Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Konroyd's keys to closing out the series

bpgame6.png

Blackhawks: Konroyd's keys to closing out the series

1. Close-out games are tough.

We’ve heard this one before but it’s worth repeating — the last game to win in a series is the toughest. And it should be. Facing elimination, you are fighting with every ounce of strength and will to get that boot off your throat so that you can get back up off the mat. And if Predators can do that tonight, they will be on even terms with the Blackhawks heading back home.

[MORE: Blackhawks 'don't want to go back to Nashville' for a Game 7]

That’s a pretty big motivator for the Preds, and the Hawks are well aware of it. That’s why you have to weaken their will with strong shifts from the drop of the puck. Get pucks deep, get them back with a ferocious forecheck and get pucks on goaltender Pekka Rinne.

2. Play with a lead.

Even though the Blackhawks are up 3-2 in the series, they haven’t played with a lead very often. Over the five games thus far, Chicago has led on the scoreboard for just 37 minutes and 15 seconds. That’s out of almost 369 minutes already played in this series.

[SHOP: Get the latest Blackhawks gear here]

Just over 10 percent of the time has Chicago been in the lead. That’s a big advantage for the Predators, especially a team that doesn’t have a lot of playoff experience. It lets them feel like they can run with the big dogs and be competitive. Fatigue sets in a lot earlier when you are chasing the game. Get the lead early and don’t look back.

3. Power play needs to be a factor.

Since scoring a couple of power play goals in Game 1 in Nashville, the power play has come up empty. A dry run of 0-for-13 does not give you a lot of confidence with the extra attacker, and it can actually provide momentum for the defenders.

By comparison, Nashville has struck for five power-play tallies, although one was into an empty net in the last game. Both special team goals scored by Chicago were down low, so it’s important that the Hawks are taking the puck to the net. Point shots are fine to open up the box, but the down-low play has to be more of an option, especially the way Patrick Kane was playing last game. Give him the puck on the boards and let him work his magic from there.

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

smith_pelly.jpg
AP

Capitals' Devante Smith-Pelly speaks out about 'racially charged chanting' at United Center

After being on the receiving end of some racist taunts while he was in the penalty box during Saturday's game against the Blackhawks, Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly spoke publicly about the incident.

Smith-Pelly, a 25-year-old Canadian, reacted to the fans while he was in the box, going up to them from the other side of the glass. He addressed questions from the media about the incident on Sunday.

"I just heard some chanting, some, I guess, racially charged chanting," Smith-Pelly said. "You can tell by my reaction that I got pretty upset.

"What was said this time around crossed the line."

The Capitals released a statement about the incident:

"The Washington Capitals are extremely disappointed by the intolerant behavior extended toward Devante Smith-Pelly by a select group of fans during Saturday night's game against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. The Capitals organization strives to be inclusive and has zero tolerance concerning any form of racism. Such behavior is unacceptable and has no place in hockey or society. As such, it is crucial to confront such appalling conduct, and the Capitals extend their appreciation to the Blackhawks organization and United Center security for swiftly removing the fans from the game."

The Blackhawks released a statement after the game with a similar tone.

Smith-Pelly said this has happened previously in his career.

"It's sad that in 2018 we're still talking about the same thing over and over," Smith-Pelly said. "It's sad that athletes like myself 30, 40 years ago were standing in the same spot saying the same thing. You'd think there'd be some sort of change or progression, but we're still working towards it I guess and we're going to keep working towards it."

The Capitals released the full interview.

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

2-17_hawks_caps_fan.jpg
AP

Blackhawks release statement following incident that happened during game vs. Capitals

Four fans at the United Center were thrown out of Saturday's Blackhawks game for taunting Washington Capitals forward Devante Smith-Pelly with racist remarks.

Midway through the third period, Smith-Pelly, who is black, was in the penalty box when fans shouted "basketball, basketball, basketball" at him, the Washington Post reported.

Here is a GIF of Smith-Pelly's interaction with the fans:

After the game, the Blackhawks released this statement:

Capitals head coach Barry Trotz also had this to say about the incident: