Chicago Blackhawks: Washington Capitals
The Blackhawks had already allowed the Washington Capitals to score three power-play goals -- the Blackhawks didn't allow a total of three power-play goals until the 11th game last season -- when they handed the Capitals a 5-on-3 chance for one minute, 26 seconds with 3:33 left in the third period. To add to the drama, the Blackhawks were trying to hold on to a one-goal lead.
"It was a pretty interesting spot we put ourselves in," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "You give up three power-play goals, and we're facing a 5-on-3 for almost two full minutes. They were the best power play in the league last season for all the right reasons they scored their three goals. They got a lot of different looks and a lot of playmakers and shotmakers. We avoided what could have been a disaster, but [Crawford] made some big stops and got through it."
The Capitals called a timeout just after the 5-on-3 power play was set up by a delay-of-game penalty by Blackhawks forward Joakim Nordstrom. During the timeout, the Blackhawks laid out their plan.
"[We talked about] just basically what they wanted to do," said Oduya, who turned 32 on Tuesday and had a goal in the win. "They had two big shooters up at top. We wanted to not give them that. We gave them a couple shots, but [Crawford] made some sick saves and [Hjalmarsson] blocked a couple. It was good to finish off strong like that."
Crawford said, "We were taking the passing lanes away a little bit more, making some big blocks at the end. I don't think we were bad on the other goals. It was just they had some space, and they took advantage of it. They made some nice plays."
In the end, though, Oduya was pleased that the penalty kill came through in the clutch. It made up for the rest of the night.
"We gave them three goals on their power play there," Oduya said. "It felt good in the end to kind of shut them down at least on the 5-on-3.
"Maybe this game wasn't as well played as we wanted to, but I think it's important we came out with a win and just keep building."
"We want to rain on their parade as it's said," Brouwer said after the Capitals' morning skate at the United Center on Tuesday.
Brouwer was drafted by the Blackhawks in 2004 and was part of their Stanley Cup championship in 2010. They traded him to the Capitals after the 2010-11 season.
"It's always fun to come back where you started in the NHL, where I was able to win a Cup," Brouwer said. "A lot of ties here, a lot of good memories here, but mixed emotions you want to play hard against your old team, but at the same point sometimes it's tough to leave."
Brouwer hopes the Capitals benefit from experiencing the Blackhawks' ceremony on Tuesday.
"[There's] mixed emotions, obviously," Brouwer said. "I'm happy for the guys I played with, happy for the city, but at the same point, jealous. I want to be raising the banner in Washington.
"Hopefully with the Cup being in here tonight and the guys being able to see what the celebration is like and how it is to win and how your city embraces you, hopefully that can light a fire under us to have a good start and hopefully win it ourselves this year."
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville has been working to change it to shooting first.
On Saturday, Leddy listened to Quenneville ... and it paid off with two goals in the Blackhawks’ 4-3 overtime win over the Washington Capitals in the Blackhawks’ final preseason game.
“I think just growing up and playing that way your whole life,” Leddy said of his tendency to pass. “I think that’s the way my mind kind of goes. That’s the first instinct. I have to get over that. That will be nice.
“I think there are opportunities in the past where I’ve passed up on shots. Now I’m trying to get the shooter’s mentality and try to shoot the more.”
Leddy’s first goal was set up when Patrick Sharp skated around two defenders on the right side, Leddy skated up into the slot and Sharp found him. Leddy beat Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby with a shot into the top right corner of the net in the first period.
On the second goal, Sharp again delivered the pass and Leddy fired a shot from near the blue line that found its way into the bottom right corner in the second period.
Quenneville was hopeful Leddy would remember Saturday’s results going forward.
“You got a night like tonight where they start going in and maybe tells you more, ‘Let’s think shot, shot, shot,’” Quenneville said.
Capitals again: The Blackhawks and Capitals will meet again on Tuesday in the season opener, but with different lineups.
The Capitals were without Alex Ovechkin on Saturday, and the Blackhawks also sat a number of their key players, including Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford.
“They had some guys out of their lineup and so did we,” Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw said. “I think it’s going to be a different game come Tuesday.”
The 24-year-old LeBlanc has four goals and eight assists in 34 games with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League this season.
The IceHogs also acquired Mathieu Beaudoin from the Hershey Bears in exchange for future considerations. Beaudoin has three goals and seven assists in 32 games with Hershey.
The Chicago Blackhawks will host the Washington Capitals in their preseason home opener Friday night and several Hawks' stars will make their 2011-2012 debut.
Slated to play for the first time this preseason are Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Andrew Brunette, Dave Bolland and goaltender Corey Crawford. Second-round pick Brandon Saad will play in his third consecutive game as he continues to impress the coaching staff.
The other forwards who will dress for Friday's game include Brandon Segal, Marcus Kruger, Jonathan Toews, Jamal Mayers, Viktor Stalberg, Ben Smith, Jimmy Hayes, Rob Flick and Rostislav Olesz.
On defense the Hawks will also employ Steve Montador, Dylan Olsen and Brian Fahey. Alec Richards will back up Crawford in goal. Crawford is expected to play the entire game.
Capitals' star Alexander Ovechkin is scheduled to play in the game but former Hawk Troy Brouwer did not make the trip.
The Hawks are 0-2 in the preseason, losing 4-1 Thursday night to the Pittsburgh Penguins after dropping a 4-2 decision to the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday. Friday's game will mark the first time the Hawks have a large contingent of "regular" players dressing for a preseason game.
Absent from the lineup are Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa. Coach Joel Quenneville said both players are slated to play in the final three exhibition games as Kane continues to nurse his surgically repaired wrist while Hossa was late to camp due to the birth of his daughter while also mourning the death of friend Pavol Demitra.
Saad is the only Hawks' player to dress for all three preseason games so far. Quenneville has signaled him out as a prospect who's had a very good training camp so far. The two first-round picks drafted ahead of him in 2011 have already been sent back to juniors. It would still be a major surprise if Saad made the club out of camp.
How it happened: Jonathan Toews scored a 6-on-4 power play goal to tie the game with 39 seconds left in the third before Mike Knuble won it in overtime. The Hawks were down to four defensemen to start the third period as Brian Campbell was nursing an injury on the bench while Brent Seabrook sat in the penalty box after fighting in the final seconds of the second period. The Capitals scored during Seabrook's time in the box. The Hawks took a 1-0 lead on an early score by Nick Leddy, but they were trailing after the first period thanks to a power play goal and short-handed tally by the Capitals. Tomas Kopecky scored early in the second to tie the game, but it was his neutral zone turnover which led to what looked like the winning goal early in the third. The Hawks' power play failed them throughout the afternoon, until the crucial final seconds of regulation.
What it means: The Hawks fell to 7-11-2 when tied after two periods. They've dropped three in a row after winning the previous eight, but they did get a point in two of the three. Overall the Hawks are 37-24-8. Seabrook's decision to fight Jason Chimera with 19 seconds remaining in the second period was questionable considering the Hawks were already down a defenseman, but once again Toews came to the rescue with a clutch goal to help earn the Hawks a point.
Injury news: The Hawks were already playing without Dave Bolland, and though Brian Campbell played, he was limited due to a foot injury. He played just two shifts in the second period and was on the bench for a crucial goal in the third while Brent Seabrook sat in the penalty box for fighting.
What's Next: An extremely difficult test awaits the Hawks on Monday night as they return from an eight-day trip to host the San Jose Sharks. The Hawks swept the Sharks in the playoffs last year but are trying to avoid being swept by them in the season series this year.
The Hawks tied the game in the middle 20 minutes with a fourth -ine goal by Tomas Kopecky. A hard working shift paid off as Kopecky scored from below the red line to the right of Capitals' goalie Braden Holtby. The puck squeezed by Holtby and the post for Kopecky's 13th goal of the year.
The Hawks' power play has steadily gotten worse, giving up a shorthanded goal in the first period and nearly a second one in the second period. The Capitals are 1-2 on the power play as the Hawks killed a late, second-period chance to preserve the tie game.
Brent Seabrook and Jason Chimera, of Washington, fought with just 19 seconds remaining in the period. The Hawks will open the third with Seabrook in the penalty box while Brian Campbell played limited minutes in the second period nursing a foot injury.
The Hawks struck first when the line centered by Michael Frolik put together a nice sequence, eventually cashing in on a Nick Leddy shot from the point. Bryan Bickell got the play started in the neutral zone with a nifty pass, while Marian Hossa and Frolik had the assists.
The Capitals the tied the game a short time later on a shorthanded score but Boyd Gordon. Patrick Sharp was skating fast to keep a puck in the zone near the Capitals’ blue line but skated by it setting up a break for Boyd the other way. Corey Crawford came out to challenge the shot, with Brent Seabrook taking away the middle of the ice, but Gordon got the blast by Crawford.
Washington took its first lead late in the period after Bryan Bickell took a bad tripping penalty deep in the offensive zone. Jason Arnott cashed in on a point shot as the Hawks gave him too much time and space to shoot after Hossa was unable to clear the puck. The Hawks missed on two power play chances of their own while giving up the shorthanded goal, their third of the season.
CHICAGO -- Captain Serious isn't one for extemporaneous quotations. But when it comes to predictions, he is certainly efficient.
"It doesn't really matter who we play in the first round," Toews said, with a hint of playoff whiskers already in place. "It's how we play."
We've seen what happens when the Blackhawks play bad, and the memory is still fresh as a Zamboni-slick rink. After a 6-7-2 post-Olympic malaise, the Hawks have stormed back in April, and won six in a row before dropping a 3-2 overtime game to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday to finish the regular season.
A home loss to their bitter rivals was relatively tough to swallow, because the Hawks had a chance to clinch home ice advantage over everyone but the Eastern Conference champion Washington Capitals. Instead, the San Jose Sharks take the No. 1 seed by one point, 113-112. But there is no time to dwell on it. It's disposable, like the rest of a wildly successful regular season.
"We've waited a long time for the playoffs to start," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We had a good season, but now we're excited to start the second season."
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Up from ninth last week, the Hawks reside in sixth, still behind their Western foes, the Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks, San Jose Sharks, and Phoenix Coyotes. The Washington Capitals, coming in at No. 1, are the only Eastern Conference team in the top seven.
The biggest jump -- and maybe surprise -- is from the Red Wings. They rank No. 2 this week, up from seven. Their post-Olympic 13-3-2 record is responsible for their resurgence in the rankings. Plagued by injuries and an early season goaltender issue, the Wings were in the middle of the pack for most of the season.
With the emergence of Jimmy Howard and a healthy lineup, they have put themselves in more than a decent position heading into the postseason.
The Hawks' three-game winning streak has restored some of their swagger but it wasn’t enough to jump more than three places.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Every ten games, I’ll give you an assessment of the Chicago Blackhawks. This one comes to you poolside, in Glendale, before the Hawks’ road finale against the Phoenix Coyotes. But enough about me, lets talk about them. With little time remaining in the regular season, the 45-19-6 Blackhawks are trying to round into form before the real fun starts. Here are 10 things you need to know about the last 10 games and the first 70:
Here’s the lowdown we’re learning on No. 33. Nothing fazes him. He doesn’t get nervous. I guarantee you he slept the same the night before the Kings game as he did the previous 69. And he’s a rise-to-the-occasion type of player. He did it in the playoffs and now, being put in a very vulnerable position with the potential to get burned and hurt the team, he has come up big again. The downside of that laissez-faire attitude is that it’s not necessarily conducive to putting up big numbers over an 82-game grind, but you take what you can get. Quenneville sounded like a proud father who came home from a business trip and saw his kid walk for the first time. “A diamond in the rough” he called Byfuglien -- and it’s not like Quenneville throws around the over-the-top praise very often. One caution, as of this writing: it’s only been one and a half games.
9. The Hit Heard Round the World, Part I: Alex Ovechkin must feel pretty lucky after James Wisniewski went down for the eight count, but more on that in a moment. Ovechkin’s “hit” or “shove” or whatever you want to call it may not have had the same intent as Wisniewski’s, but it was darn close. What exactly was Ovechkin’s intent if not to cause some damage? In my opinion, his was not even close to “finishing a check.” Most players would have turned toward the puck as Brian Campbell sent it back to his right but Ovechkin went right for Campbell instead. It’s why I think Campbell was surprised by the hit. He was going left and the puck was going right and then comes a shove into the boards. Ovechkin knew the vulnerable position Campbell was in and did it anyway. In light of Wiz’s punishment, Ovechkin should have gotten at least two more games.
8. The Hit Heard Round the World, Part II: This controversy has so many storylines, it reads like a soap opera. Friend knocking friend out. Wedding invites canceled. General managers and coaches firing on each other. Quenneville should have fired back on Bob Murray. How about, “I’ll take care of the goaltending for our No. 1 or 2 seeded team, you make sure your Olympic-heavy squad doesn’t finish in last place.” That work for you?
I do think the punishment on Wiz was rather harsh. It’s a tough case to make, but he tried to say this was a “hockey play” and not just a brutal attack like Todd Bertuzzi on Steve Moore. I’m told, at one point, Wiz said to the league, “I’m friends with the guy, I invited him to my wedding, why would I hurt him?” The league wasn’t buying. I think five or six games would have been fair, but I’m not complaining and neither are the Hawks. I will say this: If you took a poll of Hawk players and asked what former player was most likely to do something like this, Wisniewski might be at the top of the list. Not because he’s a bad guy, just that maybe the elevator doesn’t always go to the top floor -- and I don’t say that as a criticism. Most of the time, that’s all fun and games. Not this time.
7. Upsets looming? Even though the playoffs don’t begin for another month, after 70 games, I can say with some confidence, there will be upsets this spring, big time. In fact, in my mind, they won’t be upsets at all -- not with four or even five young goaltenders manning the pipes in the West and not with the Detroit Red Wings as an extremely low seed. My editors will ask me for playoff predictions when it comes time, and I might politely decline for fear of looking like a fool. It would not shock me if the Hawks lost in the first round or went to the finals. I do think they will have another gear in them when the second season starts, so the finals are more likely than an early-round exit. Still, when you fill out your playoff brackets, remember what I told you .. and then watch the top four seeds advance.
6. You make the call: So, did the Olympics take anything out of the six Hawks who went? The eye test might tell you the four in the gold medal game have had their ups and downs. No team, obviously, played more pressure-filled games than the Canadians. Since the break ended, Keith, Seabrook and Jonathan Toews are combined minus 10. That’s more than my “eye” talking. On the other side of the equation, Patrick Kane is an even player and no Hawk forward, arguably, has played better than Marian Hossa, who is plus two. Like you, I still wouldn’t mind seeing Keith’s minutes come down in the final stretch of games. That plan may have been put on hold with the injuries to the back line.
5. Chi Town fans: Having been on the road much of the season, it’s still amazing when the Hawks get a huge Chicago turnout. And I write this before the Coyotes game, where it’s expected a major part of the crowd will be pro-Hawks. In L.A. and Anaheim, Hawks fans were out in droves as well. Other than the Canadian cities, this should come in handy once the playoffs start. Buy up those Joe Louis Arena tickets now. The Hawks have often incited the home crowd to boo, just because they’ve kept the puck in the offensive zone for long periods of time, as they did against the Kings. In fact, their puck possession game in L.A. was as good as in any game in recent memory, hence a lot of booing.
4. Just as planned: The Hawks aren’t put together to allow for a 50-goal scorer this season. We knew the production would be spread out, and that’s exactly how it’s happened. After Troy Brouwer put in his career-high 20th goal the other night, the Hawks can boast five players with at least that many. They have an outside shot at getting eight players (Kris Versteeg 16, Byfuglien 16, Andrew Ladd 15) to the 20 mark. That accomplishment pales in comparison to the Washington Capitals, who already have seven players with 20 goals or more. They actually have a shot at four or maybe even five 30-goal scorers. Wow.
3. Goaltending, again: What would a 10-game review be without a goaltending update? By now, almost no one should be confused: Antti Niemi is this close to being the man for the playoffs. You have to feel a little sorry for Cristobal Huet, not that he didn’t help make his own bed. It’s just that any success he’s had this season is going to be, if not already, long forgotten because of some of his recent shortcomings. He did have about a three-month stretch where everything went well. Soft goals and a defense that, at times, didn’t help him out, was his undoing. Then, he got sick at a critical time for him to take the bull by the horns. It kept him off the ice for nearly a week and it might help keep him off for most of the spring. He was a stand-up guy about his issues, though. Give him that much. If Niemi controls his rebounds, as he did early in the season, then he has a shot of being something special over the next few months. I still wish he would have played in Anaheim and L.A.
2. I can’t let it go: The officiating in Anahiem was beyond brutal. I’m told the refs thought Brent Sopel was diving when he got hit from behind. I think it would have been physically impossible for him to take a dive. He was in the air, ready to bat the puck, and he got hit. How would he control himself enough to take a touch and turn it into a flop, while in mid-air? I don’t think it’s possible. Then we see one “check” result in a five-minute major and game misconduct, but just a two-game suspension. Next comes a little, bitty, two-minute minor call that results in eight games? Something isn’t right here. As one league source put it to me, “Wisniewski paid the price for Matt Cooke and Alexander Ovechkin.” In other words, they came down hard on him because they hadn’t, previously, and took some criticism. I don’t know what is right and what isn’t, but the whole thing smells bad.
1. Never as bad as you think: Can you believe, through all the controversy, injuries, and sometimes poor play over the last 10 games that the Hawks sit atop the Western Conference standings? Yes, they are a .500 team since the Olympic break, but as of this writing, the San Jose Sharks have lost the first four games of a six-game road trip, five overall, and one loss was an 8-2 disaster to the Dallas Stars. Ouch. Other teams have problems, too. It’s hard to keep that in mind when you’re a fan of just one, but it might keep you saner. That’s why the playoffs are really a toss up. Everybody has some flaws. The team that can overcome them the best might determine the Western Conference winner. On to the final 10 (OK, 12) games!
The Sharks dropped below the Blackhawks in ESPN.com’s weekly power rankings, putting the Hawks at No. 2, right behind the team they just blew a 3-0 lead to.
The Washington Capitals come in as the easy No. 1 but then things start to get interesting. The Hawks, presumably, have a tenuous hold on the 2 spot considering the weekend losses and the loss of defenseman Brian Campbell.
The surging Vancouver Canucks come in at No. 3 having finished off their long Olympic road trip in fine fashion. They’re 6-1-1 since the break ended. The Sharks dropped to fourth, their lowest ranking in quite a while.
While the Hawks were at least losing to playoff-caliber teams over the weekend, San Jose dropped games to Florida -- at home no less -- and Anaheim. The Sharks just embarked on a six-game road trip to boot.
The Blackhawks have a three-game trip this week starting Wednesday night in Anaheim.
The surprise team of the NHL, the Phoenix Coyotes, round out the top five. The Hawks will be in Glendale, Ariz., to take on the Coyotes on Saturday.
Campbell was checked by Alex Ovechkin into the end boards behind the Hawks' goal with 7:44 remaining in the first period. Campbell remained on the ice for several minutes as trainers attended to him before leaving.
Ovechkin was given a five-minute major penalty and a game misconduct. The Capitals won the game 4-3 in overtime.
After the game, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said, "[Campbell] is going to be out for a bit. It was a tough hit, a dangerous hit."
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CHICAGO -- The complaints have seemed extraneous, like whining about bad coffee at the end of a five-star meal.
A few soft goals and defensive slip-ups should be forgivable in a season in which the Western Conference power Chicago Blackhawks are winning at an obnoxious clip.
"I think some teams are so good, you've got to look for faults," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said Sunday.
It wasn't hard to see the cracks in the Heartbreak Hawks on Sunday, and it wasn't the goaltending. Behind an undermanned and shaky defense and an inability to muster late offense, the Hawks fell to 3-4 since the Olympic break with a wildly disappointing 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday in a nationally televised game between Stanley Cup favorites. Chicago looked like a team capable of an early playoff exit and a summer of recriminations. You want to believe the best, to see the good in a team that has been very, very promising, but a weekend like this makes you think twice.