Chicago Blackhawks: Patrick Sharp

Hawks practice as full team, arrange lines

April, 15, 2014
Apr 15

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.

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."

No incentive for Hawks, and it shows

April, 11, 2014
Apr 11
WASHINGTON -- Lack of motivation can be a sincere issue. It was for the Chicago Blackhawks in their first game since learning they would officially be the third seed in the upcoming playoffs.

From surrendering goals early in each of the first two periods to not lighting the lamp on their own, the Blackhawks never came close to taking down the Washington Capitals. Friday night's 4-0 final score said as much.

[+] EnlargeJoel Ward, Corey Crawford
Geoff Burke/USA TODAY SportsCorey Crawford and the Hawks had a tough night in Washington on Friday, prompting the goalie to say, "I don't know, just forget about this."
"It was a tough start," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said shortly after his squad's four-game winning streak ended. "Both [first and second] periods, we lose whatever energy we're looking to get in a game like that. It was one of those nights where they were clearly the better team."

Speaking earlier Friday after the morning skate, Quenneville said the hope was his squad would maintain its recent winning ways in spite of the incentive-less situation.

The Blackhawks (46-20-15) will open the playoffs on the road at either St. Louis or Colorado, with the location out of their control.

So when Alex Ovechkin sent a one-timer from the left circle inside the near post past Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford 2:03 into the game, Quenneville's stated hopes realistically went away.

Forward Jay Beagle doubled his season total of goals by scoring twice for the Capitals (38-30-13), who are not headed to the postseason. His first goal came by simply directing the puck into an open net with Crawford caught out of position. On his second goal, Beagle had plenty of space in front of Crawford to handle a centering pass as multiple defenders focused on activity elsewhere.

"I think that's probably a good example of what's going to happen if we're trying to make plays and not move our feet," winger Patrick Sharp said. "We've talked the last couple of weeks about how well we've been playing, keeping things simple and just outworking the other team.

"Tonight it seemed right from the start that we were a step behind."

Nicklas Backstrom scored 1:19 into the second period with a shot off the back of Crawford.

"That's not the way you want to play a game," said Crawford, who sat out the third period. "I think it's a dangerous game against a team that's done with, a team with that amount of skill. They were trying stuff that maybe they wouldn't try in any other game. It feels like everything was just working for them."

In addition to not having injured but recovering forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, the Blackhawks sat Duncan Keith and Peter Regin. Quenneville hinted additional players could rest in Saturday's regular-season finale at the Nashville Predators. Antti Raanta, who stopped all seven shots he faced in the third, is "likely" to start, Quenneville said.

Considering the circumstance, the coach and starting goaltender are content with discarding the essentially irrelevant outcome.

"We'll throw it in the garbage can," Quenneville said. "We learned a little bit, but certainly we're not happy about the way it was played out."

Said Crawford: "We can definitely just look past and move on to the next one. I don't know, just forget about this. I don't know what else there is to say."

Sharp continues adding to career season

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
CHICAGO -- Only two Chicago Blackhawks have reached 80 points in a season since 2000.

Tony Amonte did so in the 1999-2000 season with 84 points. Patrick Kane was the other with 88 points during the 2009-10 season.

[+] EnlargePatrick Sharp
Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty ImagesPatrick Sharp's consistency this season has him on the verge of an 80-point 2013-14 campaign for the Blackhawks.
And now Patrick Sharp is knocking on that door. With another goal and assist in the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday, Sharp upped his point total to 78 points this season. The Blackhawks have two regular-season games left.

Sharp has already broken his previous points record. He had 71 points during the 2010-11 season. He also has a new single-season assists record with 44. He's two goals shy of matching his career-best 36 goals, which he set in the 2007-08 season.

Sharp's numbers this season have been a byproduct of his consistency. He has recorded points in 52 of 80 games this season, and six of the 28 games he didn't record a point in came during the first nine games of the season.

Sharp's longest points slump has been three games, which has happened only once. He has had nine points streaks of three games or more. His longest has been six games.

After the Blackhawks discovered they would be without Kane and Jonathan Toews for the final six regular-season games, Sharp was asked if the offensive burden fell on his shoulders.

"I'm not really going to change much," Sharp said. "I'm going to do what I did all season long. I'm not going to try to take anything else on. I'm going to play the game I've played from start to finish and hopefully I continue to have success that way."

That's exactly what he has done and success has followed him. Sharp has scored a goal in each of the Blackhawks' past three games and has five points during that span. Chicago is on a four-game winning streak.

Sharp especially came through Wednesday. He provided the primary assist on Marian Hossa's goal with 47.7 seconds left in the third period to force overtime, and Sharp then scored the winner 43 seconds into OT.

"I like the responsibility shown," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said of Sharp. "In a game like this, he took charge in the end, got us up the ice, on the ice there in the end with the threat to score and we tie it up and then he scores in overtime.

"I think his leadership and his part of the core group in the absence of two of our top guys, I think Sharpie has stepped up to the plate here and responded in the right fashion."

'Monkey off your back': Hawks post OT win

April, 9, 2014
Apr 9
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks triumphed in the Stanley Cup playoffs last season partly because they succeeded in overtime.

The Blackhawks won five of the seven playoff games that went into overtime last season. Two of those victories came in the Stanley Cup finals.

They also won five overtime games during the regular season.

They were consistently clutch.

This season had been a different story: The Blackhawks hadn’t scored in 21 overtime games. They lost seven games in overtime and were 6-8 in shootouts.

On Wednesday, the Blackhawks finally added an overtime win to their season’s résumé. Patrick Sharp put the puck in the net 43 seconds into overtime to lift the Blackhawks to a 3-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens at the United Center.

“I think we were due,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “It was the first time all year we scored an overtime goal in 20-something games, 20-some opportunities. We got a pretty good club, offensively, but to finally take this long to get one was a relief and a huge two points for us ... and a nice comeback, as well.”

Although playoff overtime games are different and don’t lead to shootouts after five minutes, Quenneville acknowledged it was still important for his team to pull out Wednesday’s game as it did. Marian Hossa also scored for the Blackhawks -- with 47.7 seconds left in the third period to force overtime.

“It’s not the type of overtime that counts in the playoffs,” Quenneville said. “But certainly, going forward, it gets the monkey off your back in those situations knowing that we should feel good about entering it and finding way to at least get chances and the quality to get the endings. We’re pretty fortunate over the years. This year it’s just a bad stat.”

Sharp had similar thoughts.

“It feels good because there will be plenty of overtime games in the future and no shootouts to fall back on,” Sharp said. “I know we haven’t been great in the shootout either. We like our 5-on-5 team play. I don’t think we read too much in that overtime number.”

CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime win over the Montreal Canadiens at the United Center on Wednesday:

How it happened: Marian Hossa provided the late heroics for the Blackhawks as he scored with 47.7 seconds left in the third period to tie the score at 2-2. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford had been pulled off the ice to give them six skaters. Patrick Sharp scored the winner in the first minute of overtime. After being scoreless after two periods, both teams got going in the third period. Canadiens forward Dale Weise scored the game's first goal at 7:31. Blackhawks forward Jeremy Morin tied it at 10:34. He has three goals and two assists in the last four games. Twenty-two seconds later, the Canadiens went back ahead with a goal by Francis Bouillon. Canadiens goaltender Peter Budaj stopped 25-of-28 shots. Crawford had 28 saves. The Blackhawks were 0-for-2 on the power play.

What it means: The Blackhawks, who are on four-game winning streak, kept their hopes of gaining home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. They can still surpass the Colorado Avalanche, who have 109 points with three games left. The Blackhawks are 46-19-15 with 107 points with two games left. Wednesday marked their first overtime win of the season.

Player of the game: Hossa was clutch again. He had a goal and an assist.

Stat of the game: Only two penalties were called in the game. Both were against the Canadiens.

What's next: The Blackhawks close out the regular season on the road. They play the Washington Capitals on Friday and Nashville Predators on Saturday.

Hawks continue winning ways

April, 6, 2014
Apr 6
CHICAGO -- No Patrick Kane. No Jonathan Toews. No problem.

The Chicago Blackhawks are not only winning without Kane and Toews, who are both out until the playoffs, but are also succeeding at another level than when the two injured stars were in the lineup in recent months.

The Blackhawks are riding their first three-game winning streak since December after defeating the St. Louis Blues 4-2 at the United Center on Sunday. The Blackhawks improved to 3-0-0 without Kane and Toews.

The Blackhawks returned Sunday to the formula they used to take down the Minnesota Wild on Thursday and Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. The Blackhawks limited the Blues’ quality chances. The Blackhawks focused on the offensive basics, especially getting players to the net. Players stepped up across the board.

“I thought three games in a row we played the exact same way,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Played the right way, worked hard, very effective, efficient. Everybody contributed and scored some ugly goals. Played the right way to get rewarded.”

(Read full post)

Rapid Reaction: Hawks 4, Jackets 3

April, 4, 2014
Apr 4

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Nationwide Arena on Friday.

How it happened: Blackhawks forward Ben Smith scored the winning goal with 3.9 seconds left in the third period. The Blackhawks and Blue Jackets exchanged goals for the first two periods. Derek MacKenzie put the Blue Jackets ahead first with a rebound goal at 1:32 of the first period. Jeremy Morin answered for the Blackhawks in the same period. The Blue Jackets went back ahead with a Ryan Johansen goal, but Patrick Sharp evened the game with a power-play goal. Marian Hossa gave the Blackhawks their first lead by scoring at 10:42 of the second period, but it wouldn't stand, as Artem Anisimov tied the score again later in the period for the Blue Jackets. Blackhawks goaltender Antti Raanta stopped 24 of 27 shots. Blue Jackets goaltender Sergie Bobrovsky made 34 saves.

What it means: The Blackhawks extended their winning streak over the Blue Jackets to 13 games. The Blackhawks last lost to them in 2011. The Blackhawks improved to 44-19-5 with 103 points on the season. They're on a two-game winning streak. The Colorado Avalanche remained in second place in the Central. The Avalanche have 104 points and have two games in hand. They were idle on Friday.

Player of the game: Smith scored for the second consecutive day.

Stat of the game: The Blackhawks outshot the Blue Jackets 30-14 on goal over the last two periods.

What's next: The Blackhawks return home to play the St. Louis Blues on Sunday. The Blackhawks are 1-1-2 against the Blues this season.

Hawks enter unknown minus Kane, Toews

April, 3, 2014
Apr 3
CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks have been without Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in the same game just once in their seven seasons together.

The second time will come on Thursday night.

[+] EnlargePatrick Kane, Jonathan Toews
Jonathan Kozub/NHLI/Getty ImagesThe Blackhawks have only been without Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews once the past seven seasons.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville announced Wednesday that Toews has been shut down for the final six regular-season games after he suffered an upper-body injury on Sunday. Kane's regular season ended when he was placed on the long-term injured reserve following a lower-body injury against the St. Louis Blues on March 19.

In six games without Kane, the Blackhawks have missed his offense and how he allows them to be a deeper team across all four lines. The Blackhawks went 2-4 during that stretch and were outscored 14-5 in 5-on-5 situations.

Now without Toews also, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville understands his team has to play differently to be successful.

"Obviously, we missed Kaner on that trip there, but now without Jonny and him at the same time, offensively, there's a [difference]," Quenneville said prior to playing the Minnesota Wild on Thursday. "I think that's why we're looking to play a tight, simple game, and I don't think you have quite the skill across the board and those guys usually enhance their linemates and their lines. So it's a situation where we have to make sure we play the right way. We've got to play hard, we've got to play simple, and look to play tight."

The only other time the Blackhawks were without Kane and Toews, the game was meaningless. They were both healthy scratches in the final game of the 2012-13 season because the Blackhawks had already clinched the Presidents' Trophy.

This time, the game is important. The Blackhawks are still hoping to push the Colorado Avalanche for second place in the Central Division. The Avalanche lead the Blackhawks by three points and have a game in hand.

Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw, who will replace Toews on the top line, is confident they can still win without Kane and Toews.

"I think the team has the character and determination we need," Shaw said. "We're just going to go out there, work hard and compete. We're pushing for that home-ice advantage in the first round."

The stars' absence leaves the Blackhawks without their second and third points leaders. Kane has 69 points on the season and Toews has 68. Patrick Sharp, who leads the Blackhawks with 73 points, believes it's important to not attempt to single-handedly make up for the missing offense.

"I'm not really going to change much," Sharp said. "I'm going to do what I did all season long. I'm not going to try to take anything else on. I'm going to play the game I've played from start to finish and hopefully continue to have success that way."

The Blackhawks won't be a complete team again until the playoffs, when Kane and Toews are expected to return, but Quenneville expects them to snap out of their funk before then. They have lost three consecutive games for the first time this season.

"We want to turn it on right now," Quenneville said. "We want to make sure we're not going to rely on that going into the last game or going into the playoffs. All of a sudden, we got to reignite our team game. That's why we want to make sure we're doing the right things within games and play the right way.

"You've got to bring passion. You've got to bring intensity. And you have to bring meaning to every shift. That's what the playoffs are all about. But don't expect to just do it come Game 83."
CHICAGO -- Not all news was bad Wednesday for the Chicago Blackhawks, who will add forward Bryan Bickell back to the lineup.

Bickell is expected to play against the Minnesota Wild on Thursday after missing the past six games with an upper-body injury.

"[Bickell's] ready to go," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after practice on Wednesday. "He was flying there at practice. He's been skating really well. He's been skating going into that [recent road] trip. We thought maybe he could have played on that trip. But certainly you can use his size and his speed and his pace and some physicality to his game, which is noticeable. And I thought he was definitely playing his best hockey going into that injury."

Blackhawks forwards Patrick Sharp and Michal Handzus and defensemen Johnny Oduya and Michal Rozsival did not practice on Wednesday. Rozsival said he would not play on Thursday, but he could return against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. Quenneville said the other three players had maintenance days and are fine.

Bickell's play has fluctuated since returning from a knee injury in December, but Quenneville is happier with him as of late. Quenneville was giving Bickell an average of about 12 minutes of ice time in his past five games. He played 14:18 against the St. Louis Blues in the game he suffered his injury on March 19.

Bickell is excited to play again and get into form before the playoffs begin.

"It's hard for me getting ready before this stretch, these six games, going into playoffs and get back and playing the hockey I know," Bickell said. "It was frustrating sitting out. I know that little injury I had to get the rest. I think those last three days helped it for tomorrow."

Bickell has 10 goals, two assists and a minus-seven rating in 53 games this season. He was one of the Blackhawks' top players in the playoffs last season with nine goals and eight assists during the team's Stanley Cup run.

Hawks keep losing -- players and games

March, 30, 2014
Mar 30

PITTSBURGH -- A collective sigh of relief could be heard all the way from Chicago when Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville declared that the injury to Jonathan Toews in the Hawks' 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday wasn’t serious.

But that doesn’t mean the situation with his team isn’t.

Toews is day-to-day, according to Quenneville, with what appeared to be a left arm injury. He’ll be re-evaluated on Monday.

The Hawks dropped their third straight game and, with the potential of playing without Toews for even a little while, they could be headed for more down days just as the playoffs approach.

“It’s been a bit of a rough one,” Kris Versteeg said after the game. “We’re just going to have to find ways to create offense.”

If Toews plays in the next game against the Minnesota Wild at home on Thursday, the Hawks have a fighting chance. Even with him they’ve scored just 11 goals in the past six games since Patrick Kane was injured.

“Whenever you lose players, someone has to step up and take the spot,” Patrick Sharp said. “In the case of those two guys, it’s tough to replace them.”

Sharp went on to say there’s always a next guy ready to do so, but it won’t be a player with the skill or grit of Toews.

Quenneville is trying to see the positive in a short-term Toews injury.

“This time of the year we want to make sure he gets better and fresh; whether he gets a break or not we’ll see,” Quenneville said.

That’s looking at the glass half full, but maybe that is Quenneville’s subtle way of saying he’s not worried about seedings or even home-ice advantage. Currently the Hawks don’t have it anyway. They’ve already clinched a playoff spot but are in a dogfight for home ice. They could play every playoff game at home, but if it’s without Toews and Kane they can forget about repeating as champions.

“Of course it would be a huge loss,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said of losing Toews. “This road trip has been a little bit of a wake-up call.”

Ah, the proverbial late-season wake-up call. If losing their third straight didn’t wake them up, maybe losing their captain will. The Hawks actually played better after he left the game -- but still lost.

“We played some good teams and they beat us,” Sharp said. “If that’s a wake-up call, that’s good. We can wake up and play better down the stretch.”

It would be a whole lot easier with their captain.

Hawks' offense sputters in loss to Bruins

March, 27, 2014
Mar 27
Tuukka Rask, Kris VersteegAP Photo/Charles KrupaKris Versteeg and the Hawks were unable to figure out Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.

BOSTON – The Chicago Blackhawks ran into a red-hot team Thursday night and found themselves shut out for the second time this week.

The Hawks didn’t do themselves any favors, either.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask collected his seventh shutout of the season, making 28 saves, as Boston claimed the second leg of the season series in a matchup of last year’s Stanley Cup finalists at the TD Garden.

The Bruins are now 13-0-1 in their past 14 games, with their 12-game winning streak having just come to an end in a shootout against Montreal earlier in the week. And, while the Hawks got the start they needed to come away with a road victory, the counterpunch wasn’t there.

“Yeah, it was a perfect start, then it slowed down to a crawl,” head coach Joel Quenneville said. “The way we saw it, we were easy to play against. We had some chances in the third, but I thought we were not very good tonight.”

He continued, “I didn’t like the push from behind. It wasn’t hard enough or sustained enough.”

Boston emerged with a 1-0 lead at the first intermission on a Patrice Bergeron tip-in goal despite being hemmed in its own end for a good portion of the first half of the period. Even after controlling early play, Chicago was outshot 10-8 in the first.

The Hawks were unable to muster any measure of a sustained offensive zone presence during the second period and, after Boston struck for a pair of insurance goals within 13 seconds of each other in the third, the damage was all but done.

Even with their two power-play chances against the Bruins, the Hawks failed to register a pulse.

“We had our chances at the start of the game to take the lead, but they found a way to get one,” said Kris Versteeg. “I’ve played against them a lot in the last couple of years. They’re a tough team to come back on when they have the lead, especially in this building, they get really energized. We just couldn’t find much out there; they did a great job.”

At a juncture of the season when points become increasingly precious, the Hawks also fell eight behind first-place St. Louis in the Central Division race. They can also feel Colorado breathing down their necks, as the Avalanche won Thursday to pull within a point of the defending Cup-holders for second in the division.

“It’s a little disappointing, especially the way we played,” Patrick Sharp said. “The last couple games lately, I thought we played really well -- a few times in the last couple weeks.”

The good news from an otherwise listless evening of hockey was that the Hawks will be right back it in Ottawa on Friday night.

Chicago is 11-1-3 in the second game of back-to-backs this season.

“We can forget this and we’ll do our best to apply all the things that we didn’t do,” Sharp said.

As the Hawks' equipment managers shuffled about cleaning up the visitors’ room before hitting the road for a quick turnaround, Sharp was asked about his title memories staged in the same room of the same building less than a year ago.

“It felt like it was a long time ago.”

Rapid Reaction: Blackhawks 4, Stars 2

March, 25, 2014
Mar 25

CHICAGO -- Here’s a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks’ 4-2 win over the Dallas Stars at the United Center on Tuesday.

How it happened: Andrew Shaw scored one of the bigger highlight goals of the season for the Blackhawks to get them going against the Stars. Off a rebound and with his back to the net, Shaw was falling to his knees when he reached for the puck with his stick and blindly wrapped it around Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen for a power-play goal with 18 seconds remaining the first period. It was the game’s first goal. Kris Versteeg and Duncan Keith added goals for the Blackhawks in the second period. Ryan Garbutt scored the Stars’ two goals. He cut Chicago's lead to 3-2 with 5:40 remaining in the third period. Marian Hossa then scored an empty-net goal with 33.3 seconds remaining in the game. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 25 saves, and Lehtonen made 38 saves. Blackhawks forward Teuvo Teravainen made his NHL debut.

What it means: The Blackhawks got back on the winning track after losing to the Nashville Predators on Sunday. Chicago improved to 42-16-15 with 99 points, remaining six points behind the St. Louis Blues, who defeated the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday. The Colorado Avalanche have 96 points after defeating the Nashville Predators in a shootout on Tuesday. Chicago forward Patrick Sharp had two assists in the win. He has two goals and 11 assists in March. Keith has scored goals in three of the past five games.

Player of the game: Shaw added an assist to his goal. He has a career-high 36 points this season.

Stat of the game: Blackhawks forward Jonathan Toews won 23 of 28 faceoffs.

What’s next: The Blackhawks travel to play the Boston Bruins on Thursday. It’s the Hawks' first trip to Boston since clinching last season’s Stanley Cup. The Blackhawks defeated the Bruins 3-2 in a shootout in Chicago earlier this season.

Sharp adding playmaker label to game

March, 24, 2014
Mar 24
CHICAGO -- Patrick Sharp is usually a go-to player for the media because he gives thoughtful, lengthy answers to most questions.

Sharp sat in front of his dressing-room stall a few times last week, took questions after practice and was his normal self, talking about upcoming games, the Central race and the team's play.

[+] EnlargePatrick Sharp
Victor Decolongon/Getty ImagesPatrick Sharp is two assists and two points away from matching his career bests of 41 assists and 71 points.
All was fine until Sharp was asked about his lack of scoring. Immediately, his tone changed and his answers shortened. He remained courteous and answered the goal-related questions, but he was frustrated the focus was always on his scoring.

While Sharp went eight games without a goal from March 4-19, he contributed an assist in seven of those games. Tack on a goal and assist on March 1 and a goal on March 21 and Sharp produced 11 points in the span of 10 games. It was his most consistent offensive production of the season. Yet he found himself being asked about his goals.

"It does bother me because it doesn't really work the other way as well," Sharp said to on Sunday. "It's not really a vice versa scenario. When I am scoring, it's just considered what I'm supposed to do.

"Recently, I had gone a few games without scoring a goal, but my production had been higher than it has been all season over a 10-game stretch and all I heard about what was not scoring goals. If I was a little bit younger, it would probably bother me a little bit more, but at this point, I know what I can bring as a player. I just focus on that."

Sharp has been an elite goal scorer for the Blackhawks in recent seasons -- reaching 30 goals in a season for the fourth time in his career Friday -- but he's also a player who has worked on his passing skills and can be relied upon for 40-plus assists a year.

Of the 13 NHL players with at least 30 goals this season, Sharp trails only Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin and Ryan Getzlaf in assists. On the Blackhawks, Sharp is second among forwards in assists, just one shy of Patrick Kane.

Sharp isn't looking for comparisons to former Blackhawks great Stan Mikita when it comes to passing, but he is proud of how far he has come in that area.

"Just over the years, I think I've improved that aspect of my game," Sharp said. "When I first scored 30 goals, I think it was 2007-08, I was more of a straight shooter. Skate down the ice and then try to get the puck to the net in any way. Over the years, I've turned into not the best passer, but one who can set up my teammates and help out that way.

"I like to think I've become more than a goal scorer at this point of my career. My playmaking ability, ability to just put up points and offensive production has improved every year. As far as scoring goals, hitting 30 is a big mark, but I like to think I can get more."

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has taken notice that Sharp has developed into a multidimensional player.

"He's had a big year for us," Quenneville said Sunday. "I think offensively, whether it's his numbers point-wise or his production in goals, it's been nice and consistent. And that's a pretty remarkable number in today's game, scoring 30. And who knows, he's got some time left. We'll see what he ends up with. Certainly a nice offensive contribution from Sharpie this year."

With 10 games remaining, Sharp has a chance to match or surpass some of his season-high numbers. He is two assists from matching his 41 assists in 2009-10. Two more points would tie his 71 in the 2010-11 season. He's also six goals from his 36-goal total in 2006-07.

"I've said a bunch of times I feel like I've gotten better as a player over the years," Sharp said. "I think I can still improve in some different areas. Some areas that don't always result in stats and points I can improve. I'm happy with the season I'm having up to this point, but I realize there's a big chunk to go and the most important season in the playoffs. We have a long way to go, but at this point I'm very satisfied."

By the numbers: Hawks eye 3-game streak

March, 22, 2014
Mar 22
Here’s a look at the Chicago Blackhawks by the numbers:

2 – The Blackhawks’ longest winning streak since December has been two games. Their last three-game winning streak came Dec. 8-11. They’ve had four winning streaks of three games or more. They’re currently on a two-game winning streak.

3 – The Blackhawks scored three goals for the second consecutive game Friday. They hadn’t done that since returning from the Olympic break.

4.5 – The number of minor penalties the Blackhawks are averaging over their last 10 games. They’ve had 45 minor penalties during that period. They had three games of three penalties, two of four penalties, two of five penalties and three of six penalties. They’re averaging 3.3 minor penalties a game this season. Duncan Keith and Johnny Oduya both have 14 penalty minutes in the last 10 games. Brent Seabrook, Nick Leddy and Ben Smith are the only regular Blackhawks not to pick up a penalty in March.

13/2 – The odds the Blackhawks are getting to win the Stanley Cup from Bovada. The St. Louis Blues are 5/1 and the Boston Bruins are 11/2. The Pittsburgh Penguins are also 13/2.

9 – Jonathan Toews scored his ninth goal in March on Friday, matching his career high for a month. He’s tallied nine goals in a month three times. He has five more games this month to exceed that.

11 – Patrick Sharp and Toews are tied for the team lead and tied for 14th in the NHL with 11 points in March. Sharp has two goals and nine assists in the month, and Toews has nine goals and two assists. Tyler Seguin and Claude Giroux lead the league with 15 points.

13. 5 – The Blackhawks’ power-play percentage since the Olympic break. They have scored five goals on 37 power-play chances in the last 11 games. They had a 22.8 percentage prior to the break, scoring 21 goals on 92 chances.

43 – The number of games defenseman Duncan Keith has recorded points in this season. He’s second in the league among defensemen with 55 points and leads them with 50 assists. He’s five assists short of matching his career high.

56.6 – That's the Blackhawks’ 5-on-5 Corsi percentage in close games over their last 10 games. Corsi is overall shot attempts, including on goal, missed and blocked. Close games are defined by being tied in any period or within a goal in the first or second period. This is used to eliminate score effects. The only two teams to have a higher percentage against them during that span were the Colorado Avalanche and Philadelphia Flyers. The Blackhawks lost both of those games. The Blackhawks are second in the league at 55.7 percent Corsi close for the season. The Los Angles King lead it at 57.1 percent.

88.4 – The Blackhawks’ penalty-kill percentage since the Olympic break. The Blackhawks have killed off 38-of-43 penalties in 11 games. They had a 79.7 percentage prior to the break, killing off 145-of-182 power plays.

.932 – Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford's save percentage since returning from injury on Jan. 2. He’s stopped 627-of-673 shots in that span. He’s allowed two or less goals in nine of his 11 starts since the Olympic break.

118 – The number of points the Blackhawks need to finish the season with to have a better than 50 percent chance to overtake the Blues for first place in the division, according to The Blues have 101 points (39 regulation wins) after 70 games. The Blackhawks have 97 points (36 regulation wins) after 71 games. The Blackhawks need 108 points to have a better than 50 percent chance to remain in second place.

Rapid Reaction: Hawks 3, Hurricanes 2

March, 21, 2014
Mar 21
CHICAGO -- Here's a quick look at the Chicago Blackhawks' 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes at the United Center on Friday.

How it happened: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews broke a 2-2 tie when he scored a short-handed goal at 3:29 of the third period. It was his ninth goal in the past 10 games. Patrick Sharp got the Blackhawks going by scoring on a breakaway at 3:09 of the second period. It was Sharp’s 30th goal of the season. Kris Versteeg extended the lead to 2-0 when he scored in the slot later in the period. The Hurricanes’ Alexander Semin scored the game’s next two goals to even it at two. Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford made 26 saves, and Hurricanes goaltender Anton Khudobin made 22 saves. The game included 11 minor penalties. The Blackhawks were without Patrick Kane, Brandon Saad, Bryan Bickell and Michal Rozsival due to injuries.

What it means: The Blackhawks were as short-handed as they've been all season but found a way to win and remain in second place in the Central Division. They improved to 41-15-15 with 97 points. The Colorado Avalanche, who have 94 points, were losing to the Boston Bruins in the second period at the conclusion of the Blackhawks game. The Hurricanes fell to 30-31-9.

Player of the game: Sharp has been producing points. He had assists in eight of the previous nine games, but the goals weren't there for him. He snapped an eight-game goal-less streak Friday. He had a team-high six shots on goal. He has reached 30 goals four times in his career.

Stat of the game: Thirteen of the Hurricanes' 28 shots came on their power plays.

What's next: The Blackhawks' homestand continues with the Nashville Predators on Sunday.



Patrick Sharp
78 34 44 13
GoalsP. Sharp 34
AssistsD. Keith 55
+/-M. Hossa 28
GAAC. Crawford 2.26