Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Marko Dano wants to replicate Marian Hossa's game

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Blackhawks: Marko Dano wants to replicate Marian Hossa's game

Marko Dano described his style of play after his first practice session on Sunday.

“I like to play a hard game and Marian Hossa plays kind of the (same) style of game as me. But he’s at a different level,” Dano said of his fellow Slovakian, with a smile. “So I’m trying to catch him with that.”

Hossa and Dano reside in the same city in Slovakia (Trencin), and an 18-year-old Hossa played hockey with Dano’s father, Jozef. Otherwise, Dano’s been watching the Blackhawks right wing from afar. So to know he’ll be playing on the same team as Hossa come this fall is a thrill for the young forward.

[MORE: Patrick Sharp sad to leave Blackhawks, but looking forward to Stars]

Dano, who the Blackhawks acquired in the seven-player deal that sent Brandon Saad to Columbus, is participating in prospect camp this week in Chicago. For Dano, it’s a chance to get acclimated to Chicago as well as the Blackhawks’ staff and players, some of which will be vying for jobs in the fall. But there’s no doubt he’s ready for the season and the chance to show the Blackhawks what he can do.

The trade came as a surprise to Dano, who comes here with Columbus teammate Artem Anisimov. The two played together some with the Blue Jackets, and just having that familiar face in the locker room should help the 20-year-old Dano.

“I'm a young guy so I'm glad there's a couple guys who I know, a couple guys who got traded with me. So I'm not starting from zero here,” Dano said. “[Anisimov] is a big guy, a responsible center, so it was fun playing with him.”

As much as the Blackhawks look for Anisimov to solve their second-line center issues, they’re just as thrilled to see what Dano can provide. He had a solid rookie season, recording eight goals and 13 assists in 35 games for the Blue Jackets. He’ll be another right wing for the club, although he’s fine with playing the left side, too.

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And for a young right wing who’s looking to hone his two-way game, there aren’t many better examples to follow than Hossa. Dano got a text from Hossa not long after Dano was traded here, and the two will get together for lunch soon.

“He’s a great player,” Dano said. “He’s played so many years here, so there are a lot of things I can learn from him.”

Dano has much to learn but he’s with a group that will teach him plenty. He was surprised when he was traded here last month. But to get a chance to improve his game, and to do it with Hossa and the Blackhawks, is going to be a treat for the young forward.

“It’s a great feeling for me to be a part of an organization that’s playing for a Cup [almost] every year,” Dano said. “Every player wants to win the Cup, and with this team there’s a bigger chance for me to raise the Cup above my head.”

With Connor Murphy set to return, Blackhawks reassign Adam Boqvist to Rockford

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USA TODAY

With Connor Murphy set to return, Blackhawks reassign Adam Boqvist to Rockford

The Blackhawks announced Thursday morning that they have reassigned top defenseman prospect Adam Boqvist to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.

The 19-year-old Swedish defenseman appeared in six games for the Blackhawks and averaged 14:27 of ice time. He scored his first career NHL goal in his second appearance in a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks on Nov. 2.

But with Connor Murphy (groin) eligible to come off long-term injured reserve on Saturday, the Blackhawks had to make a corresponding move to become cap compliant and Boqvist was the obvious candidate to be sent back down.

He’s still in the early stages of his development, but Boqvist certainly held his own at the NHL level during his brief stint. The Blackhawks want him to continue playing top pairing minutes and in all situations, and it would’ve been difficult for him to do that in Chicago with Murphy returning to the lineup.

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Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner tandem proving to be exactly what Blackhawks envisioned

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AP

Corey Crawford and Robin Lehner tandem proving to be exactly what Blackhawks envisioned

LAS VEGAS — The first day of NHL free agency is always exciting for hockey fans, particularly the first hour when most of the moves are announced at a rapid rate. Last offseason, the Blackhawks had a quiet few hours before dropping the hammer on the most surprising signing of the day, Robin Lehner, to a one-year deal.

“I think we have the best 1-2 punch in the league is the way I look at it right now,” GM Stan Bowman said on July 1. “I certainly feel really comfortable going into next season, whether Corey Crawford’s in net or Robin Lehner’s in net.”

So does the entire city of Chicago.

More than one month into the 2019-20 season, the goaltending tandem between Crawford and Lehner is exactly what the Blackhawks envisioned it would be. That’s what happens when you pair a Vezina Trophy finalist with a two-time Stanley Cup winner.

"We got two guys who are outstanding," head coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I think they're both going real well now and that's a huge advantage for us no matter who's in the net, we're getting a chance to win. It gives our guys a chance to come through offensively, so they've been big for us."

After starting the season 1-4-0 with a 3.67 goals-against average and .888 percentage, Crawford has been lights out since the calendar flipped to November. He’s 2-0-2 with a 2.72 goals-against average and .929 save percentage in his last four starts, which includes a 39-save performance in a 5-3 win over the Golden Knights on Wednesday.

Lehner has been one of the league’s best from the beginning. His .934 save percentage ranks second among goaltenders with at least six appearances and his goals saved above average at 5-on-5 ranks fourth-best, according to Natural Stat Trick. Crawford's goals saved above average of 4.21 puts him at ninth.

And this is despite the fact the Blackhawks are giving up the most shots on goal per game (37.1), second-most high danger chances per 60 minutes at even strength (13.1) and third-most scoring chances per 60 minutes at even strength (29.2).

While the dynamic may have been awkward at first, both goaltenders appear to be making the best of the circumstances and view it as healthy competition.

"I mean, he's doing a great job," Crawford said of Lehner. "Definitely keeping us in games or being a big factor in some wins. I think both of us are just trying to be at our best when we get the chance."

The challenging part of the situation is getting both guys a fair amount of starts. Crawford has been vocal about preferring to start regularly — “it’s a little bit easier when you keep playing games in a row” — and Lehner no doubt feels the same.

"They both want to play 60 games, 80 games maybe,” Colliton said. “That's part of the team. [Patrick Kane] wants to play 60 minutes. It's how it is. Ultimately, we want to make decisions that help the team win and part of that is keeping both guys fresh, keeping both guys playing at a high level and I think that's going to be a benefit for us as the season goes on."

It’s a good problem to have if you’re the Blackhawks, especially if Crawford and Lehner are at the top of their games at the same time like they are right now.

"It's great," Calvin de Haan said. "I think goaltending's the most important position. If you're not keeping the puck out of the net, you're not going to win a lot of games. But those guys are giving us a chance every night and it's really evident the past few weeks here."

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