Chicago Blackhawks Get Fast Start, Cruise Past Struggling Minnesota Wild 4-1 | Star Tribune

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Chicago Blackhawks Playing Down to Their Competition is Troubling Trend | Bleacher Report

Matt Cooke scored his third goal in the third period, and Niklas Backstrom had 31 saves in his third consecutive start. “It just seems like everything that could go wrong is going wrong,” defenseman Ryan Suter said. The Wild dropped to 18-18-5 and are 12th in the loaded 14-team Western Conference, but coach Mike Yeo is certain they can turn it around. “I’m confident in what we’re capable of, but we have to better,” he said. “So I’m not going to just sit around and hope that things are going to be better. We have to find a way to be better. We have to find a way to bring more to the rink every day.” Trailing 2-0 in the second, Minnesota had a chance to get back in the game, but defenseman Nate Prosser’s shot went off the outside of the left post at 8:04. The Blackhawks then caught a break when Kane’s shot went off Prosser’s left skate and right to Richards, who beat Backstrom from the left side for his ninth goal. Wild forward Jason Zucker made a great move to draw a penalty shot with 3:43 left in the second, but he sent a backhand wide of the net and a trailing Oduya made it 4-0 at 18:25 when he jumped on a loose puck for his second goal. The Blackhawks (28-13-2) improved to 3-0 against the Wild this season with their second win over Minnesota in four days. Kane had a goal and two assists and Crawford made 42 saves in Chicago’s 4-2 road win on Thursday night. source: http://www.startribune.com/sports/wild/288214621.html

Chicago Blackhawks’ Awards for the 1st Half of the 2014-15 Season | Bleacher Report

In addition to struggling against teams that they would normally beat with ease, the Blackhawks had problems with their even-strength play and their inability to get off to good starts. They were outscored 19-13 in even-strength situations, and that’s normally an area where the Blackhawks dominate. According to NHL.com, Chicago is scoring 1.27 goals for every goal their opponents score in five-on-five situations, ranking fifth in the league. However, during that cold spell, they were scoring just 0.68 goals to each goal their opponents scored when both teams were at full strength. High-level teams like the Blackhawks can normally overcome the occasional slow start because they have so much firepower with superstars such as Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith in the lineup. However, even the best teams have problems when they get outscored consistently in the first period. Andy Devlin/Getty Images The Blackhawks were outscored 16-7 in the first periods during that eight-game stretch, and it explains why they had so much trouble against the likes of the Avs and Oilers. Those teams are used to falling behind, and when they face deficits in the second and third periods, it’s difficult for them to maintain a winning attitude and compete for 60 minutes. However, when the Oilers came out of the first period in their Jan. 9 meeting with a 2-1 lead over the Hawks, despite giving up the first goal, they came out for the second period with renewed vigor and a confidence that they have rarely shown. When they retained a one-goal lead (3-2) at the start of the third period, the Oilers competed as if they were in a playoff game in the final 20 minutes and added two more goals to close out a 5-2 victory. ”We’re starting to gel a lot as a team,” Edmonton’s Taylor Hall told the media after the game. source: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2330395-chicago-blackhawks-playing-down-to-their-competition-is-troubling-trend

Midseason Grades for Each Line on the Chicago Blackhawks | Bleacher Report

Saad has scored 12 goals and 16 assists along with a plus-nine rating. Hossa’s 15.95 on-ice Corsi percentage indicates that he has been playing at a high level on a consistent basis, while Saad’s 9.42 on-ice Corsi figure indicates that he could pick up his game a bit. This line has performed quite well, but the potential is there for so much more throughout the rest of the season. Grade: A- No. 2 Line: Bryan Bickell, Brad Richards, Patrick Kane USA TODAY Sports Is there a more dangerous player on any No. 2 line in the NHL than Patrick Kane? Very unlikely, because Kane is a legitimate Hart Trophy (MVP) candidate while playing right wing on Chicago’s No. 2 line. He is the Blackhawks’ leading scorer with 20 goals and 27 assists through the team’s first 43 games, and he has a plus-nine rating. Kane seems quite likely to blow by his career high of 30 goals by late February or early March. A 35- to 40-goal season seems quite likely for the Blackhawks’ quicksilver forward who has scored six power-play goals and an eye-opening five game-winners. source: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2328156-midseason-grades-for-each-line-on-the-chicago-blackhawks

That’s a far cry from what he did last year after the Blackhawks reacquired him in a trade from the Florida Panthers early in the season. He scored just 10 goals and 19 assists and was a non-factor in the playoffs with a goal and two assists in 15 games. Versteeg has been alert, aggressive and opportunistic this year, and he will make the Blackhawks a more dangerous team when he returns to the lineup. Tweet There are no surprises in this category, as Duncan Keith remains the Blackhawks’ best defenseman and is still one of the best at his position in the league. You wouldn’t expect anything else from a player who is a two-time winner of the Norris Trophy. Keith has remarkable offensive instincts and regularly puts them on display. He is so adept at carrying the puck and skating it out of the defensive zone to start the Chicago attack. Keith is a pinpoint passer who can put tape-to-tape passes on the sticks of the Blackhawks’ highly talented offensive players. He has scored six goals and 20 assists, and he has the ability to put together multiple-point games on a regular basis. He has a plus-12 rating and is averaging 25:57 of ice time per game. Keith’s presence on the ice means good things usually happen for the Blackhawks, as his on-ice Corsi mark of plus-18.66 percent indicates, per Behind the Net. Unsung Player Award: Marcus Kruger Kamil Krzaczynski/Associated Press The Blackhawks have slew of superstars, and that’s probably the main reason they are considered perhaps the league’s strongest threat to win the Stanley Cup this year. source: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2330057-chicago-blackhawks-awards-for-the-1st-half-of-the-2014-15-season

NHL 2015 All-Stars announced; who was snubbed? | Puck Daddy – Yahoo Sports

So who made the cut for the big weekend? Here they are; keep in mind every team needed a representative, the NHL values stardom over achievement, and someone had to make it from the Hurricanes. Forwards Tanner Pearson, Los Angeles Kings Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators Jonathan Drouin , Tampa Bay Lightning *** The 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft will be held on Friday, Jan. 23, to divide the All-Stars and Rookies into two teams (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports). Captains for each squad will be announced next week. The highest-scoring player not to make the cut is Nikita Kucherov of the Lightning, but his linemate Johnson is an all-star. James van Riemsdyk (40 points) stays home, as Kessel makes the game. Jiri Hudler should have made the game based on achievement, but hey, gotta throw the Oilers that bone. A case could be made for either Nicklas Backstrom or John Carlson from the Capitals; but again, Ottawa and Carolina need their all-stars, too. Wonder if it came down to Howard or Jaroslav Halak at the goalie spot? source: http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/nhl-puck-daddy/nhl-2015-all-stars-announced–who-was-snubbed-233642200.html

 

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