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.”

How will the Blackhawks utilize Kirby Dach?

How will the Blackhawks utilize Kirby Dach?

The Blackhawks recalled No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach from his AHL conditioning stint on Friday night after he appeared in three games with the Rockford IceHogs. He missed the first week of training camp with a concussion and the organization wanted him to get a taste of the pro action and back up to speed after not playing in any preseason games, either.

"I enjoyed the experience there," Dach said. "I had a lot of fun. Got to see a couple buddies. It was good for me to get down there and get some pro games under my belt and just feel what the pace is going to be like. It'll be another step up here, but I feel good and I feel like I'm ready to go."

Whether Dach makes his NHL debut on Sunday against the Washington Capitals won't be revealed by head coach Jeremy Colliton until after morning skate on Sunday. But where does he fit into the lineup going forward?

The Blackhawks are 2-0-1 in their past three games and aren't necessarily looking to shake up their rotation, even though they're still searching for consistency on all four lines.

The easy answer is for Dach to slide into a third-line center role behind Jonathan Toews and Dylan Strome, but the trio of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad has undoubtedly been the most consistent for the Blackhawks this season. And we saw in the home opener what happened when they were separated. 

The Blackhawks held an optional practice on Saturday morning and didn't run through line rushes, but before Dach was assigned to Rockford, he took several spins on the first line with Toews and alternated with Drake Caggiula and Alex DeBrincat. It's possible Dach starts on the wing, where he can play top-six minutes and not have as much responsibility as a center would.

"I've played wing in previous years, so it's not something that's new to me," Dach said. "At the same time I'm open-minded to just getting into the lineup and helping the team win."

The Blackhawks can give Dach up to nine NHL games before deciding whether they want to burn the first year of his entry-level contract or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL.

"As a kid you always grow up dreaming of playing in the NHL, so there'll be nerves," Dach said. "But there will also be a lot of excitement. I've just got to do my best to focus on my game and be ready to play whenever my name's called upon by the coaching staff."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks scratch out a win and Kirby Dach recalled

USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks scratch out a win and Kirby Dach recalled

Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis welcome Nick Gismondi into the fold before discussing Friday's win over Columbus. Robin Lehner played stellar and is forming quite a tandem in net with Corey Crawford (4:10), while the DeBrincat/Kane connection is alive and well (6:10), and the Blackhawks' struggles at even strength continued (12:10). Then, the guys react to the breaking news of Kirby Dach's recall from Rockford and discuss where he might fit into this lineup (15:10).

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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast


Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.