Blackhawks

Five Things from Winter Classic: Blackhawks' quick start doesn't translate to strong finish

Five Things from Winter Classic: Blackhawks' quick start doesn't translate to strong finish

ST. LOUIS – OK, the outdoor games are just not friendly to the Blackhawks.

Yes, as the Blackhawks players and coach Joel Quenneville told us, this one was a close one that could’ve gone either way. But it’s the fourth of five outdoor games that went against the Blackhawks, as they fell 4-1 to the host St. Louis Blues on Monday.

We talk about the not-so-good outdoor record knowing full well it won’t matter: commissioner Gary Bettman said on Sunday that the league is planning on three outdoor games next season and we’ll be floored if the Blackhawks aren’t in one of them.

But we digress. The Blackhawks are struggling whether they’re outside or in right now, and they’ll have a few things to fix early in the new year. Before we get to that for an off-day story, let’s look at the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ Winter Classic loss.

1. Maybe not on the quick starts. The Blackhawks haven’t gotten off to very many fast starts this season but they did on Monday. Michal Kempny’s knuckleball shot put the Blackhawks up 1-0 just 62 seconds into the game. But for the second consecutive game a quick start didn’t translate into a strong finish. Oh, it was another good game for Kempny, who now has two goals in as many games. But the Blackhawks couldn’t muster enough at the end to build off that early lead.

[SHOP: Gear up Blackhawks fans!]

2. Conditions were just fine. Hey, we were all wondering how this one was going to go, considering the forecast leading up to this game and the rain falling at the start of it. The concerns were unfounded, however, as there were no real issues. Duncan Keith said the ice was, “probably the best we’ve had in an outdoor game.” Trevor van Riemsdyk, one of many players who wears a visor, said that wasn’t a problem, either. “You gotta wipe it off more than in a normal game. Just being outdoors it may fog up on you a couple of times but once you get moving it clears up.”

3. Vladimir Tarasenko does it again. Tarasenko was close a few times before breaking through in this one, including hitting iron on a third-period power play. But he got his goals against the Blackhawks, as he often does. Tarasenko, who scored twice in less than two minutes in the third period, now has 12 goals in 19 career regular-season games against the Blackhawks. The guy just loves torturing the Blackhawks – and their fans.

4. Too quiet start to the third. The Blackhawks had to start the third period on the penalty kill. But they didn’t get much momentum off recording their fourth kill of the game. The Blues just kept the pressure on while the Blackhawks couldn’t get a shot on goal for about 10 minutes. Their first shot came on their power play midway through the third period – Jonathan Toews – but it took way too long for the Blackhawks to get going in those final 20 minutes.

5. Blackhawks 1-4-1 in their last six games. We’ll get to this more on Tuesday, which we’ll assume is going to be a Blackhawks off day. The Blackhawks are still atop the Western Conference but they’ve looked shaky lately. It doesn’t help that Marian Hossa is out – just in case anyone still doubted his impact on every freaking game. The Blackhawks are hoping to get Hossa back on Thursday, when they host the Buffalo Sabres. They need to get more of a complete game back, too.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: An inside look at the Blackhawks Hockey Ops department with Senior VP Al MacIsaac

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: An inside look at the Blackhawks Hockey Ops department with Senior VP Al MacIsaac

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle catches up with Senior VP of Hockey Operations, Al MacIsaac. They discuss the process the Blackhawks took in transforming the roster this off-season. MacIsaac is entering his 20th year with the Blackhawks and talks about the organizational changes over the last two decades. He also weighs in on the role analytics plays in evaluating current or potential Blackhawks and he explains why the team made a commitment to make its new practice facility the “gold standard” of the NHL.

0:45 – MacIsaac on changes within the Blackhawks organization in the last 20 years

4:00 – How the Blackhawks have added great depth this summer

5:25 – A good problem to have with two good goaltenders

6:23 – How the hockey ops meeting went at the end of last season

8:45 – How much the Blackhawks use and rely on analytics

10:27 – The importance of the Blackhawks strength and conditioning programs

12:24 – The planning behind Fifth Third Arena’s development

14:40 – The dynamic between hockey ops and business ops

16:37 – Agreements and disagreements within the hockey ops group

18:32 – MacIsaac’s longtime relationship with Mark Bernard

20:27 – Looking ahead to training camp and the regular season

22:42 – Tough decisions will need to be made when the season starts

Listen here or in the embedded player below. 

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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Andrew Shaw on his career season in Montreal and adding toughness to Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw on his career season in Montreal and adding toughness to Blackhawks

Andrew Shaw had a terrific 2018-19 season with the Montreal Canadiens. He set a career high with 47 points (19 goals, 28 assists) despite missing 19 games due to injuries and averaged 15:55 of ice time, which was the highest of his NHL career.

When asked to explain why he believes he had the best offensive output of his career, Shaw pointed to one thing.

“Honestly I just think it was the hunger for the game," Shaw said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "I missed nine months with knee surgery and concussions. I battled back to get back to where I needed to be and just started having fun again. Maybe I’m bigger, stronger, older. I think I’ve been in situations in games so many times that you’re better at reacting to them so I think that maybe that has a little bit to do with it.”

The Blackhawks reacquired Shaw because they've lacked some jam in their game over the past couple seasons. And looking at the other moves GM Stan Bowman has made this summer, it's clear that's an area they prioritized.

Shaw noticed it too and he's excited to see how it'll all come together this coming season.

“I still have to be me," Shaw said. "I still have to go out there and work and compete and bring the energy I’ve always brought. I think it’s the intensity and the love of the game that pushes me to do that so I think it’s something that others feed off of. With a couple other guys they brought in, too, we got a little bit more grit, a little bit more defensive game. I think it’s going to be a really good year.”

Check out the interview in the video above.

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