Blackhawks

By the bye: Blackhawks keep rolling following break

By the bye: Blackhawks keep rolling following break

When you're on a roll, you hate disrupting it for anything.

The Blackhawks probably felt that in some respect heading into the new NHL-mandated bye week on Feb. 12, but the need for rest usurped any worry on that front. Still, when the Blackhawks reconvened last Friday, the question remained if they could pick up where they left off on that pre-bye, five-game winning streak.

As coach Joel Quenneville said of the unusual break, "we talked about it going into it: you don't know how you're going to come out of it."

Apparently it hasn't been a problem.

The Blackhawks have won two of their first three out of the bye, including their 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night.

Coming out of this break hasn't been easy for a lot of teams. The Blackhawks, like 11 other teams up to this point, lost their first game out of it. But in that loss to Edmonton, the Blackhawks played well. That continued on Sunday in Buffalo and on Tuesday in Minnesota. Now back in a rhythm schedule-wise, the Blackhawks are hitting their stride performance-wise.

"I thought we played a good game against Edmonton but we still felt there'd be some good will down the road. I thought we continued on with these next two on the road, probably played the same way going into it. So it's been a good stretch for us, and much better than we were at the beginning of the year," Quenneville said. "I like the improvement in our game."

A big part of the Blackhawks' success is finding their four-line rotation.

Jonathan Toews was joined by Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik early in the Ice Show trip, the three were given time to mesh and it's paying productive dividends. The second line is always a threat. Their third and fourth lines are a great combination of defense, skill and youth.

As the lines have started rolling, so have the Blackhawks. Each line had someone score against Buffalo. The top line thrived vs. the Wild. 

"I think all year we kind of expected the offense, coming from Arty's [Artem Anisimov's] line and maybe my line, but what's making us a really good team is our third and fourth line going out there and just battling every shift, just working, giving other teams no time, no chance to make plays with the puck," Toews said. "I think when you can rotate four lines like that, everyone starts to pick up their pace and their speed and then you just rotate in and it doesn't matter who scores on a given night. We're getting contributions from all over the place and it makes you a dangerous team and a tough team to beat."

Instead of taking steam out of the Blackhawks' sails, the bye appears to have re-energized them.

"Yeah it was good for our team," Ryan Hartman said. "We had a few guys who didn't get [rest during] the all-star break. They were still playing, and it was nice for those guys to get away from the rink and kind of get in the sun and take your mind of hockey for a bit, refresh the brain and body. I think we all needed those couple days of rest. As it's looked the last couple of games we've looked fresh and we've been bringing it almost a full 60. I wouldn't say we're quite playing a full 60 but we're really close and that was crucial for us."

Playing a full 60 was one of the Blackhawks' biggest problems earlier this season. Much like the four-line rotation, it's showing up at the right time. The Blackhawks have a great opportunity this week to get closer to the Wild, who started their break on Wednesday.

The issues that plagued the Blackhawks earlier this season are starting to dissipate. They weren't sure how they were going to come out of this break. So far, they've followed rest and relaxation with a rejuvenated game. 

"We're just rolling four lines now. Every line can score and every line's playing the best hockey," Panik said. "That's helped us."

2020 NHL Draft: Winner of No. 1 pick revealed at Phase 2 of NHL Draft Lottery

2020 NHL Draft: Winner of No. 1 pick revealed at Phase 2 of NHL Draft Lottery

After the No. 1 pick went to a placeholder team — that would be eliminated in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers in the NHL's 24-team postseason under the Return to Play program — in Phase 1 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery in June, the top pick for the 2020 NHL Draft was awarded to an actual team in Phase 2 of the lottery on Monday. 

The New York Rangers won the No. 1 overall pick for the 2020 NHL Draft on Monday during Phase 2 of the lottery.

The Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Toronto Maple Leafs and Winnipeg Jets were also in the running and all had a 12.5% chance of winning the No. 1 overall pick along with the Rangers in Phase 2 of the Draft Lottery.

The No. 1 pick of this year's draft is expected to be forward Alexis Lafrenière, who registered 35 goals and 77 assists for a league-leading 112 points in 52 games this season with the Rimouski Océanic of the QMJHL, where he also served as the team captain. 

No team has held the No. 1 pick finishing better than 26th in the standings since the 1995 NHL Draft, and no team made the top pick after playing in a postseason series since the Minnesota North Stars in the 1983 NHL Draft.

The 2020 NHL Draft is scheduled for Oct. 9 and 10. It was originally scheduled for June 26-27 in Montreal but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which paused the NHL on March 12.

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How to watch Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights Stanley Cup Playoffs: Time, TV schedule and streaming info

How to watch Blackhawks vs. Golden Knights Stanley Cup Playoffs: Time, TV schedule and streaming info

There's nothing like playoff hockey. 

After defeating the Edmonton Oilers in the qualifying round, the Blackhawks are back in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since the 2016-17 season. 

In the first round, the Hawks will go up against the top-seeded Vegas Golden Knights. 

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We have all the details on how to watch and stream the games. 

Game 1
When:
Tuesday, Aug. 11
Where: Rogers Place
Puck drop: 9:30 p.m. CT
TV Channel: NBC Sports Chicago
Live Stream: MyTeams App (stream)

Game 2
When:
 Thursday, Aug. 13
Where: Rogers Place
Puck drop: 4:30 p.m. CT
TV Channel: NBC Sports Chicago
Live Stream: MyTeams App (stream)

Game 3
When:
 Saturday, Aug. 15
Where: Rogers Place
Puck drop: 7 p.m. CT
TV Channel: NBC 
Note: NBC Sports Chicago will have Blackhawks Pregame at 6:30 p.m. CT before puck drop, and Blackhawks Postgame Live immediately following the game. 

Download the Blackhawks schedule and coverage details to your device.

Game 4
When:
 Sunday, Aug. 16
Where: Rogers Place
Puck drop: 5:30 p.m.
TV Channel: NBC Sports Chicago
Live Stream: MyTeams App (stream)

*if necessary*
Game 5
When:
 Tuesday, Aug. 18
Where: Rogers Place
Puck drop: TBD
TV Channel: NBC Sports Chicago
Live Stream: MyTeams App (stream)

*if necessary*
Game 6
When:
 Thursday, Aug. 20
Where: Rogers Place
Puck drop: TBD
TV Channel: NBC Sports Chicago
Live Stream: MyTeams App (stream)

*if necessary*
Game 7
When:
 Saturday, Aug. 22
Where: Rogers Place
Puck drop: TBD
TV Channel: NBC Sports Chicago
Live Stream: MyTeams App (stream)

Throughout the entire series, Blackhawks Pregame Live will air 30 minutes before puck drop on NBC Sports Chicago and streaming on the MyTeams app. Blackhawks Postgame Live will air immediately after each game. 

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