Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010
By Tracey Myers
"Sometimes it helps not having a full lineup, knowing you have to be more of a team."
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marty Turco was talking shot totals and all things positive following the team's 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild, when that statement came out. It was a simple statement and, given the Blackhawks' performance, very on-target.
The Blackhawks entered Saturday's game coming off their worst performance of the season, a 7-4 loss to Edmonton on Friday in which their lapses and shortcomings were magnified and capitalized upon by a young and hungry Oilers team. And when a third teammate was ruled out by an injury, the Blackhawks had two choices: they could come apart more or exemplify Turco's statement on the ice.
They chose the latter. They embraced it, ran with it, won with it.
"The type of game we played, it was by far our best positionally," Turco said. "We played a patient game. We're going to need that type effort."
The Blackhawks were already down two strong starters in defenseman Brian Campbell (right knee MCL) and right wing Marian Hossa (upper body). On Saturday they lost center Dave Bolland (upper body) for at least two games. It wasn't good, and it could have gotten worse against the Wild. Instead, the Blackhawks got inspired performances.
Troy Brouwer's early hit earned him an in-game line promotion and he scored his first goal this season. Patrick Kane looked like himself again. The fourth line was on the ice in the waning minutes when the Wild went empty net. The team blocked 21 shots, a jolt from the scant six they had against Edmonton. Turco rebounded from Friday's early yank, stopped 25 of 26 shots and returned to his active, puck-playing self.
Everyone got it.
"It was a team game, for sure," coach Joel Quenneville said.
Perhaps it was just simplifying their game. Or maybe it was that backed-into-a-corner-come-out-fighting sense. Whatever it was, it worked.
"Guys weren't trying to do too much," said Brouwer. "It's tough losing players especially way Hossa was playing. Guys like Tomas Kopecky and Jonathan Toews take more onto themselves; even Jake Dowell's stepping up. The guys who aren't looked upon to do those things are chipping in.
"It's going to be the entire team having to do a little more," he said. "Saturday gave us good confidence."
The Blackhawks need to remember Saturday's outing. Bottle it, refer to it and, by all means, keep copying it. The Blackhawks are starting to get good news out of their injury situation. Campbell is getting stronger by the skate and could return any game now. Bolland's is listed as day to day. Hossa could be back in two weeks.
Injuries, thin depth and the need for call-ups all happen in the midst of an 82-game (or more) campaign. The Blackhawks' lineup will change a few times this season. Their commitment to the team game can't.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.