Blackhawks

Blackhawks' confidence 'unwavering' when facing elimination

Blackhawks' confidence 'unwavering' when facing elimination

The Blackhawks have played in so many big games over the last seven years that's it's too many to count. 

That will happen when you win three Stanley Cups in six years, and appear in five Conference Finals since 2009.

It's the primary reason why their confidence hasn't fluctuated despite falling into a 3-1 series hole, which was cut to 3-2 following Thursday's double-overtime 4-3 victory against the St. Louis Blues.

"We love to play these kind of games, we have a lot of players that have been a part of it before and (are) very comfortable with playing these types of games," Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "We have a lot of players that want the puck in big moments and do something good with it.

"We're excited. This is the most fun part about hockey, playing in these eliminating games. Obviously you want to be on the other side of it, but it's still a lot of fun to play in and have your backs against the wall and know if you lose, you're out.

"That's when you have to respond and play your best hockey and I think that's a really strong asset of our team to do that."

Dale Weise, who was acquired at the trade deadline from Montreal and scored two playoff overtime goals for the Canadiens last spring, felt those vibes immediately when he joined the Blackhawks.

But he noticed it even before he got there.

"I think watching them the last couple of years as just a fan of this team, you can just see the resilience that they have," he said. "There never seems to be any panic, and I think just being a part of it now you see why they've had so much success. There's just an unwavering confidence about the team, no matter what the score is, time of the game; there's just no panic.

"They've got some great leaders in this locker room that kind of step up and say things when they need to and I think that just kind of radiates throughout the whole locker room and everybody becomes a part of it."

It was certainly evident in Game 4.

Marian Hossa scored his first goal of the series to put the Blackhawks on the board first.

Duncan Keith logged exactly 42 minutes of ice time, which doesn't surprise anyone in Chicago.

Corey Crawford registered 43 saves, more than half of them in the third period and overtime, where the Blackhawks were outshot 26-15.

Patrick Kane stepped up like he often does in crucial moments, potting his fifth career playoff overtime goal, which is tied for third-most in NHL history. 

The stars delivered when called upon with their season on the line, and knowing you have those types of players on your side in key moments exudes confidence that trickles up and down the roster.

"I think we've been in a lot of different situations over the years," Kane said. "It obviously helps to have that experience, knowledge of maybe what's going to happen. We've been in these situations before, whether we've been down in a series or we have to win that one game to get ourselves back into it.

"We just try to focus on that one game and I think it's the same thing for Game 6."

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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NBC Sports Chicago

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

Here are Three Things to Watch when the Blackhawks take on the Ottawa Senators tonight on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming live on the NBC Sports app. Coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live.

1. Trade chips.

The Blackhawks have reached the point in their season where they have no choice but to become sellers before the Feb. 26 deadline, and we saw that when they traded Michal Kempny to the Washington Capitals on Monday for a conditional third-round pick in 2018. Tommy Wingels could also be an attractive piece for a team looking to fill out their depth.

The Senators will definitely be sellers, and wow do they have some names potentially on the market that can fetch large returns: Derrick Brassard and Mike Hoffman are two players who log top-six minutes on a nightly basis and also have term left on their contract, which is great for teams looking to load up for this year and beyond.

The biggest name to watch, probably in the league altogether, is Erik Karlsson, who could be on the move if a team offers a big enough package for the Senators to pull the trigger now as opposed to in the offseason if they feel him re-signing is a long shot. He was the best defenseman last season, and if a team steps up to get him, they're getting two possible postseason runs out of him.

2. Artem Anisimov's experiment at left wing not working.

Joel Quenneville has tried rekindling the magic between Anisimov, Nick Schmaltz and Patrick Kane as of late, only this time Anisimov is playing the wing and it just hasn't been very effective. The trio was on the ice for each of the two 5-on-5 goals the Kings scored on Monday, and Anisimov completely lost his man on the first one.

It's important to establish a consistent left winger for Schmaltz and Kane, and maybe putting Alex DeBrincat up there is something you consider going forward as part of a long-term solution. Move Anisimov back down as the third-line center to play in more of a defensive role and continue using his big body on power plays for his offensive abilities might be the best bet.

3. Win the special teams battle.

In their last meeting against Ottawa on Jan. 9, the Blackhawks went 4-for-6 on the power play and 4-on-4 on the penalty kill in an 8-2 win. And those are two areas to look out for again.

The Senators own the 28th-ranked power play with a 16.1 percent success rate and 29th-ranked penalty kill with a 74.5 percent success rate. Get ready for another offensive outburst?

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

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USA TODAY

Podcast: Which Blackhawks could be on the move before trade deadline?

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Adam Burish and Pat Boyle discuss which Blackhawks could be on the trading block and what players are building blocks for the Hawks future.

Burish also shares a couple memorable trade deadline days and his “near” return to the Blackhawks in 2012. Plus, he makes his bold trade deadline prediction for the Hawks.

Listen to the full Blackhawks Talk Podcast right here: