Chicago Blackhawks

Destiny in Hawks' hands after overtime victory

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Destiny in Hawks' hands after overtime victory

Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Posted: 9:49 p.m. Updated: 11:10 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com
The Chicago Blackhawks felt they got the raw end of an officials call on Tuesday in Montreal. On Wednesday it looked like the got the benefit of a big one.

Marian Hossa was awarded a goal on the ice and Toronto let the call stand, and Jonathan Toews scored the overtime winner as the Blackhawks came back to beat the St. Louis Blues 4-3 at the United Center on Wednesday night.

Watch: Toews knows it's do or die for Blackhawks

The Blackhawks will likely end the night in eighth place, as Anaheim was beating San Jose and has more regulationovertime victories. But on the night Patrick Sharp returned from a left knee injury, it looked like the Blackhawks wouldnt manage one point.
David Backes put the Blues up 1-0 just 17 seconds in and T.J. Oshie added one 66 seconds into the second. Then came the controversy. With about 12 minutes left in the second the Blackhawks scrambled to hit the puck past Ty Conklin and Hossa was awarded the goal on the ice. Replays showed Hossa kicking the puck in, with it barely crossing the line. But after a lengthy review in Toronto, the goal stood.

Officials ruled the puck hit the post on Hossas kick, then came out and Hossas stick touched the puck and it rolled across the line. There was inconclusive evidence to overrule the on-ice call.

Both Hossa and I didnt think it was in but the ref was standing right there and he pointed and he said all four guys had it as a goal on the ice, Sharp said. I guess they got it right.

Watch: Keith gives thoughts on the goal review

Coach Joel Quenneville said I think it was inconclusive on a couple of fronts. The call on the ice was a good goal, so you had to prove it wasnt, and the call on the ice was probably going to stand either way. Nothing showed that it wasnt or it was, and I think thats why it stood.

Conklin felt otherwise.

They called it a goal on the ice, which is fine, thats understandable. But the reason we have video replay is to get the right call. Theyre probably going to make it into the playoffs anyway, but do we really have to make it that obvious that the league wants them in? he said. It was a close play, but the puck never crossed the line.

The Blackhawks got two more that period from Tomas Kopecky and Nick Leddy but St. Louis wasnt going away. Chris Stewart scored midway through the third period to force overtime before Toews got the winner, his 32nd goal of the season.

St. Louis was determined to end our season. Obviously they had nothing to lose, said Toews. Well take (goals) any way we can. It doesnt matter who scores. As long as they go in somehow well take them.
Welcome back

Watch: Sharp on his return

Sharp gave his healing left knee a go for about 10 minutes on Tuesday and about twice that Wednesday morning.

Was it fully healed? Probably not. But at this time of year, Sharp wasnt going to sit on the sidelines any longer.

Sharp came back after missing the last seven games with a knee injury, playing nearly 20 minutes and tallying an assist in the Blackhawks 4-3 overtime victory over St. Louis on Wednesday. Sharp said he felt rusty and wouldve liked to have had a practice with his teammates prior to Wednesdays game. But he was going regardless.

I just think its that time of year when you do what you can to help the team and I definitely felt better, Sharp said. Mentally Im past the injury and just focused on what I can do to get us in the playoffs.

Its that time of year that I dont think anybodys 100 percent out there, Sharp continued. You do what it takes.

Watch: Quenneville on Sharp's return

Yes, Sharp is gutting it out. And asked if he wouldve started Sharp if this were game 40 instead of game 80, coach Joel Quenneville said, probably not.

He had some good jump in his game and brought a lot of spirit to our team and energy as well, Quenneville said. It was good to have him back.
Leddy points
Leddy had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks on Wednesday. Quenneville said the 20-year-old has had strong outings lately.

It was a nice shot, a great shot, Quenneville said of Leddys goal, his fourth of the season. He had poise, patience and hes really picked up his game the last two nights.
Fun with Marty

Marty Turco had a little fun with a Montreal fan on Tuesday night, winning and losing a 5 bet in the Blackhawks 2-1 overtime loss to the Canadiens. The fan called into Team 990 Montreal after that game to relate the story.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Wednesday that the Blackhawks were going to deal with it internally. Quenneville looked more amused than anything in addressing it.

Well leave it at that, he said with a grin.
Briefly

Marcus Kruger and John Scott were the healthy scratches on Wednesday night.

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

Jonathan Toews explains why he altered his offseason training regime: 'I might have overdone it'

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USA TODAY

Jonathan Toews explains why he altered his offseason training regime: 'I might have overdone it'

Days after the Blackhawks were swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Jonathan Toews made it known that he wanted to make "some little changes" to his offseason training program.

He went on to say that he never quite reached the level of play that he wanted to during the 2016-17 season after scoring a career-low 21 goals and totaling 58 points for the second straight year. Not bad, but not great by his standards.

In a recent interview with Sportsnet's Chris Johnston, Toews opened up about why he altered his offseason regime from the previous year.

“Last summer is the first time I really got the time to train really hard and I might have overdone it in the wrong way," Toews admitted. "Just worrying about power and strength all the time. I came into the season and just couldn’t move, just felt slow. I mean the game is so fast nowadays. It’s kind of a wake-up call in that sense.”

The game indeed is getting faster, and younger players are breaking into the league much quicker because of it. Look no further than Connor McDavid, who's quickly emerged as the face of the NHL.

It's also evident after watching the Pittsburgh Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cups with their speed, not necessarily grit.

Toews recognizes that, and it's why he's making the necessary changes to help return to top form and get the Blackhawks back on track in doing so.

“When you see the top players nowadays they’re all on the ice,” Toews said. “They’re on the ice all the time just working on skill and that’s something I’m really going to focus on going forward.

"Just getting back to playing with the puck, knowing that that’s the type of player I am, and not just being overly concerned with the defensive two-way hockey but knowing that I can go out there and contribute with the best of them, too, if I put my mind to it a little bit more.”

Projecting Blackhawks' Opening Day lineup in 2017-18

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USA TODAY

Projecting Blackhawks' Opening Day lineup in 2017-18

With Blackhawks single-game tickets having gone on sale Monday — and less than a month away from the first preseason game of the 2017-18 season — it's time to start breaking down what the team's lineup could look like on Opening Day.

Brian Campbell, Scott Darling, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger, Artemi Panarin and Trevor van Riemsdyk were among Chicago's key departures in an offseason makeover, along with Marian Hossa, who's sitting out the upcoming campaign with a medical condition.

There are plenty of important shoes to fill. So how will the reformed Blackhawks stack up?

Let's give it a crack.

(A quick note: All indications are that the Blackhawks will place Hossa on long-term injured reserve as soon as the regular season starts, so we didn't include him on the 23-man Opening Day roster even though he will be. Instead, we added an extra player we believe will serve as the 23rd man going forward.)

First line: Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Richard Panik

Second line: Patrick Sharp - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Third line: Ryan Hartman - Nick Schmaltz - Tomas Jurco

Fourth line: Lance Bouma - Tanner Kero - Tommy Wingels

Extras: Jordin Tootoo

Thoughts: 

— It's practically a lock that Joel Quenneville will open the season with Saad-Toews-Panik at the top, but that doesn't necessarily mean it'll stay that way or finish like that. At the Blackhawks Convention in July, Quenneville toyed with the idea of even putting Sharp on the first unit alongside Saad and Toews after the 35-year-old veteran looked "unbelievable" in the gym during offseason workouts.

— Speaking of Sharp, we're slotting him in at that second-line left wing position to start based off Quenneville's high praise of the winger. And it makes sense, trying to rekindle some magic with Kane off the bat and provide stability on the top-six while spreading out the bottom-six.

— Schmaltz could certainly be a candidate to jump up to the second line with Anisimov and Kane (or perhaps even swap center positions with Anisimov, but we won't get cute early on). The lack of center depth, however, might force him into a third-line center role to start, which isn't the worst idea. He won only 30.9 percent of his faceoffs last season, and the only way to get better is by taking more reps. 

— Hartman and Jurco each spent more time on the left wing than right with the Blackhawks last year, but Jurco played more on the right side in Detroit so that's where we pegged him here. He's probably going to get a longer leash to nail down a full-time spot, and be put in a position to succeed in a third-line role. 

— To round out the four-line rotation, Kero is surely going to play the role of Kruger by handling the bulk of defensive zone draws with newly-signed versatile forwards Bouma and Wingels serving as his wingmen. Tootoo comes in as the extra. 

— It will be tempting to throw highly-touted prospect Alex DeBrincat into the fire right away, but there's no need to rush it and we don't believe the Blackhawks will, either. He's still only 19 years old, and it'd be asking way too much of the 5-foot-7, 170-pound OHL player of the year to log important minutes straight out of juniors.

— That leaves Laurent Dauphin, Alexandre Fortin, John Hayden, Vinnie Hinostroza and David Kampf off the roster for now as well, and it's not a bad thing. There just isn't enough room for everybody, and their developments are better served playing every day in the AHL rather than being fringe players in the NHL and taking turns sitting in the press box.

No. 1 defensive pairing: Duncan Keith - Connor Murphy

No. 2 defensive pairing: Michal Kempny - Brent Seabrook

No. 3 defensive pairing: Gustav Forsling - Jan Rutta

Extras: Jordan Oesterle, Michal Rozsival

Thoughts:

— First off, there is no replacing Hjalmarsson. He was a linch-pin on the Blackhawks' blue line for a decade. It will take a collective effort to help alleviate that loss. While Murphy's defensive game needs improvement, he has to be the favorite to play alongside Keith strictly based on balancing out the rotation. It also helps that he's a right-handed shot, complementing the left-handed two-time Norris Trophy winner.

— Kempny and Seabrook had really strong possession numbers together last season, and should formulate the second unit. Kempny struggled to anchor down an every-day spot in his rookie campaign because of his defensive inconsistencies, but Quenneville is likely to give him an extended leash just like he did with the youngsters last year, simply because he has to.

— Forsling showed real promise in training camp a year ago, and it was enough to break last year's Opening Day roster. He stayed on for the first half before being assigned to Rockford, but it was necessary for his development in order to secure a full-time spot this year.

— Oesterle and Rutta — and perhaps even prospect Ville Pokka — are expected to vie for the sixth spot, with Rozsival serving as the seventh defenseman for insurance. We have the 27-year-old Czech defenseman getting the first crack at it, but it could be an ongoing competition for much of the year.

Starting goaltender: Corey Crawford

Backup goaltender: Anton Forsberg

Thoughts:

— For the first time in a while, the Blackhawks are heading into the season with some uncertainty surrounding their backup goaltending situation. Crawford is the clear-cut starter, but for two-plus years the Blackhawks felt like they've always had two No. 1s with Darling.

— Forsberg legitimately might be the X-factor for the Blackhawks' season. Darling appeared in 32 games last season, and 29 the year before, essentially starting one-third of the team's games over the last two years. And he thrived in that role. Forsberg has high potential, but can he take that next step and be a consistent goaltender the Blackhawks need him to be? That's the question that nobody can answer until we actually see it.

— If the Forsberg experiment doesn't work out, or they prefer to enhance his development with every-day starts in Rockford, the Blackhawks signed Jean-Francois Berube who could see some playing time. But it's Forsberg's job to lose.