Blackhawks can't stop Sedins, trail series 2-0

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Blackhawks can't stop Sedins, trail series 2-0

Saturday, April 16, 2011
Posted: April 15, 11:34 p.m. Updated: 12:56 a.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia Joel Quenneville issued the edict on Thursday, a day before Game 2.

Were asking everybody to take a bite out of this series, not just the top guys.

WATCH: Kane, Hossa know they must step up

But on Friday night those other guys, those role players, those non-super stars whatever you want to call them, they were the Blackhawks top guys. No, in Game 2, it was those unsung guys who needed the top guys to lend some bite.

Ben Smith scored twice and Viktor Stalberg added another, but the Blackhawks couldnt muster one more in a 4-3 loss to the Vancouver Canucks in their Western Conference quarterfinal series.

The Canucks had to sweat this one out more than they did Game 1, but they nevertheless take a big 2-0 lead in the series. The series now heads to Chicago, where the Hawks have to win at least one to force a Game 5 in Vancouver.

On a night when the Hawks big guns were held all but silent, others stepped up. It was Smith who ended the Blackhawks playoff drought, which was nearly five consecutive periods he scored with 5:10 left in the second. It was Stalberg slipping one through Roberto Luongo early in the third and Smith again midway through the period.

And in a standup move afterward, Smiths thoughts werent on the goals he scored but the ones he couldve prevented, especially Alexander Edlers late second-period one, which went off Smiths stick.

Thats my fault. The stick shouldnt be in the lane the body should, he said. That was a tough one, especially with 13 seconds left (in the second). Its playoff time and you have to sacrifice the body.

Yes, but he still scored. They werent pretty goals. They were rebound goals or, as Marian Hossa called them, greasy goals. But they were nevertheless three goals, and they were three goals more than the Blackhawks could get past Luongo in Game 1.

When those guys score big goals for us we have to take advantage of that, said defenseman Brent Seabrook.

But the Blackhawks couldnt. Save Patrick Kanes secondary assist on Smiths second goal, the top guns were held silent. And as impressive as Smith and others were on Friday night, they arent going to win this series for the Blackhawks. Despite their work, they couldnt even steal Fridays game without help.

Coach Joel Quenneville obviously recognized the missing pieces and was especially disappointed in the Hawks power play. Neither mustered much of a threat.

We need more from our top guys, he said. Our PP was the part that really slowed us down in the game. (That was) tough to watch.
Ben Smith celebrates one of his two goals with Bryan Bickell and Marcus Kruger. Smith wasn't excited afterwards though, instead showing his disappointment over Alexander Edler's shot that deflected off his stick and past Corey Crawford. (AP)
The Blackhawks leaders have had a lot on their shoulders this season. Theyve had to be the torch bearers for a team that underwent a ton of offseason changes and had to find a new identity. Theyve played a lot of minutes, supported a lot of games. And obviously the Canucks are going to zero in more on the Patrick Sharps, Kanes and Jonathan Toews than the Smiths. But this is the time of year where the top players are needed the most.

Obviously you only have three goals in the series and the newer guys have been stepping up, Kane said. The guys who were here last year, the year before in all that, this is big time. Its time to step up now and hopefully we can take control of the series.

Briefly

Bryan Bickell was injured on Friday night and did not finish Game 2. Coach Quenneville didnt have an immediate update on him. Tomas Kopecky was out of Game 2 with an upper body injury. He is listed as day to day.

Jake Dowell and John Scott were the Blackhawks healthy scratches. Mikael Samuelsson (flu) was a late scratch for the Canucks.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

What to make of Blackhawks blockbuster deals

What to make of Blackhawks blockbuster deals

Before the clock struck noon on a day Chicago was hosting its first ever NHL Draft, Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman sent shockwaves throughout the city and hockey world by completing a pair of blockbuster trades within an hour of each other.

The first was dealing three-time Stanley Cup-winning defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to Arizona, and the second involving Artemi Panarin and Brandon Saad in a swap of talented wingers with Columbus.

This comes two days after the Blackhawks announced Marian Hossa will miss the 2017-18 campaign with a progressive skin disorder. That's three core players gone in the blink of an eye.

Who's ready for a new era in Chicago?

Rather than maximizing a championship window that was viewed as closing quickly, Bowman has elected to take a long-term approach and it might not be the worst idea.

There's no doubt the loss of Hjalmarsson, who remains one of the most underrated blue liners in the league, and Panarin, who finished in the top-10 in scoring among forwards in both of his first two NHL seasons, will sting.

But there's a good chance the Blackhawks wouldn't have been able to reward them with the pay raises they deserve after their contracts expire following the 2018-19 season, and that certainly played a huge role in the decision to head in a new direction.

In reacquiring Saad, the Blackhawks finally give Jonathan Toews that reliable left-winger they've desperately lacked since Saad was shipped out of town in 2015, providing balance throughout the top-six. Saad is also locked up for the next four years at a $6 million cap hit that will look better as time goes by.

For the last two years, the Blackhawks were known as a one-line scoring team thanks to the chemistry developed between Patrick Kane and Panarin.

The second-half emergence of Nick Schmaltz and familiarity Kane has developed with center Artem Anisimov has allowed Panarin to become expendable in their quest to solve their top-line woes. And that's not a bad consolation line, especially when you consider top prospect Alex DeBrincat could also be in the cards as early as this season.

On the back end, the Blackhawks receive a 24-year-old defenseman in Connor Murphy, who's also signed for the next four years at a $3.85 million cap hit, and carries a right-handed shot, something they've needed more of in the organization. While there will certainly be growing pains under Joel Quenneville, Murphy's ceiling is fairly high and gives the Blackhawks some speed coming out of their own zone.

In making both of these deals, the Blackhawks got younger in their attempt to keep up with a league that relies more on speed, addressing a few areas that Nashville exposed during their first-round sweep of the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs.

And while they may have sacrificed two key players in the short-term, the Blackhawks executed a plan that should keep the perceived championship window open longer than expected.

Saad Day: Blackhawks deal Artemi Panarin for familiar face

Saad Day: Blackhawks deal Artemi Panarin for familiar face

When the Blackhawks found Artemi Panarin, they found a talent who was NHL ready from the start, who found instant chemistry with Patrick Kane and earned a Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie. It was also a tremendous panacea for a team that couldn’t pull off a deal to keep Brandon Saad, who was the power forward that fit in beautifully in the Blackhawks’ top six.

On Friday, the Blackhawks brought Saad back and dealt Panarin to do it.   

Saad returns to the Blackhawks, who also acquire goaltender Anton Forsberg, in exchange for Panarin and Tyler Motte. The Blackhawks also get the Blue Jackets’ fifth-round pick in the 2018 NHL draft and the Columbus gets Chicago’s sixth-round pick from this weekend’s draft. Elliotte Friedman was the first to report the deal. The Blackhawks inherit Saad’s deal, which has four years remaining at a $6 million cap hit. Panarin was about to enter his current deal, which is two years with a $6 million cap hit. This is key for the immediate future; when Panarin’s latest deal is up, if he keeps up at his current pace, he’ll likely sign for a lot more.

[MORE: Blackhawks deal Hjalmarsson to Arizona]

The Blackhawks have missed Saad terribly since his departure. The team has struggled to find consistent line mates with Jonathan Toews, especially at that left-wing position. They did fairly well with Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik flanking Toews this season but it wasn’t as strong as the Saad-Toews combination. So it looks like the Blackhawks’ top line will be solidified again.

Now, what about the second line? As good as Toews and Saad’s chemistry was, Panarin’s and Kane’s was dynamite. The two had their respective skill, which they flashed often, and their ability to read each other was evident from the start. The Blackhawks’ second line was as consistent and steady the past two seasons as the top line was during Saad’s time here.

So, there are changes. The Blackhawks will absolutely miss what Panarin brings. But as far as bringing back a former Blackhawks player who could help in the present, getting the 24-year-old Saad back will be very beneficial.