Coyotes follow through on threat of retaliation

737788.png

Coyotes follow through on threat of retaliation

Raffi Torres vicious hit on Marian Hossa in the opening minutes of last nights game has been dissected every way, and if Brendan Shanahan does the right thing Torres wont be taking the ice for some time. What is not being discussed is that the hit is without a doubt a blatant retaliation for Andrew Shaws hit on goalie Mike Smith.

In my previous post, I made note of Shane Doans pregame comments that proved prophetic in the wake of Hossas injury. As reported by the Chicago Sun Times, Doan told the media, its time to get personal."

When Duncan Keith was suspended for elbowing Daniel Sedin a few weeks ago, the Canucks went out of their way to let the media know that Keiths hit was pre-determined. Why are Doans comments being overlooked?

Speaking with reporters after the game, Torres didnt have much to say about the hit.
As far as the hit goes, I felt like it was a hockey play. I was just trying to finish my hit out there, Torres told NHL.com before being asked about his skates leaving the ice in an apparent charge. Im not going to answer that.

Speaking with the Associated Press, Smith offered some well wishes for Hossa before pleading his case that the NHL needs to quickly change their image.

Its scary; your heart goes out to him and his family. Its past hockey, said Smith. Obviously, the head hits have to be cut down. Its peoples livelihood. We all love to play and its a fun sport, but people have families and kids at home, and wives, and when youre getting into head and concussion issues around the whole league, we need to put a stop to it.

Captain Jonathan Toews acknowledged that the Blackhawks are angry, and will do whatever it takes to win the next game for Hossa.

Of course were angry. Its a natural reaction for anybody, the Captain told the A.P. Everyone loves Hoss, respects him and loves him as a teammateWe wanted to win that game tonight for him, but came up short. Weve got to focus on getting the next one for him.

Report: Dexter Fowler closing in on deal with Cardinals

Report: Dexter Fowler closing in on deal with Cardinals

Dexter Fowler won't be making a surprise return to the Cubs next season.

Fowler is closing in on a deal to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, according to USA Today's Bob Nightengale.

The Cubs signed outfielder Jon Jay last week to a one-year deal, pretty much sealing Fowler's future with the Cubs.

In two seasons in Chicago, Fowler batted .261/.367/.427 with 30 home runs and 94 RBI, and a World Series ring.

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Yanic Perreault came onto the ice as the Blackhawks wrapped up practice on Thursday.

It’s been a relatively common sight the last few seasons. Most of the time, Perreault has helped out when a particular player is struggling from the faceoff dot. That was true with Artem Anisimov earlier this season. But with Jonathan Toews sidelined the Blackhawks have been even more focused on improving upon and winning faceoffs. Thanks to the extra diligence, they’ve done that.

The Blackhawks’ overall faceoff performance has steadily improved. They’ll see how it goes again on Friday night when they face the New York Rangers, their eighth consecutive game without Toews.

“We’re working almost every practice and trying to get better on faceoffs,” Anisimov said on Thursday. “If we win the faceoff, we start with the puck and it’s pretty good. You can go to the offensive zone or win in the offensive zone you start with the puck and you have the opportunity to shoot the puck all day and get chances. It’s a big part of the game.”

Enter Perreault, who was a great faceoff man during his NHL career. The Blackhawks players say Perreault offers a wealth of information in each session.

“It’s different every day. The whole science behind it, he’s been great since he was brought in,” Marcus Kruger said. “He always has something new he wants us to work on, whether it’s just timing or body-positioning or something like that. It’s a lot of different stuff and we work on new stuff every day.”

Rasmussen agreed.

“It’s a lot of things you can work on,” he said. “You try to work on being in a low position so you get stronger. [There are] a lot of small things on how you can go against other guys that do it certain way, and you have to find your own way, too.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Their first game without Toews, against the Anaheim Ducks, was dismal. Part of that is the Ducks having some tremendous face-off guys. But Toews is the Blackhawks’ best at the dot – he’s won 60.3 percent of the time this season – so that first game without him was rough.

Here’s how things have progressed for the Blackhawks, with faceoffs won and lost and percentage, in Toews’ absence.

Opponent Wins-Losses Percent
Ducks 18-49 27 percent
Kings 21-37 36 percent
Panthers 39-35 53 percent
Devils 22-27 45 percent
Flyers 22-31 42 percent
Jets 31-27 53 percent
Coyotes 30-28 52 percent

So yes, there’s been improvement.

“I think we hold our own,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Yan works well with our center men, they take pride in trying to be the best they can and now they’re taking some important faceoffs and some they probably haven’t taken in the past, whether they’re defensive or special-teams faceoffs. They’ve all won some important faceoffs for us at key times, too.”

The Blackhawks have done their best filling the void left by Toews, especially on faceoffs. There’s been a lot of work put into it, especially with Perreault following practices. But the results have been there.

“We know we’d like to start with the puck, and we had a couple of tough games when Jonny went down initially,” Quenneville said. “But it’s been much better since.”