Lets face it, after escaping with a 5-4 win over Toronto last Wednesday, and captain Jonathan Toews return nowhere in sight, this three-game road trip looked ominous for a team fighting for playoff survival. But consecutive 2-1 wins in enemy territory over playoff-bound teams have turned the clock back on the back end of the recent four-game win streak that was so rudely interrupted by last weekends trip to California.
The Hawks killed off all four of their penalties two of which came as a result of coming to their teammates defense - and they added a power play goal on the first of their three opportunities. Theyve now connected on the man-advantage in three of their last four games after going 0-for-39 prior to that.
Added to the kills was another offsetting five-minute major when Andrew Shaw probably took his lumps against a bigger opponent in Brendan Smith, but it dropped the Wings down to four defensemen for five minutes after Jakub Kindl was lost earlier in the game, and Patrick Kanes game-winner came while the fighting major was served.
The Hawks were also getting annihilated in the faceoff circle through two periods: 10 wins, 24 losses. But in the 3rd they won 13 of 19, and had enough puck possession where they didnt have to completely play a soft zone.
While Patrick Sharp had a goal and an assist, some unsung heroes include: Brent Seabrook with four hits and three blocked shots in 28 minutes of ice time. Bryan Bickell had four more hits, giving him nine in these two games. Jamal Mayers and Johnny Oduya also got in front of three Wings shots. And oh yeah, Ray Emery. Just six of the last 132 shots hes faced have gotten past him.
Lets see if the Hawks can keep duplicating and pull off a three-game sweep Tuesday night in St. Louis.
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.