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.

In wake of first-round playoff sweep, Patrick Kane talks about the Blackhawks' 'reality check'

In wake of first-round playoff sweep, Patrick Kane talks about the Blackhawks' 'reality check'

It’s been just over a month since the Blackhawks were eliminated from the playoffs in swift fashion. And as Patrick Kane told WGN Radio on Tuesday morning, the bitter taste hasn’t gone away.

“I think a lot of us didn’t figure we’d be in the situation we’re in right now,” Kane told Steve Cochran and Dave Eanet on Tuesday. “All of us can work this offseason to get better. It’s a long time to wait to get back to that opportunity to play in the playoffs again, so we’ll have a sour taste in our mouth for a while.”

The Nashville Predators, who made quick work of the Blackhawks in the first round, eliminated the Anaheim Ducks on Monday night to earn the first Stanley Cup Final appearance in franchise history. Kane told WGN he’s been watching the playoffs and said Nashville “has a pretty good system going.”

“They come at you, they play aggressive. I don’t think any of us would be a big fan of the way they defend in the neutral zone, just sitting back and playing that 1-3-1. But at the same time they come at you,” said Kane, who added that the Blackhawks “weren’t even close in that (first-round) series.”

“Maybe we had a chance in Game 3 when we were up 2-0, but it was a clean sweep and that’s probably how it should’ve been,” he said. “So now it’s time to regroup.”

When the Blackhawks had their wrap-up media session on April 22, general manager Stan Bowman was asked if some players, having won three Stanley Cups since 2010, had lost some of the hunger. Bowman didn’t buy that and neither did Kane.

“Four sounds a lot better than three, right?” he said. “It’s a long time away and a lot of work, but sometimes you go through those situations and you realize you won three Cups and it’s almost like you’re going to be there again. That’s where the reality check is for us now, realizing how hard it is to get back in that situation, how hard it is to win a Cup or go deep in this league. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

Should Blackhawks' next assistant coach be Joel Quenneville's choice?

Should Blackhawks' next assistant coach be Joel Quenneville's choice?

On April 22, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman vented his frustrations on the team’s all-too-abrupt exit from the postseason, adding that he and coach Joel Quenneville, “are going to work together to make sure that this never happens again.”

There will be plenty of decisions for the two to mull between now and September, when the Blackhawks convene for training camp. When it comes to the assistant head coach vacancy, however, that might need to be decided with a more one-sided approach. That choice ultimately should be made by Quenneville.

In a recent podcast, Pat Boyle and I discussed the Blackhawks’ need to work together on some upcoming decisions. But with the assistant coach, the head coach has to have the loudest voice. The head coach probably should even have the final vote. The relationship between coaches has to be there because they’re around each other constantly. They’ve got to be on the same page. There has to be trust from Day 1.

As for when the Blackhawks name that assistant, there appears to be nothing imminent. A source said Monday that the Blackhawks and Ulf Samuelsson have been in communication about the job — Chris Kuc of the Tribune first reported on Samuelsson on Sunday. On paper it looks like it would be a great fit. Samuelsson and Quenneville played several seasons together with the Hartford Whalers, along with current Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen. The relationship with Samuelsson has been there for a long time and it would make for a smoother transition. It might also provide somewhat of a panacea for Quenneville after former assistant Mike Kitchen, whose friendship with Quenneville also went back to their playing days, was fired last month.

Earlier this month Bowman told the Sun-Times that Quenneville will have a big role in the Blackhawks’ finding their next assistant coach, with the final choice being a “joint collaboration.” We get that there’s an order to these things and everyone has to be in agreement with the final decision. But in the end the head coach has to be 100-percent happy with his immediate staff. So whoever the next assistant coach is, the decision has to be 100 percent Quenneville’s.