Poor calls, power play hurt Hawks in Vancouver

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Poor calls, power play hurt Hawks in Vancouver

Saturday, Feb. 5, 2011
Posted Feb. 4, 11:38 p.m. Updated 1:08 a.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

VANCOUVER, British Columbia The opportunity was there in the second period.

The Chicago Blackhawks were getting power-play chances in a bunch midway through the period. There were chances to erase the bad taste of the disallowed Dave Bolland goal and the allowed Christian Ehrhoff puck-in-the-neutral-zone goal. And there were chances to add to the 2-1 lead the Blackhawks took despite the first-period head-scratchers.

But the power play, the Blackhawks bread and butter, went quiet when it couldve made the difference.

Jonathan Toews, Nick Boynton and Bolland scored, but the Blackhawks went 0 for 5 on the power play, which included 47 seconds of 5 on 3, in a tough 4-3 loss to Vancouver at Rogers Arena.

The Blackhawks played strong 5 on 5 hockey against the NHL-best Canucks. They had great pace. They fired 45 shots on a stellar Roberto Luongo, who stopped 42 of them. And the bad goaltender interference call on Troy Brouwer and questionable Ehrhoff goal didnt phase them much. They answered those with Toews and Boyntons goals early in the second.

WATCH: Brouwer's take on the call

But their special teams cost them. Besides the 0-for power play they allowed the Canucks two goals on four advantages. Daniel Sedin scored the game-winner on the Canucks final power play with four minutes remaining.

(Special teams) were tough, especially when we have the 5 on 3 to distance ourselves in the second. We have to be better on that, said Toews, who also had an assist. Weve had some big games where weve worked hard. The penalty kill and power play need to be better.

The Blackhawks were up 2-1 midway through the second when the Canucks started heading to the penalty box. Then the Blackhawks got that 5 on 3 and the momentum. But 47 seconds later they had nothing to show for it.

That wouldve been real big for us, Brouwer said. Were up a goal at the time and thats a big opportunity to try and put them away and get some separation. But it didnt happen.

The Blackhawks want to bring that 5 on 5 game the rest of this road trip. It was fast, it was strong and if not for a tremendous outing by Luongo it may have yielded them the desired result on Friday. But the special teams hurt, and thats something they dont want repeated.

We couldve been better there, defenseman Duncan Keith said. At the end of the day we get a chance there in the second to get a great grip on things and we didnt capitalize on that. We let it get away, and thats the story.

Brouwer call

Brouwer said he was a little surprised he was whistled for goaltender interference that cost the Blackhawks an early lead. But he wasnt raising Cain about it.
Troy Brouwer crossed in front of Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo on Dave Bolland's goal that would have given Chicago a 1-0 lead. However, the goal would not be allowed after the referee claimed Brouwer interfered with Luongo while in the crease. (AP)
I dont think I touched him. I think he said I didnt give him space. Its going to be his call and it happens real quick, Brouwer said. (Bolland) saw an overview and said I gave him space. But the ref isnt looking from the sky. Hes looking from the ice and he has to make the call he thinks is right.

Toews also wasnt going to use any calls as an excuse.

We had our chances on the power play, he said. Theyre going to make calls and whether you disagree with it or not, it is what it is. Were not looking at that as a reason we didnt win that game.

Motivation?

Did the Blackhawks lopsided victory over the Canucks on Nov. 20 lead to Vancouvers success since? Perhaps. The Canucks are 23-4-6 since that 7-1 loss at Rogers Arena, although opinions vary if that was the turning point for the NHLs top team.

Possibly, yeah. It was an embarrassing loss, said defenseman Kevin Bieksa. We were playing pretty good hockey before that and that put us back in our place. We knew what we were doing out there wasnt good enough.

Coach Alain Vigneault thought otherwise.

I dont think it was anything more significant than being a tough loss against a real good opponent that took it to us that night, he said. If my memory serves correct, we lost the next night, too (3-2 to Phoenix). You play to win every game, but not going to win every one in an 82-game schedule. We bounced back extremely well.
Truce

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault wasnt happy with coach Joel Quenneville and what he perceived as running up the score when the Blackhawks beat the Canucks 7-1 back in November.

Vigneault was particularly unhappy with the Blackhawks power-play personnel, which included Toews and Patrick Kane, late in that lopsided game. But Vigneault said thats all behind them now.

Joel and I have kissed and made up. I saw him at the All-Star Game, said Vigneault, who was assistant coach to Peter Laviolette for Team Lidstrom. Quenneville and assistant coach Mike Haviland lead Team Staal. I still stand behind what I said, but hes doing a great job.

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

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Perhaps the best thing about the Johnny Oduya trade back to the Blackhawks, for both parties involved, was that Oduya wasn't needed immediately.

It's not that the Blackhawks didn't want the veteran defenseman, who helped them win Cups in 2013 and 2015, back in the lineup as soon as possible. Oduya was coming off an ankle injury, one he re-aggravated and missed about a month when he was with the Dallas Stars. He needed time to fully heal and with the Blackhawks in good shape in the standings and with solid depth at defense, he could.

Now with the playoffs right around the corner, Oduya is feeling more like himself.

Outside of missing two games that were the second halves of back-to-backs, Oduya has been playing steadily since March 9. Oduya's minutes have ranged from around 16 to 21 in games. He said he's now 100 percent healthy from his injury and he's feeling the difference on the ice.

"It makes a big difference," Oduya said on Thursday, prior to facing the Stars for the first time since his trade back to Chicago. "I mean, obviously sometimes you get more or less lucky, depending on what you get and the style of play and what you do or not. Skating is a part of my game I try to use as much as possible to get in good position and try to take away time from the opposition as much as possible.

"Even with battling and things like that, of course it's nice to feel more confident," Oduya added. "In any situation, you're in you want to feel confident on the ice."

The Blackhawks have seen that confidence in previous postseason runs and are looking to see it again in Oduya. Coach Joel Quenneville considers Oduya, "Mr. Reliability."

"You look back at what he delivered for us, not just the regular season, but he's been solid and reliable in the playoffs. He's assumed some important matchups and important minutes," Quenneville said. "Last year, we didn't have him on the back end and watching him this year, it was the perfect fit him coming back."

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The Blackhawks' defensive group hasn't changed much since Oduya's first stint here. The system probably hasn't been altered much, either. Still, Oduya's not taking anything for granted and is trying to get back on the same page quickly.

"Same as the last time I came into a great hockey team and I really just want to get up to speed and up to date as quickly as possible," Oduya said. "Little things that may have changed. I want to fit in as well as I can. That's the idea anyone has coming in late in the year. The guys here make it pretty easy; the coaching staff is familiar with the way I play and helps speed up things a little more."

The Blackhawks are trying to be their best heading into the postseason. So is Oduya. He needed a little extra time to get back to health and he may still need a little time to get back to speed, but he's just about there. 

"I feel pretty good. Of course it's a lot easier when you have guys around you you've seen before, a coaching staff," Oduya said. "It's a work in progress, anyway. I want to be better, I want to evolve with the team and want us to be better, too. It's a work in progress."

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

It wasn't pretty, but the Blackhawks found a way to pick up another two points and improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven games, and 18-3-1 over their last 22.

With Minnesota's loss to Philadelphia, the Blackhawks have taken an eight-point lead for first in the Central Division and are only two points away from the Washington Capitals for home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let's take a look at Quick Hits from the 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night:

What Worked: The finish and shootout. While the Blackhawks scored the game's first goal, it was another slow start by a team that has had a few of those over the last several outings and has preached working on turning in more of a complete effort. They recorded only 14 shots on goal in the first two periods, and it took more than six minutes after Patrick Kane's goal to record their next one.

But they finished on a positive note yet again, and went 2-for-3 in the shootout thanks to Kane and Artemi Panarin, who potted the game winner. Kane said after the game that he tried his move on Scott Darling during morning skate and it worked. So he went with it tonight in an effort to snap a mini shootout drought and he did.

What Didn't Work: Controlling the puck. The Blackhawks seemingly have the puck more than their opponent does almost every game, but it doesn't reflect in the shot department because they often look for the perfect pass or shot and fail to record one at all. They had 50 shot attempts with 26 of them on goal compared to the Stars' 64 attempts with 44 on goal. They know they must get better at that.

Star of the game: Corey Crawford. After allowing four goals on only 10 shots in Tuesday's overtime loss to Vancouver, the Blackhawks netminder bounced back in a huge way. He matched a season-high with 42 saves, and recorded his 30th win of the season.

He Said It: "He played amazing tonight. Reason we won the game. Hats off to him, he's done that a lot this year. For a goalie it's probably tough to show up every night, even the goals he let in last game you can't put all the blame on him, but he was outstanding tonight." — Kane on Crawford's performance

By the Numbers:

167 — Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked one shot in the win, and it was enough to set a new career high in that department, previously established during the 2010-11 campaign (166).

15 — Trevor van Riemsyk assisted on Marian Hossa's goal in the third period, giving him a career-high 15 points on the season in 50 games. He had 14 points in 82 games last year. He also extended his point streak to three games.

6 — With the victory, Crawford has earned at least 30 wins in six of his seven NHL seasons as a full-time starter. The only time he didn't reach that mark was during the lockout-shortened year in 2012-13 when he went 19-5-5.