Blackhawks

Blackhawks need to bounce back from 'frustrating' pre-break slump

Blackhawks need to bounce back from 'frustrating' pre-break slump

SAN JOSE, Calif. – The Blackhawks players enjoyed their weekend break in different ways. Some laid low and enjoyed time with family. Others headed to the west coast and its sun early – "tried not to get a sunburn," said Scott Darling.

They feel better. They feel a little more rested. And they feel they're ready to get back to playing how they did earlier this season and not how they finished their final two games before the All-Star break.

The Blackhawks limped into the break, losing their final two games in the third period, something that's been unusual for them. Now it's time for their other lengthy road trip of the season, which begins Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks.

"Losing two games in the third – we haven't done it in a long time – was frustrating, knowing the second game you have [four] minutes to go to get a point or two, and you come up with air. So certainly disappointing way to go into the break," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Now we have a great challenge, six in a row on the road, starting off with one of the best. Right off the bat we'll be trying to recapture some confidence here, do the right things."

Darling agreed.

"Yeah, the last one was a tough one. The last two, losing a lead in the third period is something's that uncharacteristic for us," Darling said. "You could say it came at a good time. I think everybody enjoyed themselves and got away with their family and we were all excited to see each other today."

That excitement needs to translate to the ice, where third periods have suddenly become a bane. They were flirting with third-period danger in earlier games this season but until last Tuesday, they kept pulling a point or two out of those games. The Blackhawks are still in good shape coming out of the break – they're second overall in the Western Conference, four points behind the first-place Minnesota Wild. The Wild still have three games in hand.

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While the Blackhawks always have an eye on who's around them in the standings they can't get caught in the trap of paying more attention to opponents more than their own game.

"We put ourselves in a good spot early. Now we've just been here," Quenneville said. "We lost some ground against Minnesota. We want to get back, try to recapture where we were most of the year but the most important thing is we want to be playing our best hockey as we're progressing right now."

The Blackhawks will play six more games before they get another break, the bye week that the NHL started implementing this season. Most of the Blackhawks players got a welcome respite this past weekend. Whether or not they make up ground on the Wild remains to be seen but they've got to get back to closing out games they way they did well before the break.

"The two losses the way we had [them], we should have those games. A couple of minutes left, it definitely hurts," Marian Hossa said. "We’ve been very busy. Having a nice three days off, it definitely helps to step back from hockey for a second and recharge and get some energy back and continue again."

Drake Caggiula looks back on how he could've played with Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome in OHL

Drake Caggiula looks back on how he could've played with Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome in OHL

Drake Caggiula had a successful college hockey career. He compiled 127 points (62 goals, 65 assists) in 162 career games across four seasons at North Dakota, and served as an alternate captain during his senior year.

But before committing to college, Caggiula was being recruited by the Erie Otters of the OHL and there could've been a moment where he played with Connor McDavid and current teammates Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome all at the same time.

“I remember telling Sherry Bassin, the GM of Erie, how I was going to go to college," Caggiula said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "He kept reiterating that, 'at 16 years old, we’re not going to be that great. But at 17, we’re going to be a little bit better, but not great. But at 18 and 19, those are going to be your big years and we’re going to have a really good team and we’re going to surround you with good players.’ I mean, that’s two years in the future so it’s hard to really see that.

"Looking back at it now, the players that I could have played with, they had some pretty talented players go through Erie. Even Dylan Larkin was an Erie draft pick and ended up going to Michigan. It could have been a pretty talented team there so it’s kind of funny to see how it all works out. We’re all here today coming from different paths so it’s pretty cool.”

Any chirps from the guys about his decision now?

“Yeah, Connor [McDavid] used to make fun of me all the time, you know? ‘Oh, we would have won the Memorial Cup if you would have joined the team!’ and all that sort of stuff," Caggiula joked. "We talk about it a little bit just here and there saying, ‘what a team we could have had and imagine who we would have been playing with and now we’re all here together. What if we all would have started in Erie together and now we’re here together?’ It just would have been a pretty cool story. It’s obviously something that we can’t control but it’s definitely something that you can look back at and laugh at.”

Check out the interview in the video above.

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Calvin de Haan on what it will be like to play for former teammate Jeremy Colliton

Calvin de Haan on what it will be like to play for former teammate Jeremy Colliton

When Jeremy Colliton was hired as the Blackhawks head coach in November of 2018, he immediately became the youngest NHL bench boss at age 33. In fact, he was even younger than some of the guys he was coaching (Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, to name a few).

It was a weird dynamic at first, but quickly normalized once the locker room realized how bright of a hockey mind Colliton had/has.

Calvin de Haan offers a unique perspective. After being acquired by the Blackhawks in the summer, an interesting storyline was brought to light. He and Colliton actually played together during the 2011-12 season with the New York Islanders organization, where Colliton served as the captain of the AHL's Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

While he may not have expected it to come this quickly, de Haan isn't surprised to see Colliton behind an NHL bench at such a young age.

"Looking back on it now, you realize that he has the qualities to be a successful coach," de Haan said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Smart guy, very methodical I don't envision him being a yeller or a screamer but he was a guy who always kind of spoke and everyone kind of listened. I'm assuming it's going to translate to his coaching style and just judging by his personality you can see why he's climbed the ranks pretty quick. I'm really excited to play for him."

Check out the interview in the video above.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.