Hawks continue winning ways despite injuries

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Hawks continue winning ways despite injuries

Sunday, Dec. 19, 2010
8:26 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks arent going to worry much about style points. They dont need fancy and they dont need dazzling right now. They just need points.

So taking that team mentality in against a Los Angeles Kings squad that wasnt allowing much, the Blackhawks got just enough.

Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Fernando Pisani scored and Corey Crawford stopped 26-of-28 shots as the Blackhawks beat the Kings 3-2 at the United Center on Sunday night. It was their second consecutive victory and a gritty one, as the Blackhawks were once again without three forwards -- coach Joel Quenneville was hopeful that Marian Hossa and Viktor Stalberg could play Wednesday vs. Nashville.

While Sundays victory may have not as been as snazzy as their triumph over Detroit on Friday, it was just as effective.

Well take it, Quenneville said. This was a tough game tonight. Two of their last three games on the road (the Kings) won by five, so we knew we had a dangerous opponent that was playing well. We did what we had to do.

The Blackhawks clogged lanes and made it harder for Kings netminder Jonathan Quick to see shots. Troy Brouwer epitomized that, getting around Quick on both Toews and Keiths goals.

Its something we preach a lot; we try to emphasize going to the net. If the goalie sees the puck were not going to score, Quenneville said. Brouw was good. I thought that line had a big night as well. You get rewarded when you go to the net and it can lead to quality goals. It doesnt have to be pretty.

Toews laser gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead midway through the first. Kyle Clifford scored early in the second period to tie it for the Kings, but Keith answered just 25 seconds later to put the Blackhawks up 2-1 and stall Los Angeles momentum.

Anytime you can get a goal right back like that its big for your team, said Toews, who also assisted on Keiths goal. I think one way or another, were going to find a way tonight, whether we had a lead early on or not. We knew the situation we were in.

Pisanis goal proved to be the game-winner. Patrick Sharp had two assists. Crawford came up big on several Kings shots en route to his second consecutive victory. The Blackhawks helped him out, too, blocking 22 shots Brent Seabrook had a team-high five blocks.

When you limit their quality chances, its going to be better for him and for all of us, said Keith, who played just over 23 minutes and was a plus-2. He did a good job tonight again.

No, it wasnt dazzling. But be it pretty or the hard-hat approach, the Blackhawks dont care how they get two points, as long as they get them.

Obviously thats the way we expect to play, and the way we know we can play every single night, Toews said. Going into every game now, we just have to remind ourselves that its much more enjoyable when everyone plays the way we did tonight, and when everyones prepared the way we have as a team the last couple games. Were going to have way more fun, especially in our own building.

Briefly

Jassen Cullimore cleared waivers Saturday afternoon and played for the Blackhawks on Sunday night. Quenneville said he talked briefly to the veteran Cullimore about the decision. When youre in the middle of that, its something thats tough to comment on. Afterward, seeing different decisions made, its more a business decision than hockey decision. You dont want to read too much into it and look ahead. Hes good about it. Hes a good pro. I liked his game the other night in that situation.

While Hossa and Stalberg skated on Sunday morning, Patrick Kane (left ankle) did not. Quenneville said the last couple times (Kane) was on the ice, he didnt get through practice. Well give him a little time here.

The Blackhawks had 35 hits against the Kings; Brouwer was credited with a team-high seven, followed by Seabrook with five.

Bryan Bickell had an assist on Sunday, giving him points in six of his last seven games (4 goals, 3 assists).

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

Blackhawks acquire Michael Latta from Kings in swap of minor leaguers

Blackhawks acquire Michael Latta from Kings in swap of minor leaguers

The Blackhawks made a minor league deal on Saturday, announcing the acquisition of forward Michael Latta from the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for defenseman Cameron Schilling.

Latta, 25, has two goals and four assists in 29 games this season with the Ontario (Calif.) Reign of the American Hockey League.

He has four goals and 13 assists in 113 career games in the National Hockey League, all with the Washington Capitals from 2013-16.

Latta, who was a third-round pick (No. 72 overall) by the Nashville Predators in 2009, will report to the AHL's Rockford IceHogs. He carries a $600,000 cap hit, and is a restricted free agent at the end of the season.

Schilling ranked second among defensemen on the IceHogs with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 40 games, and had a minus-3 rating. The 28-year-old blue liner signed a two-year contract worth $575,000 per season with the Blackhawks in July 2015.

One-goal victories are great but Blackhawks’ method has to change

One-goal victories are great but Blackhawks’ method has to change

See the Blackhawks get off to a slow start. See the Blackhawks get outshot. See the Blackhawks lean on their goaltending. See the Blackhawks find some offense in the third period. See the Blackhawks win.

This is a story the Blackhawks have written and played out plenty this season. Despite all evidence that it should work out to the contrary, the Blackhawks continue to pull out victories. But as we're well into the second half of the season, how much longer can they win with this formula? And is this, more than anything, a testament to how much they need to acquire someone (or plural) at the deadline to bolster their forward lineup?

Entering Sunday night's game against Vancouver the Blackhawks remain second in the Western Conference, two points behind Minnesota. Not surprisingly, they enter Sunday coming off another one-goal victory, a 1-0 decision over Boston on Friday night. Friday's game was cut from the same cloth as so many other one-goal games this season (please see above for the script). 

Here's how the Blackhawks are doing in one-goal games (through 48 games played this season) and how they've done in previous seasons:

Year Record
2016-17 18-7-5
2015-16 17-7-9
2014-15 22-13-6
2013-14 17-8-15
2012-13 19-3-5 (lockout yr.)
2011-12 22-6-11
2010-11 16-13-9
2009-10 23-9-8

The Blackhawks played 41 one-goal games (half of their regular-season games) in the 2014-15 season. Thirty of their 48 games this season have been one-goal games. But again, it comes down to how you're winning those games, and the Blackhawks are winning just about all of them in the same way: deal with a slow start and come back in the third period, relying on goaltending the entire time.

Being outshot the amount of times the Blackhawks have this season remains alarming. Sure, sometimes a lot of shots don't mean a lot of quality chances. But it's still better than minimal shots, and any shot can be an opportunity for a rebound, a deflection, something. From our stats guru Chris Kamka, here's a breakdown of the Blackhawks' shots per game vs. opponents, dating back to 2008-09:

Year Shots/Gm Opp. Shots/Gm Diff.
2008-09 32.7 28.6 +4.2
2009-10 34.1 25.1 +9.1
2010-11 32.2 28.7 +3.6
2011-12 31.5 28.6 +3.0
2012-13 31.1 26.2 +4.9
2013-14 33.1 27.2 +6.0
2014-15 33.9 30.2 +3.8
2015-16 30.5 30.8 -0.3
2016-17 29.3 31.1 -1.7

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

It's no surprise that the Blackhawks' differential was especially good in their Stanley Cup-winning seasons (and even 2013-14, when they went to the Western Conference Final). Those Blackhawks teams were deep, especially at forward. They weren't waiting for the perfect shooting opportunities as much as just firing. They had great four-line rotations, something they've sorely been lacking the past two seasons, which makes a difference with puck possession.

The Blackhawks will see what's available at the trade deadline. As I wrote a few days ago, there will be names out there but, considering some teams are still hoping for playoff spots, you take mentions for what they are right now. Over the next few weeks the picture will become clearer, and adding the right depth could rekindle that four-line rotation.

We've said throughout this season that the Blackhawks can't keep this up. We said it in November, and December, and now. Understand where we're coming from here; the Blackhawks can absolutely keep winning one-goal games. They've shown that in recent seasons and in the postseason, when the ability to do that is critical. But it's doubtful they can keep doing it the way they have most this season.