Blackhawks

Vladimir Tarasenko lifts Blues past Blackhawks in Winter Classic

Vladimir Tarasenko lifts Blues past Blackhawks in Winter Classic

ST. LOUIS – The Blackhawks playing in an outdoor game has become tradition. So has their losing in them.

Michal Kempny scored his second goal in as many games but Vladimir Tarasenko scored twice as the St. Louis Blues beat the Blackhawks 4-1 in the 2017 Winter Classic on Monday afternoon.

The Blackhawks are now 1-4-0 in outdoor games. The only one they won was at Soldier Field on March 1, 2014 (4-1 over the Pittsburgh Penguins).

“I mean, last time in Minnesota, it was kind of a blowout but [today] it was a closer game and we did a lot of good things,” Duncan Keith said. “But we tried to make too many plays and got away from our game plan, and they came down and scored.”

Yes, this one was closer, the Blackhawks and Blues deadlocked at 1-1 heading into the third period. But the third period, especially the start of it, wasn’t close. The Blues had seven or eight shots before the Blackhawks got their first. The Blackhawks’ first third-period shot didn’t come until the midway point of the frame.

A bigger immediate issue, however, is the Blackhawks are now 1-4-1 in their last six games. They’ve relied too much on goaltending all season, and that was true again on Monday as Corey Crawford kept it tied through the first 50-plus minutes. But you got the sense it was only a matter of time before the Blues cashed in on their chances.

[SHOP: Gear up Blackhawks fans!]

Tarasenko finally did, albeit with an unfortunate deflection for the Blackhawks. The forward’s third-period shot went off Niklas Hjalmarsson’s skate and in to give the Blues a 2-1 lead about eight minutes into the third.

“We had guys in the right spot. Hammer made a great play coming back and he was in the perfect position, but sometimes it’s really fluky and there’s nothing you can do about it,” Trevor van Riemsdyk said.

Tarasenko’s second goal, however, was all his as he put the Blues up 3-1 about two minutes later.

“He’s one of the few guys in the league who has a shot that’s more than above average,” Hjalmarsson said of Tarasenko. “He doesn’t have to wind up to get a big shot away. He can shoot it from anywhere. That’s what makes him so dangerous.”

In their last two games the Blackhawks have experienced a bit of a reversal. They’ve gotten the early goal and lead – Kempny both times, just 62 seconds into the game on Monday – but haven’t had enough at the end.

Maybe it’s just coincidence that the Blackhawks don’t fare well in these outdoor games. This one was close until the third period. But for a team that’s been struggling lately, a frustrating division loss, be it indoors or out, is a frustrating division loss.

“This year was comparable to the tough loss we had in Washington [to start 2015,] lost with a couple of minutes to go. It wasn’t like we weren’t in the hockey game,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “Crow did a good job of keeping us in the game as well but [it’s] certainly disappointing that you’re there, you’re looking to get a point, hopefully two."

Blackhawks 'mutually agree to part ways' with assistant coach Don Granato

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks 'mutually agree to part ways' with assistant coach Don Granato

The Blackhawks announced Wednesday that they have mutually agreed to part ways with assistant coach Don Granato. He was hired on June 15, 2017 and spent two seasons with the team.

“We appreciate Don’s contributions to the Blackhawks organization while on the staff,” head coach Jeremy Colliton said in a statement. “We wish him well in the future as he pursues other opportunities.”

The move allows Colliton to handpick his second assistant coach with Sheldon Brookbank remaining on the staff. The responsibilities between Brookbank and Granato were shared this season, but that's likely to change going into next season to a more traditional structure of one assistant coach handling the forwards and power play and the other the defensemen and penalty kill.

One potential candidate to fill the vacant position could be Derek King, who was on Colliton's staff with the Rockford IceHogs and served as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season after Colliton got promoted to Chicago. King is viewed as a player's coach and is well-respected within the organization.

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Hawks Talk Podcast: Evaluating Blackhawks defensemen prospects with Mark Eaton

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AP

Hawks Talk Podcast: Evaluating Blackhawks defensemen prospects with Mark Eaton

On the latest edition of the Hawks Talk Podcast, Blackhawks director of player development Mark Eaton joins the show to evaluate the organization’s top defensemen prospects and where each of them is at in their developments. Which ones could make the NHL jump next season?

Pat Boyle and Charlie Roumeliotis offer their takeaways from the Eaton interview and outlook the Blackhawks blue line group as a whole.

1:00 – Eaton on Henri Jokiharju’s development

3:30 – Adam Boqvist’s growth in North America

6:50 – Evaluating Nicolas Beaudin’s progression

8:15 – Surprised about Ian Mitchell’s decision to return to college?

10:55 – Assessing Chad Krys in college and AHL

13:10 – Challenge between stressing defensive side of game but not taking away from who the player is

15:55 – Which defensemen prospects could be in NHL next season?

18:25 – The message Erik Gustafsson’s breakout season sends to prospects

21:15 – Takeaways from Eaton interview

31:25 – Reviewing Blackhawks defensemen contracts

33:35 – Thoughts on Gustav Forsling

35:20 – The challenge for Blackhawks defense this offseason

Listen to the entire podcast here or in the embedded player below.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast

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