Blackhawks

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Jets tonight on CSN before All-Star break

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks host Jets tonight on CSN before All-Star break

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Winnipeg Jets tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 7 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

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Five Things to Watch:

1. Scott Darling back in the crease.

Darling has earned the opportunity to start more games, and with a struggling Corey Crawford, Joel Quenneville is giving him just that. The Lemont native is 12-4-2 with a 2.21 goals against average, .928 save percentage and two shutouts in 21 games this season, and blanked the Bruins 1-0 in his last game by stopping all 30 shots. He also is familiar with Winnipeg, having turned aside 30 of 32 shots in a 2-1 loss at the United Center earlier in the year.

2. Marcus Kruger set to return.

Joel Quenneville said after Tuesday's game that Kruger likely would have played against Tampa Bay if Dennis Rasmussen, who's battling an illness, wasn't ready to go, but it appears he will draw back into the lineup tonight. Kruger missed 11 games with a hand injury, and centered the third line with Nick Schmaltz and Marian Hossa during Thursday's morning skate.

3. Jonathan Toews' resurgence.

The Blackhawks captain is heating up. Big time. He has two goals and four assists in his last two games, matching the point total he had in his previous 10 contests. He was all over the ice in Tuesday's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, impacting the game on both ends of the ice. Toews contributing on the scoresheet is an added bonus — a huge one at that — to a team that's received its fair share of contributions from their second line of Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin, as well as the rookies.

4. Patrik Laine back.

Winnipeg's rookie phenom was sidelined since Jan. 7 with a concussion, but returned Tuesday and picked up right where he left off by registering an assist and logging 21:52 of ice time. Prior to his injury, he led all rookies in goals (21) and points (37) by a fairly comfortable margin — although he had a few games in hand. Laine brings in a five-game point streak, with two goals and six assists during that span.

5. Power play drought.

The Blackhawks haven't had a problem putting the puck in the net lately, but they can't seem to find it when they're up a man. After an 0-for-3 night on Tuesday, the Blackhawks are now 0-for-12 on the power play in their last six games. Often times they look for the extra pass, but the way to break out of these droughts is by keeping it simple, and getting that net front presence. The Jets' penalty kill unit is ranked 26th in the league at 76.8 percent, so here's a chance to break the slump.

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Blackhawks using first training camp under Jeremy Colliton to nail down defensive zone coverage

Blackhawks using first training camp under Jeremy Colliton to nail down defensive zone coverage

Jeremy Colliton has been the Blackhawks' head coach for more than 10 months now, but this is his first training camp with the team and he's able to instill some concepts that he wasn't able to do on the fly last season. The biggest thing, however, is that he was afforded a full summer to prep and can help get everyone on the same page during training camp and in the seven preseason games before the games actually matter.

"It's important," Duncan Keith said. "Systems nowadays, with the way teams are, it's important that everyone's on the same page. Having a training camp with the coaches and being able to implement the system and try to get on the same page early on, the quicker we can iron out everything the better off we're going to be."

The one area the Blackhawks have focused on heavily over the first two days is the defensive zone coverage. They gave up the most scoring chances and high-danger chances at 5-on-5 last season, and the team got better at it in the final month or so but it's still a work in progress.

"It's going to be huge," Patrick Kane said. "Even [Friday], first day we're running through some defensive coverage trying to get everything done tactically. I'm sure we'll do a little bit more of that each day and some different things as well. It'll be real beneficial for us just to all get on the same page, set the standard around here and feel confident about our team, the way we play going into the season."

The onus isn't just on the defensemen, either. It's a five-man unit and training camp is just as much about building trust with your teammates and being in the right spot as it is nailing down the scheme and letting it become muscle memory.

"We've all got to be on the same page," Brent Seabrook said. "If my D partner's doing it perfectly and I'm not, then we're not going to be any good at it. We've all got to be on the same page, we've all got to be doing our job and doing the right thing and the faster we get to that point, then I think it's just going to help us out in the long run. We're just going to keep getting better at it and we'll go from there."

The Blackhawks are going to continue working on their defensive zone coverage as camp goes along because that’s priority No. 1. Scoring goals won’t be an issue. And after Sunday’s training camp festival at the United Center, the Blackhawks have three consecutive preseason contests to apply what they've learned in a game-type setting.

"I just think getting guys on the same page as quickly as we can, that's really important,” Colliton said. “You saw there was a lot of D-zone work today [Friday]. That'll continue and we'll just sort of roll out how we're going to play day-by-day so that we're ready. We got that festival game, that will kind of be a dress rehearsal and then right into it."

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Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: Adam Boqvist is 'ready to be a pro'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman: Adam Boqvist is 'ready to be a pro'

Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman hinted at the possibility of this earlier in the summer but he made it official on Friday: Adam Boqvist is turning pro.

Boqvist spent the 2018-19 season with the London Knights in the OHL, where he compiled 60 points (20 goals, 40 assists) in 54 games and led all defensemen with 10 goals in 11 postseason contests. He made significant strides in his development as he got accustomed to the North American style of hockey and the Blackhawks are ready to bring him over to the organization.

“I think Adam's made enough progress," Bowman said. "The biggest thing with him was always just the physicality and the strength and I thought he put in a lot of work. I got to give him credit, especially this summer, even last year during the season. But he still has to continue to mature and develop physically but he's ready to be a pro.”

If Boqvist doesn’t make the Blackhawks out of training camp, he will start the season with the Rockford IceHogs in the AHL. Not only will the team be able to have more of a hands-on role in his development, but they’ll now be able to call him up at any moment.

"I think the drawback to going back to junior is you don't have the access to him then for the whole season,” Bowman said. “So he's a player we're going to want to have access to whether he's in Chicago or nearby in Rockford."

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