Halak, Blues quiet Hawks

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Halak, Blues quiet Hawks

ST. LOUIS The Blackhawks got pushed around physically against the St. Louis Blues on Tuesday. Nevertheless, they could have delivered a few blows of their own on the power play.

But once again they were punch less on it.

Andrew Brunette scored an early third-period goal but the Blackhawks went 0 for 5 on the power play en route to a 5-1 loss to the Blues on Tuesday night. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Blackhawks, who remain in sixth place in the Western Conference.

The Blackhawks lost defenseman Sami Lepisto in the second period when he collided with David Perron and Perron fell on the back of his left leg. Lepisto struggled to get to the locker room, putting no weight on that leg; coach Joel Quenneville said hes day to day, and that it wasnt serious.

The Blues came with their usual brawn and bruising style hometown man Brandon Bollig had a long and impressive fight with Ryan Reaves in the first period. The Blues came with scoring, too, with TJ Oshie giving them a 1-0 lead a little over five minutes into the game.

Yeah, that was probably one of their goals tonight was to play physical against us. It seemed to work for them. But we have to have a better start than that, Patrick Kane said. We knew they were going to come out hard. Giving up a goal that early its tough to come back, especially against a team like that thats content to just play defense and not give up anything.

But the Blackhawks had their best chance to fight back with their power play.

But on a night when they needed it most, it disappeared.

We didnt push back in certain areas but I thought we had a chance to get ourselves back in with the power play and thats where we lost the momentum, coach Joel Quenneville said. Certain guys tonight didnt have the pace or intensity you need on the power play. You have to work harder on the power play, its not a given.

As good as the Blackhawks had played the Blues recently, they didnt have that same energy and fight against them on Tuesday. Their puck possession was rough and the Blues were more than happy to take advantage of mistakes. That included a mishandled puck on one of the power plays, which the Blues Vladimir Sobotka, to be specific turned into a short-handed goal.

We clicked (on the power play) in three games but tonight we couldnt settle the puck down, couldnt make a pass, said Marian Hossa. We didnt deserve to win tonight.

The Blackhawks didnt have the punch they needed against the Blues, especially on that power play. Their special teams had been strong in recent victories. They failed them tonight.

Special teams are something to get momentum off, even when its not scoring a goal maybe its puck possession or a couple blocks on the PK. Tonight they won that, and thats tough, Stalberg said. We have a lot of games this year where those kinds of chances take us out of the game.

Which Blackhawks will be participating in 2017 IIHF World Championships?

Which Blackhawks will be participating in 2017 IIHF World Championships?

The Blackhawks' season ended much sooner than expected after being swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Nashville Predators.

But for some players, their hockey season may not be finished yet.

The IIHF World Championships begin May 5, and an early postseason exit gives several Blackhawks an opportunity to play in the tournament.

With the National Hockey League saying it will not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, players may be more inclined to join given the uncertainty of when they'll be able to represent their countries again — if ever, for some.

Here's an update on which Blackhawks players could be participating:

— Patrick Kane said Saturday he's taking the weekend to mull over Team USA's offer, and will make a final decision in the next "day or two."

— Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews each declined their invites from Team Canada, electing to use a lengthy offseason to recharge and focus on training for the 2017-18 NHL season.

— Corey Crawford and Nick Schmaltz said they have not been contacted by their respective countries, but both said they would consider going if they are.

— Artemi Panarin has reportedly already accepted Team Russia's offer to play.

— Niklas Hjalmarsson said he's "thinking about" Team Sweden's offer after the NHL's decision not to attend the 2018 Winter Olympics. "Who knows when I'll ever get a chance to play for my country again, so that might be factor," he said.

— Marcus Kruger said he's talking with Team Sweden officials, and has expressed interest in going.

— Marian Hossa said he informed Team Slovakia that he will not be playing: "Let the young guys play."

— Richard Panik will not be participating either, saying he doesn't want to risk injury as he seeks a new contract.

Jonathan Toews will make 'little changes' to offseason prep

Jonathan Toews will make 'little changes' to offseason prep

Jonathan Toews gave a succinct "no" when asked if he'd consider playing in the World Championships next month in Europe. For the Blackhawks captain, his 2016-17 season wasn't where it needed to be.

So instead of helping Team Canada across the pond, he'll prepare to help the Blackhawks more next season.

Toews will use this offseason in a variety of ways, including taking some time completely off to heal and rest. And while there's a lot of time between now and the Blackhawks' training camp, Toews said competing in the World Championships would take up a good amount of time he'd rather use to be ready for the fall.

"At this point of my career, going through the last couple of years the way things have played out, there are some little changes here and there with how I approach my preparation, especially the last summer being a long offseason and coming in feeling I was as prepared as I could be and still not getting to the level of play I wanted to this season," Toews said on Saturday. "There are some things I have to re-evaluate and think about this offseason. There's no satisfaction there but definitely take a different approach with how I prepare for next season. I didn't get to the level I needed to be to help our team survive a little bit longer in this last series, so I have to be responsible for that as well. Just look back, assess and see what you can do differently."

Toews had a slow start to the season and then missed three weeks with a reported back injury. Much like the rest of the Blackhawks he started heating up in February and finished the regular season with 21 goals. But it was another quiet postseason for him, as Toews had just one goal in the four games against the Nashville Predators, and that was a late-regulation power-play goal in Game 4.

So was Toews dealing with a physical issue? Asked how healthy he was, Toews said, "well, that's kind of one of the things I'm hitting on," but didn't get more specific than that. Coach Joel Quenneville said some of the Blackhawks' key players, "have some issues they're taking care of, but I don't think it's going to be to that extent to where it's long term care." Quenneville also said any health issues had nothing to do with what happened in this series. Toews certainly wasn't using it as an excuse, either. As for the future, Toews said he'll reconfigure his workout, training regimen, whatever necessary to be better next season.

"Just the way the speed of the game has changed the last few years. I've always been the type of player who likes to play heavy and protect the puck in the corners. It seems the strength has been a factor but also the speed in my game that I used to have in my younger years," Toews said. "I have to get back to playing more puck possession, more speed on the rush. That right there is one little thing. But I think the skill part is another thing I'll have to focus on and trying to get back to playing the way I can."