Chicago Blackhawks

Myers: Top line pacing Blackhawks reversal

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Myers: Top line pacing Blackhawks reversal

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

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Did Artemi Panarin throw shade at Patrick Kane?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Did Artemi Panarin throw shade at Patrick Kane?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Tracey Myers discuss the first week of training camp. Alex DeBrincat will skate on Patrick Kane’s line with Nick Schmaltz in Thursday’s preseason game, but is DeBrincat ready for the NHL?

In Columbus, Artemi Panarin talked to the Tribune and Sun-Times about the trade. The Breadman did his best Kane impression saying ‘‘This is business, baby.’’ Panarin also said that in Columbus ‘‘I can play a little bit more with the puck,’’ adding via an interpreter ‘‘Just kind of express myself on the ice a little bit more.’’

Boyle and Myers debate whether this is Panarin’s attempt to throw shade at Kane and the Hawks.

They also discuss which defenseman have turned some heads in the first week of camp, Anton Forsberg’s impressive debut as Corey Crawford’s under study, and who might be “the guy” to bring the young Blackhawks and the core group together.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here:

How a Jonathan Toews injury could have kept Blackhawks from winning 2010 Stanley Cup

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AP

How a Jonathan Toews injury could have kept Blackhawks from winning 2010 Stanley Cup

The Blackhawks made history in 2010 when they snapped a 49-year championship drought by breaking through to beat the Philadelphia Flyers in six games. But their fate could have changed dramatically if it got to a Game 7 for a reason that practically nobody was aware of until now.

The Athletic’s NHL Insider Craig Custance sat down over the summer with some of hockey’s greatest coaches to dissect games of their crowning achievements for his book titled, “Behind the Bench: Inside the Minds of Hockey's Greatest Coaches,” which was released in September. One of those coaches included was Joel Quenneville, who won his first career Stanley Cup as a head coach with the Blackhawks in 2010.

So the two went back and rewatched Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final in Philadelphia — the series-clinching game — to get a glimpse inside Quenneville's mind during that game.

Well, inside the book, there was a pretty big revelation regarding their star player. Jonathan Toews had apparently suffered a knee injury late in the game that was serious enough to put his status for a potential Game 7 in doubt.

Here are a few snippets:

"Jonny gets hurt in this game with less than 10 minutes to go in regulation," Quenneville says. "He can't really go. Thank God we scored early [in overtime]. I think it would have been impossible for Jonny to play Game 7."

Wait. What?

This was all news to me.

Same to everyone else.

It happened in the waning minutes of the third period on the play the Flyers evened up the score at 3-3. Toews was shoved into the goaltender after the goal was scored and stayed down on the ice grabbing his knee, then labored back to the bench hunched over.

His teammates didn't know how serious Toews' injury was at the time either:

"It wasn't until midsummer. I remember talking to him, he was still having problems with this knee," Sharp said. "That's when I was like, 'Holy shit, we wouldn't have had Tazer in Game 7.' That just shows you the margin of winning and losing is so small."

In this moment, Hossa has no idea how banged up Toews is. He taps the puck back to Toews as they enter the offensive zone. Flyers forward Darroll Powe bumps him off the puck and the threat is wiped out. The Flyers are headed the other way.

"Yeah, he can't go. Left leg, can't really go," Quenneville says.

It went completely unnoticed, but it could have been a psychological turning point in the series if the Flyers recognized that the Blackhawks' captain was banged up:

Just imagine the lift the Flyers would get if they realized that not only had they tied the game and possibly forced a Game 7, but the Blackhawks' most important player was injured. Quenneville realized this. He was hoping to play Toews just enough to throw the Flyers off the scent.

"He gets that shift, so everybody knows he's fine. Okay, this is Carter. Watch this chance he gets."

Claude Giroux finds a wide-open Jeff Carter, who spins and fires a puck that Niemi somehow saves.

I'm stunned at how close the Blackhawks came to losing this game.

"What a chance he had," Quenneville says.

"That would have made it 4-3 and you're going back without Toews in Game 7."

"Every one, we got lucky."

What a turn of events that would have been, huh?

Knowing the competitor in Toews, he probably would have found a way to play in a possible Game 7, but it certainly makes Chicago appreciate Patrick Kane's game-winning goal in overtime even more knowing its captain may not have been able to play or, at the very least, wouldn't have been close to full strength.

The book goes into full detail of how Quenneville monitored Toews' injury throughout the end of that third period and in overtime, the communication he had with Toews and trainers, and even offers his thoughts on his shifts after the injury like he's coaching in real time again, among many other things.

It's a must-read, and a great in-depth look at how the complexion of the series could have changed on a play nobody saw.