coyotes have won five in a row heading into Sunday, including a 3-1 victory over red-hot Vancouver on Friday.

The best players need to be the best going into the playoffs. Everybody knows that and we just have to respond, Marian Hossa said. We just have to play the team game. Thats the most important thing. That didnt happen in Dallas. We have to be on the same page and be smart and play the team game.

The Blackhawks dont have to look at the standings every day to know the race is going to stay tight. Theyve put Dallas behind them. Their minds have to be focused on the latest big game.

Whatever happened in Dallas happened, its over with and were moving on. Our whole team has to be better, Patrick Sharp said. This is our biggest game of the year, absolutely. We thought Dallas was the biggest game of the year. With 11 games remaining, theyre all going to get bigger and bigger.

Bickell better

Bryan Bickell said he felt 10 times better following Saturdays practice than he did about an hour before the Blackhawks loss to the Stars on Thursday night. Bickell said he didnt feel too bad Thursday morning, when he didnt participate in morning skate. But right before the game he was much worse and couldnt go.

An hour before the game I just couldnt do it, he said. It was definitely (tough). Im not a guy to miss a game like that. It was hard to see it on TV and then being a guy short. It put the team in a tough spot there.

Quenneville said the team is talking about calling someone up for Sundays game against the Coyotes for precautionary reasons.

Injury update

Defenseman Brian Campbell (left foot) will not play Sunday against Phoenix. There was an outside chance that Campbell could join the team here but he remained home nursing that injury. Quenneville is hopeful Campbell will be ready soon.

When we get back, we expect him likely to skate and hopefully this week at home hell be able to play, said Quenneville, who added Campbell has not skated the past few days.

Meanwhile, Dave Bolland (concussion) is showing a little progress, Quenneville said. Bolland has been sidelined since that Tampa Bay game.

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

Jonathan Toews ready to be Captain Clutch for Blackhawks' postseason run

Jonathan Toews ready to be Captain Clutch for Blackhawks' postseason run

The big things, the little things... Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was doing them all in the Hawks' 3-1 series upset of the Western Conference's No. 5 seeded Oilers in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

Toews, 32, finished the best-of-five qualifying round series with seven points (four goals, three assists) a plus/minus rating of plus-2, a faceoff percentage of 55.34 and was on the ice for five goals for and two against in 5-on-5 play vs. Edmonton.

His game-winning goal with 1:16 remaining in Game 3 to make it 4-3, which deflected off his shin pad from a Connor Murphy shot, tied Toews with Stan Mikita, Bobby Hull and Patrick Kane for most postseason game winners (11) in Hawks' history.

"Technically we just made the playoffs now, so the real fun begins," Toews said after Friday's Game 4. "We worked pretty hard in this series to beat a good team and we're gonna have to dig deep to keep getting better and better (against) the next one. It's fun, like I said, even though there's no fans in the building. Guys want to win. Nice to get that series win. I think everyone's feeling good."

After Friday's Game 4 win, the Blackhawks improved to 17-5 in elimination games since 2010. In those games, Toews has 29 points with 11 goals and 18 assists. Patrick Kane also has 29 points in those elimination contests with 14 goals and 15 assists. 

The stats speak volumes of the captain's start to the postseason, but the way he played to record them say a lot more regarding the level Toews is performing at.

The three-time Stanley Cup champion center parking in front of the Oilers' net was a familiar sight during the series. After more than a decade of taking abuse in front of the crease, Toews is still willing to pay the price for his team. 

Related: More hard-earned goals and a killer PK advance Blackhawks to Round One

It wasn't just his two two-goal games, dominating on the dot and a strong defensive game throughout the series that was impressive, it was the determination that led to it.

There was a retro postseason intensity to his game, on display for the Hawks' younger players to observe the kind of edge successful playoff hockey often requires.

There was pulling up the bootstraps, packing the lunch pail and going to work on the boards, battling to get the puck to create chances, like when he won a battle down low to get rookie Dominik Kubalik the puck for the series-clinching goal at 8:30 of the third period in Game 4.

"Jonny’s been around a long time and he’s got a pretty immaculate track record in the playoffs," Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton said after Game 4. "To me, his biggest attribute that he has is his compete level. He wins a 50/50 battle on the winning goal, just finds a way to come up with the puck, and that’s the winner. He came up big for us throughout the series in those types of situations. Great player."

Related: How the Blackhawks upset the Oilers in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers

It's no wonder the Blackhawks' younger players were so effective in the series. When they see veteran Hawks like their captain, several years their senior, doing the right things with purpose, they have no excuse not to.

"Thought he was great," Hawks goalie Corey Crawford said after Friday's game. "He was obviously one of our best players, not just offensively but he had a big block in the third there when they were pressuring. I mean when a leader's doing that I think that just follows throughout the lineup. Obviously he's won some Cups and knows how to play in these games, not much of a difference now. He was great."

Led by their captain, the Blackhawks did a lot right in the play-in series. They'll have momentum heading into Round One, albeit against a better team in the Colorado Avalanche or Vegas Golden Knights, but Toews' team has bought in.

If he continues to play at the level he opened the postseason at, anything is possible for him and his Hawks. Stranger things have happened in 2020.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Blackhawks news and analysis.

How the Blackhawks upset the Oilers in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers

How the Blackhawks upset the Oilers in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers

There was a lot the Western Conference's No. 12 seeded Blackhawks did right to upset the West's No. 5 seeded home ice Oilers in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers.

Here's some observations:

Greasy goals

There was a common theme for a lot of the goals the Hawks scored against the Oilers, they were hard-earned and a lot of them were deflected into the Oilers' net. Five of the Blackhawks' 16 goals in the series came off deflections.

Matthew Highmore had a tip-in late in Game 3 to set the table for the 4-3 comeback victory, then scored the same way to put the Hawks ahead 2-1 in the first period of Game 4. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews had a Connor Murphy shot deflect off his shin pad for the game-winning goal in Game 3 with 1:16 remaining in regulation.

Throughout the series, the forwards got the puck to the D-men in the offensive zone and got to the front of the net to create a screen or try for a tip-in. The formula constantly worked for the Hawks and they need to keep at it for as long as they're in the postseason.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Blackhawks news and analysis.

Keeping McDavid and Draisaitl in check

Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid had the first and second most points in the NHL before the pause, respectively.

Against the Blackhawks in the qualifying round, they had a combined 15 points (five goals, four assists for McDavid; and three goals, three assists for Draisaitl), which may not read like an accomplishment, but considering the uncanny offensive talent the two possess, the Hawks definitely succeeded in limiting their chances and keeping them from reaching their full level of production or potential in the series.

Related: More hard-earned goals and a killer PK advance Blackhawks to Round One

Coach Jeremy Colliton and his Hawks definitely got the best of McDavid and Draisaitl when they were the home team and had last change in Games 3 and 4. Colliton often put Toews' line against McDavid's — as well as the Blackhawks' fourth line with center David Kamp occasionally. 

Toews and his line were able to play solid defense against McDavid and the other Edmonton combos they faced. The Blackhawks captain was also able to help the Hawks hang onto the puck, winning 55.34% of the faceoffs he took in the series. McDavid won 43.1% of his draws in the qualifying round.

The PK

The Hawks went 12-for-17 on the penalty kill, including 5-for-5 in Game 4, in the play-in series against the Oilers. Chicago only allowing Edmonton five power-play goals in the entire series is pretty impressive as the Oilers touted the best power-play in the league during the regular season.

Maintaining a strong PK would benefit the Hawks in Round One, but so would staying out of the box to avoid an unfavorable momentum swing.

Captain seriously good

Toews had a monster series, resembling his former 2010 Conn Smythe-winning self in how he was able to take over some of the games in the qualifying round against top players like McDavid and Draisaitl.

In addition to being able to limit McDavid and win a majority of his draws, Toews had seven points (four goals, three assists) in the series. 

The three-time Stanley Cup champ had two two-goal games (Game 1 and Game 3) in the series and won a battle behind the net to get rookie Dominik Kubalik the puck in front for the series-clinching goal in Game 4.

The Crow

After missing the first 12 days of the Hawks' Phase 3 training camp after recovering from COVID-19, Crawford progressed into looking like the two-time Stanley Cup champion goalie he is and appears to have plenty of quality hockey left in the tank.

After allowing 13 total goals in the first three games of the series, Crawford played his best contest on Friday, saving 43 of 45 Oilers shots for the win. It definitely looks like he's now in postseason form.

Young guns

The Blackhawks younger players really stepped up in the qualifying round series. After Jonathan Toews, Kirby Dach was arguably the most consistently good Hawk.

Dach, 19, was only held off the scoresheet in Game 4 after logging a three-game point streak with four assists to start the series. He became the first Blackhawks rookie to score a point in his first three playoff games since Eddie Olczyk in 1985.

Kubalik, 24, set a new Blackhawks record for rookie points in a playoff game with his five-point performance in Game 1, scoring two power-play goals and picking up three assists. Steve Larmer held the previous record. Larmer had four points (one goal, three assists) in Game 2 of the 1983 Division Finals. Larmer went on to win the Calder Trophy in 1983.

Kubalik also became the first player to record five points in his postseason debut in NHL history. 

Highmore, 24, put the Hawks ahead 2-1 at 7:56 of the first period of Game 4 after tipping in a Duncan Keith shot from in front of the net. It was the second straight game Highmore scored off a deflection. In Game 3, he tied the game 3-3 at 14:13 of the third period, deflecting a shot from defenseman Slater Koekkoek past Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen and setting the table for Toews to complete the 4-3 comeback victory.