Blackhawks

NHL 2016-17 Central Division preview: Avalanche have potential to surprise

NHL 2016-17 Central Division preview: Avalanche have potential to surprise

CSN Chicago will unveil a preview each day for every Central Division team leading up to the NHL's season-opener. First up: Colorado Avalanche.

The abrupt resignation of Patrick Roy in August stunned the hockey world, but it may be a blessing in disguise for Colorado. The Avalanche were by far the worst puck possession team in the league last year, controlling only 44.18 percent of the even-strength shot attempts, and also ranked second-to-last in 2014-15 with a 43.25 percentage.

Semyon Varlamov often unfairly took the blame despite the Avalanche owning an even-strength save percentage of 92.76, which ranked slightly above the league average, while facing the second-most shot attempts last season.

Jared Bednar gives the Avalanche a breath of fresh air and brings a style better suited for this group.

[SHOP: Gear up for the 2016-17 season, Blackhawks fans!]

While he doesn't have any head coaching experience in the National Hockey League, Bednar helped the Columbus Blue Jackets' affiliate win a Calder Cup this past season by playing an up-tempo brand of hockey. That perfectly fits this team's identity with core guys like Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon, who's a breakout candidate after a strong showing at the World Cup of Hockey.

Factor in the addition of Mikko Rantanen, their No. 10 overall draft pick in 2015, and versatile forward Joe Colborne, who set career highs in goals (19), assists (25) and points (44) last season with the Calgary Flames, and the Avalanche have a sneaky-good forward group.

It also means the Avalanche have the potential to spend significantly less time in their own zone and alleviate some pressure off a blue line that didn't get better, but didn't get worse with the free-agent signings of depth players Patrick Wiercioch and Fedor Tyutin. 

The Avalanche were five points shy of clinching the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference a year ago, so it's certainly not out of the question that they can become a sleeper team in this division.

Hawks Rewind: Blackhawks-Canucks Game 6 of 2010 Western Conference Semifinals

Hawks Rewind: Blackhawks-Canucks Game 6 of 2010 Western Conference Semifinals

Tuesday at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Chicago:

A heartbreaker for the Canucks and another decisive, confidence-building victory for the 2010 Blackhawks.

Following Game 5's 4-1 win at the United Center over Chicago, Vancouver had come within one in the series, making it 3-2 Hawks. The Blackhawks had won the previous three games.

After a 0-0 first period in Game 6 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, three consecutive unanswered goals in the second period put Chicago in good shape heading into the third. Troy Brouwer and Kris Versteeg scored within the first three minutes of the second and Dave Bolland added a goal with 45 seconds remaining in the frame.

After Shane O'Brien scored at 3:44 of the third for the Canucks, Patrick Kane lit the lamp at 8:17, followed by Dustin Byfuglien at 8:42 for the 5-1 final score.

Kane's Game 6 goal unleashed his now famous "heartbreaker" celebration where he outlines a heart with both gloves and punched through it. 

The Blackhawks won the series 4-2 and would be on their way to play the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final. 

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: The 2010 Hawks were better than we thought

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AP

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: The 2010 Hawks were better than we thought

Pat Boyle, Charlie Roumeliotis, Scott King, Nick Gismondi and Slavko Bekovic discuss how they're spending time without hockey. They also share their thoughts on the re-airing of the 2010 Blackhawks playoff run, and could the Hawks have won more in the last decade?

(0:55) - How to fill time with no hockey

(11:20) - Rewatching the 2010 Blackhawks

(18:32) - Could the Blackhawks have won more last decade?

(26:20) - Time for the Blackhawks to re-invent themselves

(28:20) - Advice to get through the quarantine

Listen here or below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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