Blackhawks: Konroyd's keys to a Game 4 win over Nashville


Blackhawks: Konroyd's keys to a Game 4 win over Nashville

1. Play the speed game. 

I really liked the way the Blackhawks started the game on Sunday afternoon.  Even though they had to kill a penalty 53 seconds in, they did it with quick feet and quick sticks.  Marian Hossa had a great chance shorthanded with a burst of speed up the ice, and Johnny Oduya used an active stick and great clears to deny the Predators any shots on their first power play.  Nashville had had 16 power play shots in the first two contests.  The knowledgeable United Center crowd loved it and the Hawks got the early momentum.  Keep playing the quick north/south game.

[MORE HAWKS: Hossa off to strong postseason start]

2. Get pucks deep and get them back. 

Nashville has a big hole in the back end with the injury in Game 2 to Shea Weber.  The Hawks took advantage of this by getting pucks deep and getting them back with a very effective fore check.  You really have to place dump ins on the Preds because Pekka Rinne is an active goalie who likes to hunt down dump ins and play them to his defensemen.  Chicago did a great job of keeping dumps away from the goalie, and got on the defenders quickly so that they couldn’t get turned up ice.  It’s very hard to make a good outlet pass when you have somebody sitting in your back pocket trying to put you through the boards.    

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Our goalie has to top their goalie. 

Looking at the games that have been played so far in this series, the better goalie has gone on to win the game.  After Corey Crawford stumbled out of the gate in Game 1, Scott Darling came in to steal the show, and the game, in Nashville.  A solid performance in Game 2 gave Pekka Rinne his first win of the post season.  Game 3 belonged to Darling, and Rinne looked uncomfortable at times even when he was making saves.  The Blackhawks have been outshot 126 to 98 in the 3 games so far and even though the Blackhawks hold the edge in star power, the Predators hold the edge in shots.   We know Rinne is capable of winning a game by himself, but it’s been the play of Darling that has the Blackhawks up by one in the series.    

Snake-bitten Blackhawks light the lamp Saturday

Snake-bitten Blackhawks light the lamp Saturday

Three unlikely heroes emerged in Calgary on Saturday night to help the Blackhawks find some footing near the end of their five-game road trip (currently 1-3-0) that wraps up Sunday in Winnipeg.

Blackhawks rookie center Kirby Dach hadn't scored a goal in six games; Alex DeBrincat had one marker in his last nine after finishing last season with 41; Alex Nylander had one goal in his past 17 contests.

The trio bounced back against the Flames to help the Hawks to an 8-4 victory.

Nylander scored twice, and DeBrincat and Dach each had a goal.

"It’s a learning process for us that [haven't] been through this," Nylander said after the game. "And we are lucky that we have these vets that are on our team that can help us and see that something like this in the season happens."

Related: Blackhawks' offense explodes in Calgary

Of all the Hawks who have gone cold this season, the most surprising was DeBrincat, who posted 41 goals last season and 28 as a rookie the year prior.

"I've been fighting with the puck a little bit too much," he said. "Even today, I didn't really play that well, but finally got rewarded."

Six points out of a playoff spot, having the three forwards off the schneid could be a big factor in the Hawks putting a streak together to keep their playoff hopes alive.

"Those guys, they have the ability to chip in for us offensively and if they can do that it's going to make a big difference for us," Blackhawks head coach Jeremy Colliton said of the three. "Ultimately, it comes down to their work ethic away from the puck."

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews felt Dach, DeBrincat and Nylander gave the Hawks a much-needed lift on Saturday.

"For guys like that and the way they think, the way they play the game, their skillset, scoring goals gives you a ton of energy, it gives you a lift," Toews said. "It's nice to see them get a few and see a few pucks go in.

"I think even if you're just on the ice, you have nothing to do with the play, just to be around goals is infectious. So it's nice to see those guys make those plays as a result of their hard work and it's an incentive to keep doing the same thing."

Hopefully the goal infection spreads for the Hawks. Despite being six points out of the playoffs, Chicago has three games in hand on the Arizona Coyotes, who occupy the second wild card spot in the Western Conference.

With 24 games remaining, scoring contributions will have to come from across the board for the Blackhawks to go on a successful run to secure a playoff spot.

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Andrew Ladd joins Blackhawks All-Decade Team

Andrew Ladd joins Blackhawks All-Decade Team

The Blackhawks got a big lift out of skilled and scrappy forward Andrew Ladd during his first three seasons with the Blackhawks. 

Ladd was selected at No. 4 overall in the 2004 NHL Draft by the Carolina Hurricanes.

The Maple Ridge, British Columbia native won a Stanley Cup with the Hurricanes in 2006 before coming to Chicago in a trade for Tuomo Ruutu on Feb. 26, 2008. 

In four seasons with the Blackhawks, Ladd displayed strength on both sides of the puck, recording 111 points and a +/- rating of +29 in 203 games.

In 19 games during the 2010 Stanley Cup playoffs, Ladd had six points (three goals, three assists) and a +/- rating of +4.

Related: Versteeg joins Blackhawks All-Decade Team

After the Hawks won the Stanley Cup in 2010, Ladd was traded to the Atlanta Thrashers for Ivan Vishnevskiy and a 2011 second-round draft pick in a salary cap move. 

Ladd was traded back to Chicago with Matt Fraser and Jay Harrison for Marko Dano and two draft picks on Feb. 25, 2016. He had 12 points (eight goals, four assists) in 19 games in his final season with the Hawks. 

Following the 2015-16 season, he became a free agent and signed a seven-year contract with the New York Islanders.

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