Konroyd's keys for Game 2 of Blackhawks-Ducks


Konroyd's keys for Game 2 of Blackhawks-Ducks

1. Power play must make a difference

The power play for the Blackhawks in Game 1 was not very good. After scoring power play goals in consecutive games to close out the Minnesota Wild (two goals on just three opportunities), this special team unit came up empty on Sunday. The first unit of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Andrew Shaw, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith were mostly ineffective. The second unit was better, but not by much. It’s not just goals we’re talking about, it’s momentum. The Ducks are the kind of team that likes to play with an edge. That aggressiveness is reined in when you have a power play that is getting shots and chances. It acts like a lion tamer. This wasn’t the case in Game 1, and in order for the Blackhawks to slow down a feisty Anaheim team, the power play has to be effective.

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2. Finish plays

Anaheim head coach Bruce Boudreau stated in his postgame press conference that Chicago had eight good chances before the Ducks got their first. Maybe an overstatement, but not far from the truth. Aside from an early power play that was unproductive, Chicago got the start they wanted. They got pucks deep, got them back, and played with the kind of speed and aggressiveness that you hope for on the road. Unfortunately they came up empty after pouring 16 shots on Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen in the first period. Kane had the best look about five minutes in, and Andersen made the kind of save that happens for goalies maybe once every hundred games. But there were other chances too, and as well as Andersen played, the Hawks have to bear down when they get their looks. Get to the blue paint, pay the price, and make sure you’re finishing the “in close” plays.

3. Force the Ducks defense

Not a great possession numbers day for Anaheim in Game 1. Chicago fired a total of 70 shots towards the Ducks net — 33 hit the net, 22 more were blocked, and 15 were near misses — which is an amazing number in a road playoff game. But what jumped out to me were the number of turnovers (11) by Anaheim’s defense. A lot of these giveaways led to good scoring chances for the Hawks. Continue to force the issue with Anaheim’s D. Put pucks in areas where you can get them back, and put pressure on the back end of Anaheim.

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

Blackhawks edge out Senators in shootout: 'It was really nice to get a win'

It was a rare sight to see the Blackhawks in a shootout on Wednesday night.

It was just the second time this season — and first time at the United Center — that the Blackhawks made it past 3-on-3 overtime. 

The last came on Dec. 2, 2017, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Stars in Dallas. On Wednesday night, the Blackhawks were on the other end, beating the Ottawa Senators 3-2 in a seven-round shootout. Nick Schmaltz netted the game-winner.

"We'll take it," coach Joel Quenneville said. "I thought we had a decent game tonight. Overtime not so good, I liked the shootout victory, Fors made some big saves for us particularly as the game got deeper. Our third was OK, I thought our first two were way better, and overtime we gave up some high quality, some bells were rings for a bit there. But it was nice to see the shootout win."

Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist, recording another multi-point game, his 16th of the season.

"I mean we need every point we can get at this point," Kane said. "There's still belief in this locker room. Obviously we need to go on quite a run and have a big record here down the stretch. But take it a game at a time and nice to get two points."

Anton Forsberg was a big reason the Blackhawks even recorded those two points. The 25-year-old netminder stopped 34 of 36 shots and made a handful of big saves down the stretch.

"It was really nice to get a win for sure," Forsberg said. "I would love to have a lot more wins, but right now just gotta look forward and get as many wins as possible."

Added Quenneville: "I think it was good for him to win a game the way he did. Lot of shots were on the line, as we progressed, got deeper, hitting the point first was big for him and for us and then finding a way to get the extra one was a good win."

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?