Blackhawks

Five Things from Game 5: Blackhawks season on the brink

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Five Things from Game 5: Blackhawks season on the brink

ANAHEIM, Calif. — It was looking like the Blackhawks were going to pull another rabbit out of the hat, wasn’t it?

We’ve seen this movie before: Blackhawks find a way to get to overtime, Blackhawks play extended overtimes and Blackhawks win in overtime. But on Monday, the script was flipped, and quickly. The Ducks got an odd-man rush and cashed in, with Matt Beleskey’s rebound goal giving them a 5-4 victory just 45 seconds into overtime.

[MORE: Blackhawks rally falls short in Game 5 OT loss to Ducks]

Now the Blackhawks are up against it, facing elimination when they host Game 6 on Wednesday night. Will they stave it off and force a Game 7? Will they learn from their mistakes, especially all of those committed in the first period? We’ll find that out on Wednesday. Until then, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Ducks’ Game 5 victory over the Blackhawks.

1. Have to start better than that. For all the talk of urgency and getting off to a strong start, the Blackhawks were absent in the first 20 minutes. It was awful. They were awful. All comebacks aside, the Blackhawks had no excuses for their start, in which they got just three shots — and those came in the final 3:37 of the period — and trailed 3-0. Said Patrick Sharp, “Crucial game in their building, we know they’re going to come out with some pace and put a lot of pucks on net. They certainly did that and we weren’t ready to start the game.”

2. Don’t doubt Jonathan Toews. Entering Game 4, Toews still didn’t have a goal in this series. In the final 1:50 on Monday night, he scored twice to force the game to overtime. That’s what your top players do: they find a way. While that second goal was a terrible one for Frederik Andersen to give up — bad angle, off his leg — full marks to Toews for giving the Blackhawks a chance.

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3. Teuvo Teravainen providing a jolt. The forward shrugged off his Game 3 healthy scratch status, scoring a goal and an assist in Game 5. Teravainen could have been overwhelmed by the NHL playoff stage, this being his first time on it. Instead he’s been poised, and was part of a strong third line with Sharp and Antoine Vermette. “I’m confident. I’m a lot more confident out there [on the ice] than in the media right here,” Teravainen said to laughs. “That’s a good thing.”

4. Another three-goal period against the Blackhawks. The first period was the seventh — yes, seventh — time this postseason that the Blackhawks have given up three goals in a period. That’s not good. Again, good on the Blackhawks for coming back but they’re putting themselves in this position too often. Said Quenneville, “we have to kill that.”

5. [Post]season on the brink. Well, it comes to this: for all the times the Blackhawks call games “must-win,” Wednesday’s game truly is that. As Toews said, they’ve faced series deficits before and play their best when faced with critical situations. They need that on Wednesday, and they need it from the start this time.

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

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AP

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.