Blackhawks

Konroyd's Keys for Game 5: Stopping Steven Stamkos

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Konroyd's Keys for Game 5: Stopping Steven Stamkos

1. Power play – be a difference maker.  The Blackhawks have gone 2 for 11 with the man advantage in the series so far. 18 percent isn’t horrible for your power play, but when you look deeper, they have managed just 10 shots during these 11 odd-man advantages. Both power play goals have come in Blackhawk losses. Your power play is not only about scoring goals, it’s about gaining momentum within the game. Shots and chances are what create energy on your power play, and the last few attempts have been marked by few shots and lots of clears by Tampa Bay.  Assume that shooting mentality and be shooters with a relentless puck retrieval. 

[RELATED: Blackhawks have no preference for who's in goal for Lightning for Game 5]

2. Kane will be able.  Patrick Kane has played very well in this series, yet doesn’t have a lot to show for his efforts. He leads all forwards from both teams in time on ice, and racked up a hefty 24 plus minutes in Game 1 in Tampa Bay. Kane is at his best when he is skating into the “money zone,” that area between the dots and tops of the circles extending down to the Tampa Bay goal line. The Lightning defense has done a great job of denying number 88 this area, using their size, strength, and sticks to make sure Kaner isn’t weaving any of his magic in this locale. Look for Kaner to get things going on the power play. He’s been a lifetime point per game player, and with just one assist so far in the series, he will be looking to be a difference maker.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Keep stopping Stamkos.  The Hawks have done a great job of shutting down one of the top shooters in the NHL.  Steven Stamkos finished second only to Alex Ovechkin in NHL goal scoring this year with 43.  He has no goals and just 1 assist in the 4 games of this series so far. Better yet, he has been limited to just 2 shots on net in each of the last 3 games. His 2 shots last game came in the first and last minute of the contest, with no shots during his other 19 minutes of playing time.  The Blackhawks defensemen have done a great job of keeping Stamkos to the outside and denying that prime real estate in front of Corey Crawford, where the sniper earns his money. Stamkos is capable of breaking a game open, make sure it is not tonight.

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

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USA TODAY

Hawks Talk Podcast: Thoughts on Corey Crawford's season debut

In the latest Hawks Talk Podcast, Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis recap Corey Crawford’s season debut after missing nearly 10 months with a concussion.

Mayers talks about the Kitty system that Niklas Hjalmarsson and Vinnie Hinostroza probably dealt with in their returns to Chicago.

The guys also discuss what’s next for Crawford, the upcoming matchup against Artemi Panarin and the Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Blackhawks’ biggest areas for improvement.

Listen to the full podcast here or via the embedded player below, and be sure to subscribe, rate us and write a review!

Four takeaways: Blackhawks suffer first regulation loss, but Corey Crawford looks sharp in season debut

Four takeaways: Blackhawks suffer first regulation loss, but Corey Crawford looks sharp in season debut

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 4-1 loss to the Arizona Coyotes at the United Center on Thursday:

1. Return of the Crow

The Blackhawks got their man back between the pipes after a 10-month layoff due to a concussion. And he looked like same old "Crow."

Crawford stopped 27 of 30 shots for a save percentage of .900. He faced 12 shots and eight scoring chances in the first period, but nothing too out of the ordinary. The biggest save he made was on a Michael Grabner breakaway in the third period, bailing out a turnover in the neutral zone.

"I think I felt better in the second and third," Crawford said. "But they really didn’t get that many opportunities early. It was nice. I think they flipped one in for the first one, so that was kind of good just to get in it and feel one early. We were close in that one all game and we created a lot. I thought [Antti] Raanta played really well.

"It was a tough, tough break at the end. Still felt I should have stopped that one. We were right there, we were creating a lot and gotta try to come up with that one. Just gotta forget about it and worry about the next game."

2. Alex DeBrincat, Jonathan Toews extend point streaks

The hot start continues for the Blackhawks' two leading scorers, both of whom assisted on Erik Gustafsson's goal in the second period to stretch their point streaks to six games. DeBrincat and Toews each have 10 points this season.

3. Overtime streak ends

The Blackhawks made history by forcing five straight overtime games to start the season, something no team has ever done in the four major sports (NBA, NFL, NHL, MLB). But they didn't have the comeback magic in them this time.

Entering Thursday, the Blackhawks were 1-0-1 when trailing after two periods. They were 5-28-2 last season for a win percentage of .143.

4. Familiar faces, new places

Five former Blackhawks took the ice for the Coyotes: Vinnie Hinostroza, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Jordan Oesterle, Richard Panik and Antti Raanta.

It was Hjalmarsson's first trip back to Chicago since being traded in the 2017 offseason. He received a nice video tribute during the second TV timeout of the first period, which made him very emotional.

"I almost got emotional too seeing his reaction," Toews said. "He's one of those guys you'll never forget what he meant to this locker room. He was a quiet guy in the room but we all know how he played and put everyone else before himself. Pretty cool reaction from the fans too. I think we were all sad to see him leave this locker room, he did a lot of special things and was a massive part of our championship wins. Happy for him to get that reception. It's well-deserved and obviously we miss having him around."

As far as the game, Hjalmarsson logged a team-high 22:18 of ice time and blocked three shots. Oesterle registered a secondary assist on Arizona's first goal, which was its first 5-on-5 of the season.

Hinostroza, who was also part of the Marian Hossa trade over the summer, scored twice in his return to his hometown, beating Crawford with a wrist shot to make it 2-1 in the second period and an empty-netter in the third; his second goal turned out to be the game winner, the fourth of his career and first as a member of the Coyotes.

Panik recorded four shot attempts (three on goal). And Raanta improved to 16-0-3 in his career at the United Center, a remarkable record for any goaltender in any situation.