Blackhawks

Blackhawks 'don't want to go back to Nashville' for a Game 7

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Blackhawks 'don't want to go back to Nashville' for a Game 7

The Blackhawks weren’t entering the weekend with any major concerns.

Sure, it would have been nice to close out the Nashville Predators in Game 5 on Thursday night but they still have a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven, first-round series. And they get another chance at the United Center.

“We have a great opportunity here. It’s home ice and everyone’s back to play in front of the home crowd and have a big chance to score on a great note,” Niklas Hjalmarsson said on Friday. “We don’t want to go back to Nashville.”

[MORE: Blackhawks sticking with Scott Darling as starter for Game 6]

That last sentence is key. The Blackhawks certainly don’t want to go back to Nashville, where the Predators have won the last two games, outscoring the Blackhawks 11-4 in the process. If this series goes to a Game 7, you’d have to wonder how much of an advantage the Predators would have entering it.

So it’s simple: finish this off at home, where you’ve already won Games 3 and 4. If the Blackhawks get to the second round they’ll face either the St. Louis Blues or Minnesota Wild, who are locked in a 2-2 series heading into Game 5 on Friday night. A couple of days’ worth of rest wouldn’t be so bad facing either squad.

“I think the days off do wonders every round,” Kris Versteeg said. “It takes a physical toll on you, the amount of periods we played in the series, going into triple and double overtime. So closing it out on Saturday would be huge for us, especially from a health standpoint.”

For Game 6, a few things have to change. The Blackhawks need to limit the great chances the Predators have been getting. Nashville has shown that, if given rebounds, turnovers and other gaffes, it’ll score off them. Again, this is not new territory for the Blackhawks, as far as knowing how to win at this juncture.

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“Yeah, experience goes a long way for certain kinds of games where, [if] a few bounces don’t go our way, we don’t lose composure. We focus on the next shift,” Bryan Bickell said. “For the guys who have been on this team and have played a lot of playoff games and played big games in their careers, it’s nice to have us fall on experience and leadership we have to help carry this team.”

Thursday’s outcome wasn’t a total shock. The Predators were going to do everything they could to extend their postseason and took advantage of every chance the Blackhawks gave them to do that.

“Tomorrow is the day to have a solid 60 minutes and try to end the series,” Hjalmarsson said. “We know Nashville is going to bring everything they have. They did last game and we weren’t happy with the way we played. Hopefully we bring 60 solid minutes and bring a big win.”

Sports Talk Live Podcast: What will be Stan Bowman's next move?

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Sports Talk Live Podcast: What will be Stan Bowman's next move?

Gabe Ramirez, Vinnie Duber, and Jay Cohen join Kap on the panel to discuss game two of Cubs vs. Braves and the battle of the Soxes.

Plus with the start of free agency coming up, what will be Stan Bowman's next move?

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Calvin de Haan on unexpected trade to Blackhawks and what he brings to the table

Calvin de Haan on unexpected trade to Blackhawks and what he brings to the table

Calvin de Haan knew that the Carolina Hurricanes had a logjam on defense going into this summer and that somebody was going to be dealt to create a spot. The move was also driven by financial reasons as the Hurricanes look to re-sign a handful of players, most notably Sebastian Aho.

He just wasn't expecting it to be his name on the move.

"I'm still kind of in shock, to be honest," de Haan said on Tuesday's conference call. "I didn’t think it was going to be me. After Carolina signed me last summer my fiancée and I thought we were going to have some roots there, but I get it, it’s a business. Looking back on it now, it’s only been 16 hours or whatever, but it’s been a whirlwind. I’m really looking forward to it now. Obviously Stan [Bowman] and the Blackhawks made a deal for me and I feel like I’m wanted and I’m really looking forward to this opportunity with this organization."

De Haan, who signed a four-year, $18.2 million contract with Carolina last offseason, admitted that the Blackhawks didn't show any interest in him when he was an unrestricted free agent. But he's excited about being in an organization that values his services, and the feeling is mutual because he's filling an immediate need on the back end for the Blackhawks: a player who can log big minutes, is a sound stay-at-home defenseman and can play an effective role on the penalty kill.

Jeremy Colliton, who was the captain for the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers during de Haan's rookie season in the pros from 2011-12, will certainly appreciate what his former teammate brings to the table.

"I just like to think my position’s good," de Haan said of his game. "I like to think I move well on the ice. I’ve always tried to play a simple game. I saw some tweets yesterday that I might be the next best thing to Nik Hjalmarsson that the Blackhawks have had in a while, so that’s a compliment. That guy’s had a great career and that’s a player I like to play like. Nothing flashy, just kind of get the job done and I hope Blackhawk fans will really appreciate my game. It’s something I’m really looking forward to this season."  

De Haan underwent season-ending shoulder surgery in May — exactly five weeks from Tuesday — and was given a four-to-six month timeline, putting his availability for training camp and the season opener in jeopardy. But he's hoping to be cleared by the time training camp rolls around in September and be ready to go for the season opener on Oct. 4 in Prague.

"Things are progressing well," de Haan said. "I like to think I’m ahead of schedule. I’ve had shoulder surgeries in the past as well where I know how this goes and I’m gonna make sure I’m ready for camp. Then it’s going to be up to the training staff and the doctors whether they want me to play or take a few weeks here and there and just progress slowly. But my main goal is to be ready for camp. I don’t want to sit on the sidelines. I want to be on the ice with the guys and out there grinding away and try to get the team back in the playoffs."

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