Youth movement serves Wild


Youth movement serves Wild

Jimmy Hayes and Andrew Shaw have been playing so well that coach Joel Quenneville admitted theyre both very deserving of staying a while.

That trend continued on Thursday.

Hayes had a power-play goal and an assist and Shaw added his second goal this season as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Minnesota Wild 5-2 at the United Center on Thursday night. The Blackhawks, who moved back to first place in the Central Division and second in the Western Conference, have won two straight and have gotten points in their last three games.

Dave Bolland had two goals a power-play score and an empty netter and an assist. Viktor Stalberg added his 13th goal of the season, a new career high.

It was another impressive night for the rookies, who continue to log good minutes and contribute in every capacity the two combined for seven of the Blackhawks 24 hits.

That was a big goal by Shaw early on. He was dangerous off the rush, hes smart and keeps himself in the play, coach Joel Quenneville said. Jimmy scored a big one for our power play which wasnt pretty up to that point. We liked our contributions.

The Blackhawks will have to make choices soon, however, as Marcus Kruger should be back this weekend. But Shaw and Hayes are nevertheless making statements to stay.

After Devin Setoguchi gave the Wild an early 1-0 lead the Blackhawks turned it up offensively, scoring four consecutive goals. Shaw started it, and Hayes added his power-play goal off a pretty Bolland pass.

Jimmy is a big body in front, as you guys can tell, Bolland said. When he stands in front I think its tough to move him around. And I know when youre playing against a big guy in the defensive zone it is tough.

The Blackhawks got those across-the-board contributions theyve been looking for tonight. Whether it was good defense, different names on the score sheet or scoring on that struggling power play they went 2 for 3 tonight the Blackhawks were doing all the right things.

It was one of our more complete games from start to finish and a sign that were learning from recent mistakes, said defenseman Steve Montador, who had two assists. Theyre a tough team to play because they make you play a patient game and we wanted to not sit back and wanted to play an energetic game.

Michael Frolik also had two assists, as 10 different Blackhawks garnered a point against the Wild.

The Blackhawks have a tricky weekend coming up, with back to backs against Detroit on Saturday and San Jose on Sunday. Theyve been playing the team game with Patrick Sharp, Marcus Kruger and Daniel Carcillo out of the lineup, and theyre feeling more confident in it.

Things are working in the offensive zone, but youve got to also work in the defensive zone to get those offensive chances. I think were coming back, were helping our defensemen there, and were getting some quick outs to get in their zone quicker, Bolland said. I think right now were rolling and its a good thing.

Blackhawks still trying to solve penalty kill issues

Blackhawks still trying to solve penalty kill issues

When considering the Blackhawks’ penalty kill, you can look at their 3-3-1 record in two ways: their record is mediocre because of it, or they’re still getting points despite it.

No matter how you look at it, however, the penalty kill’s malaise has to stop.

In seven games this season, the Blackhawks’ penalty kill has allowed 14 goals on 26 opportunities. Through their first seven games last season the Blackhawks were shorthanded 18 times, allowing three goals.

Looking at seasons overall, the Blackhawks allowed 46 power-play goals over 82 games last season. The kill allowed a scant 35 goals during the 2014-15 season and 46 goals in 2013-14.

Yes, the Blackhawks know it’s a big problem and they’ve talked about it and worked on it. So far, they just haven’t seen the results on it. Some have come off faceoffs. Some have come from long distance. Some have come off rebounds. It doesn’t seem to matter what they do: goals get scored. The Blackhawks will keep going back to the drawing board until they restore that penalty kill to its normal success rate.

“We talk a lot about the way we’re forcing it up ice, how we’re forcing it in the neutral zone, forcing entries, how we’re moving together as units, the personnel changes,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We’ve tried a number of different looks on the back end, as pairs up front. We’re trying to find something that clicks. we haven’t gotten that confidence yet where we’re comfortable with just about any pairs right now. hopefully we can get that stabilized.

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“We know the importance of that influencing the outcome of games and sometimes it can win a game for us. But it’s been a real negative so far,” Quenneville added. “We got through three in a row there. hopefully that’s the start of something positive.”

The Blackhawks killed off the final three penalties they took against the Calgary Flames on Monday night. It was a shot of confidence for a group that needed it, and now they have to repeat that more often.

“We just kept our feet moving. We were working. Our shifts were 20 to 30 seconds tops,” Jonathan Toews said. “When you go that short you have the energy to outwork the power play and make up for being down one man. Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the key right there, and I think our systems fall into place when we’re all moving and we’re all skating the right way.”

Artem Anisimov said those three successful kills were “intense.”

“We were skating. We didn’t give so much time to set up in our zone,” Ansimov said. “It was like, always clear. We cleared the puck 200 feet and it was successful.”

The Blackhawks have been talking “baby steps” regarding their penalty kill the past few games. Killing three in a row off on Monday night could be one, but it means nothing if they allow another one in their next game. The penalty kill is broken. The Blackhawks will keep trying to fix it.

Check out Jonathan Toews' scary Halloween costume

Check out Jonathan Toews' scary Halloween costume

Jonathan Toews isn't doing himself any favors of trying to drop the Captain Serious nickname that has stuck with him since 2008.

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The Blackhawks captain and his girlfriend dressed up for a Halloween party on Tuesday night, and their costumes were on point:

Mr. and Mrs. Dead Serious. 💀👻☠️#happyhalloween

A photo posted by Jonathan Toews (@jonathantoews) on

We wonder how long it took to wash that paint off their face.