Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Should we be concerned about the reigning Stanley Cup champions?
I know we've been trained to ignore the March swoons the Blackhawks have given us over the years, because we know the real Blackhawks come out to play when mid-April arrives. Still, after yet another loss to the Minnesota Wild (a 4-1 defeat on Tuesday), with goalie Corey Crawford remaining out of the lineup, and defenseman Duncan Keith facing a possible suspension after a stick-swinging incident against the Wild, should we be worried at all about the Hawks' chances?
They're six points behind both the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues in the Central Division, so forget about finishing any higher than third, and the fourth-place Nashville Predators are only four points back. That doesn't matter as much to me, because where the Hawks finish in the regular season never has.
I would feel better, though, if we saw Crawford play a few games before the end of the regular season, which is likely the plan, but who knows until we actually see it. As for Keith and his slash to the face of Charlie Coyle on Tuesday night, I have to believe it will cost him a few games, which, practically speaking, maybe isn't the worst thing in the world for a guy who plays the most minutes on the team and could use a break just about now.
more on the Blackhawks from the ESPN hockey guys...
The Hawks' five-on-five game lacks oomph and the power play has become unplugged again. A puck-possession team struggles, well, possessing the puck. No more than three Hawks defensemen look worthy of Quenneville's trust and no line outside of the Kane-Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov line scares goalies consistently. Passion and urgency come and go. The Hawks can say they will flip a switch once the playoffs start but too often they resemble a bunch of guys groping in the dark to find it.
-David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune. More here on the Blackhawks.
from Craig Custance of ESPN,
Forget trying to climb out of third place, Chicago needs to be careful here not to slip into a wild card spot.
The Nashville Predators are playing well lately and you can't count them out of moving into third place in the Central. If that happens and the Blackhawks slip into that top wildcard spot, now you're talking about a potential first round matchup between the Hawks and Los Angeles Kings. That would be absolutely crazy, a Western Conference final-type series taking place in the first round and a potential Cup winner would being sent home early.
Crawford's injury is a reminder of just how much the Blackhawks have depended on him this season, more so than in the past. He's had his best regular season and has completely shut up critics who didn't like that big contract given to him in 2013. Now, Chicago needs him back in net to making sure this recent slide doesn't become a disaster.
more on the Blackhawks and Stars from the ESPN hockey guys...
from Mark Potash of the Chicago Sun-Times,
If this is just a “little funk,” the Hawks have more than enough talent, experience and leadership to dust themselves off, re-charge and find a way to head into the playoffs with momentum. The concern is that after yet another decisive loss, it’s more than that. Since dominating the Stars in an impressive 5-1 road victory on Feb. 11, the Hawks have lost 10 consecutive games to Western Conference playoff contenders (0-7-3). They’ve been outscored 40-14 in those games. Overall, the Hawks are 6-9-3 in their last 18 games. They are 10-12-3 since their 12-game winning streak ended on Jan. 19.
This was their fourth loss to the Stars in five regular-season games, and each time they’ve fallen behind 4-0 — in the first period twice and the second period twice.
“It was just hard to watch,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “I don’t know if it’s confidence or whatever. But I think we have to find a way to rectify the way we play and play with more urgency.
“Whether it’s mentally or physically [being fatigued], I don’t know. Pucks go off our sticks; we lose pucks. The last game as well [against the Wild] — we had 3-on-2, 3-on-1, 2-on-1, a breakaway, 2-0 shootouts and not one shot on net. We’re just not sharp.”
Below, watch game highlights of Chicago's 6-2 home loss to the Dallas Stars last night...
from Frank Seravalli of TSN,
The NHL’s GMs are expected to receive the latest all-important salary cap projection for next season on Wednesday, in addition to tackling the draft lottery format and potential expansion draft details.
But before wrapping up their three-day pow-wow, at least two GMs would like answers about a salary cap oddity.
It’s best described as the Patrick Kane “loophole,” because of the cap creativity of Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman.
Last year, Kane fractured his collarbone on Feb. 24 and subsequently underwent surgery. His timeframe for return was approximately 12 weeks, or maybe sometime during the Western Conference final.
The catch is there is no salary cap during the Stanley Cup playoffs. Every team must be cap compliant through the end of the regular season, but the numbers can pretty much be thrown out the window after that day.
Knowing that, Bowman placed Kane on the long-term injury list, where the Blackhawks were then permitted to add replacements equal in value to his $6.3 million salary cap hit.
from John Dietz of the Daily Herald,
Jonathan Toews isn't about to panic. Neither is Patrick Kane nor Joel Quenneville.
The Chicago Blackhawks' captain, their leading scorer and their head coach all have been through tough times before, and a 5-0 loss to Los Angeles on Monday night that extended the team's losing streak to three isn't enough to raise any serious red flags.
"We know not to overreact and start second-guessing ourselves and really letting that lack of confidence creep in our minds," Toews said. "We'll work through it and we'll earn those bounces back."...
The Hawks are 9-10-2 since their franchise-best 12-game winning streak came to an end Jan. 21. They remain in third place, 3 points behind the Stars and Blues, and are just 5 points ahead of fourth-place Nashville.
"We've got some work ahead of us," Quenneville said. "They're important points … now we've got to get back and find a way to get just one win and get everything stabilized."
Game highlights are below...
via the Chicago Blackhawks,
The Chicago Blackhawks announced today they have agreed to terms with defenseman Viktor Svedberg on a two-year contract extension, which runs through the end of the 2017-18 National Hockey League season.
Svedberg, 24, has scored two goals and recorded two assists in 19 games with Chicago this season. The Gothenburg, Sweden native made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks on Oct. 9 at the New York Islanders. He has scored 14 points (1G, 13A) in 36 games this season with Rockford of the American Hockey League. He was originally signed as a free agent on Oct. 19, 2013 and has played in 120 career games with Rockford tallying 37 total points (6G, 31A).
NEW YORK -- The National Hockey League announced today that it has completed its independent review of the Patrick Kane matter, the final stage of which included an in-person meeting between Kane and Commissioner Gary Bettman in New York on Monday, March 7. Based on its review, including the determination made by the Erie County District Attorney not to pursue charges, the NHL has concluded that the allegations made against Kane were unfounded. The League considers the matter closed and will have no further comment.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
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