Blackhawks

Blackhawks announce lineup for fourth preseason game

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USA Today

Blackhawks announce lineup for fourth preseason game

The Blackhawks announced the full 16-man roster for the team's preseason matchup against the Bruins tonight, and there are a couple interesting decisions to note:

 

For the second straight game, Alex Nylander will play on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, a further indication that he has impressed head coach Jeremy Colliton with his recent play. In two preseason games with the Blackhawks, Nylander has tallied one goal and two assists. 

Additionally, newcomer Olli Maata and Brent Seabrook stick together as the second defensive pair. Maata and Seabrook have been consistently paired together since Training Camp Festival.

It was also announced that Robin Lehner will start in goal and play the entirety of the game, which will give the team and fans alike a look at what they can expect from the newly acquired goaltender.

You can watch the Blackhawks and Bruins square off tonight at 7:30 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago+ or via the MyTeams app.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

After facing early adversity, Blackhawks starting to believe they could be 'a dangerous team'

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AP

After facing early adversity, Blackhawks starting to believe they could be 'a dangerous team'

NASHVILLE — The Blackhawks were optimistic about their group going into the 2019-20 season because it was an offseason centered around changing the makeup of the roster. They were also on a 100-point pace from January-on to close out the 2018-19 campaign, and getting a full training camp under head coach Jeremy Colliton to build on that was supposed to pay off from the start of the season.

But after opening this season with a 3-6-2 record, the Blackhawks started to question themselves. They didn't have an identity and found themselves caught in the middle of wanting to be an offensive team but also stressing a defense-first mentality after they gave up the second-most goals last season.

Since making a schematic change on Nov. 7, the Blackhawks have earned nine out of a possible 10 points in their last five games and have scored 24 goals over that span for a goals-per-game average of 4.80. They had scored 33 goals total in the previous 14 games for an average of 2.36 per game.

The Blackhawks are starting to look like the hockey team Chicago was hoping they'd be this season, and the internal confidence is growing also.

"We got through a difficult time and being in the beginning of the year, it's magnified," Colliton said following a 7-2 win over the Predators on Saturday night. "If we would've went through that stretch in January, with 40 good games before, then maybe it's not as big of a deal. But when you come out of the gates like that, you put the team under pressure, everyone's under pressure. Happy that we were able to come out of it and stick together.

"Now there's definitely some belief that we're a dangerous team and we're going to be difficult to beat."

The first month of the season was difficult on everyone. The players, the coaches, the management group. Something needed to change, or the results wouldn't.

The Blackhawks are relieved that not only did they prevent things from spiraling out of control, but they're coming together as a team and stringing together wins. 

"It's more like urgency to get going in the right direction," Colliton said on whether he personally felt pressure after their slow start. "We like our team, we like our players, just wasn't working. So as a coach and our staff and the players too, we have a responsibility to turn over every rock. It doesn't mean going back and forth and zigzagging with what we want to do, but I think the guys have really done a good job of responding to adversity, and now we're on a run."

Having gone through the adversity this early in the season, the Blackhawks will be better for it in the long run knowing they can overcome whatever challenges are thrown at them along the way, as long as they continue playing the right way. Because if they do, the Blackhawks will give themselves a chance to win on a nightly basis, especially with the offense being unleashed and Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner serving as the last line of defense.

"We've had a great team, but we just had a little rough start at the beginning," Alex Nylander said. "We're coming together now and we're creating chances and we're shooting the puck more, so we've been doing a really good job the past couple games and we just need to keep going like this."

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Four takeaways: Blackhawks return favor, rout Predators

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USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Blackhawks return favor, rout Predators

NASHVILLE — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 7-2 win over the Nashville Predators at Bridgestone Arena on Saturday:

1. Revenge

The last time the Blackhawks and Predators met, it resulted in one of the most lopsided scoresheets you'll ever see. The Predators dominated in shot attempts (87-41), shots on goal (51-20), scoring chances (42-14) and high-danger chances (16-3), according to Natural Stat Trick, en route to a 3-0 victory less than three weeks ago.

While the Predators led in most of the underlying categories on Saturday, the Blackhawks got their revenge on the scoreboard.

With the win, the Blackhawks improved to 4-0-1 in their past five games and moved above a .500 points percentage for the first time all season. They've scored 24 goals in their last five games after scoring only 33 in their first 14.

"It was a good response tonight I think we knew coming into this rink it was going to be a test for us and we wanted to respond and show that wasn't our team the last time we were here," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I thought that we did that and we've had a good stretch where we've been getting points and we want to extend that."

2. Blackhawks chase Pekka Rinne

Rinne was lights out for the Predators in his first eight starts of the season. He was 7-0-1 with a 1.74 goals-against average, .937 save percentage and two shutouts.

Since calling the 20-save shutout against the Blackhawks on Oct. 29 "one of the for-sure easier" ones of his NHL career, Rinne is 1-3-1 and has given up 20 goals on 112 shots for a save percentage of .821 over his last five starts.

Against the Blackhawks, Rinne gave up four goals on 14 shots for a save percentage of .714 before being pulled for Juuse Saros in the second period. And the Blackhawks bench let him hear it as he skated off.

"Yeah, it did," a smiling Erik Gustafsson said on whether it felt good to chase Rinne. "I don't think he had the best night today."

Robin Lehner was terrific yet again for the Blackhawks. He stopped 39 of 41 shots for a save percentage of .951.

3. Weathering the storm

Colliton said the morning of their last game against Nashville that the Blackhawks would likely need to weather the storm in the first 10 minutes because the Predators always start strong in their own building. They didn't and were never able to tilt the ice.

The Blackhawks did on Saturday night, though.

After giving up the first six shots on goal, the Blackhawks outshot the Predators 9-6 the rest of the first period and scored the first two goals for the fourth time in five games. It's exactly what the Blackhawks were hoping to do, and it turned the momentum quickly after the Predators dictated the pace of play to start.

"They were really good the first five minutes of every period," Lehner said. "We weathered the storm together. The D battled really hard. They're a really good offensive team as well. ... It was a nice win. Nice bounce-back and kind of shows the progress we made since the last time we were here."

4. Contributions from defensemen

The Blackhawks haven't gotten much offensive contribution from the back end this season. They had only three goals from their defensemen in the first 17 games (Adam Boqvist, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook).

But with Calvin de Haan finding the back of the net in Vegas, Gustafsson scoring a goal in back-to-back games after a 16-game scoring drought and Seabrook netting his second of the season, the Blackhawks have gotten four goals from their defensemen in the past two games. It helps take the pressure off the forwards when everybody is chipping in on offense.

"It's important," Colliton said. "We have some guys who can jump in and produce and Gus's goal was big. They had some chances then all of a sudden we're up 1-0. He can provide that and obviously he showed he can do it last year so hopefully he's got more in the tank."

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.