Blackhawks

Blackhawks focus on 'little things' after lopsided loss to Capitals

Blackhawks focus on 'little things' after lopsided loss to Capitals

Blackhawks players and coach Joel Quenneville sounded mixed following a 6-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Friday night.

Some told the media that they could learn from that loss. Quenneville said the Blackhawks should just forget it. They all agreed on one thing: it was one horrible game on their end and they've got to clean things up fast.

On Saturday the Blackhawks got back to work trying to improve upon what failed against the Capitals, which according to Quenneville was quite the laundry list of items:

"I just think little things, whether it was getting or keeping the puck — we didn't have it at all — going into the puck area, going through the puck area, little details. We've probably given up more rush chances than we have in a long, long time," Quenneville said. "Whether it was the competitiveness from the outset, be it the faceoff circle, across the board, but that start to the game put us in a tough spot."

The loss to the Capitals marked the fifth time this season the Blackhawks have lost a game by three or more goals. Last year they lost 13 games by three or more, compared to 12 during the 2014-15 Stanley Cup season. You take that number for what it is: some games are close until the third period (Jan. 2 vs. the St. Louis Blues, a 4-1 loss) and others are like Friday's effort, or lack thereof.

So, do the Blackhawks forget about that mess or learn from it?

"I think maybe a little of both," Andrew Desjardins said. "You gotta learn from some of the stuff in aspects of one-on-one battles, being in good angles. For-sure plays still have to be for sure, where last night they weren't. As far as that goes, you have to learn from those [things]; you have to see it to learn and to understand it's not good enough. At the same time, you have to use it as a drive to be better for the next game and be a little pissed off about it."

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Vinnie Hinostroza's nullified goal (due to goaltender interference) took the wind out of the Blackhawks' sails at that point; they would've trailed 3-1 instead of 3-0. But players said there's only so much pointing they can do toward that no-goal.

"We had the momentum for a second there and it got taken away. But we should've responded better than that. It was still 3-0; still could've come back from that," Hinostroza said. "I don't think we responded, at all, how we should have."

The Blackhawks should have a sufficient level of anger on Sunday night when they host the red-hot Minnesota Wild who, thanks to their 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars on Saturday night, jumped into first place in the Western Conference. The Blackhawks and Wild each have 59 points but the Wild have four games in hand. This one won't be easy, either. The Wild, who swept the regular-season series against the Blackhawks last year, are 16-1-1 in their last 17 games. That included a 12-game winning streak, which the equally hot Columbus Blue Jackets snapped on New Year's Eve.

Will the Blackhawks have the sufficient response? In most cases when the Blackhawks have had a horrible game one night, they've usually come back with a strong one the next. The Wild, much like the Capitals, are surging and there will be little margin for error.

The Blackhawks had an awful one in D.C. in a season that hasn't had many of them. They happen. But whether they lost sleep over it, forgot about it or learn from it, they definitely can't repeat it.

"You don't want to dwell on it, let one bad game turn into two bad games because you're thinking of everything that went wrong the last game," Trevor van Riemsdyk said. "[The Wild have] got a lot of speed, just like the Caps, a lot of skill. It'll take a great effort. When you get beat like that you want a chance to redeem yourself. Tomorrow's a good chance for that."

Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

The breakout star of Blackhawks development camp in July was undoubtedly Adam Boqvist, who was taken No. 8 overall in 2018. It was evident how much his game has grown over the past year.

Former Blackhawks defenseman — and now player development coach — Brian Campbell worked closely with Boqvist this past season and raved about the steps he took with the London Knights in the OHL. But Campbell is also preaching patience in Boqvist's development. Boqvist just turned 19 on Thursday, and it's important to let him develop at his own pace.

“Yeah, I was impressed," Campbell said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Obviously, he’s come a long way in a year from last development camp. There’s no pressure being put on him. He’ll develop at his time. If he pushes for a spot, great, but I just don’t want people to get away. There’s a lot to keep learning and he wants to learn, which is the greatest thing. His teammates love him: great thing. He wants to do extra and learn the game: great thing. He is preparing himself days before, even in development camp, he’s preparing himself days before. So all great things and he’s on the right path.

"Hopefully that happens and maybe it does happen but if it doesn’t then that’s not the case and he keeps getting better and wants to keep getting better. Definitely, we know his skill level is there and I think he’s taken a huge step in the last year in preparing himself and knowing how to prepare as a pro player now. There’s a lot of great things there, and hopefully he does do that, but for me, I just don’t want to put too much on him right now. He’s turning 19 soon so he’s still a really young kid and it’s a tough position to play at a pro level. Believe me, I’m smiling, but I just don’t want to force the issue too much. Hopefully he can do some great things, but if he doesn’t, then that’s OK too.” 

Drake Caggiula looks back on how he could've played with Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome in OHL

Drake Caggiula looks back on how he could've played with Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome in OHL

Drake Caggiula had a successful college hockey career. He compiled 127 points (62 goals, 65 assists) in 162 career games across four seasons at North Dakota, and served as an alternate captain during his senior year.

But before committing to college, Caggiula was being recruited by the Erie Otters of the OHL and there could've been a moment where he played with Connor McDavid and current teammates Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome all at the same time.

“I remember telling Sherry Bassin, the GM of Erie, how I was going to go to college," Caggiula said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "He kept reiterating that, 'at 16 years old, we’re not going to be that great. But at 17, we’re going to be a little bit better, but not great. But at 18 and 19, those are going to be your big years and we’re going to have a really good team and we’re going to surround you with good players.’ I mean, that’s two years in the future so it’s hard to really see that.

"Looking back at it now, the players that I could have played with, they had some pretty talented players go through Erie. Even Dylan Larkin was an Erie draft pick and ended up going to Michigan. It could have been a pretty talented team there so it’s kind of funny to see how it all works out. We’re all here today coming from different paths so it’s pretty cool.”

Any chirps from the guys about his decision now?

“Yeah, Connor [McDavid] used to make fun of me all the time, you know? ‘Oh, we would have won the Memorial Cup if you would have joined the team!’ and all that sort of stuff," Caggiula joked. "We talk about it a little bit just here and there saying, ‘what a team we could have had and imagine who we would have been playing with and now we’re all here together. What if we all would have started in Erie together and now we’re here together?’ It just would have been a pretty cool story. It’s obviously something that we can’t control but it’s definitely something that you can look back at and laugh at.”

Check out the interview in the video above.

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