Chicago Sun-Times

Traffic an absolute must for Blackhawks

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DETROIT -- The lack of traffic around Anaheim Ducks goalie Ray Emery was alarming in the Blackhawks' 2-1 loss Saturday. So, as he did last year at times, Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville issued an order for more of it.

Paging Troy Brouwer, Bryan Bickell, Tomas Kopecky ....

"That's how you score goals in this league," Quenneville said Monday before the Hawks faced the rival Detroit Red Wings. "You've got to pay that price. You've got to make sure you're willing to fight through traffic. If the [defensemen] like to box you out, you've got to make sure to fight around it. You have to be willing to penetrate that area and you have to look to hang around. If the goalie sees the puck in today's game, he's going to stop it."

Some of the Hawks' biggest guys are mired in slumps right now. The lack of dirty, rebound goals is problematic for a team missing it's leading scorer. Brouwer has one point in his last 17 games. Bickell has been held without a goal in seven straight games.

"We need the bigger guys to influence the game," Quenneville said.

Brouwer is often looked at to provide that traffic and to score more when the Hawks have injuries as they do now. He's been used primarily in a checking role lately, but could be reunited with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on the top line against the Red Wings.

"It's been awhile since I've done much of anything, except for hitting people," Brouwer said. "I have to start picking up my offensive game, especially going into the playoffs."

But the overall lack of traffic is disconcerting. It takes a willingness. The Hawks need to have it with their playoffs lives in jeopardy.

The Hawks will be facing rookie goalie Joey McDonald in Detroit Monday. Starter Jimmy Howard is out with a shoulder injury for the Red Wings, who also will be without center Pavel Datsyuk.

"You're not familiar with [McDonald,] but the one thing that you want to do is make sure you've got a lot of shots and a lot of traffic at the net," Quenneville said. "We want him having a hard time to see the pucks. We want bodies at the net. We didn't do a good enough job of it last game."

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Adam L. Jahns is a native Chicagoan hailing from the Far Northwest Side. Jahns has been with the Sun-Times for more than four years, covering the Hawks, Bears, Cubs, Sox and high schools.

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This page contains a single entry by Adam L. Jahns published on March 28, 2011 11:50 AM.

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