Blackhawks

Young Blackhawks keeping their calm before Game 6 vs. Lightning

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Young Blackhawks keeping their calm before Game 6 vs. Lightning

Teuvo Teravainen had an enjoyable Sunday afternoon, one that included a nice stroll and an attempt to keep his mind focused.

“Good day, walking a little outside and trying to make myself calm. It’s all right,” Teravainen said. “You try to think it's a normal game. Even if it’s not that normal, because if we win, that's it.”

Plenty of the current Blackhawks have been involved in the previous two Stanley Cup Final, so they’re more adept at dealing with the pressure going into tonight’s potential Cup-clinching Game 6 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. For others, especially some of the younger players, this is new territory. But guys like Teravainen and Trevor van Riemsdyk said Blackhawks veterans have given good advice in dealing with the enormity of the situation.

[MORE: Blackhawks need balanced emotions in Game 6]

“Yeah, they all have had great stuff to say, how to stay focused: just remember to be prepared for the game, don’t let stuff on the outside take away from that,” van Riemsdyk said. “You have to be ready to play.”

Van Riemsdyk was trying to distract himself on Sunday, too, including watching the NBA Finals.

“You want to be focused and ready but not drive yourself crazy and keep yourself up at night thinking about the other stuff,” he said. “You just have to find a good balance like you have all year and go from there.”

The road is more of a distraction-free environment for players. At home, there are plenty of things going on around them. Patrick Kane said players have to take care of those distractions well before the game.

“It’s important to worry about everything you have to at the moment, whether it’s people coming into town, tickets, different things like that. Kind of get all that stuff out of the way as quickly as possible and then just focus on the game, focus about hockey,” Kane said. “I think [coach Joel Quenneville] says it best all the time: worry about winning one hockey game. That’s kind of our mindset coming into tonight.”

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Many of the Blackhawks have been in this situation before. For the few who haven’t, there is sage advice going into the pressure situation. The Blackhawks have a chance to win the Cup on home ice for the first time since 1938. The focus will be there; the veteran players will make sure of that.

“We have guys that haven’t been in this situation before. I think guys have played a lot of big games, [there are] some guys that can share that message. I let those guys talk to them about it,” Quenneville said. “I think as a team, we don't want to change too much, our preparation or focus, going into a game.”

BRIEFLY

— Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said forward Nikita Kucherov is “probable” to play in Game 6 tonight. Kucherov went neck/shoulder first into the goal post in the first period of Game 5 and did not finish that game.

— Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop is expected to start.

— Kimmo Timonen, on where Kane’s 2010 Cup-winning puck is: “It might be still back of the net.”

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.

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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.

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