Myers: Top line pacing Blackhawks reversal


Myers: Top line pacing Blackhawks reversal

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011
Posted 5:21 p.m.

By Tracey Myers

ST. LOUIS The numbers have been coming up on the score sheet in bunches lately: Nos. 10 (Patrick Sharp), 19 (Jonathan Toews) and 88 (Patrick Kane) in some combination or another.

Perhaps its just obvious given the talent. Or the natural chemistry. Or maybe its the overriding urgency of the situation.

Its that time of year where theres nothing to save it for, Toews said. Theres no more time to wait.

The Chicago Blackhawks top line is its top line for a reason. Sharp, Toews and Kane are opportunistic goal-scorers and play makers in their individual rights. Throw them together and just watch the fun.

But as good as this group is supposed to be with that No. 1 tag attached to them, theyre flat-out stellar right now. Theyre pacing the Blackhawks, who have now won three of their last four. And for the most part lately, theyve been the bulk, if not all, of the Blackhawks offense.

They know where each other is going to be but their level of intensity has picked up, said acting coach Mike Haviland. They really try to show the lead here in what needs to be done each night. Theyve been around, they know what it takes to win and we need to follow their lead for sure.

Indeed. Sharp scored his 31st goal of the season on Sunday against Pittsburgh. Toews and Kane each hit the 20-goal mark on Monday in St. Louis. They know their role, know everyones looking at them to lead the offensive assault, and theyre obliging.

I guess were just skating well, thats the difference out there. Were moving our feet and coming up with a lot of pucks, said Sharp, who needs five goals to tie his career-high 36 set in 2007-08. Jonathan and Patrick like to hold onto (the puck) and get open to shoot it. Weve gotten a lot of goals. Hopefully there are more to come.

Those three are doing their part, but as Haviland said, they cant be the only ones. The team finally got more across-the-board goals and points on Monday, when they came back to beat the St. Louis Blues 5-3. As the Blackhawks keep clawing back into the Western Conference playoff race, everyone else will have to help with the point production.

Nevertheless, that top line will point the way.

Its a sprint to the finish and were feeling that pressure to go out and score, Toews said. Were getting chances and eventually theyre going to go in. Were just working hard and keeping things simple.

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

Blackhawks still trying to solve penalty kill issues

Blackhawks still trying to solve penalty kill issues

When considering the Blackhawks’ penalty kill, you can look at their 3-3-1 record in two ways: their record is mediocre because of it, or they’re still getting points despite it.

No matter how you look at it, however, the penalty kill’s malaise has to stop.

In seven games this season, the Blackhawks’ penalty kill has allowed 14 goals on 26 opportunities. Through their first seven games last season the Blackhawks were shorthanded 18 times, allowing three goals.

Looking at seasons overall, the Blackhawks allowed 46 power-play goals over 82 games last season. The kill allowed a scant 35 goals during the 2014-15 season and 46 goals in 2013-14.

Yes, the Blackhawks know it’s a big problem and they’ve talked about it and worked on it. So far, they just haven’t seen the results on it. Some have come off faceoffs. Some have come from long distance. Some have come off rebounds. It doesn’t seem to matter what they do: goals get scored. The Blackhawks will keep going back to the drawing board until they restore that penalty kill to its normal success rate.

“We talk a lot about the way we’re forcing it up ice, how we’re forcing it in the neutral zone, forcing entries, how we’re moving together as units, the personnel changes,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve tried a number of different looks on the back end, as pairs up front. We’re trying to find something that clicks. we haven’t gotten that confidence yet where we’re comfortable with just about any pairs right now. hopefully we can get that stabilized.

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“We know the importance of that influencing the outcome of games and sometimes it can win a game for us. But it’s been a real negative so far,” Quenneville added. “We got through three in a row there. hopefully that’s the start of something positive.”

The Blackhawks killed off the final three penalties they took against the Calgary Flames on Monday night. It was a shot of confidence for a group that needed it, and now they have to repeat that more often.

“We just kept our feet moving. We were working. Our shifts were 20 to 30 seconds tops,” Jonathan Toews said. “When you go that short you have the energy to outwork the power play and make up for being down one man. Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the key right there, and I think our systems fall into place when we’re all moving and we’re all skating the right way.”

Artem Anisimov said those three successful kills were “intense.”

“We were skating. We didn’t give so much time to set up in our zone,” Ansimov said. “It was like, always clear. We cleared the puck 200 feet and it was successful.”

The Blackhawks have been talking “baby steps” regarding their penalty kill the past few games. Killing three in a row off on Monday night could be one, but it means nothing if they allow another one in their next game. The penalty kill is broken. The Blackhawks will keep trying to fix it.

Check out Jonathan Toews' scary Halloween costume

Check out Jonathan Toews' scary Halloween costume

Jonathan Toews isn't doing himself any favors of trying to drop the Captain Serious nickname that has stuck with him since 2008.

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The Blackhawks captain and his girlfriend dressed up for a Halloween party on Tuesday night, and their costumes were on point:

Mr. and Mrs. Dead Serious. 💀👻☠️#happyhalloween

A photo posted by Jonathan Toews (@jonathantoews) on

We wonder how long it took to wash that paint off their face.