Chicago Blackhawks

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.

Jonathan Toews explains why he altered his offseason training regime: 'I might have overdone it'

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USA TODAY

Jonathan Toews explains why he altered his offseason training regime: 'I might have overdone it'

Days after the Blackhawks were swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, Jonathan Toews made it known that he wanted to make "some little changes" to his offseason training program.

He went on to say that he never quite reached the level of play that he wanted to during the 2016-17 season after scoring a career-low 21 goals and totaling 58 points for the second straight year. Not bad, but not great by his standards.

In a recent interview with Sportsnet's Chris Johnston, Toews opened up about why he altered his offseason regime from the previous year.

“Last summer is the first time I really got the time to train really hard and I might have overdone it in the wrong way," Toews admitted. "Just worrying about power and strength all the time. I came into the season and just couldn’t move, just felt slow. I mean the game is so fast nowadays. It’s kind of a wake-up call in that sense.”

The game indeed is getting faster, and younger players are breaking into the league much quicker because of it. Look no further than Connor McDavid, who's quickly emerged as the face of the NHL.

It's also evident after watching the Pittsburgh Penguins win back-to-back Stanley Cups with their speed, not necessarily grit.

Toews recognizes that, and it's why he's making the necessary changes to help return to top form and get the Blackhawks back on track in doing so.

“When you see the top players nowadays they’re all on the ice,” Toews said. “They’re on the ice all the time just working on skill and that’s something I’m really going to focus on going forward.

"Just getting back to playing with the puck, knowing that that’s the type of player I am, and not just being overly concerned with the defensive two-way hockey but knowing that I can go out there and contribute with the best of them, too, if I put my mind to it a little bit more.”

Projecting Blackhawks' Opening Day lineup in 2017-18

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USA TODAY

Projecting Blackhawks' Opening Day lineup in 2017-18

With Blackhawks single-game tickets having gone on sale Monday — and less than a month away from the first preseason game of the 2017-18 season — it's time to start breaking down what the team's lineup could look like on Opening Day.

Brian Campbell, Scott Darling, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Marcus Kruger, Artemi Panarin and Trevor van Riemsdyk were among Chicago's key departures in an offseason makeover, along with Marian Hossa, who's sitting out the upcoming campaign with a medical condition.

There are plenty of important shoes to fill. So how will the reformed Blackhawks stack up?

Let's give it a crack.

(A quick note: All indications are that the Blackhawks will place Hossa on long-term injured reserve as soon as the regular season starts, so we didn't include him on the 23-man Opening Day roster even though he will be. Instead, we added an extra player we believe will serve as the 23rd man going forward.)

First line: Brandon Saad - Jonathan Toews - Richard Panik

Second line: Patrick Sharp - Artem Anisimov - Patrick Kane

Third line: Ryan Hartman - Nick Schmaltz - Tomas Jurco

Fourth line: Lance Bouma - Tanner Kero - Tommy Wingels

Extras: Jordin Tootoo

Thoughts: 

— It's practically a lock that Joel Quenneville will open the season with Saad-Toews-Panik at the top, but that doesn't necessarily mean it'll stay that way or finish like that. At the Blackhawks Convention in July, Quenneville toyed with the idea of even putting Sharp on the first unit alongside Saad and Toews after the 35-year-old veteran looked "unbelievable" in the gym during offseason workouts.

— Speaking of Sharp, we're slotting him in at that second-line left wing position to start based off Quenneville's high praise of the winger. And it makes sense, trying to rekindle some magic with Kane off the bat and provide stability on the top-six while spreading out the bottom-six.

— Schmaltz could certainly be a candidate to jump up to the second line with Anisimov and Kane (or perhaps even swap center positions with Anisimov, but we won't get cute early on). The lack of center depth, however, might force him into a third-line center role to start, which isn't the worst idea. He won only 30.9 percent of his faceoffs last season, and the only way to get better is by taking more reps. 

— Hartman and Jurco each spent more time on the left wing than right with the Blackhawks last year, but Jurco played more on the right side in Detroit so that's where we pegged him here. He's probably going to get a longer leash to nail down a full-time spot, and be put in a position to succeed in a third-line role. 

— To round out the four-line rotation, Kero is surely going to play the role of Kruger by handling the bulk of defensive zone draws with newly-signed versatile forwards Bouma and Wingels serving as his wingmen. Tootoo comes in as the extra. 

— It will be tempting to throw highly-touted prospect Alex DeBrincat into the fire right away, but there's no need to rush it and we don't believe the Blackhawks will, either. He's still only 19 years old, and it'd be asking way too much of the 5-foot-7, 170-pound OHL player of the year to log important minutes straight out of juniors.

— That leaves Laurent Dauphin, Alexandre Fortin, John Hayden, Vinnie Hinostroza and David Kampf off the roster for now as well, and it's not a bad thing. There just isn't enough room for everybody, and their developments are better served playing every day in the AHL rather than being fringe players in the NHL and taking turns sitting in the press box.

No. 1 defensive pairing: Duncan Keith - Connor Murphy

No. 2 defensive pairing: Michal Kempny - Brent Seabrook

No. 3 defensive pairing: Gustav Forsling - Jan Rutta

Extras: Jordan Oesterle, Michal Rozsival

Thoughts:

— First off, there is no replacing Hjalmarsson. He was a linch-pin on the Blackhawks' blue line for a decade. It will take a collective effort to help alleviate that loss. While Murphy's defensive game needs improvement, he has to be the favorite to play alongside Keith strictly based on balancing out the rotation. It also helps that he's a right-handed shot, complementing the left-handed two-time Norris Trophy winner.

— Kempny and Seabrook had really strong possession numbers together last season, and should formulate the second unit. Kempny struggled to anchor down an every-day spot in his rookie campaign because of his defensive inconsistencies, but Quenneville is likely to give him an extended leash just like he did with the youngsters last year, simply because he has to.

— Forsling showed real promise in training camp a year ago, and it was enough to break last year's Opening Day roster. He stayed on for the first half before being assigned to Rockford, but it was necessary for his development in order to secure a full-time spot this year.

— Oesterle and Rutta — and perhaps even prospect Ville Pokka — are expected to vie for the sixth spot, with Rozsival serving as the seventh defenseman for insurance. We have the 27-year-old Czech defenseman getting the first crack at it, but it could be an ongoing competition for much of the year.

Starting goaltender: Corey Crawford

Backup goaltender: Anton Forsberg

Thoughts:

— For the first time in a while, the Blackhawks are heading into the season with some uncertainty surrounding their backup goaltending situation. Crawford is the clear-cut starter, but for two-plus years the Blackhawks felt like they've always had two No. 1s with Darling.

— Forsberg legitimately might be the X-factor for the Blackhawks' season. Darling appeared in 32 games last season, and 29 the year before, essentially starting one-third of the team's games over the last two years. And he thrived in that role. Forsberg has high potential, but can he take that next step and be a consistent goaltender the Blackhawks need him to be? That's the question that nobody can answer until we actually see it.

— If the Forsberg experiment doesn't work out, or they prefer to enhance his development with every-day starts in Rockford, the Blackhawks signed Jean-Francois Berube who could see some playing time. But it's Forsberg's job to lose.