Tag: Ken Hitchcock

Patrick Kane

Blues want to be ‘harder’ on Kane

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Patrick Kane was a major factor in the Chicago Blackhawks winning Game 4.

Kane scored twice, including the overtime game-winner, to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 win against the St. Louis Blues and tying the series at two games apiece.

Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said they have to be a bit tougher on Kane as Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun shares.

“We’ve got to be a little bit harder on Kane,” said Pietrangelo. “Obviously, he’s a dynamic player. He’s able to create things offensively. You saw by the overtime goal. If we can take away their time and space and play them harder and make it more difficult for them, I think that would be a little bit more success for us.”

Kane has three goals in the series and obviously Game 4 was the big one for him. Letting him break out and steal a game on his own is something that doesn’t sit all that well with Ken Hitchcock, but if they can lock him down from here on out, they’ll deal with it.

PHT Morning Skate: Jackets, Stars, ‘Hawks seek to tie things up

Jamie Benn
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It’s just the kind of thing you want on a night filled with playoff games: Three teams with the opportunity to tie things up and force a best-of-three finish. If you’re a fan of the other teams, then you’re hoping they can take a commanding 3-1 lead before heading back home.

Such is the case tonight. The Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, and Chicago Blackhawks are each hoping to make their series 2-2 and the fun part is, after how they’ve all played in the postseason it could happen.

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,500 Fantasy Hockey league for Wednesday’s NHL games. It’s $10 to join and first prize is $350. Starts Wednesday at 7pm ETHere’s the FanDuel link.

Game 4: Columbus Blue Jackets vs. Pittsburgh Penguins [Pittsburgh leads series 2-1] (7:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

The Blue Jackets have to be kicking themselves for being down in this series. In the two games they’ve lost, they held 3-1 leads only to see them evaporate into 4-3 losses. Of course, the Jackets’ Game 2 win was also a 4-3 decision so there’s that, but the fact they held two-goal leads in Games 1 and 3 and came away with losses has to sting.

Does the blame fall on Sergei Bobrovsky or the Jackets for pulling back the reins and trying to protect the lead? One thing’s for sure this postseason — trying to sit on a lead hasn’t exactly worked for anyone. After a second tough loss, expect to see the Penguins be out for blood.

One thing that has to make people nervous? Sidney Crosby has yet to be a dominant player. He has four assists in three games, which is fine, but can you say he’s taken a game over yet? Not really and that’s something that won’t last for long.

Game 4: Dallas Stars vs. Anaheim Ducks [Anaheim leads series 2-1] (8:00 p.m. ET — CNBC)

The Stars showed in Game 3 that they can be every bit as tough as the Ducks can be. Jamie Benn exerted his star player status and Antoine Roussel proved to be the perfect playoff irritant as they were able to get Anaheim chasing them on the scoreboard and around the ice looking for payback.

The Stars will need more of that and perhaps a little more Tyler Seguin if they want to send this series back to Anaheim tied 2-2. The Ducks are hoping to see Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry steer away from the extracurricular stuff and get back to scoring goals by the bunches.

If there’s an area the Ducks could use a hand in it’s secondary scoring. Anaheim’s top line has four of their seven goals in the postseason and on the road, it’s a little easier to see them get loaded up against. It’s time for the old guys (Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu) and the young guys (Jakob Silfverberg, Devante Smith-Pelly) alike to step up.

Game 4: Chicago Blackhawks vs. St. Louis Blues [St. Louis leads series 2-1] (9:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN)

The Blackhawks found a way to scrape back in Game 3 with a 2-0 win, but it was anything but convincing. Chicago lived on the edge holding onto a 1-0 lead through most of the game while the Blues continued to plug away looking to steal yet another game away late.

Lesson learned by the Blackhawks? They found a way to win it regardless. They may have a boatload of Stanley Cup-winning experience, but losing the first two games the way they did can make the mental game tougher. Now it’s up to Jonathan Toews and company to find another way to break through the Blues’ defense. Another top-notch start from Corey Crawford wouldn’t hurt either.

The Blues don’t exactly have a lot to figure out after Game 3. If anything, it was their best game of the playoffs to this point. Ryan Miller played a strong game and the top scorers (Alex Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko) looked as dangerous as ever. If there’s anything Ken Hitchcock might stress for Game 4 it’s to keep doing what they have been and the breaks will come.

Hitchcock thinks Backes will return ‘in the next two or three games’

Ken Hitchcock
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The St. Louis Blues played a valiant Game 3 against the Chicago Blackhawks without captain David Backes.

Losing 2-0 and surrendering an empty-net goal in the closing seconds is nothing to get down about, but Blues coach Ken Hitchcock has all faith they won’t be without Backes for much longer.

Following the loss, Hitchcock told reporters he believes Backes will be back for them soon, and when he does things will pick up for his team in a big way.

“We get (David) Backes back in the next two or three games, we’re going to even go higher,” Hitchcock said.

There hasn’t been a timetable set for when Backes might return from the injury he suffered when he was charged by Chicago’s Brent Seabrook in Game 2. As you know, Seabrook received a three-game suspension for the hit and Backes was knocked out of the game and did not play on Sunday night.

There’s no doubt the Blues are a better team with Backes on the ice, but if he’s dealing with a head injury playing it cool while he gets better is for the best.

PHT Morning Skate: Bouncing back from comebacks Game 2 theme

Jonathan Toews, Ryan Miller, Jay Bouwmeester
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Three Game 2s get underway today including a matinee special in St. Louis between the Blues and Chicago Blackhawks. The theme of the day for a pair of teams might be how to hold down a lead.

The Blackhawks and Minnesota Wild each had leads in Game 1 only to see their home-standing opponents storm back to win in overtime. The in-between game of the day features the Columbus Blue Jackets hoping to annoy the Pittsburgh Penguins into losing and giving Columbus the franchise’s first playoff win. The Jackets held a 3-1 lead of their own in Game 1 before losing 4-3 and they’d like their collective inexperience not bite them again.

Game 2: St. Louis Blues vs. Chicago Blackhawks [St. Louis leads series 1-0] (3:00 p.m. ET — NBC LiveStream)

The Blackhawks thought they broke through and got into Ryan Miller’s head in Game 1. Getting a 3-2 lead after one period will create a comfort zone. Then the Blues realized it’s the playoffs and that means having to defend and they did just that for the next 80+ minutes shutting down the ‘Hawks.

The Blues would like to keep doing what they did through the rest of Game 1 into Game 2. The problem there: They know the Blackhawks will make adjustments and thus goes the chess match between Joel Quenneville and Ken Hitchcock. Patrick Kane had a nice return to action in Game 1 and Jonathan Toews would no doubt like to pot a goal of his own to match.

The Blues had to like the resolve they showed and the offense they got from guys who helped them all season late in the game. Jaden Schwartz and Alex Steen coming up when they were needed most was the exact kind of lift they needed. Game 2 could deliver another instant classic.

Game 2: Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets [Pittsburgh leads series 1-0] (7:00 p.m. ET — NBCSN LiveStream)

The Blue Jackets did a lot of things the team liked in Game 1. Brandon Dubinsky pestered Sidney Crosby all game long and the Jackets at one point held a two-goal lead in the second period. If Columbus is going to earn their first ever playoff win, they have to not take penalties.

Matt Niskanen was the burr in the side of the Blue Jackets in Game 1. When you spend time worrying about where Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang are on the man-advantage, people are going to get open and Niskanen seized the day.

If there’s a guy the Jackets have to get involved in Game 2 it’s Ryan Johansen. After a breakout season, there’s no hiding a 30-goal guy in the playoffs which means it’ s up to both coach Todd Richards and Johansen himself to find ways to get free of the Pittsburgh defense.

Game 2: Colorado Avalanche vs. Minnesota Wild [Colorado leads series 1-0] (9:30 p.m. ET — NBCSN LiveStream)

The Wild looked for a while in Game 1 like they were in charge. Giving the Avalanche an opportunity to play to their strengths and open things up a bit was a recipe for a comeback. Wild coach Mike Yeo had parts to a successful game plan going on Thursday night but not the total package.

If the Wild can take solace out of anything in Game 1, it’s that they can hang with the Avs offensively. Charlie Coyle and Ryan Suter showed a deft touch, but they’ll need more from Zach Parise and Jason Pominville if they want to work the Avs more.

Colorado, on the other hand, got a brilliant game out of their “old man” Paul Stastny and steady as he goes work from Semyon Varlamov. The Avs showed how dangerous they can be and that’s what coach Patrick Roy likes to see. Now if they can keep the Wild from getting the jump on them, they’ll be all set.

Discuss: Blackhawks edge Blues 4-2, keep pace with Avalanche

St. Louis Blues v Chicago Blackhawks
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The Chicago Blackhawks kept their hopes of home ice in the first round of the playoffs alive after beating the rival St. Louis Blues 4-2 at United Center.

Marcus Kruger’s goal 56 seconds into the third period proved to be the game-winner for Chicago. Jeremy Morin had a goal and assisted on Patrick Sharp’s in the second period to lead the way for Chicago. Corey Crawford stopped 21 shots to earn the win. Ben Smith added the empty-net goal to provide the final score.

Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka scored for St. Louis. Brian Elliott made 31 saves.

The win gives the Blackhawks 105 points and moves them to one point behind the second place Colorado Avalanche in the Central Division. Those two teams are destined to face each other in the playoffs and the higher seed will have home ice advantage.

The downside for Chicago? Colorado has two games in hand including their battle tonight in Denver against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

A few things to take with you into the comments…

— Sharp’s 33 goals leads the Blackhawks. If Patrick Kane hadn’t gotten hurt, those two would be having quite the battle for the team lead there.

— Morin may not be a prolific scorer, but he was recalled when Kane was injured and provided the spark they needed this afternoon.

— We know Elliott is not Ryan Miller, but it’s tough to put him at fault on the Chicago goals. The Blues defense got a bit outworked at times and they turned into goals. Can’t imagine Blues coach Ken Hitchcock likes seeing that.

— Marian Hossa may not have had a point in the game, but his work shorthanded and at even strength was impressive. Maybe let’s throw his name in the hat for the Selke Trophy?

— How about the season Jaden Schwartz is having. He scored his 24th goal in the first period and is providing a lot of that secondary scoring the Blues have been dying for the past couple seasons. Good stuff from the former Colorado College Tiger.

— How about that fight/hugfest between Brandon Bollig and Ryan Reaves? Have a look at it here.

If you missed the game, here are the highlights of the Blackhawks’ win: