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.

For the Blackhawks defense, change is the new normal

For the Blackhawks defense, change is the new normal

Ulf Samuelsson saw the changes the Blackhawks made this season, his hiring as assistant coach being one of them. Soon he’ll be working with the team’s defensemen, another area that’s had some upheaval.

“I think there’s a lot of opportunity here, some uncertainties and some moving parts that I probably, typically haven’t seen going into a season. So that makes it even more interesting and challenging,” Samuelsson said. “So I’m looking forward to this opportunity to really develop and work with some of the younger players.”

From its immediate coach to its personnel, the Blackhawks’ defense is dealing with plenty of change that will continue when the season begins this fall. The Blackhawks have had some addition (Connor Murphy, Jan Rutta and Jordan Oesterle) but dealing with the subtraction (Niklas Hjalmarsson and Trevor van Riemsdyk) will nevertheless be tough. Coach Joel Quenneville said on Friday that pairings are a work in progress.

“We’re going to see when we’re putting the pairs together, whether we're going to reunite [Duncan Keith] and [Brent Seabrook] or look for some balance,” he said. “There are a lot of options. We’ll look forward to that and sorting it out.”

For Murphy, who was acquired in the deal that sent Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes, there are no set expectations as to where he fits yet.

“With any team you go into training camp proving where you’re going to be. Everyone has to come in and earn certain positions, especially me being a guy who they’re not as familiar with; I have to show what I can do,” Murphy said. “I definitely want to bring a more physical edge to defending at times and be able to skate well, have a good reach, make smart reads and try to help out with whatever’s needed with that.”

As for young players, the opportunity is there. Gustav Forsling admits he wasn’t happy that fellow Swede and role model Hjalmarsson was traded. But Forsling, who looked strong coming out of camp last September, knows he has to take advantage of the situation.

“Of course, I want to take the next step and play more,” he said. “I want to keep progressing my game and keep developing.”

The same goes for Jordan Oesterle, who the Blackhawks signed to a two-year deal on July 1.

“When I wanted to come here the opportunity was tremendous. Just the chance to come in and try to make the top six is there, it’s a battle with a number of us guys but that’s all you ask for in the situation I’m in,” he said. “Just the amount of opportunity that is in front of me just drives me even more. I want to be here and force their hand to keep me here.”

Again, the Blackhawks could re-address defense once they implement Marian Hossa’s long-term injured reserve after the season begins. General manager Stan Bowman said there’s “no exact plan” right now on how they use that space – “that’s probably going to be dictated by where we’re at when we get to October, how the team’s playing, what areas are strong, what areas we want to add to,” he said.

It remains to be seen on that front. Regardless, from coaching to personnel, much has changed with the Blackhawks defense. 

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Blackhawks Convention Opening Ceremonies

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AP

SportsTalk Live Podcast: Blackhawks Convention Opening Ceremonies

On the latest SportsTalk Live Podcast, we're live at the 2017 Blackhawks Convention. 

Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp join David Kaplan and Pat Boyle to talk about returning to Chicago. 

Later Boyle, CSN Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers, Chris Kuc and Sam Panayotovich discuss the huge roster changes this offseason. 

Listen to the STL Pod below.