No rust after rest, Hawks cruise to 4th straight win

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No rust after rest, Hawks cruise to 4th straight win

Sunday, Dec. 26, 2010
Posted 8:34 PM Updated 9:48 PM
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Marian Hossa hadnt played in nearly a month. Goaltender Marty Turco hadnt gotten a victory in more than one. On Sunday, they both had solid outings.

Turco stopped 26 of 27 for his first victory since Nov. 17 and Hossa had two assists in his first game since Nov. 29 as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1 at the United Center. Patrick Sharp scored his 19th and 20th goals this season for the Blackhawks, who won their fourth in a row.

Turco got the starting call Saturday night after Corey Crawford came down with the flu. Turco, who had struggled in the few starts hes gotten recently, was big early with 14 first-period stops. He was 2:26 away from getting his second shutout this season before Derick Brassard scored a power-play goal. Still, it was an outing Turco needed.

It was good to feel the way I did. Its been a while since Ive had this feeling, said Turco. It was a good step forward for me but huge for the team to continue what were doing at home.

Coach Joel Quenneville said Turco was big in that first period. He gave us a chance to get our feet under us.

Hossa, meanwhile, looked like he had little to no rust from that lower-body injury that sidelined him the last 10 games. While the Blackhawks looked a bit sluggish to start, Hossa came out flying. He was also strong on the penalty kill, which went 3 for 4 on Sunday night.

I felt pretty good. I did lots of skating with the assistant coaches and getting a lot of extra time on the ice, Hossa said. You need to do that, especially missing a month off. I just needed to get the game timing back.

Hossas wraparound attempt led to the Blackhawks first goal, a Tomas Kopecky rebound.

Kopy texted me before the game and said, I hope you had a good nap. Pass me the puck so I can score. Hossa said with a laugh.

Then theres Sharp, who continues to be a steady offensive presence. His first goal ended up being the game-winner, the fifth time hes had that this season. His second came 37 seconds after Dave Bolland gave the Blackhawks a 3-0 advantage.

His (first goal) was a big goal for us, coach Joel Quenneville said of Sharp. Getting the two-goal lead was big. Hes had a real good start to the season and a lot of quality and timely goals as well.

Close, but

Jack Skille nearly tallied the first penalty shot in United Center history on Sunday, but Columbus goaltender Mathieu Garon came up with the stop on his backhand attempt.

I wouldve liked to have that one back. Ill be dreaming about that later, said Skille, who thought that was his first career penalty shot in any league. That was one of the cooler experiences Ive had. I just wanted to put the puck in the back of the net and hear the horn.

Skille said he wasnt thinking about making any crazy moves on the shot.

Ill leave that to the Mighty Ducks, he said.

Its better to give

Patrick Kane talked Christmas gifts after Sunday mornings skate, specifically the ones he gave family. Kane gave his dad a Stanley Cup ring and his sisters Stanley Cup bracelets.

Once my sisters got that they were flaunting that pretty good, Kane said. For my dad, I might have ordered the ring a little tight. He said it was great but his finger was completely red. He said it was just something youve got to work on I and said, Dad, lets just get it stretched. They enjoyed it.

Kane (left ankle) said he felt good coming out of Sunday mornings skate. He said hell see how he feels after Mondays practice, but he could play Tuesday in St. Louis. Kane said hes dealing with some pain but its not bad.

Its a little bit tender but overall its definitely a lot better than where I was last week, he said. Its one of those things that feels fine when you walk on it but put it in a boot and it just feels a little bit different."

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.