Blackhawks

After falling behind in five straight, Blackhawks putting emphasis on scoring first

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USA TODAY

After falling behind in five straight, Blackhawks putting emphasis on scoring first

NASHVILLE — For five straight games, the Blackhawks have failed to score the first goal. In fact, they haven't led at any point in any of those — a span of 302:32 minutes.

Not only does that put you in position where you're playing catch-up, but it prevents you from dictating the pace of play from the start. And that's something the Blackhawks know must change.

"It's always easier to play when you're ahead," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "No one wants to chase the game. Having said that, just because we go down 1-0, it doesn't mean it should be two or three. Let's keep playing. If we play the way we need to play over 60 minutes, let's add it up at the end. Bad stuff's going to happen. We're going to take penalties. We're going to take bad bounces. We're going to make mistakes. Just because we make one mistake, it doesn't mean we should make four.

"I think on the goals against, a lot of times it's the culmination of two or three or four things all happening at once, and it ends up in the back of our net. Again, when you defend together, just because someone makes a mistake it doesn't mean you're going to give up a huge chance. That's where we need to get to."

It will be a difficult task to break that slump on Saturday against the Nashville Predators, who lead the NHL with 13 wins when they score the first goal. The Blackhawks are near the bottom with a 7-1-4 record, but they haven't been giving themselves a chance to correct that.

Despite scoring five goals in Winnipeg, it's important for the Blackhawks to try taking control early, which would help instill some confidence and get a better feel for how they can play when they're ahead. It also could lead to a better end result.

"That would be good. I think it would be a good feeling," Duncan Keith said of scoring first. "But you know, play hard. We know it’s Saturday night here in Nashville, and they always come out hard in this building. Gonna have to be ready. I know we work hard, but sometimes we need to be smart. Sometimes mistakes happen, but whatever happens, happens. We’ve just got to find a way, that’s what it’s about. No matter who scores first or what the score is throughout the game, it’s just finding a way to win in a tough building on the road.

"We’ve got to be patient. Scoring first is nice in the sense that we haven’t been able to — we scored five last game — but we’ve generally had a tougher time scoring. It’s nice to get the first one and have a lead rather than chase it, knowing we haven’t had as much success in the past scoring."

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Kris Versteeg pens emotional letter to Blackhawks organization after release from Rockford IceHogs

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AP

Kris Versteeg pens emotional letter to Blackhawks organization after release from Rockford IceHogs

Kris Versteeg made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks and won two Stanley Cups with the team, but his comeback attempt has ended.

Versteeg, 33, requested his contract with the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate, the Rockford IceHogs, be terminated. Versteeg joined the IceHogs on a one-year AHL contract after last season, but was limited to six games so far this season due to injury.

“Earlier this week, Kris approached us about mutually terminating his contract, at which point we asked him to take another couple of days to think about it,” IceHogs general manager Mark Bernard said. “We spoke again Saturday morning and he had come to his final decision. Since 2007, when Kris first became a member of the Blackhawks organization, he has represented us with class and professionalism. He will always be a member of our organization’s family and we wish him and his family all the best going forward.”

Versteeg had two stints with the Blackhawks from 2007-2010 and 2013-2015, playing on the 2010 and 2015 Cup winning teams. He last played in the NHL two seasons ago with the Calgary Flames. He spent last season overseas in Russia and Sweden before signing with the IceHogs.

Versteeg wrote a letter to the Blackhawks organization that makes it sound like the end of a chapter for him:

To the Blackhawks organization,

It all started in February 2007, while I was riding a bus with the Providence Bruins. We were on our way to play the Manchester Monarchs when head coach Scott Gordon called me to come see him up at the front of the bus. Scott said “Steeger... I hate to tell you this, but we just traded you.” All I can remember about this moment was that my mind was racing. I couldn’t hear anything but my own thoughts. It was only two weeks prior that we played a team that was loaded with young, exciting, and promising talent. With so many young players I remember saying to one of my teammates after the game “I sure hope I never get traded there.” After a couple minutes I finally asked Scott and said, “to who?” Scott picked up a pen and a piece of paper then wrote…CHICAGO. The team no more than two weeks ago I was dreading at the very thought of being traded to. At this exact moment I remember looking at that paper saying to myself “this is not good!”

What I didn’t know at that moment, is that I was being traded to an organization that would not only give me my first chance, but my second and final chance. I would like to give thanks and show my sincere gratitude to John McDonough, Stan Bowman, Mark Bernard, Al MacIsaac, Jay Blunk, and of course Rocky Wirtz and the entire Wirtz Family. You brought me in that day and gave me a new home. This organization gave me everything that I have today, and for this I am grateful. I, as well, would like to thank all members of the Blackhawks/IceHogs organization from top to bottom, and most importantly… the great fans of Chicago and Rockford.

Little did I know that day when I saw Scott write CHICAGO on that piece of paper that this word would forever be written all over my heart, and soul.

Thank you for everything.

Yours Truly,

Kris Versteeg

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How to watch Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes: Time, TV schedule and streaming info

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USA Today

How to watch Blackhawks vs. Hurricanes: Time, TV schedule and streaming info

The Blackhawks host the Carolina Hurricanes in the second fame of a three-game homestand. The Blackhawks have been playing well as of late thanks to a schematic change made by head coach Jeremy Colliton.

And the Hawks are making a push up the standings in the process.

On Tuesday night, Patrick Kane will also look to celebrate his birthday in style by continuing his hot streak, which has been a vital part of the Hawks success this season.

Here's how you can watch and stream the game:

Date: Tuesday, November 19
Time: 7:30 p.m. CST
Location: United Center | Chicago, Ill.
TV: NBC Sports Chicago
Stream: MyTeams

NBC Sports Chicago Coverage

SportsTalk Live: 6:00 p.m. CST
Blackhawks Pregame: 7:00 p.m. CST
Blackhawks Postgame Live: 10:00 p.m. CST*

* - Immediately following conclusion of the game

Can't watch this game because your provider dropped NBC Sports Chicago?  Go to MYSPORTSCHICAGO.COM or Call 1-844-700-NBCS to get your Chicago sports back!