Blackhawks try to rediscover 2010 team

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Blackhawks try to rediscover 2010 team

The Chicago Blackhawks thought they had it figured out. They thought they had found the right supporting cast, the right group of grit and veteran presence to balance the star power that has been in place for several seasons.

But for the second consecutive season the role players just didnt play enough of that role. And it looks like the Blackhawks will be working on that again in the offseason.

The Blackhawks tried to get a little wiser a little deeper and a little tougher when they signed defensemen Sean ODonnell, Steve Montador and Sami Lepisto, forwards Andrew Brunette, Jamal Mayers and Daniel Carcillo and goaltender Ray Emery entering this season. But whether it was due to injuries or an inadequate fit, it just didnt seem to work.

Its unlikely most of that group will return in 2012-13; and the Blackhawks getting the right ensemble next season is imperative.

Chemistry going forward should be a concern. When I say a concern, a priority, coach Joel Quenneville said Wednesday. When everybody pushingpulling together is a priority, that will make you stronger. I thought we addressed (our needs) last year. I thought they did a good job in that role, but I just think that every year is a different type of mix on our team.

The mix in the Cup season worked, obviously. The role players did their part, buoying the Blackhawks when their stars had rough nights or slumps. But the past two years, thats been missing. When the stars slumped, so did the team see their nine-game winless streak. The same happened last season.

Of the above group, Montador and Carcillo were injured for most of the seasons second half. Both are also signed or extended through the next several years. Emery, who signed a player tryout contract in the summer and then a one-year deal as training camp ended, is also set to return next season.

But the rest are probably gone. Brunette said Wednesday that the Blackhawks were moving in a different direction, and was not holding my breath that theyre going to call. It didnt help that his place on the team was never clearly defined.

The 40-year-old ODonnell was an on againoff again scratch. The same went for Lepisto. Mayers was a solid player all season but was suddenly a healthy scratch after Game 3 of the playoffs. Rumor swirled that Mayers was scratched because he didnt do anything to Raffi Torres, whos vicious hit on Marian Hossa has left the Blackhawks right wing a concussion; but Quenneville said that wasnt a factor at all.

Bryan Bickell and Michael Frolik, who have been with the Blackhawks for two-plus seasons now, are also part of that support. And they were there in the postseason, Frolik especially. But both were ineffective in the regular season and talked about how that needs to change in 2012-13.

I had meetings (with the coaches), and they talked about consistency, Bickell said Wednesday. This year was a roller coaster, up and down. Come playoffs, I picked up my game and did what needed to do. What I did in the playoffs, I need to do at the start of the year next year.

All stars need a supporting cast. The Blackhawks thought they found the right one this season. Instead, theyll be searching for the right one for the third consecutive campaign.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Marian Hossa keeps producing as Blackhawks find chemistry

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Marian Hossa keeps producing as Blackhawks find chemistry

In the latest episode of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle is joined by Steve Konroyd and Tracey Myers following the Blackhawks 4-0 shutout win over the Coyotes.

The crew breaks down how the Blackhawks keep finding ways to win, how Marian Hossa has remained a top-six forward and how the team seems to have finally found some chemistry without Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford.

Listen to the latest episode below:

Five Things from Blackhawks-Coyotes: Is Brent Seabrook OK?

Five Things from Blackhawks-Coyotes: Is Brent Seabrook OK?

The Blackhawks weren’t exactly reeling — they had only lost two straight games, matching their longest losing streak of the season. Still, they didn’t like the direction in which they were going, especially offensively.

Tuesday was a test in terms of playing another game without Jonathan Toews, another game without Corey Crawford and finding a way against a team that’s struggled this season. The Blackhawks passed the test, finding their offense and denying the Arizona Coyotes in a 4-0 victory.

This week doesn’t get any easier for the Blackhawks, who might be without another top player. We’ll find out more about that in a few days. So before we call it a night, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Coyotes.

1. Slow start, but another first-period lead. Seriously, I’m just going to type this paragraph up for every game and just switch out the name of the opponent. On Tuesday the Coyotes, who played Monday night in Columbus, outshot the Blackhawks early. But thanks to Artem Anisimov’s power-play goal, the Blackhawks led 1-0 after one. It wasn’t a shocker that the Coyotes came out strong early. But again, off the back-to-back, they looked like they were losing steam as the game continued.

2. Brent Seabrook does not return. Seabrook got tangled up with Jordan Martinook late in the second period and, after being down a few moments while holding his head, went to the locker room. Coach Joel Quenneville said he’ll see how Seabrook is on Wednesday — the Blackhawks don’t practice again until Thursday. The Blackhawks have good depth at defense, as we’ve seen throughout this season. Still, missing Seabrook is always a loss.

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3. Marian Hossa scores his 13th and 14th of the season. In some previous seasons that might not mean anything tremendous, other than the Blackhawks would take every one of them. But on Tuesday night, in his 27th game of the season, Hossa surpassed his goal total of last season (13 in 64 games). His second, a breakaway off a pass from Niklas Hjalmarsson, put an exclamation point on this one. So, is it time to just admit Hossa is a cyborg? “I’d believe it. I wouldn’t put it past him,” Scott Darling said. “I still can’t believe how fast he is. He’s one of the fastest players I’ve ever been with. He’s an impressive human being.”

4. Scott Darling with the shutout. Maybe it didn’t seem like that overwhelming of a shutout (22 stops), but it was a good outcome for the backup goaltender, who was tremendous on Sunday but nevertheless took the loss to Winnipeg. Darling was still facing a tough situation in the third period — seeing zip. The Coyotes didn’t get their first third-period shot on goal until there was less than six minutes remaining in it. “It’s not ideal. But I guess it’s better than seeing 30 shots in a period,” Darling said. “Beggars can’t be choosers. You just have to stay with it mentally.”

5. Quick strikes in the second period. We’re all familiar with 17 seconds. On Tuesday the Blackhawks had 19 seconds. They scored twice in that time frame (Hossa and Dennis Rasmussen). From that point on, the Blackhawks looked comfortable and confident. Said Quenneville, “We had the puck a lot more. That’s been what we’re trying to get to where we want to go. Tonight was a good step.”