Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Rookies shine bright

Five Things from Blackhawks-Canucks: Rookies shine bright

VANCOUVER – Confession: three of the original Five Things were written through the first 40 minutes, because it didn’t look like there was any way the Blackhawks were coming back in this one.


Who needs 40 minutes when you can play excellent hockey the final 20-plus? The Blackhawks showed that on Saturday night, erasing a 3-0 deficit to beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 in overtime. It was one wild finish. So while you’re still on your post-game high, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ comeback victory.

1. Marian Hossa, we salute you. Another night, another excellent finish for the guy who’s had plenty of them in his career. Hossa scored his second game-winning goal in as many nights, claiming this one with less than a minute remaining in overtime. Coach Joel Quenneville said the young Blackhawks could benefit from studying Hossa’s game. Ryan Hartman said they are. “He’s winning puck battles, outskating and outcompeting guys,” Hartman said. “To us young guys, it’s really cool to watch and definitely something to learn from.”

2. Goaltending is stellar again. Corey Crawford, Scott Darling, whoever the Blackhawks have in net right now, it’s all good. Darling was especially magnificent in overtime on Saturday night, as he thwarted the Canucks’ opportunities. Darling made one stop after he lost his glove. What keeps you focused at that point? “So much adrenaline,” he said. “You’re just trying to make a save in overtime. I’m just happy he didn’t shoot glove.”

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3. Young guys’ night. We’ll get into this more in Sunday’s story but big credit to Vinnie Hinostroza and Hartman. Hinostroza’s first career NHL goal brought the Blackhawks to within one, 3-2, in the third period. Hartman’s second in as many nights tied the game. There are growing pains for every young player but there are also times where you get to make your mark. The Blackhawks’ rookies did that in a critical situation on Saturday night. Oh, and to expand upon one subject here…

4. Congratulations to Hinostroza. The forward was on bed rest for two consecutive days entering this weekend. And while he could’ve played on Friday night – he was cleared that morning – waiting until Saturday proved to be a decent decision. Hinostroza’s happiness was clear after he scored that goal in the third period. The hometown kid does good.

5. Sticking with it. Maybe the Blackhawks still would’ve been alright with an overtime loss, considering how this one ended. But even after Jonathan Toews was denied what the Blackhawks thought was the game winner early in overtime – it was ruled offside – they didn’t stop. So it took a few more minutes. They got there, and there was no doubt Hossa’s counted.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Kirby Dach on road to NHL, role with Blackhawks and rapid fire Q&A

USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Kirby Dach on road to NHL, role with Blackhawks and rapid fire Q&A

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Charlie Roumeliotis goes 1-on-1 with Kirby Dach to discuss what the past five months have been like since being drafted No. 3 overall, his reaction after finding out he would stay with the Blackhawks past the nine-game tryout and what he's learned the most at the NHL level.

They also play a fun game of rapid-fire Q&A, which includes his favorite cheat day meal, the last concert he attended, NHL players he looked up to as a kid and more.

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 


Blackhawks Talk Podcast


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Erik Gustafsson is back to looking like player he was last season for Blackhawks

Erik Gustafsson is back to looking like player he was last season for Blackhawks

Less than three weeks ago, Erik Gustafsson fell out of the rotation for the Blackhawks. The offensive production wasn’t there and the defensive part of his game was trending in the wrong direction.

Since being healthy scratched on Nov. 2 against Los Angeles, Gustafsson has looked like a different player. He’s starting to resemble the impact-type player he was last season when he became one of six NHL defensemen to finish with at least 60 points.

And it’s because he’s getting back to his roots.

“I don’t know how, from a scratch, my confidence can get up so fast but I feel like myself a little bit more now,” Gustafsson told NBC Sports Chicago. “I got a video guy that I worked with last year and working with him right now and went back and looked at those videos a couple days ago and it's just a whole other player from last year and now. I just wanted to come back to that moment. I felt like I was having fun out there and not thinking too much.

“I think my defensive part is better than last year but I just want to get back to when I have the puck and I've felt pretty good now the past four games, so let's keep it going."

Gustafsson said that after morning skate on Wednesday. He followed it up by scoring his first goal of the season later that night in a 5-3 win over the Vegas Golden Knights, roofing a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to end a 16-game goal drought.

“He just looks much more confident with the puck,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said. “He’s cleaner. He still has a couple turnovers here and there but he’s going to turn it over every once in a while. We just want him to try to be as clean as he can and situationally manage when he’s going to try and do those things.”

It helps that Gustafsson is back to earning top minutes, which he admitted is beneficial because if he has a bad shift he doesn’t have to dwell on it too long. But Colliton is trying walk the line of giving Gustafsson enough rope to make mistakes while also holding him responsible for his play.

“It’s a balance,” Colliton said. “Because you’ve got to earn the minutes you get and if you’re not doing the job then your minutes will go down. But at the same time, I don’t believe that if you make one mistake you should get the hook. That’s a tough way to play when you’re always worried if I make one mistake, you’re going to be punished for it or whatever it may be. So as a coach, that’s the balance, the line we walk to try to get the most out of every player but also make sure there’s accountability.”

Earlier in the season, Gustafsson was consumed by trying to develop a defense-first mentality without taking away from his offensive instincts. Now he’s gotten back to focusing on the strengths of his game rather than the weaknesses, and it’s allowed him to play looser. 

"I think it was a lot of parts like moving my feet, skating,” Gustafsson said of what he noticed during video sessions of his play last season vs. this season. “It's a big part about my game, too. I have to skate a lot. Last year when I got a guy on me I just faked going one side and went to the other side and just skated and tried to find that open lane to pass it. And I think at the start of this season I just wanted to get rid of the puck right away. I don't know if it's just confidence or something, but I think I’m moving my feet much better now than I did my first 10 games."

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