Blackhawks

Hawks Notes: Special teams off to the right start

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Hawks Notes: Special teams off to the right start

LOS ANGELES The Blackhawks special teams came under fire plenty last season, albeit for good reason. The power play couldnt score. The penalty kill couldnt prevent a score. It just wasnt good.

And while one game does not make a turnaround, the Blackhawks nevertheless liked the strides their power play and penalty kill made against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday.

The Blackhawks scored on one power play and kept the Kings scoreless on theirs en route to a 5-2 victory over Los Angeles today. Again, its just one game. But compared to last season, this was already better.

Scoring on our first 5-on-3 really boosted our team off the bat, coach Joel Quenneville said. All areas of our game pretty solid today, but special teams were definitely better than we saw last year.

Patrick Kanes goal with eight seconds left on a 5-on-3 was the start to a productive day. The Blackhawks went 0-for-4 on their other opportunities but still had better puck control and movement when they were on it. And on the other side, the Blackhawks stymied all five of the Kings power-play chances. The Kings had just five shots on those power plays combined.

Thats huge for us, Toews said of special teams. Thats going to win or lose some games for us. We have to focus on that. We have to be the hardest workers whether were killing or on the power play. It made a difference for us tonight.

Feeling better

Jonathan Toews missed Fridays practice with the flu. And while he may not have been 100 percent, he was nonetheless ready for Saturdays game. He played 18 minutes and 47 seconds, tops among the forwards, collecting a goal and an assist.

I felt better, but most of all I was just excited to play hockey again, Toews said. The excitement took over and gave me a little more jump.

Tidbits

Brent Seabrook led the Blackhawks in ice time (23:01) and led all players in blocked shots (seven).

Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick is usually stingy, especially against the Blackhawks. So Chicagos five-goal outburst was surprising. Quick gave up five goals only once last season, on April 5 against San Jose.

Brandon Saad, Michal Rozsival and Jamal Mayers were the Blackhawks healthy scratches on Saturday.

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: