Chicago Blackhawks: 2014-15 Regular Season

EPIX's 2nd episode shows why Clint Reif was so beloved by Blackhawks

December, 24, 2014
Dec 24
11:28
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Chicago Blackhawks assistant equipment manager Clint Reif was well known to the people within the organization, especially the players he served on a daily basis. As media and fans, we never really got to know Reif, who died at the age of 34 on Sunday.

EPIX’s second episode of “Road to the NHL Winter Classic”, which premiered Tuesday night, provided a glimpse of Reif’s personality, what he did for the Blackhawks and why Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and the players were so distraught by his loss.

Reif is first shown in the episode early on as he’s sharpening skates before a game. Knowing what happens just days later, it's certainly eerie. It’ll undoubtedly be a difficult episode for the Blackhawks to watch if they choose to do so.

EPIX’s crew had talked to Reif at length recently, and it was this footage they chose to use later in the episode. Reif and the narrator explain Reif’s role on the team and get into some details about it, including just how specific Reif and other equipment staff members have to be with NHL players.

“Definitely a lot of superstitions,” Reif said. “Maybe changing laces or a certain tape which might not be in another city, so you have to make sure that you have that packed up and ready to go. A little tuck inside of a jersey or another guy said maybe, ‘Hey, cut down my stick for me,’ and he scored a goal that night, so for the next 10 years of his contract you’re cutting down sticks for him. Just knowing a lot of what the guys’ superstitions are and staying out of the way of them.”

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews recently touched on Reif’s selflessness and how he would do anything for the players, and you could see how Reif wanted to make sure everything was just right for the Blackhawks, especially in the example of Duncan Keith’s skate laces.

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Holiday break comes at opportune time for Blackhawks

December, 23, 2014
Dec 23
11:25
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks don't have to think about or play hockey for the next three days, and that's probably a good thing, considering hockey wasn't exactly kind to them on Tuesday.

The Blackhawks' objective during the league's three-day break is to forget about what happened in their 5-1 loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. The defeat was their worst of the season.

The Blackhawks appeared as if they started their holiday break early. They were off from the start of Tuesday's Central Division matchup. They especially struggled to exit their defensive zone and often had their passes intercepted or didn't connect at all through the neutral zone.

The Jets made them pay for it, too. Winnipeg scored three times on their first 13 shots, and that was basically the game. The Jets added another goal to go ahead 4-0, and that finally snapped the Blackhawks awake, but it was too late, as they scored only once off 32 shots in the final two periods.

"We look at all year long," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "It's one game that will stick out that said one of those nights where [we] didn't have much going for us across the board early and often. They get a 3-0, 4-0 lead against you, you're not going to win many games. I think we've been in every hockey game except for tonight."

The overall play and result were completely out of the ordinary for the Blackhawks, as of late. They were riding an eight-game home win streak and hadn't lost by more than one goal in a month. They had gone 11-1-1 since losing to the Vancouver Canucks 4-1 on Nov. 23.

"[We haven't been outplayed] a whole lot, but tonight we did," Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith said. "That's for sure."

If Quenneville's long list of mistakes was any indication of how upset he was during the game, EPIX undoubtedly caught an abundance of profanity from him on the bench.

"We definitely turned the puck over several times -- too many incomplete passes, too many turnovers, no strength in the puck area, didn't come up with any loose pucks, poor passing, poor puck support, poor coverage at the net," Quenneville said.

Although Quenneville expressed that frustration with the loss, he was also able to see the bigger picture. The Blackhawks have been one of the league's hottest teams and head into the break in first place in the Central with 48 points and a 23-10-2 record.

Quenneville's message to his players was to enjoy the three days away.

"You know, got three days to recover and get excited again. Certainly disappointing ending, but very good stretch and enjoy the Christmas break," Quenneville said.

Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg believes he and his teammates will do just that.

"We're going to need these three days to recover," Versteeg said. "Like I said, we've had a string of games where it's been every other day, if not every day. It'll be nice to get a few days off and forget about the game for a few days."

Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival injured in loss to Jets

December, 23, 2014
Dec 23
10:33
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Michal Rozsival did not finish Tuesday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets due to a lower-body injury.

Rozsival missed the entire third period due to the injury. He played the final 43 seconds of the second period and did not return to the bench for the final period. He played 15 shifts and had 12:10 of ice time in the Blackhawks’ 5-1 loss.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said he believed Rozsival is going to be OK. The Blackhawks won't meet as a team again until Saturday with the entire NHL having the next three days off.

Rozsival has one goal, three assists and is a plus-6 rating in 26 games this season. He has played in the past 18 games for the Blackhawks after being a healthy scratch early in the season.

W2W4: Jets at Blackhawks

December, 23, 2014
Dec 23
12:39
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Here’s what to watch for when the Winnipeg Jets and Chicago Blackhawks play at the United Center on Tuesday:

• The Blackhawks have won eight consecutive games at home. Their last home loss came on Nov. 7. The Blackhawks are in first place in the Central Division with a 48 points and a 23-9-2 record.

• The Jets are in fourth place in the Central with 41 points and a 17-10-7 record. They defeated the Blackhawks 1-0 in Chicago on Nov. 2 in their only other meeting this season.

• Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane is on a six-game points streak and has four goals and six assists in the span. He leads the Blackhawks with 16 goals and 20 assists.

• The Jets’ Andrew Ladd and Blake Wheeler each have a team-high 23 points. Bryan Little leads the Jets with 12 goals.

Corey Crawford will start in net for the Blackhawks. He is 12-5-2 with a 1.87 goals-against average and .927 save percentage this season.

• Goaltender Michael Hutchinson will start for the Jets. He had 33 saves in the Jets’ 1-0 win over the Blackhawks earlier this season. He is 7-2-2 with a 1.73 goals-against average and .940 save percentage this season.

• The Blackhawks’ lines are expected to be Brandon SaadJonathan ToewsMarian Hossa, Patrick SharpKris Versteeg – Kane, Bryan BickellAndrew ShawDaniel Carcillo, Joakim NordstromMarcus KrugerBen Smith. The defenseman pairings are expected to be Duncan KeithBrent Seabrook, Johnny OduyaNiklas Hjalmarsson, David RundbladMichal Rozsival.

Brad Richards (upper body) out second straight game

December, 23, 2014
Dec 23
12:02
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Brad Richards will not play against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday, missing a second consecutive game with an upper-body injury.

Richards said Tuesday he and the Blackhawks decided for him to sit out against the Jets to allow him to rest a few extra days with the NHL’s upcoming three-day Christmas break. Richards participated in the team’s morning skate on Tuesday. He is expected to play against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday.

“Talked with the staff and [Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville] with three days, you know rushing into a game tonight, why not get a few more days and get back after break and know I’m ready to go?” Richards said.

Richards has six goals, 12 assists and is a plus-9 in 33 games this season.

Kris Versteeg replaced Richards as the Blackhawks’ second-line center against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday and played alongside Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane.

Opposing power plays have been no match for Blackhawks' PK

December, 23, 2014
Dec 23
9:58
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
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Marian GaborikMike DiNovo/USA TODAY SportsThe Blackhawks have allowed just eight power-play goals in 95 opportunities this season.
CHICAGO -- Patrick Kane entertains his Chicago Blackhawks’ teammates by the different ways he’s able to put pucks inside opponents’ nets.

Kane’s teammates entertain him with the ways they keep opponents’ power plays from doing the same on the Blackhawks’ net.

“It’s fun to watch,” Kane said. “You’re confident when you take a penalty that it’s going to be killed off. They’re doing a great job.”

Great may not be a strong enough adjective for what the Blackhawks' penalty kill has been doing. Their penalty kill is headed toward becoming the NHL’s best of all time. The 2011-2012 New Jersey Devils hold the league’s regular-season record with an 89.6 penalty-killing percentage. The Blackhawks have a 91.6 percentage through 34 games.

Like Kane’s offensive game, the Blackhawks’ penalty kill can beat an opponent in a lot of different ways. They disrupt passing lanes. They’re aggressive when they need to be, but also hold back when the situation calls for it. They work together like an orchestra in a lot of ways. They possess depth with each forward and defenseman being as capable as the one they replaced. They’re not afraid to step in front of shots. It’s also helped their goaltenders have made saves when the puck has gotten through to the net.

Put it all together, and the Blackhawks’ penalty kill is difficult to score upon. The Blackhawks have allowed eight power-play goals in 95 opportunities this season. They have shut out opponents on the power play in 27-of-34 games. In December, the Blackhawks have killed off 23-of-25 penalties.

With the Blackhawks’ power play still lacking consistency -- it’s ranked 16th in the league with a 18.0 percentage -- it’s the penalty kill which has often come to the special teams' rescue, especially in close games. The Blackhawks have held their opponents without a power-play goal in six of their 11 one-goal wins this season.

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Richards (upper body) out against Toronto

December, 21, 2014
Dec 21
4:51
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Brad Richards will not play against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday due to an upper-body injury, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said prior to the game.

Quenneville said Richards is considered day-to-day with the injury. Richards played 16:03 in the Blackhawks’ 3-2 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

Richards has six goals, 12 assists and is tied for sixth on the team with 18 points in 33 games. He is a plus-9 and is averaging 14:25 of ice time. He has been the Blackhawks’ second-line center alongside Kris Versteeg and Patrick Kane.

Blackhawks forward Joakim Nordstrom is expected to play against the Maple Leafs after being a healthy scratch the last two games. He was recalled from the AHL on Monday.

Hawks assistant equipment manager Clint Reif dies

December, 21, 2014
Dec 21
4:39
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
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CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks assistant equipment manager Clint Reif died on Sunday morning, the team announced on Sunday.

Reif, 34, was in his ninth season with the Blackhawks equipment staff and his sixth as the assistant equipment manager. The DuPage County Coroners Office and the Lombard Police Department are investigating Reif's death, according to a press release by the DuPage County Coroners Office on Sunday. The release included that he was found unresponsive at his home by members of the Lombard police and fire departments on Sunday morning and was pronounced dead at 8:32 a.m. in his home. He is survived by his wife, Kelly, and four children.

“Tough day, certainly,” said Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, who was visibly shaken and had tears in eyes, on Sunday. “Our hearts and our prayers go out to Kelly and the four children and our training staff. The trainers’ fraternity, which is as tight as any field, they all lost a brother today. So, tough day.”

The Blackhawks also released a statement about Reif’s passing.

“We are deeply saddened by the untimely loss of one of our own family members this morning, assistant equipment manager Clint Reif,” the statement said. “Like all trainers and support staff within our organization, Clint was instrumental in helping our players and coaches prepare and compete both on and off the ice. Our sincerest sympathies go out to the Reif family.”

The Blackhawks will wear a special decal with the initials “CR” on their helmets against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday. The Blackhawks will also hold a moment of silence prior to the game.

Blackhawks can't capitalize, miss point in shootout loss

December, 20, 2014
Dec 20
10:55
PM CT
By Rick Gethin
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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Jack JohnsonRussell LaBounty/USA TODAY SportsCorey Crawford saw only 19 shots in regulation and OT, then nine more in the shootout.

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The Chicago Blackhawks had numerous chances to put away Saturday night's game in regulation and fly home with two points added to their season tally. If not for a few muffed chances and a very hot goaltender, they would have scored the victory. Instead, they fell in the ninth round of a shootout in a 3-2 defeat to the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Controlling play and possession in the first period with relative ease, the Blackhawks had chances starting with the first of four power-play opportunities just 30 seconds into the game. They pressured the Blue Jackets into turning over the puck in their own zone and limited Columbus to just three shots on goal over the first 20 minutes.

But it was Jack Skille, Chicago's first-round draft pick (seventh overall) in 2005, who drew first blood by redirecting a heavy shot from Columbus blueliner Fedor Tyutin past Corey Crawford at 17:24. The Blue Jackets would take that lead into the first intermission.

“I thought we did everything but win that game tonight,” Chicago head coach Joel Quenneville said. “We played well in all areas of our game. We did a lot of good things. We’ll give their goalie credit, and in the shootout, anything can happen.”

The "puck luck" seemed to be flowing in the opposite direction from the Blackhawks bench, with Brandon Saad the recipient of a majority of the bad mojo. Early in the second period, he had a chance to tie the score, yet he swung at the puck and missed from point-blank range on Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky.

Saad missed a wide-open net midway through the third period and muffed another chance to score in overtime and end the game.

“Tied going into the third, we always feel like just getting one point out of it is not enough,” captain Jonathan Toews said. “We had an opportunity on the power play late in the game [and] some more chances in overtime and even in the shootout to put it away, and we just couldn’t quite find the back of the net. It’s unfortunate because I think our goaltender played well. We just couldn’t bury our chances tonight.”

Chicago had an overwhelming advantage in shots on goal, at 41-19, as the game went to the shootout tied 2-2. A big part of the reason the Blackhawks didn’t come away with two points was the play of Bobrovsky was reminiscent of his Vezina Trophy-winning season two years ago. He’s been red-hot since the beginning of December -- and that continued against the Blackhawks.

Chicago goalie Corey Crawford, in his first game back after missing eight with a lower-body injury, was not tested early. He faced only three shots in the first period and had to wait until 37 minutes into the contest to see the 10th. This might have actually worked in his favor and allowed him to ease back into the flow of the game.

“I felt pretty comfortable,” Crawford said of his return. “I didn’t get much work in the first half of the game. I was seeing the pucks pretty well, [except for] a tip and a screen on the goals. I picked a bad lane on the second goal.

“I think those are the hardest things when you come back -- tips and screens. As a team, I thought we outplayed them and had some great chances. Their guy [Bobrovsky] played well.”

The real drama unfolded after the overtime period. It took until the fifth shootout round for either team to score, with former Blackhawk Jeremy Morin netting a goal. He was followed by his former teammate (and linemate) Andrew Shaw, who scored to keep Chicago alive.

Jack Johnson would score for Columbus in the ninth round, and it came down to Bryan Bickell to answer the bell. Unfortunately, he, like seven of his teammates, could not solve Bobrovsky.

“We’re just trying to win a hockey game,” Crawford said. “It’s an extra point for us [if Chicago had won], and it could be a big point at the end of the year. We missed it tonight.”

The Blackhawks return home to play the second of back-to-back games against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Sunday at the United Center.

Rapid Reaction: Blue Jackets 3, Blackhawks 2 (SO)

December, 20, 2014
Dec 20
9:26
PM CT
By Rick Gethin
Special to ESPNChicago.com
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video
 
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 3-2 shootout loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night at Nationwide Arena.

How it happened: The Blackhawks came out firing pucks at Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky, to the tune of 15 shots on goal in the first period. Chicago allowed only three, but Columbus’ Jack Skille scored first. Patrick Sharp evened matters in the second, when Chicago almost doubled its shots total by notching 29 through 40 minutes. The teams would trade goals in the third, with Kevin Connauton scoring on the power play for Columbus and Ben Smith tapping in the equalizer after a lengthy review in Toronto overturned the “no goal” call on the ice. The teams would stay knotted at 2-2 to the end of regulation and through overtime. It took nine rounds of the shootout to determine a winner, with Chicago not able to get more than one goal (Andrew Shaw) past Bobrovsky. Corey Crawford allowed two in the shootout (Jeremy Morin and Jack Johnson), which gave Columbus the victory.

What it means: The Blackhawks should have closed this game out and might see it as having left the extra point on the table. They were unable to convert any of their four power-play opportunities. The “snakebit” award goes to Brandon Saad, as he missed on three scoring chances from no farther than 10 feet from the goal.

Player of the game: Shaw was tenacious against the Blue Jackets all night and scored the lone Chicago goal in the shootout.

Stat of the game: Sharp led all players with seven blocked shots.

What’s next: The Blackhawks have a short turnaround, as they host the Toronto Maple Leafs back home at the United Center on Sunday.

Hawks notes: Antti Raanta pleased to still be in NHL

December, 19, 2014
Dec 19
3:26
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
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CHICAGO -- Antti Raanta was disappointed not to see more of himself in the first episode of EPIX’s Road to the NHL Winter Classic.

Raanta hopes to correct that in future episodes, and he’ll have that chance because he was chosen over Scott Darling to remain as the Chicago Blackhawks’ No. 2 goalie behind Corey Crawford earlier this week. The Blackhawks reassigned Darling to the AHL on Tuesday. Darling and Raanta each started four times in Crawford’s absence.

Raanta, who is normally happy, was even happier Friday to still be with the Blackhawks as they returned to practice after two days off.

“When you have this kind of chance to be here and play with these guys and be part of this group, you have to be thankful about that,” Raanta said. “Whatever the decision would be, you still have to work hard. If somebody’s going to Rockford or staying up here, you can’t stop working.

“Of course, it would be a little frustrating to go down like that. The goal is to stay here, and I’m happy to be here still. I wasn’t thinking too much about that still. I was just trying to do my thing and play good whenever I got the games and show everybody I could do this. That was my key thing. It worked out pretty good, so, of course, that’s a good thing.”

Quenneville debated between Darling and Raanta and ultimately decided to keep the Blackhawks’ goaltending situation as it was before Crawford’s injury. Raanta would remain in the NHL, and Darling, an NHL rookie, would continue to get work with the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL.

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Prospect watch: College players at winter break

December, 18, 2014
Dec 18
3:49
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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Here’s a look at how the Chicago Blackhawks' college prospects are doing as the college season take a break until January:

Mike Paliotta, defenseman, Vermont (NCAA), drafted 3rd round in 2011
Paliotta is the lone senior among the Blackhawks’ college prospects. Paliotta, who is 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, has taken a step forward each season at Vermont, and that’s the case again this year. He leads Vermont as a plus-12 and is tied for a team-leading 16 points. He’s tied for fourth among the nation’s defensemen in points. He has five goals and 11 assists in 17 games. Vermont is 13-3-1 and is ranked No. 10 in the country by USCHO.com.

Nick Schmaltz, forward, North Dakota (NCAA), drafted 1st round in 2014
Schmaltz hasn’t disappointed after being the Blackhawks’ top pick in 2014. As a freshman at North Dakota, he’s tied for third on the team and tied for seventh among the nation’s freshmen with 15 points. He has three goals and 12 assists in 15 games. He missed four games with an injury. He closed out December with five points in the final four games. He’s on the preliminary U.S. roster for the upcoming World Junior Championship. North Dakota is 13-4-2 and ranked No. 2.

John Hayden, forward, Yale (NCAA), drafted 3rd round in 2013
Hayden was one of the players who stood out at the Blackhawks prospect camp in the summer. He has good size at 6-foot-3, 210 pounds and uses it to create offense. He had a solid freshman season and is off to a good start as a sophomore. He leads Yale with 10 points in 10 games. He has three goals, seven assists and is a plus-4. He’s also second on the team with 39 shots. He’s on the preliminary U.S. roster for the upcoming World Junior Championship. Yale is 6-3-2.

Vince Hinostroza, forward, Notre Dame (NCAA), drafted 6th round in 2012
Hinostroza has nearly been a point-a-game player throughout his college career. He had 32 points in 34 games as a freshman last season and now has 14 points in 18 games as a sophomore. His pace was off earlier in the season, but he’s picked it up lately. He registered five points in Notre Dame’s last two games. He’s tied for a team-leading 12 assists and is tied for third in points. Notre Dame is 8-8-2.

Chris Calnan, forward, Boston College (NCAA), drafted 3rd round in 2012
Calnan was expected to play a large role as a sophomore with Boston College graduating its top offensive players after last season, and that’s been the case. He is tied for a team-leading 12 points. He has seven goals and five assists in 16 games. He had 13 points in 37 games as a freshman. Boston College is 9-7-1 and ranked No. 15.

Tyler Motte, forward, Michigan (NCAA), drafted 4th round in 2013
Motte was among a number of Blackhawks’ prospects who had a strong freshman season. He’s been building on that as a sophomore. He’s fourth on Michigan with 14 points. He has five goals and nine assists in 14 games. He had 18 points in 34 games as a freshman. He’s on the preliminary U.S. roster for the upcoming World Junior Championship. Michigan is 8-7-0.

Anthony Louis, forward, Miami Ohio (NCAA), drafted 6th round in 2013
Louis is known for his playmaking skills and he’s continuing to create at Miami Ohio this season. He’s tied for a team-leading 11 assists and is fifth on the team with 14 points. He had 25 points in 36 games last season as a freshman. He’s also on the preliminary U.S. roster for the upcoming World Junior Championship. Miami Ohio is 11-5-0 and ranked No. 6.

Nick Mattson, defenseman, North Dakota (NCAA), drafted 6th round in 2010
Mattson, a junior, hasn’t consistently been in North Dakota’s lineup and has been made a healthy scratch at times this season. He has one goal, three assists and is a plus-2 in 10 games this season.

Luke Johnson, forward, North Dakota (NCAA), drafted 5th round in 2013
Johnson, sophomore, has been contributing to North Dakota’s success. He has four goals and five assists in 19 games. He had 21 points in 42 games as a freshman last season.

Matt Tomkins, goaltender, Ohio State (NCAA), drafted 7th round in 2012
Tomkins has been up and down during his sophomore season. He has a 3-5-1 record with a 2.80 goals-against average and .894 save percentage this season. He has one shutout. Ohio State is 5-9-1 this season.

Sam Jardine, defenseman, Ohio State (NCAA), drafted 6th round in 2011
Jardine, a junior, is second on Ohio State with six assists. He has six points, is a minus-1 and has 19 blocked shots in 13 games.

Luc Snuggerud, defenseman, Nebraska Omaha (NCAA), drafted 5th round in 2014
Snuggerud has one goal, six assists, is a plus-4 and has 17 blocked shots in 16 games as a freshman. The Mavericks are 10-4-2.

Dylan Sikura, forward, Northeastern (NCAA), drafted 6th round in 2014
Sikura has one goal, two assists and is a minus-6 in 13 games as a freshman. Northeastern is 5-10-1 this season.

Chat wrap: Powers talks Blackhawks

December, 18, 2014
Dec 18
2:35
PM CT
By Staff
ESPNChicago.com
Scott Powers took your Chicago Blackhawks questions during a chat Thursday. Click here to read the chat wrap.

Blackhawks rolling despite inconsistent power play

December, 17, 2014
Dec 17
8:12
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks continue to prove they don’t need a dominating power play to be successful.

They were 16th in the league with a 17.7 power-play percentage in the regular season when they went on to win the Stanley Cup in 2010. They were 19th when they captured the Stanley Cup again in 2013.

This season is following that same trajectory.

[+] EnlargeBlackhawks Power Play
David Cooper/Getty Images

Goals are not the only measure of success for the Blackhawks' power plays, according to coach Joel Quenneville. "The production isn't there, but in games we're getting the momentum," he said.

While the Blackhawks are second in the league with 45 points, their power play is far from tops. They’re tied for 17th with an 18.0 percentage.

More power-play goals would bolster their numbers, but it probably wouldn’t affect their record a whole lot. They’re 12-5-1 in the games when they have scored a power-play goal and 10-4-0 when they haven’t scored one.

While the Blackhawks would obviously prefer to score more of them, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville was impressed his team capitalized on one of its power plays in a 5-3 win over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday.

“It certainly helps,” Quenneville said. “I still like the way the power play was going. Had some good looks earlier on. You get some bounces by hanging around the net. But I thought we had some good looks [Tuesday], as well.”

Quenneville and his players often talk about the power play in terms other than strictly results. When the Blackhawks had gone 2-for-25 on the power play during a recent eight-game stretch, Quenneville felt like his team was enduring some bad luck more than anything else.

“I look back, our power play’s been not bad,” Quenneville said on Sunday. “The production isn’t there, but in games we’re getting the momentum. It’s continuing on. We’re generating chances, zone time. Now we just have to find a way. It’d help some guys offensively, as well.”

The Blackhawks now have scored a power-play goal in their past two games. Patrick Sharp scored on a one-timer from the left circle in a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames on Sunday, and Patrick Kane scored near the net for the winner on Tuesday.

Kane and Sharp have accounted for much of the Blackhawks’ power-play production this season. Each has a team-high four power-play goals. Kane has a team-high 13 power-play points and is followed by Jonathan Toews (10 points) and Brent Seabrook (eight points).

Sharp’s recent return from a lower-body injury could spark the power play. He has been the team’s most efficient player on the power play with seven points in 18 games this season. He missed 14 games with his injury. He had either a goal or assist on the Blackhawks’ first six power-play goals of the season.

Sharp was responsible for snapping a four-game power-play drought with his goal on Sunday.

“I don’t know what the slump was, but it’s always nice to score on the power play,” Sharp said. “It makes a big difference in the game when the power play can get one or two. Whether we score, we want to move around and get good opportunities.”

The Blackhawks’ issue at times is looking for a perfect shot instead of a decent shot. An example of that was when they had two 5-on-3 opportunities against the Boston Bruins last week. During a total of 1:55 of 5-on-3 time, they had 23 successful passes in the offensive zone and two shots, one of which was on net. The Blackhawks have 179 shots on goal on 122 power plays this season for a 1.5 shot average.

When the Blackhawks have taken shots, they have found production from different parts of the ice. They have scored seven goals from point shots, six off rebounds, four others from around the net, three from the left circle and two from the right circle.

The Blackhawks moved the puck a lot down low on the power play the past two games. Toews set up both goals with passes from near the right corner. Quenneville said it wasn’t anything they are looking to do every game, but instead it’s specific to those situations.

“You watch around the league, whether it’s shot originality, maybe taking it to the net is not a bad option,” Quenneville said. "It depends on what the options are, depends on how far their coverage is out. A lot of teams may have three high looks. Every game is different, every shift is different."

The same could be said about the Blackhawks' power play this season. They're still searching for consistency.
Here’s a review of the first episode of EPIX's Road to the Winter Classic, which premiered Tuesday evening:

-- The quality of a documentary often depends on what unfolds in front of the cameras. EPIX’s cameras and microphones caught one of the more dramatic moments of the Chicago Blackhawks' season after Jonathan Toews was hit into the board head-first against the Boston Bruins on Dec. 11.

There had been speculation about whether the Blackhawks followed the proper medical protocol to examine Toews because he remained on the ice and took part in the team’s power play after the hit. He was later examined and kept out of the game. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said the proper protocols were followed. Toews also backed how the staff handled the situation.

EPIX’s first episode told the complete story. In the episode, Toews was shown slow to get up after the hit and said he was “fine” multiple times as the team’s trainer approached him. Toews remained on the ice, took a faceoff and quickly picked up a penalty.

As Toews was in the penalty box, EPIX’s microphones caught audio of Quenneville being told Toews had to be examined. Quennneville was told, “We have to take Toews out after the penalty.” Quenneville responded, “Yeah? What’s wrong with him?” Quenneville was told, “He took a header to the boards. We have to observe him and check him out.”

When Toews returned to the bench, he was then told he had to be examined in the medical room. Toews said, “Why?” Toews was told, “Got to check your head out.” Quenneville then said, “You got to do it, Johnny? You got to do it.”

EPIX’s crew then followed Toews through the tunnel and into the medical room. Filming was off limits while he was being examined. The cameras then showed him taking off his equipment after it was decided he would not return to the game.

-- The media and fans normally get to see one side of Quenneville when he’s away from the bench and off the ice. Tuesday’s episode gave us a look at what he’s like on it.

It’s no surprise Quenneville, like most coaches, likes to swear on the bench, but it was still interesting to hear all the expletives go flying. He also likes to say "peanut butter" after goals. Here are some of his best quotes from the episode:

* “Kaner, what a [expletive] shot. Peanut butter.”

* “Hey, boys, we can play a lot better. Not [expletive] happy.”

* “We want to outscore them tonight. Let’s [expletive] out-check them.”

* “Shoot the [expletive] one-timer, swing it here, swing it, [expletive] off.”

* “Hit the [expletive] guy. He’s got no other [expletive] options.”

-- One of the funnier conversations in the episode came between Bryan Bickell and Andrew Shaw. Shaw ragged Bickell for the bruises on his face, and Bickell returned it by taking shots at Shaw’s haircut.

-- There were some touching moments in the episode. That was especially the case when Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz was filmed taking his son who has Down syndrome to the zoo. Brad Richards was also filmed with his wife and new son in their home at Trump Tower.

-- One geeky insider moment came when Quenneville skated by goaltender Scott Darling during a practice and told him he was starting the next day. You always wonder how those conversations happen. That one occurred quickly and with just a few words. How the Capitals clap and make sounds when Trotz announces the team’s starting lineup is another one of those moments.

-- The documentary is done well and lives up to the standard set by HBO’s sports documentaries. It’s certainly worth watching. For Blackhawks fans, there will be a lot of stuff you have already heard and seen before in the game action and what's said in the sit-down interviews, but all that insider material is worth it. Shaw will likely be featured more in future episodes. He spent Tuesday after the morning skate giving a rundown and small description of every player in the dressing room. It wouldn't be a surprise if some of that makes it into a episode.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Patrick Kane
PTS GOALS AST +/-
36 16 20 9
OTHER LEADERS
GoalsP. Kane 16
AssistsP. Kane 20
+/-K. Versteeg 15
GAAC. Crawford 2.00