Blackhawks

Konroyd's keys for Game 7 of Blackhawks-Ducks

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Konroyd's keys for Game 7 of Blackhawks-Ducks

1. Weather an early Anaheim storm

Anaheim could have closed out the Blackhawks in Game 6 in the Windy City. They never really forced the issue or pushed the pace until the third period when they came at the Hawks in waves, and had Chicago in its own end for extended periods of time. Expect that early Saturday night from the Ducks. Forwards taking chances, D-men joining the rush, and pucks dumped in so that forecheckers can try to run you through the end boards. Anaheim has a lot of recent Game 7 history at home, and it isn’t good. They will be looking to change this record by pushing back hard on the Hawks. At this point of the year, it’s always will over skill. Get a hit, block a shot, make a good pass, win a faceoff, get into the game early. All those boring, thankless little things that go into any win are really what matter most.

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2. Score first

Sounds a little too simple to be a key, but there are a lot of benefits in accomplishing this. Scoring first would take the crowd at the Honda Center out of it. The Ducks would instantly feel the pressure and stress of “oh no, here we go again!” The way it has played out, the team that has scored first in each of the first six games of this Western Conference Final has gone on to win the game. In the Eastern Conference Final, all but one game went to the team that scored first. But there is more history here for Anaheim. Last year they allowed the Los Angeles Kings to score first in that pivotal Game 7 on home ice in the first round. Again, the team that scored first won each and every game of that series. Dial it back two years ago when Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings scored less than two minutes into that Game 7 in Anaheim, and again the team scoring first went on to win this game and the series.

3. Pump fake works: gotta use it

The Blackhawks might have learned a valuable lesson in Game 6 where Duncan Keith pump faked twice on the Blackhawks second goal. In doing so, he drew three Anaheim defenders, which left Marian Hossa all alone at the side of the net. The Ducks have blocked 162 shots in the six games so far. That is 65 more blocked shots than the Blackhawks have in this series. They also have more shots on net than Chicago. You have to hand it to Anaheim for making the sacrifice and getting in the shooting lanes. But that’s where Chicago can take advantage. Fake the shot, and look for a passing lane. Often there are two and three layers between the shooter and the net, so look for teammates off to the side or in the high slot. You might even get Anaheim goalie Frederik Andersen biting on one of those pump fakes.   

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: