Stanley Cup Final: Konroyd's keys for Game 1 of Blackhawks-Lightning


Stanley Cup Final: Konroyd's keys for Game 1 of Blackhawks-Lightning

1. Special teams need to be special

The Blackhawks have not lost a playoff game when they have scored a power play goal in 2015. Pretty important stuff when you consider they have done this in seven of their 12 wins so far. The margin between winning and losing is so close in the playoffs that you have to take advantage of your advantages. I really like how Brad Richards is fitting in on the point as part of the No. 1 power play unit. He has great chemistry with Patrick Kane, and is always looking for No. 88 when he has the puck. But beware of your perceived advantage. Tampa Bay has scored three short-handed goals — tied with Chicago for most in the playoffs — so don’t relax when you have the extra man.

2. Keep an eye on Stamkos

Steven Stamkos did not have a very good start to the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs with just one goal in his first 11 games, but the leader of the Lightning has struck frequently ever since. He has six goals in his last nine games and now one of the most dangerous shooters in the NHL is feeling really good about himself. And why shouldn’t he? Stamkos finished the regular season with 43 goals,  good for second best in the NHL. Of those 43 goals, 17 came against Original Six teams. That means 40 percent of his goals came against 20 percent of the league. Now, I’m not into conspiracy theories here, but Stamkos is a student of the game and he obviously brings it up a notch against these historic franchises. He has 11 goals in just nine career games against the Blackhawks. Stamkos, Alex Killorn and Valtteri Filppula make up a dangerous trio.

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3. Crow takes Bishop

As often happens in a tightly contested Stanley Cup Final, and this one should be, how your goalie plays says a lot about who hoists Lord Stanley when all is said and done. I really liked how Corey Crawford played in his last two games against Anaheim, stopping 65 of 70 shots in those two contests. Not only was that a fairly heavy work load, but he also did a fantastic job of playing pucks to defensemen and forwards during those games, relieving a lot of pressure from the Ducks forecheck. Ben Bishop has been really good, and then not so good, during his last five starts. Yes, he shut out the New York Rangers on their home ice in Games 5 and 7, but in Games 3, 4, and 6, he allowed five goals in each of those contests, He was pulled during a very important Game 6 in Tampa. Get to Bishop early and get him thinking about bad goals.

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: