Chicago Blackhawks: Defense

Blackhawks sign Sheldon Brookbank

July, 1, 2012
7/01/12
3:59
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks signed defenseman Sheldon Brookbank to a two-year contract, the team announced on Sunday.

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Quenneville expects Hawks in Cup chase

June, 22, 2012
6/22/12
8:30
PM CT
Rogers By Jesse Rogers
ESPNChicago.com
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PITTSBURGH -- Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville thinks he has the team to compete for the Stanley Cup even before trade season and free agency shift into high gear. And he’s emboldened by the fact the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference just won the Stanley Cup.

“We saw what happened this year,” Quenneville said at the NHL draft on Friday. “I think the league has never been tighter, never been more competitive. The parity is evident. It’s amazing how tight it is.”

Besides potential roster changes this summer, he thinks his team needs to do one simple thing to advance further than the first round: compete.

[+] EnlargeQuenneville
AP Photo/Charles Rex ArbogastBlackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is feeling positive about the upcoming season.
“We have to find ways to recapture that [2010] excitement,” Quenneville said. “We have to be competitive, more than we’ve ever been. We exited [the season] knowing we have to be more competitive.”

Quenneville thinks the re-signing of Johnny Oduya will help the depth on defense. The Hawks have relied on their top guys to play heavy minutes for several years.

“We want three pairs you can roll out there and if you can roll them against all four lines than you’re in perfect shape,” he said. “Hopefully there is some balance and some more shared minutes. In a perfect world hopefully that happens.”

There’s little doubt finding more rest for workhorse Duncan Keith can only help the Hawks.

“Duncs does play more some nights than others,” Quenneville said. “If we did have a little more balance there that could be an objective or maybe we can cut him back a little bit.”

Quenneville addressed other pressing matters:

  • On the search for an assistant coach to replace Mike Haviland: “It’s progressing. We’re still not there yet but it will get done soon. I’ve talked to a few guys. There’s a lot of guys interested. There’s a long list but that’s where we’re at.”

  • On Patrick Kane's public partying in Madison, Wisc. “It’s been addressed and that’s where we’re at… We should watch how we handle ourselves.”

  • On if Marian Hossa, who suffered a head injury in the playoffs, will be ready for training camp: “The Hossa news is encouraging.”
  • Keith reveals he had surgery last offseason

    April, 25, 2012
    4/25/12
    1:45
    PM CT
    Rogers By Jesse Rogers
    ESPNChicago.com
    Archive
    Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith had a broken finger and minor surgery on his elbow early last offseason, he revealed on Wednesday.

    "It was minor surgery that needed to get done at the end of last year before I could start working out," Keith stated.

    He said it didn't affect his play this past season, and because he's healthy he'll play in the World Championships for Team Canada this spring.

    "I'm really excited to go there and play," Keith said. "I would have liked to have gone last year."

    Hawks never solved their problems

    April, 24, 2012
    4/24/12
    12:57
    AM CT
    Greenberg By Jon Greenberg
    ESPNChicago.com
    Archive
    CHICAGO -- The 300-level rowdies were howling in the third period when the Chicago Blackhawks' Jimmy Hayes was sent off the ice for a brutal boarding call on Michal Rozsival, who lay prone on the ice.

    “That’s not a penalty!” one yelled.

    This was halfway through the period and en route to a season-ending 4-0 loss to the Phoenix Coyotes. You wondered about the irony there, or maybe the hypocrisy, but really, you almost felt sorry for the bloodthirsty lot.

    After all, they’re hockey fans, not irony fans. To the provincial, the Hayes’ hit wasn’t brutal, it was just a “hockey play.” Brutal was going 0-3 at home and missing all 39 shots in Game 6.

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    Penalty kill continues to be trouble spot

    April, 15, 2012
    4/15/12
    7:26
    PM CT
    Rogers By Jesse Rogers
    ESPNChicago.com
    Archive
    Corey Crawford AP Photo/Ross D. FranklinThe Coyotes' Daymond Langkow takes a shot on Corey Crawford as Brent Seabrook defends.


    Yes, the drama in the first two games of the Chicago Blackhawks-Phoenix Coyotes series has been in the edge-of-your-seat department, but one thing better improve if the Hawks want to go far in the playoffs. Their play on the penalty kill in front of Corey Crawford has been abysmal, just as it was for most of the regular season.

    The penalty kills that went against the Hawks in Game 2 won’t get as much discussion because they won, but the team won’t blame the officials. However, they better kill some penalties with a little more urgency or they can kiss the Stanley Cup goodbye. Much maligned all year, the Hawks simply don’t know how -- or they simply refuse -- to push bodies from out in front of their goal crease. Every NHL goaltender would say the same thing: “Let me see the puck.”

    If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again despite getting the same negative result, then the Hawks’ penalty kill should have been institutionalized months ago.

    Watch the replays of the two power-play goals by Phoenix on Saturday. On the first one, Antoine Vermette is simply standing in front of Crawford like an unmovable object because the defenders in the vicinity, Brent Seabrook and Niklas Hjalmarsson, aren’t paying him any attention. Raffi Torres did the honors on the second goal. The Hawks’ two defenders on either side of the Coyotes’ players are almost acting as bodyguards instead of trying to get them out of the way.

    If Crawford was honest he’d admit there is too much “easy” traffic in front of him. Give them a nudge, a whack, a push; just something, anything. In fact, Duncan Keith did whack Lauri Korpikoski during one man-advantage attempt and he’s injured because of it. It’s better than nothing. Korpikoski was useless for the rest of his time on the ice during that power play.

    If it’s a strategy to let that man stay uncovered in front of the Hawks goalie then it failed a long time ago. If the players don’t recognize, or refuse to do something, about the easy scoring chances a player in front of the goalie creates, then they aren’t being coached well enough. Either way, it’s on Quenneville to fix the problem -- and fast.
    Brent Seabrook
    Rob Grabowski/US Presswire
    Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook talks about his strong play down the stretch, his importance on special teams, and how excited the team is to make a long postseason run.

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    Rapid Reaction: Wild 5, Hawks 4

    April, 1, 2012
    4/01/12
    9:30
    PM CT
    Rogers By Jesse Rogers
    ESPNChicago.com
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    CHICAGO -- A quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 5-4 shootout loss to the Minnesota Wild on Sunday at the United Center.

    How it happened: Devin Setoguchi scored the game winner in the shootout after the Hawks fought back from a 4-2 deficit. Though it was a back-and-forth game, the home team never led. The Hawks got down 2-1 after one period and 4-3 after two but tied it on Patrick Kane's power-play goal late in the contest. Defensive breakdowns and shaky goaltending helped incur the damage as Setoguchi, Dany Heatley, Clayton Stoner and Kyle Brodziak all scored for Minnesota. Stoner’s goal was his first this season. For the Blackhawks, Patrick Sharp scored in the first period and Viktor Stalberg briefly tied the game in the second, but Stoner and Brodziak’s goals came 20 and 61 seconds after Stalberg’s. Those were the back-breakers. Kane’s goal midway through the second period pulled the Hawks within one before he scored again in the third.

    What it means: For the second straight night the Hawks played sloppy on defense. A little bit of everything contributed to their woes and this time it was against the worst offense in the NHL. Minnesota hadn’t scored four (non shootout) goals in exactly a month. They got to four before the game was halfway over. Ray Emery was just a little less than sharp, but, once again, men were open in front of him and pucks weren’t cleared in time. That’s eight goals (before the shootout) given up in two nights. But the Hawks’ own resiliency on offense is reminiscent of their play midseason when they outscored teams to earn big wins -- though their defensive issues at the time came back to haunt them when that offense dried up. Duncan Keith returns from his suspension on Thursday and it might be at about the right time for the Hawks to shore things up before the playoffs.

    What’s next: The Hawks are off until taking on the Wild again on Thursday, this time in St. Paul.

    Rapid Reaction: Hawks 5, Predators 4

    March, 31, 2012
    3/31/12
    10:12
    PM CT
    Rogers By Jesse Rogers
    ESPNChicago.com
    Archive


    A quick look at how the Chicago Blackhawks pulled out a 5-4 win over the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.

    How it happened: A crazy night went the Hawks’ way when Andrew Shaw found a pinching Brent Seabrook for the winning goal midway through the third period. It was a perfect back-hand pass and helped ease the pain of the Hawks blowing a 4-0 lead. Patrick Sharp and Dave Bolland scored power-play goals followed by a Patrick Kane mini breakaway tally. Then Viktor Stalberg finished a nice rush by banking one in off of Predators goalie Pekka Rinne. It was Stalberg’s 20th goal of the season. But Nashville responded with four straight goals of their own between the second and third periods, including two on the power play and two by Shea Weber. Nashville had all the momentum until Shaw found Seabrook to avoid a heart-breaking defeat.

    What it means: The Hawks are in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive year, but they didn’t make it easy on themselves. Playing the night before didn’t stop Nashville from outplaying the Hawks in the second half of the contest, but another big goal late in a game by Seabrook was the difference. The Hawks’ power play was much better getting pucks on net from the outset. But problems in front of Corey Crawford continue. With Weber, and others, blasting away from the point there was too much traffic in front of the Hawks goal. And no one was putting a body on them. It’s something that needs to be fixed before the playoffs, if it can be at this point. It’s still a good enough road win, despite the near collapse, and the Hawks will play on into mid-April as they improved to 44-26-9.

    Playoffs: The Hawks are in and tied Detroit in points with their 97th, but remain the No. 6 seed at the moment due to a tiebreaker. The Hawks have played one more game than Detroit and have three games remaining in the regular season.

    What’s next: The Hawks return to Chicago for a Sunday evening contest against the Minnesota Wild.
    Johnny Oduya
    Bill Smith/Getty Images
    Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Johnny Oduya talks about the impact he's had on his new team and how they can turn things around on the power play. Oduya also describes the team's mindset as they close in on a playoff berth.

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    Losses won't necessarily hurt Hawks

    March, 26, 2012
    3/26/12
    10:42
    PM CT
    Rogers By Jesse Rogers
    ESPNChicago.com
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    CHICAGO -- If you’re a diehard Chicago Blackhawks fan, the scenario must have run through your mind not long after the suspension of defenseman Duncan Keith was announced.

    You wanted a glass half-full thought about the Hawks in a down moment and so here it was: The most fatigued Hawk over the last few seasons is getting five games off right before the playoffs.

    His return with two games remaining in the regular season could very well coincide with the much anticipated return of captain Jonathan Toews from a concussion -- that is, if Toews doesn’t experience any more setbacks. If nothing else, Toews will have fresh legs for the potential two-month postseason.

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    Hawks not making excuses after loss

    March, 25, 2012
    3/25/12
    10:29
    PM CT
    Rogers By Jesse Rogers
    ESPNChicago.com
    Archive
    CHICAGO -- Maybe playing without suspended defenseman Duncan Keith was too much to overcome for the Chicago Blackhawks -- at least for the first game. Add the absences of Jonathan Toews and Marcus Kruger and maybe that’s the reason the Hawks fell so easily, 6-1, to the Nashville Predators on Sunday.

    After the game, though, you wouldn’t find a Blackhawks player who’d use that as an excuse, as plausible as it might be.

    “Obviously missing our top guys makes a difference but we’ve played well without Johnny,” goalie Corey Crawford said. “We just have to find a way to get some points.”

    [+] EnlargeNiklas Hjalmarsson
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesNiklas Hjalmarsson and the Blackhawks defense struggled against the Predators on Sunday.
    But the Hawks only played well without Toews after going through some growing pains. They were 1-3 in the first four games without their captain before turning things around, going 9-1-1 in their next 11.

    “Those are good players, but you can’t sit here and make excuses after the game, especially after a performance like that,” Patrick Sharp said. “We have a good team that we put on the ice today. We just didn’t play like it.”

    That might be true, but when you’re missing your top two centers and half of your top defensive duo it’s bound to have an effect -- at least until other players feel out some new roles.

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    Replacing Keith will be tough task

    March, 24, 2012
    3/24/12
    3:36
    PM CT
    Rogers By Jesse Rogers
    ESPNChicago.com
    Archive
    CHICAGO -- As much as the Chicago Blackhawks have missed Jonathan Toews, losing a key defenseman might loom that much larger. While it’s somewhat surprising the Hawks have gone 10-4-1 without Toews, the notion that overcoming the loss of a key forward is a little easier than losing a defenseman rings true.

    Defensemen play bigger minutes and the top ones simply have more of an effect on the game than forwards. So playing without Duncan Keith for the next five games as he begins his much-talked-about suspension will be a challenge for Chicago. When Keith was out with an injury in early November the Hawks gave up 13 goals in three games. When another top defenseman, Brent Seabrook, missed time the Hawks gave up 16 in four games.

    [+] EnlargeDuncan Keith
    Anne-Marie Sorvin/US PresswireDucan Keith's five-game suspension will put pressure on the Blackhawks' defense.
    Sean O’Donnell will take Keith’s place in the lineup, but Niklas Hjalmarsson will be counted on to fill his role. He was paired with Seabrook at practice on Saturday.

    “I’ve played with Seabs before,” Hjalmarsson said afterwards. “He’s a top defenseman in the league. It will be fun to play with him again. Hopefully we can play as solid as they [Seabrook and Keith] did before.”

    Nick Leddy and Johnny Oduya will stay together while O’Donnell gets inserted with Dylan Olsen on the third pair. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said it was the familiarity of Seabrook and Hjalmarsson and the success of the Leddy/Oduya partnership that helped make the personnel decisions. It means Hjalmarsson will go from a smaller role, playing fewer minutes, to seeing the opposition’s best forwards.

    “I did that in the beginning of the season,” he said. “It’s something I really enjoy doing. I love that challenge.”

    Quenneville indicated he can always change the pairings depending on how the game is going.

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    Defense making big difference for Hawks

    March, 20, 2012
    3/20/12
    10:43
    PM CT
    Rogers By Jesse Rogers
    ESPNChicago.com
    Archive
    Call it the Johnny Oduya effect. The Chicago Blackhawks are 8-1-1 since Oduya joined the team at the trade deadline, including Tuesday’s 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets that completed a season-series sweep.

    Or maybe the Hawks defense was just due. It was fantastic in the win.

    [+] EnlargeBrent Seabrook,
    AP Photo/Jay LaPreteThe Blackhawks' Brent Seabrook, right, celebrates his goal against the Blue Jackets with teammate Andrew Shaw.
    “I thought [our defensemen] had the puck a lot,” coach Joel Quenneville told reporters after the game. “I thought they were dangerous. It seems like our defensemen are getting their shots through. They’re a threat, not only just from the point. They’re making nice decisions.”

    And as a result they are putting up some points. Duncan Keith had a career-high four assists while Brent Seabrook scored again. Seabrook has points in five straight games and was on the ice for all five Hawks goals.

    “Our defense, offensively, has really helped us,” Quenneville said.

    As much as Oduya has helped solidify the position, it still comes down to the top duo executing on both ends of the ice if the Hawks really want to do some damage in the upcoming postseason. Seabrook, in particular, is playing his best hockey. He’s killing plays and lighting up the scoresheet. He has 14 shots over his last four games and he’s plus-8 over his last three.

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    Rapid Reaction: Hawks 5, Capitals 2

    March, 18, 2012
    3/18/12
    8:43
    PM CT
    By rapidreaction
    ESPNChicago.com
    CHICAGO -- A quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals on Sunday night at the United Center.

    How it happened: For the second straight game, the Hawks got out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals by Andrew Shaw and Viktor Stalberg. Shaw made a nice toe-drag move to start a scoring sequence. He then touched the puck as it went by on a Duncan Keith rebound shot. About four minutes later, Stalberg blew by defenseman Dimitry Orlov for his 18th goal of the season. The Hawks added two more in the second as Andrew Brunette and Patrick Kane worked a nice passing play with Kane getting an open-side score, his 19th. Then Shaw scored again after winning a puck battle behind the Washington net. The Capitals scored twice in the middle period. A Niklas Hjalmarsson turnover led to one Caps goal, then Alexander Ovechkin undressed Duncan Keith with a move for Washington’s second score. The home team added an empty-net goal by Bryan Bickell to seal the deal.

    What it means: It’s another stepping stone as the Hawks march towards the postseason. As good as the first period was two nights earlier in Dallas, this one was even better. They gave up just three shots on net with the first coming 16 minutes into the game. That’s the way to start the night. Shaw continues to show off his skill and grit, as well as his hockey IQ. He played great as did Kane, whose level of play has been higher for a while now. The Hawks have been making it easier on their goaltender of late. They allowed just 18 shots on the night, with the three-shot opening period setting the tone. The starts to the last two games can’t be overstated. It’s a winning playoff formula.

    What’s next: After a practice day on Monday the Hawks complete their season series with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday in Columbus. The Hawks are 5-0 against the Jackets this season.

    Blackhawks passing big tests from Wings

    March, 4, 2012
    3/04/12
    7:46
    PM CT
    Rogers By Jesse Rogers
    ESPNChicago.com
    Archive
    DETROIT -- If nothing else, the season series between the Chicago Blackhawks and Detroit Red Wings should get both teams ready for playoff hockey.

    The Blackhawks need to learn how to win tight games and they’re finally doing just that, taking their third one-goal game in a row with a fantastic 2-1 victory over the Wings. The Hawks recorded a 2-1 win in Ottawa two days earlier and both victories were extremely impressive.

    [+] EnlargePatrick Kane
    Marc DesRosiers/US PresswirePatrick Kane scored the game-winning goal in the Blackhawks' third straight victory.
    “It was comparable to how we played on Friday,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after the game. “With details, with purpose, everyone contributing. Another big win for us.”

    Quenneville had called Friday’s victory the “biggest of the year.” This one isn’t far behind. Not when you consider the Wings were 27-3-2 at home coming into the contest and sit near the top of the conference in the standings.

    “They are fun games to play in,” Patrick Sharp said. “Little bit of everything out there. I’m sure we’ll see them again down the road.”

    That little bit of everything included a power-play goal by Sharp, followed by his game-winning set up of a Patrick Kane score late in the second period. Make no mistake, special teams play has been the difference in the last two games. The Hawks have two power-play goals and a score on a delayed penalty, plus they’ve given up nothing when down a man. That’s a winning playoff formula.

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    SPONSORED HEADLINES

    TEAM LEADERS

    POINTS
    Patrick Sharp
    PTS GOALS AST +/-
    78 34 44 13
    OTHER LEADERS
    GoalsP. Sharp 34
    AssistsD. Keith 55
    +/-M. Hossa 28
    GAAC. Crawford 2.26