Blackhawks

Five Things from Game 5: Blackhawks must regroup faster

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Five Things from Game 5: Blackhawks must regroup faster

NASHVILLE — Desperation: it usually brings out the best in a team that’s facing it. It’s what can make eliminating a team on the postseason ropes so difficult.

The Blackhawks found that out first hand on Thursday night, when the Predators scored three goals within three-plus minutes to start the third period en route to their 5-2 victory. The Blackhawks, still up 3-2 in the first-round series, will try to wrap this up again at 7 p.m. CT Saturday when they host the Predators in Game 6.

So before we head back home, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ Game 5 loss on Thursday night.

[MORE: Blackhawks unravel in third period, fall to Predators in Game 5]

1. Scott Darling is fine. The backup-turned-postseason-starting goaltender lost his first playoff game on Thursday night but he could shoulder only so much blame. Coach Joel Quenneville wasn’t blaming Darling, and it sounds like he’ll go back to him for Game 6. Darling handled the situation just fine. Considering the adversity he’s gone through in his life in the past, we’re guessing he’ll put the rare (this season) tough outing behind him fast.

2. Regroup faster. James Neal’s wraparound goal gave the Predators a 2-1 lead just 47 seconds into the third period and set the Blackhawks off on a bad chain of events. Michal Rozsival was whistled for a penalty and the Predators scored on that power play. Twelve seconds after that goal the Blackhawks gave up another one to go down 4-1 in no time. As Quenneville said, “we’ve given them some funny goals this series.” Going down 4-1 in about three minutes, however, wasn’t so amusing.

3. Colin Wilson is having himself a series. Of the offensive weapons the Predators have, who would’ve picked this guy to be the one to befuddle the Blackhawks? Wilson had a good regular season, recording 20 goals in 77 games. Well, he now has five — yes five — goals in as many games against the Blackhawks in this series. Not too shabby.

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4. James Neal is warming up, too. The Blackhawks held him off the scoresheet the first three games but he now has three points, including two goals, in the past two games. His goal started the Predators’ third-period barrage on Thursday night. The Blackhawks will have to be careful Neal doesn’t keep hurting them.

5. Home sweet home. The Blackhawks have played well at the United Center the past few postseasons, and they’re 2-0 there in this first-round series. So they’re confident going back there for Game 6. Asked if there’s still hope to finish this off, Brad Richards said, “well, yeah, it’s more than hope. We’ll get up and get back to work here.”

 

 

 

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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