Blackhawks

Brian Campbell praises leadership of former Blackhawks teammates

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Brian Campbell praises leadership of former Blackhawks teammates

Jonathan Toews had some time to get an early start on his golf game with Brian Campbell when the Blackhawks had more than a week off after sweeping the Minnesota Wild in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

But Campbell said that the Chicago captain's head was somewhere else. Toews couldn't stop thinking about winning more Stanley Cups.

"All he said to me was 'I just want to keep winning championships,'" Campbell told CSN's David Kaplan on Monday's edition of SportsTalk Live. "When a guy comes up and says that, I'm just like sitting back — and Johnny is a lot younger than me — and I'm just like 'Man, this guy is one of the true, true best leaders out there.' So I just feel like every day he competes. In the summer time, he gets ready and he wants to win at every stake.

"So for me, I feel like he's the greatest captain I've ever played for. And me being an older guy, I look up to him and I look up to how he prepares himself and trains, and I want to be like him. There's a lot of kids that want to be like him, but I want to be just as good as him and see what it takes to get there."

[MORE: Stanley Cup Final feeling never gets old for Blackhawks]

The praise for his former teammates continued, with Campbell calling Duncan Keith the best defenseman in the NHL right now. Rightfully so, as Keith is arguably playing some of his best hockey. His postseason play has him listed with the third best odds to win the Conn Smythe — with Toews and Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson ahead of him, according to Sportsbook.com.

There's a reason Joel Quenneville plays Keith more than any other defenseman on the Blackhawks.

"He thrives with it," said Campbell of Keith's minutes. "But he's one of the best conditioned athletes in the league. His legs just don't get tired."

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Get your Western Conference Champs gear here]

The Blackhawks overcame their toughest challenge against a Ducks team that pushed them to seven games. But will the Lightning be a bigger challenge than Anaheim?

"I feel like Chicago is a better team than Anaheim," Campbell said. "It always gets harder, it doesn't matter. So, Tampa, I feel like they can come in and they're going to surprise them a bit with their speed. I feel like the odd man rushes, you'll see that a little bit more.

"So I think there's going to be a little bit of a surprise in the fact that Chicago is going to have to know that they're playing a little bit of a different team."

See what else Campbell had to say in the video above.

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: