Konroyd's Keys for Game 3: Time for the big dogs to step up


Konroyd's Keys for Game 3: Time for the big dogs to step up

1. Time for the Big Dogs to come out and play. The Chicago Blackhawks did what they wanted to do when they opened the series down in Tampa Bay. They wanted to win one of those first 2 road games, and they did. They almost won both, which would have been lethal to the Lightning. What is amazing is that they have done this without anybody from the top 2 lines scoring a goal. These top 6 are not playing poorly, but we have not seen the explosive offense from these top dogs that was a constant in the 3 previous series. With head coach Joel Quenneville getting the last change, either Jonathan Toews of Patrick Kane will not have to deal with Viktor Hedman, who has been a beast on the back end for the Bolts. Let your best players be your best players, and then ride that wave of confidence.

[MORE GAME 3: Reinforcements coming for Blackhawks? Van Riemsdyk, Bickell may play]

2. Who cares who starts – shots and bodies early. This Tampa team has come out in both games so far with impressive starts. They got pucks deep, got it back, and got some shots on net which created some positive momentum. The Hawks have to dictate play tonight by playing on their toes and using the energy 22,000 plus screaming fans as a huge advantage. The goals the Blackhawks have scored so far have all come with traffic around goaltender Ben Bishop. Bishop looked a little uncomfortable this morning during the morning skate, so if he can’t go, get to the youngster Vasilevskiy as quickly as possible. Vasilevskiy looked good in relief of Bishop in the last game, but wasn’t tested enough and saw everything that he stopped.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!

3. Keep it simple Trevor. As of this writing we still did not know whether Trevor van Riemsdyk will be in the lineup for the Hawks tonight. If I had to guess, it looks like he’ll be in. This will be tough for the 1st year NHL player who was injured in a game against Dallas in mid-November when he broke his patella. When rehabbing down in Rockford a few months ago he was dealt another setback when he broke his wrist in a game there. The advice for TVR: keep it short and simple. We know he has great patience with the puck –holding on to it until the last second to make that pass. That should help him tonight where the Lightning have done a great job of rushing the Blackhawks defense into bad passes. What a dream for the 23 year old where his first playoff game as a professional is in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch


Wake-up call? Brandon Saad 'surprised' about possibility of being a healthy scratch

Brandon Saad played a majority of last season on the first line, started this season on the second to change things up, got demoted to the fourth by the fifth game, and could find himself out of the lineup in the sixth.

Before the Blackhawks hit the ice for practice on Monday, the 25-year-old winger found a white jersey hanging in his stall. That's usually reserved for players who are injured — Andreas Martinsen (back) was the only other player wearing one — or players who are on the outside looking in, which appears to be Saad right now considering he was not part of the four-line rotation.

"I don't think anyone wants to be wearing white around here," he said. "But it is what it is and there's nothing you can do but keep trying to improve. It's their job to make the call to put the best team out there to win hockey games."

Known for being even-keeled through the ups and downs, Saad expressed disappointment about the possibility of being a healthy scratch on Thursday against the Arizona Coyotes. He didn't exactly show that emotion following his demotion to the fourth line, perhaps out of respect to the players he was playing with by noting how it brings balance.

But he did on Monday, and it was the first time we've really seen some sort of emotion out of him.

"Everyone makes mistakes and things aren't always going to go your way but to be out of the lineup, a little surprised today," Saad said. "But it is what it is. ... No one wants to be out of the lineup. That's never fun regardless of who you are."

When asked to pinpoint what's gone wrong, Saad said he wasn't the right person to ask.

"I think you got to ask him that," he said, referring to Joel Quenneville and the coaching staff. "It's his calls. For me, you can talk pros and cons as much as you want but just trying to go out there and compete and win hockey games. We've won a few here, I know every game has gone to overtime so they've been close. Nothing was said to me about lineup change or anything like that. You just come in and you see your jersey and you go out there and you play."

So Quenneville was asked.

"Just expect more," he said. "That's the situation."

Is his mindset in the right place?

"I think he's fine," Quenneville said. "His mindset is what it is. Whether it's urgency or passion, coming up with loose pucks in those areas is going to be the difference."

The Blackhawks sending a message shouldn't only be directed at Saad. It also serves as a reminder to his teammates and is important to note for the younger guys about earning your ice time.

"I don't really know where the coaches are coming from so I'm not going to comment on that," Jonathan Toews said respectfully. "But [Saad] has been doing some good things and I think it's good for all of us to know what's going on there because if [Saad] can get his ice time taken away, then so can a lot of guys, myself included. So we all want to play well and have team success."

The Blackhawks need Saad to return to form quickly because he's crucial to their overall success. There's no debate about that. It's why the thought of Saad, who played in all 82 games last season, serving as the 13th forward is frustrating for everyone involved.

It hasn't been a problem in the past, but now it's becoming one because of the Blackhawks' aspirations of getting back to the playoffs and their dependence on their top players.

"I don’t think it’s an issue," Quenneville said. "We just expect more out of him."

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

Blackhawks make sports history with fifth straight overtime game to start season

The Blackhawks made sports history on Saturday after they appeared in their fifth straight overtime game to start the season.

No NHL team has done that since the league introduced a regular-season overtime period in 1983-84, per the Elias Sports Bureau. It also has never happened in the history of MLB, NBA or NFL, showing just how crazy this early season run has been for the Blackhawks, who have rallied from all five games and have come away with wins in three of them.

"We’ve had five games, every one of them have been extremely intense and the game’s been on the line from start to finish," coach Joel Quenneville said following a 4-3 overtime win over the St. Louis Blues. "Our group’s been competitive this year, the guys have been working hard for one another. I don’t know how many games we’ve been down in the third period, and coming back to win is special."

The Blackhawks appeared in 17 overtime/shootout games last season and won seven of them. They are one of six teams this season that have yet to pick up a regulation win.

On a separate note, Saturday marked the eighth time in Blackhawks history that one player scored a tying goal in the third period and scored in overtime (Alex DeBrincat), according to the NHL's PR department. It's the second time it's happened this year for the Blackhawks, with Jonathan Toews the other on Oct. 6 against St. Louis.