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.

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

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AP

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

The Blackhawks have said all along that they don't plan on carrying three goaltenders, but wanted to do so during the three games in four days stretch just in case, with Corey Crawford coming back from a 10-month layoff because of a concussion.

After being encouraged by how Crawford has responded to his return, the Blackhawks placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers Monday morning. Teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for the 25-year-old goaltender and would have to keep him on their NHL roster for 10 games and/or 30 days before he's eligible to go through the waiver process again.

His chances of getting claimed by any of the other 30 teams essentially depends on which teams believe Forsberg would be an immediate upgrade over their current backup — or starter, for that matter — or whether there's an injury to one of the team's two goaltenders that requires a placeholder, like we saw the Carolina Hurricanes do by claiming Curtis McElhinney from the Toronto Maple Leafs after Scott Darling's injury in the preseason.

If Forsberg goes unclaimed, the Blackhawks can assign him to the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs. With Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen sharing the goaltending duties in Rockford, it's possible Lankinen gets sent to the Indy Fuel in the East Coast Hockey League to get consistent starts under his belt.

A third option, one that isn't very common but we've seen in the past as recently as last October with Maple Leafs goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, is that Forsberg can be loaned to any AHL team while still being a part of the Blackhawks organization. This would allow the Blackhawks to keep Delia and Lankinen in Rockford while Forsberg gets his starts in the AHL, too.

Or, the Blackhawks could simply trade Forsberg to another NHL team that could stash him in the AHL, as long as he clears waivers. They did it last season with Chris DiDomenico, who cleared waivers as a member of the Ottawa Senators but was then traded to Chicago for Ville Pokka days later. Had DiDomenico been claimed by the Blackhawks, he would have had to stay on the NHL roster as noted above.

Forsberg was 10-16-4 with a 2.97 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 35 appearances last season but has not appeared in a game yet this year. He was acquired as part of the Brandon Saad package for Artemi Panarin in June 2017.

Blackhawks looking for defensive improvement from everyone, not just defensemen

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks looking for defensive improvement from everyone, not just defensemen

The Blackhawks were able to get away with their defensive lapses in the past solely because of Corey Crawford. When he went down with a concussion last December, those issues were magnified because he wasn't there to mask the flaws.

But it's reached the point where they can't rely on their goaltender to bail them out on a nightly basis, which is becoming another trend. Cam Ward allowed six goals to Tampa Bay on Sunday night, but made 49 saves — including 30 in the second period alone. He did everything he could to keep his team withing some sort of reaching distance and without his timely stops, the scoreboard could've looked much worse for the Blackhawks.

Something's got to change. 

When the Blackhawks talk about tightening things up defensively, they're not just putting it all on the defensemen. All five guys on the ice need to do their part and they're not doing it right now.

"I think we're trying to do too much and running around trying to do each other's job," Jonathan Toews said. "Sometimes we just need to simply and finish our checks and support each other."

No team has given up more even-strength high-danger chances through eight games than the Blackhawks at 110. That's 15.77 per 60 minutes. For reference, the New York Islanders finished worst in the league in that category last season and their number was at 12.96.

It didn't help that the Blackhawks spent nearly the entire second period in their own end on Sunday.

"We just couldn’t get it out of our zone, couldn’t get our stick on it, didn’t see pressure, didn’t feel pressure when we had it, were stripped," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Hence, we didn’t advance it. Kept looking like we were going up the ice and there were going to be some odd-man situations and then we’re the ones who were facing it."

That's one way to eliminate those high quality scoring chances, is getting the puck out of their own zone effectively or else it opens the door for Grade-A opportunities because of self-inflicted wounds. And it usually happens at the end of shifts when guys are tired, which often leads to goals.

"We have to learn how to play without the puck better and learn how to keep it," Quenneville said. "Whether it was our execution going up the ice, first pass poor and then we couldn’t change. A lot of things that happened yesterday were there tonight."

The Blackhawks weren't using three games in four nights as an excuse because Tampa Bay was in the same situation. It was an even playing field in that respect.

It's all about execution from everyone involved, forwards and defensemen. And the Blackhawks feel they're correctable issues.

"Of course," Toews said. "We've had some good periods this season so far. The first three, four, five games, everyone was excited and you guys are all talking to us much differently than you are right now. It's just getting back to playing that smart defensive game and playing with effort and letting our offense do the work. We know what's got to improve. It's right there in front of us."