Blackhawks

Four takeaways: Blackhawks push back, but can’t overcome hungry Blues

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USA TODAY

Four takeaways: Blackhawks push back, but can’t overcome hungry Blues

ST. LOUIS — Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 7-3 loss to the St. Louis Blues at Enterprise Center on Saturday:

1. A four-goal first period

The Blackhawks and Blues barely gave fans a chance to get settled into their seats (or couches at home). There were four total goals in the first period, including three in the opening 5:28 and the first coming 18 seconds in. All four goals came at even strength.

Ryan O'Reilly, Patrick Kane, Zach Sanford and Artem Anisimov each found the back of the net, alternating goals throughout the period.

"Even after we went down 1-0 we had that nice response to make it 1-1," Kane said. "It seemed like they were playing with a little bit more intensity than we were. We knew that was going to happen especially with the media attention, a lot of talk they've been getting about their team and kind of what happened last game. So we just didn't come out and match it."

2. Blackhawks dig hole in second period

The first 5:14 of the second period was a nightmare for the Blackhawks. They committed two penalties and gave up two goals within a span of 3:35, and essentially were forced to play catch-up the rest of the game.

The Blackhawks pushed back and were the better team for the next 15 minutes, recording 17 shot attempts to the Blues' five at even strength, but it was too much to overcome against a hungry Blues team.

"When we give up four goals, it's tough to come back against any team," Duncan Keith said. "They've got a lot of good players that have been around for a while. It wasn't a good start. We did some good things to get back into it, but at the end of the day when you're trying to come back against a team it's always tougher."

3. Second line comes alive

The second line of Anisimov, Kane and Brandon Saad was the driving force for the Blackhawks, combining for three goals and four assists. Anisimov and Kane each had three-point games.

With two more goals, Kane has taken over the NHL lead with 11 on the season and is four away from the lead in points with 17. Meanwhile, Anisimov quietly has seven points in his past seven games after going pointless in his first four. 

"Our line had some chances tonight," Kane said. "I thought we had a few that could have went in as well. Would have been nice to get a couple more there and tie it up and see what could happen after that. A couple breakdowns defensively that kind of killed us tonight."

4. Blues shut down Blackhawks in third period

Going into Saturday's matchup, the Blues had allowed 18 third-period goals through nine games, which was the worst in the league. But they tightened up in the final 20 minutes, limiting the Blackhawks to only five shots on goal and keeping all five out of their net.

The Blues scored three goals in the last 4:20 to seal the deal.

"I still think the game was there to be had but unfortunately we weren't good enough and we weren't at our best for whatever reason," Keith said. "Give them some credit, they moved it around on the power play and capitalized on their chances. But I still think the game was to be had, it was up for grabs, but it wasn't good enough at the end of the day."

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Takeaways from first three days of Blackhawks training camp

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Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Takeaways from first three days of Blackhawks training camp

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis break down the first three days of training camp.

Which players have stood out so far and how will the injuries to Kirby Dach and Calvin de Haan impact the final roster?

The guys also discuss Jonathan Toews being motivated by an NHL Network snub and their feelings about the relationship between Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner.

0:45 - Fan support at Training Camp Festival 

1:45 - Impressions of Wedin-Toews-Nylander line

2:35 - Olli Maatta getting offensive 

4:00 - Aleksi Saarela impact

5:00 - Andrew Shaw at center

6:00 - Will Kris Versteeg get another spin with Blackhawks?

7:45 - Optimism at camp

10:15 - Kirby Dach injury

12:00 - What are Dach’s chances of making the team?

14:00 - Will Calvin de Haan be ready for season opener?

17:15 - Jeremy Colliton teaching D-zone 

19:00 - Adam Boqvist chances of making the team? 

20:15 - Jonathan Toews motivated by snub

24:15 - Crawford-Lehner relationship 

28:45 - Importance of three preseason games in three days

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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Blackhawks using first training camp under Jeremy Colliton to nail down defensive zone coverage

Blackhawks using first training camp under Jeremy Colliton to nail down defensive zone coverage

Jeremy Colliton has been the Blackhawks' head coach for more than 10 months now, but this is his first training camp with the team and he's able to instill some concepts that he wasn't able to do on the fly last season. The biggest thing, however, is that he was afforded a full summer to prep and can help get everyone on the same page during training camp and in the seven preseason games before the games actually matter.

"It's important," Duncan Keith said. "Systems nowadays, with the way teams are, it's important that everyone's on the same page. Having a training camp with the coaches and being able to implement the system and try to get on the same page early on, the quicker we can iron out everything the better off we're going to be."

The one area the Blackhawks have focused on heavily over the first two days is the defensive zone coverage. They gave up the most scoring chances and high-danger chances at 5-on-5 last season, and the team got better at it in the final month or so but it's still a work in progress.

"It's going to be huge," Patrick Kane said. "Even [Friday], first day we're running through some defensive coverage trying to get everything done tactically. I'm sure we'll do a little bit more of that each day and some different things as well. It'll be real beneficial for us just to all get on the same page, set the standard around here and feel confident about our team, the way we play going into the season."

The onus isn't just on the defensemen, either. It's a five-man unit and training camp is just as much about building trust with your teammates and being in the right spot as it is nailing down the scheme and letting it become muscle memory.

"We've all got to be on the same page," Brent Seabrook said. "If my D partner's doing it perfectly and I'm not, then we're not going to be any good at it. We've all got to be on the same page, we've all got to be doing our job and doing the right thing and the faster we get to that point, then I think it's just going to help us out in the long run. We're just going to keep getting better at it and we'll go from there."

The Blackhawks are going to continue working on their defensive zone coverage as camp goes along because that’s priority No. 1. Scoring goals won’t be an issue. And after Sunday’s training camp festival at the United Center, the Blackhawks have three consecutive preseason contests to apply what they've learned in a game-type setting.

"I just think getting guys on the same page as quickly as we can, that's really important,” Colliton said. “You saw there was a lot of D-zone work today [Friday]. That'll continue and we'll just sort of roll out how we're going to play day-by-day so that we're ready. We got that festival game, that will kind of be a dress rehearsal and then right into it."

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