New Blackhawks following lead of 'locked-in' core


New Blackhawks following lead of 'locked-in' core

Trevor Daley had watched the Blackhawks from afar for the last several years. He saw how they worked collectively as a group, how they got through ups and downs and how they won — and won and won.

Now he’s seeing it up close.

“These guys are locked in,” he said following Tuesday’s practice at Johnny’s IceHouse. “I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”

The Blackhawks have done a lot of winning these last few seasons, and it starts with a core that brings as much mental toughness and confidence as it does talent. That core will be instrumental again as the Blackhawks defend their Stanley Cup, starting with Wednesday's regular-season opener against the New York Rangers.

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For Daley, the chance to join this group, and possibly win a Cup with them, is enticing. He’s willing to do what’s asked of him because, obviously, what the Blackhawks are doing has worked pretty damn well lately.

“When you come in and you see what these guys have done — especially for someone like myself, who’s been in the league a lot of years and trying to accomplish what these guys have accomplished — it’s a no-brainer to come in and see what they do and follow,” he said. “Selfishly, what a great opportunity it is for me to come in and have guys like this around me and be able to see what they’re doing. Because at the end of the day, these guys have done what every other team in the league wants to do.”

Andrew Desjardins said he observed the same things when he was traded here last spring.

“There was just that feeling of winning. ‘Let’s be the best team, let’s be the best team every night and let’s ... let’s win,’” Desjardins said. “Obviously there are other things: the mindset, play the right way, do the right things with the puck and play with the style that makes us successful. But the bottom line is to win.”

While many moves have been made since the Blackhawks won the Cup in 2010, the core group — Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Patrick Kane, among others — remains largely intact. They’ve set the bar, and those who join the team have to meet it.

“The core group in here that really plants the seed of how things are done,” Corey Crawford said. “The guys who come in, our management has done a great job of bringing in the right guys to fill spots. It’s more these guys coming in and following what’s been going on here for a while.”

[MORE BLACKHAWKS: Blackhawks recall Ville Pokka, assign Viktor Svedberg to Rockford]

At the same time, those new acquisitions bring some special elements, too. Many haven’t gone through the rigors of several long postseason, so they bring energy. And many — including Jamal Mayers, Michal Rozsival, Michal Handzus, Antoine Vermette and Kimmo Timonen — have joined the Blackhawks looking for their first Stanley Cup. That desire to win one brings an enthusiastic jolt to the core.

“Just their attitude, their excitement,” Bryan Bickell said of what the new guys add. “I’m sure everyone in the league wants to wear a Blackhawks jersey because they have a chance every year. The excitement lifts us to give them an opportunity to win. We want to win for them and for ourselves, too.”

The Blackhawks are embarking on another Cup defense. The other two weren’t easy; this one won’t be either. But the core that’s been in place here knows what it takes to vie for another Cup. Those who are new to the program know they need to heed and follow the core group and adapt to the Blackhawks’ system for their best chance to win. Recent results show it’s been a successful blueprint.

“Guys who (have been) around and know the systems and lead by example on the ice,” Bickell said. “Our leaders show (new players) the ropes, what Blackhawks hockey is all about, what we need and what we look forward to for a season to be successful.”

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks show urgency vs. the undefeated

USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Blackhawks show urgency vs. the undefeated

The Blackhawks finally got on the board for the season and did so in front of the 500th consecutive capacity crowd at the United Center.

Pat Boyle, Jamal Mayers and Charlie Roumeliotis break down the impressive performance by the Blackhawks against the undefeated Edmonton Oilers and discuss how Jeremy Colliton’s message got through to Alex Nylander and the rest of the team.

Plus, after an impressive performance in net, should Corey Crawford get the next game vs. the Blue Jackets? And what does the future have in store for Kirby Dach? Jamal makes a bold prediction.

0:54 – Blackhawks finally show urgency in 2nd period

2:47 – Penalty kill starting to show some life

5:00 – Thoughts on the Shaw/Strome/Kane line

6:43 – Blackhawks eliminating some defensive breakdowns

9:23 – Big rebound performance from Corey Crawford

11:36 – Colliton’s message to Alex Nylander got through

15:21 – Brandon Saad has been a pleasant surprise early on

17:15 – Dominik Kubalik’s impressive performance

18:31 – Will Kirby Dach be with the Blackhawks all season?

22:42 – Does Crawford or Lehner start vs. the Blue Jackets?

Listen to the entire episode here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast


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Four takeaways: Corey Crawford shines in Blackhawks first win of the season

Four takeaways: Corey Crawford shines in Blackhawks first win of the season

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers at the United Center on Monday:

1. Blackhawks are in the win column

The Blackhawks said after morning skate that they weren't going to "freak out" about their 0-2-1 start despite talking all training camp long about how they didn't want to dig a hole in October. Still, Monday felt like a game they had to win going into a three-day break because they have to start generating some positive vibes within the locker room.

And they did just that.

The Blackhawks handed the Oilers their first loss of the season (5-1-0), but more importantly, they're finally in the win column for the 2019-20 campaign.

"We played really well," Corey Crawford said. "I think everyone was going. Guys were coming back to help out defensively, and just a good team effort. The PK was strong, even though we gave up that one [late], it was strong early in the game. Just nice to win the first one."

2. Second period? That's more like it

The Blackhawks have been happy with their first periods this season. They've been mostly happy with their thirds. It's the middle frame that's been their downfall.

The team addressed those struggles as a team the morning of the game, and they certainly responded.

According to Natural Stat Trick, the Blackhawks led in shot attempts (32-8), even-strength scoring chances (16-6), even-strength high danger chances (5-4) and, of course, the goal column (1-0) in the second period. That's more like it.

"That was the message today from the coaches was how much better we need to be in the second," Connor Murphy said. "We showed examples of when we've done that in the past and what it takes. I think we were just better at staying on our toes and we drew some penalties and got on the forecheck quick and kept their goalie from being able to make plays and for them to be able to come up ice."

3. Corey Crawford shines

You could've made a good argument that Robin Lehner should've started this game, especially coming off a solid outing on Saturday and his career numbers against the Oilers (5-1-2 with a 1.86 goals-against average and .943 save percentage). But the coaching staff went with Crawford and it proved to be the correct decision.

Crawford stopped 27 of 28 shots for a save percentage of .964 and faced nine high-danger chances at 5-on-5, none of which found the back of the net. His lone goal against came with 2:11 left in regulation and it was on a 6-on-4 power play for the Oilers. Overall, he was fantastic.

"He looked sharp as ever," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "He was really good. He did make some saves for us. That team has some weapons so they had some opportunities and he was there and just he's under control. It's something I've said about him before, he really gives the team confidence. I thought tonight he was really good."

4. Blackhawks shut down Oilers' top guns

The first line of Leon Draisaitl, Zack Kassian and Connor McDavid went into Monday tied for the most goals scored as a trio. When the three of them are on the ice at 5-on-5, they're controlling 57.1 percent of the shot attempts, 61.2 percent of the scoring chances and 68.8 percent of the high danger chances.

The Blackhawks held them in check. That line had 14 shot attempts for and 20 against at 5-on-5 and were on the ice for 11 scoring chances. The third line of David Kampf, Dominik Kubalik and Brandon Saad did a terrific job of shutting them down.

"They all just got real big motors, big engine," Colliton said of the Saad-Kampf-Kubalik line. "They work and compete and they all bring a little bit different ingredient. ... Pleased with that line."

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