Blackhawks

Blackhawks know what they need in Game 2 vs. Predators: 'Our intensity has to go up'

Blackhawks know what they need in Game 2 vs. Predators: 'Our intensity has to go up'

Being down 1-0 in a series isn't ideal, but the Blackhawks aren't sweating it. Still, if they want to grab a split heading to the Nashville portion of this series, the Blackhawks will have to play much better than they did on Thursday.

Dennis Rasmussen will make his NHL postseason debut and Ryan Hartman will be back on the top line as the Blackhawks host the Predators in Game 2 of their first-round series on Saturday night. The Blackhawks didn't mount much of a net-front attack in Game 1, a situation exacerbated by the Predators' strong defensive game – they blocked 26 shots.

"Our defensemen did a nice job of trying to tie up sticks or get stick on puck. That'll probably hold true the rest of the series: we'll have to play them tight defensively," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "They're an offensive group that's dynamic and been together for a while – at least the core has – and they're capable of generating a lot of offense. That leads itself back to playing good defense. We did it well in Game 1 we're going to have to do it well tonight."

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The Blackhawks will have to fight to get past the Predators' defense, which stifled them in Game 1. Their overall game, however, needs to be better.

"I think just our level of intensity has to go up. Be harder on pucks," Brian Campbell said. "Obviously getting pucks to the net and creating traffic and havoc. those are the keys that come with desperation."

The Blackhawks have been here, done this before in series, although it's been a while since they've trailed 1-0 when starting a series at home. Going back to 2009, here's how the Blackhawks have fared in postseason series when losing Game 1:

Year   Opponent     Game 1          Series result
2016              @STL             L 1-0 (OT)    Lost series in 7
2015              @ANA            L 4-1              Won series in 7
2014              @STL             L 4-3 (3OT) Won series in 6
2012              @ARI             L 3-2 (OT)    Lost series in 6
2011              @VAN            L 2-0              Lost series in 7
2010              NSH                L 4-1              Won series in 6
2010              VAN                L 5-1              Won series in 6
2009              @VAN            L 5-3              Won series in 6
2009              @DET            L 5-2              Lost series in 5

Concern? Yes. Panic? No. But the Blackhawks will need veterans and postseason rookies alike to mesh.

"I feel we have a lot of great leaders who have been around a long time. It helps the young guys, me included, who haven't played a lot of playoff games," Rasmussen said. "We've had some talks here. We're still calm and know what to do out there. We have to bring some more traffic at the net, create more shots and better chances. Hopefully we can do that tonight."

Meanwhile on the injury front, Andrew Desjardins has not started skating yet but coach Joel Quenneville said the forward is "pretty close" to doing so.

BLACKHAWKS VS. NASHVILLE PREDATORS
7 p.m.
TV: NBC
Live Stream: NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Chicago Blackhawks
Forward lines
Ryan Hartman-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Nick Schmaltz-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
Dennis Rasmussen-Tanner Kero-Jordin Tootoo

Defensive pairs 
Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Johnny Oduya-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender
Corey Crawford

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Michal Rozsival (facial fractures), Andrew Desjardins (lower body).

Nashville Predators
Forward lines (projected/Predators had optional skate)
Filip Forsberg-Ryan Johansen-Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin Fiala-Mike Fisher-James Neal
Pontus Aberg-Calle Jarnkrok-Craig Smith
Cody McLeod-Colton Sissons-Austin Watson

Defensive Pairs
Roman Josi-Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm-P.K. Subban
Yannick Weber-Matt Irwin

Goaltender
Pekka Rinne

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Colin Wilson (lower body).
 

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 win over Penguins: Power play becoming a strength?

Five takeaways from Blackhawks' 2-1 win over Penguins: Power play becoming a strength?

Here are five takeaways from the Blackhawks’ 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night:
 
1. That's how you start a game.

The Blackhawks haven't had the best of starts over the last couple weeks or so — aside from their recent four-goal first period against New Jersey. But they flew out of the gates in Pittsburgh.

Chicago recorded 27 shot attempts (11 on goal) in the opening frame compared to Pittsburgh's 13 attempts (nine on goal), and led in the even-strength scoring chances department 11-2.

Two of those chances were breakaways from Nick Schmaltz and Jonathan Toews, but both were denied by Matt Murray. The Blackhawks cashed in on one of two power play opportunities, however, and took a 1-0 lead into the second.

2. Power play strikes again.

Speaking of power plays, the Blackhawks came up empty on their first one of the game, but they were handed another one 44 seconds later at the midway mark of the first and capitalized when Gustav Forsling slipped one five-hole past Murray. 

It's the third consecutive game the Blackhawks have scored on the man advantage, something they hadn't done since Oct. 7-12 when they scored in four straight. It's also the second consecutive game the power play unit netted the game winner.

The Blackhawks are 5-for-13 (38.5 percent) on the power play in their last three games after going 5-for-53 (9.4 percent) in their previous 12. 

3. Should Blackhawks have pushed back immediately following Corey Crawford injury?

A scary moment occurred in the second period when Evgeni Malkin swiped Crawford in the mask while racing for a loose puck, forcing the Blackhawks netminder to exit before returning a few minutes later.

Malkin was given a two-minute minor penalty for goaltender interference, but should the Blackhawks have stood up for Crawford at the expense of getting tagged with a penalty themselves?

No question a power play opportunity with a chance to make it a two-goal game at that stage of the game — and against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions who hadn't lost in regulation at home this season going into the matchup —  is important, but the Blackhawks' lack of retaliation was a bit surpising. 

It wasn't a dirty play by Malkin by any means, but there's a principle involved when your goaltender gets hit like that. Those are the kinds of penalties you shouldn't mind taking, and at the very worst it would've been 4-on-4 hockey with one of Pittsburgh's best forwards in the box.

4. Artem Anisimov stays hot.

The goals keep coming for No. 15.

After the Penguins tied it up at 1-1 in the third period with a shorthanded goal, Anisimov scored 21 seconds later on the power play to put the Blackhawks back in front 2-1.

Anisimov now has nine goals in his last 10 games after scoring just one goal in his first 10 to start the season. He also has four game-winning goals on the season, all of which have come this month. Brandon Saad leads the NHL with five.

5. Alex DeBrincat extends point streak.

Lost in the shuffle was the Blackhawks' top rookie getting on the scoresheet once again.

With an assist on Forsling's power play goal in the first period, DeBrincat extended his point streak to four games. He has four goals and two assists in that span, and is averaging a point per game over his last nine (six goals and three assists).

DeBrincat also moved into a three-way tie with Richard Panik and Toews for second on the team with 13 points.

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

nd-stadium.jpg
USA TODAY

It's official: Blackhawks-Bruins to play at Notre Dame Stadium in 2019 Winter Classic

It’s official: The Blackhawks are headed back outdoors.

The NHL announced that the 2019 Winter Classic will be held at Notre Dame Stadium, featuring the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1.

"The Blackhawks and Bruins, two of our most historic franchises, will be meeting outdoors for the first time at the 2019 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "Notre Dame Stadium, with its capacity approaching 80,000, will provide an ideal setting for this ground-breaking event and will host the largest live audience ever to witness a game by either of these teams."

"The Chicago Blackhawks are honored to be participating in this marquee event at an iconic venue like Notre Dame Stadium," Blackhawks President & CEO John McDonough said in a statement. "The University of Notre Dame has strong alumni roots in both Chicago and Boston, and, with an established rivalry between the Blackhawks and Bruins, fans will be treated to an exciting game in a unique atmosphere. We appreciate the invitation to the game and look forward to what will be a great day for both franchises and the National Hockey League."

It's the sixth time the Blackhawks will be playing outdoors, and their league-leading fourth Winter Classic. The Blackhawks are 1-4-0 in outdoor games, and are winless in three Winter Classic games.

Chicago's only outdoor win came against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2014 Stadium Series Classic, a 5-1 victory at Soldier Field.