Blackhawks

Five Things from Game 3: Penalties cost Blackhawks

Five Things from Game 3: Penalties cost Blackhawks

The Blackhawks were used to writing the script when leading after two periods, and it usually included a very positive ending.

Well, on Sunday it didn’t. And with that, things have gotten very interesting in their first-round series against the St. Louis Blues. Are the Blues a different team this season? Do the Blackhawks have what it takes to come back in another playoff series? We’ll just focus on this game for now. So as we head out into what remains daylight, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 loss to the Blues.

1.    Costly penalties. The Blackhawks still haven’t taken many of them, but the Blues made them pay for two on Sunday. The first was Viktor Svedberg’s high-sticking, after which the Blues scored a power-play goal seven seconds later. The breaker, however, was Patrick Kane’s double-minor high-sticking late in the third period. The kill, which has been so much better lately, couldn’t contain the Blues. But Jonathan Toews said, “it’s playoff hockey. They’re hungry and they want to create on the power play. Sometimes it’s a matter of time before you let one in. You look at that four-minute one tonight, that’s something that can go one or two ways. We have to look at it as a big kill that we have to come up with and give our team momentum. Unfortunately we couldn’t quite get it.”

2.    Brian Elliott shines again. Hey, you can’t say the Blackhawks didn’t test the Blues goaltender. But Elliott was stellar again on Sunday, especially in the second period when the Blackhawks fired 24 shots his way. The Blackhawks were looking for every way possible to beat Elliott in that period. Artem Anisimov did. Andrew Ladd did, too, but his shot hit both posts. The Blues got the necessary goals in the third period but Elliott’s help in keeping this one a one-goal game cannot be measured. 

3.    Oh, and Corey Crawford was damn good, too. I joked on Twitter that I’m no longer asking Crawford if he’s recovered from his upper-body injury. We get it: he’s just fine. Two of the shots he was beat on deflected off teammates. His multi-shot stop sequence in the second period was exhilarating. To Blues coach Ken Hitchcock, those stops had their effect at the time. “I thought those saves had a big impact on our emotional level. We were discouraged after that and I thought Chicago swung momentum [its] way. We were discouraged, a little bit down on the bench because of it.”

4.    Brent Seabrook’s howitzer. We’ve said it often: Seabrook has a great shot and can’t take it enough. With that shot he gave the Blackhawks something they haven’t been used to in this series: the first lead. Seabrook, who took six shots on goal on Sunday, was also very physical. He finished with a team-high seven hits. 

5.    Not the same Blues team. One area where the Blackhawks have long had the postseason edge is mental toughness. Well the Blues showed a lot of it in Game 3. Down 2-1 after two, allowing a ton of shots, it didn’t matter. The Blues persevered and now have a lead in this series. Said Crawford, “whatever happens in the season, whatever’s happened in years before, [it is] not the same team.”

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: What else can the Blackhawks do this summer?

On the latest edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Charlie Roumeliotis is joined by Scott Powers of The Athletic to discuss Stan Bowman's comments following the Marian Hossa trade and debate whether they're finished making moves this summer.

They also provide their thoughts on the Blackhawks' top prospects and which players have caught their attention as development camp winds down.

Listen to the full episode at this link or in the embedded player below:

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: 'Our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs'

Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews: 'Our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs'

Jonathan Toews watched a lot of playoff hockey this spring. 

"Quite a bit," he admitted Wednesday before making his Chicago Pro Hockey League debut at MB Ice Arena. "More than usual."

That's because the Blackhawks missed out on the postseason for the first time since his rookie year in 2007-08. It's obviously not a position he'd like himself or his team to be in, especially after experiencing three Stanley Cups in a six-year span.

But you have to find a way to take the positives out of it at this point and let it fuel you for the upcoming campaign.

"You always want to be there playing," Toews said. "But when you can maybe step away from the game a little bit and just kind of breathe and — at the same time, look back and realize you’ve been lucky enough to have a lot of success. Obviously there’s no satisfaction there, but you understand it’s not the worst thing to stop and smell the roses and appreciate what you’ve been able to experience, because I think failing to get to the playoffs makes you realize how difficult it really is and maybe it’s something you took for granted.

"But watching more hockey this spring, I think, is something that was really motivating and kind of inspiring and exciting to want to get back to that level again. You dream of playing in the NHL, but at the end of the day, you want to play playoff hockey. That’s what it’s all about."

There were plenty of things that went wrong for the Blackhawks last season and contributed to why they watched the playoffs from home, whether it's the Corey Crawford injury, the down season from Brandon Saad, or the inexperience on the blue line.

For Toews, who turned 30 in April, it's about regaining that old form that made him one of the top players in the NHL and hoping it can filter down the rest of the Blackhawks lineup.

"For me, it’s part of just recapturing that energy, that motivation, excitement and that mindset of a young player who takes nothing for granted, that you had in your younger days," he said. "But also carrying the experience with you and understanding the impact of what you say, what you do, how you carry yourself can impact your teammates, especially the young guys. For me, it comes down to knowing what to say at the right time. But letting my play be the thing that helps me lead by example. No better time than now to use that experience and that excitement trying to rebound off the season we had last year."

If there's any reason to have belief that the Blackhawks can turn it around quickly, look no further than the two teams that collided in the Stanley Cup Final: Vegas and Washington. 

The Golden Knights had the longest odds to win it all at the beginning of the season while the Capitals' championship window was perceived to be closed after they failed to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2017 in the second round yet again with a loaded roster. But it's not about what's on paper.

"Watching that last series, you just knew it came down to who had the most, the deepest belief in themselves," Toews said. "I even had a hard time predicting who was going to win every series. It could’ve gone either way in a lot of situations. It’s not only motivating, seeing how fast that play was and to have missed out on playoff hockey this year and to have the drive to get back there, but knowing if you do sneak into the playoffs it doesn’t matter. You can go a long way.

"For us, thinking, 'OK, we're gonna back and win a Stanley Cup this year,' it sounds like a long shot. But as always, our No. 1 goal is getting back to the playoffs and being ready to hit our stride when we get there."