Blackhawks

Patrick Kane: Blackhawks' veterans have to 'pick up the slack'

Patrick Kane: Blackhawks' veterans have to 'pick up the slack'

Patrick Kane was talking about the Blackhawks’ younger players and their early contributions when the talk transitioned to him and the rest of the more seasoned guys.

“I think they’ve been great for us, to be honest with you,” Kane said. “I think it’s more on us veteran guys to pick up the slack and make sure we’re playing better.”

In the Blackhawks’ opening games there have been two big problems: the struggling penalty kill and lack of puck possession. As Kane said, much of the onus for fixing that falls on the players who have been here for a few years. That’s what the Blackhawks will keep trying to do when they host the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday night.

The Blackhawks tweaked lines a bit again on Monday as they try to build off Saturday’s victory over Nashville. As much as they’ll take that victory there were still issues, from not enough puck possession to too many good scoring opportunities against them. Coach Joel Quenneville said the team has to “tighten up in all aspects of our game.”

“I think whether it’s our younger or older guys, we can be better,” Quenneville said. “I think we normally have the puck more and then [it’s] keeping the puck when we’ve got it in the offensive zone, puck support and getting to the net. That’s what we’re looking at.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]​

As much as the Blackhawks benefit from more puck possession, the second line of Artemi Panarin, Artem Anisimov and Kane really do. It was almost a game with the three of them last season, and it led to plenty of production. Neither has been there through the first three games as much as they’d like.

“I think we’re still working on getting that chemistry back playing with one another again,” Kane said. “We’ll build it up. I think we’ll be OK. Hopefully we can figure it out sooner than later.”

The Blackhawks saw some things they liked in their third game. But their usual strengths, including puck possession, still aren’t there. Kane said the young guys are doing their part right now. The veterans need to do the same.

“It’s just about us taking control, not waiting for the next guy to do it,” Kane said. “Make sure, when you’re out there, you’re taking advantage of your ice time and also the opportunity of being out there, trying to make something happen. There may be too much waiting around, waiting for the next guy to do it.”

Briefly

  • Jordin Tootoo did not practice Monday due to illness. If he cannot play against the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, the Blackhawks could dress seven defensemen.
  • Ryan Hartman (lower body) also did not practice on Monday. Quenneville said there’s a possibility that Hartman could skate Tuesday morning but he is unlikely to play vs. the Flyers.
  • Corey Crawford will start vs. Philadelphia.

How Scott Foster and David Ayres handled the spotlight differently

How Scott Foster and David Ayres handled the spotlight differently

Two years ago today, the unthinkable happened. Scott Foster, a 36-year-old accountant who played in a beer league and tended goal at Western Michigan University over ten years ago, was called upon by the Chicago Blackhawks.

Foster was the emergency backup goalie on March 29, 2018 when the Hawks were facing the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center. Anton Forsberg was slated to start in net for Chicago but suffered a pregame injury. 

Collin Delia made his NHL debut ahead of schedule and was having a solid outing until he was injured with 14:01 left in the third period with the Hawks up 6-2. Foster was forced to suit up and head out onto the ice past a laughing Joel Quenneville and a delightfully stunned Blackhawks bench.

To put the finishing touches on his Cinderella story, Foster stopped all seven shots he faced, including a Dustin Byfuglien slap shot. 

The emergency backup goalie drew chants from a sold-out United Center (who, somehow, collectively already knew his name), seemingly with every save.

“That’s something you’ll never forget. You understand what’s happening, and they’re going to have a lot of fun with it, so you might as well too," Foster told Blackhawks media in the dressing room after the game.

In addition to Delia's debut that night, Brent Seabrook played his 1,000th NHL game, and Dylan Sikura picked up two assists in his NHL debut.

After his night, Foster declined further interviews, wanting to go back to his normal life. Later that summer, he presented the Vezina trophy at the NHL Awards and made his first appearance at the Blackhawks Convention. Since then, he flies under the radar for the most part.

RELATED: "Blackhawks Talk" podcast: 1-on-1 with Scott Foster on 1-year anniversary 

Then, there's David Ayres, who was called upon as an EBUG a little over a month ago by the Carolina Hurricanes on the road against the Toronto Maple Leafs. 

Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver for the American Hockey League's Toronto Marlies, came into the game midway through the second period with Canes goalies Petr Mrazek and James Reimer being injured beforehand. 

The start of the game wasn't so magical for Ayres. He allowed two goals on the first two shots he faced. But he stuck with it and ended up saving eight of 10 shots over a 29-minute span across two periods, and put a shot on net in the Hurricanes' 6-3 win over the Maple Leafs, who Ayres had occasionally filled in for at practices. 

He became the oldest goalie in NHL history to win a regular season debut and the first EBUG to be credited with a win in an NHL game (Foster didn't play long enough). His stick was sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame. 

Ayres' wife, Sarah, live-tweeted his debut and, like Foster, his story was a media sensation. Unlike Foster, Ayres kept it going. 

His whirlwind media tour over the next few days included a stop in New York and a plethora of interviews, including NBC's “Today” show and a monologue bit on CBS’ "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert."

He signed autographs for fans at a Canes game, and Carolina sold Ayres t-shirt jerseys with the EBUG receiving royalties and a portion of the proceeds going to a kidney foundation. 

So which last line of defense handled their situation appropriately?

Why not both?

Foster lived a dream, too, but embraced who he really was and the life he really had. He still appreciates a close association with the Hawks, honoring more obligations with them and remaining an EBUG with the team.

Ayres, several years older than Foster, soaked it all in and Stretch-Armstronged his 15 minutes of fame to span several days. During that time, he also advocated for kidney transplants, being a kidney transplant survivor himself. 

Two different games. Two different goalies. Two different ways to handle the most unique situation in professional sports. And one correct outlook on how their stories unfolded before our eyes: Awesome. 

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2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 3 win over Canucks

2010 Hawks Rewind: 3 things we noticed in Blackhawks' Game 3 win over Canucks

In honor of the 10-year anniversary of the 2010 Stanley Cup team, NBC Sports Chicago is re-airing each of the Blackhawks' 16 postseason wins from the run that ended a 49-year championship drought. You can join the conversation using #HawksRewind on social media.

After bouncing back with a 4-2 in Game 2, the Blackhawks regained home-ice advantage by routing the Canucks 5-2 in Game 3 to take a 2-1 series lead in the Western Conference semifinals. Here are three things we noticed in the win:

1. Dustin Byfuglien's coming out party

One of the greatest coaching decisions of Joel Quenneville's illustrious career is moving Byfuglien from defense to forward in the middle of the Blackhawks' Stanley Cup run. In a recent sit-down interview with NBC Sports Chicago, Quenneville sheepishly admitted he can't take all the credit for that because different coaches experimented with Byfuglien at forward while he was working his way to the pros.

But it was certainly a playoff-changing moment.

After going pointless in his first eight postseason contests, Byfuglien netted a hat trick while playing on a line with Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews and was an absolute pest as the net-front guy on the first power-play unit. He finished with six shots on goal and a game-high six hits in 15:53 of ice time.

"He is a handful in front of the net or for goalies," Quenneville said. "He brought that element, that versatility, you could use him in either situation and of course in the middle of the game, so I think he brought a unique aspect to our team."

2. Lack of discipline

In the playoffs, officials tend to swallow their whistles and let the players play. But this game was not one of them.

In the first period alone, the Blackhawks and Canucks combined for eight minor penalties; each team was penalized four times. Hooking. Tripping. Too many men. Roughing. Interference. You name it. 

The Blackhawks cleaned up their act in the final two periods, committing only one minor penalty the rest of the game. That wasn't the case for the Canucks, who racked up 36 total penalty minutes. A lack of discipline was evident for both teams, but one team took advantage and the other did not, which leads us to our final bullet point...

3. Penalty kill remains on fire

Speaking of special teams, the Blackhawks won that department and it's the primary reason they came away with a victory in Game 3. In fact, it seemed like all series long, whichever team won the special teams battle often won the game.

The Blackhawks scored two of their five goals on the power play in this game and could've been credited with a third but the penalty had just expired before Kris Versteeg scored goal an even-strength goal. But more importantly, they went 4-for-4 on the penalty kill to continue a ridiculous postseason streak.

After another perfect performance, the Blackhawks improved to 38-for-41 on the penalty kill through their first nine contests for a percentage of 92.7. The Blackhawks had also scored two shorthanded goals to that point, so their postseason goal differential shorthanded was only minus-1. Just an incredible stat.

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.