Blackhawks

Teravainen expected to return to Blackhawks lineup vs. Wild

teuvo-teravainen-back-in-blackhawks-lineup-for-game-1-vs-wild.png

Teravainen expected to return to Blackhawks lineup vs. Wild

Teuvo Teravainen came out of the Johnny’s IceHouse West locker room sporting a black sweater on Monday.

In postseason practice sessions, forwards wearing that color sweater signifies they’re on the third or fourth line. And that meant that, after a few games out of the lineup, Teravainen was back in it.

Teravainen, who was a healthy scratch in Games 3-6 in the first round, looks to be in when the Blackhawks begin their second-round series against the Minnesota Wild on Friday. Coach Joel Quenneville said the latest lineup change was more about getting Teravainen’s two-way game back into action than it was Kris Versteeg, who as of now will start the second round as a healthy scratch. Teravainen gets this latest chance with Antoine Vermette and Patrick Sharp.

[MORE: Bovada: Where Blackhawks rank among Stanley Cup favorites]

“The three of them looked good out there today,” Quenneville said. “They all [have] a little bit something different on the line, they’ve all got different dimensions to their game. He’s got two experienced guys out there but I like his presence, as well. I think he’s going to add some speed and I think that predictability on both sides of the puck is something that he can bring to that line. We’ll see how it plays itself out. Potentially, it could really be a good line for us.”

Vermette has been impressed with Teravainen’s play.

“He’s very creative: good hands, good player, skill player, obviously. I thought we played well together when we played together at points during the season and I think he was going to bring an offensive dimension for sure,” said Vermette, who added that Teravainen could handle playing on this stage. “It’s such a learning process but he’s a very gifted player, great set of skills. I think his game is suitable to the type of game we’re playing and he had special assets working for him.”

Teravainen’s potential in the postseason was evident in his debut in Game 1 vs. Nashville, when he assisted on Niklas Hjalmarsson’s goal. He struggled in Game 2, however — the Blackhawks in general did — and was back out of the lineup. Still, Teravainen’s gotten the chance to watch and learn and now is ready to put it all to good use.

[NBC SHOP: Get your Blackhawks gear right here]

“I think I learned a lot,” he said. “The first game was good. The second one I think I didn’t play that good and we lost the game, too. I’ve just been practicing hard and working hard to get back. I think I’ve got a lot of experience.”

Teravainen is getting another chance. The Blackhawks have liked what they’ve gotten from him thus far. Now Teravainen will try and be a steady postseason presence.

“I’ll try my best,” Teravainen said. “I know I can play, I know I can help the team. So I just have to find my game and play smart, simple hockey. I don’t know. I’ll just go straight forward, shoot the puck and it should be good.”

'It can go one of two ways': Blackhawks mindset going into home-and-home series with Avalanche

dylan_strome_blackhawks_avs_usa_today.jpg
USA TODAY

'It can go one of two ways': Blackhawks mindset going into home-and-home series with Avalanche

The last time the Blackhawks and Avalanche met, it was viewed as the most important regular season game to date for the Blackhawks because it was a chance to finally pull inside the playoff picture and push the Avalanche out of it. That was Feb. 22.

Fast forward one month and the Blackhawks are approaching a home-and-home weekend series with the Avalanche, who are currently sitting in the second wildcard spot with 78 points. The Blackhawks are at 74 with a game in hand. They have an opportunity to make things real interesting with exactly two weeks left in the season.

“It can go one of two ways,” Jonathan Toews said. “So obviously we want to play our best hockey and make sure we’re in control of who gets the points in these next two.”

The Blackhawks were encouraged with how they played in that Feb. 22 against Colorado. They led in shot attempts (73-47), shots on goal (44-31), scoring chances (40-23) and high-danger chances (20-13), according to naturalstattrick.com, except the category that mattered most and that's the scoreboard (5-3 loss).

"It's one of our better efforts of the year," coach Jeremy Colliton said after the game. "Sometimes the results don't go your way, but the challenge is to reproduce [at] that level and I think if we do, we'll get our fair share of points."

The Blackhawks are hoping a similar performance will lead to the desire result this time around. These are a pair of four-point swings that mean so much at this time of year. Colliton even acknowledged on Friday that Corey Crawford could start in both games, which would be his first back-to-back action since Nov. 4 and 5 in 2017.

The Avalanche have won three in a row, and have outscored their opponents 9-2 in that span. They're coming in hot. The Blackhawks have scored only five goals in their past three games, so they're looking to end that offensive dry spell.

The good news? The Blackhawks are 8-3-0 in their last 11 road games and have a plus-6 goal differential over that stretch. They clearly have been feeling more comfortable on the road as of late. And maybe it'll help set the tone in an all-important series.

"We’re OK with a track meet, but on our terms," Colliton said. "We want to be the one with the puck and catching them before they’re ready to defend. But they’ve got some good players and we’ve gotta be aware of them when they’re on the ice and try to keep the puck out of their hands. Hopefully — we’re coming off a loss and we know the stakes here — we’ll be really good tomorrow.”

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 can't crack Carter Hart as offense hits bump in the road

Four takeaways: Blackhawks can't crack Carter Hart as offense hits bump in the road

Here are four takeaways from the Blackhawks' 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers at the United Center on Thursday:

1. Offense drying up

The Blackhawks are going through a dry spell. They tried sprucing up the lines mid-game on Monday against Vancouver, and reunited Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews on the top line on Thursday to help change their fortunes. But no luck.

For the third straight game, the Blackhawks scored two goals or fewer after scoring at least three goals in 23 of their previous 27 games. The power play hasn't been nearly as effective, which has played a big part in that. 

The Blackhawks had their chances at 5-on-5, though. They led in shot attempts (64-34), shots on goal (35-20) and scoring chances (31-17) but lit the lamp only once.

"I think we played pretty good at times and maybe just couldn't find the back of the net," Jonathan Toews said. "Still pretty frustrating that it's another huge opportunity at home and it's two in a row that we fall short. Still wouldn't say we played as good in our own building as we have on the road as of late. So we have to find a way to be better here. Can't allow ourselves to fall short and not get any points anymore."

2. A goaltending duel

Going into Thursday's game, two-time Stanley Cup winner Corey Crawford was 5-0-1 with a 1.74 goals against average and .948 save percentage in his past six starts. And 20-year-old rising star Carter Hart had a .961 save percentage in his past two starts. Both of them picked up where they left off.

Crawford turned aside 25 of 27 shots for a save percentage of .926. Hart one-upped him, denying 40 of 41 shots for a save percentage of .976. It was the first time since Nov. 16 that the Blackhawks were held to only one goal, a span of 52 games.

"They locked it down pretty good," Dylan Strome said. "I think we had a decent amount of shots, but not a lot from the slot, but their goalie played good and made some big saves and we couldn’t capitalize. We hit a post. Hit a couple posts. Had some good chances. But unfortunately that didn’t go our way tonight.”

3. Breakout season for No. 56 continues

When Erik Gustafsson signed a two-year extension last March with the Blackhawks worth $1.2 million per year, it didn't sit well with some fans who believed he hadn't done enough to earn that just yet. But looking back on it, it's turned out to be one of the best bargains on the Blackhawks.

After scoring his 15th goal of the season, Gustafsson became the first Blackhawks defenseman to hit that mark since Dustin Byfuglien scored 17 goals during the 2009-10 campaign. And that was a season in which Byfuglien alternated as a defenseman and forward. It's been an impressive year for Gustafsson, and there are still nine games left to add to that total.

4. Controlling your own destiny

Western Conference bubble teams were licking their chops once again on Thursday night. After the Coyotes lost for the third straight time, it opened the door for the Blackhawks to ultimately control their own destiny. And they do.

A victory would've pulled the Blackhawks within two points of the final wildcard spot with a game in hand. This going into a weekend in which the Blackhawks will have a home-and-home against Colorado before heading to Arizona, which makes the upcoming three-game slate even more important.

The playoff race is really just beginning. Every team in the NHL is now in the single digits in the games remaining department. It's now or never.

"We're right in there," coach Jeremy Colliton said. "That's kind of how it is. People think we're out and we find a way to climb back in. That's good. That's good that we've showed that resilience for sure. We'd like to take that next step."

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.