Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks make late surge, fall in OT again

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Blackhawks make late surge, fall in OT again

Sunday, March 13, 2011
Posted: 2:04 p.m. Updated: 3:28 p.m.By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

WASHINGTON, D.C. There was something a little lax, a little hesitant about the Chicago Blackhawks game early against the Washington Capitals.

The Blackhawks, who hadnt played since Wednesday, just didnt look very energetic. They lost individual battles. They lost early momentum when they gave up a short-handed goal. Then they lost the chance at gaining a critical second point.

Jonathan Toews scored a power-play goal with 38.5 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime, but Mike Knuble scored in the extra period as the Blackhawks fell to the Capitals 4-3 on Sunday afternoon. The Blackhawks were in fifth place in the West after this one, although outcomes of later Sunday games could change that.

For the Blackhawks, this was a disappointing end to their four-game road trip. After riding an eight-game winning streak, the Blackhawks are now 0-1-2 in their last three.

We certainly werent very good today, coach Joel Quenneville said. (The Capitals) played well, they played hard. We had a little delay in our game. I thought we were generous in all the goals we gave them. We couldve done a better job defending in situations.

The Blackhawks also lost defenseman Brian Campbell in the second period; he may have re-aggravated his left leg injury. Between Campbells loss and Brent Seabrooks fight with Jason Chimera late in the second period, the Blackhawks played half of Sundays game with five defensemen and several key minutes with just four.

That was tough, said defenseman Duncan Keith, who played 30 minutes, 42 seconds on Sunday. It wears on you, especially with a team like them with a lot of speed. Theyre good cycling the puck, playing down low.

Nick Leddy and Tomas Kopecky scored for the Blackhawks. Corey Crawford, who looked a little shaky early, got better as the game wore on and stopped 38 of 42 in the loss.

The Blackhawks may have had a few days off but they struggled to take pucks, clear pucks and win battles against a hungry Capitals team thats now won eight straight.

You look at the first half of the game, especially; we were just watching each other and not playing well enough away from the puck, said Toews, whose goal was his 29th of the season. Everyones got to be anticipating, reacting. I dont know if it was laziness or fatigue or whatever, but we werent moving our feet enough away from the puck.

Leddys goal put the Blackhawks up 1-0 about five minutes into the game. But less than two minutes later on the Blackhawks second power play, Patrick Sharp couldnt get the loose puck near the blue line. Boyd Gordon could, and he went the other way for a short-handed goal that took the Blackhawks lead and momentum away.

The last couple games our power play hasnt converted, but tonight was one of our best as far as getting opportunities, especially early. It bites pretty hard when you get scored on shorthanded, Toews said. That definitely didnt help.

Quenneville agreed.

I find shorties really take a lot out of your team, he said. We had the start we were looking for and all of a sudden it gets the building going. It was disruptive to our power play as well.

The Blackhawks will take the point they were pretty fortunate to get on Sunday. But with crunch time here and another game Monday night against another hot team (San Jose), the Blackhawks have to find that other gear.

These games arent going to get any easier, Toews said. Were good enough to give ourselves a chance to get two points every night, so its about us. It comes down to our preparation and how ready we are to play.
Briefly

Campbell is listed as day-to-day with that left leg injury. He played his final shift midway through the second period, although he stayed on the bench the rest of the game.

Theres no change in status for Blackhawks center Dave Bolland (concussion). He is still listed as day to day.

The Blackhawks late power-play goal was their first since March 2 against Calgary. They went 0 for 10 in their last four games.

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

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 6-1 win over Red Wings in preseason home opener

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USA TODAY

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 6-1 win over Red Wings in preseason home opener

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks' 6-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings in Thursday's preseason home opener:

1. DeBrincat-Schmaltz-Kane were electric.

Yeah, this line could work. We realize the Red Wings sent over many of their fringe players, but Alex DeBrincat, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane are all on the same wavelength offensively and it was evident in their first preseason game together.

The trio combined for four points (one goal and three assists), and created several quality scoring chances at even strength throughout the game. Kane was Kane, Schmaltz was one of the best players on the ice and DeBrincat cashed in for his first career (preseason) goal in the NHL.

This is certainly something to keep an eye on as roster cuts get underway and final decisions on the Opening Day lineup approach. Will DeBrincat be a part of the big club? It was considered a long shot before training camp started, but it's hard to ignore the chemistry he's developing on that second line.

2. Brandon Saad picks up where he left off in Blackhawks uniform.

It's like he never left. In his first game back in a Chicago sweater, Saad netted a hat trick — albeit, it's preseason so it won't count in the books — and he could have had a fourth, and maybe even a fifth, if you want to look further into the chances he had. All three goals that he did score though he found himself parked in front of the net, which is a great sign for the Blackhawks because it's something they lacked last year.

"The puck seemed to be finding me," Saad said after the win. "Regardless of what kind of game it is, you want to get your confidence rolling. It’s good to be back out here. It's always nice to be wanted and welcomed, and these fans are the best fans in the league, so it’s good to be back."

Saad finished the game with a game-high eight shots on goal and a plus-3 rating, and he did it without Jonathan Toews, who did not play due to an illness.

3. Connor Murphy developing chemistry with Duncan Keith.

The Blackhawks' new top pairing featuring two-time Norris Trophy winner Keith and 24-year-old Murphy was solid in their first game together.

Murphy wasn't afraid to be aggressive and take chances by pinching in, joining the rush, and quarterbacking the power play with confidence. He also didn't make any glaring defensive mistakes, which is a plus in Quenneville's book.

"I thought everybody played well on our back end," Quenneville said. "Then we went down to five, I thought they looked very good." (Luc Snuggerud suffered an upper-body injury in the second period, and did not return. Quenneville said they will know more about his status on Friday).

4. Jordan Oesterle catches Joel Quenneville's attention.

Of those six defensemen noted above, the one that really stood out to the Blackhawks coach was Oesterle. The 25-year-old blue liner signed a two-year contract with Chicago over the offseason, and is fighting for a spot on the bottom pairing.

He made a strong early case by registering two assists and leading the team with three blocked shots in 21:49 of ice time, playing on both the power play and penalty kill units.

"I liked him. A lot," Quenneville said. "I liked his thought process, jumping up in the play, positionally very strong, quick and headsy. He did a really good job. He's got some flexibility and the ability to play both sides is a great asset to have."

5. What to make of abundance of penalties

We mentioned the NHL's desire to crack down on slashing penalties and faceoff violations in our five takeaways after Tuesday's preseason opener, and it remained the same Thursday. There were another 13 penalties called, three of which were slashing, and handful of centers getting tossed from the dot.

So what should we make of it all?

Well, it's hard to imagine the amount of penalties will stay the same once the actual regular season starts. It seems like a tactic to lay down the hammer extra hard in an effort to get players to adapt to the new enforced rules as quickly as possible. It will be interesting to follow how things may change over the course of the season, with referees having the tendency to swallow their whistles as the important games roll around, especially in the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Blackhawks: Alex DeBrincat’s instincts serve him well vs. Red Wings

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks: Alex DeBrincat’s instincts serve him well vs. Red Wings

Alex DeBrincat had an idea of what he wanted to do in this first home preseason game: apply what he’s learned lately when he could but ultimately stick with what he knew. While he thought he could have been better overall, he nevertheless made a good first impression.

DeBrincat had a goal and looked comfortable in the Blackhawks’ 6-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at the United Center. After excelling in the Ontario Hockey League the past three seasons the 19-year-old forward is going to get a good opportunity to show what he can do at this level. While the Red Wings weren’t stocking anywhere near a full roster – plenty of youth was featured in Detroit’s third preseason game in as many days – this was more about what DeBrincat could do with Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane.

“I felt pretty good out there,” he said. “There’s a lot of things I could improve on but overall I don’t think I played terrible. I’m still trying not to force plays and finding which one is the right play. Once I improve on that I should be pretty good.”

Pretty much everybody had a good night for the Blackhawks but coach Joel Quenneville wanted to get a good look at the second line overall and DeBrincat. The left wing held his own and scored his first preseason goal in the slot, a very familiar and productive area for him.

“Yeah, that’s kind of my sweet spot, so I felt pretty good about it,” DeBrincat said. “It’s 3-on-2 and [Richard Panik] made a great pass to me. I kind of had a muff on it, too. I got lucky it went in.”

While there are going to be things DeBrincat has to improve upon at this level, the skill is undeniable.

“I thought he had a great play on his goal, great instincts around the net, some nice plays,” Quenneville said. “Schmaltzy was dangerous on that line, Kaner, a lot of options and you can see that skill level, the thinking around the net. His plays around the offensive zone were good. We can say a lot of guys did good offensively and he was one of them.”

DeBrincat said several times that he felt he forced plays throughout the night but that’s not unheard of for a young player, be it one coming from the OHL or the AHL. Ryan Hartman said he did the same thing at the start of last season.

“First game, a little intimidated… young kids they’re respectful, and when you get a chance to play with a Kaner it’s like, wow. Whether you’re trying to get him the puck or thinking give and go, that chemistry evolves,” Quenneville said. “But I thought he was pretty comfortable in a lot of things.”

DeBrincat will get a few more looks before the Blackhawks decide what to do with him. Going from the OHL to the NHL is a big leap, and time in the AHL wouldn’t hurt him long term. Still, in his first week at camp DeBrincat’s instincts have been evident. His ability to adapt to a bigger, faster game has been, too.

“Honestly, for me it’s been pretty good. I’m competing pretty well. It’s just faster, and once I got adjusted to that, it’s not too hard,” he said. “I’m still trying to compete every day and just do the little things.”