Tag: Marian Hossa

Marian Hossa

Chicago hopes to fix struggling penalty kill


The Chicago Blackhawks were able to eliminate the Nashville Predators in six games, but it was far from the perfect series for them. One of their biggest issues in the first round was their performance when attempting to kill penalties.

Chicago only managed to escape 72.7% of Nashville’s power-play opportunities without allowing a goal. In total they surrendered six markers in the first round, which is more than any other team. That’s in contrast to 2014 when Chicago allowed just 10 power-play goals in 19 playoff games and the Blackhawks’ 2013 Stanley Cup-winning run when they were charged with just seven power-play goals against in 23 contests.

Making the matter even more worrying for the Blackhawks is the fact that their new opponent, Minnesota, went 4-for-12 with the man advantage in the first round.

“We definitely weren’t happy with how the PK worked out. We got scored on more than we’d like to,” Marian Hossa told CSN Chicago. “Right now we talk about it. We looked at some films to be on the same page, that’s the key.”

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville hopes to get off on the right foot and build some confidence. If they don’t succeed in doing that, then this could become a critical issue for Chicago going forward.

Keith conquers: Blackhawks come back, eliminate Predators

Nashville Predators at Chicago Blackhawks

The Nashville Predators aren’t a common playoff threat for the Chicago Blackhawks, so in some ways, this blistering first-round series feels different. Even so, the usual suspects keep coming up big for the Blackhawks, so the script ended up being familiar enough.

Brent Seabrook scored the game-winner in that epic triple-OT contest in Game 4. Duncan Keith was the difference-maker not once, but twice. Patrick Kane was shockingly productive in this series even short of 100 percent; Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa were their usual dominant selves.

It almost felt inevitable when Keith scored the last game-winner, as close as this series was:

With plenty of overtime action in this series, Predators – Blackhawks felt like a seven-game classic. Chicago was able to make enough plays to end it in six, however, beating Nashville in another thriller by a score of 4-3.

Things were wild and woolly in the opening frame. James Neal scored two early goals, and after the teams traded tallies for a 3-1 Nashville lead, Joel Quenneville gave Scott Darling the hook in favor of Corey Crawford.

It wasn’t advantage: Predators for very long, however. Jonathan Toews scored on the power play and Patrick Kane fired a laser beam home late in the first to tie it up 3-3.

There was plenty of action after that, but Chicago was unable to take advantage of a significant advantage in play in the second period, including a 12-7 shot advantage. In general, it seemed like the Blackhawks were locking in to try to put away the Predators, yet both Crawford and Pekka Rinne held strong through much of the action, making for more tight proceedings.

Ultimately, Rinne was unable to turn aside an unrelenting Blackhawks attack culminating with Keith’s game-winner.

With that, the Blackhawks advance to the next round while the Predators’ surprisingly excellent season ends in heartbreak.

Time will tell if Nashville can bounce back and turn this one-off series into a budding rivalry. Whatever happens in 2015-16 and beyond, this was one of those rare gems that may very well convert new fans to the sport.

… Even if the ultimate outcome might seem predictable to some.

Is everything OK with the Blackhawks?

Zach Parise, Corey Crawford

Maybe they just really miss Patrick Kane. He’s a pretty good player, right?

Still, something just doesn’t seem 100-percent right with the Chicago Blackhawks. And, frankly, it didn’t before Kane got hurt.

In 2015, starting with the Winter Classic loss in D.C., the ‘Hawks are a pedestrian 23-16-4. They’ve had a couple of four-game winning streaks during that stretch, but never really any sustained momentum. They’ve been shut out or held to one goal 13 times.

Analytics-wise, in those 43 games, their score-adjusted Fenwick ranks 14th in the NHL.

In their first 37, it ranked first.

Perhaps the ‘Hawks just got a little too comfortable after starting out so well in October, November, and December.

“They seemed the more desperate hockey team tonight,” forward Kris Versteeg said after last night’s 2-1 loss to Minnesota. “Those guys were really fighting for their lives over there.”

The ‘Hawks haven’t had to fight for their lives all season.

Whether it’s an overreaction or not, clearly a segment of the fan base is sensing trouble:

Look, nobody’s writing off a team with Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, and possibly Kane. At online sportsbook Bovada, only the Rangers (6/1) are more heavily favored than the ‘Hawks (8/1) to win the Stanley Cup.

Something seems off, though.

Related: Blackhawks’ decision-making was ‘tough to watch’ last night

Versteeg misses Kane

Toronto Maple Leafs v Chicago Blackhawks

It’s been a tough go for Blackhawks winger Kris Versteeg, ever since Patrick Kane fractured his clavicle and was lost for the remainder of the regular season.

Versteeg has played 14 games since that fateful night versus Florida. He has just two assists, despite skating with the likes of Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa.

“Obviously, me and Kane had a good thing going on,” Versteeg said, per the Chicago Sun-Times. “And since I haven’t played with him in a while, it hasn’t been going my way.”

The prevailing theory (supported by numbers) is that Versteeg is a more effective scorer with a creative, unpredictable play-maker like Kane, as opposed to the more straightforward styles of Toews and Hossa.

But with Kane out until at least the playoffs, Versteeg knows he has to adapt.

And really, there are worse linemates to be stuck with than Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa, two of the best all-around forwards in the game.

“Whether it’s a role you have to dump it in, or a role you have to check, or a role you have to score,” said Versteeg. “I just want to help this team.”

NHL on NBCSN: Flyers host Blackhawks on Rivalry Night

Philadelphia Flyers v Chicago Blackhawks

NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign tonight as the Philadelphia Flyers host the Chicago Blackhawks at Wells Fargo Center, starting at 8:00 p.m. ET. In addition to NBCSN, you can also watch the game and pre-show online.

The Philadelphia Flyers and Chicago Blackhawks are facing off tonight, which probably means that hockey fans will think of Michael Leighton for the first time in a long time.

Patrick Kane scored that fabled Stanley Cup-winning goal against Leighton many moons ago (OK, 2010), and neither player will be in the mix on Wednesday. Indeed, the two teams look quite different heading into this one, with Chris Pronger wearing business suits these days.

No doubt about it, these are two teams moving in different directions.

The Blackhawks are really getting their act together as the playoffs approach with a 9-2-1 mark in their last 11 contests, thanks in large part to strong play from Corey Crawford and Jonathan Toews. The Flyers, meanwhile, are fading into the offseason sunset. Philly’s mainly playing for pride (and perhaps head coach Craig Berube’s job).

Even with very different 2014-15 outlooks, there’s enough talent on the ice for this to be a spirited affair.

The Blackhawks tune up with the likes of Toews, Marian Hossa, Patrick Sharp, Duncan Keith and less familiar faces fully capable of lighting things up. The Flyers boast the one-two punch of Jakub Voracek + Claude Giroux, a premier power forward in Wayne Simmonds and the under-the-radar great work of Steve Mason.

In other words, the Flyers may have fallen far since Leighton allowed that odd overtime goal to Kane, but tonight’s game still has plenty of potential to entertain.