Blackhawks

Cam Ward won't let 'embarrassing' United Center debut with Blackhawks ruin his training camp

Cam Ward won't let 'embarrassing' United Center debut with Blackhawks ruin his training camp

Cam Ward's United Center debut as a Blackhawk couldn't have gone any worse. After allowing two goals on the first two shots he faced, he bounced back by stopping seven in a row to end the first period, but gave up four goals on eight shots in the second for an overall save percentage of .647.

The original plan was for Ward to play the full game, but Anton Forsberg was forced to come on in relief for the third period to help stop the bleeding in a meaningless game.

"Not good," Ward said following Tuesday's 8-6 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. "Definitely was a rough game for me personally. Obviously got off to a rough start right from the get go, they got a fortunate bounce right in front and put it in and unfortunately just wasn't able to get comfortable throughout the game. It's just one of those games, whether it's preseason or not, you want to put forth a good outing and a good effort and tonight just wasn't the night. I'm going to do what I can to flush it away and not let it ruin my training camp and just get ready for the next one."

It's unfair to fault Ward for a few of them without looking at the defensive breakdowns that led to the goals, but there were a couple he would have certainly liked to have back. The 14-year veteran has been around long enough to know these games happen occasionally, but it doesn't make it any easier to reconcile with the final result.

"Any time you let in six it's embarrassing as a goaltender," Ward said. "But like I said you don't want to overanalyze or overthink it. Unfortunately games like this sometimes happen but at the end of the day it doesn't count and I don't want it to ruin my training camp."

With Corey Crawford unlikely to be ready by Opening Night, Ward is expected to shoulder the load until their starter is cleared to return between the pipes. Chicago is counting on the 34-year-old with a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy on his resume who signed a one-year deal in the offseason to be a solid placeholder for the time being and backup because he can handle it physically and the ups and downs mentally.

A performance like Tuesday's doesn't exactly do much to reinforce the Blackhawks' confidence that Ward can do so, but at the same time picking apart a fluky preseason game isn't the best way to evaluate the bigger picture. The good news is that it didn't have any impact on the standings.

'Well, it’s one game," coach Joel Quenneville said. "40 minutes, preseason game. We’ll throw it in the basket. Goaltending tonight, pucks were going in at both ends at an abnormal rate. You have a few games like that over the course of a season. Good thing it was preseason."

Here are four other takeaways from the loss:

2. Dominik Kahun leaving strong impression

With every practice and preseason game that goes by, Kahun is making it difficult on the Blackhawks coaching staff to leave him off the 23-man roster because all he's done is take control of his opportunity. And it's hard to see him not making it at this point.

After scoring a goal in Friday's preseason content against the Ottawa Senators and whose line was most effective when it comes to puck possession numbers, Kahun was promoted to the top line with Alex DeBrincat and Jonathan Toews the next practice to get a stronger look at what he can do against top players and heavier minutes. He hasn't looked out of place since.

A crafty 23-year-old forward, Kahun stood out once again on Tuesday against the Red Wings after scoring a goal by batting the puck out of mid-air, recording seven shot attempts (two on goal), two blocked shots and one takeaway. He also had a breakaway opportunity in the first period.

"I think in camp you can see who's got skills, who can move, who can skate, who can handle the puck," said Toews, who had two goals and an assist. "When you get into games, you see a guy like Dominik has all that but he has a lot of hockey sense, too. As a line, just trying to talk about the little things. I guess I've been known to put too much in some guys heads something but we had some talks this morning as far as where we wanted to play with the puck and he went out there and he was in all the right areas. Nice to see him get one early in the game. I thought he played great in a lot of ways."

3. Adam Boqvist's audition

The Blackhawks have kept Boqvist around because they want to give him a serious look at what he can do playing with and against high-end players. Tuesday was his first real test at that and there were times where he got bodied around a little bit.

He and Brandon Manning struggled as a pairing at 5-on-5 after they were on the ice for 11 shot attempts for and 16 against, but Boqvist was one of four players on the Blackhawks who finished with a multi-point effort and looked effective quarterbacking the first power play unit.

"I thought he did some good things on the power play," Quenneville said. "Defensively there was some room to improve upon, but he still does some things you appreciate."

4. New-look power play paying off early

The Blackhawks changed up their power play format to a 1-3-1 scheme this season, and it's had some early success. For the second straight preseason game they found the back of the net with the man advantage, with two goals coming on Tuesday.

While they allowed a shorthanded goal late in the game, the Blackhawks registered 14 shot attempts on six opportunities and look solid in just about every facet. They were generating chances and didn't have any momentum-killers.

"The power play was dangerous," Quenneville said. "I thought our power play did some really nice things off the rush, on entries, we shot the puck, we had net presence, we had retrievals, we had different plays and different looks. It was good."

5. Top guns leading the way

The Blackhawks need their top guys to be their top guys this season if they want any chance at getting back to the playoffs. It was a good start on Tuesday.

Kane (three assists), Toews (two goals, one assist) and Duncan Keith (one goal, two assists) all had three-point outings in the loss and led the charge.

"Kaner was special, Jonny at the net and our net presence was better than we've seen," Quenneville said. "Our guys from the top are shooting pretty well."

Ahead of schedule from knee surgery, Brandon Davidson not worried about where he fits back in

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Ahead of schedule from knee surgery, Brandon Davidson not worried about where he fits back in

The Blackhawks got a pleasant surprise on Friday when Brandon Davidson joined the team for morning skate after having knee surgery on Nov. 27 to clean up his meniscus.

He was expected to be sidelined 6-8 weeks. But just two weeks into his recovery, the 27-year-old defenseman returned to the ice and has skated in three of the past four days. He's way ahead of schedule and even Davidson is a little surprised by it.

"Sooner than expected, for sure," he said. "When I was told 6-8 weeks, that seemed like forever. But here I am two and a half weeks and I'm on the ice. I'm almost at full workouts. Still having trouble with range of motion, but very happy with how things are going."

The injury happened on Nov. 12 when the Blackhawks were in Carolina. Davidson took a hit that caused his knee to "blow up," which was initially believed to take only a few days to heal. But after the swelling didn't get any better, the Blackhawks felt a minor operation was necessary.

"Fairly easy quick fix," Davidson said. "No real damage, but something that we had to get under control."

Davidson is still at least a couple away weeks from returning to game action, but once he is cleared, there's no guarantee he'll have a spot waiting for him. The Blackhawks had nine defensemen on the ice during Friday's morning skate, showing just how crowded the blue line is.

"It’s great," coach Jeremy Colliton said of having Davidson back on the ice. "More guys healthy, more competition we have for ice and spots. It’s not like he’s ready to come back, but good to see him on the ice. " 

At some point in the near future, the Blackhawks will have to make some roster decisions — perhaps even before the league-wide holiday freeze starting on Dec. 19. But Davidson isn't worried about where he fits in. He can only control what he can control, and getting back to 100 percent is his No. 1 priority right now.

"You know what, I haven't thought a lot about it," Davidson said. "I can definitely see that the numbers are up on the back end, but I feel that when it's time for me to do my job, I can do that to the best of my abilities and I can play for my job."

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Check out Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford's sweet 2019 Winter Classic helmet

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USA TODAY

Check out Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford's sweet 2019 Winter Classic helmet

Corey Crawford's helmet for the 2019 NHL Winter Classic was revealed on Friday, and it's very easy on the eyes. Take a look:

So fresh, so clean. The Blackhawks unveiled their jerseys for the 2019 Winter Classic last month, paying homage to the team's 1934 uniform. Crawford's helmet obviously follows this trend, using the same color theme and logo.

Played on New Year's Day, the Winter Classic provides NHL teams with the opportunity to wear special occasion uniforms for the annual game. The Blackhawks, appearing in their fourth Winter Classic, are no stranger to this. 2019 will be their fourth appearance in the outdoor event, taking on the Bruins on at Notre Dame Stadium.

Previously, the Blackhawks faced the Red Wings at Wrigley Field (2009); the Capitals at Nationals Park (2015); and the Blues at Busch Stadium (2017). They are looking for their first win in the event, though, as they lost all three of their previous appearances in regulation. 

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