Hawk Talk: Sly leaders emerge, wake up troops

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Hawk Talk: Sly leaders emerge, wake up troops

Monday, Jan. 17, 2011
9:45 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Theres something to be said for a good, honest chat. Airing grievances, getting things off your chest, venting; whatever you call it, it can lead to good things.

Just ask the Blackhawks, who got the most out of a little player pow-wow they had after a lousy first period against Nashville on Sunday night. They talked, they hashed things out, heck they couldve screamed at each other for all we know.

Bottom line is, whatever was said worked. The Blackhawks came through with a good second period and a better third period, one that came with four goals and a victory over a division opponent. And heading into this five-day break, they needed that.

Yeah, its something for guys to be loud and to speak their mind in this room, Dave Bolland said. Having guys speak and know whats wrong and whats bothering them is good.

Some players talked. Troy Brouwer said that, but wouldnt specify who exactly the talkers were. Those who werent talking were apparently listening; the words ruffle feathers as much as they stoked team morale.

We just got excited about going out there and getting something done, said Jonathan Toews, who not surprisingly was one of the vocal players. We all knew we had to be better after that first period.

Maybe the Blackhawks have had these players-only discussions in others games this season. Im sure they had their talkers during last seasons Stanley Cup run. Maybe its the same guys. Maybe some of the veterans acquired in the offseason piped up. Maybe guys who were hesitant to talk last season have no problem doing it now.

Whatever the scenario, it worked on Sunday. After a myriad of offseason changes and in-season injuries, the Blackhawks are starting to find their team identity and line chemistry. Theyve also found their voices. Theyll need hard work and health to keep them in the Western Conferences top eight.

Theyll also have to keep talking. When youre trying to get the most out of each other and go on another playoff run, silence wont be golden.

More musings

--Nick Leddy was reassigned to the Rockford IceHogs on Monday morning, but with the Blackhawks not playing again until Saturday, it looks like this was just a salary-cap move. The 19-year-old defenseman has earned nothing but praise from coach Joel Quenneville since being recalled on Jan. 7.

--The checking line guys keep adding offense while denying the opposition. Bolland is on a four-game points streak after adding two goals on Sunday night. He now has four goals and two assists in these past four contests. Bryan Bickell added his 12th goal of the season on Sunday night.

--The NHL All-Star game captains are going to be named soon. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said earlier this week that he would select Sidney Crosby and Steven Stamkos as the respective team captains. But am I the only one wondering if Crosby even plays in this game? Hes been sidelined with concussion since Jan. 6. The All-Star game is less than two weeks away. Even if Crosby is concussion symptom-free and playing again, does he play in Raleigh? Just wondering .

--Brouwer, who had the tying and game-winning goals against Nashville, was the NHLs third star for Sunday night.

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

Blackhawks recall Johansson, assign Schmaltz

Blackhawks recall Johansson, assign Schmaltz

The Blackhawks will be without their No. 1 goaltender for a few weeks, so the obvious backup call-up came on Sunday morning.

At the same time, the Blackhawks are going to give one of their forwards a little work in the minors.

The Blackhawks recalled goaltender Lars Johansson from the Rockford IceHogs on Sunday morning. They also assigned forward Nick Schmaltz to the IceHogs.

Johansson has a 6-7-1 mark with 2.63 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 16 games. This comes one day after Corey Crawford had an appendectomy in Philadelphia prior to the Blackhawks’ 3-1 loss there. Crawford, according to the team, is expected to be out 2-3 weeks.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Schmaltz has a goal and three assists in 26 games with the Blackhawks this season. Schmaltz is one of several forwards who got a top-line opportunity this season and, much like most of the others, couldn’t stick there. He has struggled to find a consistent game.

The Blackhawks face the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night. Scott Darling is expected to get the start.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Jets tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Jets tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Winnipeg Jets 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. Seeking revenge.

In their first meeting of the season, the Jets ended the Blackhawks' 11-game point streak by shutting them out 4-0 in Winnipeg. The Blackhawks will look to get even tonight when the Jets come into their building, where the Blackhawks are 10-1-2. The Jets haven't been as successful away from home, carrying a 4-8-2 road record into the United Center.

2. Tired legs? Not so fast.

It will be a quick turnaround for the Blackhawks, who will play their second game in as many days traveling from Philadelphia to Chicago. But don't expect fatigue to play too much of a role. Well, maybe it will, but the Blackhawks have been close to perfect in the second of a back-to-back with a 4-0-1 record compared to 3-3-0 in the first game. It also helps that Saturday's game against the Flyers was at 12 p.m., giving the team some extra time to recover for a divisional matchup. The Jets, on the other hand, will being playing in their second game in as many nights as well, having played St. Louis last night which ended in a 3-2 overtime win for the Jets. 

3. Who's in, who's out on D?

Trevor van Riemsdyk returned to the lineup Saturday, and certainly showed some rust after missing more than six weeks with an upper-body injury. With it being the second of a back-to-back, the Blackhawks could look to rotate the blue line and reinsert Gustav Forsling, who was a healthy scratch for the first time, back into the equation and perhaps Michal Rozsival, too.

4. Patrik Laine.

The No. 2 overall pick in 2016 has scored four goals and an assist in his last three games, continuing his phenomenal rookie campagin. He's on pace to reach almost 40 goals, which is incredible for a rookie in an era where scoring gets harder and harder. He's tied with Sidney Crosby for the league lead with 16 goals, one of which came against Chicago in the first meeting. 

5. Capitalize on special teams.

The Jets haven't been particularly good on special teams lately. They're 3-for-26 on the power play in their last 10 games, which is an 11.5 percent success rate, and are 26-for-36 on the penalty kill (72.2 percent) in their last eight. Their power play percentage ranks 20th in the league at 15.2 and penalty kill ranks 25th at 79.0. They're trending in the wrong direction. The Blackhawks are still struggling to find a rhythm on the power play, so perhaps this is a good opportunity to break through.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

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