Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Konroyd's keys to a Game 1 win over Wild

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Blackhawks: Konroyd's keys to a Game 1 win over Wild

1. Win the Board Battles.

Minnesota had a special run to end the regular season, going 28-9-3 and then upsetting the St. Louis Blues in the first round. This team has won 14 of their last 17 games on the road.

Yes, goaltender Devan Dubnyk was a big part of the story, but I watched a couple of the games in that St. Louis series and was amazed at how many pucks the Minnesota Wild won in the offensive zone. They have a lot of quick forwards with hockey smarts who pressure the puck in all the right areas. Make sure your exits are clean by getting back quickly, going tape to tape, and stop Minny’s fore check before it gets started.

[MORE: Blackhawks-Wild: Who has the edge?]

At the other end, get pucks deep and get them back with an energized attack. You should be well rested after 6 days rest between games.

2. Get to Dubnyk.

Dubnyk saved the day for the Wild when he was traded from Arizona on Jan. 14. The team has never looked back. Dubnyk went 27-9-2 with a miniscule 1.78 goals against average to close out the regular season. He was recently nominated for the Vezina Trophy, going to the goalie judged to be best at his position.

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But let’s not forget that Darcy Kuemper, another goalie in Minnesota, started the season with three shutouts in his first four starts for the Wild back in October. This is a very well-coached team that limits opponents' shots, conducive to big goalies who make the first stop. The key is getting to the second and third attempts. Rebounds were available in the St. Louis series against Dubnyk, and the Blackhawks have to make sure they are in the area to pick up any loose change.

3. Secondary Scoring a must.

You need your best players to be your best players if you want to advance in the postseason. We certainly saw that in the Hawks last series where Patrick Sharp, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith all scored goals in that last game and were also big factors in the series win against Nashville.

But any series, especially long ones, need foot soldiers to carry the load and be the heroes every once in a while. Andrew Shaw, Bryan Bickell and Marcus Kruger are capable of providing that secondary scoring the Hawks lacked in the series against Nashville. Minnesota is the kind of team that rolls all four lines, much like the Blackhawks, so getting goals from these types of players is a must.

Robin Lehner got best of 'reverse psychology' with Blackhawks familiarity in Game 1

Robin Lehner got best of 'reverse psychology' with Blackhawks familiarity in Game 1

On Tuesday, former Blackhawks goalie Robin Lehner and the Vegas Golden Knights got the better of the Hawks in Game 1 of their Round One Stanley Cup Playoff series, winning 4-1.

Lehner saved 19 of 20 shots from Chicago, but his own equipment made him more uncomfortable in net than his former team.

The 29-year-old goalie had to have a skate blade repaired twice in the second period.

"I was pretty frustrated. It's the first time that's ever happened to me," Lehner said following the game. ... "You kind of get into it and I didn't really know what happened there at first, but you have to battle through it. The rule is when we have possession they can blow it. Kind of tough for a goalie with one skate."

The Blackhawks hit a post the first time Lehner had blade trouble, but otherwise didn't capitalize on his skate malfunction.

Chicago got away from what worked in the Oilers series against goalies Mike Smith and Mikko Koskinen in creating traffic in front of the net to take away the goalie's eyes and trying for deflections. Vegas' D did a good job of pushing the Hawks to the outside and away from the crease.

According to Lehner, when the Blackahwks did have chances, knowing their tendencies from playing with them earlier in the year — before he was traded to Vegas ahead of the Feb. 24 trade deadline — played to his advantage in Game 1.

"I think I'm foremost a reading goalie. I know a lot of their tendencies, I know what they're trying to do on the power play and etc.," The 2019 Vezina Trophy finalist said. "But it becomes a little bit of reverse psychology. I knew that they know (that) and they were going to mix it up a little bit on me. On all the really in-tight chances today they tried to go five-hole, so I kind of anticipated that before the game and next game they're probably going to try something else."

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Podcast: Blackhawks drop Game 1 to the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1

Podcast: Blackhawks drop Game 1 to the Vegas Golden Knights 4-1

The Blackhawks lose Game 1 to the favorite Vegas Golden Knights and former Hawk Robin Lehner gets credited with the win. Host Pat Boyle is joined by NBCS Blackhawks analyst and 2013 Stanley Cup champ with the Hawks Jamal Mayers to break down Game 1 and talk how the Hawks can come back for Game 2 to tie the series.

(1:00) - Corey Crawford let in a few soft goals

(6:20) - What went wrong and what went right for the Hawks?

(10:32) - How do the Hawks get more offense?

(14:30) - How should the Hawks prepare for Game 2?

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