Flames too hot for Hawks to handle

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Flames too hot for Hawks to handle

Monday, Feb. 7, 2011Posted: 10:57 PM Updated: 11:59 PM
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

CALGARY, Alberta You would think that being in 11th place on Monday morning wouldve sparked the Chicago Blackhawks. Or that even the November drubbing they took to Calgary up here last time wouldve sparked them.

But no. And no.

On a night the Blackhawks desperately needed production, urgency and points, they got very little of one and none of the other two.

Patrick Kane scored his 15th of the season, but the Blackhawks came out sluggish and couldnt make it up in late in a 3-1 loss to the Calgary Flames on Monday night. It was another disheartening loss for the Blackhawks, who have now lost four of their last five.

Be it the slow start or the 0-for-4 performance on the power play, the Blackhawks could generate little on the offensive side.

It reminded me of the first period here last time, said coach Joel Quenneville, referring to the Blackhawks 7-2 loss here in November. The play was in our end, we got behind early. We had some stretches in the second period we had moment, but we cant give up that winning goal tonight.

The Blackhawks managed just three shots on goal in the first while the Flames countered with 10 and a 1-0 lead at the end of the first 20 minutes to show for their work.

They had a good start to our game but ours was flat, there wasnt much to it, not a whole lot of intensity, Troy Brouwer said. To have a start like that in such an important game for us is disappointing.

The Flames, meanwhile, were strong throughout the night. A surging squad that distanced themselves a little more from the Blackhawks on Monday, the Flames were tenacious and determined. They got on top first a Mikael Backlund goal off a pretty Lance Bouma pass and didnt relinquish much momentum.

Curtis Glencross scored midway through the period and Rene Bourque added an empty-net goal for the Flames.

The Blackhawks had their chances to tie it, go ahead and build a decent lead with four power plays. But much like their game against Vancouver on Friday, the Blackhawks came up empty. Theyre now 0 for 9 on the power play that not long ago was their modus operandi.

The guys on the power play are the guys can get it done and we just have to find way to bang one home, said Jonathan Toews, who assisted on Kanes goal. There are a lot of times pucks are bouncing around us and not giving each other flat passes. Its frustrating. You can pinpoint one thing like that that makes big difference in your game.

The Blackhawks end Monday as they began it: sitting in 11th in the Western Conference. The desperation level should be growing by now. But as defenseman Brian Campbell said, I hope it grew a while ago.

Its not easy to win hockey games; for us, I dont know if we expect its going to be easy, Campbell said. There are a lot of good teams in the conference. Were not making it easy for ourselves and we have to start proving were a playoff team. Right now, obviously were not a playoff team.

Late call

Defenseman Brent Seabrook was whistled for an unsportsmanlike penalty with 1:14 remaining in the third period. Why Seabrook was sent off wasnt exactly clear when asked if Seabrook said something to officials, Quenneville said likely.

Quenneville said hes fine if the Blackhawks start getting angry with the way things are going, as long as its directed the right way.

I think were better with anger, but it being channeled properly has to be part of it, he said. Thats an undisciplined penalty at the end we cant take.

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

Jonathan Toews sets up game-winner as Team Canada wins World Cup

Jonathan Toews sets up game-winner as Team Canada wins World Cup

Jonathan Toews set up the game-winning goal to Brad Marchand as Team Canada rallied back to beat Europe, 2-1, to complete the two-game sweep in the final at the World Cup of Hockey.

After Patrice Bergeron tied the game with a tip-in on the power play late in the third period, Drew Doughty was sent to the box for tripping, giving Europe a power play for a chance to respond.

But midway through the man advantage, the Blackhawks captain retrieved the puck and carried it into Europe territory before dropping it off to Marchand, who snapped home the shorthanded game-winner with 43 seconds remaining in regulation.

It was the second goal in a span of 2:09, helping Canada capture their second straight World Cup title (2004).

Sidney Crosby was named MVP of the tournament after scoring four goals and seven assists in six games. 

Toews was fourth among all players in the tournament with five points (three goals and two assists).

Erik Gustafsson knows landing roster spot with Blackhawks won’t be easy

Erik Gustafsson knows landing roster spot with Blackhawks won’t be easy

Erik Gustafsson looked around the Blackhawks’ room at where fellow defensemen stalls would probably be as the season approached.

“You have Brian (Campbell) back, (Michal) Kempny here, obviously and all the other guys,” Gustafsson said. “It’s going to be tough, but I like it.”

The Blackhawks’ biggest Achilles heel last season was defense, especially after Trevor Daley was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins. That opened the door for young players, including Gustafsson, to get bigger opportunities. This year the defense should be stronger with Campbell’s return. So for guys like Gustafsson, cracking this lineup just got that much tougher.

During the summer, assistant coach Mike Kitchen talked potential pairings as Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson, Campbell-Brent Seabrook, Kempny-Trevor van Riemsdyk. As of now, the team is expecting Keith to be ready for the season opener. Keith has been participating in a practice a day but whether or not he plays in any preseason games is uncertain right now.

If it starts out that way, Gustafsson would be on the outside looking in.

But first things first: Gustafsson is focused on building off experience gained last season — he played 41 games, recording 14 assists — and cleaning up a few errors committed in training camp practices.

“You know all the guys on the team, you know how they want to play over here and in the NHL. Just go out and show them. I didn’t do that [Saturday] but this was the first game,” Gustafsson said. “I felt good with the puck but I have to play more defense in my own zone. Just a couple of small things I have to be better.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Nothing comes easy when you’re trying to make an NHL roster but it got that much tougher for a young defenseman with the Blackhawks this season. Hey, that’s the way it is, and players know it.

“Of course it’ll be tougher,” Gustafsson said. “It won’t be easy to take a spot. You just have to go out there, do your best and see what happens.”

BRIEFLY

- Patrick Kane could play in the Blackhawks’ game against St. Louis on Saturday. Assistant coach Kevin Dineen said, “don’t be surprised to see 88 politicking to get in the lineup. Pretty good chance we’ll see him on Saturday."

- The Blackhawks were off on Thursday. Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov, Marcus Kruger and Hjalmarsson were expected to join the team at Friday’s practice

- Alexandre Fortin, who signed a three-year contract on Sunday, played 12 1/2 minutes in Wednesday’s loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. That included about two minutes of power-play time. Dineen wouldn’t mind seeing Fortin in another game. “He showed himself well all camp and I think [Wednesday] we saw some good spurts out there, and we’ll find that consistency in a young player as we move forward.”