Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Konroyd's keys to a Game 2 win in Nashville

hossapreds.png

Blackhawks: Konroyd's keys to a Game 2 win in Nashville

1. Better job at the dots.

Faceoffs are not only important in establishing puck possession, they are also the most basic form of a 1-on-1 battle. The Blackhawks lost a lot of these battles on Wednesday night in Nashville. Jonathan Toews and Marcus Krueger were a combined 17 of 49 in the faceoff department. Not good when you are a puck-possession team. Paul Gaustad and Matt Cullen really owned the dots for the Nashville Predators, so don’t take this area of your game for granted tonight because you won the last game. You need all five guys on the ice helping out on the draws.

2. Stay out of the penalty box.

The Hawks did a fantastic job of staying disciplined throughout the regular season. They were the second-least penalized team in the entire NHL, averaging just 2 ½ minor penalties per game. That wasn’t the case in Game 1 where they took six minor penalties, all of the hooking-holding-slashing kind.

 

[SHOP: Get the latest Blackhawks gear here]

These are lazy penalties where your legs aren’t moving and you are reaching to slow a guy down. Nashville had 11 shots on net during their 10-plus minutes of power play time, yet they scored just one power play goal. Best way to kill a penalty is to not take one. Good power plays don’t have to score to generate momentum and crowd enthusiasm.

3. Keep the pressure on Rinne.

Pekka Rinne was pretty ordinary going down the stretch for Nashville, losing his last four starts. He didn’t look much better on Wednesday night. Yes, he closed the door during the third period and overtime, but even when he was making the stops, he looked awkward. Losing his crease is something we saw time and again, and top glove is always an option when he is going down. He now has a save percentage of .871 in his last five starts. Don’t let him off the mat now; shoot early and often in Game 2.

If Brent Seabrook returns, where does he fit in Blackhawks' postseason lineup?

If Brent Seabrook returns, where does he fit in Blackhawks' postseason lineup?

According to a report from The Athletic on Saturday, Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook is making a run at returning for the team's July 13 training camp and the NHL's 24-team playoff format beginning August 1.

At the start of the league's postseason, the Hawks are slated to take on the Edmonton Oilers in a best-of-5 play-in series. 

In taking on the league's top two leaders in points at the time of the NHL pause on March 11 (Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid), the Hawks will take all the help on D they can get.

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Blackhawks news and analysis.

Seabrook certainly has the experience of playing against and trying to shut down the NHL's best players on big stages and in big series during the Chicago's long Cup runs.

If he's fully recovered from his right shoulder and left and right hip surgeries, he could be a lot more mobile as well. 

Where the veteran defenseman plugs into the lineup largely depends on how Calvin de Haan progresses.

de Haan, who underwent right shoulder surgery in December, joined the Blackhawks for small group skates and off-ice workouts on Thursday and is expected to be ready for camp too.

If all goes well for de Haan and he's available for the series, along with Seabrook, you could expect to see the two together as the Hawks' second pairing, where they logged time before their surgeries.

Rookie Adam Boqvist had been playing on the right of Duncan Keith for a while before the pause. Seabrook and Olli Maata didn't complement each other very well when paired together, but Seabrook and de Haan were a sound unit earlier in the season.

So here's how the D pairings could look against the Oilers:

Keith-Boqvist
de Haan-Seabrook
Maatta-Murphy

Youngster Lucas Carlsson could also be in on D with a strong showing leading up to the pause and Slater Koekkoek had some noticeable games on the Hawks' blue line as well this season. 

Percentage of NHL's COVID-19 positive test results remains steady

Percentage of NHL's COVID-19 positive test results remains steady

On Monday, the NHL provided the results from the latest COVID-19 tests it administered. 

In total, 396 players (slightly more than half the ones participating in NHL's 24-team playoff format) that have returned to practice or training facilities have been tested for COVID-19 through over 2,900 tests.

As of Monday, the total tests have resulted in 23 returning confirmed positive cases for the virus. 

Click to download the MyTeams App for the latest Blackhawks news and analysis.

In the release, the NHL also stated that since Phase 2 began on June 8 the league is aware of 12 additional players testing positive outside of the Phase 2 protocol, who are said to be self-isolating and following CDC and Health Canada guidelines. 

The numbers showed a 5.8 percent infection rate out of the tests given both inside and outside of group practices, roughly the same as last week despite an additional 1,400-plus tests taken over the past week.