Blackhawks

New playoff structure concerns Blackhawks

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New playoff structure concerns Blackhawks

Jonathan Toews got a taste of playing in front of the hometown crowd last September, when the Blackhawks played a preseason game in Winnipeg.

Starting next season hell really revel in it.

The NHLs realignment plan has the Jets and Blackhawks in a conference together, and the Winnipeg born-and-bred Toews cant wait to play a regular-season game there in 2012-13.

I never thought Id get the opportunity to play a game in my hometown in my career, so its pretty crazy Ill get to do it next year, Toews said. (With the Jets) being back this year I wish I could go back and see the excitement. But dont think itll be much different next year.

The realignment has drawn mainly good reviews from the players. Rivalries will stay put (as with the Wings), others will be enhanced (as with the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild) and others could be cultivated. And most love seeing every team come to their building, and vice-versa.

But with every new idea, rule or format, there are concerns. The biggest right now seems to be the playoff scenario. The top four teams in each conference make the postseason; no longer is it the top eight in each of the Eastern and Western conferences. And, two conferences have eight teams while the other two have seven. So it could be easier to make the playoffs in the latter conferences than in the former.

You could be stuck in a tough division, Patrick Sharp said. Look at the teams paired up with us; a lot of them are right in the hunt (in the current standings). You pick your poison. It might be easy for some, tough for others.

I dont know if its good idea having teams out of the playoffs that have more points than others, Sharp said.

Indeed, it could make for some disappointed teams come April. Like we said, theres always a potential point of angst.

I think it was a little easier (to qualify) before, coach Joel Quenneville said. Our conference looks like its going to be real tough. Minnesotas better, Dallas is better, Winnipegs not bad and the other five are pretty good as well. You put those eight teams in our group, only half make it, its tough.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Robin Lehner calls out team defense plus Mike Gapski on his 2500 games with the Blackhawks

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USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Robin Lehner calls out team defense plus Mike Gapski on his 2500 games with the Blackhawks

Another night and another awful showing by the Blackhawks team defense, and this time, Robin Lehner let the team hear about it. Pat Boyle, Adam Burish and Scott King discuss the Blackhawks' ugly loss to the Coyotes and whether there should be some more line mixing happening soon. Plus, head athletic trainer Mike Gapski took part in his 2500th game with the Blackhawks and he sat down with Pat Foley 1-on-1 to re-live his 33 years with the organization.

1:13 - The odd-man rushes are piling up against this defense

5:54 - Is the power play getting going kinda maybe a little bit?

7:43 - Should Jeremy Colliton mix up the lines once again?

9:20 - The Kirby Dach playing-time dilemma

13:45 - Celebrating Mike Gapski's 2500 games with the Blackhawks

17:00 - Pat Foley's 1-on-1 interview with Mike Gapski

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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4 Takeaways: Blackhawks lose 5-2 to Coyotes

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USA Today

4 Takeaways: Blackhawks lose 5-2 to Coyotes

The Blackhawks fell 5-2 to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday, giving them their third straight loss. Here are four takeaways:

Ex-Hawks Haunting

Former Blackhawks forward and Bartlett, Illinois native Vinnie Hinostroza helped dig the Hawks a three-goal hole to climb out of in the first period. Hinostroza picked up secondary assists on goals from Michael Grabner (2:56), Clayton Keller (5:03) and Brad Richardson (15:04) in the opening frame. 

Another former Hawk, Nick Schmaltz got past Patrick Kane and scored off a faceoff in Chicago's zone at 8:25 of the second period. 

D hurtin'

Calvin de Haan, one of the Hawks' more reliable defensemen this season, left the first period of Thursday's 5-1 loss against the Golden Knights in Vegas with a right shoulder injury. He could miss a decent amount of time as he had surgery on the same shoulder in the offseason, which sidelined him for several months. 

Chicago has given up 10 goals since de Haan left the lineup. His injury came with two-time Norris trophy-winning defenseman Duncan Keith (groin) not on the current three-game road trip which wraps up in St. Louis on Saturday. 

A positive for the Hawks' defense tonight was Dennis Gilbert getting his first NHL point by assisting on Jonathan Toews' second period goal, which came off a Dominik Kubalik rebound. 

Olli Maatta was back in the lineup on Thursday after missing the last four games with flu-like symptoms. Maatta had a +/- rating of 0 and recorded three shots. 

Top players on scoresheet

Another positive was The Captain, Kubalik, Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat all finding the scoresheet. Strome scored at 12:58 of the third period on a power play, giving the Hawks their fifth straight game with a power-play goal. Kubalik got an assist on Toews' goal and DeBrincat has three goals and an assist in his past four games.

If the defense can find a way to tighten up a bit, the Blackhawks will be able to ride two very capable goalies and their top two lines, which are gaining some confidence. 

2,500 for 'Gapper

Blackhawks head athletic trainer Mike Gapski worked his 2,500th game with the Blackhawks Thursday. Gapski is the longest tenured trainer in the NHL. 

Attention Dish and Sling customers! You have lost your Blackhawks games on NBC Sports Chicago. To switch providers, visit mysportschicago.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Blackhawks easily on your device.