Missed chances doom Hawks; trail series 3-0

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Missed chances doom Hawks; trail series 3-0

Sunday, April 17, 2011
Posted: 9:42 p.m. Updated: 11:32 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Blackhawks finally got the energetic, productive start they were looking for against the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday. Its the finish that was missing. And that lack of determination late has them on the brink of elimination.

Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp scored but Mikael Samuelsson scored the game-winner midway through the third in Vancouvers 3-2 victory on Sunday night. It was a devastating loss for the Blackhawks, who now trail the Canucks 3-0 in their Western Conference quarterfinals series.
WATCH: Coach Q candid on Torres' hit

The Blackhawks had their early lead Keith scored just four seconds into their first power play and the raucous United Center crowd behind them. But when they started the third period tied 2-2 something happened. Or didnt happen. The Blackhawks had little punch in the final 20 minutes and Samuelsson provided the dagger about seven minutes into the third.

WATCH: Toews on pride

It comes down to us wanting it 5-on-5. There are a lot of our guys out there that could get hungrier and go out there and create something 5-on-5 and we didnt do it, captain Jonathan Toews said. Were going into the third tied up, and weve got to have our best period of the series to, pretty much, stay alive in this thing and we give up a soft goal like we did. Its pretty frustrating to see.

The Blackhawks had a few frustrations on Sunday. For Patrick Kane, it was his inability to score on any of his three shots on goal, including a juicy 5-on-3 opportunity in the first period.

I had my chances tonight. I shouldve buried a couple. I have to step up and make those shots and make the game a little bit different, said Kane. It seems when you dont score on those 5 on 3s you lose the game. I dont know if you lose momentum or what.

In some cases thats true, considering the Blackhawks have had some listless 5 on 3s this season. But on Sunday the Blackhawks 5-on-3 chances were very good. Roberto Luongo was just better. The Canucks goaltender stopped 30 shots, including back-to-back gems on Toews and Kane on two separate occasions.

No, this came down to finish. Or lack thereof. The Blackhawks have been bitten by these late letdowns a lot this season. Now theyre one loss away from truly being finished.

WATCH: Sharp says one game at a time

Im not evaluating players out there. The most important thing is at the end of the day it doesnt matter who scores or who gets the points. Its about winning games, Sharp said. Im not looking at whos scoring, whos playing well, who are the good players the bad players. I just know we lost the game.

Bolland improving

Dave Bolland didnt play on Sunday but the center, whos been sidelined by a concussion for more than a month, is hopeful that he can be ready for Game 4.

Bolland once again skated with his teammates on Sunday morning and said that hes progressing every day and hopes it means he can play against the Canucks soon.

Thats what Im hoping for, Bolland said about possibly playing Tuesday. Im progressing, Im going to therapy Im doing everything. I want to be part of this. You know how this series went last year. Its a fun series. Sitting around watching every day sucks, but theres progress.

WATCH: Campbell on an uphill climb

Bolland obviously would be in now if he had a knee, shoulder or some injury like that. But considering how delicate concussions are, and their long-term affects, Bolland realizes theres no choice but to wait.

Thats the way it is. If its my shoulder or anything else, itd be a different story, said Bolland. Its just making sure its healed. I dont want to take a little bump or hit and get these symptoms back because theyre a pain in the ass.

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

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Yanic Perreault came onto the ice as the Blackhawks wrapped up practice on Thursday.

It’s been a relatively common sight the last few seasons. Most of the time, Perreault has helped out when a particular player is struggling from the faceoff dot. That was true with Artem Anisimov earlier this season. But with Jonathan Toews sidelined the Blackhawks have been even more focused on improving upon and winning faceoffs. Thanks to the extra diligence, they’ve done that.

The Blackhawks’ overall faceoff performance has steadily improved. They’ll see how it goes again on Friday night when they face the New York Rangers, their eighth consecutive game without Toews.

“We’re working almost every practice and trying to get better on faceoffs,” Anisimov said on Thursday. “If we win the faceoff, we start with the puck and it’s pretty good. You can go to the offensive zone or win in the offensive zone you start with the puck and you have the opportunity to shoot the puck all day and get chances. It’s a big part of the game.”

Enter Perreault, who was a great faceoff man during his NHL career. The Blackhawks players say Perreault offers a wealth of information in each session.

“It’s different every day. The whole science behind it, he’s been great since he was brought in,” Marcus Kruger said. “He always has something new he wants us to work on, whether it’s just timing or body-positioning or something like that. It’s a lot of different stuff and we work on new stuff every day.”

Rasmussen agreed.

“It’s a lot of things you can work on,” he said. “You try to work on being in a low position so you get stronger. [There are] a lot of small things on how you can go against other guys that do it certain way, and you have to find your own way, too.”

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Their first game without Toews, against the Anaheim Ducks, was dismal. Part of that is the Ducks having some tremendous face-off guys. But Toews is the Blackhawks’ best at the dot – he’s won 60.3 percent of the time this season – so that first game without him was rough.

Here’s how things have progressed for the Blackhawks, with faceoffs won and lost and percentage, in Toews’ absence.

Opponent Wins-Losses Percent
Ducks 18-49 27 percent
Kings 21-37 36 percent
Panthers 39-35 53 percent
Devils 22-27 45 percent
Flyers 22-31 42 percent
Jets 31-27 53 percent
Coyotes 30-28 52 percent

So yes, there’s been improvement.

“I think we hold our own,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Yan works well with our center men, they take pride in trying to be the best they can and now they’re taking some important faceoffs and some they probably haven’t taken in the past, whether they’re defensive or special-teams faceoffs. They’ve all won some important faceoffs for us at key times, too.”

The Blackhawks have done their best filling the void left by Toews, especially on faceoffs. There’s been a lot of work put into it, especially with Perreault following practices. But the results have been there.

“We know we’d like to start with the puck, and we had a couple of tough games when Jonny went down initially,” Quenneville said. “But it’s been much better since.”

Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook out vs. Rangers

Jonathan Toews, Brent Seabrook out vs. Rangers

Brent Seabrook is out and Jonathan Toews will miss his eighth consecutive game when the Blackhawks host the New York Rangers on Friday night.

Seabrook suffered an upper-body injury in the second period of the Blackhawks’ 4-0 victory over the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday night. The defenseman fell awkwardly along the boards and was down for a few moments. Coach Joel Quenneville said Seabrook is day-to-day. Quenneville added he’ll decide tomorrow who takes Seabrook’s place in the lineup.

“Seabs has played really well for us on the back end this year and we’ll definitely miss his contributions,” Quenneville said. “We’re looking for someone to step in.”

Toews is feeling better and could skate on Friday. Quenneville would not rule out the possibility of Toews returning Sunday against the Dallas Stars.

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Duncan Keith did not practice on Thursday but he’s expected to play vs. the Rangers. Scott Darling will start.

Quenneville said Corey Crawford, who had an appendectomy on Saturday, is “status quo.”

Meanwhile, Nick Schmaltz, who was assigned to Rockford over the weekend, scored two goals in the IceHogs’ 3-2 loss to the San Antonio Rampage.

“I talked to Norm (Maciver, Blackhawks assistant general manager) about his game, they were extremely happy with how he played,” Quenneville said of Schmaltz. “He scored twice and there could’ve been more.”