Blackhawks

Konroyd's keys for Blackhawks-Ducks Game 3

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Konroyd's keys for Blackhawks-Ducks Game 3

1. Strong Start

There will be some tired bodies - from both teams - on the ice tonight when the Blackhawks face the Ducks at the United Center. Anaheim had won six straight home playoff games prior to losing to Chicago in Tuesday night's epic battle. Home ice means a lot to both of these teams, as Chicago is still undefeated at home in the post season, and the 22,000 fans who pack the UC tonight will provide some much needed energy for the local heroes. The Ducks played very well in the OT loss, and some feel maybe should have won the game with the number of Grade A chances they had. That’s why tonight they may be feeling a little more tired than the home team. It’s one thing to play over 116 minutes and win the game. It’s another animal altogether to be on the losing end. For the Blackhawks, use the crowd for energy, get your legs moving, score the first goal and get the Ducks feeling tired. 

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2. Strong Kills

The Hawks have killed eight straight penalties against the Ducks, who have one of the best power plays in this post season. After going 9-of-27 in their first two series, they have come up empty against a very aggressive Chicago kill. The Blackhawks allowed just six Anaheim shots in their five kills last game and did a wonderful job of blocking shots, pressuring the puck, breaking up plays and getting 200 foot clears. Seems that refs are calling a lot more penalties here in the third round, so try to stay out of the box, and continue the aggressive play when playing short-handed. 

3. Strong minutes from Kyle Cumiskey

Kyle Cumiskey played his first playoff game as a member of the Blackhawks on Tuesday, and his first since 2010. I thought he did a great job, showing quickness and speed in his game and making a good first pass to get pucks out of his end. Talk about getting thrown into the fire. His last regular season game with the Blackhawks was Feb. 27 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The intensity of the playoffs is nothing compared to the regular season and Cumiskey will be ready for that now. After the game, head coach Joel Quenneville said Cumiskey’s game was “fine.”  I think after watching the game again on the plane home from Anaheim, he’ll realize that Cumiskey was better than “fine” and will trust him with more minutes.   

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

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USA TODAY

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Apparently time doesn’t heal all wounds. 

Nearly a year and a half since being traded to the Coyotes, Niklas Hjalmarsson will return to the United Center ice on Thursday playing for the visiting team.  

“It’s going to be strange coming in as the away team and being in the other locker room,” said Hjalmarsson on Wednesday. “I bet it’s going to be a lot of emotions and mixed feelings.” 

This is also the first time Hjalmarsson has been back to the city of Chicago since he was traded, a city he called his “second home.” A home where he spent parts of 10 seasons, and never really planned on leaving.

“I wasn’t happy, to be honest with you,” said Hjalmarsson of the trade to Arizona. “I was shocked. It took me a couple days to actually realize I wasn’t going to play for the Hawks anymore.”

Including the playoffs, Hjalmarsson played 751 games in the Indian head sweater. Despite that and the team’s three Stanley Cup victories, the Blackhawks shipped him off to Arizona for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin in June of 2017.

“You kind of let it go after a while,” he said. “Now I’m just hoping all the success for the guys over here too.”

Hjalmarsson was known for his toughness, repeatedly blocking shot after shot, giving up his body, while never missing a shift. He credits his long-time teammates — Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook — for a lot of his success and identity on the blue line.

“I couldn’t have had better role models coming into a team,” he said. “I’m very thankful to have played on the same team as those guys and created a lot of success together. We’re always going to be connected with the Cups that we’ve had.”

The third championship won by that defense-trio was on United Center ice against the Lightning in 2015, but that isn’t the memory that stands out most for Hjalmarsson.

“The first Cup is always going to be pretty special,” said the 31-year old. “Even just going to the conference final (in 2009), even when we lost against Detroit that year, the year before was great memories too. The first time for me going into the playoffs and playing deep.”

The tables have turned now for both Hjalmarsson and the Blackhawks. 

The Coyotes have yet to score an even-strength goal this season, while the Blackhawks have claimed eight of a possible 10 points thus far through five games and expect to have their starting goaltender back between the pipes. 

But you won’t hear any ill-will from Hjalmarsson, he’s still rooting for the Hawks.

“I always think that Chicago deserves to have a team in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s not that I wish them not to do well. It’s the total opposite. I want them to have continued success.”