Blackhawks: Konroyd's key to a Game 2 win over Wild


Blackhawks: Konroyd's key to a Game 2 win over Wild

1. Get Dubnyk doubting.

Devan Dubnyk is a huge reason why the Minnesota Wild are in the playoffs this year. He was named one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, along with Carey Price of Montreal and Pekka Rinne of Nashville. The Blackhawks made Rinne look pretty ordinary in his first-round exit with the Predators and now they have to do the same with Dubnyk.

[MORE: Scoring in bunches: Blackhawks have to tighten up]

Minnesota’s goalie did not look good in their 4-3 loss to Chicago a couple of nights ago. The Hawks scored on their first shot, which seemed to rattle Dubnyk, and he went on to allow 3 goals on the first 7 shots he faced in the contest. He is a shot blocker, which means he is positionally sound using his 6-foot-6 frame to shield most of his net. Rebounds were certainly an issue in Game 1, and although none of the goals scored were of the rebound variety, they were there to be had. Make sure you have bodies heading to the net whenever a shot is attempted.

2. Win the boards.

It was a key for me last game, and even more so now heading into Game 2. Minnesota is a team that wins a lot of battles along the boards. They have the size and speed up front to accomplish this, and even their smaller guys like Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund have the awareness and quickness to force turnovers deep in the Blackhawks' zone.

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Two of the Wild’s three goals came as a direct result of them forcing a turnover along the boards deep in the Hawks' end. It should be noted that Chicago’s game-winning goal came from Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith winning two separate board battles in the last minute of the second period on Teuvo Teravainen’s goal. Pay the price and play a grinding game along the boards.

3. Special teams need improvement.

The Blackhawks have only scored three power-play goals while giving up seven in the special teams department so far in the playoffs. In six of the seven games they've played, they have given up at least one power-play goal to the opposition.

The power play hasn’t fared much better, having gone just 1-16 in the last six games. That type of special teams play usually results in losses, but it has not cost the Hawks so far. Kills and strong power plays are momentum builders, especially at home, so take advantage of your special teams play. Would like to see more shots from the point when Chicago's up a man.

Lucas Carlsson out to prove he belongs with Blackhawks

Lucas Carlsson out to prove he belongs with Blackhawks

DALLAS — The Blackhawks have gotten extended looks this season at two of their coveted defensemen prospects in Adam Boqvist and Dennis Gilbert, the latter of whom is better known for his defensive game than offensive prowess. 

On Sunday, it was Lucas Carlsson's turn.

With Erik Gustafsson being held out of the lineup for precautionary reasons ahead of Monday's trade deadline, the Blackhawks called up Carlsson for their four-game road trip that kicked off in Dallas. They wasted no time in throwing their 2016 fourth-round pick into action despite having no practice session or a morning skate for him to get acclimated to the group.

"Maybe it's easier for me to just get right into it, I don't know," a smiling Carlsson said following a 2-1 loss to the Stars. "It was fun, obviously. I was a bit nervous at the start, but I think I got into it pretty quickly. I just try and play my game, don't change anything. Obviously you have to adjust a little bit, everything's much faster here, so it's good."

Head coach Jeremy Colliton said before the game he wanted Carlsson to be clean with the puck, have a tight gap and be physical when he needed to. And Carlsson did exactly that.

The 22-year-old Swedish blue liner had one shot attempt, one blocked shot and three hits in 14:55 of ice time while playing on the second pairing with Connor Murphy. He wasn't too noticeable, but that's not intended to sound negative. He kept it simple, played his game and didn't make any glaring mistakes in his NHL debut.

"I thought he was good," Colliton said. "He was assertive, physical, made plays, skated the puck. He did well for himself, so [I'm] happy for him in his first game."

The one noticeable offensive play Carlsson did make came in the third period when he delivered a nifty backhand pass between his legs in the slot to Dominik Kubalik, who looked surprised it even got to him. It nearly created a prime scoring chance, but the puck got away from Kubalik.

Carlsson clearly wasn't lacking confidence, which is always a good thing as younger players tend to play timid while they try figuring out the league. He's a sound defender with some offensive upside — he led all Rockford IceHogs defensemen in goals (five), assists (21) and points (26) — and is out to prove he belongs at the NHL level.

"Of course," Carlsson said. "I still have one more year on my contract, so I want to show what I can do and hopefully play a few more games here and see what happens."

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Will Brandon Saad be traded by Blackhawks again? He hopes not

Will Brandon Saad be traded by Blackhawks again? He hopes not

DALLAS — Brandon Saad knows what it’s like to be traded. He’s been moved twice in his NHL career — once from Chicago to Columbus and then again from Columbus to Chicago. Both of those deals were made in the summer, though, and they were also unexpected.

With the NHL trade deadline on Monday at 2 p.m., Saad knows his name is out there and admitted the possibility of being dealt is on his mind.

"A little bit," Saad said following a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Sunday. "That's part of the business, right? Love it here in Chicago but it is what it is. You wait for tomorrow and there's always rumors floating, but at the end of the day, you just focus on hockey games and winning here with the Blackhawks and see what happens."

The Blackhawks aren’t necessarily shopping Saad, but they are listening to offers. The return would have to start with at least a first-round pick for the Blackhawks to even consider that possibility, and it’s unclear whether anybody has gotten close to meeting their demands.

What makes Saad an attractive trade piece is the fact he has one year left on his contract after this season at a $6 million cap hit. General managers across the NHL have been reluctant to give up first-round selections for rentals, and it’s hard to blame them. Giving up a king's ransom for pending unrestricted free agents, historically, backfires more often than not.

Jason Zucker, Blake Coleman and, most recently, Ondrej Kase were all moved and fetched first-rounders because they have term left on their contract. Chris Kreider and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, both of whom are at the top of TSN’s trade bait list, have not been traded with less than 20 hours to go until the deadline and you have to wonder how much that has to do with contending teams not being willing to meet the high price tag for a rental.

The Boston Bruins reportedly expressed interest in Saad, but that was before they acquired Kase. The Edmonton Oilers have also checked in, but would they be willing to part ways with their first-rounder? How about the Colorado Avalanche?

GM Stan Bowman's phone line is going to be busy in the coming hours as teams start to put together their final offers, but Saad is hoping he remains with the Blackhawks.

"It's just part of the business, right?" Saad said. "At the end of the day, you're a hockey player, so you're going to play hard for whoever you're with and take it as it comes. The other ones were in the summertime, so I've never dealt with it at the deadline, so that's always a new experience. But hopefully I'm here in Chicago."

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