Blackhawks

Konroyd’s Keys for Blackhawks win: Be ready for Lightning strike

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Konroyd’s Keys for Blackhawks win: Be ready for Lightning strike

1. Lightning is gonna strike - so be ready. The Blackhawks were very fortunate to be down by just 1 goal after 2 periods of play on Wednesday night. Outskated, outplayed, outchecked and outhustled, it was only the excellent goaltending of Corey Crawford that kept them within striking distance in this game.  Expect the same kind of start from Tampa tonight. They will get pucks deep and come at the defensemen with speed. I liked the adjustment the Hawks made “in game” by looking for the centerman up the middle. Tampa’s pinching D created havoc early, and expect them to be a big part of the forecheck again. Get back quickly, fake passes up the boards and look to the middle, and rely on Crawford to direct traffic and make the odd breakout pass himself.

[MORE GAME 2: TVR waits, Bryan Bickell heals for Blackhawks]

2. Teuvo Time. Consider yourself lucky Blackhawks fans. You are witnessing the growth of a great hockey player right before your eyes. Sent to the minors to start the year to get more seasoning, Teuvo Teravainen has been in and out of the lineup since the beginning of 2015. He’s even been in and out of the lineup in these playoffs on two separate occasions. But he may have lengthened his leash with the performance he’s provided these last few games. Yes, he has skill and speed and an offensive awareness that few players possess. But he is also very good at stealing pucks and creating turnovers with his quick stick and intelligence. On the game winning goal on Wednesday, Teuvo realized that the forechecking pressure of Patrick Sharp was going to produce a quick pass. He was in J.T. Brown’s face before the pass got there, and deftly poked it to a wide open Antoine Vermette for the game-tying goal. Teravainen’s confidence is peaking at just the right time.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Killorn was a killer. I mentioned prior to last game that the line that had me worried was the Steven Stamkos, Valtteri Filppula, Alex Killorn trio. Killorn was very effective that night with not only the lone Lightning goal, but also five of Tampa’s 23 shots on net. Throw in the fact that this guy has five goals in his last seven games and you have a player that is trending upwards. He’s got good size at 6 feet 2 inches tall, and isn’t afraid of going hard to the net. While everyone is trying to take away Stamkos, one of the best shooters in the NHL, Killorn finds those seams and always is available. Keep an eye on Killorn and the rest of this line.

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.”