Blackhawks

Blackhawks: Nick Mattson prepping for jump to Rockford

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Blackhawks: Nick Mattson prepping for jump to Rockford

Nick Mattson doesn’t know what to expect when he gets to Rockford this fall but he had plenty of brains to pick on the subject this week.

“I’ve been asking them all how it is. They all say it’s one of the best places to go,” Mattson said. “It sounds like a great spot. I’m definitely excited to get the rest of the summer wrapped up and get there.”

Mattson signed a one-year contract with the IceHogs last month, not long after he wrapped up his four-year collegiate hockey career at the University of North Dakota. For Mattson, who was drafted 180th overall by the Blackhawks in the 2010 NHL Draft, the AHL, that first season of professional hockey, will be exciting. It’ll also be a little daunting.

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“It’ll be interesting right away, just getting acclimated to everything,” Mattson said. “It’s a new step in life, and I have no idea what it’s like, so it’ll be fun. I can’t predict anything because I don’t know what to expect. But I’m excited.”

Mattson’s anticipation level was high to start his senior year at North Dakota as well. The beginning wasn’t so great, however, as he was scratched several games. But once Mattson got back into the lineup he had a strong season; the senior recorded four goals and 17 assists in 33 games. Mattson said a changed mindset led to a good finish.

“Once I learned how to put all the distractions out of my head I just had fun and played,” he said. “Once you clear your head, do what you can do, it’s a lot different game; it’s a lot more fun. Once you start having fun, you can play a lot better.”

Mattson’s been to a few of the Blackhawks’ prospect camps, and he’s treating this one as he has the others: it’s a chance to show the Blackhawks brass what he can do, especially now that he’ll be joining their AHL affiliate. Still, having not played since April, this week isn’t easy.

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“It’s tough jumping out here in the middle of summer but it’s been cool,” Mattson said. “You really learn a lot in the drills they do and the coaches they have helping you are top notch. You just try to soak in as much as you can and hopefully survive. It’s pretty tough.”

Mattson is preparing for the next step in his career. Playing four years of college hockey was a great learning experience. He doesn’t know what to expect in Rockford, but he hopes to apply those college hockey lessons during his first professional season.

“It was a blast, so much fun,” Mattson said. “As much as you get better at hockey and college, you grow as a person; anyone who’s ever been to college knows that. It was a really good four years and I’m grateful for the experience.”

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks show urgency vs. the undefeated

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks show urgency vs. the undefeated

The Blackhawks finally got on the board for the season and did so in front of the 500th consecutive capacity crowd at the United Center.

Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis break down the impressive performance by the Blackhawks against the undefeated Edmonton Oilers and discuss how Jeremy Colliton’s message got through to Alex Nylander and the rest of the team.

Plus, after an impressive performance in net, should Corey Crawford get the next game vs. the Blue Jackets? And what does the future have in store for Kirby Dach? Jamal makes a bold prediction.

0:54 – Blackhawks finally show urgency in 2nd period

2:47 – Penalty kill starting to show some life

5:00 – Thoughts on the Shaw/Strome/Kane line

6:43 – Blackhawks eliminating some defensive breakdowns

9:23 – Big rebound performance from Corey Crawford

11:36 – Colliton’s message to Alex Nylander got through

15:21 – Brandon Saad has been a pleasant surprise early on

17:15 – Dominik Kubalik’s impressive performance

18:31 – Will Kirby Dach be with the Blackhawks all season?

22:42 – Does Crawford or Lehner start vs. the Blue Jackets?

Listen to the entire episode here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Four takeaways: Corey Crawford shines in Blackhawks first win of the season

Four takeaways: Corey Crawford shines in Blackhawks first win of the season

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center on Monday:

1. Blackhawks are in the win column

The Blackhawks said after morning skate that they weren't going to "freak out" about their 0-2-1 start despite talking all training camp long about how they didn't want to dig a hole in October. Still, Monday felt like a game they had to win going into a three-day break because they have to start generating some positive vibes within the locker room.

And they did just that.

The Blackhawks handed the Oilers their first loss of the season (5-1-0), but more importantly, they're finally in the win column for the 2019-20 campaign.

"We played really well," Corey Crawford said. "I think everyone was going. Guys were coming back to help out defensively, and just a good team effort. The PK was strong, even though we gave up that one [late], it was strong early in the game. Just nice to win the first one."

2. Second period? That's more like it

The Blackhawks have been happy with their first periods this season. They've been mostly happy with their thirds. It's the middle frame that's been their downfall.

The team addressed those struggles as a team the morning of the game, and they certainly responded.

According to Natural Stat Trick, the Blackhawks led in shot attempts (32-8), even-strength scoring chances (16-6), even-strength high danger chances (5-4) and, of course, the goal column (1-0) in the second period. That's more like it.

"That was the message today from the coaches was how much better we need to be in the second," Connor Murphy said. "We showed examples of when we've done that in the past and what it takes. I think we were just better at staying on our toes and we drew some penalties and got on the forecheck quick and kept their goalie from being able to make plays and for them to be able to come up ice."

3. Corey Crawford shines

You could've made a good argument that Robin Lehner should've started this game, especially coming off a solid outing on Saturday and his career numbers against the Oilers (5-1-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .943 save percentage). But the coaching staff went with Crawford and it proved to be the correct decision.

Crawford stopped 27 of 28 shots for a save percentage of .964 and faced nine high-danger chances at 5-on-5, none of which found the back of the net. His lone goal against came with 2:11 left in regulation and it was on a 6-on-4 power play for the Oilers. Overall, he was fantastic.

"He looked sharp as ever," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "He was really good. He did make some saves for us. That team has some weapons so they had some opportunities and he was there and just he's under control. It's something I've said about him before, he really gives the team confidence. I thought tonight he was really good."

4. Blackhawks shut down Oilers' top guns

The first line of Leon Draisaitl, Zack Kassian and Connor McDavid went into Monday tied for the most goals scored as a trio. When the three of them are on the ice at 5-on-5, they're controlling 57.1 percent of the shot attempts, 61.2 percent of the scoring chances and 68.8 percent of the high danger chances.

The Blackhawks held them in check. That line had 14 shot attempts for and 20 against at 5-on-5 and were on the ice for 11 scoring chances. The third line of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad did a terrific job of shutting them down.

"They all just got real big motors, big engine," Colliton said of the Saad-Kampf-Kubalik line. "They work and compete and they all bring a little bit different ingredient. ... Pleased with that line."

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