Just win: Blackhawks insist playoff opponent doesn't matter


Just win: Blackhawks insist playoff opponent doesn't matter

DETROIT Round and round the playoff scenarios go. How they play out for the Blackhawks? Nobody knows. Yet.

Will the Blackhawks face a familiar Central Division foe? Will they instead face a Pacific Division opponent that will have quite a few points less than they? Do point totals, when the second season begins, even matter?

You know what? Its a new season, Bryan Bickell said. Everybody starts at zero.

The Blackhawks playoff picture is still a little muddled, and they could play their part in clearing it up Saturday when they play the Detroit Red Wings. If the Blackhawks win in regulation, theyll finish fifth and would play the Nashville Predators in the first round next week. If they win in overtime or a shootout, or lose, theyll finish in sixth and play the Pacific champ whoever the heck wins that division.

But for the Blackhawks, it doesnt really matter. The playoffs are when the slate is wiped clean and every team has as good a chance as the other seven to make some noise.

You have to play every top team to get to the main goal, Bickell said. Were going to look at whoever we play, adjust to their style, and do our best from there.

Yes, but its still so tempting to look at regular-season series results and think, hmmm, would this be a good idea? Take the Blackhawks series against the Predators. Nashville won four of those six games, with the Hawks taking the first and last of the series. It wasnt always pretty, but at least one player wouldnt mind the Nashville matchup.

You guys talk about staying away from Nashville, but I dont know if that would be that bad. I wouldnt mind playing a team a little closer, said Viktor Stalberg. It takes a toll on your body, going out west. If youre going to win, youre going to have to go through some good teams, no matter what the round. I dont think anyone just wants to get by the first round. From my own preference, it would be to play a team thats closer.

To get that, the Blackhawks would have to get that fifth seed, and they have every intention of going for it at Joe Louis Arena Saturday.

Our focus is to play the right way. Weve got one game left before the playoffs and we want to play the right way and get ready for the playoffs, said Jamal Mayers, who hasnt been guessing playoff matchups.

We really dont have much control over it; there are so many different scenarios. We have to focus on ourselves and get ready. It certainly looks like well start on the road, so that creates another challenge.

Coach Joel Quenneville concurred.

We always play to win, he said. We coach the same way.

The playoff picture will finally be clear late Saturday night. The Blackhawks could end up close by or two time zones away. Theyll be ready one way or another. Because ultimately, its about how the Blackhawks are playing. Not who they are playing.

Were feeling good about our game and confident going into any series, Stalberg said. Its come down to (a few things). We have to pick up our special teams. And if we play 5 on 5 like we have the last 15 games or so, well be in pretty good shape.

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Robin Lehner calls out team defense plus Mike Gapski on his 2500 games with the Blackhawks

USA Today

Blackhawks Talk Podcast: Robin Lehner calls out team defense plus Mike Gapski on his 2500 games with the Blackhawks

Another night and another awful showing by the Blackhawks team defense, and this time, Robin Lehner let the team hear about it. Pat Boyle, Adam Burish and Scott King discuss the Blackhawks' ugly loss to the Coyotes and whether there should be some more line mixing happening soon. Plus, head athletic trainer Mike Gapski took part in his 2500th game with the Blackhawks and he sat down with Pat Foley 1-on-1 to re-live his 33 years with the organization.

1:13 - The odd-man rushes are piling up against this defense

5:54 - Is the power play getting going kinda maybe a little bit?

7:43 - Should Jeremy Colliton mix up the lines once again?

9:20 - The Kirby Dach playing-time dilemma

13:45 - Celebrating Mike Gapski's 2500 games with the Blackhawks

17:00 - Pat Foley's 1-on-1 interview with Mike Gapski

Listen here or via the embedded player below:

Blackhawks Talk Podcast


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Chris Simms says Bears are a dangerous team entering Week 15

Chris Simms says Bears are a dangerous team entering Week 15

The Bears have completely flipped the narrative of their 2019 season over the last three weeks, thanks in large part to Matt Nagy's offense finally resembling the 202-level that was promised last summer.

It may have taken quarterback Mitch Trubisky a little longer than expected to arrive this year, but if his last two games are an indication of his development in his second season under Nagy's tutelage, the Bears have a bonafide quarterback. And it's been a while since that could be said.

"Mitchell Trubisky is hot, there's no doubt about it," NBC Sports NFL analyst Chris Simms said Thursday. "He seems so much more comfortable. Decisive. He's accurate with the football. Running around at the proper time. I don't think it was all Mitchell Trubisky's fault with the struggles of the offense, either."

Those struggles spanned the first half of 2019 when Chicago seemed incapable of sustaining drives or scoring points. It began with Week 1's three-point output against the Packers and continued through Thanksgiving Day when Trubisky finally got his mojo back, throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns against the Lions.

With Trubisky clicking, and the running game receiving a jolt from rookie David Montgomery's productive back-to-back weeks (in which he's averaged more than four yards per carry in successive games for the first time all year), the Bears appear capable of beating just about anyone. 

They'll need to. If Chicago wants to keep their weak playoff pulse going, they have to win out. And that includes games against the Packers, Chiefs and Vikings. 

The odds seem stacked against them, and it's their own fault. It took way too long to get the offense going, but it's better late than never. 

According to Simms, the Bears are that team no one wants to play.

"They're a dangerous team right now. They really are."

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