Blackhawks

Jonathan Toews: Blackhawks 'can bring a lot more'

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Jonathan Toews: Blackhawks 'can bring a lot more'

ANAHEIM, Calif. – The Blackhawks’ demeanor following their Game 1 loss vs. the Anaheim Ducks was as to be expected: certainly disappointed but not overly sullen.

“We expected them to be a good team,” Patrick Kane said. “I don’t think we came in here and thought it was going to be easy.”

No, it wasn’t going to be easy. And it’s not going to get any easier from here on out. But if there’s one thing the Blackhawks know it’s how to respond to tough situations, especially in the playoffs.

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Kyle Cumiskey to play in Game 2 vs. Ducks]

The Blackhawks will look to even the Western Conference Final when they face the Ducks in Game 2 on Tuesday night. While this is the first time the Blackhawks have trailed in a best-of-seven series this season, they’ve dealt with this in the past – they were in a 0-2 series hole vs. St. Louis in last year’s first round before they won the next four games. They liked a lot of what they did in Game 1 but know they have to be better in Game 2 to get a split.

“It’s night and day between wins and losses, especially in the playoffs, but I think we know we can bring a lot more than we did yesterday,” Jonathan Toews said. “We started well, created chances, did a lot of good things, a lot of little things well in the early parts of the game yesterday and kind of trailed off and let them keep control as they got the lead. Maybe to a certain degree, we got that one out of the way. But I think we definitely have to bounce back.”

[MORE: Calm Frederik Andersen finding postseason success]

The Blackhawks know where they have to be better. The power play struggled in back-to-back opportunities in the third period on Sunday – coach Joel Quenneville said he could put Kane on both units, as he did earlier this season. They missed out on opportunities off Ducks turnovers, and couldn’t keep the Ducks from capitalizing on their mistakes.

And as good as Frederik Andersen was against them on Sunday – he stopped 32 of 33 shots – the Blackhawks said they have to make things tougher on the Ducks goaltender.

“He’s a big guy in there, he makes a lot of saves that he can see. On some empty nets he even made some big saves,” said Patrick Sharp, referring to Andersen’s stunning stick save on Kane’s first-period shot. “We can do a better job of battling, fighting our way to the front of their net. But we’ll give them credit for Game 1 for doing a good job of boxing us out and letting their goaltender see the puck. So getting to the net is key for us.”

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The Blackhawks have enough experience not to get rattled when they’re down in a game or in a series. The Ducks present challenges that the Nashville Predators and Minnesota Wild did not but adjusting to different styles are part of the postseason too. Going back home with a split is key for the Blackhawks, who, like the Ducks at the moment, are undefeated at home this postseason. They played a pretty good game on Sunday. They need a really good game on Tuesday.

“We have to have some urgency right here right now,” Toews said. “Try to put some pressure on them in their building and go home feeling good about ourselves.”

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Blackhawks assign Anton Forsberg to Rockford after clearing waivers

Anton Forsberg cleared waivers on Tuesday morning and was assigned to the Rockford IceHogs in the American Hockey League.

That's good news for the Blackhawks organizational depth chart, with Forsberg as the No. 3 in goal. But it also complicates things in Rockford, where Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen have been sharing the duties.

Delia is 3-1-0 with a 3.26 goals against average and .910 save percentage while Lankinen is 0-1-1 with a 3.39 GAA and .825 save percentage. Perhaps the most likely scenario is Lankinen gets sent to the ECHL with the Indy Fuel while Delia and Forsberg split the load in Rockford.

It's certainly a good problem to have, but it's still unclear how that dynamic will play out.

"We haven’t talked about that," coach Joel Quenneville said. "But we expect [Forsberg] to play."

Luke Johnson recalled

With a spot opening up on the 23-man roster, Johnson is being brought back up after he was squeezed out by Corey Crawford's return. He had a goal and an assist in two games with Rockford.

Brandon Saad returns to top-six role

After turning in arguably his best performance of the season on Sunday, Saad is back playing on the second line with Artem Anisimov and Patrick Kane. He had seven shot attempts (three on goal) against Tampa Bay and led the team in 5-on-5 possession numbers.

"[Saad] is coming off a game where we liked what we saw," Quenneville said. "Playing with Kaner can help him get going."

Nick Schmaltz to play right side for first time in NHL career

Eight games into the season and Schmaltz has spent time at both center and left wing. Now he'll get a look on the right side with Alexandre Fortin on the left and David Kampf centering the third line.

Part of the reason for Schmaltz’s move to the right side was because Quenneville said they like Fortin on the left. It's not unfamiliar territory for Schmaltz, but could take some time getting used to.

"I played a little while back, not sure when," Schmaltz said "Just a little bit different. Catching pucks on your forehand now instead of your backhand. It's not a huge adjustment, just play with speed and compete hard and hopefully the skill on our line will take over."

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

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AP

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

The Blackhawks have said all along that they don't plan on carrying three goaltenders, but wanted to do so during the three games in four days stretch just in case, with Corey Crawford coming back from a 10-month layoff because of a concussion.

After being encouraged by how Crawford has responded to his return, the Blackhawks placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers Monday morning. Teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for the 25-year-old goaltender and would have to keep him on their NHL roster for 10 games and/or 30 days before he's eligible to go through the waiver process again.

His chances of getting claimed by any of the other 30 teams essentially depends on which teams believe Forsberg would be an immediate upgrade over their current backup — or starter, for that matter — or whether there's an injury to one of the team's two goaltenders that requires a placeholder, like we saw the Carolina Hurricanes do by claiming Curtis McElhinney from the Toronto Maple Leafs after Scott Darling's injury in the preseason.

If Forsberg goes unclaimed, the Blackhawks can assign him to the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs. With Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen sharing the goaltending duties in Rockford, it's possible Lankinen gets sent to the Indy Fuel in the ECHL to get consistent starts under his belt.

A third option, one that isn't very common but we've seen in the past as recently as last October with Maple Leafs goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, is that Forsberg can be loaned to any AHL team while still being a part of the Blackhawks organization. This would allow the Blackhawks to keep Delia and Lankinen in Rockford while Forsberg gets his starts in the AHL, too.

Or, the Blackhawks could simply trade Forsberg to another NHL team that could stash him in the AHL, as long as he clears waivers. They did it last season with Chris DiDomenico, who cleared waivers as a member of the Ottawa Senators but was then traded to Chicago for Ville Pokka days later. Had DiDomenico been claimed by the Blackhawks, he would have had to stay on the NHL roster as noted above.

Forsberg was 10-16-4 with a 2.97 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 35 appearances last season but has not appeared in a game yet this year. He was acquired as part of the Brandon Saad package for Artemi Panarin in June 2017.