Hawk Talk: Kris Versteeg, Cat Burglar

Hawk Talk: Kris Versteeg, Cat Burglar

Tuesday, May 18, 2010
6:45 PMBy Brett Ballantini
CSNChicago.comThe single most enduring moment of Sunday's 2-1 victory for the Chicago Blackhawks wasn't any one of the many stupendous saves authored by goalie Antti Niemi, but a curious call 59 minutes in that gave way to a "Tripgate" of sorts.The San Jose Sharks' final power play of five on the afternoon came from a tripping whistle blown on Kris Versteeg.The only problem was that Versteeg really wasn't anywhere near the stumbled Shark, who had been felled by a superior penalty killer, Dave Bolland.The case of mistaken identity drew instant attention postgame, from Chicago coach Joel Quenneville's candy-store-kid smile and, "I'm not complaining" to counterpart Todd McLellan's assertion that to have raised a ruckus over the mistake would have diverted attention from his team's final scoring charge and "if (the referees) erred, they erred." Versteeg himself was perhaps the most entertaining of all, a consummate showman smart enough to know when to play it on the down low. The third-year forward claimed he "didn't know" what happened on the play and even went so far to have conjured "a pileup" that caused all the confusion for the refs. Natch, and with just a glimmer of a grin, Versteeg asserted that "the refs did a good job" and admitted that, having fallen on his sword for Bolly or not, "I was praying to God they didn't score--my heart was pounding through my chest." Overwhelming chances are that boxing a PK ace like Bolland for the game's last minute instead of Steeger would have done nothing to change the outcome of the contest. And for their own separate reasons, both coaches knew better than to grandstand over the misbegotten whistle.When Q was questioned about the presumed break of the call, he playfully rejoined, "if we're going to talk about that, let's talk about a 5-0 difference in power plays (in San Jose's favor)."Fair enough, coach. Let's drop the puck for Game 2 and see where this tilt's "pileups" fall.

Blackhawks look to keep rolling vs. Coyotes

Blackhawks look to keep rolling vs. Coyotes

The last time the Blackhawks faced the Arizona Coyotes was the first game the current top line of Nick Schmaltz, Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik were thrown together.

Yeah, the combination's worked out well. So has the Blackhawks' game in general, as they've won seven of eight including that Feb. 2 game. Now the Blackhawks will try to keep the momentum rolling with their lines and their game when they host the Coyotes Thursday night at the United Center.

The Blackhawks' current run of success started in the desert and part of that has been finding more consistent lines. Everything else has gradually improved off of that, from goal scoring to puck possession.

"I think it's puck possession, puck control, pace to the game," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we were very inconsistent in that early and we were defending way more than we were accustomed to. You're vulnerable for penalties, you're vulnerable for quality scoring chances against and not generating enough. I think that's the progression in our game now, it seems like all four lines are having the puck and having some zone time and having some rush chances, zone chances and it seems like every line's contributing there, and that's the big difference."

[RELATED: By the bye - Blackhawks keep rolling following break]

The Blackhawks' top line didn't have immediate chemistry but Quenneville kept them together and let them work on it. But as Toews said, it was about the group keeping the all-around game going, points or no points.

"Sometimes you just gotta work until things start clicking," Toews said. "Everyone seems to start paying attention when you start scoring goals, regardless of [the fact you're] doing things right. It's nice that we're scoring but we have to stick with what's making us a successful line at both ends of the rink right now."

Corey Crawford will start vs. the Coyotes. Niklas Hjalmarsson did not skate this morning but is expected to play. Quenneville said Michal Rozsival could draw into the lineup.

Broadcast information

Time: 7:30 p.m.
TV: CSN
Live stream: CSNChicago.com

Blackhawks lines

Nick Schmaltz -Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Dennis Rasmussen-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
Ryan Hartman-Tanner Kero-Vinnie Hinostroza

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Rozsival-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

Injuries 

None

Coyotes lines (via Arizona Republic)

Tobias Rieder-Martin Hanzal-Radim Vrbata
Brendan Perlini-Christian Dvorak-Shane Doan
Max Domi -Alex Burmistrov-Ryan White
Jamie McGinn-Jordan Martinook-Josh Jooris

Defensive pairs

Oliver Ekman-Larsson-Luke Schenn
Alex Goligoski-Anthony DeAngelo
Jakob Chychrun-Connor Murphy

Goaltender

Mike Smith

Injuries

Lawson Crouse (lower body), Brad Richardson (tibia)

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