Blackhawks

Five Things from Game 4: A marathon win for Blackhawks

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Five Things from Game 4: A marathon win for Blackhawks

 

Ah, the lengthy overtime game. It’s a joy to watch for anyone who’s a fan of the game, albeit probably nerve-wracking for certain teams’ fans.

And they’re exhausting for the players, although wins certainly make them feel somewhat better. So the Blackhawks were feeling happy tired instead of deflated in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, moments after Brent Seabrook’s overtime shot gave them a 3-2 triple-overtime victory over the Nashville Predators.

[WATCH: Brent Seabrook sends Blackhawks home winners]

Now it’s time for ice packs, fluids, food and plenty of sleep – for the players, not us. Before we pack up, we bring you Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ victory, which gives them a 3-1 lead in this first-round series.

1. Brent Seabrook capitalizes again. He said this overtime game-winner may rank higher than the one he had against Detroit back in 2013. We’re guessing that’s mainly fatigue talking, but there’s no doubt this was big. The Blackhawks didn’t want to go back to Nashville tied 2-2 in this series; it’ll be hard enough to get that fourth game off the Predators, even up 3-1. Seabrook’s winner gave the Blackhawks momentum going into a hostile building.

2. Antoine Vermette breaks through. Vermette’s face was a mix of joy and relief on Wednesday morning, a few hours after he scored his first postseason goal in a Blackhawks uniform. “It’s a sense of happiness and relief. But that being said, it was early, we were focused, we a lot of work ahead and you want to keep playing,” said Vermette. He played just under 20 minutes, winning 12 of 20 faceoffs.

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Duncan Keith, marathon man. As coach Joel Quenneville said, if you see anyone else log 46 minutes, 19 seconds over five-plus periods of hockey, you may be stunned. With Keith, the Blackhawksaren’t surprised. Said Quenneville, “a lot of guys at the end of the night, look at the sheet and say, ‘Wow, that’s a lot of ice time.’ Other guys it doesn’t phase a bit. I think we’re accustomed to him playing significant minutes in games like this.” Keith had a team-high seven shots on goal, two hits and three blocked shots.

4. Scott Darling adds to the résumé. Darling was understandably tired after this on, and a little sore – “wearing skates for four or five hours doesn’t feel good,” he said. Nevertheless Darling was great once again, stopping 50 of 52 shots for his third postseason victory. He’s come into a playoff game in relief, he’s started his first NHL postseason contest and he’s now gone wire to wire in a triple-overtime game. He’s handling it all very well.

5. Does the momentum last? Let’s not kid ourselves: the Blackhawks may be up 3-1 but this series has been incredibly close. The Predators could easily have the same best-of-seven lead right now. It’s been a game of inches, and the Blackhawks head to Nashville with a chance to close this one out. Do they do that? They’ll have to ride this momentum to do so and dredge up some energy. But don’t be surprised if Game 5 is as riveting as Games 1 and 3 have been, and expect Nashville to come with everything it has left to give. 

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

NHL Draft Profile: F Oliver Wahlstrom

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Oliver Wahlstrom

Position: Right wing
Height: 6-foot-1
Weight: 205 pounds
Shoots: Right

Scouting report:

"Wahlstrom already has an NHL-caliber shot with a quick release and the ability to create space for himself and linemates. He's most known for his goal-scoring ability and elite shot, and can hit a one-timer as good or better than many professional players."

NHL player comparable: Phil Kessel

Fit for Blackhawks:

The Blackhawks would probably prefer to take a defenseman at No. 8, but because four of them might go inside the Top 7, the best available player on the board is likely to be a forward. And there's a decent chance that could be Wahlstrom.

Wahlstrom would immediately become Chicago's top prospect, and a player that has the potential to slide into the top six when he reaches the NHL — whenever that may be.

He's committed to college for the 2018-19 season, so it's doubtful he would join the team until at least 2019-20, but Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said in our draft preview edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast that it wouldn't deter them from picking him. 

And it shouldn't, because you don't want to waste a player of his caliber's entry-level years developing in the minors if he's not ready yet.

"I think the way we would evaluate it is, we project them, we try to get a timeline on when we think they might be NHL ready," Kelley said. "But we're also looking for where they are in their development curve and want their ceiling is. I think in some players, you have to be a little bit more patient for them to reach their ceiling. That doesn't necessarily mean that players can't exceed their development curve, I think we saw that with Alex DeBrincat last year."

NHL Draft Profile: D Rasmus Dahlin

NHL Draft Profile: D Rasmus Dahlin

From June 17-21, Charlie Roumeliotis will profile two prospects per day — 10 total (five forwards, five defensemen) — leading up to the NHL Draft.​

Rasmus Dahlin

Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-foot-2
Weight: 181 pounds
Shoots: Left

Scouting report:

"Is the clear-cut No. 1, pro ready prospect for the 2018 draft. He has the skating, skills and elite hockey sense that can dictate the style of play and the pace of a game, whether it's with or without the puck. He finds ways to contribute and get the job done in all situations."

NHL player comparable: Nicklas Lidstrom

Fit for Blackhawks:

There is zero chance the Blackhawks can snag Dahlin, because it's highly unlikely the Buffalo Sabres would consider moving out of the No. 1 spot, and even if they did it would require a king's ransom. But for the sake of this exercise, what would Dahlin do for the Blackhawks organization?

Well, he's a player who immediately slots into your Top 4 and has the potential to emerge as Chicago's best defenseman in the next year or two. We're seeing it in Boston with Charlie McAvoy, Philadelphia with Shayne Gostisbehere and Ivan Provorov, and Columbus with Zach Werenski and Seth Jones where these young defensemen are changing the directions of their franchise's.

That's what Dahlin would do for the Blackhawks, who are in desperate need of a young, impact blue liner. Now back to reality.