Blackhawks

President Barack Obama honors Blackhawks for Stanley Cup victory

hawksbackatthewhitehouse.png

President Barack Obama honors Blackhawks for Stanley Cup victory

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama held up his latest gift from the Blackhawks, something that anyone who’s been around the construction-laden United Center lately could appreciate.

A United Center parking pass.

“This is really cool,” the president said to laughs. “I might sell this on eBay.”

The Blackhawks made their third visit to the White House in six years — all during Obama’s administration — to celebrate another Stanley Cup victory. This year’s ceremony was much like that in 2014, the president giving a 10-minute speech to honor the Blackhawks. Current Blackhawks who were not on the team last year also attended, sitting in the audience during the ceremony.

[MORE HAWKS: President recognizes Darling, Timonen]

“I think this one was the best we’ve had so far, the representation; a really historic today,” Blackhawks president John McDonough said. “Just being around the president, his aura, how warm he is with everyone, and to see some of our players who weren’t with us last year experience this and the desire to be part of this going forward.”

The ceremony had its light moments, from that parking pass “gift” to Obama saying the Stanley Cup should probably stick around the White House for a certain upcoming event.

“We have a state dinner with Canada coming up,” he said. “So we may just leave it right in the middle of the room.”

Even Jonathan Toews had to grin at that one.

“Yeah, that’s one of those things I have to let slide,” Toews said after the ceremony. “I didn’t know if I can make a comeback to that one.”

[SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

The Blackhawks have enjoyed a remarkable run of success these last few years. It’s a far cry from where this organization was about 10 years ago.

“Maybe the two words that are the most impactful are when they say, ‘Welcome back.’ And now that we’ve been here three times it never gets old, never enough, and we’d love to come back one more time during President Obama’s regime,” McDonough said. “What a classy guy; just so incredibly smooth and easy with people. It’s a great tribute to all of our players, all of our coaches, everyone in our organization. This is just so inspiring to be a part of this today.”

And as for that parking pass, it was owner Rocky Wirtz’s idea.

“I thought it would be fun, keep it lighter,” Wirtz said. “Who else can give the president a parking pass for the United Center?”

A recap of Kirby Dach’s AHL debut and Blackhawks explanation for conditioning stint

A recap of Kirby Dach’s AHL debut and Blackhawks explanation for conditioning stint

Kirby Dach made his pro debut on Saturday, but it wasn't with the Blackhawks.

The No. 3 overall pick from this past June was activated from his injured/non-roster designation and assigned to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League for conditioning purposes and jumped right into the lineup. He didn't appear in any NHL preseason games because he was under the league's concussion protocol during training camp.

In his season debut, Dach recorded two shots on goal and had a minus-1 rating in a 4-2 loss to the Grand Rapids Griffins. He centered the fourth line with Brandon Hagel and Nick Moutrey.

Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton discussed the decision to send Dach to Rockford after Saturday's game against the Winnipeg Jets, and it sounds like the organization remains committed to giving him a look at the NHL level whenever his conditioning stint is over.

"He hasn't played in a long time," Colliton said. "Missed training camp, missed the exhibition season. We think he can help us so we're trying to set him up, give him the best opportunity so when he does get the chance here he'll be as ready as he can be. It's a good league down there and a chance for him to get his feet wet against men. And I think he's been getting better and better in his practice time here with us. So I'm excited. Hopefully, he can gain confidence down there and then be ready to help us."

Because he's not eligible to play in the AHL full-time this season due to Canadian Hockey League rules, Dach's conditioning stint in Rockford can last up to 14 days, according to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, before the Blackhawks are forced to either recall him or send him back to the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League.

Rockford has four more games over that span, with its next one on Monday against the Laval Rocket at BMO Harris Bank Center.

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.

Four takeaways: Blackhawks squander two-goal lead in overtime loss to Jets

Four takeaways: Blackhawks squander two-goal lead in overtime loss to Jets

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-2 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center on Saturday:

1. Squandering a two-goal lead

For the second straight home game, the Blackhawks jumped out in front and even built an early cushion by scoring the first two goals in the opening frame. But they allowed the Jets to score three unanswered, including the overtime winner by Mark Scheifele, to remain winless on the season (0-2-1).

"We did a good job in the first and they took it to us in the second," said Brandon Saad, who scored a shorthanded goal. "Lehnny made some big saves and the third was kind of even. But we definitely had chances to close it out and we didn’t. At least we got a point and we have to move on from it."

2. Another lackluster second period

If there's one thing you can point to that's been a trend in all three games so far, it's that the Blackhawks have been lackluster in the second period. And it's difficult to pinpoint why.

In the middle frame, the Blackhawks have 10 scoring chances for and 35 against at 5-on-5, two high-danger chances for and 10 against at 5-on-5 and a minus-19 shot differential, according to Natural Stat Trick. That's an area of the game they're trying to clean up and has been the downfall to their attempts of putting together a full 60-minute effort.

"Obviously it's been three in a row where we haven't been very good in the second period and to me that's where you show how good you are," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "The best teams, they dominate the second period, so it's a point of emphasis for us. We'd like to control the tempo of the game and control the territory, out-chance the other team. That's where you show how good you are, so we're not close to where we want to be in that area."

3. Robin Lehner's debut

After going two weeks without game action, the Blackhawks gave the nod to Lehner, who went into Saturday with a 4-0-0 record, 2.76 goals-against average and .922 save percentage in five career games against the Jets. He took the loss, but certainly did his part to deserve a win.

In regulation, Lehner stopped 30 of 32 shots for a save percentage of .938. The first goal was on the power play, the second came at 5-on-5 when Andrew Copp found himself all alone in front and the third was in overtime during 3-on-3 action. His 5-on-5 save percentage was .962, which will definitely work.

"I felt good," Lehner said. "I felt like I saw the puck well. I thought rebound control was good. Again, the first one is unfortunate, it squeaks through. But I was where I wanted to be in position and somehow it goes in. Gotta try to clean that up. And the third goal, it just dove on me. He missed his shot. It’s unfortunate. But I thought I made some good saves and felt comfortable. We got a point, which is something, but should’ve got a win today."

4. Penalty kill shows improvement

The Blackhawks gave up a power-play goal for the third consecutive contest, but this was close to being a perfect night for the penalty kill. They went 3-for-4 and gave up only four shots on goal in the 7:38 of shorthanded time.

On the first Jets power play of the night, Saad scored a shorthanded goal for his first of the season and the Blackhawks later generated two more scoring chances before the two minutes expired.

The power-play goal against should've been stopped by Lehner but he did everything right and had the shortside sealed, the puck just found a mini hole. The Blackhawks responded with a big kill and had one late in the third period also. No complaints.

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.