Blackhawks

Konroyd's keys for Game 6: Blackhawks need dominating start

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Konroyd's keys for Game 6: Blackhawks need dominating start

1. Dominating start. One thing has held true throughout this round, and almost all of the playoffs: the team that has scored first has gone on to win the game. On a larger scale, Anaheim is 7-0 and Chicago 7-1 when they hit the score sheet first in this postseason. A good start brings a lot to the table for the Blackhawks – it get’s you energized and feeling good about your game, it gets the fans and their energy into the contest, and it gets the opposition on their heels. In the last contest, the Blackhawks had maybe their worst start of the playoffs this year. Coach Joel Quenneville blamed it on being stationary and not getting pucks out. Get your legs moving and passing game in gear and make sure you are pushing the pace against the Ducks.

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2. Break the drought. Three key players in recent playoff success for the Blackhawks have been relatively quiet on the goal scoring front of late. Patrick Sharp has been very noticeable with three helpers in his last two games, but has yet to score against Anaheim. He has 18 shots on Frederik Andersen in this series. Marian Hossa has one goal against the Ducks, a goal that was put in accidentally by an Anaheim defender. He has 16 shots in the series. Maybe the biggest disappointment so far has been the play of power forward Bryan Bickell. He has yet to score in the postseason and has just seven shots in this series. He leads the way in hits, but is at his best when he combines his physicality with a goal scoring touch. 

3. You’ve planted the seed…now make it rain with shots. I mentioned in my keys to the last game that you had gotten into the head of Freddy Andersen by putting five goals past him in a 5-4 OT win at the UC on Saturday. This carries a little more weight today judging by the way Andersen played in Anaheim on Monday. Yes, he won the game, but almost gave away a two-goal lead with less that two minutes to play. Two of the four goals scored on him were of the ugly variety, and it would be in the best interest of all the Hawks to shoot whenever given the opportunity. Chicago took over 16 minutes to get their first shot on goal in Anaheim in the last game. That can’t happen 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.