Skille strikes twice, lifts Hawks to third straight win


Skille strikes twice, lifts Hawks to third straight win

Wednesday, Dec. 22, 2010
Poste 10:03 PM Updated 11:39 PM

By Tracey Myers

Jack Skille came up empty when he fired nine shots on goal against Detroit last Friday. Against Nashville on Wednesday, his percentage was much, much better.

Skille shot twice and scored twice as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Nashville Predators 4-1 at the United Center. The Blackhawks got the momentum they were hoping for entering the Christmas respite, as theyre now on a three-game winning streak.

And once again, the Blackhawks won by playing simple, relatively mistake-free hockey. They were solid on defense, they kept penalties low and allowed Corey Crawford to see the shots he needed.

Scoring first was certainly a big factor, said coach Joel Quenneville of Dave Bollands goal, which came off a turnover in the first period. We didnt get frustrated. I thought the guys were very smart and we did what we had to do to be successful.

Ive got to commend the whole group. Our focus was in the right place, Quenneville continued. It wouldve been easy to put your mind elsewhere, relax out there. That was important.

For Skille, it was all about continuing to shoot. His first was a pretty power-play goal on which he waited then fired top-shelf on Anders Lindback. His second put the Blackhawks up 3-1 midway through the third.

I think (my shooting percentage) is still pretty low, Skille said with a grin. (Dave) Bolland made an unbelievable pass to me on the first goal, and I was fortunate the puck bounced my way on the second.

Four of Skilles six goals this season have come against the Predators. So why has he had so much success against Nashville?

I have no idea, he said. Personally Im just focusing on getting the puck in and I think that just puts me in the right position on the ice.

Crawford stopped 24 of 25 shots en route to his third consecutive victory. Bryan Bickell continued his hot streak, scoring a goal for the fourth time in his fifth game
Keeping it simple, thats about it, Bickell said of his success lately. Qs telling me to keep it simple, put shots on net and theyre going in. I cant complain.

The Blackhawks are now playing the type of hockey they need at home: simple and gritty, minus the pretty and cute. Theyre more familiar with each other, their game is sharper and its paying off in much-needed points.

Were finding our way now, Bolland said. Guys are finding their roles. It took a little bit longer than we wanted it to, but were finding our roles on the ice now.

Injured progressing

Viktor Stalberg (head) was cleared to play but was kept out of Wednesday nights game against Nashville. Stalberg said hell take advantage of the extra days to keep improving.

Ill get a few more days in between and make sure Im 100 percent to go (after Christmas), said Stalberg, who added hes working to get back to game shape. When it gets up to four (days off the ice), its like starting over again. Its amazing how you can lose it so quickly. But Ill keep working away and be ready soon again.

Marian Hossa skated with the team on Wednesday and Quenneville said he should be just about ready to go after Christmas. Patrick Kane skated on his own Wednesday; Quenneville said he did well.

Well see how he comes out of the break with a chance of playing in one of those first couple of games, Quenneville said of Kane.

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

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Same mistakes resurface

Five Things from Blackhawks-Blue Jackets: Same mistakes resurface

COLUMBUS, Ohio – We’ll save you some time tonight. The Blackhawks lost another one in familiar fashion. You can guess what our focus will be, so let’s get right to it.

Here are Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

1. We’re trying not to pick on the penalty kill again, but… it cost them again. The Blackhawks gave up their 10th and 11th power-play goals in their first five games on Friday night. Opponents are planting themselves in front of Corey Crawford and, be it screens or tips, they’re capitalizing. Long-distance shots are getting through far too often. “I think our focus always has to be 5-on-5. When our effort and our energy and our work ethic is there it usually translates into our special teams and I don’t know. It’s frustrating," Jonathan Toews said. "We definitely have to keep pushing to find a solution. Even when it seems like we’re doing a good job bounces go against us. We deserve all the criticism and we just have to keep finding ways, dig deep and really try to dig ourselves out of this thing.”

2. The seven-defenseman set. Quenneville didn’t want Trevor van Riemsdyk sitting out too long, and for a few days it looked like Brian Campbell was going to be the odd-man out tonight. Instead the Blackhawks went with seven, which gave them the chance to rotate and put Campbell back on his natural left. With that, however, the forward lines were naturally skewed. Patrick Kane played nearly 29 minutes. Quenneville said earlier this season that it wouldn’t be something the Blackhawks would try often. Speaking of van Riemsdyk…

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Van Riemsdyk hurt again. You have to feel for van Riemsdyk. He finally got healthy last season playing in all 82 games after knee and wrist injuries sidelined him the previous one. Now it looks like he’ll be out again after he went hard into the net late in the second period. Van Riemsdyk got tangled up and his right arm/shoulder collided with the post.

4. Tyler Motte gets his first. The University of Michigan product scored his first career NHL goal, a rebound off a Toews shot in the second period. Considering the game’s outcome, however, Motte’s enthusiasm was tempered. “It was exciting. It felt good to chip in offensively but obviously the real story is us losing another game,” he said. “We were better in the offensive zone but there are still some things to improve on. The most important thing is winning games.”

5. Brandon Saad great but stymied. The former Blackhawks left wing had some tremendous scoring opportunities on Friday. He had a team-high seven shots, most high quality, but Crawford stopped him every time. Just in case anyone needed a reminder of what the kid is capable of, regardless of which sweater he’s wearing.

Penalty kill struggles again in Blackhawks’ loss to Blue Jackets

Penalty kill struggles again in Blackhawks’ loss to Blue Jackets

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Blackhawks were trying a different look on Friday, going with seven defensemen. But at the end of the night, it was something all too familiar contributing to their downfall.

Tyler Motte scored the first goal of his NHL career but the Blackhawks gave up two more power-play goals in their 3-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday night. It was another night on which special teams doomed the Blackhawks; through the first five games of their regular season, their penalty kill has now allowed 11 goals.

And the loss could also sting them, personnel-wise. Trevor van Riemsdyk went hard into the post late in the second period and did not return. Coach Joel Quenneville said van Riemsdyk, who has had his injury issues in the past, “may be out for a bit.” Quenneville added that he’ll know more on Saturday.

Quenneville dressed seven defensemen to get everyone playing. Van Riemsdyk had been a healthy scratch the previous three games. It also gave him a chance to put Brian Campbell back on the left, his normal side. But regardless of the new defensive look, the penalty kill remained its unreliable self.

“It just seems a lot of times it’s a quick play off a faceoff and it’s in our net,” said Duncan Keith. “It’s a few different things and obviously, we as players, we need to take ownership of it and figure out a way to get the job done. You watch it, there’s lots of different things.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno was set up right in front of Corey Crawford on both of their successful power plays. On the first, a Zach Werenski goal, Foligno set the screen. On the second, he tipped David Savard’s shot. The Blackhawks’ confidence has to be shaken, and that never helps.

“It’s the same way 5-on-5: I think when you’re snake bitten you tend to try too hard and do too much. That can end up hurting you as well,” Jonathan Toews said. “As forwards I think that’s the No. 1 thing. We have to be better getting in shot lanes. It started on the road against Nashville, they scored two goals going right past our forwards and it kind of led one game after another to today.”

Still, the Blackhawks had a great chance to find an equalizer at the end. They got a power play with 3:26 remaining. Despite some good scoring chances, and Crawford pulled for an extra attacker, the Blackhawks couldn’t capitalize. Columbus goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 32 of 34 shots in the victory.

The Blackhawks can’t stop the bleeding on the penalty kill. It’s cost them in all three of their losses and it’s made their two victories closer than necessary. They know what the problems are. They have to fix them fast.

“Both plays could have been prevented, whether it was a block, clear, just got to get sharper, more determination and try to stay out of the box,” Quenneville said. “Starts from the faceoff to a clear to shots and recognize when there’s a chance to pressure. We had a couple of opportunities there. they end up in our net right now.”