Blackhawks

Five Things from Game 6: Blackhawks top guys bring top games

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Five Things from Game 6: Blackhawks top guys bring top games

It’s not how you start. It’s how you finish. And while the Blackhawks would love to start a hell of a lot better than they did on Saturday night, they’ll take the way it ended.

Duncan Keith’s goal with less than four minutes remaining pushed the Blackhawks past the Nashville Predators, 4-3, and sent them into the second round of the postseason. They’ll wait to see who they play and we’re guessing you’ll be watching Game 6 between the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues on Sunday afternoon, too.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Before we make any Sunday plans, let’s take a look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ first-round-clinching victory over the Predators.

[MORE: Blackhawks rally to beat Predators, advance to second round]

1. Duncan does it again.

Yes, he plays a ton of minutes and sometimes it shows in a gaffe here or there. But Duncan Keith’s ability to come through in those minutes is also evident. That lengthy sequence on which he scored the game-winner on Saturday was impressive. He faked twice as Predators defenseman Seth Jones challenged, and with Marian Hossa and Jonathan Toews setting screens, Keith came up big. As Quenneville said of Keith’s ability to play long and well, “as the game progresses, some guys get more taxed and get fatigued and decision making becomes poor. He’s just the opposite.”

2. Crawford gets another chance.

Corey Crawford did all the right things and said all the right things during his benching. And when Scott Darling got the hook at 11:16 of the first period, it was Crawford’s chance to get his game and confidence back. He didn’t have to stop many shots; the Blackhawks allowed just 13 the rest of the way. But he made the necessary big stops on the penalty kill and down the stretch when the Predators were looking for the equalizer. Said Hossa, “I’m sure he wasn’t too happy with the situation but when he was in there he was ready and strong for us. It was huge.” And it sounds like Crawford will start the second round, too.

3. Top guys bring top games.

You need your best players to come through in critical situations. Have a look at the score sheet for Game 6: Keith, Toews, Patrick Sharp and Patrick Kane were the Blackhawks’ goal-scorers. Saturday was the second time Keith’s had a game winner this postseason and Sharp and Toews each had their third of the playoffs. Said Kane, “whatever comes of it, whether it’s goals, good defensive plays, nice passes, whatever it may be, all of us are ready to play in these situations and have a lot of experience to play in these situations.”

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4. Kane is just fine.

Kane said he was a bit nervous of how he would feel when he got that first big hit on his surgically repaired left clavicle. Once he got it, absorbed it and felt fine after it, he shifted the focus back to his game. And his game is certainly looking good. Kane scored with just six seconds remaining in the first period and added an assist on Toews’ power-play goal.

5. Bravo, Nashville, for a fantastic series.

This was an entertaining one between these two, and full marks to the Predators for giving the Blackhawks everything they had. They started the series without Mike Fisher. They ended the series without stellar defenseman Shea Weber. And they just about forced a Game 7. The Predators are in a good situation and are going to be a handful again next season.

Hawks Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with Blackhawks No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach

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AP

Hawks Talk Podcast: 1-on-1 with Blackhawks No. 3 overall pick Kirby Dach

After being introduced to the media, Blackhawks third-overall pick Kirby Dach sits down with Charlie Roumeliotis to talk about what it's like to join the historic Original Six franchise, why he wears the number 77 and how he plans on breaking camp in the NHL this fall.

0:35 – Kirby Dach joins the podcast

0:55 – Dach on the history of the Blackhawks

1:25 – His conversations with Kane and Toews

1:40 – The whirlwind after the draft process

2:10 – His meetings with the Blackhawks at the combine

2:50 – What draft day was like

3:23 – On his competitive nature

3:40 – How much hockey does he watch?

4:20 – How his game translates to playoff hockey

4:50 – Why he wears No. 77

5:10 – Will he wear 77 in the NHL?

5:30 – His offseason plans

6:10 – His goal of making the NHL right away

6:25 – Winning the Cup would be…

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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'Winning to me is everything': Kirby Dach wants to play big role in helping Blackhawks win more Stanley Cups

'Winning to me is everything': Kirby Dach wants to play big role in helping Blackhawks win more Stanley Cups

Three days after he became the sixth player in franchise history to be taken third overall, the Blackhawks welcomed Kirby Dach to Chicago on Monday for the first time to show him around his new organization. He was given a tour of Fifth Third Arena, the Blackhawks locker room and plans to explore the city over the next few days.

"It's been crazy," Dach said of the last 72 hours. "After hearing my name called, I didn't hear anything or remember anything. I had to watch the video over a couple times to remember what happened, I kind of just blacked out in the moment and enjoyed it. I flew home two days ago and flew here [Sunday] and it's been awesome. The facility here is first class and I can't wait to get started in a couple weeks in [development] camp."

It's an exciting day for the organization and the city of Chicago because the Blackhawks are adding an elite prospect during a time where they're retooling for a chance to win another Stanley Cup.

"This is an important day for us for a couple reasons," GM Stan Bowman said. "I've had a chance to get to know Kirby over the last few months and I think as you guys get a chance to talk to him and hear from him, you're going to find out that he's really committed to being the best he can be and to making the Blackhawks an elite team.

"The other thing is we talk about what makes a player important in today's NHL. People say you've got to have a high skill level and being able to create offense is important. Other people are going to say you look at the way the playoffs were played and skill's great but you've got to have size and competitiveness. So that's the more important attribute. When you look at the game that Kirby brings to Chicago, he's got a little bit of everything. He's got the skill to play with the high-skill players. He can make plays that can wow you. He's also got the competitiveness to show that he wants it more than anyone else. I think we've got a special player here and as you'll see we're excited for what's to come."

Dach, who's a 6-foot-4, 198-pound center, is the kind of player you build around and he's already joining a group that features three-time Stanley Cup champions Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Jonathan Toews. He already received phone calls from Kane and Toews welcoming him to the franchise.

"Growing up as a kid in Canada, you're always watching hockey," Dach said. "And when they were winning Stanley Cups all the time in Chicago here — with the three in the six years — Toews and Kane, Keith and Seabrook, were a big part of that. And to be in a dressing room with those guys now is pretty surreal, and those are the moments you dream of as a kid. To have it come true, you have to take a step back and realize that."

While he may have looked up to them as a kid, Dach is now part of the group and wants to play a large role on a team that wins not just one more championship but several.

"Winning to me is everything," Dach said. "There's a saying, 'You gotta hate to lose before you like to win.' And I hate to lose so anything I do I always have to win no matter what it is. It's something that drives me and the ultimate goal in hockey is to win the Stanley Cup and I'm going to work as hard as I can and push myself to every limit to get there because that's what I want to do.

"Obviously Chicago's had a couple runs here in the past where they've been able to do that and I want to be a part of those runs and be a key member of those teams."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.