Hawks Notes: Special teams off to the right start

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Hawks Notes: Special teams off to the right start

LOS ANGELES The Blackhawks special teams came under fire plenty last season, albeit for good reason. The power play couldnt score. The penalty kill couldnt prevent a score. It just wasnt good.

And while one game does not make a turnaround, the Blackhawks nevertheless liked the strides their power play and penalty kill made against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

The Blackhawks scored on one power play and kept the Kings scoreless on theirs en route to a 5-2 victory over Los Angeles today. Again, its just one game. But compared to last season, this was already better.

Scoring on our first 5-on-3 really boosted our team off the bat, coach Joel Quenneville said. All areas of our game pretty solid today, but special teams were definitely better than we saw last year.

Patrick Kanes goal with eight seconds left on a 5-on-3 was the start to a productive day. The Blackhawks went 0-for-4 on their other opportunities but still had better puck control and movement when they were on it. And on the other side, the Blackhawks stymied all five of the Kings power-play chances. The Kings had just five shots on those power plays combined.

Thats huge for us, Toews said of special teams. Thats going to win or lose some games for us. We have to focus on that. We have to be the hardest workers whether were killing or on the power play. It made a difference for us tonight.

Feeling better

Jonathan Toews missed Fridays practice with the flu. And while he may not have been 100 percent, he was nonetheless ready for Saturdays game. He played 18 minutes and 47 seconds, tops among the forwards, collecting a goal and an assist.

I felt better, but most of all I was just excited to play hockey again, Toews said. The excitement took over and gave me a little more jump.

Tidbits

Brent Seabrook led the Blackhawks in ice time (23:01) and led all players in blocked shots (seven).

Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick is usually stingy, especially against the Blackhawks. So Chicagos five-goal outburst was surprising. Quick gave up five goals only once last season, on April 5 against San Jose.

Brandon Saad, Michal Rozsival and Jamal Mayers were the Blackhawks healthy scratches on Saturday.

In The Loop: The Blackhawks' 9-1 February by the numbers

In The Loop: The Blackhawks' 9-1 February by the numbers

The Blackhawks went 9-1 in February and did so in emphatic fashion.

The Blackhawks outscored their opponents 44-24 in the month and scored four goals or more in each of the nine wins. The only loss came after the team's bye week, a 3-1 loss at home to Edmonton seven days after winning 5-1 in Edmonton.

A big reason for the Blackhawks' recent surge is because of the production of Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Toews scored seven goals and had 11 assists in February and was named the league's second star of the week this week. Patrick Kane had nine goals and seven assists.

Scott Darling went 3-0 in his starts and gave up just four goals in those games. Corey Crawford went 6-1 with a 2.71 goals against average.

Despite the Blackhawks' success in February, the Minnesota Wild still lead the division. The Blackhawks beat the Wild twice in February, but the Wild went 7-2 in the rest of February, including tonight's 5-4 overtime win against the LA Kings to sit three points ahead of the Blackhawks and still with two games in hand.

Watch the video above to see Pat Boyle break down these Blackhawks numbers.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Tracey Myers talks impressive February

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Tracey Myers talks impressive February

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle is joined by Tracey Myers and they discuss the Blackhawks impressive 9-1 month of February. Plus, why the offensive surge for Jonathan Toews?

They also discuss the maturation of Tanner Kero and Nick Schmaltz this season. What should we expect from Tomas Jurco and will Stan Bowman add a veteran blue liner before Wednesday's NHL trade deadline.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below: