Chicago Blackhawks: 2014 Playoffs vs. Wild

Rapid Reaction: Kings 4, Blackhawks 3

May, 24, 2014
May 24
Powers By Scott Powers

LOS ANGELES -- Here’s a quick look at the Los Angeles Kings’ 4-3 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals at Staples Center on Saturday.

How it happened: The Kings rallied from another deficit to defeat the Blackhawks. Down 2-1, the Kings fought back and scored two goals in the second period to take the lead. Jeff Carter netted the equalizer off a pass from Tanner Pearson at 8 minutes, 8 seconds; Tyler Toffoli then put the Kings ahead when he skated past two Blackhawks defensemen for a loose puck and scored on a breakaway at 14:19. Drew Doughty extended the lead to 4-2 in the third period. Jonathan Toews accounted for the Blackhawks' first two scores. He stole the puck on a Kings power play and bagged a short-handed goal at 5:26 of the first period to give Chicago a 1-0 lead. After Slava Voynov scored a power-play goal for Los Angeles, Toews put the Blackhawks back in front when he knocked in a rebound at 13:19 of the first. The Blackhawks cut the Kings’ lead to one late with a goal by Patrick Sharp with 4.2 seconds remaining in the third period. Los Angeles goaltender Jonathan Quick made 24 saves on 27 shots. Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford stopped 28 of 32 shots. The Kings were 1-for-3 on the power play, and the Blackhawks were 0-for-4.

What it means: The Kings took a 2-1 lead in the series and continued to hold home-ice advantage. The Blackhawks dropped the road opener of a series for the 10th consecutive time, a streak dating back to 2010. The Kings improved to 4-3 at home in the playoffs this season. Los Angeles was able to capitalize on its power play for the second consecutive game. The Kings scored two power-play goals in Game 2 and another in Game 3. The Blackhawks had allowed a total of four power-play goals in the playoffs prior to Game 2. L.A. held Chicago without a power-play goal for the first time in the series.

Player of the game: Carter scored a goal and had two assists in the win. He has four goals and three assists over the past two games and eight points in the series.

Stat of the game: The Kings outshot the Blackhawks 18-7 in the third period.

What’s next: The series remains in Los Angeles for Game 4 on Monday.

Rapid Reaction: Blackhawks 3, Kings 1

May, 18, 2014
May 18
Powers By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals at the United Center on Sunday.

How it happened: Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith broke a 1-1 tie when his slap shot from near the blue line was deflected and bounced high into the net at 11:54 of the second period. The Blackhawks held a one-goal advantage until Jonathan Toews gave them a 3-1 lead at 16:10 of the third period. The Kings had tied the game 1-1 early in the second period when Tanner Pearson connected with Tyler Toffoli in front of the net for a goal at 4:35. The goal came 1:13 after the Blackhawks had a goal disallowed following a review. Brandon Saad scored Chicago's first goal when he deflected a shot by Nick Leddy into the net on a power play at 14:46 of the first period. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 25 saves on 26 shots. Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick stopped 17 of 20 shots. The Blackhawks were 1-for-2 on the power play, while the Kings were 0-for-2.

What it means: The Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead in the series. They remained perfect at home in the playoffs, improving to 7-0 at the United Center. Possession favored the Kings in the final two periods. Crawford had a few highlight saves to help counter the Kings’ shot advantage. The Blackhawks were also fortunate Toffoli didn’t score when he had a breakaway and beat Crawford in the third period. Toffoli’s backhanded shot hit the post.

Player of the game: Crawford stepped up again. He held the Kings to one goal. He has held opponents to two goals or less in eight playoff games this season.

Stat of the game: Crawford stopped 16 of 17 shots in the second period.

What’s next: The series will take two days off before resuming for Game 2 in Chicago on Wednesday.

Hawks ready to meet next challenge

May, 15, 2014
May 15
Powers By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- It’s possible to be pleased with oneself, but still not satisfied.

With a few days between series, the Chicago Blackhawks are feeling a bit of both. They viewed beating the Minnesota Wild in six games as a significant accomplishment. They also understand they need to continue to elevate their play if they’re going to be successful in the Western Conference finals.

“I would think the challenges get bigger every round, and every game in the middle of rounds,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Thursday. “But the one thing people might think we didn’t play very well against Minnesota. I’ll discount that 100 percent, knowing we just beat a heck of a hockey team that plays a game that doesn’t make it look pretty in order to get through it.”

Quenneville believes the Blackhawks adjusted as they had to against the Wild and prevailed because they were able to adapt to their situation.

“You got to fight for your space, the more indirect plays you make the more success you have,” Quenneville said. “And I think that might be a little against the way we play or some of our player strengths, but I think that finding a way to get it done was complimentary to our team and it was hard work. It was very much similar to the St. Louis series. I think the guys earned it and deserved it, but it certainly was, you know, I think we have a lot of respect for our opponent. They were a big factor in how it appeared.”

Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane had similar thoughts.

“Minnesota’s a tough team to play against, so we’re not going to take any credit away from them,” Kane said. “They played a great series. They played us very tough, but at the end of the day we came out on top and that’s the most important thing. We got to be happy about that. If that means we go through every series like that and come out on top, I think all of us will take it. But we know we have another level and gear, we know we can get to that, and hopefully it’ll come in Game 1 of the conference finals.”

One adjustment the Blackhawks would like to make in the next series is cutting down on their turnovers. It’s something Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad and Bryan Bickell both talked about on Thursday.

“Simple things, less turnovers,” Bickell said. “For Minnesota's chances, they're getting them from our turnovers. So if we eliminate those and keep the puck behind our net, we have a better opportunity to keep our offense going.”

Saad believes simplifying allows the Blackhawks more offensive zone possession.

“Sometimes we try to do too much,” Saad said. “That [leads to] turnovers, and they go the other way. I think keep it simple, and once we get in zone time, our team plays real well in zone and transition. I think doing those things will definitely help us.”

Hawks' Bollig learns from suspension

May, 15, 2014
May 15
Powers By Scott Powers
Brandon Bollig, Kyle BrodziakHannah Foslien/Getty ImagesBrandon Bollig is ready to play in the Western Conference final after serving his two-game suspension.
CHICAGO -- The Stanley Cup playoffs have been like a classroom for Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig this season.

Bollig first felt he learned something from being made a healthy scratch by Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville against the Minnesota Wild in Game 2 of their second-round series. Bollig's second lesson came when he was suspended two games for his hit on Wild defenseman Keith Ballard in Game 4.

“Of course, [I learned from the suspension,]” Bollig said after practice on Thursday. “Obviously, you know it’s definitely not ideal that the guy got hurt, and I wasn’t looking to hurt anyone. I don’t think anyone’s out there to hurt anyone. Hopefully it doesn’t happen again.”

(Read full post)

Central only going to get tougher for Hawks

May, 14, 2014
May 14
Powers By Scott Powers
The Chicago Blackhawks can exhale. They won't have to deal with their Central Division foes again this season.

After a regular season where the Blackhawks had only the fourth-best record (13-13-3) within the Central, they were able to find a way past two division opponents and into the Western Conference finals to face a Pacific Division team.

[+] EnlargeWild
Bruce Kluckhohn/NHLI/Getty ImagesThe Blackhawks will see a lot of Ryan Suter and Zach Parise over the next few years.
The St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild certainly didn't make advancing easy on the Blackhawks, whose first two series included six one-goal games and four overtime games. The Blackhawks were outshot in both series.

The future likely will be more of the same or even worse for the Blackhawks. There's plenty of skill already in place in the Central, and more experience will only make it more competitive.

The Wild have Zach Parise, Ryan Suter, Jason Pominville and Mikko Koivu all locked up for at least the next four seasons. Parise and Suter aren't free agents until 2025. Jonas Brodin, Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, Nino Niederreiter and Marco Scandella are all 24 years old or younger. Matt Moulson and Dany Heatley become unrestricted free agents after the season. The Wild figure to have better luck in the future when it comes to healthy goaltenders. Niklas Backstrom is signed for two more seasons.

The Blues have David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Alexander Steen, Alex Pietrangelo and Jay Bouwmeester all signed for at least two more seasons. Oshie and Steen aren't free agents until 2017, and Pietrangelo and Bouwmeester are even later than that. Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz are 22 years old or younger. The Blues also have some salaries coming off the books after this season and will allow some cap space to be able to make a run at some free agents. They'll be sure to address their goaltender situation this offseason.

The Avalanche weren't expected to rise so quickly, and they're only going to get better with time. Nathan MacKinnon is 18 years old. Matt Duchene, who is signed through the 2018-19 season, is 23. Gabriel Landeskog is 21. Ryan O'Reilly is 23. Tyson Barrie is 22. The Avalanche had 10 players who were 25 years old or younger on their roster at the end of the season. Erik Johnson is signed for two more seasons. Goaltender Semyon Varlamov, who troubled the Blackhawks all season, is signed through the 2018-19 season. Paul Stastny is set to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

The Dallas Stars also took a step forward this season. With Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Alex Chiasson, Cody Eakin, Valeri Nichushkin, Antoine Roussel and Brenden Dillon all being 24 years old or younger, the Stars have a bright future as well. The Nashville Predators finished only three points behind the Stars and have players such as Shea Weber and Seth Jones who will be around for a long time. The Winnipeg Jets finished two games over .500 and will add another top-10 draft pick in June.

When you add it all up, the Central should be a Royal Rumble for years to come.

By the numbers: Hawks-Wild series

May, 14, 2014
May 14
Powers By Scott Powers
Here's a look by the numbers at the Chicago Blackhawks' 4-2 series win over the Minnesota Wild in the second round:

Patrick Kane accounted for the game-winning goal in Games 1 and 6. Jonathan Toews scored the game-winner in Game 5. The two players have combined to score seven game-winning goals in the Blackhawks' eight playoff wins this season.

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 114 saves on 119 saves for a .958 save percentage in the four wins over the Wild. He stopped 150-of-162 shots for a .926 save percentage in the series. He has a .931 save percentage (351-of-377) in the playoffs.

• The Wild outshot the Blackhawks 73-51 on net during second periods in the series. The teams were within three shots on goal (Wild 90-87) in the other two periods. The Wild had 163 total shots on net to the Blackhawks' 138 in the series.

• The Blackhawks and Wild were within two shots of each other when games were tied or within a goal in the series, according to The Wild had 194 shot attempts in those situations, and the Blackhawks had 192 shots.

• Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov made 123 saves on 136 shots for a .904 save percentage in the series.

• Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa had a series-high nine points. He had one goal, eight assists and a plus-7 rating in the series.

• Hossa had seven takeaways in the series. He leads the NHL with 16 takeaways in the playoffs.

• The Blackhawks were 3-of-13 on the power play in the series, and the Wild were 2-of-17.

• Wild forward Erik Haula had a team-high five points in the series. He had three goals and two assists.

• Wild forwards Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and Mikko Koivu combined for two goals in the series.

• Toews won 78 faceoffs and lost 67 in the series. Koivu won 79 faceoffs and lost 68 in the series.

• Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook blocked 20 shots in the series. Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked 12 shots in the series. He's tied for a league-high 38 blocks in the playoffs.

• Wild defenseman Ryan Suter played a total of 171:21 of ice time in the series. Duncan Keith led the Blackhawks with 156:23 of ice time.

Kane clutch again for Blackhawks

May, 14, 2014
May 14
Powers By Scott Powers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Patrick Kane had just commended teammate Jonathan Toews on his ability to score big goals in big games for the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Toews returned the compliment.

A game after Toews scored the game-winning goal to beat the Minnesota Wild in Game 5, Kane provided the heroics and scored an overtime game winner to beat the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in Game 6 and clinch the second-round series on Tuesday.

[+] EnlargePatrick Kane
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images"It was exciting to get that chance. Whatever it is, if the luck finds me or the heavens above give me some blessings in overtime, I'll keep taking it," Patrick Kane said after scoring Tuesday's game winner.
“I told him after last game, when he scored that goal and he was just sitting next to me on the bench, I was just saying that was that 'it' factor he has,” Kane said. “He scores a lot of timely goals.

“He kind of winked at me tonight and said maybe that it was my time. It was funny how some of those things work out. Most important getting the win and moving on is the most exciting part.”

Kane and Toews are major reasons why the Blackhawks advanced to the Western Conference finals again. The two players have combined for seven game-winning goals in eight playoff wins this season.

Kane’s game-winning chance Tuesday began thanks to a favorable bounce off the end boards. Brent Seabrook had knocked the puck into the Wild’s zone, and it flew off the boards in an unusual manner and came right to Kane as he was skating to the net from the right circle. He gained possession with his forehand, skated past Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov and shot the puck into the net with his backhand.

“Tonight was pretty lucky,” Kane said. “Seabs rimmed it in and it hit the stanchion, comes out in front. I thought there was a chance it could get to me if it went through their defenseman and [Peter] Regin, just tried to make a move on the goaltender.

“It was exciting to get that chance. Whatever it is, if the luck finds me or the heavens above give me some blessings in overtime, I’ll keep taking it. We have a bunch of guys with experience; everyone’s done it. But it’s always exciting when you do.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville might have stated it best.

“We had a break at the end and certainly the right guy had it on his stick,” Quenneville said.

Crawford silences Wild in the end

May, 14, 2014
May 14
Powers By Scott Powers

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild’s fans started in on Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford within seconds of the first puck being dropped in Game 6 of their second-round series on Tuesday.

Over and over again, the fans chanted, “Craw-ford, Craw-ford, Craw-ford.” They especially gave it to him after he allowed a second-period goal.

The fans filled the building with sound of Crawford’s name in spurts throughout all of regulation and in overtime on Tuesday. All the while, Crawford was enjoying every moment of it.

[+] EnlargeChicago Blackhawks celebrate
Hannah Foslien/Getty ImagesThe fans tried to psych out the Blackhawks, but Chicago came out on top.
“Yeah, I could hear it,” Crawford said with a smile. “It’s fun. It’s a fun part of hockey -- trying to get in my head. I’ve heard it before, probably won’t be the last time either. I enjoyed it. It was fun. That’s part of it, that’s playoff hockey. I’d rather it be like that than dead quiet.”

Crawford’s favorite moment came in the end, though.

After he had made his 34th save on the Wild’s 35th shot and Patrick Kane delivered a goal at the other end to give the Blackhawks a 2-1 overtime win and the series, the Wild’s fans were mum.

“It was pretty exciting tonight, throughout this whole series in this building.” Crawford said. “It was kind of nice to win it in front of them tonight.”

If it hadn’t been for Crawford, the Wild easily would have been celebrating a series-tying win on Tuesday. He emerged when the Blackhawks needed him to just as he has a number of times in the playoffs the past two seasons.

The Wild especially put Crawford to the test in the second period. The Wild dominated possession and placed 14 shots on Crawford in the 20 minutes. They got just one past him.

Crawford’s most notable saves came on point-blank chances by the Wild. Justin Fontaine had a breakaway attempt midway through the period, and Crawford stuffed him on the initial shot and then on the rebound. Late in the period, Crawford denied Fontaine again on two consecutive shots from within a few feet.

Crawford’s teammates couldn’t say enough about him afterward. In the Blackhawks’ four wins in the series, he made 114 saves on 119 shots for a .958 save percentage.

“He was big,” Kane said. “Seems to be a trend in this building, kind of in the second period, that they outplay us. I’m sure he wasn’t happiest with us with how we were playing in front of him. But he did what he does. He’s a great goaltender, and we feel he’s the best in the league for that reason.”

After allowing Erik Haula a breakaway goal at 2:29 of the second period, Crawford stopped the last 24 shots he faced in the game. He made seven saves in the third period and five more in overtime.

“Tonight, give Corey a ton of credit for keeping us in that game,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “That’s going to be a good hockey team over there. Commend them on the way they played tonight. We were fortunate to win.”

Just like the pucks, Crawford fended off praise, too. He wasn’t searching for credit for the win. He was just happy to win.

“I don’t know [how I’d rate my performance],” Crawford said. “I rate it as a win. That’s the only thing that counts. I was pretty excited and relieved when that went in. It was a great series. They played hard and never quit against us. Just felt like they kept coming harder and harder as the series went on. We stuck with it. That overtime, that was some pretty good hockey by us. We pressed pretty hard. Don’t know what else to say. It was pretty awesome to finish it off.”

Wild's Ballard moves on from Bollig hit

May, 13, 2014
May 13
Powers By Scott Powers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Minnesota Wild defenseman Keith Ballard said Tuesday he disagrees with the hit put on him by Chicago Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig, but he doesn't want to make a big deal out of it.

Ballard was hit from behind into the boards by Bollig in Game 4 of their second-round series on Friday and fell to the ice and laid face down for a few seconds. He skated off the ice under his own power, went to the dressing room and did not return for the remainder of the game. He missed Game 5 on Sunday due to an upper-body injury. Bollig received a two-game suspension for the hit.

Ballard, who spoke to the media Tuesday for the first time since the hit, will return to the Wild's lineup for Game 6 on Tuesday.

"I don't really care that much about it," Ballard said of the suspension. "I don't think it was a good hit, but I also understand the circumstances. It's a big game, and he's trying to generate some energy. I don't think it was a smart hit, but I don't think it was some of the worst things we see out there sometimes.

"I think sometimes the energy of the game, the emotion and the type of player -- everybody has those players -- they're out there and trying to generate some momentum and be physical, and it was just maybe a little bit over the line."

Ballard said he hasn't spoken to Bollig, but he doesn't care about that, either.

"Too much gets made of the whole 'Did he text you? Or did he ...' I don't give a s---," Ballard said. "I honestly don't. That's what happens, right? I've hit guys, and they've been injured. I don't think it was an overly malicious kind of hit. It was probably a dumb play, but that stuff doesn't really matter to me."

Ballard said he and the team's medical staff have been careful about not getting him back on the ice too soon.

"We were trying to be pretty smart about it," Ballard said. "There was no chance if I had [concussion] symptoms. I'd been through that before, been down that road a couple times, and the more you kind of learn about these things and the more information that's coming out, the long-term effects, they're not worth it to put yourself in that situation."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville would not comment on the suspension, but said Bollig needs to find the right line to play on.

"He's got to be a player that plays on the edge, finding that line there," Quenneville said on Monday. "Just make sure you're playing hard. I don't think we want him to change his style of play, but knowing that there's always a line you have to be mindful of."

Quenneville trusts Handzus on second line

May, 13, 2014
May 13
Powers By Scott Powers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville never anticipated Michal Handzus to be his second-line center when the veteran was acquired around the trade deadline last season.

[+] EnlargeMichal Handzus
Cal Sport Media/AP ImagesMichal Handzus moved back to the second line for Sunday's Game 5.
Handzus was initially seen as a role player and someone who could provide the Blackhawks additional depth. But in time, Quenneville discovered he could use Handzus for more than that. Handzus was vaulted to the second line during the playoffs last season and remained there for much of the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup run.

A season later, Quenneville has bounced Handzus around on different roles in the playoffs, but he's now gone back to him as the team's second-line center. Ultimately, it's about trust to Quenneville, and he trusts Handzus, especially in his defensive game.

"I thought he's played very well in the games he's played here," Quenneville said prior to Game 6 against the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday. "I think he was a big part of our success here in the playoffs last season. He seems to rise to that challenge. You get matchups you're a little bit comfortable in the defensive side of things and big body and smart player."

Handzus was moved back to the second line from the fourth line in Game 5 on Sunday. He played 19:33, which was the most ice time he's been given since playing 25:55 in Game 1 against the St. Louis Blues in the first round. He hadn't played more than 12:58 in the previous four games against the Wild.

Handzus welcomes the added responsibility, but he's tried to be a team player no matter what role he's been given.

"I thought I've always done that throughout my career," the 37-year-old Handzus said on Tuesday. "Obviously, you want to play a lot of minutes and you want to score goals, but that's not always how it works out. You have to help the team as much as you can, either on the fourth line, PK, second line, it doesn't matter. I'm just happy to help the team."

In his current role, Handzus believes the key is getting the puck to his line mates Patrick Kane and Brandon Saad, creating space for them, being defensively responsible and winning faceoffs. He won 12-of-20 faceoffs in Game 5. He also had zero points, a minus-1 rating and a 46.4 Corsi percentage (the Blackhawks had 13 shots for and 15 against with him on the ice in 5-on-5 situations.)

"I've just got to play well, and I've got to play defensively, play with the puck," Handzus said. "I know what I need to do. It's matter of doing it. I've been there this year, too, last year, so I know what I need to do to help."

W2W4: Blackhawks vs. Wild, Game 6

May, 13, 2014
May 13
Powers By Scott Powers
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Chicago Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild face off in Game 6 of their Western Conference second-round series at the Xcel Energy Center on Tuesday. The Blackhawks lead the series 3-2. Here's what to watch for:

• The home team has won every game in the series. The Wild are 5-0 at home in the playoffs, and the Blackhawks are 6-0. The Wild have outscored the Blackhawks 8-2 in Minnesota, and the Blackhawks outscored the Wild 11-4 in Chicago.

• The Blackhawks are traditionally good in closeout games. They're 11-2 when able to clinch a series in the last six seasons.

• The Wild faced the same situation in the first round. They were down 3-2 to the Colorado Avalanche and won the next two games to take the series.

• Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw will miss a fifth consecutive game due to a lower-body injury. Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig is serving the final game of his two-game suspension for an illegal hit on Wild defenseman Keith Ballard in Game 4. Ballard will return to the Wild's lineup after missing Game 5 due to an upper-body injury.

• Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa has nine points in the series. He has one goal and eight assists.

• Wild forward Zach Parise had four points in the series and a team-high 14 points in the playoffs.

• The Wild are 2-of-14 on the power-play in the series, and the Blackhawks are 3-of-12.

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford has made 116 saves on 127 shots for a .913 save percentage. He stopped 28-of-29 shots in Game 5.

• Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov has made 98 saves on 109 shots for a .899 save percentage in the series.

• Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews scored his fourth game-winning goal of the playoffs in Game 5. He has five goals and five assists in the playoffs.

Hawks seek to put away Wild on road

May, 12, 2014
May 12
Powers By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have developed certain Stanley Cup playoff trends they would like to continue and others they could do without.

The Blackhawks have lost the road opener in nine consecutive series dating back to 2010. During those nine series, they have gone 9-4 on the road in Games 4-7.

[+] EnlargeQuenneville
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesJoel Quenneville's Hawks can wrap up their series against the Wild with a win Tuesday in St. Paul.
Chicago looks to continue the latter trend when it enters the Xcel Energy Center to face the Minnesota Wild in Game 6 of their second-round series Tuesday. The Wild, who won Games 3 and 4 at home, trail the Blackhawks in the series 3-2.

One objective the Blackhawks have for Game 6 is to score first and quiet the crowd. Aside from Game 5 in Chicago, the team that has scored first has gone on to win the game.

"Obviously that's the mindset," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Monday. "If we could get some pressure on them in their end, obviously scoring first is going to be huge. We know it's going to be a tough game. Let's make sure we're ready to play our best game."

The Blackhawks were much happier about their play in their 2-1 win in Game 5 on Sunday after being outscored 8-2 in the previous two games, being held to 39 total shots on net in the two games in Minnesota.

Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya said intensity will be an important factor on the road in Game 6.

"[We need to] play a little bit harder," Oduya said. "They play a really fast game, and we just have to bring a little bit more effort, I think. I think the first game we played in there, I think we had them somewhere maybe where we could've scored the first goal. In Game 2 there, we weren't really close. They're really good, so we need a better effort.

"I think we know what they're doing. They know pretty much what we're doing too from this point. I think it's just a matter of will and who wants to win the most, who's fresher and who feels better."

The Blackhawks have fared well in games where they can clinch a series under Quenneville, going 11-2 in such games the past six seasons. Their 11th win came when they defeated the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of their first-round series this season.

"It's something I wasn't really aware of, but we have a lot of characters in the room that are good in important games, that step up and play their best hockey in games like that," Oduya said. "A lot of good leaders and other guys have been around, have experience. I think that's key in situations like this. A lot of nerves come in, either it's overtime or late in the periods in key situations. That's something that's needed."

Blackhawks' Shaw out for Game 6

May, 12, 2014
May 12
Powers By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw will not play against the Minnesota Wild in Game 6 of their Western Conference second-round series Tuesday due to a lower-body injury, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said on Monday.

Shaw will miss his fifth consecutive game due to the injury. Quenneville said Shaw is considered day-to-day and is expected to begin skating again in the next few days.

"He's progressing, but he's not on the trip," Quenneville said.

Shaw was injured after taking a hit from Wild defenseman Clayton Stoner in the first period during Game 1 on May 2. Shaw was hit into the boards and fell to the ice. He limped off the ice and went to the dressing room and did not return for the remainder of the game.

Shaw has two goals, two assists, a zero rating and has averaged 15:54 of ice time in seven playoff games this season. He had 20 goals, 19 assists and a plus-12 rating in 80 regular-season games.

The Blackhawks lead the series 3-2. Game 6 is at 8 p.m. CT Tuesday in Minnesota.

5 observations: Hawks-Wild, Game 5

May, 12, 2014
May 12
Powers By Scott Powers
Here are five observations from the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-1 win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 5 of their second-round series:

1. The Blackhawks won partly because coach Joel Quenneville chose to put his top line together again, accessed all four lines and stopped toying with them. The line of Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa was the Blackhawks' best line most of the season. The trio was together most of the regular season and consistently produced. It wasn't until late in the season the three players were separated. They quickly clicked when placed together to start the second period in Game 5. With that line in place, Quenneville was able to distribute his other lines more efficiently. Brandon Saad-Michal Handzus-Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell-Peter Regin-Kris Versteeg and Joakim Nordstrom-Marcus Kruger-Ben Smith made up the other lines. Each line was competent, and Quenneville distributed minutes across the four lines as he had done for much of the regular season. The Blackhawks had become more a three-line team in the playoffs.

2. What Regin contributed shouldn't really be a surprise. The only worry with Regin was whether not playing for a month would impact his game. Regin proved from early March to early April he could play with 11 games with a Corsi percentage (shot differential) of better than 50 percent during that span. There was a stretch in late March-early April where he, Jeremy Morin and Bickell were the Blackhawks' most productive line. Despite Regin's play, Quenneville opted to go with his regulars and put Regin back on the shelf. With Brandon Bollig's suspension and still not trusting Morin, Quenneville went back with Regin in Game 5 after sitting him the first 10 games of the playoffs. Regin picked up where he left with a 70 Corsi percentage and he drew a penalty which led to a power-play goal.

3. Quantity over quality helped the Blackhawks' offense get going in the second period. The Blackhawks began the second period trying to get every puck they could to the Wild's net. They certainly weren't quality shots, but they were building numbers. They had eight shots on net through the first 6:11 of the second period after having six shots on net for the entire first period. They finished with 15 shots in the period and 28 for the game. They hadn't had more than 22 shots in any of the first four games.

4. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford responded from a soft goal and a so-so Game 4. Crawford wasn't solely to blame for the Blackhawks' Game 4 loss, but there were a couple of goals he allowed that he normally doesn't. He wasn't much better early in Game 5. The Wild nearly beat him on a few shots, and he wasn't able to make a glove save on Erik Haula's initial shot, which led to a rebound goal. As the game went on, Crawford got better. He was especially impenetrable in the last five minutes of the game when the Wild were desperate and being aggressive offensively. He stopped all 14 shots he faced in the third period.

5. The Blackhawks allowed the Wild just one power play. After giving the Wild nine power plays, two of which they took advantage of with goals in Games 3 and 4, the Blackhawks were smarter about their penalties. After Brent Seabrook was called for tripping 29 seconds into the game, the Wild didn't have a power play the rest of the evening.

'Unbelievable' Toews comes through again

May, 12, 2014
May 12
Powers By Scott Powers
CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews responded after his worst game of the season with one of his best.

Toews was ineffective in Game 4 of the second-round series against the Minnesota Wild on Friday. He had a season-worst 27.6 Corsi percentage; the Blackhawks had eight shots for and 21 shots against with him on the ice in 5-on-5 situations, according to He was also held without a point and had a minus-1 rating.

Just a game later, the Wild couldn’t contain Toews.

[+] EnlargeJonathan Toews
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

One game removed from his worst performance of the season, captain Jonathan Toews delivered one of his best efforts -- and the winning goal -- to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 series edge over the Wild.

He had a 76 Corsi percentage, his sixth highest of the season, and the Blackhawks had 19 shots for and six against with him on the ice.

One of those shots came when he battled in front of the net for a puck, and he was able to knock it in. The goal proved to be the winner in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 triumph in Game 5. It was his fourth game winner of the playoffs and spotted the Blackhawks a 3-2 advantage in the series.

Toews’ teammates used a variety of adjectives to describe his play.

“He’s unbelievable,” forward Marian Hossa said. “That’s why he’s a superstar. He’s a great leader on and off the ice, and he finds a way to score big goals. Tonight was a great example.

“He goes hard to the net and we had the puck there and then put it in the net.”

Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford agreed.

“An amazing goal,” Crawford said. “They play hard defensively; they box out pretty good. We need to get pucks and bodies to the net and score on rebounds or screen shots. Battle in front of the net, and that’s what Jon did. A great goal right there.

“He’s done it a bunch of times, so many you tend to forget a little bit. He’s definitely relentless, and scores in so many different ways he’s hard to stop. Our best players have been that way throughout these playoffs and, again tonight, he got us a big goal when we needed it.”

Aside from having their crowd behind them, the Blackhawks also had the advantage of having last change on lines while at home. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville used that Sunday to keep Toews away from matching up with Wild forward Mikko Koivu and his line.

Koivu and his line matched up a bulk of the time against Toews in Games 3 and 4 in Minnesota and limited his chances. Toews only faced Koivu about three minutes on Sunday and was often up against Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and Mikael Granlund in Game 5.

“We’ve had the matchup here,” Quenneville said. “We’ll see what happens there.”

Quenneville thought Toews’ play improved as the game went on. He also believed putting him together with Patrick Sharp and Hossa brought the best out of him.

“I thought he had some pucks around the net,” Quenneville said of Toews. “They sustained some pucks. I thought he was better as the game progressed. That line’s got some top players, and it’s an important line for us and important shifts for us. They scored the big goal for us, as well.”



Patrick Kane
36 16 20 9
GoalsP. Kane 16
AssistsP. Kane 20
+/-K. Versteeg 15
GAAC. Crawford 2.00