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.

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.”