Blackhawks

Five Things from Game 7: Saad making a name for himself

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Five Things from Game 7: Saad making a name for himself

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Well, here we are again. Or maybe we should say, here the Blackhawks are again.

For all the concerns at the end of the regular season, when the goals and the victories were in short supply, the Blackhawks are heading to the Stanley Cup Final for the third time in the past six seasons.

Call it determination. Call it hitting their stride at the right time. Regardless, the Blackhawks had to go through a tough Anaheim Ducks team to get there, and they made a statement with their 5-3 victory in Game 7 on Saturday night.

But enough of us prattling on here; we know you’re tired. So let’s get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ Western Conference final triumph over the Ducks.

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Blackhawks cruise past Ducks, headed to Stanley Cup Final]

1. Jonathan Toews leads in every way possible. Toews just about led the Blackhawks to a Game 5 victory with his two late-regulation goals in that one. And he was why the Blackhawks got off to a tremendous start in Game 7, scoring the team’s first two goals. There’s plenty to say about Toews — we’ll save that for another story — but the postseason is about top players being leaders off, but especially on, the ice. The Blackhawks got that with Toews.

2. Brandon Saad is making a name for himself. And soon enough, Saad will be making some serious cash for himself, thanks in part to his postseason. Saad added another goal on Saturday, his sixth of the playoffs, and he drew a penalty with his speed on a breakaway short-handed attempt in the second period. Saad got his chance to be a top-line guy as a rookie; he’s just kept earning his time there since.

3. Duncan Keith is still OK. Another game, another (nearly) 28 minutes of ice time, another two assists and another great performance for Keith. About midway through this series we stopped asking how the minutes and physical play were affecting the Blackhawks’ top four defensemen; three of the four, fine, but it was obvious Keith was feeling no effects. Told he looked “spry” following the game Keith asked, “What does spry mean?” All kidding aside, he looks like he’s ready to keep logging those minutes and playing well through them.

[SHOP BLACKHAWKS: Get a Duncan Keith jersey right here]

4. Don’t forget about Brent Seabrook. The Ducks had their second goal (from Corey Perry) and momentum midway through the third period. Then the Blackhawks got a power play, and Seabrook, who comes up big this time of year, scored a power-play goal to restore a three-goal lead. Seabrook gets overshadowed by Keith a lot, but there’s no doubt he’s been a big contributor the past few postseasons, especially with critical goals.

5. Mental toughness remains. Whenever there’s a Game 7, you never know how it’s going to go. The Ducks were back home, where they had lost just one previous game this postseason — to the Blackhawks. They had lost just once in regulation this postseason — to the Blackhawks. Still, would this be the year the Ducks broke through? It wasn’t, mainly because the Blackhawks have that will at this time of year, know how to win and wasted no time in getting up on the Ducks in Game 7. Coach Joel Quenneville said, “Commend the guys’ perseverance, finding different ways through different challenges.”

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: How should Blackhawks handle Kirby Dach's future?

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: How should Blackhawks handle Kirby Dach's future?

Should Kirby Dach see more ice time? What should the Blackhawks do with Erik Gustafsson? Has Robin Lehner separated himself in the goalie tandem?

Patrick Sharp and Charlie Roumeliotis join Pat Boyle to discuss that and much more on the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast. Plus, you'll hear Robin Lehner's postgame comments after the loss to the Golden Knights and why he thinks the Blackhawks are "really close" to putting it all together.

1:08 - Blackhawks come up with best defensive effort of the season

2:52 - Changes made to the power play units

4:14 - Evaluating Erik Gustafsson's play so far

6:04 - Who fills in after the Connor Murphy injury

7:49 - Patrick Sharp remembers Patrick Kane rookie season

9:08 - What does the future hold for Kirby Dach?

12:04 - Struggles of the Blackhawks' top-six

14:44 - Another strong performance by Robin Lehner

16:33 - Lehner's strong post-game comments after Vegas loss

20:07 - How to handle the goalie-split going forward

23:25 - Biggest thing the Blackhawks need to improve upon

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

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Blackhawks expected to be without Connor Murphy (groin injury) for 'a couple weeks'

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AP

Blackhawks expected to be without Connor Murphy (groin injury) for 'a couple weeks'

The Blackhawks are expected to be without defenseman Connor Murphy for "a couple weeks" after he left in the second period of Tuesday's 2-1 shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights because of a groin injury, coach Jeremy Colliton confirmed after the game.

It's the same injury that sidelined Murphy for the season opener in Prague, which is unfortunate given his promotion to the top pairing with Duncan Keith has provided some stability on all three pairings. 

"Obviously that's a blow for us," Colliton said. "It's an opportunity for other guys. We think we need to continue to build depth. That's what we're going to need. We can't just play with six D or seven D all year. You're going to need more than that. That'll be an opportunity for other guys to grow."

Slater Koekkoek is serving as the seventh defenseman right now and he's the likely candidate to slide into Murphy's spot in the lineup. But the Blackhawks might be inclined to make a call-up from Rockford as insurance.

Dennis Gilbert started the season with the Blackhawks because Murphy and Calvin de Haan were not cleared to play overseas, so he's a potential candidate to be brought back up.

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.