Hawk Talk: Squandered points can't be recovered

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Hawk Talk: Squandered points can't be recovered

Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011Posted: 7:15 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

CALGARY, Alberta Coach Joel Quenneville recognized what positives came out of Friday nights loss, especially the good pace and the hard-fought outing.

But for those positives, there was one big negative. Or more to the point, there was one big zero. As in points, or lack thereof. For as close of a game the Blackhawks played the best team in the league, they still came up empty.

So as much as the positives can be built on, the squandered points cant be recaptured. And once again on Friday, the Blackhawks were right there late, tied with minutes ticking away, and they couldnt grab any points.

Its the 11th time its happened this year that at the end of the night theres nothing to show for it, Quenneville said. Right now we need wins and we need points.

Yes they do. The Blackhawks were sitting in ninth place early Saturday evening, just one point out of eighth and not many more points out of the middle of the top eight. Thats been said a few times already. And while the hard-fought games are a welcome sight for the Blackhawks and their coach, points would be even better.

So the Blackhawks need their 5-on-5 game from Friday night, their power play converting like it did on Tuesday night and their penalty kill to, well, kill.

And the Blackhawks remaining opponents, with the exception of Edmonton, are going to be point-hungry themselves to keep hold of or get closer to a top-eight spot.

Theyll start with the Calgary Flames on Monday night. Remember those Flames, the ones that battered the Blackhawks up here in November? Thats when they were bad and considered tearing apart their team and starting over again. Now theyre surging; theyve gone 8-1-1 in their past 10 games, have 58 points just like the Blackhawks and are 11th in the conference.

Later this week they face Dallas. The Stars are faltering a bit and are down three players from their fracas-filled loss in Boston, including former Blackhawks forward Adam Burish (fractured orbital bone). Theyre also trying to stay in the top four. Phoenix, meanwhile, is one measly point ahead of the Blackhawks.

No, the Blackhawks latest road trip didnt start easy and it isnt going to end easy.

Everybody is playing desperate hockey right now. Nobody wants to play hard and have nothing to show for it. With only 30 games remaining, the Blackhawks can only be so positive about the moral victories. The ones in the standings are still the only ones that are going to count.

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

Resilient Wild make statement with comeback win over Blackhawks

Resilient Wild make statement with comeback win over Blackhawks

The Minnesota Wild have been chasing the Blackhawks for a long time.

They may not be so far away now.

After falling behind 2-0, the Wild scored three unanswered goals to beat the Blackhawks 3-2 at the United Center on Sunday night, and moved into sole possession of first place in the Central Division and Western Conference with 61 points, and still have four games in hand.

But even the Wild had to remind themselves that they're on the same playing surface as the Blackhawks, who eliminated Minnesota from the playoffs for three consecutive seasons from 2013-15, two of which were en route to Stanley Cup wins.

"We were pretty slow," coach Bruce Boudreau said about the team's first period. "I thought we were in a little bit of quick sand. We watched them play. I think it was a little bit more [we were] in awe. It's the Chicago Blackhawks, we're supposed to be in awe."

When they snapped out of it, the Wild looked like the team that has become one of the NHL's best, having now won 17 of their last 19 games.

Wild nemesis Patrick Kane scored the game's first two goals, but Minnesota displayed the type of resiliency every contender needs by evening it up in the second period thanks to a power-play goal by Nino Neiderreiter — his third goal in as many games — and Chris Stewart, who found the back of the net for the second consecutive contest.

Jason Pominville, who hadn't scored in 19 straight games, registered the game-winner early in the third period to cap off a Wild victory. It's Minnesota's eighth straight win against Chicago, a feat that even its coach can't explain.

"To beat this team eight times in a row is really something," Boudreau said. "I don't understand how you could do it. I wish I would have had that knowledge a couple years ago. But it's a new year and it's just one in a row right now."

That's one of many reasons why the Wild have been so successful this season. They're taking it one game at a time, and no matter what the score is, they continue to play the same way and have the belief they can win any game.

Less than 24 hours before their win over the Blackhawks, the Wild jumped out to a 4-0 lead in Dallas and squandered it in the third period. They found a way to bounce back, however, to take home a 5-4 victory in regulation.

So, how do they keep doing it?

"I don't know," Boudreau responded. "We're supposed to. If you want to win, you've got to come back, right? You got to believe. I think the biggest thing is believing you can, and that's the first step. If you don't believe you can come back, you never come back. If you always believe there's a chance, there's a good chance you can do it."

Said Stewart: "I just think we're a confident bunch. We believe in ourselves. We know we didn't get the start that we wanted, but we got one to crawl back in it and all this team needs is a little bit of life."

There's no better measuring stick than to beat a team in your division that's won three championships since 2010, and has been powerhouses in the West for nearly a decade.

And it's something the Wild hope — and believe — they're in the process of achieving.

"It's always a big rival," Neiderreiter said. "You always want to beat the Hawks. They won a few Stanley Cup in the past few years, and that's something we want to accomplish someday. To do that, we have to make sure we beat top teams like that."

Five Things from Blackhawks-Wild: Start strong, finish fizzles

Five Things from Blackhawks-Wild: Start strong, finish fizzles

Well, that weekend didn't go as planned.

The Blackhawks played a lot better on Sunday night but suffered the same fate as Friday, coming away with no points and losing first place in the Western Conference in their 3-2 loss to the Minnesota Wild.

Let's dispense with the frivolities. Here are Five Things to take away from the Blackhawks' loss to Minnesota.

1. Strong start. The Blackhawks needed to come out strong in this one, mainly because their Friday game against the Washington Capitals was so bad but also because the Wild were coming off a frenzied 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night. The Blackhawks got the appropriate start, outshooting the Wild 14-8 and leading 1-0 on Patrick Kane's goal. Speaking of which… 

2. Kane with the great evening. The Blackhawks dressing seven defensemen meant one thing: Kane was probably going to get a lot of ice time. That he did, double-shifting with the second and fourth lines in the first period and giving the Blackhawks a 2-0 lead with first- and second-period goals. Kane finished with a career-high 12 shots on goal in 27:09 of ice time. "You know you're going to play a lot. I don't know if [27] minutes is that amount you want to be playing, but at the same time, you're not going to say no when he calls you to go out there too," Kane said.

3. The Wild respond in the second. Minnesota didn't have the best start but they regained momentum and erased a deficit in the second period. It's not that their chances were that much better than the Blackhawks – it was a fairly even period in every way, from shots on goal (16-15 Blackhawks) to overall play. But coach Joel Quenneville didn't like how the Blackhawks played on Nino Niederreiter or Chris Stewart's goals, calling the mistakes made on them, "cardinal sins."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

4. Quiet night for the top line. Outside of Marian Hossa, the Blackhawks' top line didn't do much on Sunday night. Hossa had two shots on goal. Jonathan Toews had none, as it was another too-quiet night for the Blackhawks' captain. 

5. Minnesota keeps the rivalry edge. Remember those three consecutive springs in which the Blackhawks dispatched the Wild? Well, the past two seasons may not be equal in payback terms but the Wild are nevertheless tilting the rivalry – at least in regular-season games – in their favor. The Wild won all five games last season and took the first of this season, as well. Minnesota made some good offseason moves, including acquiring Eric Staal in July. Full marks to the Wild: right now, they are the cream of the Western Conference crop.