Ducks gaining edge by blocking plenty of Hawks shots


Ducks gaining edge by blocking plenty of Hawks shots

There were a few numbers that jumped out in the Blackhawks’ 2-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Thursday.

The power play’s 0-for outing was one of those numbers, but we’ve been through that extensively. The other one is the blocked shots: the Ducks had 27 of them. From the Ducks’ perspective, they were willing to sacrifice and keep Frederik Andersen from seeing a good deal of shot. On the Blackhawks’ side it showed that, despite scoring with traffic and ugly goals in Game 2, they went back to the outside in Game 3.

Either the Blackhawks got away from from what worked for them on Thursday or the Ducksprevented them from getting in Andersen’s comfort zone. Either way, the Blackhawks weren’t as up close as they could have been.

“I think last night played a little too much on the perimeter, trying to make too many plays,” Brandon Saad said. “I think when we delay the play, wait to find the perfect shot, they get a chance to get in the lane. The more we force it to the net, make quick plays, it's going to be to our advantage.”

[MORE: Vermette, Teuvo discuss benching in Game 3]

The Blackhawks have had even-strength, goal-scoring issues thus far in this series. They have just three in three games; they have just five goals total, the other two being on the power play.

“They're playing great [defensive] zone coverage, blocking shots. It just means we've got to battle a little bit harder,” Andrew Shaw said. “Get pucks in the net, find ways, get traffic there as well [and] we're going to have those opportunities.”

Cam Fowler led the Ducks with five blocked shots on Thursday night. Clayton Stoner and Francois Beauchemin each had four. The Ducks, as a team, have 215 blocked shots; 84 of those have come in three games vs. the Blackhawks. Again, it’s a combination of the Ducks’ throwing bodies in front of Blackhawks shots, too many of which are coming from too far out.

“We've always done it here,” said Stoner. “It's kind of a culture around here that everybody sacrifices, whether you're the top player or a fourth-line guy. Doesn't really matter, everybody is willing to sacrifice.”

[MORE: Quenneville non-committal on Blackhawks using TVR]

One of the challenges with the Ducks is their size. They’re going to be physical. They’re also going to do everything possible to keep the Blackhawks from getting inAndersen’s way. For two of three games, the Blackhawks haven’t gotten to the net enough. Their perimeter game was too prevalent and ineffective in Game 3. The Ducks have the blocks to prove it.

“Not only do we have to get in front of [Andersen] and bang in rebounds, they're blocking shots, playing a good defensive game in front of him. On top of a great goaltender, that's a tough team to score on,” Saad said. “You see where we have stints of it; I think in Game 2 with Shawzy in front of the net, Kruger in front of the net. We have to get more competitive in front of the net to bang in rebounds.”

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut


Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!

Four takeaways: Blackhawks suffer first regulation loss, but Corey Crawford looks sharp in season debut

Four takeaways: Blackhawks suffer first regulation loss, but Corey Crawford looks sharp in season debut

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center on Thursday:

1. Return of the Crow

The Blackhawks got their man back between the pipes after a 10-month layoff due to a concussion. And he looked like same old "Crow."

Crawford stopped 27 of 30 shots for a save percentage of .900. He faced 12 shots and eight scoring chances in the first period, but nothing too out of the ordinary. The biggest save he made was on a Michael Grabner breakaway in the third period, bailing out a turnover in the neutral zone.

"I think I felt better in the second and third," Crawford said. "But they really didn’t get that many opportunities early. It was nice. I think they flipped one in for the first one, so that was kind of good just to get in it and feel one early. We were close in that one all game and we created a lot. I thought [Antti] Raanta played really well.

"It was a tough, tough break at the end. Still felt I should have stopped that one. We were right there, we were creating a lot and gotta try to come up with that one. Just gotta forget about it and worry about the next game."

2. Alex DeBrincat, Jonathan Toews extend point streaks

The hot start continues for the Blackhawks' two leading scorers, both of whom assisted on Erik Gustafsson's goal in the second period to stretch their point streaks to six games. DeBrincat and Toews each have 10 points this season.

3. Overtime streak ends

The Blackhawks made history by forcing five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team has ever done in the four major sports (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB). But they didn't have the comeback magic in them this time.

Entering Thursday, the Blackhawks were 1-0-1 when trailing after two periods. They were 5-28-2 last season for a win percentage of .143.

4. Familiar faces, new places

Five former Blackhawks took the ice for the Coyotes: Vinnie Hinostroza, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jordan Oesterle, Richard Panik and Antti Raanta.

It was Hjalmarsson's first trip back to Chicago since being traded in the 2017 offseason. He received a nice video tribute during the second TV timeout of the first period, which made him very emotional.

"I almost got emotional too seeing his reaction," Toews said. "He's one of those guys you'll never forget what he meant to this locker room. He was a quiet guy in the room but we all know how he played and put everyone else before himself. Pretty cool reaction from the fans too. I think we were all sad to see him leave this locker room, he did a lot of special things and was a massive part of our championship wins. Happy for him to get that reception. It's well-deserved and obviously we miss having him around."

As far as the game, Hjalmarsson logged a team-high 22:18 of ice time and blocked three shots. Oesterle registered a secondary assist on Arizona's first goal, which was its first 5-on-5 of the season.

Hinostroza, who was also part of the Marian Hossa trade over the summer, scored twice in his return to his hometown, beating Crawford with a wrist shot to make it 2-1 in the second period and an empty-netter in the third; his second goal turned out to be the game winner, the fourth of his career and first as a member of the Coyotes.

Panik recorded four shot attempts (three on goal). And Raanta improved to 16-0-3 in his career at the United Center, a remarkable record for any goaltender in any situation.