Blackhawks' confidence 'unwavering' when facing elimination

Blackhawks' confidence 'unwavering' when facing elimination

The Blackhawks have played in so many big games over the last seven years that's it's too many to count. 

That will happen when you win three Stanley Cups in six years, and appear in five Conference Finals since 2009.

It's the primary reason why their confidence hasn't fluctuated despite falling into a 3-1 series hole, which was cut to 3-2 following Thursday's double-overtime 4-3 victory against the St. Louis Blues.

"We love to play these kind of games, we have a lot of players that have been a part of it before and (are) very comfortable with playing these types of games," Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "We have a lot of players that want the puck in big moments and do something good with it.

"We're excited. This is the most fun part about hockey, playing in these eliminating games. Obviously you want to be on the other side of it, but it's still a lot of fun to play in and have your backs against the wall and know if you lose, you're out.

"That's when you have to respond and play your best hockey and I think that's a really strong asset of our team to do that."

Dale Weise, who was acquired at the trade deadline from Montreal and scored two playoff overtime goals for the Canadiens last spring, felt those vibes immediately when he joined the Blackhawks.

But he noticed it even before he got there.

"I think watching them the last couple of years as just a fan of this team, you can just see the resilience that they have," he said. "There never seems to be any panic, and I think just being a part of it now you see why they've had so much success. There's just an unwavering confidence about the team, no matter what the score is, time of the game; there's just no panic.

"They've got some great leaders in this locker room that kind of step up and say things when they need to and I think that just kind of radiates throughout the whole locker room and everybody becomes a part of it."

It was certainly evident in Game 4.

Marian Hossa scored his first goal of the series to put the Blackhawks on the board first.

Duncan Keith logged exactly 42 minutes of ice time, which doesn't surprise anyone in Chicago.

Corey Crawford registered 43 saves, more than half of them in the third period and overtime, where the Blackhawks were outshot 26-15.

Patrick Kane stepped up like he often does in crucial moments, potting his fifth career playoff overtime goal, which is tied for third-most in NHL history. 

The stars delivered when called upon with their season on the line, and knowing you have those types of players on your side in key moments exudes confidence that trickles up and down the roster.

"I think we've been in a lot of different situations over the years," Kane said. "It obviously helps to have that experience, knowledge of maybe what's going to happen. We've been in these situations before, whether we've been down in a series or we have to win that one game to get ourselves back into it.

"We just try to focus on that one game and I think it's the same thing for Game 6."

Blackhawks emergency goaltender Scott Foster made his return at the NHL Awards to present the Vezina Trophy, and it was perfect

Blackhawks emergency goaltender Scott Foster made his return at the NHL Awards to present the Vezina Trophy, and it was perfect

After staying out of the public eye since his historic emergency relief appearance, Scott Foster emerged in Vegas at the NHL Awards and it was perfect. 

The 36-year-old accountant fittingly presented the Vezina Trophy award for the league's top goaltender and joked that he needed to speed it up because he had to get back to work.

Check him out on stage:

What a moment. And well done, NHL. 

Foster stopped all seven shots he faced in 14:01 of action in the Blackhawks' 6-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets on March 30.

Nashville Predators netminder Pekke Rinne took home the award, but you can't argue against Foster's 1.000 career save percentage.

NHL Draft Profile: D Noah Dobson

NHL Draft Profile: D Noah Dobson

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Noah Dobson

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 180 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"A very effective two-way defenseman with good puck distribution and a strong shot from the points on the power play. He is a point-producer with size, who defends and utilizes strong positioning and a good stick in the defensive zone."

NHL player comparable: Brent Burns

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks lacked defensemen that generated offense last year. They also lacked defenders than can ... defend. Dobson is a player who can do both, and if he slips past Vancouver at No. 7, the Blackhawks may have a difficult decision on their hands.

Dobson could solve some of those defensive issues, but it likely wouldn't be in time for the 2018-19 season. He needs time to develop properly.

The Blackhawks like to evaluate prospects based on what their ceiling is and where they're at in their development curve, and if they see major upside here, they'll go for it. It just depends if there's somebody available that they like better.