Blackhawks

Niemi says no; Sharks get revenge on Hawks

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Niemi says no; Sharks get revenge on Hawks

Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010
Updated 1:30 AM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

SAN JOSE, Calif. The Chicago Blackhawks found so much success in Vancouver because they played strong with very few mistakes. Errors, especially the opportunistic ones, can be costly.

The San Jose Sharks reminded them of that on Wednesday night.

Blackhawks turnovers led to critical goals, and Antti Niemi got the victory against his former team in a 5-2 Sharks win at HP Pavilion. The Blackhawks are now 2-2-0 on this long road trip, which wraps up with games in Anaheim and Los Angeles over the weekend.

Jake Dowell and Patrick Sharp scored for the Blackhawks. Marty Turco allowed four goals on 28 shots.

The Sharks were doling out the hits from the start on the Blackhawks. Nevertheless, the Blackhawks kept up the tempo and were getting their share of shots on Niemi. The former Blackhawks goaltender stopped 30 of 32.

Maybe during the warmup, seeing the guys on the opposite side, it started to feel like more than just a normal game, Niemi said. I didnt think about it too much, but of course getting a win against them is huge, and on home ice, too. It was great.

Said Brian Campbell, obviously we had some opportunities but we needed to get to the net more. Not to take anything away from him, but he was definitely beatable.

But then the Blackhawks made a few mistakes, and the Sharks pounced on them. Nick Boynton made two costly passes toward the middle that ended up on Sharks sticks and, soon after, in the Blackhawks net. The second, a Joe Pavelski goal, gave the Sharks a 3-1 lead.

He got behind a little on the one, coach Joel Quenneville said. The other ones got to get down the ice. I dont know if we needed to make a play there.

The Sharks physical play also put the Blackhawks on the power play a few times, including twice after boarding calls. But the Blackhawks couldnt muster anything. They also came up empty on a 5-on-3 advantage for 44 seconds in the second period when they were down 3-1.

Yeah we had a couple good looks at it, but we needed to make another play or finish it off, Quenneville said. That was a good opportunity to get ourselves one there. We couldve cashed in there but we didnt.

Jonathan Toews said, We just have to be better on our power play and penalty kill. That makes a huge difference for us against a team like that. We werent good enough in both those areas.

Mistakes proved costly at the end, too. Dowell took a delay-of-game penalty in the third, and Patrick Marleau got around Jassen Cullimore to solidify the Sharks lead at 4-2. Marleau added an empty netter with three seconds remaining.

The Blackhawks were chasing throughout this one as a result of those mistakes. Its not a situation they want to find themselves in often.

I didnt mind our start. We had zone time and were ready to play, Quenneville said. But at the same time, I didnt like having to play from behind all night.

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

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

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AP

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.