Blackhawks erupt in second, edge out Blues

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Blackhawks erupt in second, edge out Blues

Monday, Feb. 21, 2011
3:29 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

ST. LOUIS Jonathan Toews had seen enough.

The Chicago Blackhawks had played an awful first 20 minutes against the St. Louis Blues, turning the puck over, playing shoddy in other aspects and had a 2-0 deficit to show for it. So in that first intermission, the captain let off some steam.

We say what we have to do before the game and then to play that way the first 20 minutes was unacceptable, Toews said. The leaders in the locker room held the rest of the team accountable.

And over the next 20-plus, the Blackhawks were accountable.

Patrick Kane and Toews each scored their 20th goals of the season as the Blackhawks scored four second-period goals en route to their 5-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Monday afternoon. The Blackhawks are still listed in 11th place but are one of five Western Conference teams with 68 points.

Viktor Stalbergs early second-period goal was the spark for the Blackhawks, who got off to another woeful start to a Blues team that was hungry, determined and physical. For a Blackhawks team fighting for every possible point and a playoff spot, the first-period response or lack thereof -- was once again head-scratching.

I was venting a little frustration after first period because we say the same things over and over. We know St. Louis is going to come out hard. We know its going to be a tough game and we cant afford to go out there and blow the first period. After a while it sounds like a broken record, Toews said. Every guy understood going into that second period, and were happy with the response.

Dave Bolland scored a minute after Stalberg and Kanes goal came about three minutes after Bollands. Toews added his power-play goal to cap the four-goal period. The spread-out scoring was a welcome sight, considering the Blackhawks top line had done the bulk of it lately.

Youre not going to win with one line. It shows the depth we do have here. Thats what we need to do down the stretch here, acting head coach Mike Haviland said. It jump-starts you when other lines start to score. You can see the whole attitude change on the bench when we got that (Stalberg) goal. We just have to keep pushing that, push each other and challenge each other.

Corey Crawford won his second game in as many days, stopping 31-of-34 shots. Crawford wasnt surprised that Toews spoke up after the first.

Jonnys done that all year. He knows what to say at the right time, Crawford said. He told us to relax and play our game that we know we can. The first period was gone and there was nothing more we could do about it. We just had to go out there and play.
Marian Hossa added an empty-net goal with a second remaining. Jake Dowells hustle down ice on that last sequence saved an icing call and led to the Blackhawks final goal.

The Blackhawks dug in for this one. It was a good departure from other bad starts, which too often led to bad finishes. Their captain talked. They listened. Now they need this two-game winning streak to turn into something substantial.

This could be a big thing to jump-start us here, Haviland said. I think it was more for us to realize that dont get too high after wins and that we have to go back to work. Maybe it did take a goal in the second period or something said in the first intermission to get us going. Im proud of those guys.

Waived off

The St. Louis Blues had a goal waived off in the third period when forward BJ Crombeen was ruled in the crease. Crawford said the Blues were in and around him all day.

They were doing that all night, not giving me a chance to get out and challenge, Crawford said. I let the refs know it was their plan to do that.

Briefly

Fernando Pisani (head), Nick Boynton and John Scott (healthy) were Mondays scratches. Haviland said there was no change in Pisanis status.

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

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Rangers tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Rangers tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the New York Rangers tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Best in the West vs. best in the East?

The Blackhawks and Rangers square off tonight as two of the best teams in the league, with each at or near the top of their respective conferences in the standings. The Rangers are two points away from first place in the East, but own the best goal differential of any team at plus-29. The Blackhawks sit atop the West with 37 points and have the second-best goal differential in the West at plus-10. Still a long, long way to go, but perhaps an early Stanley Cup Final preview?

2. Four stars sidelined.

The Blackhawks are already without Corey Crawford and Jonathan Toews due to injuries, and now Brent Seabrook has been added to the list. Luckily for the Blackhawks, they have a surplus of defensemen and won't have a problem finding a guy prepared to step in. But Seabrook is irreplaceable on and off the ice, and he's been really good on it this season. For the Rangers, Rick Nash is out with a groin injury while Jimmy Vesey was scratched last night due to an upper-body injury, making his status unknown for tonight. Lots of firepower will be watching the game from the press box.

3. Jimmy Vesey.

Speaking of Vesey, the Blackhawks went all-out for the reigning Hobey Baker Award as college's top player in the offseason by including Patrick Kane in their recruiting pitch. Vesey's decision reportedly came down to the Blackhawks and Rangers — and it sounded like Chicago was the frontrunner — but he ended up choosing to stay closer to home by picking New York. He's made an immediate impact, scoring nine goals and adding seven assists in 27 games. Three of those goals have been game-winners. If he plays (he's battling an upper-body injury, as mentioned above), it will be interesting to see the reception he gets from the United Center crowd when he steps onto the ice — although it's possible he doesn't get one at all. 

4. Scott Darling vs. Henrik Lundqvist.

Former Blackhawks netminder Antti Raanta, who lost his backup job to Darling in 2015, got the start for the Rangers last night against Winnipeg, which means Henrik Lundqivst is expected to anchor the crease tonight. The last time — and only time — Darling faced the Rangers, he earned his first career NHL shutout when he stopped all 25 shots en route to a 1-0 victory in March 2015. Lundqvist wasn't in goal for that meeting, so it will surely be a fun matchup for Darling as he goes head-to-head against a former Vezina Trophy winner.

5. Limit quality chances.

The Rangers have been a dangerous team offensively this season, scoring the most goals of any team with 99. That's good for 3.54 goals per game. They've been successful in that area because of the contributions they're getting from up and down the lineup, highlighted by Michael Grabner's team-leading 13 goals. The Rangers average only 28.4 shots per game, which ranks fifth-worst, but their shooting percentage at even strength is far and away the best in the league at an astonishing 11.39. Watch out for those quality shots.

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Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Yanic Perreault came onto the ice as the Blackhawks wrapped up practice on Thursday.

It’s been a relatively common sight the last few seasons. Most of the time, Perreault has helped out when a particular player is struggling from the faceoff dot. That was true with Artem Anisimov earlier this season. But with Jonathan Toews sidelined the Blackhawks have been even more focused on improving upon and winning faceoffs. Thanks to the extra diligence, they’ve done that.

The Blackhawks’ overall faceoff performance has steadily improved. They’ll see how it goes again on Friday night when they face the New York Rangers, their eighth consecutive game without Toews.

“We’re working almost every practice and trying to get better on faceoffs,” Anisimov said on Thursday. “If we win the faceoff, we start with the puck and it’s pretty good. You can go to the offensive zone or win in the offensive zone you start with the puck and you have the opportunity to shoot the puck all day and get chances. It’s a big part of the game.”

Enter Perreault, who was a great faceoff man during his NHL career. The Blackhawks players say Perreault offers a wealth of information in each session.

“It’s different every day. The whole science behind it, he’s been great since he was brought in,” Marcus Kruger said. “He always has something new he wants us to work on, whether it’s just timing or body-positioning or something like that. It’s a lot of different stuff and we work on new stuff every day.”

Rasmussen agreed.

“It’s a lot of things you can work on,” he said. “You try to work on being in a low position so you get stronger. [There are] a lot of small things on how you can go against other guys that do it certain way, and you have to find your own way, too.”

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Their first game without Toews, against the Anaheim Ducks, was dismal. Part of that is the Ducks having some tremendous face-off guys. But Toews is the Blackhawks’ best at the dot – he’s won 60.3 percent of the time this season – so that first game without him was rough.

Here’s how things have progressed for the Blackhawks, with faceoffs won and lost and percentage, in Toews’ absence.

Opponent Wins-Losses Percent
Ducks 18-49 27 percent
Kings 21-37 36 percent
Panthers 39-35 53 percent
Devils 22-27 45 percent
Flyers 22-31 42 percent
Jets 31-27 53 percent
Coyotes 30-28 52 percent

So yes, there’s been improvement.

“I think we hold our own,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Yan works well with our center men, they take pride in trying to be the best they can and now they’re taking some important faceoffs and some they probably haven’t taken in the past, whether they’re defensive or special-teams faceoffs. They’ve all won some important faceoffs for us at key times, too.”

The Blackhawks have done their best filling the void left by Toews, especially on faceoffs. There’s been a lot of work put into it, especially with Perreault following practices. But the results have been there.

“We know we’d like to start with the puck, and we had a couple of tough games when Jonny went down initially,” Quenneville said. “But it’s been much better since.”