Blackhawks

Under pressure? Blackhawks aren't feeling any

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Under pressure? Blackhawks aren't feeling any

Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Posted: 10:07 p.m.

By Tracey Myers
CSNChicago.com

The word pressure came up a lot in the Blackhawks locker room following their Game 4 victory over Vancouver on Tuesday night. But not in the way youd probably think. The Blackhawks, you see, may be talking about it, but theyre not feeling it at all.

The defending Cup champions, the No. 8 seed that entered Game 4 down 3-love to the Canucks obviously wasnt feeling the heat as evidence by their 7-2 victory. As Patrick Sharp said, were playing loose, were playing to have fun out there and playing for each other. We're standing up for each other, playing the game the right way.

Basically, they were playing like there was no tomorrow because there nearly wasnt. They were getting scoring from everyone. They were hitting more than they had in previous games, a response to the series intensifying and also to the absence of Brent Seabrook, felled by a Raffi Torres' shoulder-to-head hit in Game 3.

And thats the way the Blackhawks have to play the rest of this series if they want to pull off a rarely-done comeback from their 3-0 deficit. All hands on deck, leave it all on the ice, rinse and repeat.

Its such a hard thing to come back from 3-0 down. We just have to go out and play some hockey and get back to our roots and the way our team can play," Brian Campbell said.

No, the Blackhawks are not the ones with all the pressure on them in this series. They backed into the playoffs thanks to Minnesota. Theyve been inconsistent all year. This year, at least, nobodys going to be stunned if they dont win.

Contrast that with the Canucks, who have the win-a-Cup-for-Canada weight on their shoulders. Theyve been demanded to come through with that a few seasons now, but this year its magnified because they already took that Presidents Cup full-time symbol of the NHLs highest point total, part-time kiss of death. The pressure is immense, and the Canucks were already fielding the uh-oh questions after just one loss.

It was all (about) attitude. That's the game, coach Joel Quenneville said. You're down in a spot you can measure your team. Are they going to go away quietly or compete for one another? They battled for each other. It was a good first step.

First step, yes, and lets reiterate that is all it is right now. The Blackhawks are still down 3-1 and will once again face the hostile crowd at Rogers Arena on Thursday night. As Patrick Kane said, the Canucks are probably the ones laughing right now, and they could still have the last one soon.

The Canucks are still the best in the West, theyre still firmly in control of this series and still have the advantage with that ice and that crowd in Game 5.

The Blackhawks need to play Game 5 the way they played Game 4: free-wheeling, all-out hockey. It won them one game. If they play it again and it wins again, then its a series again.

And then the pressures really on No. 1.

It's just fun to play playoff hockey, Campbell said. It's fun to try to win games on the road and hopefully we can have some luck at that. You get huge rewards if you win a game on the road. That's what we're going after.

Tracey Myers is CSNChicago.com's Blackhawks Insider. Follow Tracey on Twitter @TramyersCSN for up-to-the-minute Hawks information.

What to make of Blackhawks moves on NHL trade deadline day

What to make of Blackhawks moves on NHL trade deadline day

ST. LOUIS — The Blackhawks were always going to be sellers leading up to the NHL trade deadline, but the real question was to what degree? Chicago got its answer on Monday.

After a quiet morning, the Blackhawks struck two deals in the final hour: Erik Gustafsson to the Calgary Flames in exchange for a third-round pick in 2020 and, more notably, Robin Lehner to the Vegas Golden Knights for a second-round selection in 2020, goaltender Malcolm Subban and defenseman prospect Slava Demin. The Blackhawks also retained 50 percent of Lehner's salary in a complicated three-way deal that saw Toronto eat 44 percent of that for a fifth-round pick in 2020 to help Vegas become cap compliant.

And the immediate impressions on the return? Pretty underwhelming. But, at the same time, the market played a big role in that and it didn't favor the Blackhawks by any stretch.

The Carolina Hurricanes had two first-round picks and were as desperate a team as ever to acquire a goaltender at the deadline after relying on a 42-year-old Zamboni driver to get them through their last game. No doubt the Blackhawks were hoping to land at least a first-rounder for Lehner, but if the Hurricanes weren't biting on that price tag, neither was anyone else.

Six first-round picks were traded in February and not one of them was moved for a rental player. Five of those skaters had term left on their contract and the other signed a long-term extension after the trade, which helped justify it.

[MORE: Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Trade deadline recap plus Stan Bowman 1-on-1]

The reality is, the decision came down to whether the Blackhawks wanted to risk letting Lehner walk for nothing this summer or take the best offer on the table and just accept they won't get 100 cents on the dollar, especially if they weren't seeing eye to eye on a potential extension, and they chose the latter. Whether the Blackhawks should've re-signed Lehner is a separate discussion, but both sides could always revisit things on July 1 if they choose.

It's also difficult for Chicago to get excited about the return for Gustafsson after several similar-type impact defensemen were traded last week for more than that, and rightfully so. Did the Blackhawks wait too long to move him? Probably. But he wasn't going to fetch much on his own to begin with, and you have to wonder how hard the Blackhawks tried to package Gustafsson with another asset to help sweeten the deal and get the first-round pick they were looking for.

There's a large portion of the fanbase that felt Gustafsson should've been dealt in the summer when his value was highest after he turned in a breakout 60-point campaign. And that's fair. But the Blackhawks were hoping to make the playoffs this season and subtracting a key piece from their roster wasn't something that would've aligned with those goals.

In the end, the Blackhawks went into trade deadline day hoping to recoup some draft picks and prospects and continue building from within. They did that.

But the expectation in Chicago was this could've served as a prime opportunity to restock the pipeline with future assets and get fans excited about the retooling process. And while the Blackhawks didn't exactly strike out, they didn't hit a home run, either.

"The goal was to try to get some asset value in return for them and we certainly did that," GM Stan Bowman said in a conference call. "Going into a period like this at the trade deadline, you have to try to manage your assets going forward. When you have expiring assets and you talk around the league to teams and find out if there’s interest in them, then you do your best to try and get the maximum return you can. "

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Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Trade deadline recap plus Stan Bowman 1-on-1

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AP

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Trade deadline recap plus Stan Bowman 1-on-1

The Blackhawks traded goalie Robin Lehner and defenseman Erik Gustafsson ahead of Monday's NHL trade deadline. Pat Boyle discusses all that went into the trades with Steve Konroyd, Jamal Mayers, and NBC Sports Chicago Blackhawks writer Scott King.

To further provide details on the trades, Blackhawks Insider Charlie Roumeliotis goes 1-on-1 with GM Stan Bowman on why he made the moves.

(1:00) - Blackhawks trade Lehner and never offered him an extension?

(5:30) - Could the Hawks sign Lehner in the offseason?

(10:12) - Why the Hawks had to trade Gustafsson

(14:07) - Stan Bowman 1-on-1 after the trade deadline

(19:42) - Reaction to Bowman 1-on-1 interview

(23:17) - Overall assessment of what the Hawks got back in the trades

Listen here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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