'Controversy' clouds Sharp vs. Toews shooting

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'Controversy' clouds Sharp vs. Toews shooting

Saturday, Jan. 29, 2011
Posted 9:53 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

RALEIGH, N.C. Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Haviland was enjoying the All-Star festivities this weekend, a Stanley Cup perk for he and head coach Joel Quenneville as they led Eric Staals team.

Im riding on the coattails of Q a little bit here, Haviland said Friday with a smile.

The weekend is a nice getaway for all NHL teams before returning to the grind. For the Blackhawks that grind is that much trickier as theyre on the bottom half of the Western Conferences top eight. Coming off the Cup-winning season, Haviland said he understands fan concern about this team.

They have every right to be frustrated. Weve been inconsistent this year, he said. It looks like were going to turn the corner and then we shoot ourselves in the foot. But were progressing in the right way. Guys are starting to play for each other and the team.

One particular tough area has been the Blackhawks penalty kill. Once one of the best in the league, its currently 26th.

Early on we were looking more at shorthanded goals than just killing penalties. You lose a couple key guys, and now (new) guys have to step up and theyre starting to do that now. Early on I just think we werent committed in blocking shots, whatever it may have been.

Haviland said its also about the details.

Instead of taking care of little details we started cheating a little bit. And you cant cheat. Its like the power play, if you go a couple games without scoring a goal, theres pressure. Now guys are a little nervous going out killing penalties, and you cant be nervous on special teams. So its just snowballed for us.
Sharp-Toews, Take 2

Jonathan Toews didnt hear the whistle when he was facing Patrick Sharp in the accuracy contest. So Toews, who lost the first outing to Sharp, got another chance. He won the second.

It kind of sucks for him and for me. I don't really feel great about it. Everyone's calling me a crybaby now because they gave me a rematch, Toews said laughing. Maybe we'll have to do it again in Chicago and have a rubber match, best out of three. I was kind of disappointed. I didn't hear the whistle and I might have gotten two shots off before he had hit all four targets. I think I caught him offgaurd a little bit the second time.

Said teammate Patrick Kane, Toewser, he doesnt win so he complains.

Sharp, however, would get the last laugh as Eric Staals squad beat Nicklas Lidstroms team, which had the rest of his Blackhawks teammates.

Flip this

Patrick Kane had his Flip camera for some of the on-ice action, and said he collected plenty of memories.

I thought it was pretty cool out there with (Zdeno) Chara when he hit 105.9 (mph on the hardest shot), that was pretty sweet. After (Alex) Ovechkin missed one of the (hardest) shots he said, Im terrible. I got some pretty funny things.

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 look to bounce back vs. Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6 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. How will Blackhawks respond to worst loss of season?

The Blackhawks suffered their worst loss of the season on Saturday in a 7-0 rout at the hands of the Panthers. It was the first time they've lost by at least seven goals since 2011 when Edmonton beat them 9-2 and the first time they lost 7-0 since 2001 against San Jose; the Blackhawks lost to Washington 6-0 earlier this year. But by no means was Saturday their worst effort of the season. A questionable interference penalty by Marcus Kruger led to a two-man advantage, which Florida cashed in on with a goal and another shortly after, and it opened up the floodgates. Expect a big bounce-back against a hungry Lightning team.

2. Lightning fighting for playoff lives.

Every game is a must-win for the Lightning with eight games remaining on their schedule. They're three points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand on the Bruins, who currently occupy that spot, but still have to jump the Islanders. The Lightning didn't do themselves any favors by losing three straight in regulation last week, but they've won two in a row and tonight will be the first of a four-game homestand for them.

3. Keep the puck off Nikita Kucherov's stick.

There isn't a hotter player in the NHL right now than Kucherov, who has seven goals and two assists in his last four games. He's had two hat tricks in the past month, and he ranks sixth in the league with 78 points and second in goals with 38. You know how lethal Artemi Panarin's slapshot is from the left faceoff circle? That's Kucherov, but on the right side.

4. Staying disciplined.

The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team in the league, but they acted out of character Saturday by racking up 30 penalty minutes. They were also slapped with a pair of unsportsmanlike penalties, which isn't something you normally see from Joel Quenneville's teams. Ryan Hartman, who along with Marcus Kruger was penalized for "yapping" at the officials, accepted responsibility for it after the game, and insisted it "won't happen again."

5. Special teams to play key factor?

On the flip side, the Lightning are the second-most penalized team, averaging just over 11 penalty minutes per game. Power plays will be key for the Blackhawks in an effort to keep Tampa Bay's collection of talented young goal scorers off the ice. The Lightning also boast a top-five power play unit with a 22 percent success rate. Both teams would be better served staying out of the box and making this a 5-on-5 battle.

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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.