Chicago Blackhawks: Marian Hossa

Hossa feeling good entering camp

September, 19, 2014
Sep 19
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- What Marian Hossa was going to be able to give the Chicago Blackhawks was in question at this time last year.

Hossa’s back, which he injured during the Stanley Cup finals, was bothering him during the Blackhawks’ training camp at Notre Dame in September 2013, and the forward was shut down for the team’s preseason games.

A year later, Hossa and the Blackhawks are feeling much more optimistic about his health and what the 35-year-old can provide for the season ahead. Hossa eliminated much of that worry by playing nearly a full 2013-14 season without a recurrence of the back problems.

[+] EnlargeMarian Hossa
Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY SportsMarian Hossa might have set scoring targets in younger years, but now "there's only one goal and the goal is to win the Stanley Cup."
“Last year was a great example,” Hossa said Friday after participating in a practice and scrimmage on the first day of training camp. “I only missed a few games, a few of them wasn’t because of my injury. I’m glad. If I can repeat it again this year I would be really pleased.

“Last year in the beginning of training camp I felt [my back] wasn’t still good. I had an extra shot in my back at the beginning of last training camp so I missed a few days because of that. So far it’s been good, no complaints. Hopefully, it’s going to stay that way.”

Hossa was moving around just fine during the camp’s opening scrimmage. He, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp were reunited on a line and quickly found their comfort zone again. Sharp set up Hossa in transition for the first goal of the scrimmage, and Toews later hit Hossa in the deep slot and Hossa put home another goal.

Hossa, who will turn 36 in January, arrived at camp fit. He didn’t participate in all of the fitness testing for fear of injury, but he said his body fat was around 8 percent, which was lower than year ago.

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has yet to see age become a detriment to Hossa’s game.

“I think one thing about Hoss ... some people might ask you, ‘How old’s Hoss?’ or ‘How’s he doing year in, year out? How’s he keep doing it?’,” Quenneville said. “But he hasn’t given us one indication at all that he’s slowing down and he just keeps that consistency of playing at a high level year in, year out and that predictability of shift in, shift out of Hoss playing the right way. We’re fortunate to have [that] type of luxury in a top-end player, and I thought he had an excellent day today as well.”

Hossa said he hasn’t set any specific goals for this season. He was pleased with his play last season, when he was among the team’s best offensive and defensive players. He finished with 60 points, which was his second-highest point total since joining the Blackhawks in 2009, and received votes for the Selke Trophy, which goes to the league’s best defensive forward.

“When I was younger, maybe I did set up these goals, but there’s only one goal and the goal is to win the Stanley Cup,” Hossa said. “If I can contribute by goals or by playing a two-way game or anywhere else, I’ll be happy to.

“Obviously, when you look at it every year, it starts with training camp. You go, ‘Wow, it’s going to be a long year.’ But you try to think positive and try to enjoy what you do. We have a great group of people working around us. It’s fun to be here and I’m glad I’m part of it.”

Hawks storylines (No. 8): Aging players

September, 16, 2014
Sep 16
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ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers counts down the days to the opening of Blackhawks training camp on Sept. 19 with a look at 20 storylines facing the team this season.

Age appeared to catch up with Michal Handzus and Michal Rozsival last season.

Rozsival
Hossa
Both had played roles in the Chicago Blackhawks' run to the Stanley Cup during the 2013 playoffs, and neither could return to that form in the 2014 playoffs. Handzus was demoted to the fourth line, and Rozsival was a healthy scratch for two playoff games last season.

The Blackhawks have six players in their 30s heading into the 2014-15 season.

Rozsival likely will be one player the Blackhawks watch closely again this season. He turned 36 on Sept. 3 and has been part of a defenseman rotation the past two seasons. He played in 27 of 48 regular season games in 2013 and in 42 of 82 games last season.

Marian Hossa, who will turn 36 in January, is the next oldest Blackhawk. He returned from a back injury suffered in the 2013 Stanley Cup finals to play in 72 regular season games last season. He proved last season to again be one of the NHL's top two-way forwards. He has suffered a variety of injuries since turning 30, so the Blackhawks always will have to be concerned at some level about him, but last season was a good sign for the near future.

Brad Richards, 34, has been slowed down in recent years, but showed last season he still has something left in the tank. He likely won't be at a 90-point level again, but he is still capable of contributing offensively at even strength and on the power play. He had 20 goals and 51 points and proved durable, playing in a total of 107 games, including the playoffs.

Johnny Oduya, who will turn 33 in October, is again expected to be paired with Niklas Hjalmarsson and they likely again will receive the toughest defensive assignments.

Patrick Sharp, who will be 33 in December, hasn't allowed his game to be hampered by age. He scored 34 goals and recorded a career-high 78 points last season. He had the most points among all of the league's players 30 or older. He also finished first in the Blackhawks' fitness testing during training camp last season.

Duncan Keith, who turned 31 in July, is also still playing at a high level. He was voted the Norris Trophy winner after continuing to lead the Blackhawks defenseman in points and ice time.

Four Blackhawks highly rated in NHL 15

August, 8, 2014
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EA Sports released its top five players at each position throughout this past week for its upcoming NHL 15 release, and the Chicago Blackhawks' talent was again respected by the game’s makers.

Jonathan Toews tied with Pavel Datsyuk and Steven Stamkos for the second-highest-ranked center. All three players received a 93 overall rating and were just behind Sidney Crosby and his 96 rating.

EA Sports wrote of Toews, “Although the nickname Captain Serious holds up for Jonathan Toews, Mr. Everything is a better descriptor of what he actually brings to the ice every night. Whether it’s (95) rated Faceoffs, (93) Puck Control, or (89) Speed, Acceleration, and Agility – he really does do it all.”

Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa both landed in the game’s top-5 ratings for right wingers. Hossa was second with a 91 overall rating, and Kane was fourth with an 89 overall rating.

“Hossa might not have the same star power as the other players on this list, but make no mistake, he is arguably the best all-round right winger in the game,” EA Sports’ description included. “With five-star ratings in Puck Skills, Senses, Skating, and Defense – Hossa does it all.”

Kane’s offensive game was also shown some love.

“Kane possesses one of the highest skill sets in the entire league with five star Puck Skills, Shooting, Skating, and Senses,” the description included. “His Puck Skills are elite with (94) Passing and Puck Control, (95) Hand-Eye, and (96) Deking. The only thing lacking in his game is Physical ability – coming in at only two and a half stars.”

Duncan Keith finished second with a 92 overall rating behind Shea Weber's 93 rating among the game’s defenseman ratings.

“Last year’s Norris Trophy winner lacks that huge physical element to his game, but makes up for it with 5 star Puck Skills, Senses, Skating and Defense attributes,” the game’s description included.

The Blackhawks had six players in the game’s top-50 ratings last year, with Toews (92 rating) at No. 7, Keith (90) at No. 12, Hossa (89) at No. 24, Brent Seabrook (89) at No. 31, Kane (88) at No. 35 and Patrick Sharp (88) at No. 45.

NHL 15 will be released on Sept. 9.

Hawks player reviews: Marian Hossa

June, 19, 2014
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Marian Hossa #81 of the Chicago BlackhawksBill Smith/NHLI via Getty ImagesMarian Hossa had a 60-point season for the ninth time in his career.

Marian Hossa, forward

2013-14 cap hit: $5,275,000| Age: 35 | Season stats: 30 goals, 30 assists, plus-28

Season recap: There were questions about Hossa’s durability and his future health after he dealt with a back issue late in the 2013 season and in training camp. He responded by putting together one of his best all-around seasons since joining the Blackhawks. He was among the league’s leaders in goals and takeaways. He was disappointed with just two playoff goals.

Season highlight: Hossa was one of the main reasons why the Blackhawks eliminated the Minnesota Wild in the second round. He had one goal, eight assists and was a plus-7 in the series.

Season lowlight: Hossa didn’t contribute as much in the other two rounds. He combined for one goal, four assists and was a minus-7 in 13 playoff games against the St. Louis Blues and Los Angeles Kings.

Final grade: A.

Inside the numbers: Hossa shot the puck 30.2 percent of the time when he was on the ice in 5-on-5 situations, according to extraskater.com. He ranked second behind Jeremy Morin (35.5 percent) on the Blackhawks.

Notes: Hossa recorded 60 points for the ninth time in his career.

Quotes: “I was a little bit worried in the beginning, but I’m glad I didn’t need the surgery,” Hossa said of his back after the season. “When I took the shot, it definitely helped. That basically carried me through the whole season. I think for myself I played a good number of games, and I’m happy about it. Like last bunch of seasons, there was a bunch of hockey for me. So now, I just have to make sure I recharge and get ready for a new season.”

What’s next: Hossa’s season should give the Blackhawks some optimism he’s still capable of playing at a high level for at least a few more seasons. He still has seven more seasons remaining on his contract.

Five reasons Hawks didn't defend Cup

June, 2, 2014
Jun 2
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The Chicago Blackhawks' quest to repeat at Stanley Cup champions came to a halt on Sunday as they fell to the Los Angeles Kings in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals.

Here are five reasons the Blackhawks landed short of winning another Stanley Cup:

1. Blackhawks general manger Stan Bowman's decision to keep most of last season's Cup-winning team together didn't work: Nineteen players returned from the Stanley Cup roster, and the thought was the same group could win another Cup together. That didn't play out as they hoped.

[+] EnlargeMichal Handzus
Joel Auerbach/Getty ImagesMichal Handzus was a minus-8 and had just three points in the playoffs.
Bowman re-signed veterans Michal Rozsival and Michal Handzus after they contributed to the Cup run, and they weren't the same players this season, especially in the playoffs. Rozsival was solid throughout the playoffs last season. He was a plus-9 and had a 57.4 Corsi percentage (shot differential) in 23 playoff games. In the playoffs this season, Rozsival was a minus-1 and had a 52.9 Corsi percentage. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville saw enough of Rozsival's struggles in the second round that Rozsival was a healthy scratch for two games.

Handzus' drop in play was more significant. He had 11 points, was a plus-7 and provided a stable second-line center in the playoffs last season. He couldn't replicate that performance this time around. He had three points, was a minus-8 and was the team's fourth-line center by the end of the playoffs. He had a 48.7 Corsi percentage in the playoffs last season and dropped to 36.3 this season.

Bowman traded away Dave Bolland and Michael Frolik and didn't resign Viktor Stalberg in the offseason. Bowman said he wanted to make room for some of the organization's prospects. Players such as Jimmy Hayes, Jeremy Morin, Brandon Pirri and Ben Smith were all expected to contribute. Smith was the only one who stuck in the lineup. Morin and Pirri showed their upside during stretches this season, but Quenneville wasn't convinced overall and went with his veterans. Hayes and Pirri were traded during the season, and Morin was a healthy scratch for a majority of the playoffs.

Losing Bolland and Frolik wasn't much of a factor in the regular season. A fourth line of Brandon Bollig, Marcus Kruger and Smith was fine throughout the season. The Blackhawks' penalty kill also figured out how to succeed without Frolik. But in the playoffs, the absences of Bolland and Frolik were noticeable. The Blackhawks weren't as deep of a team, and Quenneville became heavily reliant on three lines. Stalberg was in Quenneville's doghouse last season, but he still played at least seven minutes a game throughout the playoffs. In Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals last season, every forward except for Stalberg played 10-plus minutes of even-strength ice time.

By comparison, Handzus, Bollig and Kris Versteeg, the team's fourth line on Sunday, all played fewer than seven minutes of even-strength ice time. Handzus played 6:52, Versteeg 3:34 and Bollig 2:28. It wasn't like that for just one game, either. Bollig averaged 6:24 in 15 playoff games and played as little as 1:50 in one game. Versteeg played a total of three shifts after the second period in the last two overtime games. Handzus' even-strength ice time was diminished throughout the playoffs. Morin and Joakim Nordstrom played less than seven minutes in five of their combined nine playoff games.

2. The Blackhawks didn't add any pieces during the season that paid off in the playoffs: Handzus was that piece last season. This season Bowman considered re-acquiring Versteeg as the Blackhawks' major in-season move in November. Versteeg was part of the Blackhawks' 2010 Stanley Cup team, and they saw him as a versatile forward who could fill their third-line wing spot and provide consistent offense.

Versteeg didn't live up to those expectations. His play fluctuated during the regular season, and he had 10 goals and 19 assists in 63 games for the Blackhawks. He began the playoffs on the Blackhawks' top line, but he ended it barely playing, finishing with one goal, two assists and was a minus-5 in 15 playoff games. He was also among the team's worst possession plays and had a 41.7 Corsi percentage. He could remember being a healthy scratch just once prior to the playoffs this season, and it happened to him three times by Quenneville in the playoffs. Versteeg has said he came back too soon from a knee injury, which happened last season, so the Blackhawks have to hope a full offseason will do him and his knee good for next season.

Peter Regin, acquired from the New York Islanders in February, formed one of the team's better lines with Bryan Bickell and Morin, but Quenneville didn't stick with it entering the playoffs. Regin played in five playoff games.

3. The Blackhawks began and ended another season with questions about their second-line center: Handzus gave them enough in the playoffs last season, but his play didn't hold up over the course of this season. More importantly, he wasn't much help to Patrick Kane, who scored one goal in 5-on-5 situations with Handzus in the regular season, according to stats.hockeyanalysis.com. They were together for 310:16. Kane had 16 goals while with other teammates in 5-on-5 situations.

[+] EnlargeTeuvo Teravainen
Steve Babineau/NHLI/Getty ImagesIs Teuvo Teravainen the answer at second-line center for the Hawks next season?
Pirri was expected to start the season as the second-line center, but an injury during training camp derailed that. Quenneville used Pirri there later in the season, but it didn't last. Andrew Shaw, Regin, Kruger and Smith also saw time at second-line center. Brandon Saad was even given a crack at it in training camp. Quenneville remarked how much he liked Shaw alongside Saad and Kane during the Kings' series. Shaw could be valued too much as the team's consistent third-line center and his career 43.9 faceoff percentage may be reason to believe he won't stay there.

Teuvo Teravainen could be the solution. He's the organization's top prospect, and his offensive ability would be ideal for Kane. Inexperience is a concern with the 19-year-old Teravainen as is his size (5-foot-11, 169 pounds).

4. The Blackhawks weren't as consistent defensively and in the net during the playoffs: The Blackhawks allowed an average of 2.02 goals against in 23 playoff games last season. They gave up 2.90 goals against this season.

The Blackhawks' possession numbers were also down from last season. Their Corsi close percentages (shot differential with the game tied or within a goal in 5-on-5 situations) last season were 56.8 against the Minnesota Wild in the first round, 54.6 against the Detroit Red Wings in the second round, 51.2 against the Kings in the Western Conference finals and 57.0 against the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals, according to extraskater.com.

Their percentages in the playoffs this season were 50.1 against the St. Louis Blues in the first round, 49.7 against the Wild in the second round and 47.8 against the Kings in the Western Conference finals. The Blackhawks just weren't the same puck-possession team.

No one pointed the finger at Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford for his play against the Kings, but he wasn't the same goaltender who led them to six consecutive series victories. He had a few off games before, but they never stacked up, and he always bounced back. He allowed four or more goals in 5-of-37 playoff games prior to facing the Kings. He gave up four or more goals in five of seven games against the Kings and allowed 26 goals and saved 187 of 213 shots for an .878 save percentage. He had allowed 26 goals and had a .931 save percentage through two series this season. He had a 1.84 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in the playoffs last season.

5. The Blackhawks may never admit it, but they may have been tired and beaten down in the end: The Blackhawks clinched the Stanley Cup on June 24, 2013, and then had a summer of Cup celebrations. They were back on the ice in early September for training camp, returned to an 82-game regular-season schedule, had 10 players participate in the Olympics and were again making another late playoff run. That's a lot of hockey, and they seemed unable to put together complete-game efforts as consistently as they did last season. They also went through grueling series with the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild before taking on the Kings.

Blackhawks not finding offensive balance

May, 25, 2014
May 25
12:27
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Jonathan Quick, Marian HossaJeff Gross/Getty ImagesMarian Hossa and Jonathan Toews, right, haven't gotten much help after their line departs.

LOS ANGELES -- The Chicago Blackhawks have often leaned on their offensive depth to get them past opponents, particularly in the playoffs.

The Blackhawks have relied upon everyone from their stars to their role players, and from their first to their fourth lines to give them production in the past.

The Blackhawks aren’t getting that across-the-board help through three games against the Los Angeles Kings in the Western Conference finals, and that is part of the reason why they’re facing a 2-1 series deficit.

“We have four lines that can score and we’ve got to show it,” Blackhawks forward Michal Handzus said after Saturday’s 4-3 loss in Game 3.

Chicago's top line has done its job: Bryan Bickell, Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa have been solid offensively and defensively. They have kept Marian Gaborik, Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown in check, and they’ve been creating offensive chances for themselves.

[+] EnlargeMarcus Kruger, Alec Martinez, Tanner Pearson
AP Photo/Chris CarlsonMarcus Kruger and his mates on the fourth line took a beating in the Hawks' Game 3 loss.
The possession numbers indicate that the Blackhawks’ top line has had the puck much more than the Kings' in the series. Bickell has a 64.1 Corsi percentage; the Blackhawks have had 41 shots for and 23 shots against with him on the ice in 5-on-5 situations in the series, according to extraskater.com. Hossa has had a 61.6 Corsi percentage (45 shots for, 28 against) and Toews has had a 60 Corsi percentage (48 shots for, 32 against.)

Chicago has scored eight goals in the series. Two have come on the power play, one short-handed, one with the goalie pulled and four at even strength. Chicago's top line has accounted for two of the four even-strength goals.

The Blackhawks’ other lines haven’t been keeping up. Ben Smith on the fourth line scored a goal in Game 2, and defenseman Duncan Keith scored with the second line on the ice in Game 1. The three other lines’ possession numbers have fluctuated as well.

Chicago's second line of Patrick Sharp, Handzus and Patrick Kane struggled the most in Game 3. Handzus had a team-worst 27.7 Corsi percentage (five shots for, 12 against), followed by Sharp at 30.4 percent (7 for, 16 against) and Kane at 30.8 percent (8 for, 18 against). For the series, Handzus has a 36 Corsi percentage (18 for, 32 against), Sharp a 30.9 (21 shots for, 47 against) and Kane has a 43.5 (30 shots for, 39 against).

The Blackhawks’ third line did fare better with Andrew Shaw in the lineup Saturday; it had been among the team's worst possession lines during the first two games. When together, the fourth line of Brandon Bollig, Marcus Kruger and Smith turned in a Corsi below 50 percent in Game 3.

Chicago coach Joel Quenneville said he would reexamine his lines after Saturday’s loss, but he wasn’t sure whether they needed much fine-tuning.

“We'll look at our lines,” Quenneville said. “We look at basically nine periods there, seven of them pretty good, pretty effective as far as what we've been doing, as far as chances, generating what we're looking to do. They've had two big third periods on us. That's the difference in being down 2-1.

“We can look at the lines. I don't know if we got to shake them up too much.”

5 observations: Hawks-Wild, Game 5

May, 12, 2014
May 12
11:40
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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.

Rapid Reaction: Blackhawks 5, Wild 2

May, 2, 2014
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11:33
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CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 5-2 win over the Minnesota Wild in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series at the United Center on Friday.

How it happened: Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane broke a 2-2 tie with a backhanded shot from the right circle at 8:22 of the third period. Kane's goal came just after the Wild fought back from a 2-0 deficit and tied the score with two goals early in the third period. Clayton Stoner scored the first goal at 2:19 of the third period for the Wild, and Kyle Brodziak scored the second one at 6:56. Kane scored another goal at 16:47 of the third period to give the Blackhawks a 4-2 lead, and Bryan Bickell had an empty-net goal for the final score. The Blackhawks utilized their power play to go ahead 2-0. Bickell redirected a shot from Brent Seabrook into the net for a power-play goal at 14:48 of the first period. The Blackhawks added to their lead when Brandon Saad delivered a backhanded pass through traffic and connected with Marian Hossa at the net for another power-play goal at 11:21 of the second period. Hossa had a goal and two assists. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford stopped 30 of 32 shots. Wild goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov made 17 saves. Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw left the game because of a lower-body injury in the first period and did not return.

What it means: The Blackhawks took a 1-0 lead in the series and continued to possess home-ice advantage. The Blackhawks' power play struggled against the St. Louis Blues and converted on 3 of 20 chances in the first round. The Blackhawks nearly equaled that goal total Friday. The Blackhawks' penalty kill continued its success. After killing 27 of 29 penalties against the Blues, they killed all three of the Wild's power plays in Game 1.

Player of the game: Kane came through again. He has five goals in seven playoff games this season.

Stat of the game: The Wild outshot the Blackhawks 17-3 in the second period, but the Blackhawks outscored the Wild 1-0 in the period.

What's next: The series remains in Chicago for Game 2 on Sunday afternoon.

By the numbers: Hawks-Blues, Game 5

April, 26, 2014
Apr 26
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ST. LOUIS -- Here’s a look by of the number of the Chicago Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of their first-round series:

* Game 5 was the fourth game in the series to be decided in overtime. The NHL record for most overtime games in a series is five, which was set in 1951 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens and again in 2012 between the Blackhawks and Phoenix Coyotes.

* The Blues had a 50.5 Corsi close percentage (the Blues had 51 shots attempts to the Blackhawks’ 50 in 5-on-5 situations with the game tied or within a goal.) Corsi close is used to combat score effects. Despite the shot advantage, the Blackhawks scored three goals to the Blues’ one in those situations.

* Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa had a game-high seven shots on net. He leads the league with 28 shots on goal in the playoffs.

* Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked a game-high six shots. He leads the NHL with 24 blocked shots in the playoffs.

* Blues forward Vladimir Sobotka won 15-of-17 faceoffs. It was the best performance by a Blue in a playoff game since faceoffs began being tracked during the 2000-01 season.

(Read full post)

Marian Hossa finally finds net in playoffs

April, 26, 2014
Apr 26
12:14
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ST. LOUIS -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa couldn’t predict how and when he was going to score.

But he had a good feeling a goal was coming his way if he just continued to play as he had against the St. Louis Blues through the first four games of their series.

[+] EnlargeMarian Hossa
Mark Buckner/NHLI/Getty ImagesMarian Hossa knew his first goal in the playoffs couldn't be far off, and he netted it Friday.
Hossa said that around noon on Friday. He scored less than 10 hours later.

"I just tried to create something out there," Hossa said after the Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime win on Friday. "Obviously, I had a couple great pucks on my sticks and tried to take a couple good shots and finally I get the rebound off my shot. I saw the net half open, and I tried to finish it.

"It’s always a great feeling, but, like I said, it doesn’t matter who scores in the playoffs as long as we win. I try to play a 200-foot game. That’s my game. But, definitely, when you score, you get that extra boost."

Hossa had done plenty of creating in the first four games, too, but just hadn't gotten the final result. He attempted 37 shots, including 21 on net, through the first four games.

On Friday, he continued to challenge Blues goaltender Ryan Miller. Hossa attempted eight shots, including a game-high seven on net. He now has a league-high 28 shots on net in the playoffs.

Hossa broke through with his goal late in the first period. Hossa put a shot on Miller from the slot, and Miller blocked it. Hossa found the puck again in front of the net and finally put it home.

"Nice to score for him," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought he had the puck a lot tonight. I thought he progressed last game as the game went on. Tonight when he had the puck like that -- defensively, he does all the right things -- him with the puck, offensively, that line can be a big threat."

The difference?

"The difference was I scored a goal," said Hossa, who has 44 career playoff goals. "Obviously, I had a couple great chances in games before. I didn’t, but like I said, as long as we win, it doesn’t matter who scores. That’s huge."

Rapid Reaction: Hawks 3, Blues 2 (F/OT)

April, 25, 2014
Apr 25
10:23
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ST. LOUIS -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks’ 3-2 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 5 of their Western Conference first-round series at the Scottrade Center on Friday.

How it happened: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews scored the winning goal on a breakaway at 7:36 of overtime. The Blackhawks were the first to score on the night, as Marian Hossa broke his four-game scoreless drought. He scored off his own rebound at 16:11 of the first period. The Blues tied the game at 1-1, when T.J. Oshie scored with a backhanded shot as he was skidding on his knees at 11:04 in the second period. Ben Smith put the Blackhawks back ahead 2-1 with a backhanded shot near the net six minutes later in the second. The Blues tied it again at 2-2, when Jaden Schwartz set up Alex Pietrangelo for a goal on a 2-on-1 rush at 1:42 of the third period. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford and Blues goaltender Ryan Miller each made 27 saves.

What it means: The Blackhawks became the first team in the series to win on the road. They took home-ice advantage away from the Blues and a 3-2 lead in the series. The Blackhawks have a chance to close out the series at home on Sunday. Four of the five games have been decided in overtime. Each team has won twice in overtime. Both teams continued to have power-play woes and penalty-killing success. They each were 0-for-2 on the power play in the game. The Blackhawks are 2-for-18 for the series, and the Blues are 2-for-23.

Player of the game: Toews scored the winning goal. He has six points in the series.

Stat of the game: Hossa had seven shots on goal, scoring once.

What’s next: The series returns to Chicago for Game 6 on Sunday.

Hossa, Sharp confident goals are coming

April, 25, 2014
Apr 25
1:59
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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ST. LOUIS -- The lack of goals from Chicago Blackhawks forwards Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp against the St. Louis Blues in their first-round series hasn’t been for the lack of trying.

[+] EnlargeMarian Hossa
Dennis Wierzbicki/USA TODAY SportsPatrick Sharp, left, and Marian Hossa haven't had a goal of their own to celebrate this series.
Hossa and Sharp have combined for 70 shot attempts in the four games. Hossa has taken 37 total shots, including 21 on net. Sharp has 33 total attempts, including 18 on net. Despite those numbers, the Blackhawks’ regular-season-leading goal scorers have been held to zero goals in the series.

Both players obviously hoped their personal results would change as the series nears its end, but neither expressed any frustration about their play prior to Game 5 on Friday.

“We had lots of chances, Sharp or me,” said Hossa, who scored 30 regular-season goals. “I know we haven’t scored a goal yet, but definitely feeling like we’re creating a lot of chances. That’s a good thing -- creating something. And just doesn’t matter who scores as long as there’s a big win at the end.”

It just hasn’t been quantity for the pair. They’ve had the quality variety as well. Blues goaltender Ryan Miller was lying on the ice when he robbed Sharp in the first period in Game 4. Hossa had a wraparound chance denied in Game 2. Sharp wasn’t able to convert on a breakaway opportunity in the second overtime of Game 1.

Not getting those opportunities is what would frustrate Sharp

“No, I'll take all the chances I can get,” said Sharp, who had 34 regular-season goals. “It means I'm creating something and doing something good out there. Sooner or later they're going to start going in."

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By the numbers: Hawks-Blues Game 3

April, 22, 2014
Apr 22
10:59
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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CHICAGO -- Here's a look, by the numbers, at the Chicago Blackhawks' 2-0 win over the St. Louis Blues in Game 3 of their first-round series:

• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford stopped all 34 shots he faced, including 26 at even strength. His even-strength save percentage rose to .920 and overall save percentage to .932.

• The Blackhawks went 0-for-4 on the power play. They're 1-for-14 for the series. They have 12 shots on goal from their power plays.

• The Blues were 0-for-3 on the power play. They're 1-for-16 in the series. They have 26 shots on net from their power plays.

• Blues forward Steve Ott and Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell tied for a game-high eight hits. Bickell is second in the NHL with 21 hits in the playoffs.

• The Blues had 14 players with a Corsi percentage (shot differential) higher than 50 percent, according to extraskater.com. The Blackhawks had four. Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko led all players with an 83.3 Corsi (the Blues had 20 shots for and four against when he was on the ice in 5-on-5 situations). Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg had a game-low 25 Corsi (the Blackhawks had six shots for and 18 against when he was on the ice).

• The Blackhawks and Blues combined for seven penalties, which was the lowest amount in the series. They combined for 10 in Game 1 and 17 in Game 2.

• Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews won 19-of-24 faceoffs. He's won 56-of-83 faceoffs for a 67.5 winning percentage in the series.

• Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith played a game-high 27:27, and Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo played a team-high 26:33. Pietrangelo is the first in the NHL with 98:21 of ice time in the playoffs, and Keith is second with 96:32.

• Blues forward Jaden Schwartz had two takeaways and leads the NHL with seven in the playoffs.

• Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson blocked two shots. He's second in the NHL in 14 blocked shots in the playoffs. He also leads the league with 19:24 of short-handed ice time through three games. He played 4:01 on the penalty kill in Game 3.

• Blackhawks forwards Brandon Bollig and Marcus Kruger started every shift in the defensive zone. They combined for 18 shifts.

• Blues forward Alexander Steen attempted 12 shots, including six on net. He has taken 35 shots, including 24 on net, in the series.

• Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa attempted nine shots, including four on net. He has taken 28 shots, including 21 on net, in the series.
Here’s a look at the St. Louis Blues’ 4-3 overtime win over the Chicago Blackhawks by the numbers:

* The Blues had 17:48 of power-play ice time in the win. They scored once on nine power-play opportunities. They are 1-for-13 on the power play for a 7.7 percentage in the series.

* The Blackhawks were 0-for-4 on the power play. They are 1-for-10 for a 10.0 percentage in the series. They scored on their first power-play attempt of the series.

* The Blackhawks accumulated a season-high 41 penalty minutes. The Blues had 20.

* Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were each held to one shot attempt. Kane has one goal and seven shots on net in the two games, and Toews has two assists and five shots on goal.

* Blackhawks forward Brandon Bollig played a team-low 3:23 of ice time. He played three shifts and a total of 1:23 of ice time after the first period. He compiled 12 penalty minutes, including a 10-minute misconduct and a two-minute minor for roughing. Ryan Reaves played a team-low 3:49 for the Blues.

* Blackhawks defensemen accounted for all three goals in the loss. Their defensemen have scored five of their six goals in the two games. Brent Seabrook has two goals, and Michal Rozsival, Duncan Keith and Johnny Oduya each have one goal.

(Read full post)

Hawks practice as full team, arrange lines

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15
3:01
PM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
Archive


CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks did something Tuesday they haven't been able to do for almost a month.

They practiced as a full team. All 15 forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders were healthy and participated in the hour-long practice at Johnny's IceHouse West.

Toews
Kane
Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews joined his teammates on the ice Tuesday for the first time since suffering an upper-body injury on March 30. Patrick Kane also participated in his first full team practice since his injury on March 19. He had participated in a team morning skate last week.

"I thought, at least for me being out there the first time, the pace was pretty high -- seems like everyone's excited about what's going to happen here going forward here in the playoffs," Kane said. "It was nice to get out there, skate with the team in a real practice, and even nicer to have one [Wednesday]."

With everyone on the ice, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville unveiled his probable lines to begin the playoffs, and there were some changes.

Quenneville placed Kris Versteeg, Toews and Brandon Saad together on the top line. Patrick Sharp, Michal Handzus and Marian Hossa skated together on the second line. Bryan Bickell, Andrew Shaw and Kane comprised the third line. Quenneville stuck with his usual fourth line of Brandon Bollig, Marcus Kruger and Ben Smith.

Sharp, Toews and Hossa played together on a line for a bulk of the season, and Kane was mostly on the second line. Versteeg and Saad have bounced everywhere from the first to third lines this season.

Quenneville said he is looking for balance in the four lines.

"I thought all the lines have comparable ingredients with the ability to score and play without the puck, as well," Quenneville said. "We also had that continuity of at least a couple of guys who are familiar with one another. Whether you revert back or you like the matchup, even in the course of the game, you can always move one or two guys around without really rearranging too much; having that flexibility, and some guys can play both sides and go in the middle, as well. Every game would be different, but right now you like the balance."

Kane has played with Shaw and Bickell before. Kane and Bickell shared a line for much of the playoffs last season and were both essential to the team's Stanley Cup run.

Kane believes that even though Bickell and Shaw are physical players and could give him protection against the St. Louis Blues, they also need to stick to their games.

"To be honest with you, I think playing with them two guys, you want to make sure you're matching their work ethic because they're always going to be working hard," Kane said. "At the same time, we want to play smart, play good defensively, make sure we're not giving anything up.

"Sometimes you go into a series and you think a little too much about the physical play or what's going to happen and it throws you off. I think for us, we've just got to go out there, play hockey the way we know how to play, and not worry about all that other stuff, whether it happens after the whistle or during the play. I think in the past we've maybe gotten caught up in that a little bit."

Quenneville is optimistic that the line of Versteeg, Toews and Saad can be productive for the Blackhawks.

"We feel [Saad is] capable of playing against top guys," Quenneville said. "He's played with Jonny a lot the last couple years. [Versteeg] as well has played in some big situations. We'll see how that all works out -- certainly has the capability of working well together. [Versteeg] did play a little bit with [Toews and Saad] there recently. That line looked pretty good together."

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