Myers: Hawks more of a team without full lineup

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Myers: Hawks more of a team without full lineup

Sunday, Oct. 31, 2010
12:16 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

"Sometimes it helps not having a full lineup, knowing you have to be more of a team."

Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marty Turco was talking shot totals and all things positive following the team's 3-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild, when that statement came out. It was a simple statement and, given the Blackhawks' performance, very on-target.

The Blackhawks entered Saturday's game coming off their worst performance of the season, a 7-4 loss to Edmonton on Friday in which their lapses and shortcomings were magnified and capitalized upon by a young and hungry Oilers team. And when a third teammate was ruled out by an injury, the Blackhawks had two choices: they could come apart more or exemplify Turco's statement on the ice.

They chose the latter. They embraced it, ran with it, won with it.

"The type of game we played, it was by far our best positionally," Turco said. "We played a patient game. We're going to need that type effort."

The Blackhawks were already down two strong starters in defenseman Brian Campbell (right knee MCL) and right wing Marian Hossa (upper body). On Saturday they lost center Dave Bolland (upper body) for at least two games. It wasn't good, and it could have gotten worse against the Wild. Instead, the Blackhawks got inspired performances.

Troy Brouwer's early hit earned him an in-game line promotion and he scored his first goal this season. Patrick Kane looked like himself again. The fourth line was on the ice in the waning minutes when the Wild went empty net. The team blocked 21 shots, a jolt from the scant six they had against Edmonton. Turco rebounded from Friday's early yank, stopped 25 of 26 shots and returned to his active, puck-playing self.

Everyone got it.

"It was a team game, for sure," coach Joel Quenneville said.

Perhaps it was just simplifying their game. Or maybe it was that backed-into-a-corner-come-out-fighting sense. Whatever it was, it worked.

"Guys weren't trying to do too much," said Brouwer. "It's tough losing players especially way Hossa was playing. Guys like Tomas Kopecky and Jonathan Toews take more onto themselves; even Jake Dowell's stepping up. The guys who aren't looked upon to do those things are chipping in.

"It's going to be the entire team having to do a little more," he said. "Saturday gave us good confidence."

The Blackhawks need to remember Saturday's outing. Bottle it, refer to it and, by all means, keep copying it. The Blackhawks are starting to get good news out of their injury situation. Campbell is getting stronger by the skate and could return any game now. Bolland's is listed as day to day. Hossa could be back in two weeks.

Injuries, thin depth and the need for call-ups all happen in the midst of an 82-game (or more) campaign. The Blackhawks' lineup will change a few times this season. Their commitment to the team game can't.

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

Which Blackhawks will be participating in 2017 IIHF World Championships?

Which Blackhawks will be participating in 2017 IIHF World Championships?

The Blackhawks' season ended much sooner than expected after being swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Nashville Predators.

But for some players, their hockey season may not be finished yet.

The IIHF World Championships begin May 5, and an early postseason exit gives several Blackhawks an opportunity to play in the tournament.

With the National Hockey League saying it will not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, players may be more inclined to join given the uncertainty of when they'll be able to represent their countries again — if ever, for some.

Here's an update on which Blackhawks players could be participating:

— Patrick Kane said Saturday he's taking the weekend to mull over Team USA's offer, and will make a final decision in the next "day or two."

— Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews each declined their invites from Team Canada, electing to use a lengthy offseason to recharge and focus on training for the 2017-18 NHL season.

— Corey Crawford and Nick Schmaltz said they have not been contacted by their respective countries, but both said they would consider going if they are.

— Artemi Panarin has reportedly already accepted Team Russia's offer to play.

— Niklas Hjalmarsson said he's "thinking about" Team Sweden's offer after the NHL's decision not to attend the 2018 Winter Olympics. "Who knows when I'll ever get a chance to play for my country again, so that might be factor," he said.

— Marcus Kruger said he's talking with Team Sweden officials, and has expressed interest in going.

— Marian Hossa said he informed Team Slovakia that he will not be playing: "Let the young guys play."

— Richard Panik will not be participating either, saying he doesn't want to risk injury as he seeks a new contract.

Jonathan Toews will make 'little changes' to offseason prep

Jonathan Toews will make 'little changes' to offseason prep

Jonathan Toews gave a succinct "no" when asked if he'd consider playing in the World Championships next month in Europe. For the Blackhawks captain, his 2016-17 season wasn't where it needed to be.

So instead of helping Team Canada across the pond, he'll prepare to help the Blackhawks more next season.

Toews will use this offseason in a variety of ways, including taking some time completely off to heal and rest. And while there's a lot of time between now and the Blackhawks' training camp, Toews said competing in the World Championships would take up a good amount of time he'd rather use to be ready for the fall.

"At this point of my career, going through the last couple of years the way things have played out, there are some little changes here and there with how I approach my preparation, especially the last summer being a long offseason and coming in feeling I was as prepared as I could be and still not getting to the level of play I wanted to this season," Toews said on Saturday. "There are some things I have to re-evaluate and think about this offseason. There's no satisfaction there but definitely take a different approach with how I prepare for next season. I didn't get to the level I needed to be to help our team survive a little bit longer in this last series, so I have to be responsible for that as well. Just look back, assess and see what you can do differently."

Toews had a slow start to the season and then missed three weeks with a reported back injury. Much like the rest of the Blackhawks he started heating up in February and finished the regular season with 21 goals. But it was another quiet postseason for him, as Toews had just one goal in the four games against the Nashville Predators, and that was a late-regulation power-play goal in Game 4.

So was Toews dealing with a physical issue? Asked how healthy he was, Toews said, "well, that's kind of one of the things I'm hitting on," but didn't get more specific than that. Coach Joel Quenneville said some of the Blackhawks' key players, "have some issues they're taking care of, but I don't think it's going to be to that extent to where it's long term care." Quenneville also said any health issues had nothing to do with what happened in this series. Toews certainly wasn't using it as an excuse, either. As for the future, Toews said he'll reconfigure his workout, training regimen, whatever necessary to be better next season.

"Just the way the speed of the game has changed the last few years. I've always been the type of player who likes to play heavy and protect the puck in the corners. It seems the strength has been a factor but also the speed in my game that I used to have in my younger years," Toews said. "I have to get back to playing more puck possession, more speed on the rush. That right there is one little thing. But I think the skill part is another thing I'll have to focus on and trying to get back to playing the way I can."