Blackhawks

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: An inside look at the Blackhawks Hockey Ops department with Senior VP Al MacIsaac

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: An inside look at the Blackhawks Hockey Ops department with Senior VP Al MacIsaac

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle catches up with Senior VP of Hockey Operations, Al MacIsaac. They discuss the process the Blackhawks took in transforming the roster this off-season. MacIsaac is entering his 20th year with the Blackhawks and talks about the organizational changes over the last two decades. He also weighs in on the role analytics plays in evaluating current or potential Blackhawks and he explains why the team made a commitment to make its new practice facility the “gold standard” of the NHL.

0:45 – MacIsaac on changes within the Blackhawks organization in the last 20 years

4:00 – How the Blackhawks have added great depth this summer

5:25 – A good problem to have with two good goaltenders

6:23 – How the hockey ops meeting went at the end of last season

8:45 – How much the Blackhawks use and rely on analytics

10:27 – The importance of the Blackhawks strength and conditioning programs

12:24 – The planning behind Fifth Third Arena’s development

14:40 – The dynamic between hockey ops and business ops

16:37 – Agreements and disagreements within the hockey ops group

18:32 – MacIsaac’s longtime relationship with Mark Bernard

20:27 – Looking ahead to training camp and the regular season

22:42 – Tough decisions will need to be made when the season starts

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Blackhawks not worried about falling into regression: 'We know what we can do'

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks not worried about falling into regression: 'We know what we can do'

After stringing together four consecutive victories and picking up at least a point in eight of nine games, the Blackhawks have dropped back-to-back contests in regulation for the first time since Oct. 24-26. But there's no panic in the locker room.

The Blackhawks are encouraged with their overall progression since the calendar flipped to November and won't let consecutive losses convince themselves they're taking steps backwards after making up ground over the last several weeks.

"I don't think we've lost the momentum," Jonathan Toews said following a 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday. "I think we know what we can do, we just got to get our legs going and get four lines rolling again. Be back on the road this weekend, so back to that same mentality of playing simple hockey. Last couple road games we had four lines contributing and a lot of pucks going in, so try and get back to that same style."

The Blackhawks didn't like the way they played in the first two periods against Carolina on Tuesday, and rightfully so. They were outplayed in every facet, but threw the kitchen sink at the Hurricanes in the third period and made it close, which showed yet again that they're never out of a game when they play an up-tempo style of hockey.

The Blackhawks didn't necessarily come out flat on Thursday against Tampa Bay, but they also didn't capitalize on their chances until the third period and made it difficult on themselves to build a lead early in the game. They outshot the Lightning 12-4 in the final frame after being outshot 23-16 in the first two periods, but the Lightning scored three times in the final 10:16 while the Blackhawks scored only twice.

"We did some good things tonight," Patrick Kane said. "Obviously would have been nice to get some points here in the last two games, but yeah, we gotta keep playing the way we won all those games and went on the nice stretch with. Stay with it. We know the recipe for success and keep building."

Whether they're at their best or not, the Blackhawks recognize how important it is to pick up points and want to make sure they're doing everything they can to stay in the thick of the playoff race, especially with five straight divisional games on the horizon.

"Obviously, these two last home games weren't our best games," Dylan Strome said. "We had a push in each game but I don't think it was good enough. Got to find a way to battle for 60 minutes. Four straight divisional games coming up so important time in the standings and we got some time between games. It's time to find a way to pick up some points in the division here."

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Four takeaways: Lightning strike three times in third period to defeat Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Lightning strike three times in third period to defeat Blackhawks

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning at the United Center on Thursday:

1. A better effort, but not enough

The Blackhawks turned in a better 60-minute effort than their previous game against Carolina, but there weren't enough stretches where they took control of the game and they found themselves playing catch-up.

The Lightning struck first in the opening frame and the Blackhawks eventually evened it up at 1-1 at the 8:27 mark of the third period, but the Lightning scored twice in a span of 2:39 and later added a third on an empty-netter to ice the game.

The Blackhawks failed to hold a lead at any point for the second straight game and they've dropped back-to-back games in regulation after winning four in a row.

"I think it was a better game tonight," Jonathan Toews said. "Even on nights that we play well, we're not going to win every night, so I think we just fell a little bit short in all aspects of the game."

2. Lightning win special teams battle

The Lightning came into the game with the second-ranked power play, converting at a 29.6 percent clip. Nikita Kucherov was out because of an upper-body injury and Steven Stamkos didn't play in the final two periods, but the Lightning still had success in that department.

They scored on their first power-play opportunity of the game to open the scoring, and finished 1-for-3 for a 33.3 percent success rate. The Blackhawks changed up their power play units, overloading the first one and putting Kirby Dach on the second, but went 0-for-3 on the night.

"We had a few good chances," Dylan Strome said of the power play. "Kaner had a one-timer in the first and we had a few good looks later on. Not good enough though, I don't think. Just got to be a little bit better, a little sharper."

3. An even contest across the board

From a statistical standpoint, this was as even a game as the Blackhawks have played against an opponent this season. The Lightning led in shot attempts (65-63) and shots on goal (35-34), but the 5-on-5 scoring chances (23-23) and 5-on-5 high-danger chances (8-8) were exactly the same.

The Blackhawks were outshot 23-16 in the first two periods, but turned the tables in the third period by outshooting the Lightning 12-4. The Blackhawks scored twice in the final frame, but the Lightning capitalized on their chances.

"We did some good things tonight," Patrick Kane said. "Obviously would have been nice to get some points here in the last two games, but yeah, we've got to keep playing the way we won all those games and went on the nice stretch with. Stay with it. We know the recipe for success and keep building."

4. Dressing seven defensemen

The Blackhawks didn't reveal their final lineup until after warmups, and head coach Jeremy Colliton elected to roll with 11 forwards and seven defensemen — like the Lightning — for the first time this season to get Slater Koekkoek into the rotation against his former team. Dominik Kubalik was a healthy scratch for the second time this season.

Kane double-shifted in Kubalik's spot and logged 27:38 of ice time. Kane extended his point streak to 11 games and recorded his 600th career NHL assist on Strome's goal in the third period. He also finished with a game-high eight shots on goal.

"We wanted to get Koekkoek in, it's his old team," Colliton said of dressing seven defensemen. "Think it was the right thing to do. Kaner's playing really well, opportunity to give him a little bit more. Ultimately, I don't think we had enough guys going up front. It's our job to regroup, get some rest tomorrow and come up with a more complete effort Saturday."

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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.