Sharp wins MVP; Blackhawks' stars stand out

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Sharp wins MVP; Blackhawks' stars stand out

Sunday, Jan. 30, 2011
Posted 6:12 p.m. Updated 8:03 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

RALEIGH, N.C. When the NHL All-Star ballot came out a few months ago, Patrick Sharps name wasnt even on it. It seemed a snub, considering the hot start and consistent scoring the Chicago Blackhawks forward had even then.

Several months, a lot more goals and one All-Star game later, Sharp earned the MVP trophy.

Sharp had a goal and two assists on Sunday and was named MVP, but Team Staal fell to Team Lidstrom 11-10 at the 2011 NHL All-Star game at RBC Center on Sunday afternoon. It was another bright moment for Sharp, and one of vindication.

I guess Id be lying if I said I wasnt a little bothered by it, Sharp said of the ballot snub. It was individual motivation to play well this year and really cant argue with it. The Blackhawks have a ton of great names and great players and a lot of guys deserve to be here.

WATCH: Sharp has Hawks bragging rights

Jonathan Toews had a goal and two assists for Nicklas Lidstroms victorious team. Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith each added an assist for Team Lidstrom.

Enjoying his first All-Star appearance, Sharp got two early assists for fellow Thunder Bay native Eric Staals team. He was originally awarded three first-period assists but had one taken away. His Blackhawks teammates said hes earned this.

Hes proven hes one of those guys, one of those stars, Toews said. Hes slowly worked to become a household name. Its not easy but hes done it. You look at the list of former MVPs in this game, youre going to see quite a lineup. Its pretty cool for him to be added to that list.

Kane, Team Lidstroms alternate captain said, its good to see him do well. He was probably a little lonely with all the Blackhawks on this team.

Plusminus

Nicklas Lidstrom and Shea Weber finished plus-7 and plus-6, respectively, in Sundays game. Meanwhile, Keith and former Blackhawk Dustin Byfuglien were each minus-3. When asked if Keith felt he was alone on the blue line, he joked, a little bit. Nah, seriously, it was good, it was fun. Its an all-star game. Guys are trying to make plays. I dont think anyone cares too much.

WATCH: Keith jokes with 'Big Buff'

Tough travel

Sharps great day was made better with his parents in attendance. But they almost didnt make it. Sharp said his parents got stranded in Newark, N.J., when their flight was canceled, but they found other transportation and made the all-night drive to Raleigh.

They jumped in a minivan and drove from midnight to 8 a.m. just to get here and watch the game, Sharp said. I didnt want to let them down.

As for that car that Sharp wins for being MVP, he said his dad and brother will probably fight over who gets it.

Back to reality

The Blackhawks have had a nice respite, but now its back to the Western Conference dogfight and the road. After spending much of December and January at home, the Blackhawks will play nine of 13 this month away from it. They have a test on their hands, but Toews said theyre ready for it.

This is our time to shine, Toews said. Weve gotten better one game at a time, and its time to play that playoff style of hockey. Every games going to count for us. Guys are going to come back fresh, and we know we can take advantage of it. Our focus will be on our team and nothing else.

Shame, shame

Carolinas Eric Staal was teased for his failure as All-Star team captain, with his squad coming up one goal short. But he wasnt going to take all the blame.

We got complacent. Im not going to lie to you, he said. Youre right, Ill take the brunt of it. Leave a little bit of it for (coach Joel) Quenneville, too.

Briefly

Coach Joel Quenneville will head back to Chicago for the Blackhawks Monday afternoon practice. The Blackhawks All-Star players will head directly to Columbus, where they play the Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

Quenneville faced three of his players on Sunday and said there were some moments where he was torn. Certainly, you root for your guys. Then Jonny (Toews) makes it 9-8 and I think, Do I root against Jonny?
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

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Comfortable Kero: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Penguins

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USA TODAY

Comfortable Kero: Quick hits from Blackhawks-Penguins

PITTSBURGH – Well, that looked more familiar, didn’t it?

The Blackhawks put talk into action on Wednesday night, storming out to an early lead and never letting up in a 5-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. They’re sitting in a good spot right now, sporting a nine-point lead over the Minnesota Wild – yes the Wild still has that game in hand – and, with five games remaining, they once again played the complete game they’d been missing.

The schedule doesn’t let up, so let’s get to the notables.

What Worked: The Blackhawks’ first period. If there’s such thing as a statement 20 minutes, the Blackhawks made it in Pittsburgh. If the Penguins made a bad pass, the Blackhawks turned it into an opportunity and, a few times, a goal. The Blackhawks had a similarly sharp first period against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. On Wednesday, however, they didn’t lose any steam later.

What Didn’t Work: The power play. Yeah, you really have to reach to find something that didn’t work for the Blackhawks in this one. Their power play, however, didn’t do much. Their best chance on it was a Jonathan Toews shot on their second power play; that shot was blocked before it got to Marc-Andre Fleury. Their third power play, which came on a phantom tripping call on Conor Sheary, was their quietest of the night.

Star of the game: Tanner Kero. The kid’s been alright at second-line center, and he did a little bit of everything on Wednesday night. Kero had five shots on goal, the secondary assist on Artemi Panarin’s early goal and added a breakaway goal of his own early in the third period. He also won five of 11 faceoffs. Centering Patrick Kane and Panarin could be daunting but in his short time there, Kero’s handling it very well.

He Said It: “It’s a nice opportunity that he’s taken advantage of in a short amount of time. You get a little more defensive responsibility. The upside with him is we wanted him to get better offensively as well, so it’s been a good couple of games.” Coach Joel Quenneville on Kero.

By the Numbers: 

850 – Career coaching victories for Quenneville.

524 – Career goals for Marian Hossa, who scored his 25th of the season late in the first period.

39 – Time, in seconds, in which the Blackhawks scored two goals late in the first period (Marcus Kruger at 19:05 and Marian Hossa at 19:44).

6 – Consecutive victories for the Blackhawks over the Penguins. They’ve outscored the Penguins 20-8 over that span.