Sizzling Toews, Hawks top Flames for six straight

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Sizzling Toews, Hawks top Flames for six straight

Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Posted 10:34 p.m. Updated 11:51 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The mantra had been there throughout the season: the Chicago Blackhawks needed a winning streak, a lengthy, point-producing, surge-up-the-standings streak.

They couldnt get it for a long time, but theyre getting it now.

Jonathan Toews scored twice and Michael Frolik had a goal and two assists, his first points in a Blackhawks uniform, as the Blackhawks beat the Calgary Flames 6-4 at the United Center on Wednesday night.

WATCH: Toews beaming with confidence

That Blackhawks, who were struggling and in 11th place not so long ago, have now won six straight and jumped to fourth in the Western Conference.

Weve been saying all year that we needed to put something like this together to put ourselves in the spot we want to be out. Just about every team in the conference around us has had that kind of roll, coach Joel Quenneville said. What we just did were happy about, but its what were going to do moving forward thats going to determine what we have to do.

Toews, who was the NHLs No. 1 star for February, is now on a seven-game points streak. Brian Campbell and Marian Hossa had a goal and an assist and Dave Bolland also scored for the Blackhawks. Corey Crawford got the victory in net.

Once again, the Blackhawks strong start came from their stellar top line. Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Toews worked a pretty tic-tac-toe passing effort, with Toews finishing for a 1-0 lead. Frolik added his goal, his first in 32 games, at the end of the period.

Yeah, I finally got the monkey off my back, said Frolik. We won and I helped the team do that. And I like that.

If there was any negative it was the Blackhawks third period. For the second consecutive game a comfortable three-goal lead turned into a shaky one-goal one for a while. The Blackhawks were up 4-1 heading into the third when the Flames responded, getting to within one twice before Hossa sealed it with an empty-net goal with 39 seconds remaining.

Well take wins how we can get them, said Sharp. Its frustrating the way the game ended but were going to have to win those tight games down the stretch. We can look at it in a negative way that in the third periods weve given up a few goals, but I like to look at it that we hang on to the lead and get the points.

The Blackhawks are rolling now. Theyve gone from the outside of the standings to right in the middle of them. Theyve done it by not getting too far ahead of themselves, just focusing on the next game on the docket.

Rinse and repeat.
Michael Frolik and Marian Hossa celebrate Hossa's empty-net goal. Frolik recorded his first points as a Blackhawk with a goal and two assists. The goal was his first since Dec. 17 when he was with the Florida Panthers (US PRESSWIRE)
The standings are so tight right now, these two points make a huge difference, Toews said. Every win that we have lately weve been able to put it behind us and focus on the next game. Thats what were going to do this week and focus on Friday now.

Campolis debut

Defenseman Chris Campoli played nearly 17 minutes in his Blackhawks debut, finishing with two shots on goal and three hits. Campoli, who was paired with Brian Campbell, also played some on the power play and penalty kill.

I liked him, Quenneville said. He was very active off the back end, made a lot of direct plays and was patient. I think that pair could have the puck a lot, be it off the point in the offensive zone or forechecking pressure in our own end. Hell get more comfortable in our system but it was a good first game.

Ring for HOF

Hockey Hall of Fame chairman Bill Hay and Blackhawks president John McDonough will add a 2010 Stanley Cup ring to the special Cup display at the Hockey Hall of Fame later this month. The ring, donated by the Blackhawks, will be displayed next to the first Stanley Cup ring (1893).

Briefly

Ryan Johnson won 11 of 12 faceoffs for the Blackhawks on Wednesday night.

Fernando Pisani and John Scott were scratches against the Flames.

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

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.