If the Blackhawks were fully healthy and felt a little better about themselves after 12 losses in 16 games, youd have to think this game wouldnt have turned into the struggle it was.
But theyre not about to get picky two points in the standings is two points at this time of year, even against a team slumping perhaps worse than theyve been. And it came after an Uh-oh, here-we-go-again start.
A couple of the stars stepped-up after a surprisingly sluggish first period, considering what was at stake, after two of the five rookies kept them in it through 20 minutes. Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger connected to make it a 3-2 deficit going into the second, and Ray Emery stopped everything he saw but a double re-direct with two seconds remaining after taking over for Corey Crawford.
Patrick Kane scored for the second straight game and set up the first of Marian Hossas two goals in that middle period. They then hung on for dear life in the 3rd as Emery was clutch late, and will likely earn the starting nod Friday back in the place of his greatest success, Ottawa. He was also mysterious enough that the Senators cut him loose after backstopping them to the Stanley Cup Final five years ago.
While not entirely his fault in every instance, seven of the last 21 shots Crawford has faced have gotten past him, so dont be surprised if Emerys the man whos leaned upon these final 17 games.
Theyll definitely need to further step up their play over the next two weeks. The opponents in order after Friday: Sunday at Detroit, Tuesday at St. Louis, home against the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings and the Blues, then back on the road to Dallas.
With their captains health remaining in limbo, Wednesday was a nice step. Now the Blackhawks will need to find a way to make bigger strides if theyre to hold their spot if not climb in the West.
The Blackhawks' coaching staff will be intact for the 2016-17 season.
Two weeks after Patrick Roy abruptly resigned as head coach, the Colorado Avalanche officially picked Jared Bednar to be his replacement over Blackhawks assistant Kevin Dineen, who was among the favorites for the coaching vacancy.
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Bednar has no National Hockey League coaching experience, but did guide the Columbus Blue Jackets' American Hockey League affiliate to a 15-2 postseason record last season en route to the franchise's first Calder Cup championship.
Retaining Dineen is good news for the Blackhawks, who start training camp next month, but it goes without saying that Dineen is certainly deserving of a second crack at a head coaching position in the near future.
Dineen, Mike Kitchen and head coach Joel Quenneville will enter their third season together after helping the Blackhawks capture a Stanley Cup in their first year as a group in 2015.
Jonathan Toews was named alternate captain of Team Canada on Thursday for the upcoming World Cup of Hockey.
Sidney Crosby was named Team Canada’s captain. Crosby, who claimed his second Stanley Cup in June, was also Team Canada’s captain en route to the gold medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.
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Toews, who has been the Blackhawks’ captain since the 2008-09 season, was also alternate captain of Canada’s 2014 Olympic squad. Shea Weber of the Montreal Canadiens will serve as Team Canada’s other alternate captain.
Duncan Keith will not be part of the Blackhawks’ World Cup of Hockey contingent after all.
Keith will focus on improving his health rather than play for Team Canada in the tournament, which takes place next month in Toronto. The Blackhawks released a statement regarding Keith on Wednesday afternoon.
"As Duncan continues offseason rehabilitation on the right knee injury that he sustained last season, we understand his decision not to participate in next month’s World Cup of Hockey," team physician Dr. Michael Terry said in the statement. "We believe it is in his best interests to focus on getting stronger and not risk further injury."
Keith had surgery on that knee last October and was sidelined about one month.
St. Louis Blues defenseman Jay Bouwmeester will take Keith’s place.