Blackhawks

Dave Hakstol on Jonathan Toews: Not much has changed since North Dakota

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Dave Hakstol on Jonathan Toews: Not much has changed since North Dakota

PHILADELPHIA – For Philadelphia Flyers coach Dave Hakstol, the Jonathan Toews people see today is pretty similar to the one he saw when he was Toews’ coach at the University of North Dakota.

“Very composed, very focused, hard working and a good teammate,” said Hakstol on Wednesday morning. “He was just a good leader for us, even as a young guy. But what probably stands out most is he was always a good teammate. Jonny always put the team first.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

Toews and Hakstol may not cross paths prior to the game but their teams will meet Wednesday when the Blackhawks face the Flyers at Wells Fargo Center. Hakstol was named the Flyers’ head coach on May 18. Toews played for Hakstol at North Dakota from 2005-07; the team went to the Frozen Four in both of Toews’ seasons.

“It was a long time ago now but for me, it was a joy and an honor to play for him. He did nothing but great things for my development as a player, helped me step into the NHL and be ready for that level,” Toews said of Hakstol. “He knew how to bring us together and make us feel like we were motivated for the right thing. We came up short a few times there but it’s no coincidence why he kept taking us back to the frozen four every year. We had good teams and he motivated us the right way and got us together. We were always playing goodhockey at the right time.”

Blackhawks expected to be without Connor Murphy (groin injury) for 'a couple weeks'

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AP

Blackhawks expected to be without Connor Murphy (groin injury) for 'a couple weeks'

The Blackhawks are expected to be without defenseman Connor Murphy for "a couple weeks" after he left in the second period of Tuesday's 2-1 shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights because of a groin injury, coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed after the game.

It's the same injury that sidelined Murphy for the season opener in Prague, which is unfortunate given his promotion to the top pairing with Duncan Keith has provided some stability on all three pairings. 

"Obviously that's a blow for us," Colliton said. "It's an opportunity for other guys. We think we need to continue to build depth. That's what we're going to need. We can't just play with six D or seven D all year. You're going to need more than that. That'll be an opportunity for other guys to grow."

Slater Koekkoek is serving as the seventh defenseman right now and he's the likely candidate to slide into Murphy's spot in the lineup. But the Blackhawks might be inclined to make a call-up from Rockford as insurance.

Dennis Gilbert started the season with the Blackhawks because Murphy and Calvin de Haan were not cleared to play overseas, so he's a potential candidate to be brought back up.

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Four takeaways: Kirby Dach scores first NHL goal as Blackhawks remain winless against Vegas

Four takeaways: Kirby Dach scores first NHL goal as Blackhawks remain winless against Vegas

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 2-1 shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights at the United Center on Tuesday:

1. Blackhawks remain winless vs. Vegas

The Blackhawks knew the Golden Knights were coming in on the second of back-to-back and would be "pissed off" after getting routed by the Philadelphia Flyers 6-2 on Monday. The Blackhawks wanted to get off to a good start, especially against a team that has the most first-period goals (14) in the league.

The first two periods were even. The third is when the Golden Knights took control and tied it up with 1:33 left in regulation to force overtime. The Blackhawks fell in the shootout and remain winless against the Golden Knights (0-5-2).

"I thought we tightened up a little bit," Duncan Keith said. "I thought the goaltender played good again, that always helps. We were right there and lose in a shootout so it could go either way. Would have been nice to close it out there and take the win in regulation but give them credit, they found a way to tie it up and got in a shootout. Kind of stings that way."

2. Kirby Dach's first career NHL goal

There were a lot of positives to take away from Tuesday's game, and the highlight was Dach getting his first career NHL goal in just his second game. It wasn't pretty, but he'll take it and it's the first of many more to come.

"It was a pretty cool moment," Dach said. "Grew up dreaming of playing in the NHL, and two games in, you've got your first goal. That's pretty special, but at the same time, pretty disappointed that we lost. My main focus is the team game so I've got to take a step back and realize what I can do better to help the team win and move forward tomorrow."

3. Goaltending battle

There were only two goals scored through 65 minutes of action and it's because the sold-out United Center crowd witnessed a terrific goaltending battle between Marc-Andre Fleury and Robin Lehner.

Fleury, a three-time Stanley Cup champion, stopped 31 of 32 shots for a save percentage of .969 while Lehner, a reigning Vezina Trophy finalist, denied 33 of 34 shots for a save percentage of .971. The Blackhawks and Golden Knights each had to work for their regulation goal Fleury came out on top in the shootout.

"They were both good, made a lot of good saves," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "I think it was a pretty tight game, weren't a lot of chances either way. Certainly both guys were good."

4. A quiet, but busy night on special teams 

The Blackhawks lost the special teams battle on Sunday in a 5-3 loss to Washington after going 0-for-5 on the power play and 0-for-1 on the penalty kill, and it turned out to be the primary reason they didn't come away any points. This is a game where the home team couldn't afford to do it again, with the Golden Knights possessing the fifth-best power-play percentage (28.6) and fourth-ranked penalty kill (90.0) going into the matchup.

The Blackhawks went 0-for-4 with the man advantage and are still searching for some consistency in that department. Alex Nylander was promoted to the top unit for Dylan Strome to get a right-handed shot in there to potentially free up Alex DeBrincat's shooting lane, but the team stayed off the scoresheet. 

On the plus side, the Blackhawks killed off all five penalties and allowed only five shots on goal in 8:05 of shorthanded action. That's progress.

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