Blackhawks want to feed off Game 2 energy at home


Blackhawks want to feed off Game 2 energy at home

The Blackhawks enjoyed their thrilling, triple-overtime Game 2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks about as long as they could: which wasn’t long at all.

They reveled some in the locker room right after that 3-2 triumph. Then reality set in and the fatigue took over after they played the longest game in franchise history.

But the exhaustion wasn’t the only reason the Blackhawks turned the page quickly. It’s just what they do this time of year because no matter the loss or victory, no matter the length of the game, they can’t afford to dwell on it long.

The Blackhawks return to the United Center for the first time since May 3 – yes, it’s been that long – on Thursday night, when they host the Ducks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Final. Whether or not this next game goes as long as the previous one, the competition level will likely be high. The Blackhawks handed the Ducks their first postseason home loss on Tuesday night, and Anaheim will be looking to return the favor.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

“I think both teams got a lot of respect for what the other team's capable of doing,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “There's a lot of skill, a lot of balance on their team. They [have] got four lines that can score, skate. We feel we got to battle it with our four lines as well.  There’s a lot of depth on these teams. You’ve got to bring the importance of each shift.”

Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau said his players were angry following Game 2’s loss, and he’s fine with that emotion. The Ducks haven’t lost two in a row thus far this postseason and Boudreau said he expects a good response on Thursday night.

“We’ve done it all year. I would be more surprised if we weren’t able to rebound and play a really great game than if it went the other way around,” he said. “I’ve been with this group for a long time now. You can see it. They were, rightfully so, very angry last night. Not disappointed, but angry. That’s a good thing.”

[MORE: Defensemen not sweating major minutes following Game 2 marathon]

Meanwhile, as much as the Blackhawks were physically drained in Game 2, they were also rejuvenated. They got that split on the road, which is never easy. It was also a reminder after Game 1, which the Blackhawks lost 4-1, that they still had more to give.

“I think considering the way we played, we know there's a lot more in the tank,” Jonathan Toews said. “I think we're excited to get back to home ice, to try to get them on their heels a little bit more, find the excitement, that energy we've had in our own building.”

The Blackhawks will be facing an angry Ducks team that’s looking to mar the Blackhawks’ unblemished postseason home record. They enjoyed their Game 2 victory, albeit briefly. There’s no time to; the next test is coming up fast.

“We're here. [There is] not a lot of time before it's time to go back to bed, get ready for another game tomorrow, no time to really sit around and enjoy a big win,” Toews said. “The best we can do is feed off of that positive energy it gave us in tomorrow night's game, try to continue that good feeling.”

Three Things to Watch: Blackhawks collide with Senators

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?


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: