Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Blackhawks drop preseason opener to Capitals in overtime

Four takeaways: Blackhawks drop preseason opener to Capitals in overtime

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-3 overtime loss to the Washington Capitals at Capital One Arena in Monday's preseason opener:

1. Alex Nylander's impressive debut

The Blackhawks have about eight to nine forwards vying for a few spots on the Opening Night roster and Nylander is one of them. After standing out in Sunday's training camp festival at the United Center, he did so again in the Blackhawks' preseason opener in Washington.

Nylander scored a goal, added an assist and registered three shots on goal in 16:40 of ice time. The offensive upside is evident; it's all about whether he can put it together and do so on a consistent basis.

2. Adam Boqvist stands out

GM Stan Bowman revealed on the first day of training camp that Boqvist will be turning pro this season, and the 2018 No. 8 overall pick had a strong preseason debut on Monday.

Boqvist recorded a primary assist on Nylander's tally in the second period and later scored a pretty goal when he roofed one past Capitals netminder Pheonix Copley. He finished with four shot attempts (three on goal), two takeaways, two blocked shots and one giveaway in 16:10 of ice time. He was noticeable at both ends of the ice, which must be encouraging for the coaching staff.

3. Other standouts

— Aleksi Saarela was on a line with Nylander and David Kampf, and all three of them played well. The trio generated seven scoring chances at 5-on-5, according to Natural Stat Trick, and connected for two goals. Saarela was credited with the first after parking himself in front of the net and redirecting Gustafsson's shot from the point.

— Brendan Perlini had a strong finish to the game. He led all skaters with eight shot attempts and five shots on goal, registered two hits and one takeaway in 16:40 of ice time.

— Ryan Carpenter won eight of 13 faceoffs for a percentage of 61.5. Expect him to be relied on frequently for defensive zone draws this season.

4. Overtime winner

It was an entertaining 3-on-3 overtime for preseason hockey, but the Blackhawks came up on the losing end of it. Good thing the points don't count this time of year.

Dylan Sikura was caught playing the role as a defenseman and Tom Wilson took advantage by blowing right past him and putting it behind Collin Delia for the game winner:

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks show urgency vs. the undefeated

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks show urgency vs. the undefeated

The Blackhawks finally got on the board for the season and did so in front of the 500th consecutive capacity crowd at the United Center.

Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis break down the impressive performance by the Blackhawks against the undefeated Edmonton Oilers and discuss how Jeremy Colliton’s message got through to Alex Nylander and the rest of the team.

Plus, after an impressive performance in net, should Corey Crawford get the next game vs. the Blue Jackets? And what does the future have in store for Kirby Dach? Jamal makes a bold prediction.

0:54 – Blackhawks finally show urgency in 2nd period

2:47 – Penalty kill starting to show some life

5:00 – Thoughts on the Shaw/Strome/Kane line

6:43 – Blackhawks eliminating some defensive breakdowns

9:23 – Big rebound performance from Corey Crawford

11:36 – Colliton’s message to Alex Nylander got through

15:21 – Brandon Saad has been a pleasant surprise early on

17:15 – Dominik Kubalik’s impressive performance

18:31 – Will Kirby Dach be with the Blackhawks all season?

22:42 – Does Crawford or Lehner start vs. the Blue Jackets?

Listen to the entire episode here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Four takeaways: Corey Crawford shines in Blackhawks first win of the season

Four takeaways: Corey Crawford shines in Blackhawks first win of the season

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center on Monday:

1. Blackhawks are in the win column

The Blackhawks said after morning skate that they weren't going to "freak out" about their 0-2-1 start despite talking all training camp long about how they didn't want to dig a hole in October. Still, Monday felt like a game they had to win going into a three-day break because they have to start generating some positive vibes within the locker room.

And they did just that.

The Blackhawks handed the Oilers their first loss of the season (5-1-0), but more importantly, they're finally in the win column for the 2019-20 campaign.

"We played really well," Corey Crawford said. "I think everyone was going. Guys were coming back to help out defensively, and just a good team effort. The PK was strong, even though we gave up that one [late], it was strong early in the game. Just nice to win the first one."

2. Second period? That's more like it

The Blackhawks have been happy with their first periods this season. They've been mostly happy with their thirds. It's the middle frame that's been their downfall.

The team addressed those struggles as a team the morning of the game, and they certainly responded.

According to Natural Stat Trick, the Blackhawks led in shot attempts (32-8), even-strength scoring chances (16-6), even-strength high danger chances (5-4) and, of course, the goal column (1-0) in the second period. That's more like it.

"That was the message today from the coaches was how much better we need to be in the second," Connor Murphy said. "We showed examples of when we've done that in the past and what it takes. I think we were just better at staying on our toes and we drew some penalties and got on the forecheck quick and kept their goalie from being able to make plays and for them to be able to come up ice."

3. Corey Crawford shines

You could've made a good argument that Robin Lehner should've started this game, especially coming off a solid outing on Saturday and his career numbers against the Oilers (5-1-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .943 save percentage). But the coaching staff went with Crawford and it proved to be the correct decision.

Crawford stopped 27 of 28 shots for a save percentage of .964 and faced nine high-danger chances at 5-on-5, none of which found the back of the net. His lone goal against came with 2:11 left in regulation and it was on a 6-on-4 power play for the Oilers. Overall, he was fantastic.

"He looked sharp as ever," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "He was really good. He did make some saves for us. That team has some weapons so they had some opportunities and he was there and just he's under control. It's something I've said about him before, he really gives the team confidence. I thought tonight he was really good."

4. Blackhawks shut down Oilers' top guns

The first line of Leon Draisaitl, Zack Kassian and Connor McDavid went into Monday tied for the most goals scored as a trio. When the three of them are on the ice at 5-on-5, they're controlling 57.1 percent of the shot attempts, 61.2 percent of the scoring chances and 68.8 percent of the high danger chances.

The Blackhawks held them in check. That line had 14 shot attempts for and 20 against at 5-on-5 and were on the ice for 11 scoring chances. The third line of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad did a terrific job of shutting them down.

"They all just got real big motors, big engine," Colliton said of the Saad-Kampf-Kubalik line. "They work and compete and they all bring a little bit different ingredient. ... Pleased with that line."

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