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 Talk Podcast: Expectations for John Hayden in the playoffs

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Expectations for John Hayden in the playoffs

On this episode of the Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Tracey Myers and Pat Boyle breakdown Tuesday's controversial ending with Vancouver. They discuss whether Darling was interfered with on the game winning goal and did Toews deserve a penalty for running into Ryan Miller?

They also discuss the expectations for John Hayden and the tough lineup decisions at forward, that Joel Quenneville will have in the playoffs.

Tracey weighs in on who has been the more impressive goalie tandem, Crow and Emery in 2013 or this year's pair, Crow and Darling?

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

Blackhawks want to finish strong while staying fresh for postseason

Blackhawks want to finish strong while staying fresh for postseason

Every team has goals it wants to hit at various parts of the season. At the start you want to be strong so you can save yourself a mad scramble to get into the postseason. In the middle, you want to just keep pace, get through that drudgery known as games 40-60.

But what about the end? If you're a playoff-bound team it's about reaching balance: you want to play your best hockey but also want to get your rest and conserve energy for the "next season."

The Blackhawks are in this mode right now. The postseason berth has been wrapped up. They've hit the 100-point mark and still maintain a six-point lead in the conference/division. So with nine games left the Blackhawks will try to get that overall play they had through most of February while being mindful of rest.

"We have [nine] to go and want to make sure we're fresh. At the same time, we want to be competitive," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We're looking to play games and in games, if we have a chance to back off a little bit, that'll be dictated by the score, the time of the game."

Entering their last two games trailing by two, the Blackhawks haven't had the chance to back off. They've had to do the opposite. Quenneville has said the team's four-line rotation, which was great in February, hasn't been there the past few games. Part of that could be due to injury. Artem Anisimov has missed the last three-plus games with a left-leg injury and is still expected to miss another 2-3 weeks. The Blackhawks have found ways to win despite that, but want to get back to more consistent hockey.

"Obviously we still want to try to win our division you want to be playing well," Brian Campbell said. "The last [few] games have been OK, spurts and stuff, so we want to ramp it up. There are some guys who can probably back off if they need or want to, there are those situations. It's a good situation to have. But this team's been around, they know how to prepare and get ready for it."

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So does Quenneville. We've reached that time of the season when the Blackhawks won't practice much, if at all. They're playing every other day and their morning skates are their versions of practice. As for in games, the Blackhawks know how to keep their energy up there, too.

"I think just playing good hockey and taking short shifts is key. You're not extending shifts to a minute and a half, two minutes," Ryan Hartman said. "You're conserving some long-term energy."

The Blackhawks are nearing the regular-season finish line but another race awaits them. They want to be ready for the postseason but they don't want to get too relaxed down the stretch.

"It's still the regular season. Nobody's taking the foot off the gas pedal. We're still trying to win hockey games and you want to come into the playoffs with a winning atmosphere and winning attitude," Hartman said. "Take every game one at a time and don't try to play conservative. Play good and winning hockey."