Blackhawks

Blue line finding consistency with Murphy and Dahlstrom

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USA TODAY

Blue line finding consistency with Murphy and Dahlstrom

Hearing a pair of young defensemen say they “take pride in defending hard” and “being reliable defensively” must be music to the ears of Jeremy Colliton.

But it strikes a much nicer chord when the play of those defensemen on the ice matches the words coming out of their mouths.

Those words came from Connor Murphy and Carl Dalhstrom, the Blackhawks most consistent defensive pairing of late.

“Him and Murphy have done a great job playing hard minutes against really good players,” said Colliton. “I view it as a huge positive - the progression they’ve shown. I think they’re a big part of why we’ve been getting a lot more points lately.”

Murphy returned early in December after missing an extended period of time due to a back injury, while Dahlstrom missed making the team out of camp and later was recalled from Rockford. They’ve been paired together since Dahlstrom made his season debut on December 12th against the Penguins and there is no doubt that their consistency has paid dividends on the Blackhawks blue line.

“Connor is a great guy and an even better player. I really like playing with him,” said Dahlstrom. “I think both of our type of games really suit each other, really trying to break up plays early.”

As a team, the Blackhawks allowed 3.7 goals per game in their first 30 contests of the season. Since Murphy’s return, they have allowed 3.44 goals per game as a team. A lot of it has to do with better defensive play all around, as the team gets settled in with Colliton’s new systems. But Murphy and Dahlstrom have played a big part. In 16 games, Murphy has a +8 rating while Dahlstrom owns a +5 in his 14 games.

“It’s nice to take pride in playing defensive roles. I think I’ve had good chemistry with Dahlstrom and playing against some good forwards,” said Murphy after the Winter Classic. “We just take pride in defending hard.”

And while they may not be putting up the offensive stats like fellow defenseman Eric Gustafsson has been, Colliton has noticed their play on both ends of the ice.

“They’re competing hard, they’re winning battles, they’re willing to be physical, they get us out of [the] d-zone, and then those are the times you can potentially create offense,” said the 33-year old head coach. “That’s a huge benefit to our team.”

For Dahlstrom, getting a taste of the NHL last season helped him boost his confidence, knowing he can hang with the game’s best. Dahlstrom spent a majority of last season in Rockford under Colliton, and that familiarity has helped his transition this season as well.

“I know what he wants from me, what the whole coaching staff wants from me,” said Dahlstrom. “It’s nice to get the trust from the coaches to play against the top lines.”

Dahlstrom even went as far as claiming that he has an even greater comfort level in the NHL than he did playing in the AHL with the IceHogs.

“I don’t know why I seem to find a better level up here,” said Dahlstrom. “Obviously the players up here are better, and you’re playing with better players, but you’re also playing against better players. Really just focusing on defense and being reliable defensively might be a big key from me.”

And the Murphy-Dahlstrom pairing has been a big key in steadying the Blackhawks blue line…just like everyone predicted.

Hawks Rewind: 2010 Blackhawks close in on Stanley Cup Final

Hawks Rewind: 2010 Blackhawks close in on Stanley Cup Final

Tuesday at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago, watch the Blackhawks take on the San Jose Sharks in Game 3 of the 2010 Western Conference finals. 

Two of the Hawks' top playoff performers in 2010 would keep it going for Game 3 in San Jose.

Dustin Byfuglien scored in overtime to give Chicago a 3-0 series lead and bring the team incredibly close to the Stanley Cup Final. The Blackhawks hadn't been to the big dance since 1992.

Patrick Sharp stayed hot by scoring a power play goal in the second period.

Another player who regularly checked in during the 2010 postseason, Dave Bolland, scored in the third period.

Bolland's goal came on a breakaway and put Chicago ahead 2-1, but Patrick Marleau tied it up with 4:23 left in regulation to force overtime.

Byfuglien scored his seventh goal of the playoffs 12:24 into overtime for the 3-2 victory. 

Antti Niemi had a stellar 44-save game for the Blackhawks, with five stops in overtime. Niemi and Chicago's penalty kill held San Jose to just one goal in six power play attempts, including the Hawks stopping all three in the third period. 

Jonathan Toews grabbed two assists in Game 3, giving him a point in 12 straight playoff games and setting a Blackhawks record. Stan Mikita had an 11-game streak in 1962.

The Hawks were set for the Sharks to visit the United Center for Game 4.

Full Hawks Rewind schedule

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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. 

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with former Blackhawk Brian Campbell

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with former Blackhawk Brian Campbell

Pat Boyle is joined by former Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell to discuss the impact of the 2010 champion Blackhawks on Chicago hockey, his issues with former coach Joel Quenneville and how he's using his experience as a champion to help young players.

(1:14) - Being a part of the rebirth of hockey in Chicago

(4:20) - Not getting along with Joel Quenneville in the beginning

(11:00) - The moment Campbell knew the Hawks could win the Cup

(16:10) - Coming back from a tough injury in 2010 due to a hit by Alex Ovechkin

Listen here or below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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(19:18) - Theories on where the 2010 game winning puck is