Simplified game helping Teravainen see even more success


Simplified game helping Teravainen see even more success

It wasn't a particularly hard shot, or one that featured any fancy stick-handling or maneuvering through the offensive zone; but it was just the one Chicago needed.

After the Blackhawks surrendered the 3-0 lead they captured in the first 20 minutes of Game 1 against the Minnesota Wild, Teuvo Teravainen sent a wrister Devan Dubnyk's way from near the blue line that went on to hit the post and find its way into the back of the net.

That shot marked Teravainen's first playoff goal since arriving in the NHL and proved to be the game-winner in the Blackhawks' 4-3 victory.

When asked if he was surprised that one went in, Teravainen answered "a little bit. I think that wasn't the biggest shot, but sometimes good things happen when I shoot.

[MORE: Teravainen nets winner as Blackhawks edge Wild in Game 1]

"It's a great feeling, of course. I just think I had to shoot more. I got the puck there and I just tried to shoot. Sometimes good things happen."

Teravainen's repeated those last two sentences over and over throughout the season: The more pucks on net, the better chance there is to score.

It's a simple philosophy, but one that's driven Teravainen's progress as his confidence has continued to grow throughout the season.

Any times of him being nervous to shoot or waiting for the "perfect play" are long gone, and his teammates are becoming more and more impressed with what they're seeing from him. 

"You can see that he's a special player with the way he handles the puck and the vision he has," Niklas Hjalmarsson said. "He does stuff sometimes in practice that kind of amazes you and you know what potential he has and what he's capable of. It's fun to see him get a goal today."

[RELATED: Five Things from Game 1: Blackhawks must play 60 minutes]

Patrick Sharp, who recorded the primary assist on that goal, said giving the puck to Teravainen in that situation was a no-brainer.

"I just wanted to get the puck in Teuvo's hands," Sharp said. "He's either gonna make a good shot or find an open player, so we're happy for him to score his first playoff goal and couldn't be better being the game-winner.

"You don't want to take any creativity out of his game, but this time of year you see the east-west plays, some of the stuff you can get away with in the regular season just isn't there. Especially against a team that's so well-coached like Minnesota. So simplifying a little bit, firing pucks on net — I don't think it was an overpowering shot, but he put it on net, off the post and in. So we'll take it."

On Friday night, Teravainen became the youngest Blackhawks player to record a postseason game-winning goal since Jeremy Roenick back in 1990. He's experienced plenty of success this season as his game has continued to develop and his teammates are excited to see what the future has in store for him.

[NBC SPORTS SHOP: Get the latest Blackhawks gear here]

Teravainen has the skating skills and still-handling abilities to score the highlight-reel goals, but his ability to simplify his game is now helping him reach a whole new level of success with the Blackhawks.

As he says, sometimes that can lead to good things happening.

"He's a confident kid without the goal anyway," Sharp said. "You want to get the puck in his hands as much as you can. I know he's real happy about contributing offensively. He got us going in Nashville too. The way he played tonight, we're happy for him and hopefully he can continue going forward."

Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?


Sports Talk Live Podcast: Is Crawford ready to go?

Jimmy Greenfield, Connor McKnight, and Matt Spiegel join Kap on the panel to discuss Corey Crawford back on the ice for the first time in 10 months. The Bears have good news when it comes to Khalil Mack, who injured his ankle against the Dolphins.

Plus, Fred Hoiberg announces that Jabari Parker is coming off the bench for the season opener.

Listen to the full episode here or via the embedded player below:

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Niklas Hjalmarsson 'wasn't happy' about trade, but remembers time with Blackhawks fondly

Apparently time doesn’t heal all wounds. 

Nearly a year and a half since being traded to the Coyotes, Niklas Hjalmarsson will return to the United Center ice on Thursday playing for the visiting team.  

“It’s going to be strange coming in as the away team and being in the other locker room,” said Hjalmarsson on Wednesday. “I bet it’s going to be a lot of emotions and mixed feelings.” 

This is also the first time Hjalmarsson has been back to the city of Chicago since he was traded, a city he called his “second home.” A home where he spent parts of 10 seasons, and never really planned on leaving.

“I wasn’t happy, to be honest with you,” said Hjalmarsson of the trade to Arizona. “I was shocked. It took me a couple days to actually realize I wasn’t going to play for the Hawks anymore.”

Including the playoffs, Hjalmarsson played 751 games in the Indian head sweater. Despite that and the team’s three Stanley Cup victories, the Blackhawks shipped him off to Arizona for Connor Murphy and Laurent Dauphin in June of 2017.

“You kind of let it go after a while,” he said. “Now I’m just hoping all the success for the guys over here too.”

Hjalmarsson was known for his toughness, repeatedly blocking shot after shot, giving up his body, while never missing a shift. He credits his long-time teammates — Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook — for a lot of his success and identity on the blue line.

“I couldn’t have had better role models coming into a team,” he said. “I’m very thankful to have played on the same team as those guys and created a lot of success together. We’re always going to be connected with the Cups that we’ve had.”

The third championship won by that defense-trio was on United Center ice against the Lightning in 2015, but that isn’t the memory that stands out most for Hjalmarsson.

“The first Cup is always going to be pretty special,” said the 31-year old. “Even just going to the conference final (in 2009), even when we lost against Detroit that year, the year before was great memories too. The first time for me going into the playoffs and playing deep.”

The tables have turned now for both Hjalmarsson and the Blackhawks. 

The Coyotes have yet to score an even-strength goal this season, while the Blackhawks have claimed eight of a possible 10 points thus far through five games and expect to have their starting goaltender back between the pipes. 

But you won’t hear any ill-will from Hjalmarsson, he’s still rooting for the Hawks.

“I always think that Chicago deserves to have a team in the playoffs,” he said. “It’s not that I wish them not to do well. It’s the total opposite. I want them to have continued success.”