Hawk Talk: Players Gather to Work Out Problems

51820.jpg

Hawk Talk: Players Gather to Work Out Problems

Saturday, Mar. 27, 2010
5:37 P.M.

By Chris Boden
CSNChicago.com

Turns out it wasnt a total day off for the Blackhawks following their worst, most embarrassing loss of the season. Yes, Joel Quenneville kept his players off the ice. But he didnt let them off the hook for their 8-3 whipping by a Columbus team that went into that game ranked 24th in the NHL in offense.

A sign of a good team and we have one here is if someone makes a mistake, youre held accountable, somebody tells you, Adam Burish said after he and the rest of the Hawks got back in their skates for practice Saturday. We had a little meeting yesterday and Q addressed the issues that we had. Some of the guys said a few things to each other. Thats what a team has to do, what a good team does. Maybe thats a reason a day off, too, was good we addressed the issues, talked about it, kinda pulled the elephant out of the bag. There it is, lets address it, lets figure out whats wrong and lets not hide it, not put it away or not talk about it. Address it, get it out on the table. Now..lets put it away and move forward.

Burish spoke in general terms what was discussed. It was the way we played, the way we defended. Just a lot of things. What was said in the meeting, Ill keep it in here. Like I said, it wasnt one guy or one thing, just a combination. The tone was, weve got ten games left to play the way we wanna play play the right way and thats whats gonna carry us into the playoffs.

Youve never seen a team kind of limping into the playoffs, playing garbage hockey in the last ten games, then all of a sudden, play awesome. You know that, so you have to play good going into the playoffs, got to feel good about your game, and have confidence. So weve got to find that. Obviously, Detroits probably playing with a ton of confidence right now and separated themselves for that eighth spot, playing as good as they have all year. So weve got to get to that level.

I think we cant be too happy with what took place the night before, so that needed to be addressed, Joel Quenneville said of Fridays get-together. You cant be happy with a game like that. We play them next. We should be excited about tomorrow.

As Antti Niemi returns to the net Sunday night, Quenneville still wouldnt publicly proclaim him as his number-one goalie after two shutouts his last three starts and Cristobal Huets struggles. I did ask the Head Coach about the popular suggestion making the rounds that with his team in a fight for playoff positioning the final nine games, over 15 days the best way Huet can get his (admittedly shaken) confidence back in time for the post-season would be a handful of games at Rockford.

I dont even think you can do that, but thats not under consideration at all. You want to be playing your best, we know the importance of goaltending. Anttis coming off several sharp games in a row. I think we want to make sure theyre both comfortable and confident. Thats what well be working on.

Niemi would be experiencing his first taste of the NHL playoffs, and his Finnish League post-season experience wasnt anything close to the upcoming grind that begins in just two weeks. The 26-year-old was in net for six playoff games in each of his two seasons with the Pelicans of SM-Liga, and two games for Rockford last spring.

Thats another reason Fridays meeting needs to provide more productive play - and results - on the ice. The way Detroits been playing, the Hawks may well avoid them in the first round, as the Wings could inch up as high as fifth or sixth in the conference playoff standings these next two weeks. But everyone in that locker room seems to be aware of the need to ramp up their own play, no matter whom they face.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks square off with Stars tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks square off with Stars tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Dallas Stars tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Scott Darling's regulation shutout streak.

Darling had two shutouts in his first 44 starts of his NHL career, and nearly matched that total in back-to-back games after he pitched a 22-save shutout over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday and stopped 36 straight shots before allowing the 37th one to get by in a 1-0 overtime loss to the New York Rangers on Friday. While his shutout streak came to an end, he still hasn't allowed a regulation goal in 124:45 minutes. The Lemont native has been terrific in Corey Crawford's absence and will look to continue that against a divisional opponent tonight.

2. Shoot from everywhere.

The Stars have allowed the most goals of any team (93) this season, giving up 3.21 goals per game. They allowed 2.78 goals per game last year, which was the highest among all 16 playoff teams. Their defense has gotten worse, and their offense has dipped to 18th at 2.55 goals per game after finishing No. 1 in that category a year ago at 3.23. Shoot from any angle and it may find a way to sneak in.

3. Redemption on the power play.

In the first two meetings, which resulted in Chicago wins, the Blackhawks had 10 power-play opportunities but cashed in on only one of those. The Stars are coming off a game where they allowed three goals on the man advantage in a 4-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday and have a penalty kill percentage that ranks fourth-worst at 76.7. They've also given up at least a power-play goal in seven of their last 10 games. It's a vulnerable area for them right now — and has been all year — so it's important the Blackhawks keep pressing.

4. Questionable statuses for several Stars.

After missing 23 games with an undisclosed illness, Jiri Hudler was activated off injured reserve on Friday but did not play in yesterday's game against the Flyers despite coach Lindy Ruff saying he was available. He could draw back into the lineup tonight, although it's not certain. Same with Johnny Oduya, who has been sidelined for the last three weeks with a lower-body injury. Jamie Oleksiak will also have a hearing today for an illegal check to the head on a Flyers forward yesterday, making his status for tonight questionable. Former Blackhawks winger Patrick Sharp, who missed the first two games against his former team with a concussion, is experiencing those symptoms again and remains out of the lineup.

5. Take a lead into the third.

The Blackhawks are 11-0-0 when leading after two periods this season, and are one of just five teams to have a perfect winning percentage in that category. The Stars, on the other hand, are one of five teams that have yet to pick up a win when trailing after two. They're 0-10-2 in that department. Taking advantage of the Stars on the second of a back-to-back early could make putting them away easier if the Blackhawks head into the final frame with a lead.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

- Check out the latest stats and standings to make sure you’re ready for action

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

- NBC Sports App FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Blackhawks: All of the most recent news and notes

- See what Blackhawks fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Blackhawks Pulse

Bill Dineen, father of Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen, passes away

Bill Dineen, father of Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen, passes away

Bill Dineen, former AHL and NHL coach and father of Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen, passed away on Saturday morning. He was 84.

Kevin Dineen was not at the Blackhawks’ practice on Saturday. Coach Joel Quenneville called Bill Dineen “a tremendous man.”

“Everyone who had the privilege to meet Bill and be around him loved the guy. He was probably one of the most liked people you’d ever want to meet. Great family man; the kids are just like the dad,” Quenneville said following Saturday’s practice. “We had a good time with him on the dad’s trip last time. Seeing him at that stage and being around hockey again, it was fun to be there.”

Bill Dineen played for the Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings. He later was a head coach, mostly in the AHL. He was named the AHL’s outstanding coach twice and led the Adirondack Red Wings to the Calder Cup in 1986 and 1989. He also had an NHL coaching stint with the Philadelphia Flyers from 1992 to 1993, during which he coached Kevin.

AHL president David Andrews released a statement regarding Dineen’s passing.

“During his time as a player and coach, and in the values he instilled in his family, Bill Dineen created a legacy of greatness in the American Hockey League that still resonates today. Our deepest condolences go out to the entire Dineen family at this time.”