Five Things: Blackhawks patience proves pivotal


Five Things: Blackhawks patience proves pivotal

Saturday night’s rematch between the Blackhawks and Tampa Bay Lightning was not going to be anything like their last meeting in June.

Obviously the stakes are nowhere near as high. At the same time it’s the early season, when every team is trying to gobble up as many points as possible to make their lives easier in March and April. For the Blackhawks, couple that with trying to accumulate points without Duncan Keith. That they did for the second consecutive game, once again blanking the Lightning.

[MORE: Jonathan Toews scores OT winner as Blackhawks top Lightning]

As we wrap up another night at the United Center, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 1-0 victory over Tampa Bay.

1. Defense first does it again. The Blackhawks allowed the Florida Panthers just 18 shots on Thursday. They allowed the Lightning, who averaged 27.8 shots per game entering this one, just 21 shots on Saturday. The Lightning didn’t have a lot of prime scoring opportunities on Saturday, either. The Blackhawks wanted to keep the priority on defense, especially without Keith, and they’ve done that so far.

2. Great game for Ryan Garbutt. The forward, part of the deal that sent Patrick Sharp to Dallas, had his best outing since joining the Blackhawks. Garbutt had a game-high six shots on goal, including two short-handed attempts. He also had four hits. His work, especially on the penalty kill, gave the Blackhawks a boost.

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3. Jonathan Toews breaks through. A few days ago Toews said he was trying not to think too much about not having any goals yet. But he’s the captain, and not contributing in some fashion is always going to be on his mind. Well he finally got that first goal on Saturday night in game-winning form. Toews said, “I was just hoping something would go in. I think there was going to be a bounce like that at some point.”

4. Big body, big blocks. Niklas Hjalmarsson is getting some help in the blocked shots department. Fellow Swedish defenseman Viktor Svedberg recorded a game-high five for the Blackhawks on Saturday. Hey, when you’re 6-foot-8, you can cover a lot of ground and block a lot of pucks.

5. Patience proves pivotal. The Blackhawks’ mental fortitude has been strong for a while. They’ve usually been very good about taking what teams give them and not forcing any issues. Mistakes can happen when they do. And on Saturday they once again took what was there and it led to a much-needed, early season victory.

Andrew Shaw on his career season in Montreal and adding toughness to Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw on his career season in Montreal and adding toughness to Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw had a terrific 2018-19 season with the Montreal Canadiens. He set a career high with 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists) despite missing 19 games due to injuries and averaged 15:55 of ice time, which was the highest of his NHL career.

When asked to explain why he believes he had the best offensive output of his career, Shaw pointed to one thing.

“Honestly I just think it was the hunger for the game," Shaw said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "I missed nine months with knee surgery and concussions. I battled back to get back to where I needed to be and just started having fun again. Maybe I’m bigger, stronger, older. I think I’ve been in situations in games so many times that you’re better at reacting to them so I think that maybe that has a little bit to do with it.”

The Blackhawks reacquired Shaw because they've lacked some jam in their game over the past couple seasons. And looking at the other moves GM Stan Bowman has made this summer, it's clear that's an area they prioritized.

Shaw noticed it too and he's excited to see how it'll all come together this coming season.

“I still have to be me," Shaw said. "I still have to go out there and work and compete and bring the energy I’ve always brought. I think it’s the intensity and the love of the game that pushes me to do that so I think it’s something that others feed off of. With a couple other guys they brought in, too, we got a little bit more grit, a little bit more defensive game. I think it’s going to be a really good year.”

Check out the interview in the video above.

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Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

The breakout star of Blackhawks development camp in July was undoubtedly Adam Boqvist, who was taken No. 8 overall in 2018. It was evident how much his game has grown over the past year.

Former Blackhawks defenseman — and now player development coach — Brian Campbell worked closely with Boqvist this past season and raved about the steps he took with the London Knights in the OHL. But Campbell is also preaching patience in Boqvist's development. Boqvist just turned 19 on Thursday, and it's important to let him develop at his own pace.

“Yeah, I was impressed," Campbell said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Obviously, he’s come a long way in a year from last development camp. There’s no pressure being put on him. He’ll develop at his time. If he pushes for a spot, great, but I just don’t want people to get away. There’s a lot to keep learning and he wants to learn, which is the greatest thing. His teammates love him: great thing. He wants to do extra and learn the game: great thing. He is preparing himself days before, even in development camp, he’s preparing himself days before. So all great things and he’s on the right path.

"Hopefully that happens and maybe it does happen but if it doesn’t then that’s not the case and he keeps getting better and wants to keep getting better. Definitely, we know his skill level is there and I think he’s taken a huge step in the last year in preparing himself and knowing how to prepare as a pro player now. There’s a lot of great things there, and hopefully he does do that, but for me, I just don’t want to put too much on him right now. He’s turning 19 soon so he’s still a really young kid and it’s a tough position to play at a pro level. Believe me, I’m smiling, but I just don’t want to force the issue too much. Hopefully he can do some great things, but if he doesn’t, then that’s OK too.”