CSN Sets Record

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CSN Sets Record

Monday, April 19, 2010
8:31 PM

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

Game 1 lived up to the concerns about this matchup I wrote about last week.

Game 2 lived up to my belief the Blackhawks will win this series.

But just as the Hawks and their Nation had to tell themselves after Friday night it was just one game, they must also keep that perspective after two games. It's the Hawks' job to do here in Music City in either Game 3 or 4 what those pesky Preds managed to do in the Windy City opener.

Sunday night's game reminded me of another recent 2-0 game viewed by many as "must win." Back on March 23rd, after losing a third period lead and fallng in Phoenix three nights earlier, they rematched with the 'Yotes at the UC and locked down to halt their nine-game winning streak and open up a four-point lead on the hard-charging Dogs in another Antti Niemi shutout.

Speaking of whom...

Is it possible to be any more impressed with how the two playoff rookies in the net have performed? The Twin Finns have each allowed two goals over two games. The NHL playoff stats through the weekend listed Niemi and Rinne as 1-2 in both goals-against average and save percentage. Our soft-spoken shy guy has mental toughness that seems to grow every game, bouncing back after Friday's funky game-tying goal, and the winner many argue wasn't really his fault. He keeps to himself, but after sharing with reporters last week he isn't into media or public opinion, he's probably pretty smart, too.

His counterpart is either on an unbelievable roll, or he's turning into one of the best in the West. His reflexes and glove hand for a guy who's 6'5 are freaky fast. I've written before how I'm not a card-carrying member of the Luongo and Nabokov Fan Clubs. If I had a second choice right now in the conference after Ilya Bryzgalov, I might just take Rinne. Quick and Anderson have joined Niemi and Rinne in not letting any first-time post-season jitters interfere with their performances. Like his teammates around him, Rinne gets to settle in to a more comfortable crease at Bridgestone Arena for 3 and 4. The way he's performed so far, I wouldn't mind seeing the Hawks try to make him a little uncomfortable - not just with traffic, but as Joel Quenneville calls it, a little "abrasiveness" to see if it gets him off his game. Maybe see Big Buff down thereat least on the power play to reprise the role he so effectively filled last season. Don't be surprised if the Preds try that strategy out on Niemi, too.

Lost in some of the relief over the Game 2 win was the fact that Nashville's leading sniper didn't play, and was pretty invisible in Game 1. 30-goal scorer Patric Hornqvist is still working through the effects of one of teammate Shea Weber's triple-digit-speed slappers into his his chest a couple of weeks ago. If his health returns, and his scoring touch follows before it's too late, he's a key factor the Hawks must account for defensively. Just one of his goals came versus the Hawks in the season series, but 18 of his 30 came after their sixth and final meeting.

Got lots of other stuff I'd love to write about but time for me to dash as fast as I can to the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, and Dollywood.

Yee-hah.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Marian Hossa keeps producing as Blackhawks find chemistry

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Marian Hossa keeps producing as Blackhawks find chemistry

In the latest episode of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle is joined by Steve Konroyd and Tracey Myers following the Blackhawks 4-0 shutout win over the Coyotes.

The crew breaks down how the Blackhawks keep finding ways to win, how Marian Hossa has remained a top-six forward and how the team seems to have finally found some chemistry without Jonathan Toews and Corey Crawford.

Listen to the latest episode below:

Five Things from Blackhawks-Coyotes: Is Brent Seabrook OK?

Five Things from Blackhawks-Coyotes: Is Brent Seabrook OK?

The Blackhawks weren’t exactly reeling — they had only lost two straight games, matching their longest losing streak of the season. Still, they didn’t like the direction in which they were going, especially offensively.

Tuesday was a test in terms of playing another game without Jonathan Toews, another game without Corey Crawford and finding a way against a team that’s struggled this season. The Blackhawks passed the test, finding their offense and denying the Arizona Coyotes in a 4-0 victory.

This week doesn’t get any easier for the Blackhawks, who might be without another top player. We’ll find out more about that in a few days. So before we call it a night, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory over the Coyotes.

1. Slow start, but another first-period lead. Seriously, I’m just going to type this paragraph up for every game and just switch out the name of the opponent. On Tuesday the Coyotes, who played Monday night in Columbus, outshot the Blackhawks early. But thanks to Artem Anisimov’s power-play goal, the Blackhawks led 1-0 after one. It wasn’t a shocker that the Coyotes came out strong early. But again, off the back-to-back, they looked like they were losing steam as the game continued.

2. Brent Seabrook does not return. Seabrook got tangled up with Jordan Martinook late in the second period and, after being down a few moments while holding his head, went to the locker room. Coach Joel Quenneville said he’ll see how Seabrook is on Wednesday — the Blackhawks don’t practice again until Thursday. The Blackhawks have good depth at defense, as we’ve seen throughout this season. Still, missing Seabrook is always a loss.

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3. Marian Hossa scores his 13th and 14th of the season. In some previous seasons that might not mean anything tremendous, other than the Blackhawks would take every one of them. But on Tuesday night, in his 27th game of the season, Hossa surpassed his goal total of last season (13 in 64 games). His second, a breakaway off a pass from Niklas Hjalmarsson, put an exclamation point on this one. So, is it time to just admit Hossa is a cyborg? “I’d believe it. I wouldn’t put it past him,” Scott Darling said. “I still can’t believe how fast he is. He’s one of the fastest players I’ve ever been with. He’s an impressive human being.”

4. Scott Darling with the shutout. Maybe it didn’t seem like that overwhelming of a shutout (22 stops), but it was a good outcome for the backup goaltender, who was tremendous on Sunday but nevertheless took the loss to Winnipeg. Darling was still facing a tough situation in the third period — seeing zip. The Coyotes didn’t get their first third-period shot on goal until there was less than six minutes remaining in it. “It’s not ideal. But I guess it’s better than seeing 30 shots in a period,” Darling said. “Beggars can’t be choosers. You just have to stay with it mentally.”

5. Quick strikes in the second period. We’re all familiar with 17 seconds. On Tuesday the Blackhawks had 19 seconds. They scored twice in that time frame (Hossa and Dennis Rasmussen). From that point on, the Blackhawks looked comfortable and confident. Said Quenneville, “We had the puck a lot more. That’s been what we’re trying to get to where we want to go. Tonight was a good step.”