Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Can Versteeg-Kane-Richards line work again?

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Blackhawks: Can Versteeg-Kane-Richards line work again?

The first sight was somewhat of a surprise. We all figured Patrick Kane would be back sooner rather than later, given the constant updates of his steady progress.

The second sight, considering the first one, wasn’t all that shocking either: with a healthy Kane ready to go, it was time to put him back with Kris Versteeg and Brad Richards. It worked once. Now they’ll see if it works again.

[RELATED - As expected, Patrick Kane ready to go for Blackhawks in Game 1]

Versteeg, Kane and Richards made a great combination in mid-November/early December, when the Blackhawks went on an eight-game winning streak. They’ll be together again on Wednesday when the Blackhawks face the Nashville Predators in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series.

The three were put together just as the Blackhawks embarked on their Circus Trip. That line was a catalyst for the team’s success at that point. When Kane was injured on Feb. 24, the Blackhawks lost their leading scorer and coach Joel Quenneville lost the chance to put that group together again as the season ended. So they’ll try it again now.

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“I obviously really enjoyed playing with him and it’s too bad the year he was having to see that happen to him. I wish we could’ve kept that going and learned more about each other. But that’s hockey, that’s our job,” Richards said. “Hopefully we can get to a better level [this time].”

But why did it work so well the first time?

“Obviously Kaner is on a different level, but we all think the game similar and play the game the same way,” Versteeg said. “That’s how we can all kind of complement each other.”

Relationships don’t hurt, either. Kane and Versteeg have been friends dating back to Versteeg’s first go-around with the Blackhawks. Richards and Kane formed a rapport early on this season, partially thanks to living in the same building.

But there’s something else: when these three were clicking, they were holding onto the puck plenty. Credit Kane for a lot of that; his talent for that was evident during his injury, when the Blackhawks’ puck-possession game diminished.

“I think we were smart with it and knew the times to do it; we had the puck a lot,” Richards said. “We’re not three big monsters where we’re going to come in and put you through the end boards, so you want to have the puck and made it hard on the other team that way. But playoffs is a different game, where you’ve got to be a lot smarter sometimes, and sometimes you do have to give up the puck and live to fight another day. But all three of us have been through playoffs enough to know that.”

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A trio that got the Blackhawks going earlier this season is together again, potentially getting them going early in the playoffs. It worked once. The Blackhawks hope it can work again.

“Yeah, we had some good success,” Kane said. “It seems like both of them are skating really well and it seems like they have a newfound energy come with this new postseason coming around. Wherever they put me in the lineup,I’ll be happy. But knowing we had some success earlier in the season, hopefully we can recapture that.” 

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reacting to Round 1 of NHL Draft

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Round 1 of the 2018 NHL Draft.

They discuss the pair of puck-carrying defensemen that the Blackhawks selected on Friday, Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin. When can we expect to see these first-round picks play in the NHL?

Boyle also goes 1-on-1 with Boqvist and Beaudin. The guys spoke with Stan Bowman and Joel Quenneville on Friday.

The guys also share their biggest takeaways from those interviews, which includes your daily Corey Crawford update and Quenneville appeared excited that the team has plenty of cap space to spend in free agency.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks add another defenseman to pipeline, draft Nicolas Beaudin at No. 27

Blackhawks add another defenseman to pipeline, draft Nicolas Beaudin at No. 27

DALLAS — Despite taking Adam Boqvist with the No. 8 overall pick in the 2018 NHL Draft, the Blackhawks took a second defenseman at No. 27 with the selection of Nicolas Beaudin.

Beaudin is a 5-foot-11, 172-pound defenseman who prides himself on playing strong at both ends of the ice and tries modeling his game after Torey Krug of the Boston Bruins.

"I’m a two-way defenseman," Beaudin said. "I can provide offense, too. I’ve got a great IQ. I think in my zone I’m just getting better and better."

Beaudin is also a left-handed shot, which is something the Blackhawks could use more of in the organization along the blue line when it comes to impact-type players.

"Nicolas is a very efficient defender," Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said. "He’s got a really nice skill set. He makes the game look pretty easy. He’s a smooth player, not a lot of panic to his game. He’s a good skater so when he has to turn back and get to the puck he can get there first. Usually he just gets his setup and makes the simple play.

"You watch him play and he makes it look really easy. He’s not a guy that’s getting run over a lot. He’s not a real big player, but he uses his brain really well and he had over a point a game, too. He’s got a good feel for making plays and scoring points."

The 18-year-old registered 69 points (12 goals, 57 assists) in 68 games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL, and added three goals and eight assists in 10 postseason contests.

Beaudin is the third defenseman the Blackhawks have taken in the first round the last two years, with Henri Jokiharju and Boqvist being the other two.

"It’s a winning culture in Chicago," Beaudin said. "They won a lot. I know they’ve got some young guys coming in. For sure in the next few years I want to earn my place and I want to try to learn a lot from a guy like Duncan Keith."