Blackhawks

Can Blackhawks build off early success on the road?

Can Blackhawks build off early success on the road?

As long as the Blackhawks have gone on their annual Circus Trip, it’s usually been a chance to bond. For a group that’s had as much turnover as the Blackhawks have had in recent years, that’s a good thing.

But in some seasons, this trip also been a chance for them to find their game. But these Blackhawks seem to be on their way to doing that before they even embark on the trip. So the question is, will they keep it rolling on a trip that’s usually been pretty positive for them?

The Blackhawks wanted to hit the road strong and they did so with a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night. The Blackhawks have relied plenty on goaltending during their point streak, which they extended to 11 games (9-0-2) on Sunday. But recent games have shown a better trend. The Blackhawks are getting back to their team game, getting back to better puck possession, getting back to what’s made them so successful the past few seasons.

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And just in time to hit the road.

“We put ourselves sin a good spot going into it,” coach Joel Quenneville said following Sunday’s game. “Our play is what we want to be the most important thing. We always say we’re in the process of trying to get better, play the right way. The trend is that. We want to make sure we keep building upon it, knowing we have some tough opponents in their buildings and they’re going to be ready.”

The Blackhawks have passed a few tests lately, from improving a penalty kill that won them games in and against Dallas to beating the St. Louis Blues on their ice to besting the best team in the league (Montreal).

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

But a bulk of their schedule has come at home. This is their first true road trip of the season, and it will be a test to see if the Blackhawks can find the same success away from the United Center.

Considering not just the Blackhawks’ offseason turnover but how many rookies they have in their lineup, the team is in a fantastic place heading onto this trip. Entering Monday night’s games, the Blackhawks are atop the Western Conference with 24 points. They’re starting to play more complete games. This trip has long been a good one for them, partially with team bonding but especially with positive results.

The Blackhawks had a home-heavy schedule in which to hone their game. Now they’ll take their show on the road.

Chad Krys signs with Blackhawks, but joins a crowded blue line group

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AP

Chad Krys signs with Blackhawks, but joins a crowded blue line group

After three seasons in college, Chad Krys has decided to turn pro. The 20-year-old defenseman agreed to terms with the Blackhawks on a three-year, entry-level contract that runs through the 2021-22 season and carries an $853,333 cap hit.

Krys will report to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League, where he will finish out the season. His deal kicks in next year, where he can earn up to $132,500 in performance bonuses and $82,500 the following season, according to puckpedia.com.

A second-round pick (No. 45 overall) in 2016, Krys accumulated 58 points (20 goals, 38 assists) in 105 games at Boston University. He served as an alternate captain during his junior season, and scored a career-high eight goals in 30 games.

In July, Krys said he felt like returning to college was best for his development in the bigger picture.

"I mean, look if I could play in the NHL right now I'd love to," Krys said at Blackhawks development camp. "But for me I think it's important that I'm taking the right steps. I want to make that jump when I feel like I'm going to be able to play in the NHL. My two years at BU has really benefitted me. Going back there and playing a lot and take it year by year. There's a lot of defensemen in this organization and we'll see what happens. I want to keep getting better, but for right now I'm just kind of focused on this year, and we'll decide what's going on after this."

Nicolas Beaudin, Adam Boqvist, Henri Jokiharju and Ian Mitchell are known to be the Big Four defensemen prospects that the Blackhawks are high on, and the blue line in Rockford is crowded, too. So Krys has his work cut out for him.

But getting a head start with the IceHogs and making a strong early impression — perhaps even in the Calder Cup playoffs — could help serve as a nice building block going into next season.

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Hawks Talk Podcast: Are you hoping for miraculous playoff push or more concerned with draft order?

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Are you hoping for miraculous playoff push or more concerned with draft order?

On the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis discuss what the weekend vs. Colorado meant and whether fans are looking ahead to the NHL Draft or still holding out hope for a miraculous playoff push.

The guys also weigh in on the power play struggles, why John Hayden hasn't been able to crack the lineup, where Drake Caggiula could fit back in and which defensemen prospects could be in Chicago next season.

0:55 - What weekend against Colorado meant 

3:23 - Looking at the remaining schedule for Blackhawks

6:33 - How did the Blackhawks get here?

8:50 - Power play struggles continue

11:42 - Are John Hayden's days in Chicago numbered?

13:50 - Thoughts on Dylan Sikura's recent play

16:44 - Where does Drake Caggiula fit back in?

18:07 - Brandon Saad's reemergence

22:48 - Are you hoping for a miraculous playoff push or more concerned about draft order?

25:43 - Which defensemen prospects could be in Chicago next season?

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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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