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.

Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

Brian Campbell on Adam Boqvist's progression and preaching patience in his development

The breakout star of Blackhawks development camp in July was undoubtedly Adam Boqvist, who was taken No. 8 overall in 2018. It was evident how much his game has grown over the past year.

Former Blackhawks defenseman — and now player development coach — Brian Campbell worked closely with Boqvist this past season and raved about the steps he took with the London Knights in the OHL. But Campbell is also preaching patience in Boqvist's development. Boqvist just turned 19 on Thursday, and it's important to let him develop at his own pace.

“Yeah, I was impressed," Campbell said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "Obviously, he’s come a long way in a year from last development camp. There’s no pressure being put on him. He’ll develop at his time. If he pushes for a spot, great, but I just don’t want people to get away. There’s a lot to keep learning and he wants to learn, which is the greatest thing. His teammates love him: great thing. He wants to do extra and learn the game: great thing. He is preparing himself days before, even in development camp, he’s preparing himself days before. So all great things and he’s on the right path.

"Hopefully that happens and maybe it does happen but if it doesn’t then that’s not the case and he keeps getting better and wants to keep getting better. Definitely, we know his skill level is there and I think he’s taken a huge step in the last year in preparing himself and knowing how to prepare as a pro player now. There’s a lot of great things there, and hopefully he does do that, but for me, I just don’t want to put too much on him right now. He’s turning 19 soon so he’s still a really young kid and it’s a tough position to play at a pro level. Believe me, I’m smiling, but I just don’t want to force the issue too much. Hopefully he can do some great things, but if he doesn’t, then that’s OK too.” 

Drake Caggiula looks back on how he could've played with Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome in OHL

Drake Caggiula looks back on how he could've played with Alex DeBrincat, Dylan Strome in OHL

Drake Caggiula had a successful college hockey career. He compiled 127 points (62 goals, 65 assists) in 162 career games across four seasons at North Dakota, and served as an alternate captain during his senior year.

But before committing to college, Caggiula was being recruited by the Erie Otters of the OHL and there could've been a moment where he played with Connor McDavid and current teammates Alex DeBrincat and Dylan Strome all at the same time.

“I remember telling Sherry Bassin, the GM of Erie, how I was going to go to college," Caggiula said in an interview with NBC Sports Chicago. "He kept reiterating that, 'at 16 years old, we’re not going to be that great. But at 17, we’re going to be a little bit better, but not great. But at 18 and 19, those are going to be your big years and we’re going to have a really good team and we’re going to surround you with good players.’ I mean, that’s two years in the future so it’s hard to really see that.

"Looking back at it now, the players that I could have played with, they had some pretty talented players go through Erie. Even Dylan Larkin was an Erie draft pick and ended up going to Michigan. It could have been a pretty talented team there so it’s kind of funny to see how it all works out. We’re all here today coming from different paths so it’s pretty cool.”

Any chirps from the guys about his decision now?

“Yeah, Connor [McDavid] used to make fun of me all the time, you know? ‘Oh, we would have won the Memorial Cup if you would have joined the team!’ and all that sort of stuff," Caggiula joked. "We talk about it a little bit just here and there saying, ‘what a team we could have had and imagine who we would have been playing with and now we’re all here together. What if we all would have started in Erie together and now we’re here together?’ It just would have been a pretty cool story. It’s obviously something that we can’t control but it’s definitely something that you can look back at and laugh at.”

Check out the interview in the video above.

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