Blackhawks

Five Things from Hawks-Avs: Penalty kills and pages turned

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Five Things from Hawks-Avs: Penalty kills and pages turned

DENVER — Well, it was looking like the Blackhawks could finish this regular season with a victory. But with a few seconds remaining they fell, with Jarome Iginla’s power-play goal giving the Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 lead.

But that’s all done now. The Blackhawks, whether they won this game or not, were taking third in the Central Division and facing the Nashville Predators in the first round. It was a good opportunity for the Blackhawks to rest a few players, namely Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford.

[MORE: Now Blackhawks turn their attention to Predators]

Still, we write this particular story for a reason. So before we get ready for the most wonderful time of the (sports) year, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ loss to the Avs.

1. Take the penalty kill for what it was tonight. Yes, the Blackhawks’ kill hasn’t been that good down the stretch, and it gave up the game-winning goal with 39 seconds remaining in regulation on Saturday night. But keep this in mind: no Toews, no Keith and no Marian Hossa, who played the game but did not play on the penalty kill. Toews has been off the kill for a few days. Joakim Nordstrom missed several games with an upper-body injury. So with a full group for the postseason, we expect the kill to be better.

2. Hossa is still pretty damn great. We wouldn’t have been surprised if Hossa had taken tonight’s game off, and if the Blackhawks had more reserves on hand, perhaps he would have. Instead he played a tremendous game, once again showing that great skill, with or without the puck. Hossa, who certainly deserved a goal or two with his outing, did assist on Brandon Saad’s 23rd goal of the season.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up for the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Kyle Baun impresses. The forward drew rave reviews from coach Joel Quenneville for his three regular-season games, including Saturday’s. “He showed a lot of good things,” Quenneville said. “He showed he has NHL pace and he has a great mind for the game. He picks up quickly on his responsibilities, offensively, defensively, pace. It was a good start for him.” Baun is ineligible to play in the postseason but this audition certainly bodes well as he enters training camp in September.

4. Michael Paliotta had a nice game, too. The defenseman got his first NHL game in on Saturday night and got his first NHL point in the second period, adding the secondary assist on Patrick Sharp’s goal. Paliotta played just under 13 minutes and had two blocked shots.

5. Turn the page. The regular season is over. The Blackhawks would’ve liked to have won the Central Division, get home ice but they didn’t do either. They can’t think about that anymore, as a hungry Predators team waits. We talk a lot about flipping the switch. After a lackluster end to the regular season, will the Blackhawks do that as soon as the postseason begins? 

All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens

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AP

All eyes on Blackhawks defensemen as prospect camp opens

The second wave of Blackhawks defensemen is on the way. That's exactly where all the attention was when prospect camp opened up Monday at MB Ice Arena.

Nicolas Beaudin. Adam Boqvist. Henri Jokiharju. Ian Mitchell. Call it the Big Four. Where are they all at in their development? When will they be ready to make an NHL impact? Who's the most pro ready? 

Lots of questions. Those will slowly start to get answered and it begins now.

While there may not necessarily be an open competition among the group right away, there's certainly a desire to make a strong first impression in front of the upper brass that included Stan Bowman, John McDonough and Joel Quenneville watching on Day 1.

"Every NHL team has a lot of good defensemen prospects, so I mean obviously when you want to go out there you want to showcase yourself as best as you can," Mitchell said. "Obviously you want to be the best defenseman here so that's my goal going into this, I want to prove to everyone that I'm a good defenseman, I deserve to play at the next level. Obviously there's lots of good players here, but you're trying to all succeed."

Said Beaudin: "There's a lot of competition. There's a lot of good, young defensemen. I think you just need to be different when you play when you show what you can do."

Said Boqvist: "I'm trying to be better every day. Of course I will play in the NHL one day and win Stanley Cups, so that's my mindset."

The theme? Focus on your own game, take what you learn out of this week and apply those tools in your game when advancing your development next season. The rest will take care of itself.

Mitchell will go back to Denver for his sophomore campaign to continue his development. Beaudin is expected to return to the QMJHL with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. Boqvist signed with the OHL's London Knights, where he will look to get accustomed to the North American style of play.

For Jokiharju, the goal is different. This is his second development camp. He signed an entry-level contract in June. Making the big club is a real goal and a legitimate possibility for a Blackhawks team looking for young, impact defensemen immediately.

"I think if Henri has a really good summer of training, comes into camp, I certainly thinks he gets a good look," Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley told NBC Sports Chicago last month.

Jokiharju showed poise and confidence with and without the puck during drills, like someone who knows this is only the first step towards that ultimate goal.

"Yeah," Jokiharju responded when asked if the expectation is to make it to the NHL this season. "You want to set the bar high, you don't want to set the bar too low. I want to dream big and that's the dream."

That's the dream for everyone. When that happens, it's up to them. This week is a chance to set an early tone.

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goalie Ray Emery dies in early morning drowning

Former Blackhawks goaltender Ray Emery was identified as the victim in an early morning drowning on Sunday at the Hamilton Harbour, Hamilton Police confirmed. He was 35.

According to the Hamilton Spectator, Emery and his friends jumped in the water around 6:30 a.m., but Emery never resurfaced. His body was recovered later in the afternoon.

Emery played in the NHL for 11 seasons, two of which came with the Blackhawks from 2011-13, where he served as a backup goaltender to Corey Crawford.

In 2013, he teammated up with Crawford to win the William M. Jennings Trophy, awarded to the goaltender(s) with the fewest goals against in a single season, before going on to capture his first Stanley Cup. During that season, Emery went 17-1-0 with a 1.94 goals against average, .922 save percentage and three shutouts.

The Blackhawks issued this statement following the confirmation:

The Chicago Blackhawks organization was deeply saddened to hear of Ray Emery’s passing. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family and friends. The Blackhawks will fondly remember Ray as a fierce competitor, a good teammate and a Stanley Cup champion.

The hockey community took to Twitter to offer their condolences when news began to spread: