Post problems leave Blackhawks seeing Stars


Post problems leave Blackhawks seeing Stars

Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2011
Posted 10:09 PM Updated 11:38 PM

By Tracey Myers

The Chicago Blackhawks penalty kill has taken its slings and arrows all season. Its been shaky at best, ineffective at worst. On Wednesday night, it was all too generous once again.

Mike Ribeiro scored two power-play goals and Brenden Morrow had another as the Dallas Stars went 3-for-3 on the advantage to beat the Blackhawks 4-2 at the United Center. The Blackhawks have now lost four of their last five games.

Fernando Pisani and Tomas Kopecky scored second-period goals for the Blackhawks. Then the bizarre moment came.

Viktor Stalberg was awarded a penalty shot about a minute after Kopeckys goal; but his shot inexplicably hit both posts and the crossbar and stayed out of the net.

I dont think Ive ever seen that in my life before, Stalberg said. Theres nothing you can say about it. Three bars in one shot, thats a first for me at least.

The Blackhawks know that fixing their penalty kill, ranked 25th in the NHL entering Wednesday, has to be priority No. 1 the second half of this season. But it took another step back against Dallas.

So why exactly does the penalty kill continue to falter?

If I had all the answers wed probably be better. Were always talking about the same thing but nothings changed, defenseman Duncan Keith said. Its a matter of blocking shots, eliminating their shots from the blue line, boxing out, getting in stick lanes, not letting them make passes cross box. All those things we talk about and they just need to show up in games.

Morrow and Ribeiro were both right in front of the Blackhawks net on the Stars first two goals, Morrow knocking home a Loui Eriksson rebound and Ribeiro then deflecting Brad Richards shot from the point.

We gave them the momentum tonight early on the power play. They were up 2-0 real quick and that cant happen, defenseman Brent Seabrook said. We have to come out of the gates harder, we have to be better on the PK. Thats on us.

The Blackhawks switched lines in the second period and got results immediately. Pisani, back with fellow checkers Bryan Bickell and Dave Bolland, flicked one off Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonens glove and in. Just a little over two minutes later, Kopecky got his own rebound to tie it 2-2.

But the Stars got their third power-play goal midway through the third, a Ribeiro shot that deflected off Niklas Hjalmarssons knee, to seal it. Steve Ott added an empty-net goal.

The Blackhawks got off to another rocky start courtesy of their struggling penalty kill.

Its something that keeps coming back into our game, and you cant keep winning games if youre going to go down a goal or two in the first period, it just makes things tougher on you, Jonathan Toews said. I dont know why we keep putting ourselves in that situation.
Stalberg stunned

Viktor Stalberg has been snake-bit on shots lately, from the quick-whistle shot a few weeks ago to the shot at a wide-open net that deflected off Bollands stick against Anaheim on Sunday. But his penalty shot that deflected off both posts and the crossbar on Wednesday night tops all.

A centimeter, a third of an inch or whatever, its going in. I dont know how it did that, to be honest, Stalberg said. When the puck doesnt go in it seems to find ways to stay out. If I keep getting chances, its going to go in sooner or later. I just have to keep shooting and itll happen.

His teammates couldnt believe it didnt go in, either.

Ive never seen something like that before, Patrick Sharp said. He made a good move to draw the shot. You cant be upset about that one if youre Viktor. Its just a bad bounce. Or three bounces, I guess.

All-Star anticipation

Captain Jonathan Toews and coach Joel Quenneville are both looking forward to the NHL All-Star game later this month in Raleigh, N.C. For Quenneville, the new format no East vs. West anymore, and captains select their respective teams players is intriguing.

I dont know how its going to work with picking teams, maybe picking coaches and probably picking how much ice time they want, Quenneville said. Its a great weekend to be around it. Im looking forward to it.

Toews said he loved his first All-Star game back in 2009 in Montreal and is excited about another trip. And possibly being captain there wouldnt be bad, either.

I guess the upside of that is it takes away my chances of being picked last, he said.


Former Blackhawk Adam Burish falls on top of goalie Corey Crawford on Wednesday night. Later in the game, Burish rushed the net after absorbing a Brent Seabrook hit and caused a big scrum. (AP)Two of the Stars defensemen, Karlis Skrastins and Matt Niskanen collided with each other on the ice moments before the third period began.

Niskanen suffered a broken nose, chipped tooth and a cut on his wrist and Skrastins appeared to suffer a concussion. Neither of them played in the final 20 minutes.

Ive had it explained to me a couple of times, Stars coach Marc Crawford said. "Skrasts really likes to get out and get his legs going in warm-up, especially since he was going to be out there on the penalty kill to start the period.

"And Matt Niskanen was out there and he was going all hell bent for leather, and apparently they collided heads and then a stick slashed Matts hand, so he broke his nose, chipped his teeth and cut his hand. And Skasts doesnt even know hes in Chicago, so we lost both of those guys go into the third.


Jake Dowell, Jack Skille and Nick Boynton were healthy scratches on Wednesday night.

Kopecky had a team-high six shots on goal.

The Blackhawks were credited with 39 hits. Seabrook had nine of them.

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

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Same mistakes resurface

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Same mistakes resurface

COLUMBUS, Ohio – We’ll save you some time tonight. The Blackhawks lost another one in familiar fashion. You can guess what our focus will be, so let’s get right to it.

Here are Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

1. We’re trying not to pick on the penalty kill again, but… it cost them again. The Blackhawks gave up their 10th and 11th power-play goals in their first five games on Friday night. Opponents are planting themselves in front of Corey Crawford and, be it screens or tips, they’re capitalizing. Long-distance shots are getting through far too often. “I think our focus always has to be 5-on-5. When our effort and our energy and our work ethic is there it usually translates into our special teams and I don’t know. It’s frustrating," Jonathan Toews said. "We definitely have to keep pushing to find a solution. Even when it seems like we’re doing a good job bounces go against us. We deserve all the criticism and we just have to keep finding ways, dig deep and really try to dig ourselves out of this thing.”

2. The seven-defenseman set. Quenneville didn’t want Trevor van Riemsdyk sitting out too long, and for a few days it looked like Brian Campbell was going to be the odd-man out tonight. Instead the Blackhawks went with seven, which gave them the chance to rotate and put Campbell back on his natural left. With that, however, the forward lines were naturally skewed. Patrick Kane played nearly 29 minutes. Quenneville said earlier this season that it wouldn’t be something the Blackhawks would try often. Speaking of van Riemsdyk…

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Van Riemsdyk hurt again. You have to feel for van Riemsdyk. He finally got healthy last season playing in all 82 games after knee and wrist injuries sidelined him the previous one. Now it looks like he’ll be out again after he went hard into the net late in the second period. Van Riemsdyk got tangled up and his right arm/shoulder collided with the post.

4. Tyler Motte gets his first. The University of Michigan product scored his first career NHL goal, a rebound off a Toews shot in the second period. Considering the game’s outcome, however, Motte’s enthusiasm was tempered. “It was exciting. It felt good to chip in offensively but obviously the real story is us losing another game,” he said. “We were better in the offensive zone but there are still some things to improve on. The most important thing is winning games.”

5. Brandon Saad great but stymied. The former Blackhawks left wing had some tremendous scoring opportunities on Friday. He had a team-high seven shots, most high quality, but Crawford stopped him every time. Just in case anyone needed a reminder of what the kid is capable of, regardless of which sweater he’s wearing.

Penalty kill struggles again in Blackhawks’ loss to Blue Jackets

Penalty kill struggles again in Blackhawks’ loss to Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Blackhawks were trying a different look on Friday, going with seven defensemen. But at the end of the night, it was something all too familiar contributing to their downfall.

Tyler Motte scored the first goal of his NHL career but the Blackhawks gave up two more power-play goals in their 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night. It was another night on which special teams doomed the Blackhawks; through the first five games of their regular season, their penalty kill has now allowed 11 goals.

And the loss could also sting them, personnel-wise. Trevor van Riemsdyk went hard into the post late in the second period and did not return. Coach Joel Quenneville said van Riemsdyk, who has had his injury issues in the past, “may be out for a bit.” Quenneville added that he’ll know more on Saturday.

Quenneville dressed seven defensemen to get everyone playing. Van Riemsdyk had been a healthy scratch the previous three games. It also gave him a chance to put Brian Campbell back on the left, his normal side. But regardless of the new defensive look, the penalty kill remained its unreliable self.

“It just seems a lot of times it’s a quick play off a faceoff and it’s in our net,” said Duncan Keith. “It’s a few different things and obviously, we as players, we need to take ownership of it and figure out a way to get the job done. You watch it, there’s lots of different things.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno was set up right in front of Corey Crawford on both of their successful power plays. On the first, a Zach Werenski goal, Foligno set the screen. On the second, he tipped David Savard’s shot. The Blackhawks’ confidence has to be shaken, and that never helps.

“It’s the same way 5-on-5: I think when you’re snake bitten you tend to try too hard and do too much. That can end up hurting you as well,” Jonathan Toews said. “As forwards I think that’s the No. 1 thing. We have to be better getting in shot lanes. It started on the road against Nashville, they scored two goals going right past our forwards and it kind of led one game after another to today.”

Still, the Blackhawks had a great chance to find an equalizer at the end. They got a power play with 3:26 remaining. Despite some good scoring chances, and Crawford pulled for an extra attacker, the Blackhawks couldn’t capitalize. Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 32 of 34 shots in the victory.

The Blackhawks can’t stop the bleeding on the penalty kill. It’s cost them in all three of their losses and it’s made their two victories closer than necessary. They know what the problems are. They have to fix them fast.

“Both plays could have been prevented, whether it was a block, clear, just got to get sharper, more determination and try to stay out of the box,” Quenneville said. “Starts from the faceoff to a clear to shots and recognize when there’s a chance to pressure. We had a couple of opportunities there. they end up in our net right now.”