Blackhawks

Game 7: Blackhawks look to complete comeback

444370.jpg

Game 7: Blackhawks look to complete comeback

Tuesday, April 26, 2011
Posted: 3:06 p.m.
By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com
VANCOUVER, British Columbia Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault summed it up best in his trip to the podium on Tuesday morning.

Theres really not much else to say is there? he said.

No, there really isnt. Its Game 7, its win or go home, its just all about the game now.

Tomas Kopecky is out and Marcus Kruger andor Fernando Pisani could be in tonight as the Chicago Blackhawks face the Vancouver Canucks one more time in this best-of-seven series.

CHAT with Steve Konroyd, Chris Boden during Game 7 tonight

Other than stating a few roster items updates Kopecky and Bryan Bickell (wrist) are obviously out for the Blackhawks and Roberto Luongo is starting for Vancouver neither coach was tipping his hand as to lines and those who may suit up for injured players.

The Blackhawks looked and sounded like a loose group following this mornings skate. Many players said theyre still not feeling the pressure, despite it being first Game 7 for most.

We have to go with the same mindset tonight as the last three games. Were having fun and pressures on them, Viktor Stalberg said. This city isnt going to be happy if they lose four straight to us. Thats how we feel. Its fun for us. We can go in without pressure and go with it.

Bickells work

The Blackhawks knew Bickell was going to be missing at some point after he had severed ligaments in his wrist during Game 2 of these playoffs. Quenneville said he was happy with what the forward was able to do through the next few games.

WATCH: Hockey Central's Jeremy Roenick and Keith Jones predict Blackhawks will advance

I thought he gave us three solid games and that line was really effective, said Quenneville of the Bickell-Dave Bolland-Michael Frolik combo. We didn't know what to expect when we first put it together but it was a great surprise the first game and they played pretty solid ones after that. But itll give somebody some quality ice time tonight and a good opportunity to play with a couple guys that have been playing well as well.

Official talk

Vancouver GM Mike Gillis was very vocal on Monday regarding the officiating through this series. Gillies pointed to the discrepancy in power plays, which favor the Blackhawks by a good margin.

READ: Bickell has wrist surgery, will miss 6-8 weeks

The Blackhawks talked about it Tuesday.

To be honest I think its a good move by him, Patrick Kane said. You try to get the emphasis on something else and maybe the league or refs start thinking about it but I dont think its going to matter. I think itll be a pretty fair game.
Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

Blackhawks 2018-19 season grades: Coaching

Blackhawks 2018-19 season grades: Coaching

Jeremy Colliton had difficult shoes to fill. That's an understatement.

He replaced a three-time Stanley Cup winner and the second-winningest NHL coach of all-time in Joel Quenneville. And Colliton jumped in at the age of 33 just days after he and his wife welcomed their third child.

To make things even more complicated, Colliton took over as Blackhawks head coach just one month into the season and had to implement some new components of his system on the fly. That took a while for the veterans who had been playing one way for the last 10-plus years to adjust.

Colliton's No. 1 priority when he came to Chicago was to help fix a power-play unit that ranked third-worst during the 2017-18 campaign with a 16.0 percent success rate and 26th through the first 15 games of the 2018-19 season with a 14.0 percentage. It wasn't getting any better.

But from the day he got hired and on, the Blackhawks finished with the seventh-best power play (21.8 percent). It dried up down the stretch, but that was after a two-month span where it was converting at nearly a 40 percent clip. It was bound for regression.

The penalty kill, however, is something that stayed in the basement of the NHL all season long. They were 23rd under Quenneville through the first 15 games (76.6 percent) and finished last with a 71.7 percent kill rate under Colliton in the remaining 67 games. You can overcome a struggling power play, but it's almost impossible to overcome a bad penalty kill.

At 5-on-5 play under Quenneville this season, the Blackhawks had an expected goals for percentage of 45.8, a scoring chances for percentage of 49.2 and high-danger chances for percentage of 43.6, according to naturalstattrick.com. Under Colliton, they had an expected GF percentage of 45.8, SCF percentage of 46.9 and HDCF percentage of 42.6.

The sample sizes obviously aren't the same (15 games vs. 67) and, as we mentioned above, it took a couple of months for the Blackhawks to really get comfortable with Colliton's defensive structure. They certainly went through growing pains.

But with the Blackhawks expected to be active this summer in free agency and adding players that fit their new head coach's style, coupled with the fact that Colliton will have a full training camp to iron out the kinks and incorporate even more elements into his system, and the team could hit the ground running for the 2019-20 campaign rather than playing catch-up all season long. 

"I think as you go you get more comfortable, you gain confidence, you go through experiences and deal with situations that come up and they're challenging at times," Colliton said. "You get through it. And then the next time stuff comes up, you feel more confident, you feel better about what you're doing. I had confidence when I came in November that I had a plan and we as a staff could make some progress. It took longer than we all would have liked, but I think I'm a better coach now than when I walked in, and I'm going to use that going forward. 

"There's going to be challenging circumstances next year too where maybe doesn't come easy. But I think all the best coaches get better all the time. Every day they're bringing new ideas and new energy and looking outside for inspiration. That's what I expect to."

Coaching: B-

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.

What Ian Mitchell returning to college means for Blackhawks

What Ian Mitchell returning to college means for Blackhawks

After falling short of a Frozen Four championship with Denver, the attention in Chicago turned to defenseman prospect Ian Mitchell and whether he'd sign an entry-level deal with the Blackhawks. It felt like it was only a matter of time before he would do so, but as the days passed, there seemed to be growing speculation that that may not be the case.

On Wednesday, Mitchell made it official and announced his decision to return to college for his junior season by releasing this statement on Denver's website:

"In the past few days since our season ended, I have had the chance to reflect on the year and the season our team had. It became clear to me during that time that I did not feel ready mentally or physically to leave Denver. I believe this is the best place for me to become a better hockey player and as a team we have an opportunity to do something very special next year. I would like to thank the Chicago Blackhawks organization for being so supportive and respectful of my decision to remain in school and continue my development. I am looking forward to next season."

So what does this mean for the Blackhawks?

For one, it immediately eliminates Mitchell from the equation of making the 2019-20 Opening Day roster even though he might be the most pro-ready of the three top Blackhawks defensemen prospects that haven't appeared in an NHL game yet (Nicolas Beaudin and Adam Boqvist). It's probably a wise move for his long-term development.

But with Beaudin and Boqvist also in the same boat as far as maybe needing some more time to develop, it's entirely possible all three won't be in the NHL next season. Which is fine. The Blackhawks have always preached patience when it comes to prospects developing at their own pace.

But it puts the Blackhawks in a position the following season where they could be breaking in several young defensemen at once depending on where they're at in their timelines. Maybe that's a good problem to have. It also depends on the number of roster spots available, which is a conversation for a different day.

In going back to college, Mitchell, a second-round pick (No. 57 overall) in 2017, pushes back his eligibility to sign with the Blackhawks to the spring of 2020. And yes, it's too early to start wondering whether the Blackhawks could lose his signing rights if he returns to college for a senior season and elects to go to free agency. 

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.