Blackhawks

We know what's next on the 'To Do' list

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We know what's next on the 'To Do' list

As the Blackhawks took Monday off before hosting a Detroit team that's taken huge strides towards running away with the Central, there was a sense of satisfaction over areas of recent improvement.

Corey Crawford's been the last line of an improved overall defensive effort and quieted (at least temporarily) the public screeching for a deadline trade for a new goalie. He's stopped 80 of 84 shots during the three-game winning streak.

"I think with Steph (Goalie Coach Stephane Waite), they worked on technical aspects to tighten up his game," said Head Coach Joel Quenneville. "You get one win, with confidence, you can feed off that. I thought he had a good week in that regard. We know the scrutiny goaltenders are under. They're under the microscope, evaluated a lot more than players in front of them - whether it's defensemen or forwards. They come under fire when you're not winning and get some accolades when you're doing alright."

Okay. So there's that. Then there's the penalty kill, which has been perfect burning off 14 consecutive opponent power plays over the past five games.

So the area still left sticking (stinking?) out like a sore thumb is....the power play. Or power-less play. As in 0-for-29 since its last conversion January 24th following Sunday's three failures, which generated just two shots and didn't exactly make St. Louis shake in their skates.

"Tough stretch," understated the head coach. "I thought tonight (Sunday), the third was better, each better than the prior one, but that's something we've got to rely on to ignite our offense and score some timely goals. We'll get it right."

The Blackhawks opened the season 5-for-57, rose into the league's top ten. It begins the week 19th (16.4 percent) in the NHL as the slump's dragged on.

Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

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Lance Bouma's second chance has meant steady work with Blackhawks

Lance Bouma took his place at fourth-line left wing as the Blackhawks rolled their forward rushes on Tuesday morning. As the Blackhawks have tinkered with their trios, Bouma, whose final two seasons with the Calgary Flames were filled with uncertainty, has found a consistent role in this lineup.

“Obviously I was brought here for a reason,” Bouma said. “Things didn’t go the way I wanted them to in Calgary. To come here to Chicago and have that role, it’s been a lot of fun so far.”

The Blackhawks knew what they wanted from Bouma and his fellow fourth liners: some physical play, some energy and if there are any scoring opportunities, bonus. It’s a second chance for Bouma, whose contract was terminated by the Flames on June 30.

“I think it’s definitely a motivator knowing that you get in that situation where all of a sudden, ‘OK, I have to almost start over again and I have to prove to a new team that I belong in this league and I can play,’” coach Joel Quenneville said on Tuesday. “There are always circumstances where teams make decisions like that. We’ve been a part of it. And moving forward as a player, you’ve gotta look at it as a fresh opportunity. It’s an opportunity to get back to playing your game.”

After recording 16 goals and 18 assists in the 2014-15 season, Bouma signed a three-year, $6.6 million deal with the Flames. The next two seasons didn’t go as planned as Bouma dealt with injuries, inconsistent play and healthy scratches. So getting that call from the Blackhawks was a huge lift.

“I was just looking forward to a fresh start and something new,” he said. “I just was ready to come into camp and have a great season and it’s been great so far.”

[MORE: Eddie Olczyk expected to return to broadcasting booth this week

Tommy Wingels, who has centered the Blackhawks’ fourth line the last several games – and will again vs. St. Louis on Wednesday – said Bouma looks “refreshed” this season.

“Obviously whether it’s a team doesn’t want to bring you back or it’s a trade or buyout, there’s certainly something that deep down gets you going,” Wingels said. “I think it was a good summer for him mentally to come to a new organization, come to a new group of guys and re-establish his game. It’s tough when you’re with the same coaches, same team for so long; maybe what you do gets taken for granted. He looks good and he’s skating really well and I think he moves really well for a big man. He’s strong on the pucks and he’s a good asset for us.

Bouma isn’t here to be a top-six player. He’s not here to fulfill a contract that he no longer has. The Blackhawks needed depth, energy and a physical presence and in brining that, Bouma has earned steady work.  

“We knew the player coming in that we wanted him to play that style and he’s done a good job of it, too,” Quenneville said of Bouma. “So it’s something we were looking for in our needs and it fit perfectly."

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Nick Schmaltz isn’t the only one returning; guess who is back in the booth?!

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Nick Schmaltz isn’t the only one returning; guess who is back in the booth?!

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Tracey Myers and Pat Boyle discuss Nick Schmaltz returning to the Blackhawks line-up on Wednesday night and which player is looking forward most to his return?

They also weigh in on Corey Crawford’s incredible start to the season and why he’s the major reason why the Hawks begin the week in first place in the Central.

They also discuss who is the biggest Hawks rivalry right now, which new defenseman has impressed the most and how is Connor Murphy dealing with being a healthy scratch at times this season?

Plus, they discuss someone other than Nick Schmaltz returning to work on Wednesday night.

Listen to the full episode in the embedded player below: