Blackhawks

Hawks Talk Podcast: Dimitri Filipovic on the state of the Blackhawks

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Dimitri Filipovic on the state of the Blackhawks

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Dimitri Filipovic from Yahoo, ESPN and The Hockey PDOcast joins Pat Boyle, Slavko Bekovic and Charlie Roumeliotis to discuss the state of the Blackhawks. How far away are they from contending?

Filipovic also talks about the Blackhawks' defensive struggles, what they can do to turn it around, how they should spend their money this summer and which NHL prospects jump out at No. 3 overall.

1:00 - How far are the Blackhawks from contenting?

1:45 – Did the Blackhawks miss a golden chance in this year’s playoffs?

3:45 – Are the Avalanche an example for the Blackhawks to follow?

4:50 – How badly do the Hawks need a top-4 defenseman?

6:15 – How good (really) is Erik Gustafsson?

8:30 – Evaluating the Blackhawks’ defensive personnel  

10:15 – Is this defensive system right for the Blackhawks?

13:45 – What franchise are the Blackhawks modeling?

15:00 – Did the Hawks wait too long to move on from Quenneville?

16:20 – Going worst-to-first like the Islanders

18:20 – Blackhawks need to beef up

20:20 – Building the Blackhawks with a Bruins outline

22:00 – The need for more secondary scoring

22:50 – Finding the right line for Patrick Kane

24:50 – Draft prospects that the Blackhawks should consider at No. 3

28:50 – Could Artemi Panarin stay in Columbus?

30:20 – Spending on top-end players or filling multiple needs

32:10 – Extensions for Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome

33:35 – Should Kane have been a Hart finalist?

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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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What NHL's next steps are after Gary Bettman announces return-to-play plan

What NHL's next steps are after Gary Bettman announces return-to-play plan

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman officially announced Tuesday that the league has finalized its return-to-play format, which will feature 24 teams — 12 in each conference — and include a play-in series for the bottom four seeds in the East and West. It's an encouraging first step as the league slowly prepares to make its return.

But there are still many obstacles to overcome before play actually resumes.

In a 29-page memo issued Monday, the NHL outlined its plan for Phase 2 — voluntary small-group training activities, both on and off the ice — but was vague on the potential start date — "early June" — and did not share details on how long it could last. It remains a fluid situation, but the goal was to at least put parameters in place and get players prepared to safely make their way back to their respective NHL cities when necessary.

The next major hurdle the NHL and NHL Players' Association faces is ironing out the logistics of hub cities and COVID-19 testing. That presumably must be agreed upon before the league transitions into Phase 3, which is the opening of training camps.

"We voted strictly on the format,” Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk told The Athletic. “In other words, ‘If we are to come back, this is how it’s going to be played.’ But we have not even touched on logistics or cities or travel or testing or how the economics will work or what this quarantine bubble [the players are] supposed to live in will be like or any of that stuff yet. Nothing else has been voted on … yet.”

The NHL unveiling its return-to-play format indicates the league remains hopeful that the Stanley Cup will be awarded at some point. But it's not guaranteed yet.

Stay tuned for more details...

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Will Blackhawks regret trading Robin Lehner with NHL's 24-team playoff?

Will Blackhawks regret trading Robin Lehner with NHL's 24-team playoff?

The news hockey fans have dreamed about since COVID-19 forced the shutdown of all pro leagues in North America is finally here. The NHL is making plans to come back, and it’s bringing with it a unique postseason format that will give more teams a shot at the Stanley Cup.

But with the excitement come dozens of questions. Which teams will benefit the most from the break? Which teams will be hurt by the loss in momentum? Would GMs have acted any differently if they could have somehow looked in a crystal ball and foreseen this unprecedented postseason?

That last question is especially relevant for Stan Bowman and the Blackhawks, considering the Hawks turned from a lottery-bound team to play-in series hopefuls.

If you can think back to the before-times, you’ll remember the Blackhawks traded Robin Lehner to the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the final moments before the trade deadline. That trade was executed only two and a half weeks before the NHL pause began.

Now with the Blackhawks back in the playoff picture, do they wish they still had Lehner in the crease?

[RELATED: What a Blackhawks vs. Oilers play-in series would look like]

At times this season it seemed Lehner alone kept the team in games. His .920 SV% is tied for 10th-best in the league this season, despite splitting starts with Corey Crawford. In fact, Lehner sports a much better record than Crawford this season-- 19-10-5 vs. 16-20-3-- and he’s done it with three fewer starts.

But the playoffs are a different animal, and if one goalie has proven that he has what it takes to carry a team to a Stanley Cup, it’s Crawford.

He’s a two-time champion who has been downright dominant in the postseason at times. One could argue the Blackhawks don’t win the 2013 Stanley Cup without Crawford, who put up a sparkling 1.84 GAA and .932 SV% throughout the entire postseason run.

Crawford has also shown he can perform at a high level after taking an extended break from hockey.

In the 2018-19 season, Crawford dealt with serious concussion problems and missed over two months of play from the middle of December to late February. But upon returning he finished the season strong, going 8-4-3 with a .919 SV% and a 2.43 GAA. That experience returning to play after so much time off could give Crawford an edge as teams work themselves back into playing shape.

On the other hand, having a second reliable goalie is a valuable asset in the postseason. The Hawks learned that 2015 when Scott Darling came in to anchor the team in the first round while Crawford struggled. Even though Darling didn’t start again after the Blackhawks made it past the Predators, his contributions were invaluable as it bought Crawford time to get back on track.

Will the Hawks miss that flexibility when the skaters take the ice again? Maybe. But for now, Bowman and the Blackhawks are likely just happy to be playing again soon.

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