Smith has plenty to prove despite playoff success

540310.jpg

Smith has plenty to prove despite playoff success

Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011
Posted: 10:41 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com Blackhawks InsiderFollow @TraMyersCSN
SASKATOON, Saskatchewan -- Ben Smith certainly turned heads in his playoff stint with the Chicago Blackhawks last season. He was one of the few guys scoring early against Vancouver, and his Game 6 overtime winner secured the Blackhawks a Game 7.

But that was then. And for Smith, last years production doesnt have much to do with making this years team.

Right off the bat, nothings guaranteed. I was told that at the end of last year, Smith said. So I knew that I have to come into camp and have a good one and prove that I belong.

So far, hes doing that.

Smith is showing the same qualities now that he did last spring: toughness, net presence and strength. This is a tough Blackhawks roster to crack, but Smith worked on some things this summer in hopes of joining it.

Im just trying to do the little things well: blocking shots, getting shots off quick and just trying to be strong in front of the net, which is what I showed I could do at the end of last year, he said. Im just trying to get better at the small things. Hopefully that shows.

Coach Joel Quenneville likes what he sees early.

Bens looked good. Hes prided himself to take that next step, he said. You see his fitness tests and see him on the ice. No one works harder, nobodys more determined. Hes had a real good camp.

Smith isnt a big guy 5-foot-11, and he said hes now around 210 pounds but hes still good at the grit work. He showed that plenty in the Vancouver series last spring, playing like a veteran when the Blackhawks struggled to get production from some of their top guys.

No, his postseason work probably wont have much bearing on September decisions. But Smith is nevertheless a more comfortable, confident guy this fall because of it.

I hope that helps but at the same time its a whole new season, Smith said. Theyre judging off this training camp, and its up to us to be ready to go.

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

Morning Update: Blackhawks lose to Flyers; Bulls fall in Dallas

update-image-1203.jpg
USA TODAY

Morning Update: Blackhawks lose to Flyers; Bulls fall in Dallas

Here are some of Saturday's top stories in Chicago:

Rough second period sinks Blackhawks in loss to Flyers

Bulls fall flat in blowout loss in Dallas

The 3 Bears necessities for win No. 3

Penn State erases three-touchdown deficit to best Badgers in Big Ten Championship Game

How Cubs are setting the expectations for winter meetings

Blackhawks: Corey Crawford undergoes appendectomy, out 2-3 weeks

Illini defense dominant in capping bounce-back week with win over VCU

Blackhawks sign goalie with no NHL experience to serve as emergency backup

Wide receiver Corey Holmes will transfer from Notre Dame

Rough second period sinks Blackhawks in loss to Flyers

Rough second period sinks Blackhawks in loss to Flyers

PHILADELPHIA — Ivan Provorov admitted he was motivated to make his second career game against the Chicago Blackhawks a lot better than his first.

The 19-year-old rookie defenseman did just that, scoring twice and prevented one by the Blackhawks to help the Philadelphia Flyers beat Chicago 3-1 on Saturday.

Provorov was on the ice for five Blackhawks goals in their 7-4 at home over the Flyers on Oct. 18.

"I didn't play my best in that game, but I put it behind me, learned from it and it was a better result tonight," Provorov said "I tried to use it as a positive thing and prove that's not me."

Provorov scored 31 seconds apart early in the second period to help the Flyers get their fourth straight win. Brayden Schenn also scored and Steve Mason stopped 26 shots.

Artemi Panarin scored his ninth of the season for the Blackhawks, who lost in regulation for the first time in five games, snapping a 3-0-1 streak. Scott Darling had 27 saves in his eighth appearance of the season.

Darling was pressed into action after starter Corey Crawford underwent an emergency appendectomy.

"His procedure went pretty well today, he's probably going to be out two to three weeks," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Thanks to our medical staff and the Flyers' medical staff today. They did a great job of helping us out."

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Chicago was also without captain Jonathan Toews for the fourth straight game. Sidelined with a lower body injury, Toews remained in Chicago and is questionable for Sunday's home game against his hometown Winnipeg Jets.

The Blackhawks opened the scoring 3:44 in when Panarin took a pass from Artem Anisimov and one-timed a shot past Mason for his ninth of the season and his first in five games.

Provorov took over from there. The Flyers' top pick in the 2015 NHL draft (seventh overall) tied the score 3:02 into the second period when he blasted a shot past Darling for his second career NHL goal.

Provorov gave the Flyers the lead 31 seconds later when he wristed a shot that fluttered past Darling's blocker for the first two-goal game of his career.

"He is a guy that continues to work at his game, and continues to build," Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said of Provorov. "He didn't do a whole lot different tonight than he has really over the last 10 games. It was nice to see a couple of those pucks go in for him. They were good plays by him and the other guys on the ice, obviously that is really important for us at that time in the hockey game."

Schenn gave the Flyers a 3-1 lead at the 8:37 of the second, taking a nice feed from rookie Travis Konecny and beating Darling from close range for his fourth.

The Flyers' biggest save of the night might have come from Provorov, who swatted a bouncing puck out of the goal crease with 3:22 remaining in the second period to preserve a two-goal lead.

The Blackhawks thought they scored when Richard Panik jabbed a loose puck under Mason's legs. But Provorov reached behind the goalie and swatted the puck off the goal line. After a video review, the officials ruled the replay inconclusive, denying Panik the goal.

"They obviously look at it real closely," Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "Of course we wanted the goal but you just have to trust that they are doing everything they can and I do think they look at is as much as they can, so they know more than I do, but obviously we wanted to have that goal, but it happens."

NOTES: Flyers D Radko Gudas was a healthy scratch for the first time this season and was replaced with D Brandon Manning, who missed the previous two games with a concussion. ... Blackhawks D Trevor van Riemsdyk returned to the lineup after missing 23 games with an upper body injury.

The Flyers' biggest save of the night might have come from Provorov, who swatted a bouncing puck out of the goal crease with 3:22 remaining in the second period to preserve a two-goal lead.

Chicago backup goalie Scott Darling, pressed into action after projected starter Corey Crawford underwent an emergency appendectomy, finished with 27 saves.