Hawks outlast Detroit behind Kopecky, Crawford

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Hawks outlast Detroit behind Kopecky, Crawford

Friday, Dec. 17, 2010
Posted 10:04 PM Updated 11:20 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Its become a mantra for the Chicago Blackhawks, so much so that coach Joel Quenneville emphasized it again on Thursday. The Blackhawks, he said, need to be harder to play against.

On Friday, against the best in the West, they were.

Tomas Kopecky scored twice and Corey Crawford stopped 29 of 30 shots as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-1 on Chris Chelios Heritage Night at the United Center.

On a night when the Blackhawks honored one of the best defensemen to ever play, they played one of their best defensive games of the season. Save a Patrick Eaves goal early in the first, the Blackhawks kept the Wings offense at bay and never let their potent power play see the ice.

It just seemed like tonight was as close to a perfect game as you could get, said Brent Seabrook, who had two assists and was a plus-1 on the night. We feel confident we can play that game all the time and we have to continue to do that. We need to bring what made us successful tonight to every game.

Friday was a good start and the Blackhawks helped their own cause by getting out to a 2-0 lead within the first five minutes. Patrick Sharp scored on the only power play of the night and Bryan Bickell tallied his third goal in as many games.

Tomas Kopeckys goal put the Blackhawks up 3-1 midway through the second, when Brian Campbell hit him with a pretty pass on a delayed penalty call.

I initially wanted to pass it wide but they cheated on it, Campbell said. Kopy did a great job skating through. I saw him late, I got it to him and he did the rest.

Kopecky, a former Red Wing, added an empty netter late in the third. It was Kopeckys first goals since he scored one on Nov. 30 against St. Louis.

Crawford was once again solid in goal. He stopped the initial shots, and the Blackhawks didnt make him see many rebounds.

That was probably our best game in the last few. It was nice to get out to an early lead. That was our best third period in a while, too, Crawford said. Guys were moving the pucks out, especially in the third. They were picking off passes in front of the net.

The Blackhawks were harder to play against on Friday. Thats the kind of game theyve wanted to play all along this season and the one they know they need to play to stay among the Top 8 in the conference.

Its easy to get excited about the rivalry of the game and playing Detroit, you know every shift is critical to the outcome, Quenneville said. The focus was in the right place tonight. I like their mindset of playing with a purpose.

Kane, Hossa update

Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa both lower body are expected to skate Saturday morning. Kane said he is hopeful to play Sunday night against the Los Angeles Kings.

Part of the injury I have is that youre going to feel pain, whether practice or a game, Kane said. For me, its something Im going to have to deal with a little bit. Hopefully it stops sooner rather than later.

Hossa wasnt sounding quite as optimistic for Sunday, but he was encouraged by his Friday skate.

After two days off coming back on the ice I feel much better. Right now, I feel its getting closer, Hossa said. It all depends on how I feel (Saturday) or (Sunday). But I definitely feel better than I did Monday and Tuesday.

Briefly

Fernando Pisani returned on Friday after missing eight games with an upper-body injury. He played just under 18 minutes, recorded an assist and finished plus-1.

Bryan Bickells goal was his fifth in his last six games.

Jack Skille had a team-leading nine shots on goal on Friday.

Viktor Stalberg was out on Friday night. Quenneville said theyd see where he was on Saturday morning.

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

Blackhawks Notes: Coaching changes and Marcus Kruger’s status

Blackhawks Notes: Coaching changes and Marcus Kruger’s status

Coach Joel Quenneville didn’t mince words. Finding out his good friend, former assistant coach Mike Kitchen was fired not long after the Blackhawks’ postseason ended, frustrated him.

“That day, I was not happy. I was a little disappointed,” Quenneville said on Thursday. “We lost a great coach and somebody I had been working with for a long time. It was tough and we’ve moved on now, but I wasn’t excited at the moment.”

In moving on the Blackhawks have revamped their coaching staff, adding another old friend and teammate of Quenneville’s in Ulf Samuelsson and a former member of his St. Louis staff in Don Granato. Quenneville said Samuelsson will take over Kitchen’s responsibilities while Granato will handle a number of tasks.

“Whether he’s pre-scout, helping Kevin [Dineen], helping Ulfie, helping me. He’s helping the young guys like Stan [Bowman] said,” Quenneville said. “We have input with all areas and all coaches and it’s a fun thing, drawing up practices or talking to guys, preparing meetings and evaluating performances. But I think he’s excited to be a part of that as well and Ulfie, he’ll be doing something he’s been doing and he’s excited to work with some of our defense as well.”

As far as the Blackhawks’ defensive style, Quenneville doesn’t foresee it changing.

“I think there are some areas how it ended or after a playoff series, there’s always some tweaks we like to do in games, in playoffs or in series," Quenneville said. "It’s obviously disappointing. But I think there’s a lot of positive things we accomplished last year and how we played without the puck, I don’t think that was too much of an issue.

"But we have a defense that can play both ways and we still want offense from our defensive part of our game. That’d be one of our strengths. But when it’s time to defend, how we want to play in our own end without the puck is something that’ll be very close to how we play.”

Kruger’s situation

There’s been plenty of talk regarding Marcus Kruger, and whether or not he’ll remain with the Blackhawks. Whatever the future holds for the center, general manager Stan Bowman wouldn’t say on Thursday.

“Yeah, there have been a lot of these rumors around, but Marcus is no different than any other player. I’m not going to comment on rumors out there, but people are stating it as if it’s a fact,” Bowman said of Kruger being at the center of trade rumors. “There’s a lot of speculation, but it’s not fair to the players for me to be commenting on what’s been rumored out there. I don’t really have anything to add on that front.”

Trevor van Riemsdyk was Vegas’ selection in Wednesday night’s expansion draft. But a source said it’s still possible the Blackhawks trade Kruger to the Golden Knights.

Why placing Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve wouldn't help Blackhawks' cap issues

Why placing Marian Hossa on long-term injured reserve wouldn't help Blackhawks' cap issues

When the news came down that Marian Hossa would miss the 2017-18 season, most first thoughts were about his health. But it was only natural to look at the business implications, and the possibility of Hossa going on long-term injured reserve (LTIR).

That would solve the Blackhawks’ cap issues, right? That would give them more money to spend, right? Well, not exactly. See, the LTIR can be a bit complicated. It can also be tricky to explain. And right now, even Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman is trying to figure out how this all develops for the team.

“I think there’s a little bit of a misconception on the LTI provision in the salary cap, and understandably so. It’s very complicated. It’s not as simple or as easy as people think it to be,” Bowman said on Thursday, the day before the Blackhawks hosted the 2017 NHL Draft. “I don’t want to get into too many details because it’s hard to explain it all, but there’s a couple different ways it can work.

"You can use offseason LTI and in-season LTI and there’s drawbacks to both, and there’s limitations the way that the league handles those things. It’s not as simple as people might think that we just have this ability to suddenly replace Marian with another player. It’s way more involved than that.”

Here are two basics about the cap: a team can be 10 percent over it during the summer, and a team must be at or below the $75 million ceiling when the regular season begins. Of the offseason and in-season LTI options, Bowman told CSN's Pat Boyle and Steve Konroyd that if the Blackhawks choose the latter, "Marian has to count to start the season with his full amount."

It’s not about the Blackhawks finding a guy this summer that makes an equal cap it to Hossa.

“If you did that you would be essentially starting the year with an inability to make any transactions," Bowman said. "And that’s why, it’s a harder discussion to have because you’ve got to give you examples of if this happens. But it just doesn’t work that way. I wish it were that simple, but it’s not. It’s a much more complicated provision than people think. It’s not some easy cap solution where we just go sign a player for the same amount and off we go. It’s much more problematic than that.”

The NHL will be looking at the situation, although there doesn’t seem to be anything that would keep the Blackhawks from putting Hossa on LTIR. Bowman wasn’t concerned about it.

Still, the Blackhawks will still be doing their share of offseason math.

“I know how it works. What’s going to happen is a different question," Bowman said. "You don’t make those decisions overnight, but I think that understandably there’s probably a lot of confusion, because it’s not your job to run the salary cap for a team. So, I can get why you don’t know all the little details, and it is a very intricate provision in the CBA. So, we understand it. We’ve used LTI before, so it’s not like it’s something we’ve never been faced with. It’s just a factor that we’ll get through.”