Blackhawks

Five Things from Game 1: Blackhawks must play 60 minutes

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Five Things from Game 1: Blackhawks must play 60 minutes

Win some, lose some or escape some: the Blackhawks’ victory on Friday night would probably fit best in that last category.

What started as a strong, multi-goal lead for the Blackhawks soon turned into a tie game, and the Minnesota Wild were giving them everything they could handle. Thanks to a young Finn and a better third period, the Blackhawks pulled out a 4-3 victory in Game 1 of this first-round series.

[MORE: Teravainen nets winner as Blackhawks edge Wild in Game 1]

So while Blackhawks fans check their heart rates, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory.

1. Play 60 minutes. The Wild deserve plenty of credit for its second period; it pushed the pace, it took advantage of Blackhawks mistakes and it came back from a 3-0 lead after the first period. But the Blackhawks could’ve prevented some of that damage. Playing a full game has been a challenge this postseason, and it was again on Friday night. Said Patrick Sharp, “we’ll take a 3-0 lead but you always hear people say that’s the worst lead in hockey. Minnesota has the firepower to come back and we have to be better than that.”

2. Good timing for Teravainen. Hey, if you’re going to score your first career NHL playoff goal, make it a winner – literally. Teuvo Teravainen threw what looked to be a rather harmless puck toward the net late in the second period. It wasn’t so harmless, as it got past Devan Dubnyk with 58.2 seconds remaining in the period and gave the Blackhawks the 4-3 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. Teravainen was understandably happy. “It's a great feeling of course,” he said. “I just think I had to shoot more. I got the puck there and I just tried to shoot. Sometimes good thingshappen.”

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3. Penalty kill improves. The Blackhawks’ first trip on the kill on Friday wasn’t good, as Zach Parise scored a power-play goal as part of the Wild’s second-period comeback. It got better as the game went on, however, and killed off two third-period penalties to keep the Wild at bay. Said coach Joel Quenneville, “they had some decent looks but I think we did a good job preventing them easy access.”

4. Crawford stays strong. The second period wasn’t the best for the Blackhawks or for Corey Crawford, who gave up three goals on 12 shots – that’s the same goal/shot total that got him chased in the first period of Game 1 vs. Nashville. But Quenneville said he never thought about pulling Crawford in this one – it was a tie game midway through this one, not a 3-0 deficit for the Blackhawks. Crawford was there in the third, stopping all eight shots the Wild had.

5. This series is going to be something. If Game 1 was a glimpse of how this series is going to play out, everyone better buckle up. Big leads, lost leads, good goaltending, shaky goaltending, ups, downs, crossbars hit, goals just missed: this series, much like Game 1, will probably have a little bit of everything.

 

Lucas Carlsson out to prove he belongs with Blackhawks

Lucas Carlsson out to prove he belongs with Blackhawks

DALLAS — The Blackhawks have gotten extended looks this season at two of their coveted defensemen prospects in Adam Boqvist and Dennis Gilbert, the latter of whom is better known for his defensive game than offensive prowess. 

On Sunday, it was Lucas Carlsson's turn.

With Erik Gustafsson being held out of the lineup for precautionary reasons ahead of Monday's trade deadline, the Blackhawks called up Carlsson for their four-game road trip that kicked off in Dallas. They wasted no time in throwing their 2016 fourth-round pick into action despite having no practice session or a morning skate for him to get acclimated to the group.

"Maybe it's easier for me to just get right into it, I don't know," a smiling Carlsson said following a 2-1 loss to the Stars. "It was fun, obviously. I was a bit nervous at the start, but I think I got into it pretty quickly. I just try and play my game, don't change anything. Obviously you have to adjust a little bit, everything's much faster here, so it's good."

Head coach Jeremy Colliton said before the game he wanted Carlsson to be clean with the puck, have a tight gap and be physical when he needed to. And Carlsson did exactly that.

The 22-year-old Swedish blue liner had one shot attempt, one blocked shot and three hits in 14:55 of ice time while playing on the second pairing with Connor Murphy. He wasn't too noticeable, but that's not intended to sound negative. He kept it simple, played his game and didn't make any glaring mistakes in his NHL debut.

"I thought he was good," Colliton said. "He was assertive, physical, made plays, skated the puck. He did well for himself, so [I'm] happy for him in his first game."

The one noticeable offensive play Carlsson did make came in the third period when he delivered a nifty backhand pass between his legs in the slot to Dominik Kubalik, who looked surprised it even got to him. It nearly created a prime scoring chance, but the puck got away from Kubalik.

Carlsson clearly wasn't lacking confidence, which is always a good thing as younger players tend to play timid while they try figuring out the league. He's a sound defender with some offensive upside — he led all Rockford IceHogs defensemen in goals (five), assists (21) and points (26) — and is out to prove he belongs at the NHL level.

"Of course," Carlsson said. "I still have one more year on my contract, so I want to show what I can do and hopefully play a few more games here and see what happens."

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Will Brandon Saad be traded by Blackhawks again? He hopes not

Will Brandon Saad be traded by Blackhawks again? He hopes not

DALLAS — Brandon Saad knows what it’s like to be traded. He’s been moved twice in his NHL career — once from Chicago to Columbus and then again from Columbus to Chicago. Both of those deals were made in the summer, though, and they were also unexpected.

With the NHL trade deadline on Monday at 2 p.m., Saad knows his name is out there and admitted the possibility of being dealt is on his mind.

"A little bit," Saad said following a 2-1 loss to the Dallas Stars on Sunday. "That's part of the business, right? Love it here in Chicago but it is what it is. You wait for tomorrow and there's always rumors floating, but at the end of the day, you just focus on hockey games and winning here with the Blackhawks and see what happens."

The Blackhawks aren’t necessarily shopping Saad, but they are listening to offers. The return would have to start with at least a first-round pick for the Blackhawks to even consider that possibility, and it’s unclear whether anybody has gotten close to meeting their demands.

What makes Saad an attractive trade piece is the fact he has one year left on his contract after this season at a $6 million cap hit. General managers across the NHL have been reluctant to give up first-round selections for rentals, and it’s hard to blame them. Giving up a king's ransom for pending unrestricted free agents, historically, backfires more often than not.

Jason Zucker, Blake Coleman and, most recently, Ondrej Kase were all moved and fetched first-rounders because they have term left on their contract. Chris Kreider and Jean-Gabriel Pageau, both of whom are at the top of TSN’s trade bait list, have not been traded with less than 20 hours to go until the deadline and you have to wonder how much that has to do with contending teams not being willing to meet the high price tag for a rental.

The Boston Bruins reportedly expressed interest in Saad, but that was before they acquired Kase. The Edmonton Oilers have also checked in, but would they be willing to part ways with their first-rounder? How about the Colorado Avalanche?

GM Stan Bowman's phone line is going to be busy in the coming hours as teams start to put together their final offers, but Saad is hoping he remains with the Blackhawks.

"It's just part of the business, right?" Saad said. "At the end of the day, you're a hockey player, so you're going to play hard for whoever you're with and take it as it comes. The other ones were in the summertime, so I've never dealt with it at the deadline, so that's always a new experience. But hopefully I'm here in Chicago."

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