Intense Blackhawks drill Oilers for crucial win

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Intense Blackhawks drill Oilers for crucial win

Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011
Posted Feb. 9, 10:55 p.m. Updated 12:19 a.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

EDMONTON, Alberta The Chicago Blackhawks had to get their focus and emotions together quick.

They had just said goodbye to teammate Jack Skille, who, along with two others in the Blackhawks system, was sent to Florida for forward Michael Frolik and Alexander Salak. But about an hour later they had to face the Edmonton Oilers.

MORE: Stan Bowman thrilled with trade

With all that was going on, the Blackhawks got what they needed: a quick start, a solid game and two much-needed points.

Patrick Sharp scored his 27th goal of the season and Patrick Kane added a power-play goal and an empty-netter in the Blackhawks 4-1 victory over Edmonton at Rexall Place on Wednesday night.

The victory snapped a two-game losing streak and kept the Blackhawks in 11th place; most of the teams in front of them also won on Wednesday. Corey Crawford stopped 23 of 24 for the victory and Bryan Bickell added his 13th goal of the season.

The Blackhawks didnt have much time to digest the trade, as it happened minutes before they took the ice.

Its weird, especially right before the game. Jacks getting ready just like everyone else and the next thing you know hes not in the locker room, said Jonathan Toews, who had two assists on Wednesday. Hes a good guy, a good teammate and we wish him the best. At the same time were looking forward to the player coming in.

But the Blackhawks got focused quick, coming out fast against the Oilers and taking a 1-0 lead after one on Sharps goal.
Bryan Bickell made a nice move in tight on a breakaway for his 13th goal of the season and first since Jan. 16. The goal gave the Blackhawks some breathing room with a 2-0 lead in the second period. (AP)
A good start can give you confidence through the rest of the game to keep that going, said Duncan Keith. Its nice to get the lead and we used our speed and puck possession. We didnt throw pucks away. We were holding onto those pucks and causing them to commit penalties.

The Oilers went to the box plenty on Wednesday, giving the Blackhawks six power plays. The advantage was still quiet for the Blackhawks until their final one, when Kane took a pretty Tomas Kopecky pass to beat Devan Dubnyk.

That last power play was kind of a bang-bang play, Kane said. Well take the goal but (the power play) wasnt very good at all. You get six, especially with the talent we have here, you have to score some goals.

Still, the Blackhawks got enough of everything on a night they needed something positive. They used their speed. They stayed out of the penalty box until late. They switched up their defensive pairs and coach Joel Quenneville was happy with the results of the changes sometimes a fresh look you discover things. All the pairs added a little more pace to our game, he said.

The Blackhawks will meet their new teammate in Dallas when they fly in on Thursday night. Lineups will change. The Blackhawks need to get results like Wednesday night cant.

This was a very important game, Quenneville said. You look at the standings, everyone in our neighborhood had winning nights. We had to take care of our own business and we did.

Saying goodbye

The Blackhawks said it felt strange to have a trade come so close to game time and it wasnt easy saying goodbye to Skille.

Its kind of tough to see a guy traded before the game. Thats the first time its ever happened to me, Kane said. Frolik is a pretty good player; Ive played against him. Hell definitely help our team. Jack was good in the locker room and someone I got close to the past couple of months. Hopefully its better for the team and hopefully it works out.

Duncan Keith said a few emotions were felt.

That was kind of weird but thats hockey for you, he said. Its always sad to see a teammate go. Ive known Jack for a long time. Hes a good guy, a good teammate and I wish him nothing but the best in Florida.

Defenseman Brent Seabrook said its tough to lose a teammate right before the game. But were professionals and its part of the game. You know we wish Jack the best. He was a great player for us and we wish him well.

Hossa hurt

Marian Hossa suffered an upper-body injury in the second period on Wednesday and did not return. Quenneville said Hossa is day-to-day, and his injury is not serious.

WATCH: Coach Q explains injury
Briefly

Ryan Johnson and Jordan Hendry were back in the lineup on Wednesday. Johnson played 10 minutes, 31 seconds with two shots and a blocked shot. Hendry, who was paired with Brian Campbell in the defensive switches Nick Leddy was with Keith and Seabrook was with Niklas Hjalmarsson played 13 and a half minutes.

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

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Perhaps the best thing about the Johnny Oduya trade back to the Blackhawks, for both parties involved, was that Oduya wasn't needed immediately.

It's not that the Blackhawks didn't want the veteran defenseman, who helped them win Cups in 2013 and 2015, back in the lineup as soon as possible. Oduya was coming off an ankle injury, one he re-aggravated and missed about a month when he was with the Dallas Stars. He needed time to fully heal and with the Blackhawks in good shape in the standings and with solid depth at defense, he could.

Now with the playoffs right around the corner, Oduya is feeling more like himself.

Outside of missing two games that were the second halves of back-to-backs, Oduya has been playing steadily since March 9. Oduya's minutes have ranged from around 16 to 21 in games. He said he's now 100 percent healthy from his injury and he's feeling the difference on the ice.

"It makes a big difference," Oduya said on Thursday, prior to facing the Stars for the first time since his trade back to Chicago. "I mean, obviously sometimes you get more or less lucky, depending on what you get and the style of play and what you do or not. Skating is a part of my game I try to use as much as possible to get in good position and try to take away time from the opposition as much as possible.

"Even with battling and things like that, of course it's nice to feel more confident," Oduya added. "In any situation, you're in you want to feel confident on the ice."

The Blackhawks have seen that confidence in previous postseason runs and are looking to see it again in Oduya. Coach Joel Quenneville considers Oduya, "Mr. Reliability."

"You look back at what he delivered for us, not just the regular season, but he's been solid and reliable in the playoffs. He's assumed some important matchups and important minutes," Quenneville said. "Last year, we didn't have him on the back end and watching him this year, it was the perfect fit him coming back."

[Buy Blackhawks tickets right here]

The Blackhawks' defensive group hasn't changed much since Oduya's first stint here. The system probably hasn't been altered much, either. Still, Oduya's not taking anything for granted and is trying to get back on the same page quickly.

"Same as the last time I came into a great hockey team and I really just want to get up to speed and up to date as quickly as possible," Oduya said. "Little things that may have changed. I want to fit in as well as I can. That's the idea anyone has coming in late in the year. The guys here make it pretty easy; the coaching staff is familiar with the way I play and helps speed up things a little more."

The Blackhawks are trying to be their best heading into the postseason. So is Oduya. He needed a little extra time to get back to health and he may still need a little time to get back to speed, but he's just about there. 

"I feel pretty good. Of course it's a lot easier when you have guys around you you've seen before, a coaching staff," Oduya said. "It's a work in progress, anyway. I want to be better, I want to evolve with the team and want us to be better, too. It's a work in progress."

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

It wasn't pretty, but the Blackhawks found a way to pick up another two points and improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven games, and 18-3-1 over their last 22.

With Minnesota's loss to Philadelphia, the Blackhawks have taken an eight-point lead for first in the Central Division and are only two points away from the Washington Capitals for home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let's take a look at Quick Hits from the 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night:

What Worked: The finish and shootout. While the Blackhawks scored the game's first goal, it was another slow start by a team that has had a few of those over the last several outings and has preached working on turning in more of a complete effort. They recorded only 14 shots on goal in the first two periods, and it took more than six minutes after Patrick Kane's goal to record their next one.

But they finished on a positive note yet again, and went 2-for-3 in the shootout thanks to Kane and Artemi Panarin, who potted the game winner. Kane said after the game that he tried his move on Scott Darling during morning skate and it worked. So he went with it tonight in an effort to snap a mini shootout drought and he did.

What Didn't Work: Controlling the puck. The Blackhawks seemingly have the puck more than their opponent does almost every game, but it doesn't reflect in the shot department because they often look for the perfect pass or shot and fail to record one at all. They had 50 shot attempts with 26 of them on goal compared to the Stars' 64 attempts with 44 on goal. They know they must get better at that.

Star of the game: Corey Crawford. After allowing four goals on only 10 shots in Tuesday's overtime loss to Vancouver, the Blackhawks netminder bounced back in a huge way. He matched a season-high with 42 saves, and recorded his 30th win of the season.

He Said It: "He played amazing tonight. Reason we won the game. Hats off to him, he's done that a lot this year. For a goalie it's probably tough to show up every night, even the goals he let in last game you can't put all the blame on him, but he was outstanding tonight." — Kane on Crawford's performance

By the Numbers:

167 — Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked one shot in the win, and it was enough to set a new career high in that department, previously established during the 2010-11 campaign (166).

15 — Trevor van Riemsyk assisted on Marian Hossa's goal in the third period, giving him a career-high 15 points on the season in 50 games. He had 14 points in 82 games last year. He also extended his point streak to three games.

6 — With the victory, Crawford has earned at least 30 wins in six of his seven NHL seasons as a full-time starter. The only time he didn't reach that mark was during the lockout-shortened year in 2012-13 when he went 19-5-5.