Seabrook skates; Canucks in new mental state

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Seabrook skates; Canucks in new mental state

4Saturday, April 23, 2011
Posted: 11:09 a.m. Updated: 4:34 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com
And so, theyre back.

The Blackhawks have gotten this series with the Vancouver Canucks back to being a series again, and the Blackhawks are riding a wave of momentum entering Game 6 Sunday night at the United Center.

Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault recognizes that momentum surge. He also knows his team needs to grab it away.

Weve got to get our urgency without a doubt to match their level of desperation, he said. Ever since Game 4 their (desperation) has certainly gone to another level and we need to do that also.

So the Canucks have their plan: play Game 6 like its a Game 7. No holding back, no acting like theres another game to close this series out and send the Blackhawks packing for good.

It puts us on the same frame of mind as the other guys, Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo said. Theres no more room for mistakes. We want to make sure were playing as desperate as the other side tomorrow.

The Blackhawks have piled a ton of goals into these last two games, outscoring the Canucks 12-2. The Blackhawks were basically free to do what they wanted in Game 5, thanks to a wealth of space on the ice. Its one of the biggest concerns the Canucks want to shore up in Game 6.

Not that Vigneault was going to tip his hand as to how theyd do that.

Were aware of the situation. Well put something in place and see if we can do a better job, he said. The Blackhawks have a lot of weapons. We need to get ready for their different weapons.

Seabrook hopeful

Brent Seabrook skated with his Blackhawks teammates on Saturday and coach Joel Quenneville hopes the defenseman can play tomorrow night.

It was the first time Seabrook has skated since he suffered a concussion from a Raffi Torres shoulder-to-head hit in Game 3 last Sunday. It sounds like Seabrook would have to pass the necessary tests tomorrow morning to play.

Obviously getting on the ice with the guys it was a lot of fun out there, said Seabrook, who added that he started feeling some symptoms entering Game 4 last weekend, the first game hed missed all season. He said he felt pretty good on Friday and is symptom-free today.

Im just overall excited to go, he said.

Quenneville said the Blackhawks will know more tomorrow on whether Seabrook can go. Seabrook did not skate among the top-six defensemen during drills; he was paired with Jassen Cullimore through practice. John Scott has played in Seabrooks place the past two games.

For Seabrook, its been tough to watch these last two games from the sidelines. He traveled to Vancouver for Game 5 and his sweater hung in the locker beside partner Duncan Keith.

Obviously I want to be out there with the guys, he said. I was talking with them and asking for another chance to get into the lineup. They did an unbelievable job and played two great games. Hopefully tomorrow's a better day for me and I can get back in there and help the guys out.

Tennis, anyone?

The Canucks opened their Saturday practice by passing and shooting with tennis balls. Vigneault said there was nothing strategic about it.

Its just a new way to warm up, he said. Were always looking for new ways to warm up.

Elbows and slashes

Troy Brouwer said he talked to officials in Game 5 after Vancouver defenseman Alexander Edler caught him with an elbow. The chat, however, didnt help Brouwers cause.

The ref that was behind me, I had a quick chat with him and his angle was blocked by my body, so its tough to see. You know, he called a slash (on me), Brouwer said. So, he can see sticks but not elbows, I guess.

Edler said he did nothing wrong.

I didnt try anything with an elbow. I saw that he was coming and tried to cut him off at the net a little bit.

He said it

Roberto Luongo on the United Center crowd: Ive always liked playing in this building. I love it when the crowd yells at me, even when I got pulled.

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

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks look to bounce back vs. Lightning tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Tampa Bay Lightning tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 6 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. How will Blackhawks respond to worst loss of season?

The Blackhawks suffered their worst loss of the season on Saturday in a 7-0 rout at the hands of the Panthers. It was the first time they've lost by at least seven goals since 2011 when Edmonton beat them 9-2 and the first time they lost 7-0 since 2001 against San Jose; the Blackhawks lost to Washington 6-0 earlier this year. But by no means was Saturday their worst effort of the season. A questionable interference penalty by Marcus Kruger led to a two-man advantage, which Florida cashed in on with a goal and another shortly after, and it opened up the floodgates. Expect a big bounce-back against a hungry Lightning team.

2. Lightning fighting for playoff lives.

Every game is a must-win for the Lightning with eight games remaining on their schedule. They're three points out of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand on the Bruins, who currently occupy that spot, but still have to jump the Islanders. The Lightning didn't do themselves any favors by losing three straight in regulation last week, but they've won two in a row and tonight will be the first of a four-game homestand for them.

3. Keep the puck off Nikita Kucherov's stick.

There isn't a hotter player in the NHL right now than Kucherov, who has seven goals and two assists in his last four games. He's had two hat tricks in the past month, and he ranks sixth in the league with 78 points and second in goals with 38. You know how lethal Artemi Panarin's slapshot is from the left faceoff circle? That's Kucherov, but on the right side.

4. Staying disciplined.

The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team in the league, but they acted out of character Saturday by racking up 30 penalty minutes. They were also slapped with a pair of unsportsmanlike penalties, which isn't something you normally see from Joel Quenneville's teams. Ryan Hartman, who along with Marcus Kruger was penalized for "yapping" at the officials, accepted responsibility for it after the game, and insisted it "won't happen again."

5. Special teams to play key factor?

On the flip side, the Lightning are the second-most penalized team, averaging just over 11 penalty minutes per game. Power plays will be key for the Blackhawks in an effort to keep Tampa Bay's collection of talented young goal scorers off the ice. The Lightning also boast a top-five power play unit with a 22 percent success rate. Both teams would be better served staying out of the box and making this a 5-on-5 battle.

- Check out the latest stats and standings to make sure you’re ready for action

- Channel Finder: Make sure you know where to watch

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- Latest on the Blackhawks: All of the most recent news and notes

- See what Blackhawks fans are talking about before, during and after the game with Blackhawks Pulse

Will lopsided loss shake Blackhawks from their slumber?

Will lopsided loss shake Blackhawks from their slumber?

The Blackhawks have talked the past several games now about how they need to play better, how they need to get back to their 60-minute game. But even when you tell yourself you have to improve the message doesn't always translate into immediate action. That's especially true if, despite so-so play, you're still managing victories or still eking out a point.

Sometimes, you need a jolt to realize you have to get better. Well, that thud the Blackhawks made in South Florida ought to get their attention. 

The Blackhawks' 7-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday night, that "ugly, ugly game," as coach Joel Quenneville, is the latest in what's been a mediocre stretch for the team. They've been leaning on their goaltending again (please see Minnesota, Montreal, Ottawa and Dallas games). Or they've been leaning on their ability to wake up in the third period after sleepwalking through the first two. Sixty-minute games and four-line rotations, such a big part of the Blackhawks' success through February and early March, have been absent.

Call it the Blackhawks' mid-March malaise.

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It hasn't been more painful because the Blackhawks have still found ways to get points. Or at least they did until Saturday night, when two "yapping" penalties – Quenneville's (accurate) description of Ryan Hartman and Marcus Kruger's unsportsmanlike calls – started the Blackhawks' demise against the Panthers. Players told the traveling media following the game that this was a wake-up call. It ought to be.

Granted, the Blackhawks' late-season issues aren't as bad as some of their fellow Western Conference teams. The Minnesota Wild are 3-10-1 in March. The San Jose Sharks have lost six in a row. This also isn't the first time the Blackhawks have gone through this late-season mediocrity.

Entering the 2015 postseason they struggled to score goals and lost four in a row (five goals in those four games). It turned out alright. Still, best to avoid bad habits.

Perhaps the Blackhawks are in a bit of a swoon because, really, there's not much for which to play in these final few games. They don't care if they win the Presidents' Trophy (and they probably won't). They're currently in first place by seven points following the Wild's 3-2 overtime loss to Detroit on Sunday. Whether the Blackhawks finish first or second, they'll start this postseason at home. 

So is this panic-inducing? No. Is it a concern? Certainly. The Blackhawks can't start thinking they'll automatically flip the switch as soon as the postseason begins.

The Blackhawks want to get their four-line rotation going again. Artem Anisimov returning in the next week or two will certainly help that. They want to get their overall game going again. The Blackhawks have been telling themselves what needs to be done for a few games now. Maybe they needed a wake-up call. On Saturday, they got it.