Blackhawks

Three strikes by Hawks' top line not enough

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Three strikes by Hawks' top line not enough

Wednesday, March 9, 2011
Posted 9:16 p.m. Updated 10:32 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

TAMPA, Fla. For the second consecutive night, the Chicago Blackhawks were down a few goals and fighting to work their way back to getting points.

On Wednesday, they at least got one.

WATCH: Lightning cheat at shootout?

Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Jonathan Toews scored in regulation, but the Blackhawks couldnt get one past Dwayne Roloson in the shootout as they fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Martin St. Louis had the shootout winner on a spin-o-rama move that had the Blackhawks debating whether it shouldve been allowed.

The Blackhawks, who were down 3-1 early in the second period, now have 81 points and, at games end, that kept them in fourth place. That could change later on Wednesday; Calgary and Dallas, both with 79 points, were playing against each other.

The Blackhawks also had to go without two players. Brian Campbell was a late scratch with a lower body injury. Coach Joel Quenneville said hes day to day. Center Dave Bolland was lost in the first period after taking an elbow from Tampa Bay defenseman Pavel Kubina. Quenneville said Bolland will be re-evaluated on Thursday.

Toews, Kane and Marian Hossas shootout attempts were all stopped. Meanwhile, two Lightning tried spin-o-rama moves. Steven Stamkos effort yielded the post but St. Louis hit.

Rule 24.2, which outlines procedure for a penalty shot shootout rules defer to these says this about the spin-o-rama: The spin-o-rama type move where the player completes a 360 turn as he approaches the goal, shall be permitted as this involves continuous motion.

Quenneville believed that you cant lose forward motion or momentum. It looked like there was a complete stop. Goaltender Corey Crawford, who challenged it, later said it was close. It looked like he may have stopped for a second and kept going.

Toews, who also had two assists, said as far as I was concerned I saw the original play and you can still see his left foot moving forward. It looked all right to me.

Crawford stopped 27 of 30 and got stronger as the game wore on. But he admitted he wasnt his best early and the Lightnings potent offense took advantage.

I thought I struggled again in the first half of the game. I was finally able to feel good and start seeing the puck again, Crawford said. It was nice to battle back and get that extra point but I still think we couldve won the game.

The Blackhawks bigger concern was staying in the playoff hunt. Theyll do that, although they wont get that extra point. They were able to overcome this deficit just enough to get something.
The Blackhawks' top line scored all three goals against the Lightning and the combination of Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp have a combined 38 points in the last 10 games. (AP)
We worked hard, Quenneville said. We were down by two and they had a lot of things going for them early. We chipped away. It wouldve been nice to get two.

Injuries

Brian Campbell tried to give it a go in pregame, Quenneville said, but was unable to do so. When asked if Campbell re-aggravated that right knee injury from earlier this season he suffered an MCL sprain at the end of training camp, Quenneville said, I dont think its that. But its that part of the lower body. It may not be necessarily what were talking about.

As for Bolland, hell be re-evaluated on Thursday. Michael Frolik moved to center, the first time in several years hes played that position, in Bollands absence. Quenneville was happy with Frolik there.

Sometimes you get to try something you might have in the back of your mind. Its not by choice but by chance, and he did a great job there, Quenneville said. He was great on draws (Frolik won five of eight) and looked good in that role and in that spot.

Pisani returns

Fernando Pisani was back in the lineup on Wednesday for the first time since he suffered a concussion in Dallas on Feb. 11. Pisani played just over 11 minutes with fourth-liners Ryan Johnson and Tomas Kopecky.

Viktor Stalberg was a healthy scratch.

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

Reports: Blackhawks among finalists for a pair of international forwards

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AP

Reports: Blackhawks among finalists for a pair of international forwards

The Blackhawks are always active in the overseas market. Over the last few years, Dominik Kahun, David Kampf, Michal Kempny, Jacob Nilsson, Artemi Panarin and Jan Rutta are among the notable Chicago signings that have come from there. 

And they continue to be an attractive destination.

The Blackhawks have reportedly expressed interest in 24-year-old Russian winger Ilya Mikheyev and 26-year-old Swedish forward Anton Wedin, and the feeling is mutual.

Of the 30 NHL teams that have checked in on Mikheyev, TSN's Darren Dreger reported on Tuesday that the Blackhawks are among the finalists — although it appears the Toronto Maple Leafs could be the frontrunners. Mikheyev, who's 6-foot-2, 194 pounds, racked up 45 points (23 goals, 22 assists) in 62 games this season for Avangard Omsk of the KHL, and tallied 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 13 postseason contests. His decision is expected to come this weekend.

Wedin has also reportedly narrowed his list, which includes the Blackhawks. He had a breakout season in the Swedish Hockey League, where he compiled 27 points (14 goals, 13 assists) in 32 regular-season games and nine points (two goals, seven assists) in seven playoff contests with Timra IK.

The 5-foot-11, 194-pound winger is expected to make his decision either before or after the 2019 IIHF World Championship, depending on whether or not he plays for Sweden.

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Why fixing penalty kill is crucial for Blackhawks in 2019-20

Why fixing penalty kill is crucial for Blackhawks in 2019-20

Just how important is special teams in the NHL?

Of the 16 teams that qualified for the postseason, 14 clubs had at least one special teams unit that was ranked in the top half of the league and 12 teams had at least one unit ranked in the top 10.

The Blackhawks finished the season with the 15th-ranked power play and 31st-ranked penalty kill. The Blackhawks' 72.7 percent kill rate is the lowest the league has seen in 30 years.

“The penalty kill is something that clearly has to be better," GM Stan Bowman said. "That was a big disappointment this year, no question about that. So we have to devote some resources to that. Some of it might be players, if we get some players that have that kind of experience or have a history. Part of it is tactically can we find ways to be better. We have a lot of time now to study it and put a lot of our focus on that.”

Jeremy Colliton did not rule out getting external help to improve the PK.

“We’re going to look at everything, for sure," he said. "We’re going to look at obviously tactically and we’re going to look at the personnel and how we’re using guys and try to put them in the best situation we can. And maybe that’s new, different guys who weren’t getting the opportunity. Or maybe that’s someone from outside.”

The Blackhawks did manage to fix their power play issues this past season. When Colliton became head coach on Nov. 6, the Blackhawks power play was near the bottom of the league. By December, the man advantage was dead last, cashing in on fewer than 12 percent of their power plays.

Colliton made Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome and Erik Gustafsson his top power play unit and from Dec. 20 till the end of February they were the league's best unit, converting on 35.2 percent of their power plays.  

Gustafsson’s addition to the power play was a major factor in the unit's improvement.

"A big part of our power play progression and transformation from being at the bottom to being in the top group," Bowman said of Gustafsson. "I was really pleased with that and we're going to need him next year for sure.”

If the Blackhawks penalty kill can make strides like the power play did, Colliton’s crew will likely be playing at this time next season.

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