Blackhawks

Konroyd's keys for Game 1 of Blackhawks-Predators

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Konroyd's keys for Game 1 of Blackhawks-Predators

1. Win the Special Teams battle.

It’s been said before, but it bears worth repeating – win your special teams and you normally end up winning the game. The margin between winning and losing in the postseason is very small. You try to gain any edge you can, whether it’s on face offs, line changes and especially on your special teams. The Blackhawks power play didn’t look particularly good the last 25 games of the year. Nor did the penalty kill for that matter. Back on Feb. 15th, the 57th game of the year, the Hawks had the No. 1 rated penalty kill and the No. 11 rated power play. They finished 10th and 20th respectively after game 82. Each slid about 10 spots. They have the talent, they just need the hard work and resolve to get the special teams figured out.

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2. Keep an eye on Nashville’s D.

The Nashville Predators back end had a spectacular season. The defensemen on this team combined for 61 goals. By comparison, Chicago’s defensemen combined for 27. Now that’s not a knock on the Hawks, but it goes to show you how offensive-minded the Predators D-men are. They all have big shots and they all like to join the rush. Make sure you are taking away shooting lanes in your end, especially when Shea Weber is out there. It’s never too late to come back on these guys and try to pin them against the boards by finishing checks in their own end.

3. Get to Rinne. 

Pekka Rinne was having a Vezina type season up until Feb. 19th and then the bottom fell out. He gave up five goals to the New York Islanders and finished the season with just 7 wins and 14 losses from that date after going 34-7-2 to that point. His confidence was shaken and he finished the season with six straight losses and an .857 save percentage in those six games. Rinne likes to go down, so look to go high, especially on his glove side. He tends to overslide too, sometimes losing his balance in the process. Wrap-arounds from behind the net are a good option. 

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Robin Lehner calls out team defense plus Mike Gapski on his 2500 games with the Blackhawks

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Robin Lehner calls out team defense plus Mike Gapski on his 2500 games with the Blackhawks

Another night and another awful showing by the Blackhawks team defense, and this time, Robin Lehner let the team hear about it. Pat Boyle, Adam Burish and Scott King discuss the Blackhawks' ugly loss to the Coyotes and whether there should be some more line mixing happening soon. Plus, head athletic trainer Mike Gapski took part in his 2500th game with the Blackhawks and he sat down with Pat Foley 1-on-1 to re-live his 33 years with the organization.

1:13 - The odd-man rushes are piling up against this defense

5:54 - Is the power play getting going kinda maybe a little bit?

7:43 - Should Jeremy Colliton mix up the lines once again?

9:20 - The Kirby Dach playing-time dilemma

13:45 - Celebrating Mike Gapski's 2500 games with the Blackhawks

17:00 - Pat Foley's 1-on-1 interview with Mike Gapski

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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4 Takeaways: Blackhawks lose 5-2 to Coyotes

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USA Today

4 Takeaways: Blackhawks lose 5-2 to Coyotes

The Blackhawks fell 5-2 to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, giving them their third straight loss. Here are four takeaways:

Ex-Hawks Haunting

Former Blackhawks forward and Bartlett, Illinois native Vinnie Hinostroza helped dig the Hawks a three-goal hole to climb out of in the first period. Hinostroza picked up secondary assists on goals from Michael Grabner (2:56), Clayton Keller (5:03) and Brad Richardson (15:04) in the opening frame. 

Another former Hawk, Nick Schmaltz got past Patrick Kane and scored off a faceoff in Chicago's zone at 8:25 of the second period. 

D hurtin'

Calvin de Haan, one of the Hawks' more reliable defensemen this season, left the first period of Thursday's 5-1 loss against the Golden Knights in Vegas with a right shoulder injury. He could miss a decent amount of time as he had surgery on the same shoulder in the offseason, which sidelined him for several months. 

Chicago has given up 10 goals since de Haan left the lineup. His injury came with two-time Norris trophy-winning defenseman Duncan Keith (groin) not on the current three-game road trip which wraps up in St. Louis on Saturday. 

A positive for the Hawks' defense tonight was Dennis Gilbert getting his first NHL point by assisting on Jonathan Toews' second period goal, which came off a Dominik Kubalik rebound. 

Olli Maatta was back in the lineup on Thursday after missing the last four games with flu-like symptoms. Maatta had a +/- rating of 0 and recorded three shots. 

Top players on scoresheet

Another positive was The Captain, Kubalik, Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat all finding the scoresheet. Strome scored at 12:58 of the third period on a power play, giving the Hawks their fifth straight game with a power-play goal. Kubalik got an assist on Toews' goal and DeBrincat has three goals and an assist in his past four games.

If the defense can find a way to tighten up a bit, the Blackhawks will be able to ride two very capable goalies and their top two lines, which are gaining some confidence. 

2,500 for 'Gapper

Blackhawks head athletic trainer Mike Gapski worked his 2,500th game with the Blackhawks Thursday. Gapski is the longest tenured trainer in the NHL. 

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Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.