Campbell providing calm presence for Hawks

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Campbell providing calm presence for Hawks

Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011
4:50 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Statistics abound in hockey. Points, time on ice, hits, plus-minus, etc. Whatever the numbers, good or bad, players are usually judged by them.

And for Chicago Blackhawks Brian Campbell, one number shows hes doing pretty darn well.

Campbell is a plus-23 this season, including a plus-10 in his last seven games. Its a gaudy digit, for sure; Campbell was a plus-18 last year and had a career-best plus-28 with the Buffalo Sabres in 2006-07. Its a testament of how reliable and key Campbell has been.

Theres a reason why youre plus-23. Its pretty remarkable, coach Joel Quenneville said. Hes out there against good players and playing big minutes. Its an indication that things are going pretty well.

Captain Jonathan Toews said the plus-minus is something that definitely shows how youre playing. Maybe you dont have all the points or goals but the plus-minus shows the effect you have on linemates and teammates. Maybe youre not always the first or second assist or not always scoring goals, but youre involved in the play.

Campells logged plenty of minutes this season and has played in every situation. Hes gotten comfortable with the Blackhawks these past few seasons and said hes learned plenty from Quenneville, a former defenseman himself.

There are a lot of just simple, easy things that he stresses: good stick positioning, good gap, just a lot of positioning in our own zone, when not to attack, staying in front of the net and not attacking plays that arent dangerous plays, Campbell said. Its been good. I feel really comfortable in his game plan right now.

Patrick Sharp said Campbells comfort level is evident.

Its as good as weve seen him play these last two years. Hes been very underrated for our team, Sharp said. Hopefully he continues to play like that for us.

Then theres Campbells partnership with Niklas Hjalmarsson. Campbell said hes been partners with the Swede longer than anyone else in his career, and the familiarity breeds results on the ice. Hjalmarsson, who was a minus-9 while Campbell was hurt and is a plus-8 now, noted his partners steady on-ice demeanor.

Hes very confident with the puck and always calm. That affects me. You know what youre going to get from him every night, Hjalmarsson said. He was good last season, too, but I dont know if Ive seen him play as good as he has this season. Hes been outstanding.
All-Star captains

Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom and Carolina forward Eric Staal were selected as All-Star Game captains on Tuesday. Jonathan Toews said last week he didnt expect to be selected as an All-Star captain and sounded relieved on Tuesday that he wouldnt have to be picking teammates.

Now we can joke with each other about who gets picked before the other guy, Toews said. I guess it couldve been fun, but Ill be more comfortable sitting on the outside. Theres no reason I want to take all that pressure right off the bat.

Patrick Sharp, meanwhile, said he thinks Staal could pick him.

Staals from my hometown (Thunder Bay, Ontario), so he better draft me. But I have a feeling hes going to make me wait it out, he said. Either way well be having fun with it.

Bears or Packers?

With the Bears hosting the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship this weekend, the Blackhawks were taking sides. The teams two Wisconsin natives, Jack Skille and Jake Dowell, were firmly in the Packers corner. Others were going with the Bears.

Thats funny, because all of a sudden they became huge Packers fans, Sharp said of Skille and Dowell. Thats fine. I know my boy Robbie Gould and the Bears are going to pull it out.

Toews said itll make for interesting viewing this Sunday.

Im sure everyones going to be glued to a TV somewhere taking it all in, he said. I wish those guys (Bears) the best. Itd be awesome to see another team here do what we did last year.

And Quennevilles take?

I love football. Lets go Bears.

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

Will lopsided loss shake Blackhawks from their slumber?

Will lopsided loss shake Blackhawks from their slumber?

The Blackhawks have talked the past several games now about how they need to play better, how they need to get back to their 60-minute game. But even when you tell yourself you have to improve the message doesn't always translate into immediate action. That's especially true if, despite so-so play, you're still managing victories or still eking out a point.

Sometimes, you need a jolt to realize you have to get better. Well, that thud the Blackhawks made in South Florida ought to get their attention. 

The Blackhawks' 7-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday night, that "ugly, ugly game," as coach Joel Quenneville, is the latest in what's been a mediocre stretch for the team. They've been leaning on their goaltending again (please see Minnesota, Montreal, Ottawa and Dallas games). Or they've been leaning on their ability to wake up in the third period after sleepwalking through the first two. Sixty-minute games and four-line rotations, such a big part of the Blackhawks' success through February and early March, have been absent.

Call it the Blackhawks' mid-March malaise.

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It hasn't been more painful because the Blackhawks have still found ways to get points. Or at least they did until Saturday night, when two "yapping" penalties – Quenneville's (accurate) description of Ryan Hartman and Marcus Kruger's unsportsmanlike calls – started the Blackhawks' demise against the Panthers. Players told the traveling media following the game that this was a wake-up call. It ought to be.

Granted, the Blackhawks' late-season issues aren't as bad as some of their fellow Western Conference teams. The Minnesota Wild are 3-10-1 in March. The San Jose Sharks have lost six in a row. This also isn't the first time the Blackhawks have gone through this late-season mediocrity.

Entering the 2015 postseason they struggled to score goals and lost four in a row (five goals in those four games). It turned out alright. Still, best to avoid bad habits.

Perhaps the Blackhawks are in a bit of a swoon because, really, there's not much for which to play in these final few games. They don't care if they win the Presidents' Trophy (and they probably won't). They're currently in first place by seven points following the Wild's 3-2 overtime loss to Detroit on Sunday. Whether the Blackhawks finish first or second, they'll start this postseason at home. 

So is this panic-inducing? No. Is it a concern? Certainly. The Blackhawks can't start thinking they'll automatically flip the switch as soon as the postseason begins.

The Blackhawks want to get their four-line rotation going again. Artem Anisimov returning in the next week or two will certainly help that. They want to get their overall game going again. The Blackhawks have been telling themselves what needs to be done for a few games now. Maybe they needed a wake-up call. On Saturday, they got it. 

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks give up season-high seven goals

Fast Break Morning Update: Blackhawks give up season-high seven goals

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