Wild send Blackhawks limping into All-Star break


Wild send Blackhawks limping into All-Star break

Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2011
Posted 10:02 p.m. Updated 11:16 p.m.

By Tracey Myers

For nearly the first 20 minutes, the Chicago Blackhawks were playing their brand of hockey. They were coming with speed, speed and more speed, pressuring the Wild and spending a ton of time in Minnesotas zone.

But then the Blackhawks slowed down and fell into the Wilds patient, methodical style of play. It wasnt their game and it cost them.

Patrick Sharp scored his 26th goal of the season and Troy Brouwer had his 15th, but the Blackhawks were otherwise stalled in a 4-2 loss to Minnesota on Tuesday night. The Blackhawks lost their second in a row, and will enter the All-Star break on a decided down note.

Tonight its one of those (games), at the end of the night, its frustrating, coach Joel Quenneville said. Its a tough one. It definitely gave us something to think about.

WATCH: Coach Q wants Hawks upset

The Blackhawks were flying and tenacious in the opening minutes, when Sharp and Brouwer gave them a 2-1 lead after Martin Havlats early goal. But then they took their foot off the brake. They slowed. They lost control.

When we slow down and look for plays, we get victimized by the other teams being patient, Quenneville said.

Niklas Backstrom did the rest. The Wild goaltender was stellar in stopping 31 of 33, including some huge Blackhawks opportunities. He was sprawled out at least twice in stopping two prime Brouwer chances at the doorstep.

The Blackhawks were down 4-2 when they thought they had gotten within one again late in the third. Jonathan Toews had punched through an apparent goal with less than five minutes remaining in regulation. But referee Stephane Auger blew the whistle quickly, nullifying the score.

I dont know why he blew it so fast, said Toews, who had two assists. (Patrick Kane) throws a quick puck in front of the net, you should be allowed a few seconds there to be given the benefit of the doubt to see what happens when theres a scrum there. But I guess he lost sight of it quicker than usual and thats what happens.

WATCH: Toews angry over quick whistle

The right thing to say always is youre not going to make excuses, things like that cant dictate the game and blah, blah, blah. Its not fun when something like that happens. But when you look at the big picture, as a team we wanted some easier goals tonight and we werent going to get them. Their goaltender played well and he kept them in that game and we didnt work hard enough for it.

The Blackhawks will have the All-Star break to think about this one. Theyre clinging to a spot in the top eight right now but may not be there by the weekend. After the break, the Blackhawks will need to get their game together again. Fast.

Well be rested, Quenneville said. We need to be excited and do something about it.


Jonathan Toews said he felt pretty good after playing 21 and a half minutes on Tuesday night. Toews, who suffered a lower-body injury against Detroit, said hes fine to play in this weekends All-Star Game.

Nick Boynton was played in favor of Jordan Hendry on Tuesday. Nick hadnt played in a while and we wanted to see what that pair would look like, Quenneville said. Nick was all right. And Leddy got better as the game went on. He showed good speed and patience with the puck, particularly in the third.

Marian Hossa was out with the flu on Tuesday night.

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

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Johnny Oduya feeling better, more up to speed with Blackhawks

Perhaps the best thing about the Johnny Oduya trade back to the Blackhawks, for both parties involved, was that Oduya wasn't needed immediately.

It's not that the Blackhawks didn't want the veteran defenseman, who helped them win Cups in 2013 and 2015, back in the lineup as soon as possible. Oduya was coming off an ankle injury, one he re-aggravated and missed about a month when he was with the Dallas Stars. He needed time to fully heal and with the Blackhawks in good shape in the standings and with solid depth at defense, he could.

Now with the playoffs right around the corner, Oduya is feeling more like himself.

Outside of missing two games that were the second halves of back-to-backs, Oduya has been playing steadily since March 9. Oduya's minutes have ranged from around 16 to 21 in games. He said he's now 100 percent healthy from his injury and he's feeling the difference on the ice.

"It makes a big difference," Oduya said on Thursday, prior to facing the Stars for the first time since his trade back to Chicago. "I mean, obviously sometimes you get more or less lucky, depending on what you get and the style of play and what you do or not. Skating is a part of my game I try to use as much as possible to get in good position and try to take away time from the opposition as much as possible.

"Even with battling and things like that, of course it's nice to feel more confident," Oduya added. "In any situation, you're in you want to feel confident on the ice."

The Blackhawks have seen that confidence in previous postseason runs and are looking to see it again in Oduya. Coach Joel Quenneville considers Oduya, "Mr. Reliability."

"You look back at what he delivered for us, not just the regular season, but he's been solid and reliable in the playoffs. He's assumed some important matchups and important minutes," Quenneville said. "Last year, we didn't have him on the back end and watching him this year, it was the perfect fit him coming back."

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The Blackhawks' defensive group hasn't changed much since Oduya's first stint here. The system probably hasn't been altered much, either. Still, Oduya's not taking anything for granted and is trying to get back on the same page quickly.

"Same as the last time I came into a great hockey team and I really just want to get up to speed and up to date as quickly as possible," Oduya said. "Little things that may have changed. I want to fit in as well as I can. That's the idea anyone has coming in late in the year. The guys here make it pretty easy; the coaching staff is familiar with the way I play and helps speed up things a little more."

The Blackhawks are trying to be their best heading into the postseason. So is Oduya. He needed a little extra time to get back to health and he may still need a little time to get back to speed, but he's just about there. 

"I feel pretty good. Of course it's a lot easier when you have guys around you you've seen before, a coaching staff," Oduya said. "It's a work in progress, anyway. I want to be better, I want to evolve with the team and want us to be better, too. It's a work in progress."

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

Quick Hits from Blackhawks-Stars: Another slow start but better finish

It wasn't pretty, but the Blackhawks found a way to pick up another two points and improved to 6-0-1 over their last seven games, and 18-3-1 over their last 22.

With Minnesota's loss to Philadelphia, the Blackhawks have taken an eight-point lead for first in the Central Division and are only two points away from the Washington Capitals for home-ice advantage throughout the entire Stanley Cup playoffs.

Let's take a look at Quick Hits from the 3-2 shootout victory over the Dallas Stars on Thursday night:

What Worked: The finish and shootout. While the Blackhawks scored the game's first goal, it was another slow start by a team that has had a few of those over the last several outings and has preached working on turning in more of a complete effort. They recorded only 14 shots on goal in the first two periods, and it took more than six minutes after Patrick Kane's goal to record their next one.

But they finished on a positive note yet again, and went 2-for-3 in the shootout thanks to Kane and Artemi Panarin, who potted the game winner. Kane said after the game that he tried his move on Scott Darling during morning skate and it worked. So he went with it tonight in an effort to snap a mini shootout drought and he did.

What Didn't Work: Controlling the puck. The Blackhawks seemingly have the puck more than their opponent does almost every game, but it doesn't reflect in the shot department because they often look for the perfect pass or shot and fail to record one at all. They had 50 shot attempts with 26 of them on goal compared to the Stars' 64 attempts with 44 on goal. They know they must get better at that.

Star of the game: Corey Crawford. After allowing four goals on only 10 shots in Tuesday's overtime loss to Vancouver, the Blackhawks netminder bounced back in a huge way. He matched a season-high with 42 saves, and recorded his 30th win of the season.

He Said It: "He played amazing tonight. Reason we won the game. Hats off to him, he's done that a lot this year. For a goalie it's probably tough to show up every night, even the goals he let in last game you can't put all the blame on him, but he was outstanding tonight." — Kane on Crawford's performance

By the Numbers:

167 — Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked one shot in the win, and it was enough to set a new career high in that department, previously established during the 2010-11 campaign (166).

15 — Trevor van Riemsyk assisted on Marian Hossa's goal in the third period, giving him a career-high 15 points on the season in 50 games. He had 14 points in 82 games last year. He also extended his point streak to three games.

6 — With the victory, Crawford has earned at least 30 wins in six of his seven NHL seasons as a full-time starter. The only time he didn't reach that mark was during the lockout-shortened year in 2012-13 when he went 19-5-5.