Toews: "We're getting that swagger back"

586546.png

Toews: "We're getting that swagger back"

What a difference a few tweaks make.

Yes, its hardly a secret that Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville will make tweaks, switches, alterations, whatever you want to call them, when things arent going so well. He was doing it again this week.

Two games, a few changes and 10 goals later, the Blackhawks are liking what theyre seeing. Theyre back to playing complete games again, and back atop the Western Conference standings again.

We witnessed two games where it was easy to make alterations with the lines. The way weve come out of it, I feel theres balance on the offensive and the defensive side of things, Quenneville said. Seeing our four-line rotation improve, thats what we wanted. Weve seen it better in the last two games, so we like that trend.

The winning trend doesnt hurt, either. Even when the Blackhawks were grabbing three out of four points in Florida, things were starting to look a little shaky. The defensive pairings were fine, but the true chemistry just wasnt there. As for the forward lines, Patrick Kanes trio was rolling along splendidly. Others were more hit and miss. And when Kanes group got quiet, the others didnt fill in the void.

So change was gonna come. It did, and its working. How, you say? A few reasons
Familiarity: This is especially true among the defensemen, where Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are together again. Yes, theyre two world-class defensemen who can play with anyone, but theyre still at their best when together.
Speed kills: Kanes line already had plenty of this, but even with changes they havent lost a step with Dan Carcillo and Patrick Sharp flanking him now. The top line needed to get that back again, and now has thanks to Viktor Stalberg and Marian Hossa joining Jonathan Toews. Those changes were especially evident against Calgary on Friday, when the top two lines seemed to skate at will.

On my line, with the speed of Stally and Hoss, we feel like were getting chances off the rush every single shift, Toews said. The rest of our lines have been playing well offensively.

The Blackhawks have been rolling again these past two games, and it doesnt come a moment too soon. That monstrosity known as the Circus Trip is looming, and the Blackhawks want to be playing their road-trip best hockey on it.

All it took was a few little tweaks.

Were getting that swagger and that energy back on 5 on 5 and we had it (Friday) night, Toews said. Were back to playing our team game the way we wanted to these past few games. We have to hang onto that and keep building on it.

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

marian-hossa-hawks-again-1206.jpg
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.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

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.”