Tough guy Jamal Mayers making difference on power play
BY ADAM L. JAHNS firstname.lastname@example.org March 4, 2012 10:52PM
Updated: April 6, 2012 8:13AM
DETROIT — Who would have thought seasoned tough guy Jamal Mayers would be the spark for a Blackhawks power play that had gone from good to abysmal?
Mayers has been on the ice for every Hawks power-play goal — three in the last four games — since he was moved to the first unit on Feb. 26 against the Anaheim Ducks. With another power-play goal in their 2-1 victory Sunday against the Detroit Red Wings, the Hawks continue to show they’re past their recent 0-for-39 skid.
Patrick Sharp gave the Hawks a 1-0 lead in the first period when he scored from the point with Mayers screening goalie Jimmy Howard. Sharp’s shot
deflected off defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who was battling with Mayers.
‘‘That’s the type of goal we have to score,’’ coach Joel Quenneville said. ‘‘You don’t want to look for pretty plays. Let’s get pucks and traffic and get a nice bounce here or there.’’
Mayers, who is averaging only nine seconds on the power play this season, has been able to provide that.
‘‘If I can go in there, get in front of the net, create some havoc, score some goals and win the games, that’s what I want to do,’’ Mayers said.
Keep me in, Coach
Injuries to Niklas Hjalmarsson and Steve Montador might have led to more opportunities for defenseman Sami Lepisto, but Quenne-
ville said Lepisto has given the Hawks ‘‘good minutes’’ in the 13 consecutive games he has played. Lepisto played only 51/2 minutes Sunday.
Hjalmarsson’s imminent return from a concussion might affect Lepisto’s playing time, but he said he thinks he has played well.
‘‘You can always do better, but I think I’ve been pretty solid,’’ he said.
Playing more also has helped his confidence. Lepisto has been a healthy scratch 43 times this season.
‘‘You don’t have to worry about the morning practice,’’ Lepisto said. ‘‘Is Q going to come talk to me and say I’m not playing or not? Of course, it’s easier. You just focus on the game instead of if I’m getting scratched or not. Every time you play, it’s just a happy day.’’
Center Dave Bolland used to be one of the handful of Hawks who preferred to play without a visor. But that has changed.
Not long after needing stitches to repair a gash in his forehead, Bolland needed a couple of more by his right eye after getting hit by a stick. Bolland also has a black eye.
‘‘I’ll try it out for a while and see how it goes,’’ said Bolland, who took a redirected puck to his face against the Red Wings. ‘‘When you get two or three around the eye, it sort of tells you something.’’
The health beat
Center Jonathan Toews, who is out with a concussion, still hasn’t started skating as part of his recovery. He missed his seventh consecutive game Sunday.
But Montador, who also has a concussion, skated again in Chicago.