Blackhawks

'Bad habit' of coughing up lead dooms Blackhawks in Game 3

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'Bad habit' of coughing up lead dooms Blackhawks in Game 3

If there's been an Achilles heel for the Blackhawks during the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs, it's been their "bad habit" of coughing up leads too quickly.

Through 20 postseason games it hasn't come back to bite the Blackhawks yet.

But it's an area Chicago must shore up if they want to hoist Lord Stanley for the third time since 2010 after Monday's 3-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Less than five minutes into the third period Marian Hossa sent a pass through the slot to Brandon Saad who gave the Blackhawks their first lead of the night on a quick one-timer that beat the glove of Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop.

[MORE HAWKS: Ben Bishop holds off Blackhawks as Lightning take a 2-1 series lead]

Before the 22,336 Blackhawks fans that were in attendance at the United Center were able to finish humming "Chelsea Dagger" Lightning struck.

Just 13 seconds later Lightning forward Ondrej Palat went hard to the net and grabbed the rebound on a Nikita Kucherov shot to sneak the puck past Corey Crawford, evening the game up at the 4:27 mark of the third period.

It became an occurrence that the Blackhawks are all too familiar with this postseason.

"It’s frustrating," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "A lot of things that we did today gave us the feeling we were going to come out on top. The effort we gave. Just a couple bad habits ended up hurting us. We’re all responsible for that. This game could have been similar to the way we stole Game 1 from them. We feel like we had a lot of chances, especially early in the game. Late in the game, we gave up those odd-man rushes we’ve been talking about. We’ll improve in that area and use as motivation to find that anger, the emotion we need to bounce back.

"Mistakes happen. We’ll improve on it and move on. It’s all we can do now."

Palat's tally was the tenth goal the Blackhawks have allowed in the postseason that came less than two minutes after scoring a goal of their own, with six of those goals coming less than one minute after scoring.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans]

Is it a cause of concern for Chicago?

"Big shift after goals, either way, we should be excited about being out there," Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville said. "They got it to the net, loose puck ends up in the back of our net. You’d like to be going the other way after a draw but certainly, you can’t give up that type of goal."

Game 3 was the second straight contest the Blackhawks have lost to the Lightning after coughing up a quick lead. Teuvo Teravainen put the Blackhawks out in front in the second period of Game 2 before Kucherov scored less than two minutes later.

Despite the quick strikes happening 10 times this postseason the Blackhawks aren't looking at it as a "mental" problem.

"Mentally, we always try to talk about that," Blackhawks center Brad Richards said. "Things happen. I didn’t exactly see everything that happened, but the other team wants to score too after that. They’re trying to come out and have a strong shift after the goal. I know it has happened a lot to us after a goal and we’ve addressed it. Sometimes that’s just hockey."

While it's easy to look at Palat's goal as the turning point in Game 3, the Blackhawks had their chances early and could've possible put the game away in the first 20 minutes.

[MORE HAWKS: Blackhawks fan CM Punk calls out Hulk Hogan]

After withstanding an early push from the Lightning, the Blackhawks dominated play for the final 15 minutes of the first period. With Bishop clearly laboring, the Blackhawks fired 19 shots his way as he turned away all but 18 of them. However, their two best scoring chances came when Bishop was nowhere near his goal crease. Both Hossa and Teravainen had wide-open nets in the first period and both attempts sailed wide of the net. What could have been a two goal lead for the home team turned into a tie game after 20 minutes of play.

Now, the Blackhawks find themselves in a 2-1 hole as they head into Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

It's not unfamiliar territory for the Blackhawks, who are in the same position as they were heading into Game 4 of the Western Conference Final against the Anaheim Ducks. 

And the last time the Blackhawks trailed a Stanley Cup Final series? In 2013 when they trailed the Boston Bruins 2-1 before rattling off three straight wins en route to the Stanley Cup.

"Usually in every series, Game 4 is really huge," Hossa said. "It’s either a tie or go down by two games. We have been in this situation, and like I said, we just have to take a rest and be ready."

 

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

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AP

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

The Blackhawks announced Monday that they have officially agreed to terms with forward Dominik Kahun, defensemen Lucas Carlsson and Darren Raddysh and goaltender Kevin Lankinen on entry-level contracts.

Kahun ($925,000 cap hit), Lankinen ($925,000) and Raddysh ($730,000) each signed two-year deals that run through the 2019-20 season while Carlsson's is a three-year deal that runs through the 2020-21 campaign and carries a cap hit of $792,500.

So who are these guys? Let's meet them:

Carlsson

Drafted in the fourth round (No. 110 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2016, Carlsson set a career-high with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 44 games this season with Brynäs IF of the Swedish Hockey League. He was tied for fourth among all blue liners with seven goals.

Carlsson, 20, doesn't have major upside, but he's a reliable, well-rounded defenseman and that's what drew the attention of Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley.

“When he’s on the ice, he makes things happen," Kelley told Scott Powers of The Athletic last summer. "I think what impressed the Sweden under-20 coach was Lucas’ ability to challenge in all three zones. He’s an active defensively. Offensively, he challenges. He keeps plays alive.”

Kahun

The 22-year-old forward spent the last four seasons with EHC München of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's top professional hockey league, where he established career highs in assists (29), points (41) and tied a personal best with 12 goals, leading Munchen to their third straight championship in 2018 after recording four goals and 10 assists in 17 playoff contests.

He raised eyebrows at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, where he compiled five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games and won 55.4 percent of his faceoffs (41 of 74), helping Germany capture a silver medal.

“He has made an enormous step this year, has become much more stable and mature," German national team coach Marco Sturm said after the Olympics. "I am sure that he would grab it in the NHL,” Sturm told the Hamburger Morgenpost.

Most recently, Kahun had a goal and two assists in seven games for Germany during the IIHF Men's World Championship. He's 5-foot-11, 176 pounds whose known to be a solid two-way player and can play center but may need some time to adjust to the smaller ice surface and NHL style of speed and physicality.

Lankinen 

Lankinen is 23 years old and coming off a season in which he was in the discussion for the Urpo Ylönen trophy, annually awarded to the top goaltender of the Finnish Elite League, after registering a league-best 1.33 goals against average and .946 save percentage in 15 games with HIFK.

He missed a large portion of the season because of an injury, but it didn't stop him from turning in a strong postseason, guiding his team to a bronze medal after posting a 1.99 GAA and .936 save percentage in 13 playoff games. The year before that, he led the league with seven shutouts in 42 games, backstopping his team to a silver medal.

This is a low-risk, medium-sized reward signing for the Blackhawks, who could use some more young goaltending depth in the pipeline, especially given how this season unfolded with the big club.

Raddysh

The Blackhawks signed Raddysh to a one-year AHL contract last June, and he turned it into an NHL one after a strong season with the Rockford IceHogs.

Raddysh, 22, accumulated 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 66 regular-season games with the IceHogs, and has appeared in each of the team's playoff games en route to the Western Conference Final.

Last season Raddysh was named the OHL's top defenseman after scoring 16 goals and 65 assists for 81 points in 62 games for the Erie Otters, where he was teammates with current Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat. He's the Otters' all-time leader in assists (143) and points (184) among defensemen.

Raddysh might be nothing more than a depth defenseman, but his development is worth monitoring because the offensive production is there and that's something the Blackhawks lacked this past season from their back end.

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

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AP

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

Days after putting his Gold Coast condo on the market, Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa revealed to a Slovakian newspaper that he is moving back to his hometown country and doesn't plan on returning to the NHL.

"I will not play hockey anymore," said Hossa, who missed the entire 2017-18 campaign due to a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat it. "I have a valid contract with Chicago for the next three years, but I have only one health and it does not allow me to return."

Because he has three years left on a deal that carries a $5.275 million cap hit, Hossa is not expected to sign his retirement papers until the contract is completed or else it would result in salary cap consequences.

The news is not surprising, but it officially allows the Blackhawks to move on without him in the fold roster-wise and toy around with some options this summer.

The first is stashing his contract on long-term injured reserve, as they did last season when they utilized the in-season preference.

The second, which Hossa wondered could happen, is finding a trade partner that would absorb the remainder of his contract, usually done by lower payroll teams aiming to reach the cap floor.

And it wouldn't be difficult trying to find a buyer, considering Hossa's actual salary is $1 million per year over the next three seasons. Hossa, of course, has a no movement clause but it's likely he would waive it given his status at this point.

The good news for Chicago is, the three-time Stanley Cup winner didn't rule out joining the Blackhawks organization in some capacity after his contract expires in 2020-21, whether it's in a front office role or as a team ambassador.

In 19 NHL seasons, Hossa accumulated 525 goals and 609 assists for 1,134 points in 1,309 regular-season games, and added 149 points (52 goals, 97 assists) in 205 postseason contests. He's one of 45 players in league history to net at least 500 goals in his career.