Hawk Talk: Blackhawks lighting up the scoreboard

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Hawk Talk: Blackhawks lighting up the scoreboard

Sunday, March 5, 2011
Posted: 10:40 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

TORONTO Goaltender Corey Crawford wasnt tremendously busy at the start of the Blackhawks victory over Toronto on Saturday. So he must have enjoyed watching the scoring show at the other end.

Our guys, its incredible the way were scoring goals, said Crawford, who like any goaltender appreciates the big number on his teams side of the scoreboard. Obviously our top lines been unbelievable, probably one of the best in the league. But the other lines are smart and making the right plays.

It wasnt that long ago the Blackhawks offensive game was buoyed by three guys: No. 1-liners Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. More than a week ago, Toews said that the trio was feeling the pressure to score. It didnt help that the line Nos. 2, 3 and 4 were pretty quiet. They were not coming up with the big goals, not giving their opponents much reason to be very wary of them.

But a funny thing happened on the way to the current eight-game winning streak: the other lines started picking up the slack.

The Blackhawks are reveling in their offensive balance right now, getting scoring from every line and in every situation. In five games of this eight-game surge, the Blackhawks have scored four or more goals.

Chemistry helps. Enjoying a relatively healthy run right now, the Blackhawks have been able to commit to and stick with their line combinations. Players are attuned to what each other is doing, and its shown.

Of course the Blackhawks top line has continued to do its top-line duty, scoring in bunches and often doing so in top-line style. As Viktor Stalberg quipped after the Blackhawks latest victory, Toews, Kane and Sharp have had a couple of Harlem Globetrotter goals out there.

But others are following suit. Marian Hossa has retuned to his Hossa-like ways, garnering six goals and five assists in his last seven games. Linemates Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland have two goals and two assists each in their last three games.

Michael Frolik has led the third-line charge. Working hard but point-less in his first nine games since the Blackhawks acquired him from Florida, now has two goals and two assists in his last three contests. Fourth-liners Ryan Johnson and Stalberg have supplied the game-winners in the Blackhawks last two games.

Our line as a group worked well (Saturday) tonight. We kept getting in there, getting the puck, said Stalberg, who deflected Tomas Kopeckys shot for his 10th of the season. Weve got four lines rolling right now. Were spreading the ice out a little better.

Speading the ice out, spreading the scoring around, its all led to the recent run of success. The Blackhawks have been opportunistic, feeding off each other and making the opposition pay for mistakes.

The Blackhawks are a confident group right now, from their goaltender to their defensemen to their forward lines. Yes, theyve still had a few of those nail-biting third periods but their balanced scoring attack has them winning those games now instead of squandering them.

The Blackhawks scoring show is back. And its top three stars are joined by a strong supporting cast.

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

Blackhawks make another change, fire Rockford coach Ted Dent

Blackhawks make another change, fire Rockford coach Ted Dent

Ted Dent was another longstanding member of the Blackhawks' organization. On Tuesday, he was the latest to be let go.

Dent, head coach of the Rockford IceHogs for the past six seasons, was fired on Tuesday morning. Dent spent a total of 11 years in the organization; he was the IceHogs' assistant coach for five seasons before taking the head coaching job for the 2011-12 season.

Just over a year ago, the Blackhawks gave Dent a three-year contract extension that was set to run through the end of the 2018-19 season.

"The Chicago Blackhawks thank Ted for all of his contributions throughout his tenure with the organization," Blackhawks general Manager Stan Bowman said. "He played a major role in helping a number of players reach the NHL level with the Chicago Blackhawks, many of whom became Stanley Cup champions. We wish Ted and his family the best."

The IceHogs didn't have the depth this season they had in previous years, and they struggled all season en route to a 25-39-9-3 record. The struggles got worse after the March 1 trade deadline, when the Blackhawks sent Spencer Abbott and Sam Carrick to the San Diego Gulls (Anaheim Ducks AHL affiliate). At the time, Abbott led the IceHogs in points with 35 (15 goals, 20 assists) and Carrick was second with 28 points (11 goals 17 assists).

After the two were traded, the IceHogs went 4-12-1.

It's the second consecutive day in which the Blackhawks fired a member of their organization's coaching staff. Mike Kitchen, the Blackhawks' assistant coach since 2010, was fired on Monday. Kitchen and head coach Joel Quenneville have been friends going back to their NHL playing days, when the two were teammates with the Colorado Rockies and the New Jersey Devils. Kitchen was also part of Quenneville's coaching staff in St. Louis.

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

When Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman addressed the media on Saturday, he said that there would be change. That started on Monday when assistant coach Mike Kitchen was fired.

The move came five days after the Blackhawks were swept out of the first round by the Nashville Predators. Bowman said in a statement that, “we believe this decision is best for our organization moving forward. Mike had an impact on two different Stanley Cup championship teams during his tenure in Chicago. We appreciate his many contributions and wish he and his family success in the future.”

Kitchen has been a member of coach Joel Quenneville’s staff since 2010. The two go back to their playing days, however, when they were teammates with the Colorado Rockies and also the New Jersey Devils. Kitchen was Quenneville’s assistant when the two were with the St. Louis Blues and when Quenneville was fired as Blues coach midway through the 2003-04 season, Kitchen was promoted to head coach.

As part of the Blackhawks’ staff Kitchen’s focus on special teams, mainly the penalty kill. That kill finished the regular season 24th overall in the league, although that has to come with an asterisk. The penalty kill started the 2016-17 season so poorly that it was never going to get too far out of the basement. It did get stronger as the season wore on, and it was fourth overall during the Blackhawks’ short stay in the playoffs.