Blackhawks know frustrated Ducks are still dangerous


Blackhawks know frustrated Ducks are still dangerous

The Anaheim Ducks are not off to the greatest start. But the Blackhawks are still expecting a difficult test from their Western Conference foe.

The Ducks, who the Blackhawks needed seven games to eliminate in the Western Conference final last spring, are just 1-5-1 entering tonight’s game at the United Center. They’ve scored just six goals in those seven games. They’ve suffered as many shutouts in those seven games (four) as they did all of last season.

But the Blackhawks are expecting a big push tonight.

“That series we had with them last year was unbelievably tough and competitive. I’m sure coming in here [tonight] they can recreate that in an instant,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “It’s a team we know can score and can make plays. Let’s make sure we build off what we’ve done the last couple of games. We like the progress in our own team game; we’re going to need that tonight.”

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The Ducks went through their offseason changes, but so did the Blackhawks. Marcus Kruger said he was a little surprised at the Ducks' start but won’t be shocked if they turn it around, either.

“Just look at the lineup: They have a great lineup and they’ve been good for a number of years and a top team,” Kruger said. “I think they’re still going to be that team and we know they’re going to be ready tonight.”

Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau talked of the intensity between the two teams during that Western Conference final. He wants the Ducks to tap into that, as well as that passion to play the sport, starting now.

“Today I talked to them about how great it is to be a hockey player. We’re so lucky, so blessed to do this job that we love, rather than doing things that are forced upon you, and we have to play with that. We have to play with that enthusiasm,” Boudreau said. “So hopefully that wears off.”

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The Blackhawks will go with their same forward lines and defensive pairs tonight. Corey Crawford gets the start. Frederik Andersen is expected to start for the Ducks.

Meanwhile, Duncan Keith continues to recover from the right-knee surgery he had last week. Quenneville said Keith’s not doing much at the moment.

“Slow process right now. It’s more of a recovery and just toning things down,” Quenneville said. “He’s moving, he feels real good. But [it] may be another week before he starts getting into the heavier training.”

Andrew Shaw trying to find balance between toeing the line and not crossing it for Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw trying to find balance between toeing the line and not crossing it for Blackhawks

The Blackhawks brought Andrew Shaw back to Chicago because they lacked some bite to their game. He's already meeting expectations in the physicality department, leading the team with 23 hits.

But the other part of his game the Blackhawks have to live with is the amount of penalties he takes. Through six games this season, Shaw has taken at least one penalty in five of them and is tied for third among all NHL skaters with six minors. The only two skaters above him are guys who have played in two and four more games, respectively.

Because he plays on the edge, Shaw will occasionally cross it and he's trying to find that balance between toeing the line and not stepping over it.

"I find if I'm not playing on the edge, I'm not playing great," Shaw said. "I need to play physical. Even in preseason, I was just finishing checks — clean, shoulder-to-shoulder — and was getting penalty after penalty. Hockey still is a physical game. There's still hitting; it's still legal. So I'm going to go out there and play hard, make it hard on my opponents, make it hard on them physically, do what I do. Not going to change who I am now. I'm an old dog."

Shaw's reputation may also contribute to the matter. He's racked up more than 600 penalty minutes in his NHL career, including postseason, and the officials might be keeping a closer eye on him when he's on the ice.

"It's something he's got to be aware of, but I also think he's got a bullseye on him," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "If I go back through all the penalties he's taken, he probably earned a couple and he probably earned them five years ago. That's something he's got to deal with. We want him to play hard. I think we can handle the ones where he's running people over. We'll kill those off. Obviously the stick penalties and stuff we don't want. But he's playing hard for the team. That's a good thing."

Said Shaw: "The referees, no matter the history of the player, should call the game as it is. If there's a penalty, call a penalty. If there's not a penalty, you let it go. I mean, yeah, I might have been too vocal in my younger days. But the past three years I've been trying to clean it up a little bit. I just take my penalties when I get 'em. But I must have dug myself a really deep hole. Just trying to climb out of it since."

Still, Shaw knows he has to be smarter about the timing of his penalties and where they're happening. The ones that occur in the offensive zone are the penalties that must be eradicated from his game. The ones he earns from battling between the whistles and sticking up for his teammates, the Blackhawks can live with those.

"Obviously I don't want to take penalties, I don't want to put my team down," Shaw said. "I also don't agree with all of the ones I got. I think I got the short end of the stick on a lot of them. Bite my tongue, go to the box. Our PK's been working hard and competing and killing some penalties. Hopefully they start going my way, I guess."

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Robin Lehner to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights

USA Today

Robin Lehner to start in goal for Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights

Robin Lehner will start in goal for the Blackhawks when they host the Vegas Golden Knights at the United Center on Tuesday, coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed after morning skate. It will be his third start of the season.

Lehner is coming off a game in which he stopped 37 of 39 shots for a save percentage of .949, which earned him the No. 3 star of the game in a 3-2 overtime win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday. He was fantastic. 

Lehner is 1-0-1 with a 2.47 goals-against average and .931 save percentage in two starts this season.

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