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Blackhawks: What worked, what didn't and more

Published: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 11:32 p.m. CDT
Caption
(Nam Y. Huh)
Chicago Blackhawks' Patrick Kane looks up after missing a shot against the St. Louis Blues during the first period in Game 4 of a first-round NHL hockey playoff series in Chicago, Wednesday, April 23, 2014. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

What worked

• Simple approach

Good things happen when the Blackhawks throw the puck at the net. Hawks coach Joel Quenneville preaches it all the time, and it’s as true today as it ever has been. Late in the third period, with the Hawks trailing by a goal, Michael Rozsival threw the puck at the net, and good things happened. Bryan Bickell tipped it in for a goal.

• Perfect vision

Johnny Oduya rarely ventures into the category of playmaker, but he did so Wednesday with a highlight-reel pass to Patrick Kane to set up a Hawks goal. Oduya streaked down the left side of the ice and slipped a long pass across the rink and on to Kane’s stick, just past the outreached stick of Blues forward T.J. Oshie.

• Old and wise

At 37 years old, Michal Handzus earned his “wily veteran” status years ago. The Hawks’ center proved his smarts again in Game 4 when he drew an extra penalty against Blues forward Steve Ott. Handzus delighted a sellout crowd of more than 22,000 fans by baiting Ott into taking a swing at him after a whistle.

What didn’t work

• Foolish games

Heading into Game 4, the Hawks repeatedly mentioned the importance of staying out of the penalty box. Then, the puck dropped, and the Hawks committed a bunch of penalties. A stout penalty-killing unit bailed out the first four two-minute minors, but the Blues finally made the Hawks pay on their fifth infraction.

• Sharpen up

Patrick Sharp was one of the Hawks’ top players during the regular season, but he has had a rocky series against the Blues. He missed a great scoring opportunity when he failed to lift the puck in the first period, and his inability to clear the puck late in the second period led to the Blues’ game-tying goal.

• Giving season

The Hawks were too careless with giveaways in Game 4, which served the dual (and dangerous) purposes of providing the Blues with extra scoring chances and limiting the Hawks’ time in the offensive zone. Michael Rozsival, Sheldon Brookbank, Niklas Hjalmarsson and Jonathan Toews all were guilty of multiple giveaways.

Stars of the game

• Patrick Kane

The Hawks’ most electrifying player appears to be back at full strength. Kane was everywhere in Game 4, flying around the ice and showing no signs of a recent knee injury.

• Bryan Bickell

Bickell stepped up when the Hawks needed him most. His deflected goal late in the third period forced overtime and marked his first postseason score since Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.

• Jonathan Toews

Teamed up with his star teammate, Kane, Toews tallied two assists and frustrated the Blues with his pesky forechecking. He also logged more than 30 shifts.

Tweet, tweet

OT, because, well, this series.

@WernerESPNCU, Jeremy Werner

What they’re saying

“It’s basic hockey, but playoff hockey takes it to another level where all the little things you do, you have to step it up a little bit more.”

-Johnny Oduya on how playoff hockey is different than the regular season

“He’s got high V02 capability and big minutes, doesn’t have the wear and tear on him over the course of the playoffs.”

-Joel Quenneville on how Duncan Keith is able to play so many minutes

“He's not going to play unless he's healthy. You never know, he could be skating in another rink.”

-Ken Hitchcock on the pregame status of David Backes, who did not play

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