Crawford to start as Blackhawks look to continue momentum

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Crawford to start as Blackhawks look to continue momentum

Corey Crawford will get the start for the Blackhawks and Michal Rozsival will be among the defensive starters again as the Chicago Blackhawks open their home schedule against the St. Louis Blues at the United Center tonight.

The Blackhawks (2-0-0) will face a Blues squad that pulled out a shootout victory in Nashville on Monday. Brian Elliott is slated to start in goal for St. Louis.

For the Blackhawks, the seasons start couldnt have been much better. They outscored Los Angeles and Phoenix by a combined 11-6 and want to bring that power and intensity back home.

That's what we talked about this morning here going into today's game, coach Joel Quenneville said. We're playing a team we know has played very well over the last year and have gotten off to a strong start. We want to make sure we do everything quick, that we've got good energy going into the puck area. We want the puck. Our transition was good, and we want to make sure that's going to be continued on here today.

Each team presents their challenges. The Blackhawks have had a much stronger start on special teams this season, and Marian Hossa is looking as heathy as hes ever been. He has five points in two games. For the Blues, goaltending remains a strong suit. Elliott came in for Jaroslav Halak midway through the Blues game in Nashville on Monday and earned the shootout victory. And rookie Vladimir Tarasenko is off to a five-point start of his own (3-2-5).

Hes a kid that just loves to compete and play, Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. He has a real throwback attitude, which I really appreciate, a real sincere menality. He respects the game and veterans. All talent aside, who knows where this thing goes career-wise. But when you have that type of attitude and sincerity to your disposition, it bodes really well for him.

As for stopping guys like Hossa and Jonathan Toews, Hitchcock said its always a challenge.

To me, theres skill and then theres skill with strength. And they both have (the latter), Hitchcock said. They both can buy enough time one on one to make it difficult. Theyre probably best pair in the league because they can buy time to create 2 on 1s, because theyre so strong with the puck. Theyre big difference makers. Hopefully they have an off night.

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Five Things from Blackhawks-Avalanche: Great night for the rookies

Five Things from Blackhawks-Avalanche: Great night for the rookies

DENVER – Well, that was a wild one, wasn’t it?

We’ll spare you the gory-to-glorious details (most of which are in the game story, anyway). So instead, let’s just get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 6-4 victory over Colorado.

1. Great night for the rookies. The Blackhawks’ newest players were their most prolific players on Tuesday night. Vinnie Hinostroza had two goals. Tanner Kero did too, and added an assist. Nick Schmaltz had a goal and an assist. All of these experiences are great learning curves for the Blackhawks’ youth, and coach Joel Quenneville likes how they’re progressing, not just with scoring but with their overall games. “That’s the part that’ll make them better players and us a better team is playing the right way defensively, being responsible, putting the puck in good areas and going hard to the net.”

2. Top line still too quiet. Line changes were made but the results remained the same, especially for the Blackhawks’ top trio. Ryan Hartman and Richard Panik were up there with Jonathan Toews in this one, but still nada. The three had a combined three shots for the game. Many of you have asked if Toews is still dealing with that back injury. On Tuesday morning he said, “no, it’s been really good, actually.” Still, there’s something up with a top line that, regardless of combination, just can’t get anything going.

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3. Terrible second period. The Blackhawks came out of the first in great shape and with a 2-1 lead. But things got messy in the second period. Be it the inability to clear or get the puck deep in the Avs’ zone, the Blackhawks made mistakes. The Avs capitalized, scoring three goals in the second including two in a 63-second span. Outside of Tanner Kero’s goal, the Blackhawks had a forgettable second period. The Avalanche outscored them 3-1 and outshot them 8-4 in the second.

4. Faceoffs lost. The Blackhawks did not do well in this department, winning just 23 percent of their faceoffs. It didn’t cost them the game but they certainly need better nights than they got on Tuesday.

5. Corey Crawford gets through it. Crawford was stellar prior to his appendectomy but hasn’t been at that level since. Quenneville said he considered pulling Crawford during this one but decided to keep him in. Quenneville’s still happy with his goaltending – again, the Blackhawks aren’t where they are right now without it this season. But he said Crawford could be better than he was on Tuesday.