Poor calls, power play hurt Hawks in Vancouver

380563.jpg

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.

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Rangers tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Rangers tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the New York Rangers tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Best in the West vs. best in the East?

The Blackhawks and Rangers square off tonight as two of the best teams in the league, with each at or near the top of their respective conferences in the standings. The Rangers are two points away from first place in the East, but own the best goal differential of any team at plus-29. The Blackhawks sit atop the West with 37 points and have the second-best goal differential in the West at plus-10. Still a long, long way to go, but perhaps an early Stanley Cup Final preview?

2. Four stars sidelined.

The Blackhawks are already without Corey Crawford and Jonathan Toews due to injuries, and now Brent Seabrook has been added to the list. Luckily for the Blackhawks, they have a surplus of defensemen and won't have a problem finding a guy prepared to step in. But Seabrook is irreplaceable on and off the ice, and he's been really good on it this season. For the Rangers, Rick Nash is out with a groin injury while Jimmy Vesey was scratched last night due to an upper-body injury, making his status unknown for tonight. Lots of firepower will be watching the game from the press box.

3. Jimmy Vesey.

Speaking of Vesey, the Blackhawks went all-out for the reigning Hobey Baker Award as college's top player in the offseason by including Patrick Kane in their recruiting pitch. Vesey's decision reportedly came down to the Blackhawks and Rangers — and it sounded like Chicago was the frontrunner — but he ended up choosing to stay closer to home by picking New York. He's made an immediate impact, scoring nine goals and adding seven assists in 27 games. Three of those goals have been game-winners. If he plays (he's battling an upper-body injury, as mentioned above), it will be interesting to see the reception he gets from the United Center crowd when he steps onto the ice — although it's possible he doesn't get one at all. 

4. Scott Darling vs. Henrik Lundqvist.

Former Blackhawks netminder Antti Raanta, who lost his backup job to Darling in 2015, got the start for the Rangers last night against Winnipeg, which means Henrik Lundqivst is expected to anchor the crease tonight. The last time — and only time — Darling faced the Rangers, he earned his first career NHL shutout when he stopped all 25 shots en route to a 1-0 victory in March 2015. Lundqvist wasn't in goal for that meeting, so it will surely be a fun matchup for Darling as he goes head-to-head against a former Vezina Trophy winner.

5. Limit quality chances.

The Rangers have been a dangerous team offensively this season, scoring the most goals of any team with 99. That's good for 3.54 goals per game. They've been successful in that area because of the contributions they're getting from up and down the lineup, highlighted by Michael Grabner's team-leading 13 goals. The Rangers average only 28.4 shots per game, which ranks fifth-worst, but their shooting percentage at even strength is far and away the best in the league at an astonishing 11.39. Watch out for those quality shots.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

- Check out the latest stats and standings to make sure you’re ready for action

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

- NBC Sports App FAQ: All your questions answered

- Latest on the Blackhawks: All of the most recent news and notes

- See what Blackhawks fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Blackhawks Pulse

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Blackhawks improve faceoffs in Jonathan Toews’ absence

Yanic Perreault came onto the ice as the Blackhawks wrapped up practice on Thursday.

It’s been a relatively common sight the last few seasons. Most of the time, Perreault has helped out when a particular player is struggling from the faceoff dot. That was true with Artem Anisimov earlier this season. But with Jonathan Toews sidelined the Blackhawks have been even more focused on improving upon and winning faceoffs. Thanks to the extra diligence, they’ve done that.

The Blackhawks’ overall faceoff performance has steadily improved. They’ll see how it goes again on Friday night when they face the New York Rangers, their eighth consecutive game without Toews.

“We’re working almost every practice and trying to get better on faceoffs,” Anisimov said on Thursday. “If we win the faceoff, we start with the puck and it’s pretty good. You can go to the offensive zone or win in the offensive zone you start with the puck and you have the opportunity to shoot the puck all day and get chances. It’s a big part of the game.”

Enter Perreault, who was a great faceoff man during his NHL career. The Blackhawks players say Perreault offers a wealth of information in each session.

“It’s different every day. The whole science behind it, he’s been great since he was brought in,” Marcus Kruger said. “He always has something new he wants us to work on, whether it’s just timing or body-positioning or something like that. It’s a lot of different stuff and we work on new stuff every day.”

Rasmussen agreed.

“It’s a lot of things you can work on,” he said. “You try to work on being in a low position so you get stronger. [There are] a lot of small things on how you can go against other guys that do it certain way, and you have to find your own way, too.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Their first game without Toews, against the Anaheim Ducks, was dismal. Part of that is the Ducks having some tremendous face-off guys. But Toews is the Blackhawks’ best at the dot – he’s won 60.3 percent of the time this season – so that first game without him was rough.

Here’s how things have progressed for the Blackhawks, with faceoffs won and lost and percentage, in Toews’ absence.

Opponent Wins-Losses Percent
Ducks 18-49 27 percent
Kings 21-37 36 percent
Panthers 39-35 53 percent
Devils 22-27 45 percent
Flyers 22-31 42 percent
Jets 31-27 53 percent
Coyotes 30-28 52 percent

So yes, there’s been improvement.

“I think we hold our own,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Yan works well with our center men, they take pride in trying to be the best they can and now they’re taking some important faceoffs and some they probably haven’t taken in the past, whether they’re defensive or special-teams faceoffs. They’ve all won some important faceoffs for us at key times, too.”

The Blackhawks have done their best filling the void left by Toews, especially on faceoffs. There’s been a lot of work put into it, especially with Perreault following practices. But the results have been there.

“We know we’d like to start with the puck, and we had a couple of tough games when Jonny went down initially,” Quenneville said. “But it’s been much better since.”