Wild send Blackhawks limping into All-Star break

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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
CSNChicago.com

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.

Briefly

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.

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LAS VEGAS — As soon as the Blackhawks’ season ended, the questions began for Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marcus Kruger. They were two of the most likely candidates to be exposed to the expansion draft and the two most likely to be part of the Blackhawks’ attempts to get back under the salary cap.

One is now a Vegas Golden Knight (for now). The other remained with the Blackhawks on Wednesday night but could nevertheless be on the move soon.

Van Riemsdyk was one of 30 players selected by the Golden Knights at the NHL Expansion Draft on Wednesday in Las Vegas, but will he stay there? A source said that van Riemsdyk, one of 13 defensemen the Golden Knights picked, could be traded again soon and that Carolina and Dallas were possible destinations. The 25-year-old van Riemsdyk played in 58 games with the Blackhawks last season, recording five goals and 11 assists. Van Riemsdyk has one season remaining on his current contract with a $825,000 cap hit.

As for Kruger, who has two seasons remaining on his current deal ($3.083 million cap hit per season), he was still with the Blackhawks as of Wednesday night. Will he remain there this season after all? Marian Hossa will not play in the 2017-18 season, and the Blackhawks may be able to place him on long-term injured reserve, which wouldn’t make their salary cap situation nearly as dire as it originally was going to be. But a source said Kruger could still be traded to the Golden Knights for one of their defensemen. If that happens, the Blackhawks would miss Kruger’s defensive work and his penalty killing.

When asked about this uncertain summer back in April, Kruger said he wasn’t paying much attention to the rumors. But he knew what the possibilities were.

“If that happens, that’s the situation,” he said then. “We all know what’s going on and stuff like that can happen. You have to get ready for that.”