Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Avalanche: Controversial offsides ruling turning point in comeback

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Avalanche: Controversial offsides ruling turning point in comeback

Here’s the problem with writing Quick Hits ahead of time: they can change quickly. Coach Joel Quenneville uses that phrase all the time, and we didn’t heed it.

Still, what were the odds the Blackhawks would turn a two-period, 3-1 deficit into a 6-3 victory? Live and learn – and wait until the end of the game to write.

Anyway, we’re stalling. Let’s look at the notables from the Blackhawks’ comeback victory over the Colorado Avalanche.

What Worked: The third period. Well, more to the point, the final 10 minutes of it. The Blackhawks played better overall in the third period after admitting to radio and TV that they were too cute for their own good through the first 20 minutes. Better shots, more shots and more traffic led to the desired results for the Blackhawks, who were unstoppable that final 20 minutes.

What Didn’t Work: The Avalanche’s challenge. On first glance it looked like the Avs were going to win their challenge for offside on Jonathan Toews’ first goal and any momentum the Blackhawks did gain from it would be gone. Not so fast. Officials deemed it a good goal, ruling the review “was not conclusive in determining whether Toews tagged up at the instant the puck was on Richard Panik’s stick when Chicago entered the attacking zone prior to the goal.” When a review is inconclusive, officials are, “instructed to confirm their original call.” The Blackhawks had the goal, the momentum and they ran with it.

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Star of the game: Toews. You look to your leaders in situations like this and Toews was outstanding in that final period. His first goal woke the Blackhawks up and his second put it out of reach (5-3 at the time). Toews is now on a four-game point streak (three goals, two assists).

He Said It: “It’s just fun to watch. And then I’m just trying to stay into it, because I didn’t have any shots or chances for eight or nine minutes I’d say there. [The Avs] not going to give up. They’re going to come back and try and do anything they can. You’ve got to stay mentally in it as a goalie because you’ve got to be ready when they come back your way. But it was super impressive to watch.” — Scott Darling on the Blackhawks’ comeback.

By the Numbers:

34 – Time, in seconds, that the Blackhawks scored three goals in the third period (Toews, Richard Panik, Artemi Panarin).

17 – Goals, in his last 20 games, for Patrick Kane. With 79 points, Kane is now tied for third in the league in points with Brad Marchand (79). He trails Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby (80 each).

6 – Consecutive games in which Artemi Panarin has at last a point. He has four goals and four assists in that span.

8-1-0 – Record for Scott Darling since Jan. 1.

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

Blackhawks fire assistant coach Mike Kitchen

When Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman addressed the media on Saturday, he said that there would be change. That started on Monday when assistant coach Mike Kitchen was fired.

The move came five days after the Blackhawks were swept out of the first round by the Nashville Predators. Bowman said in a statement that, “we believe this decision is best for our organization moving forward. Mike had an impact on two different Stanley Cup championship teams during his tenure in Chicago. We appreciate his many contributions and wish he and his family success in the future.”

Kitchen has been a member of coach Joel Quenneville’s staff since 2010. The two go back to their playing days, however, when they were teammates with the Colorado Rockies and also the New Jersey Devils. Kitchen was Quenneville’s assistant when the two were with the St. Louis Blues and when Quenneville was fired as Blues coach midway through the 2003-04 season, Kitchen was promoted to head coach.

As part of the Blackhawks’ staff Kitchen’s focus on special teams, mainly the penalty kill. That kill finished the regular season 24th overall in the league, although that has to come with an asterisk. The penalty kill started the 2016-17 season so poorly that it was never going to get too far out of the basement. It did get stronger as the season wore on, and it was fourth overall during the Blackhawks’ short stay in the playoffs.

Which Blackhawks will be participating in 2017 IIHF World Championships?

Which Blackhawks will be participating in 2017 IIHF World Championships?

The Blackhawks' season ended much sooner than expected after being swept in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs by the Nashville Predators.

But for some players, their hockey season may not be finished yet.

The IIHF World Championships begin May 5, and an early postseason exit gives several Blackhawks an opportunity to play in the tournament.

With the National Hockey League saying it will not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics, players may be more inclined to join given the uncertainty of when they'll be able to represent their countries again — if ever, for some.

Here's an update on which Blackhawks players could be participating:

— Patrick Kane said Saturday he's taking the weekend to mull over Team USA's offer, and will make a final decision in the next "day or two."

— Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews each declined their invites from Team Canada, electing to use a lengthy offseason to recharge and focus on training for the 2017-18 NHL season.

— Corey Crawford and Nick Schmaltz said they have not been contacted by their respective countries, but both said they would consider going if they are.

— Artemi Panarin has reportedly already accepted Team Russia's offer to play.

— Niklas Hjalmarsson said he's "thinking about" Team Sweden's offer after the NHL's decision not to attend the 2018 Winter Olympics. "Who knows when I'll ever get a chance to play for my country again, so that might be factor," he said.

— Marcus Kruger said he's talking with Team Sweden officials, and has expressed interest in going.

— Marian Hossa said he informed Team Slovakia that he will not be playing: "Let the young guys play."

— Richard Panik will not be participating either, saying he doesn't want to risk injury as he seeks a new contract.