Same story, different day for desperate Hawks

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Same story, different day for desperate Hawks

Saturday, Feb. 19, 2011Posted: 1:50 PM

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Another disappointing loss, another day the Chicago Blackhawks were trying to figure out how points slipped by the wayside.

Its becoming redundant, for sure, but its nevertheless true. The Blackhawks are a desperate group, a team that is somehow still clinging to 11th place entering Saturdays games despite their inconsistencies. And now theyre in must-win mode again with back-to-back games against Pittsburgh and St. Louis on Sunday and Monday.

So is it getting old to keep hearing the critical tag slapped on the situation.

Its not. Maybe the more you say it, the more it will be drilled into our heads, said Troy Brouwer. Theyre points we desperately need. Were falling behind right now and we cant let that happen.

Why has sustained success been so hard to find?

Thats a tough one, but I think some of the youth in the room, coach Mike Haviland said. Again its an excuse, but certainly some of the youth in the room. You can talk all you want, but youve got to show and thats what we talked about the other night before Minnesota. Its time to start showing and not just keep talking about it.

The Blackhawks say they havent lost hope, havent lost focus on the task at hand. But with 24 games remaining, they cant lose any more ground. The glimpses of good have to turn into a decent winning streak.

I think its just knowing we have talent in here to do it and its just a matter of getting it done, defenseman Duncan Keith said. You always believe in yourself as a player and an individual and its no different as a team. When you look at the situation were in, we havent gone on a long streak but were still right there. I think theres confidence in knowing if we can get there, well do some damage.

Now its about getting there. Haviland wasnt happy with the Blackhawks getting outworked by Columbus on Friday night, something he said was unacceptable. He said the Blackhawks were all businesslike at Saturdays practice.

You could tell they were upset about last night and they took it to heart, which is a good thing, Haviland said. They know the task at hand and they were disappointed in what went on. They knew it, we talked briefly about it this morning and we just have to move on and concentrate on (Sunday).

Yep, the Blackhawks critical situation hasnt changed. Their need for points hasnt either. They say they still have time, still have that winning streak in them.

It needs to come out.

We havent been able to piece a couple games together. Weve had short spurts, but when you cant piece together consecutive wins, youre gong to be in the pack every time, Brouwer said. You have to find ways to separate yourself.

Quenneville coming home?

Head coach Joel Quenneville, who has been hospitalized with an ulcer since Wednesday morning, could be heading home soon. Haviland said hopefully well get him back later today.

Haviland said he and Quenneville talked for about 20-25 minutes after Friday nights loss, and again briefly Saturday morning.

We basically talked about the missed opportunities we had, talked about juggling some of the lines around, Haviland said. The first line (Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane) had a great night but we were looking for a little bit more from everyone else. That was basically the gist of the conversations.

Briefly
Corey Crawford will get the start Sunday against Pittsburgh. Haviland said he hasnt decided who will start Monday in St. Louis.

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

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Blackhawks notebook: A busy draft, free agency and RFAs

Eight draft picks in about 3 ½ hours. It was a busy Saturday for the Blackhawks, and when general manager Stan Bowman talked that afternoon about the team’s Day 2 haul, he came prepared.

“I have my little cheat sheet,” Bowman said of the paper on which he had written the Blackhawks’ eight newest prospects.

After a few days’ worth of moves the Blackhawks focused on the future, taking nine players over two days at the NHL Draft. It was a successful weekend for the Blackhawks, who hosted the draft for the first time and built up assets, especially on the blue line. Five of the Blackhawks’ nine selections were defensemen.

“One of the things we talked about was looking at the market. There’s a high value on defensemen. We’re not necessarily looking at the draft but our team this year and over the next couple of years; those are the assets that are valuable around the league,” Bowman said. “Look at the trade Calgary made [for Travis Hamonic], defensemen are a valuable commodity. That was a priority coming in and we were able to accomplish it.”

What comes next

The Blackhawks got what they wanted at this weekend’s draft but the focus will soon shift, as free agency opens on July 1. It remains to be seen what the Blackhawks will have cap-wise come a week from now. Currently, according to CapFriendly.com, they’re $1.445 million over the $75 million cap. It’s doubtful the Blackhawks apply the long-term injured reserve tag on Marian Hossa during the offseason. It’s possible they could still trade Marcus Kruger to gain some space. Bowman said, one way or another, “there will be some movement.”

“We’ll bring some players in, I don’t know how many, what position or what level,” he said. “This is where there’s a lot of activity, the couple weeks in the middle of June until the middle of July. That’s when the most changes happen. We’ll go to work, now that we’re past this.”

Wait for it

The Blackhawks also have to decide whether or not to qualify restricted free agents Dennis Rasmussen and Tomas Jurco. Bowman said that’ll be decided by Monday.

“I’ve had discussions with both agents,” he said. “I don’t have an answer right now but we’ll have that worked out in the next day and a half.”

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson reflects on time with Blackhawks: 'I had the best time in Chicago'

Niklas Hjalmarsson heard some of the rumors, but not to a large degree. The former Blackhawks defenseman wasn’t spending a lot of time on the internet reading up on his potential fate. He figured he’d still stay put in Chicago.

“But when my agent called me about the 10-team list, I understood it was serious. Stan [Bowman] wouldn’t ask for that unless they made up their mind already,” Hjalmarsson said via conference call on Saturday. “That’s when it hit me that I’m probably not going to put the Hawks jersey on anymore.”

Indeed, Hjalmarsson’s next jersey will be that of the Arizona Coyotes, who acquired him in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy on Friday. Hjalmarsson’s departure marks the end of the line for another Blackhawks core player, and this one is jarring in how it will change the team’s defense.

Speaking of change, Hjalmarsson faces a lot of it himself now. Sure, there’s the obvious change for a guy who’s played his entire career in one place. It’s new surroundings and a new team, on which he knows former Blackhawks teammate Antti Raanta and fellow countryman Oliver Ekman-Larsson.

But the Coyotes have dealt with a lot of upheaval lately. Goaltender Mike Smith is gone. So is veteran Shane Doan. On Thursday, head coach Dave Tippett and the Coyotes parted ways.

“They’re on a rebuild, a lot of new faces, lot of changes,” Hjalmarsson said. “It’s tough to know what to expect but I think they’re a hungry organization that wants to win like other teams. I’m looking forward to try to contribute with playing my game, just try to get the organization back in the playoffs.”

Hjalmarsson should find chemistry with Ekman-Larsson – the two were teammates in the Winter Olympics in Sochi – and Hjalmarsson will likely play a bigger role with the Coyotes. Arizona will probably look to Hjalmarsson a lot during its rebuild, given his Cup-winning history.

The first 24 hours were full of mixed emotions of Hjalmarsson. With his limited no-move clause, he was always a likely candidate to be moved from a Blackhawks team laden will full no-move clauses. He’s turning a page, but he won’t forget his time in Chicago anytime soon.

“I’m trying to always be a positive guy,” Hjalmarsson said. “I spent my whole 20s in Chicago, 10 unbelievable years. I didn’t think I’d win three Cups. Hopefully I can get one more before my career is over. I had the best time in Chicago, enjoyed every single year, playing in front of the best fans in the league. I’ve been spoiled. Now it’s time for me and my family to move on and seize the opportunity in Arizona and create some new fond memories.”