Sharp extension; coaching changes coming?

Sharp extension; coaching changes coming?

Thursday, April 28, 2011
Posted: 7:25 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

Stan Bowman was impressed with how Corey Crawford ascended to the No. 1 goaltender job. Now the Blackhawks general manager is going to try and sign him ASAP.

Bowman said Thursday that signing Crawford is a top priority for us and hes confident that a deal will get done before arbitration becomes an issue.

Its nice to know going into next year we're going to have some stability in goal. We still have to get him signed but were confident, Bowman said as the Blackhawks conducted exit interviews. He's earned the right to be No. 1 goalie for us. The team loves playing in front of him. He has the right demeanor and approach. He's clearly a priority for us.

Bowman said hes been waiting to see Crawford emerge these past few seasons, and the rookie didnt disappoint when he did. Crawford overtook the No. 1 job during the winter months and finished with a 33-18-6 regular-season record. Bowman called Crawfords Game 7 performance against Vancouver, in which he stopped 36 of 38, dynamite.

Bowman also wants to avoid the arbitration fracas of last summer when former goaltender Antti Niemi went to it and was awarded 2.75 million in a ruling.

We're going to (approach this) aggressively; I don't expect arbitration, said Bowman, who wants to sign Crawford to a multi-year deal.

Crawford would love to stay, too.

Its exciting to play here and I really want to be here next year, Crawford said. Its important when your management has confidence in you and wants you to be part of their organization. I want to be here, too, so well try to get something done that both sides are happy with and itll be fun when it happens.

Sharp talks

The Blackhawks have to wait until July 1 to start talking, but theyd also like to get Patrick Sharp another deal. The current deal for Sharp, who scored 34 goals in the regular season, is done at the end of next season (2011-12).

Patrick's been a huge part of our success last four or five seasons. Hes certainly a guy we want to keep around, Bowman said. I suspect well start negotiations and hopefully it doesn't carry out too long. Weve been able to get our core guys to want to stay here and Im sure Sharpie's in that group as well.

Sharp joked that I'd sign right now if you guys have a contract for me, but that hes going to leave that up to the powers that be.

Ive got another year left and that's Stan's business. That's what the agents are for, he said. I'm proud to be a Blackhawk and I'd love to stay one.

Coaching moves?

There are several NHL coaching vacancies right now; does Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Haviland factor in any of them? Of all of them, the least surprising scenario would be Haviland possibly going to Florida, where former Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon now is.

Coach Joel Quenneville said hed be supportive if Haviland does go elsewhere.

As a guy who was in that position before and as a coach, you always want to try, if there's an opportunity, to move ahead, he said. We'd wish him well in that area because there are opportunities. We'll see what happens.

Injuries

Patrick Kane and Sharp went through their respective injuries this season; Kane suffered a high-ankle sprain on Dec. 5 and Sharp a left knee injury on March 20.

Kane admitted Thursday that he may have hurried back on his.

It felt better down the stretch. But its one of those things, at the time you want to get back as quick as possible, he said. Looking back I probably couldve taken a little more time off and rest it up a bit to be better for the rest of the season. But its tough to say. At the time you want to be back in the lineup.

Sharp said his knee improved as the postseason progressed.

It was fine to be honest with you, he said. It was a little difficult playing the last three regular-season games. It was not where I liked it to be. But it got better as it went on so it was no issue, no excuse.

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

Marcus Kruger activated off IR ahead of Blackhawks-Lightning

Marcus Kruger activated off IR ahead of Blackhawks-Lightning

Dennis Rasmussen or Marcus Kruger could play Tuesday night and Corey Crawford will start when the Blackhawks host the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday night.

Rasmussen did not skate Tuesday morning due to illness but coach Joel Quenneville said the center could still play vs. the Lightning. Quenneville said Kruger is "close" to playing — he was activated off injured reserve on Tuesday afternoon — and his status could depend on how Rasmussen feels.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks, sitting in second place in the Western Conference, are on a three-game winning streak entering Tuesday's game. The Lightning, the Blackhawks' 2015 Stanley Cup opponent, has struggled with injuries (Steven Stamkos has been out since November) and is last in the Eastern Conference. Despite the Lightning's struggles, Quenneville isn't taking the team lightly.

"Obviously they've had some health issues, significant guys missing big stretches of their year, but they still have guys out there that are skilled and it's an extremely dangerous team and a very competitive East side," Quenneville said. "I'm sure they'll be ready for tonight."

Andrei Vasilevskiy will start Tuesday night for the Lightning. Coach Jon Cooper said J.T. Brown and Jason Garrison are game-time decisions.

BLACKHAWKS VS. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

7:30 p.m.
TV: CSN
Live stream: CSNChicago.com or NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Chicago Blackhawks

Forward lines

Ryan Hartman-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Vinnie Hinostroza-Tanner Kero-Marian Hossa
Andrew Desjardins-Dennis Rasmussen-Nick Schmaltz

Defensive pairs

Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Michal Kempny-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender

Corey Crawford

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Marcus Kruger (right arm), Dennis Rasmussen (ill).

Tampa Bay Lightning (projected; some are game-time decisions)

Forward lines

Ondrej Palat-Vladislav Namestnikov-Nikita Kucherov
Alex Killorn-Tyler Johnson-J.T. Brown
Bryan Boyle-Valtteri Filppula-Jonathan Drouin
Michael Bournival-Cedric Paquette-Gabriel Dumont

Defensive Pairs

Victor Hedman-Anton Stralman
Jason Garrison-Andrej Sustr
Braydon Coburn-Nikita Nesterov

Goaltender

Andrei Vasilvskiy

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Steven Stamkos (knee), Brayden Point (upper body), Ryan Callahan (lower body), Jason Garrison (illness).

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Lightning tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host 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 7 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. Grab the first goal.

The Blackhawks have scored the game's first goal in seven of the last eight games, and of those seven, they've won six of them. Meanwhile, the Lightning have scored the first goal only 17 times in 48 games this season, and are 12-5-1 in those games. They're 9-17-4 when they allow the first goal, so getting out to a lead first will be important against a struggling Lightning team looking for signs of life.

2. Will the floodgates open for Jonathan Toews?

After a four-point game in a 4-2 win over Vancouver, the Blackhawks captain matched his point total over his previous nine games. He's up to 26 points on the season, which is now fifth among Chicago forwards. When Toews has offensive droughts, they usually last longer than they should. But when he gets hot, he gets extremely hot. Perhaps we'll see the floodgates open offensively.

3. A chance for the team lead in scoring.

With an empty-net goal on Sunday, Marian Hossa tied Artem Anisimov for the team-lead with 18 goals. Artemi Panarin is right behind with 17, and Patrick Kane isn't far either at 15. The Blackhawks had four 20-goal scorers last season, and haven't had more than that since the 2013-14 season. They're definitely on pace to hit four, but could they surprass that? Richard Panik, who scored another goal Sunday as well, is fifth with 11 goals while Ryan Hartman has 10. Toews is at eight, but a flurry after a drought could make things interesting.

4. The triplets reunited?

In an effort to jumpstart a struggling offense, Lightning coach Jon Cooper reunited the triplets line of Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov and Ondrej Palat that was so successful during their 2015 playoff run in their latest game, a 5-3 loss to Arizona. It's unclear whether they will begin tonight's game on the same line, but if not, it's worth watching throughout the game whether they do. The Blackhawks have been coming at opponents in waves lately, so Cooper could look to separate the three to distribute the scoring.

5. Take advantage on special teams.

The Lightning have racked up the fifth-most penalty minutes in the league, and own a bottom-10 penalty kill unit at 80.1 percent. The Blackhawks are the second-least penalized team, and have converted on 17.9 percent of their power plays, which sits at 16th. But they haven't scored one on the man advantage in five straight games, going 0-for-9 during that span. Here's a chance to change that.

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