Blackhawks

Current, former Hawks ready to go as season returns

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Current, former Hawks ready to go as season returns

The what if game was part of the lockout lexicon last week, when a potential deal was looming. What if things get done ASAP and players are looking at a very brief training camp? Like perhaps a week, or just a little more?

Well, be it the excitement of getting back or counting the workouts theyve already done, players said a shorter training camp is just fine by them.

I cant speak for everyone but most of us would be ready to go, former Blackhawks defenseman Brian Campbell said. Im sure first couple days will be tough, but were all hungry to get going.

Many players have been skating at Johnnys IceHouse West for a few months now. Current and former Blackhawks who have been consistent participants include Campbell, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Jamal Mayers and Troy Brouwer. For them, the informal skates, which were Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, were a good way to stay in shape.

A lot of guys are skating as hard as they can, staying in as much of a game shape as possible, Brouwer said. Camp is going to be intense; guys are going to be pushed pretty hard. I have no doubt the intensity and pace will be high when the season starts.

MORE: Details of tentative deal reached between NHL, PA

Still, theres a big difference between skating and doing drills and game action; and theres no way to simulate it other than going through the real thing. In that respect, those who played in Europe these past few months (including the Blackhawks Patrick Kane, Bryan Bickell, Viktor Stalberg, Michael Frolik and Michal Rozsival) will have an obvious edge.

The rest will have to adjust quickly, but Campbell doesnt see it being a problem.

Im sure the first three or four days are going to be tough days; the bodys going to be worn out from that. But itll catch on pretty quick, Campbell said. Hopefully everyones ready, especially our team (the Florida Panthers). Hopefully we can go forward and get off to a good start.

The fact that this hockey season is finally starting at all may be just the motivation most players need to be perfectly fine with the brief camp.

Its always tough to re-create that game-like situation, that intensity, Brouwer said. Guys may be sucking wind the first couple of games. But theyll be so amped up to get back that the pace of play will be high.

Four takeaways: Blackhawks can't solve rookie Cal Petersen in shootout loss

Four takeaways: Blackhawks can't solve rookie Cal Petersen in shootout loss

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 shootout loss to the Los Angeles Kings at the United Center on Friday:

1. Blackhawks can't solve Cal Petersen

With Jonathan Quick (knee), Jack Campbell (knee) and Peter Budaj (sick) out, the Kings trotted out former Notre Dame standout Petersen to make his first career NHL start between the pipes. And he didn't disappoint.

The 24-year-old stopped 34 of 35 shots (.971 save percentage) in 65 minutes of play and denied Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in the shootout to earn his first victory in the big leagues.

"He was good, yeah," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "The third period was more like it. If we’d had 60 minutes [like that] maybe we break him down eventually. He did well, he did a good job. I thought we had a little more traffic, got some more pucks to the net. That was better. But you can’t help but think if we’d have had that push earlier, then we’d get paid off for it."

2. Line changes serve as third-period spark

After failing to generate many scoring chances in the first two periods, Jeremy Colliton spruced up his top-six by putting Brandon Saad with Kane and Toews and Nick Schmaltz with Alex DeBrincat and Artem Anisimov. They saw the benefits almost immediately.

Saad scored 2:39 into the final frame after burying a feed at the doorstep by Toews for his third goal in six games, tying the game at 1-1.

'We showed some resiliency battling in the third," Saad said. "It was definitely a slow start. We've got to play a full 60 minutes to win hockey games, but I think it shows some character how we can battle back in the third. And then overtime we had some chances and some puck possession, and when it comes down to a shootout it can be anyone's game. But the message for us is to play a full 60, because when we play well you can see that we have opportunities and a better chance to win the hockey game."

3. Power play comes up empty

Special teams was the deciding factor in the Blackhawks' last two games. They gave up two power-play goals in 66 seconds against Carolina on Monday and then beat St. Louis 1-0 on Wednesday thanks to a power-play goal of their own.

The Blackhawks had three power-play opportunities against the Kings, and all three of them came in the second period. They recorded a combined six shots on goal during them, but reverted back to some old habits by waiting for the open shot and lacking net-front presence.

"You get three in the second, it would be nice to get one," Kane said. "Even if you're not getting anything on it, it's nice to get momentum off of it. I thought we did a decent job of getting momentum, getting some chances and some looks. Sometimes you've just got to converge on the net and hopefully get those rebounds and try to find a way to get one a little bit dirtier."

The Blackhawks also allowed a breakaway chance towards the end of the third power play, but Corey Crawford saved the day. Tyler Toffoli scored 19 seconds after the Blackhawks' first power play to make it 1-0 Kings.

4. Meet your newest Blackhawk

The Blackhawks had a visitor at morning skate in Carter Holmes, an 11-year-old from Wisconsin, who is battling Hodgkin's Lymphoma. As part of the Make-A-Wish Experience, Holmes became a Blackhawk for a day and practiced with the team, including his favorite player Patrick Kane.

"I might have to change my number," Kane joked about Holmes, who wears No. 88 because of Kane. "I think he was a little bit better than me out there today."

It was the first time Holmes skated since being diagnosed on June 30, four days after his team took first place at a tournament. Holmes feared that he would never be able to play hockey again, but that won't be the close. He's expected to re-join his teammates soon, even if it may take a while to get back into game shape.

"It's pretty special," Kane said of Holmes, who will drop the ceremonial first puck on Sunday for "Hockey Fights Cancer" Night at the United Center. "Sometimes you're just playing hockey and worried about the business aspect of it, but days like today you can take a step back and realize there's more important things out there."

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Updates on the start Jeremy Colliton era

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Updates on the start Jeremy Colliton era

SportsTalk Live is on location at the United Center for Blackhawks Authentic Fan Night. Charlie Roumeliotis, Jay Cohen and Jimmy Greenfield join Chuck Garfien on the panel.

0:00- Pat Boyle stops by to talk about the start of the Jeremy Colliton era and to preview the huge Sunday Night showdown between the Bears and Vikings.

19:00- Adam Burish joins the panel to preview the Blackhawks and Kings and to talk about how the Hawks players are reacting to a 33-year old head coach.

Listen to the full epiosde here or via the embedded player below: 

Sports Talk Live Podcast

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