Third period nightmares continue for Blackhawks

341460.jpg

Third period nightmares continue for Blackhawks

Wednesday, Dec. 15, 2010
Posted 10:07 PM Updated 11:30 PM
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The Chicago Blackhawks were in decent shape against the Colorado Avalanche on Wednesday night. They were shaping up better defensively, as Mondays see-saw scoring battle was replaced by a tight 1-1 game through two periods.

Then Jordan Hendry was whistled for a four-minute high-sticking on Colorado center Daniel Winnik early in the third. And while the call and a sticks role in it seemed questionable, the Avalanche made the Blackhawks pay nonetheless.

Tomas Fleischmann tallied a third-period hat trick, with two of his goals coming on that double minor, as the Avalanche beat the Blackhawks 4-3 at the United Center on Wednesday night. It was another frustrating loss for the Blackhawks, who have now dropped three in a row.

And the way it happened was even more frustrating.

Hendry was going for a puck along the boards when Winnik skated in and soon went down. On first glance it looked like Winnik hit Hendrys arm, but he was called for a double-minor high-sticking. Apparently, Winnik ran into Hendrys glove, not the stick.

I didnt see the play live but I just looked at the replay and I totally disagreed with the call. But we still have to get through that, said coach Joel Quenneville. Hit (Hendrys) glove. From the outside I dont even know how you can see something like that. You watch the replay and (the official) doesnt even see the guy. I dont know how he couldve made that call. Youve got to be right when you make that call.

Hendry said he wasnt sure what happened.

It was just kind of a battle in the corner there, I dont know, he said. Its a tough call. I think because of the rules with blood they have to call it four (minutes).

The Blackhawks may also be missing another forward. Viktor Stalberg was hit from behind by Colorados Ryan OByrne midway through the second. Stalberg went face-first into the boards, skated off a few moments later but went to the locker room for the rest of the game. Quenneville said theyll have to see how Stalbergs doing on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the Blackhawks were still in this one through the first two periods. Tied 1-1 heading into that double minor, Fleischmann scored near the end of each penalty to give the Avs a 3-1 advantage. He added his third with about five minutes remaining.

Bryan Bickell, Jonathan Toews and Troy Brouwer scored for the Blackhawks, who were frustrated again after this one.

We were doing everything right, we were right there. But our PK wasnt very good in the third, Brent Seabrook said. We want to continue to get better every day. We have to be prepared to play full 60 minutes.

Corey Crawford stopped 19 of 23 in the loss.

Thats the game right there, Crawford said of the power-play goals. I think we were in control. I dont know what to say about it. Its just tough.
Kane, others close

Patrick Kane said he felt good after skating with his teammates on Wednesday morning. The right wing, who appeared to suffer a left ankle injury on Dec. 5 against Calgary, said hell test it again on Friday morning and, if all goes fine, could play that night against the Detroit Red Wings.
Fernando Pisani skated on Wednesday morning but did not play against the Colorado Avalanche. He is still listed as day to day.

Marian Hossa did not skate on Wednesday but Quenneville said he has been skating the past few days. His return date is still unknown.

Soldier honored

Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta, who recently received the Medal of Honor, the nations highest military decoration, was honored prior to the Blackhawks-Avalanche game on Wednesday night. Giunta, who had two deployments in Afghanistan, received the honor after engaging two enemy fighters and rescuing a wounded comrade. The 25-year-old Giunta is the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since Vietnam.

Giunta, an Iowa native, was enjoying his time in Chicago and loved the atmosphere at the Blackhawks game.

To be able to stand on the ice and hear the national anthem and that reaction, its pretty incredible, he said. To feel that kind of support and response, thats what we need as servicemen. It makes you feel good inside.

Rooms available

Guest rooms for the fourth annual Blackhawks Convention are now on sale at the Hilton Chicago. The 2011 convention is scheduled for July 11-15. Room packages are available for one or both nights of the convention. A one-night stay includes two free convention passes, the weekend package includes two free convention passes and a guaranteed autograph during the event. To make a reservation, call the Hilton Chicago at 1-877-865-5320.

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

Johnny Oduya finds a new home in Eastern Conference

Johnny Oduya finds a new home in Eastern Conference

Johnny Oduya is headed to the Eastern Conference.

The 35-year-old defenseman signed a one-year, $1 million deal with the Ottawa Senators. The contract could be worth up to $1.25 million with incentives.

Oduya, who the Blackhawks re-acquired prior to the trade deadline last season from the Dallas Stars, finished with two goals and seven assists in 52 games between the two teams.

It comes to no one's surprise that the Blackhawks didn't re-sign the veteran defenseman.

After being swept in the first round of the playoffs last season by the Nashville Predators, Stan Bowman has made it clear the Blackhawks are headed in a different direction, and their offseason has been plenty of busy so far. Headline deals included trading Oduya's linemate Niklas Hjalmarsson to the Arizona Coyotes for 24-year-old defenseman Connor Murphy and re-acquiring Brandon Saad from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for Artemi Panarin.

Oduya heads to a Senators team which got ousted in the Eastern Conference Final in seven games to the eventual Stanley Cup Champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Confident Blackhawks youth ready to take the next step

Confident Blackhawks youth ready to take the next step

Ryan Hartman likes how he feels approaching this season, his sophomore stint with the Blackhawks. Scoring 19 goals, earning the trust of the coaches and gaining a good deal of responsibility in your rookie season will do that for you.

“It’s feeling like I should be there,” he said on Friday. “Maybe sometimes when you first get called up, you’re like, ‘Wow, I’m here,’ and you’re still thinking about that. Now it’s just feeling like hockey for me and how it’s always supposed to be.”

More confidence is there for Hartman, as well as a few other young Blackhawks players who cut their teeth last year. That’s good, because those guys, having shown what they can do, will likely get more responsibility this season.

That includes Nick Schmaltz, who will either get first crack at the second-line left wing vacancy or help the Blackhawks at center, which he says is his preference “but I’m fine with wing, too.” Schmaltz struggled to start last season but following a few games in Rockford, he returned a more confident player. He played well with Jonathan Toews and Richard Panik on the top line and filled in for Artem Anisimov later in the season.

“I was nervous coming in. I didn’t know if it was going to work and I gained confidence game by game and felt more comfortable,” he said. “I was making the plays I’m used to making.”

When Tanner Kero was recalled right before Christmas, it was because of Anisimov’s injury. But outside of a bye-week return to Rockford Kero turned that call-up into a full-time gig, giving the Blackhawks another bottom-six center option and earning himself a two-year contract. With Marcus Kruger and Dennis Rasmussen no longer here, Kero is expected to have that third- or fourth-line center role; thanks to experience gained last season, Kero’s more comfortable now.

“It was great,” he said. “Going in, you’re not sure. It’s day-to-day to start and you just want to prove yourself and get those opportunities, get trust and more ice time. As the season went on I got more confident, trusted my game more. Going into the season I’m going in with a lot more confidence.”

John Hayden felt fairly comfortable when he joined the Blackhawks last spring thanks to his senior season at Yale – “I needed that fourth year as a player and a person,” he said. Still, getting in some NHL games, getting a feel for the pro level and gaining familiarity with the Blackhawks will benefit him in September.

“It’s important considering it’s my first training camp and I’ll know a lot of the guys, which helps a ton. From an on-ice standpoint, I have that experience,” he said. “I’ve spent a ton of time addressing areas in need of improvement all in all I’m excited for training camp.”

But Hartman and others don’t see it as weight on their shoulders.

“I don’t think there’s pressure,” Hartman said. “When you look back you want to see improvements every year, you want to see yourself becoming a better hockey player. That’s something I want to do, I want to be able to look back and say I had a good career my first year but each year I got progressively better. That’s where my mindset is at.”

There’s more opportunity for the young players but Hayden says that’s true of everyone.

“I don’t really analyze opportunity. Regardless of the team, it’s going to be competitive,” he said. “Every summer you have to have a hard-working mindset and do what you can to show up in the fall in the best shape of your life.”

The Blackhawks’ young players have all set the bar at a certain level and will be expected to improve. It takes confidence to take that next step. Thanks to experience gained last season, they’re feeling good about taking it.