Blackhawks

Game 6 a 'fun, huge game' for Blackhawks

brandonsaad052615.png

Game 6 a 'fun, huge game' for Blackhawks

Postseason elimination games are some of the most intense contests there are this time of year.

They’re frenzied, they’re pressure packed and they’re fun.

Wait: run that last one by us again?

“It's more fun to play these games than the normal games,” Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson said. “When it's all on the line, I think that's what you want to play. You want to play at this time of year. You want to play elimination games [and] obviously come up on the winning side.”

All fun aside, the Blackhawks’ postseason is on the line when they host the Anaheim Ducks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals on Wednesday night. The Blackhawks are down 3-2 in this best-of-seven series, their late comeback coming up short in their 5-4 overtime loss in Game 5. The start was one of the Blackhawks’ most forgettable in quite some time. And if they start Game 6 even close to thatpoorly, they know they’ll be finished.

“We’ve got to play desperate right off the bat,” said Brandon Saad, who added the Blackhawks looked “like we were sleeping” to start Game 5. “Now we're in a situation where it's do or die: That's the team you're going to see. For some reason we started slow [Monday] and it was a big game for us. We need to steal one on the road. We didn't do it last night; we’ve got to do it in the future.”

[MORE: Teravainen 'living out my dream' with Blackhawks]

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here with the future talk. The Blackhawks still have to win tomorrow to earn another trip to Anaheim for Game 7. Obviously the elimination possibility isn’t new to the Blackhawks; they were down 3-1 to the Detroit Red Wings in 2013 and faced the same deficit against the Los Angeles Kings lastspring. They beat the Wings, lost to the Kings. The past lessons and experiences are there, but coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks don’t have to look back far for inspiration.

“We can talk about different things going into games, you can visit history, you can look at past games, big games, big moments. There's a lot of history here that we've collected over seven years, a lot of positive things,” he said. “[But] I think we allcame out of last night's game with anger and a real sour taste in our mouth. Sometimes that can be better than a history lesson.”

[NBC SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The Blackhawks know what the stakes are and they’ll be trying to stave off elimination at the United Center, where they’ve lost just one game this postseason. It’ll be intense. It’ll be stressful. But apparently, that’s part of the fun.

“We all know tomorrow is a fun, huge game for us,” Hjalmarsson said. “We’re all going to bring our best, for sure. We definitely will have to do a better job.”

UPDATES

- Trevor van Riemsdyk has skated for several days now and will do so again with the Blackhawks on Wednesday morning. So will van Riemsdyk play in Game 6? “We'll see,” Quenneville said. “I look forward to talking to him. He skated [Tuesday]; we’ll see how he is.”

- Bryan Bickell’s attempted dump-in pass hit Jakob Silfverberg and started the play that led to the Ducks’ game-winning goal. Asked if the criticism on Bickel is fair, Quenneville said, “it's a play. We talk about getting the pucks behind them and in deep. I'm sure he feels bad. They had to make a couple plays after that to put it in the net.”

- Quenneville left the door open for possible Game 6 lineup changes. “We’ll see how everybody looks tomorrow,” he said.

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

dominik_kahun_ap.jpg
AP

Getting to know four newly-signed Blackhawks

The Blackhawks announced Monday that they have officially agreed to terms with forward Dominik Kahun, defensemen Lucas Carlsson and Darren Raddysh and goaltender Kevin Lankinen on entry-level contracts.

Kahun ($925,000 cap hit), Lankinen ($925,000) and Raddysh ($730,000) each signed two-year deals that run through the 2019-20 season while Carlsson's is a three-year deal that runs through the 2020-21 campaign and carries a cap hit of $792,500.

So who are these guys? Let's meet them:

Carlsson

Drafted in the fourth round (No. 110 overall) by the Blackhawks in 2016, Carlsson set a career-high with 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) in 44 games this season with Brynäs IF of the Swedish Hockey League. He was tied for fourth among all blue liners with seven goals.

Carlsson, 20, doesn't have major upside, but he's a reliable, well-rounded defenseman and that's what drew the attention of Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley.

“When he’s on the ice, he makes things happen," Kelley told Scott Powers of The Athletic last summer. "I think what impressed the Sweden under-20 coach was Lucas’ ability to challenge in all three zones. He’s an active defensively. Offensively, he challenges. He keeps plays alive.”

Kahun

The 22-year-old forward spent the last four seasons with EHC München of the Deutsche Eishockey Liga, Germany's top professional hockey league, where he established career highs in assists (29), points (41) and tied a personal best with 12 goals, leading Munchen to their third straight championship in 2018 after recording four goals and 10 assists in 17 playoff contests.

He raised eyebrows at the 2018 Olympics in Pyeongchang, where he compiled five points (two goals, three assists) in seven games and won 55.4 percent of his faceoffs (41 of 74), helping Germany capture a silver medal.

“He has made an enormous step this year, has become much more stable and mature," German national team coach Marco Sturm said after the Olympics. "I am sure that he would grab it in the NHL,” Sturm told the Hamburger Morgenpost.

Most recently, Kahun had a goal and two assists in seven games for Germany during the IIHF Men's World Championship. He's 5-foot-11, 176 pounds whose known to be a solid two-way player and can play center but may need some time to adjust to the smaller ice surface and NHL style of speed and physicality.

Lankinen 

Lankinen is 23 years old and coming off a season in which he was in the discussion for the Urpo Ylönen trophy, annually awarded to the top goaltender of the Finnish Elite League, after registering a league-best 1.33 goals against average and .946 save percentage in 15 games with HIFK.

He missed a large portion of the season because of an injury, but it didn't stop him from turning in a strong postseason, guiding his team to a bronze medal after posting a 1.99 GAA and .936 save percentage in 13 playoff games. The year before that, he led the league with seven shutouts in 42 games, backstopping his team to a silver medal.

This is a low-risk, medium-sized reward signing for the Blackhawks, who could use some more young goaltending depth in the pipeline, especially given how this season unfolded with the big club.

Raddysh

The Blackhawks signed Raddysh to a one-year AHL contract last June, and he turned it into an NHL one after a strong season with the Rockford IceHogs.

Raddysh, 22, accumulated 22 points (five goals, 17 assists) in 66 regular-season games with the IceHogs, and has appeared in each of the team's playoff games en route to the Western Conference Final.

Last season Raddysh was named the OHL's top defenseman after scoring 16 goals and 65 assists for 81 points in 62 games for the Erie Otters, where he was teammates with current Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat. He's the Otters' all-time leader in assists (143) and points (184) among defensemen.

Raddysh might be nothing more than a depth defenseman, but his development is worth monitoring because the offensive production is there and that's something the Blackhawks lacked this past season from their back end.

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

marian_hossa_ap.jpg
AP

Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa: 'I will not play hockey anymore'

Days after putting his Gold Coast condo on the market, Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa revealed to a Slovakian newspaper that he is moving back to his hometown country and doesn't plan on returning to the NHL.

"I will not play hockey anymore," said Hossa, who missed the entire 2017-18 campaign due to a progressive skin disorder and the side effects of the medications involved to treat it. "I have a valid contract with Chicago for the next three years, but I have only one health and it does not allow me to return."

Because he has three years left on a deal that carries a $5.275 million cap hit, Hossa is not expected to sign his retirement papers until the contract is completed or else it would result in salary cap consequences.

The news is not surprising, but it officially allows the Blackhawks to move on without him in the fold roster-wise and toy around with some options this summer.

The first is stashing his contract on long-term injured reserve, as they did last season when they utilized the in-season preference.

The second, which Hossa wondered could happen, is finding a trade partner that would absorb the remainder of his contract, usually done by lower payroll teams aiming to reach the cap floor.

And it wouldn't be difficult trying to find a buyer, considering Hossa's actual salary is $1 million per year over the next three seasons. Hossa, of course, has a no movement clause but it's likely he would waive it given his status at this point.

The good news for Chicago is, the three-time Stanley Cup winner didn't rule out joining the Blackhawks organization in some capacity after his contract expires in 2020-21, whether it's in a front office role or as a team ambassador.

In 19 NHL seasons, Hossa accumulated 525 goals and 609 assists for 1,134 points in 1,309 regular-season games, and added 149 points (52 goals, 97 assists) in 205 postseason contests. He's one of 45 players in league history to net at least 500 goals in his career.