Blackhawks shoot blanks as skid reaches three

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Blackhawks shoot blanks as skid reaches three

Sunday, Jan. 2, 2011
Posted 9:33 PM Updated 10:39 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

ANAHEIM, Calif. The Chicago Blackhawks have had trouble keeping other teams off the scoreboard in third periods. Too often this season, a tie or slim lead has turned into a loss late.

But on Sunday, the Blackhawks had one of their stronger third-period performances against the Anaheim Ducks. Unfortunately, it still didnt reap any rewards.

Bryan Bickell scored his 11th goal of the season but the Blackhawks could manage nothing else despite a late flurry of shots in a 2-1 loss to the Ducks at the Honda Center on Sunday. The Blackhawks lost their third consecutive game.

It wasnt for lack of trying in the third, when the Blackhawks fired 19 of their 40 shots on Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller. But whether it was Hillers stellar stops or bad luck, the Blackhawks couldnt muster a goal.

Hiller stopped Jack Skilles tying attempt with a goal-line glove save that was briefly reviewed. Viktor Stalberg thought he tied it late but his shot, aimed for a gaping net, deflected off Dave Bollands stick.

We almost tied it at the end and it goes off one of our guys stick right before its going into the net. That pretty much sums it up right there, goaltender Corey Crawford said. We played good enough to win this game.

Stalberg was about to raise his hands to celebrate before seeing what happened.

I just saw the puck go past the goalie and past everyone else, so I assumed it was in the net, Stalberg said. But it hit a blade and its not even their player. We had a couple of bad breaks in that period that shouldve gone in the net. Thats the way it goes.

The Blackhawks had 21 shots in the first two periods combined. But the quality chances were definitely in the third and not getting at least one of those in left the team frustrated.

It just seemed like the puck was just in front of the net bouncing over our sticks at the last second for some reason. It was just unlucky, Skille said. We just have to get grittier in front of the net, get into puck areas and make sure the next time we have opportunities we have to bear down.

Patrick Kane said it seems like we turned it up in the third and played a different style of hockey. We play like that the whole game I dont think many teams are going to beat us.

The Blackhawks could be getting captain Jonathan Toews back for Monday nights game against Los Angeles, which is definitely good news. The bad news is theyre missing opportunities to get valuable points. The Western Conference is tight and will continue to be so. The Blackhawks dont want to get too far behind in the race.

Every games going to be important all year long. They keep getting bigger and bigger as we go along here, coach Joel Quenneville said. We have to respond to the challenge and we have to play inspired hockey. That was a good third period for us. We needed to generate more scoring chances in the first 40.

Briefly

Blackhawks center Jake Dowell did not play at all in the third period. Quenneville said Jakes fine, but didnt elaborate on why he didnt play during the final period.

Crawford stopped 16 of 18 shots in his first game back from the flu that he suffered from through the Christmas break. My timing was a little off in the first and felt pretty good in the second and third.

Nick Boynton and John Scott were the Blackhawks healthy scratches on Sunday.

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.