Hawks stand up to physical Blues for big win


Hawks stand up to physical Blues for big win

This victory over a feisty St. Louis Blues squad showed off the Blackhawks' skill, and a fair share of toughness and grit, too. It was something that hadn't been on display for a while.

"It's never easy in this building, but we played a solid road game, where everybody chips in, and special teams were big tonight," said Marian Hossa, who scored two special teams goals in the 5-2 win at Scottrade Center Saturday night.

Hossa's shorthanded goal in the second period turned what might have been a potential 3-1 deficit into a 2-2 tie, and once it got to that point, Patrick Sharp and Hossa scored the next pair - sandwiched around the second intermission - on the man-advantage.

It cooled off a hard-charging St. Louis team that had crept to within two points of the Hawks in the Central by going 8-1-3 under new bench boss Ken Hitchcock. And individually, it cooled off goalie Brian Elliott, who hadn't given up more than two goals in a game this season, while leading the NHL in goals-against average and save percentage.

Those two power-play goals, coupled with a 3-for-3 penalty kill (albeit against the NHL's worst power play), helped complete a hard-fought, much-needed four-point weekend.

"We knew we were gonna have to weather the storm," said captain Jonathan Toews, who was among five Hawks stars (Hossa, Sharp, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith) who drove this victory. "Killing some penalties, finding a way to protect the lead and play with urgency. It's a big win against any team, but especially against this team."

Especially, because, St. Louis plays it physical against the Hawks, and while the official hit totals seemed a little low for both teams -- 17-12 in favor of the Blues -- the Hawks gave back enough of what they took.

Referees Tom Kowal and Francois St. Laurent let each team push the envelope until things started getting carried away after Sharp's goal made it 3-2 with under five minutes left in the middle frame. On top of that, those that may not have highlighted the scoresheet pitched in with solid play in all three zones, with few exceptions.

"I thought across the board, we played excellent," head coach Joel Quenneville said. "We got contributions from everybody. Expectations were met. That short-handed goal really took us off."

The beneficiary of that solid, consistent defensive coverage was Ray Emery, who wasn't too bad himself in improving to 3-0-0 in his career against the Blues. What a difference two weeks makes after he had to dig the puck out of the net behind him on seven of Edmonton's nine goals in his last start on Nov. 19. That night north of the border, Emery was often hung out to try by a lackluster effort in front of him.

"That's a while ago, that last one," Emery said. "Those happen once or twice a year where it gets away early. You just gotta bounce back and not let it happen a second time in a row."

He didn't, and the team didn't after being the first victim of Hitchcock's Blues. It helped send about half the crowd home happy, as the Hawks enjoyed a big traveling contingent.

"It was nice to make it worth the trip for our fans here," Toews concluded.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reaction to Artem Anisimov trade and development camp standouts


Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Reaction to Artem Anisimov trade and development camp standouts

On the latest Blackhawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis react to the trade of Artem Anisimov to the Senators for Zack Smith. The guys discuss the role Smith could have with the Hawks and the areas where he has an edge over Anisimov.

They also discuss the first couple days of Development Camp and how this year’s top two draft picks — Kirby Dach and Alex Vlasic — have looked so far. Plus, a breakdown of the other top blue-liners and how Adam Boqvist, Nicolas Beaudin and Chad Krys have progressed and why they agree with Ian Mitchell’s decision to return to Denver for his junior year.

0:35 – Initial reaction to Anisimov/Smith trade

2:02 – Smith adds faceoff and penalty kill abilities

3:38 – Candidates for bottom-six center spots

4:57 – Edge a common theme among new Blackhawks

6:08 – Alex Nylander’s presence at Development Camp

8:20 – Kirby Dach has an open door to a roster spot

10:38 – Alex Vlasic holding his own against Dach

11:46 – Adam Boqvist wants to play in the NHL now

13:23 – Were Blackhawks recent moves scripted before NHL Draft?

15:28 – Ian Mitchell’s decision to return to college

18:57 – Young defenseman make decisions tough down the road

20:21 – Keeping an eye on Philipp Kurashev at camp

21:20 – Is Stan Bowman done making moves?

22:34 – Salary cap outlook with DeBrincat/Strome extensions coming

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast


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2019 Blackhawks development camp: Day 2 thoughts and takeaways

2019 Blackhawks development camp: Day 2 thoughts and takeaways

Here are several thoughts and takeaways from Day 2 of Blackhawks development camp at Fifth Third Arena:

1. Why Alex Nylander wanted to be at camp

The Blackhawks invited 37 prospects to development camp. Only one of them has NHL experience and that's Nylander, who was a late addition after he was acquired from Buffalo for Henri Jokiharju.

Nylander has been one of the standouts so far, and rightfully so. He's supremely gifted and is ahead of the curve in comparison to some of the other prospects attending. But he's behind on his own development curve, and the Blackhawks wanted to see him on the ice this week because he's going to be one of the players in the mix for an everyday roster spot when training camp rolls around.

While it may have been unexpected to see Nylander's name on the prospect camp list because it feels like he's been around forever, he was all for getting a headstart despite not participating in the Sabres' development camp the week after the NHL Draft.

"I mean, I just got traded here," Nylander said. "I wanted to meet everybody and get on the ice. It’s been a couple of months since I was on the ice, so I thought it was a great opportunity for me to come here, show what I’ve done in training through the summer and I can get even better toward training camp. I just didn’t need to go to Buffalo’s camp."

2. Ripple effects of Artem Anisimov trade

The Blackhawks made a trade in the middle of camp on Tuesday, with Anisimov going to Ottawa in exchange for power forward Zack Smith. It's a move that cleared $1.3 million in cap space for the Blackhawks, but also opened the door for somebody to snatch up that third-line center role.

Kirby Dach, anyone?

GM Stan Bowman mentioned Ryan Carpenter, David Kampf, Andrew Shaw and Zack Smith as guys who have experience playing center but didn't single anyone out as a potential leading candidate to fill Anisimov's shoes in the third-line center role. One of those four figures to secure the fourth-line center position, which will likely be Carpenter or Kampf — perhaps we could see situational faceoffs between them with Carpenter a right-handed shot and Kampf a lefty.

It truly does feel like the third-line center position is up for grabs, and the Blackhawks don't seem to mind it that way. Bowman said Dach could very well be part of the group, and it's difficult not to wonder whether the No. 3 overall pick has a fair chance of making it.

"We have quite a few potential options there to play in the middle," Bowman said. "It’s hard to map out some lines and who is going to be in what spot but I think we have different looks that we can throw at the other team. Part of training camp is going to be to find out where does everybody fit and which combinations work best."

Other notes:

— Chris Kunitz has been sitting with the Blackhawks front office contingent observing camp. He hasn't announced what his future holds, but if he's ready to call it quits on his playing career, it wouldn't be surprising to see the organization bring him on in some capacity.

— Alexis Gravel made his camp debut on Tuesday. He did not participate in on-ice sessions on Monday because he wasn't medically cleared to do so.

— Tim Soderlund was listed on the prospect camp roster but has been absent for the first two days because of visa issues. It's unclear whether that will get resolved before camp wraps up on Friday.

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