Post problems leave Blackhawks seeing Stars

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Post problems leave Blackhawks seeing Stars

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

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

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.

Collision

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.

Briefly

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

Should Blackhawks' next assistant coach be Joel Quenneville's choice?

Should Blackhawks' next assistant coach be Joel Quenneville's choice?

On April 22, Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman vented his frustrations on the team’s all-too-abrupt exit from the postseason, adding that he and coach Joel Quenneville, “are going to work together to make sure that this never happens again.”

There will be plenty of decisions for the two to mull between now and September, when the Blackhawks convene for training camp. When it comes to the assistant head coach vacancy, however, that might need to be decided with a more one-sided approach. That choice ultimately should be made by Quenneville.

In a recent podcast, Pat Boyle and I discussed the Blackhawks’ need to work together on some upcoming decisions. But with the assistant coach, the head coach has to have the loudest voice. The head coach probably should even have the final vote. The relationship between coaches has to be there because they’re around each other constantly. They’ve got to be on the same page. There has to be trust from Day 1.

As for when the Blackhawks name that assistant, there appears to be nothing imminent. A source said Monday that the Blackhawks and Ulf Samuelsson have been in communication about the job — Chris Kuc of the Tribune first reported on Samuelsson on Sunday. On paper it looks like it would be a great fit. Samuelsson and Quenneville played several seasons together with the Hartford Whalers, along with current Blackhawks assistant coach Kevin Dineen. The relationship with Samuelsson has been there for a long time and it would make for a smoother transition. It might also provide somewhat of a panacea for Quenneville after former assistant Mike Kitchen, whose friendship with Quenneville also went back to their playing days, was fired last month.

Earlier this month Bowman told the Sun-Times that Quenneville will have a big role in the Blackhawks’ finding their next assistant coach, with the final choice being a “joint collaboration.” We get that there’s an order to these things and everyone has to be in agreement with the final decision. But in the end the head coach has to be 100-percent happy with his immediate staff. So whoever the next assistant coach is, the decision has to be 100 percent Quenneville’s.

Blackhawks share condolences after passing of six-time All Star Bill White

Blackhawks share condolences after passing of six-time All Star Bill White

The Blackhawks shared their condolences after the passing of former defenseman Bill White on Monday.

"The Chicago Blackhawks organization extends its thoughts and heartfelt condolences to Bill White's family as we mourn his loss," the team's statement read. "He will be remembered as a leader, generous teammate and tough player to play against. His energetic style helped the Blackhawks see great success during his tenure with the team."

White spent seven seasons with the Blackhawks — part of a nine-year NHL career — scoring 30 goals and tallying 149 assists.

He appeared in six consecutive All-Star Games from 1969 to 1974 and helped the Blackhawks to the playoffs in all seven of his seasons in Chicago.

White also had a brief stint as the Blackhawks' head coach, manning the bench for the final 46 games of the 1976-77 season.