'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.

Marcus Kruger 'pretty close' to returning for Blackhawks

Marcus Kruger 'pretty close' to returning for Blackhawks

Marcus Kruger has been sidelined a little longer than the originally expected three weeks with his right hand injury. Not that any missed time is enjoyable.

"I wanted to get back there probably a few weeks ago but unfortunately I couldn't," said Kruger, who suffered his injury on Dec. 30 against the Carolina Hurricanes. "I tried to listen to the doctors and do everything I can instead to be ready when I get cleared. That's my mindset."

Kruger is close, but not quite there, as the Blackhawks prepared for Sunday night's game against the Vancouver Canucks. Kruger skated with his teammates for the first time since being injured but wasn't among the line rushes. The center took faceoffs on his own at the end of practice. Kruger pronounced himself, "pretty close," to returning. Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks will see how Kruger is over the next few days. The Blackhawks play again Tuesday and Thursday before heading into the All-Star break this weekend.

The Blackhawks have missed Kruger's versatility and especially his play on the penalty kill. The Blackhawks' kill has been fine through Kruger's absence but he nevertheless is a big part of it when he's healthy.

"We have a lot of options and when he's out everyone gets a more important role, whether starting or faceoffs. And we have a rotation of five guys who are in there most of the time. But he definitely absorbs the most responsibility when he's playing in that area," Quenneville said of Kruger. "So it's nice you get to try some other guys and you get deeper as you go along."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

One of the players who's emerged in Kruger's absence is Tanner Kero, who filled his third-line center void. Kero and linemates Vinnie Hinostroza and Marian Hossa clicked on the dads trip, coming up with big plays and points in the Blackhawks' victories over Colorado and Boston. As of now, Kero appears to have the hold on third-line center.

"I don't see too many things that would change his positioning because he really helped himself," Quenneville said.

Kruger said he's fine if that means returning to fourth-line center duties. Regardless, he'll help bolster the Blackhawks' forward lines. The last step is likely contact, which Kruger got a little of – outside of faceoffs – in Sunday's skate. Kruger's had to wait a little longer than expected on his injury but he's getting there.

“Obviously [I want to] get back and playing the same way,” Kruger said. “First I want to get healthy and then get back playing my best and do everything I can for the team.”

Blackhawks updates: Why Joel Quenneville is starting Corey Crawford vs. Canucks

Blackhawks updates: Why Joel Quenneville is starting Corey Crawford vs. Canucks

Corey Crawford will start but Marcus Kruger won't play yet when the Blackhawks host the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday night.

Scott Darling is coming off a 30-stop shutout in the Blackhawks' 1-0 victory over Boston on Friday night. Coach Joel Quenneville said there was some consideration given to start Darling in this one, too, but, "at the same time we want Crow playing as much as he can to get back to the great pace he had prior to being away."

"He hasn't been bad. But certainly that's what we're looking for him to get back to," Quenneville said on Crawford. "I like giving Darls some consideration. We'll see but [Darling] certainly enhanced his positioning."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Meanwhile, Marcus Kruger skated with the Blackhawks for the first time since hurting his hand against the Carolina Hurricanes on Dec. 30. He took faceoffs on his own at the end of practice but was not among the line rushes. Quenneville said the Blackhawks will see how Kruger is for either Tuesday or Thursday but, "knowing we have that [All-Star] break, we'll see how he feels and what our options are."

Kruger said he felt, "pretty close."

"I tried to take it day by day and prepare to play," Kruger said. "Obviously not tonight, but the next game we will see." 

BLACKHAWKS VS. VANCOUVER CANUCKS
6:30 p.m.
TV: WGN
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Chicago Blackhawks
Forward lines

Ryan Hartman-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Vinnie Hinostroza-Tanner Kero-Marian Hossa
Andrew Desjardins-Dennis Rasmussen-Nick Schmaltz

Defensive pairs
Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender
Corey Crawford

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Marcus Kruger (right arm).

Vancouver Canucks (via Canucks)
Forward lines

Daniel Sedin-Henrik Sedin-Loui Eriksson
Sven Baertschi-Bo Horvat-Alex Burrows
Markus Granlund-Brandon Sutter-Jayson Megna
Brendan Gaunce-Michael Chaput-Jack Skille

Defensive Pairs
Alex Edler-Troy Stecher
Luca Sbisa-Chris Tanev
Alex Biega-Nikita Tryamkin

Goaltender
Ryan Miller

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Anton Rodin (knee), Ben Hutton (hand), Jannik Hansen (knee), Erik Gudbranson (wrist), Philip Larsen (upper body), Derek Dorsett (back).