Blackhawks

Blackhawks putting pressure on Blues as series continues

Blackhawks putting pressure on Blues as series continues

The defending Stanley Cup champions are always the hardest team to eliminate from the playoffs.

It's especially difficult for a team like the St. Louis Blues looking to break through in the postseason by putting away their division rival in the first round.

They have three chances to do it, and they nearly capitalized on the first one but fell short in a double-overtime loss to the Blackhawks in Game 5 on Thursday night.

The Blues are down to two more strikes, and they want to make sure to avoid reaching the final one. 

"There’s no doubt that the longer this series goes, the more pressure will be on that team," Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews said. "But at the end of the day, they’re as hungry as ever. I don’t think if you ask any of them, they’ll say that any of that matters.

"It’s focusing on what we know we can do. It’s not worrying about anything beyond tomorrow night. The way we went into last night’s game, we told ourselves we just have to play one shift at a time and find a way to win tonight.

"It’s probably going to be another one-goal game the way we saw, a big winner by (Patrick Kane) there yesterday. Tomorrow’s the same thing. We’re not getting ahead of ourselves. We’ll just focus on exactly what we need to do shift by shift."

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This comes less than 14 hours after the Blues displayed some confidence of their own that they will be able to come into Chicago and knock the Blackhawks off for a third straight time in Game 6 on Saturday night.

"It's going to be fun here to win it in Chicago," Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo said after Thursday's game. "That's the game plan right now. Their backs are still against the wall. We've all got to flip the switch and get ready for Saturday."

While it may come across as overly confident, this is the type of different determination the Blues appear to have this spring as opposed to years past that Toews acknowledged on Friday.

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The Blackhawks have had that for a while, and don't think winning three Stanley Cups makes this team any less hungry to win another one.

They've been there. They've done that. 

The Blues are the ones looking to capture their first title in franchise history, and the Blackhawks surely won't make it easy on them.

"Yeah, I agree," Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson responded when asked if the pressure gets warmer on the Blues as the series goes deeper. "Just looking at the past, I think the team had a lot of pressure to make it past the first round.

"We're still very hungry to go on a deep playoff run here. We're not satisfied in any way with what we've accomplished in the past. It's all about now and it's all about what we're going to do about this year and not what we've done in the past as I said.

"I think they're feeling the pressure, but we just have to take one game at a time here and we got to bring a better game than we've done here at home. We have to get a win."

Blackhawks release 2018-19 schedule

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks release 2018-19 schedule

Uncap those markers and start circling your calendars, Blackhawks fans. The 2018-19 season is officially out.

The Blackhawks will kick off their 91st campaign in franchise history with a road contest against the Ottawa Senators on Oct. 4 at 6:30 p.m. The home opener is set for Oct. 7, with an Original Six matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at 6 p.m.

The Blackhawks have 14 back-to-back games, and the longest road trip of the season is three, which takes place five times over the course of the season; the longest homestand is four games, from Dec. 12-18.

The biggest highlight of the season will be the Original Six Winter Classic Showdown between the Blackhawks and Boston Bruins on Jan. 1 at Notre Dame Stadium. It will be the sixth outdoor appearance for Chicago, and fourth in the Winter Classic.

The Blackhawks will also square off with the defending champion Washington Capitals on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m., and welcome them to Chicago on Jan. 20, set for NBC's Game of the Week at 11:30 a.m.

Here's a look at the full schedule:

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: 'We expect Corey to be back'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: 'We expect Corey to be back'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman said that the team expects goalie Corey Crawford to be back next season around training camp. Bowman also mentioned that Crawford might speak about his status himself during the Blackhawks Convention.

“What I said at the end of the year was still the case now, which is we expect Corey to be back,” Bowman said in a Thursday afternoon conference call. “We don’t have any reason to think that’s not going to happen.”

According to Bowman, Blackhawks players, including Crawford, already have their eyes set on next season.

“At this point in the summer, all the players are preparing for next season,” Bowman said. “Corey’s in that same preparation mode.”

Crawford is nursing what has been labeled an upper-body injury by the team. The two-time Stanley Cup winner was put on the shelf for the rest of the season back in late December, and he has not seen the ice since he skated in a February practice.

“Nothing has changed,” Bowman said. “We expect him to be back and ready to go in training camp.”

The Blackhawks have chosen to keep any groundbreaking news with Crawford under wraps, which the organization has done with other player injuries in the past. Bowman spoke about his vagueness in this situation.

“We’ve never gone into specifics about injuries,” Bowman said. “I realize this probably gets more attention because he’s our starting goalie and he won the Stanley Cup.”

Fans will have to take a wait-and-see approach, because it is unlikely that there will be a significant update regarding Crawford’s health before the season gets closer to its start.

Last season, Crawford only appeared in 28 games, posting a record of 16-9 with 782 saves before going down for the rest of the year.