Blackhawks

Keith will respect any decision NHL makes on hit

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Keith will respect any decision NHL makes on hit

Duncan Keith didnt want to talk much about what happened on Wednesday night, be it the high hit he put on Daniel Sedin put on him or vice-versa. Right now, hell just wait for the NHL to decide his fate.

Keith had his phone hearing with Brendan Shanahan this afternoon and said hell respect any decision the NHL makes regarding his elbow to Sedins head in the Blackhawks 2-1 overtime victory over Vancouver. It was another heated game in a rivalry thats had many, and the Blackhawks may have to prepare for a few games without their top defenseman.

Well see what happens, Keith said after Fridays practice. The NHL will make a decision, I respect all the decisions they make and well see from talking to them what happens.

TSN reported that the NHLPA and Keith agreed to waive Keiths right to an in-person hearing. The NHL requested that late Thursday night; his hearing had been set to be via phone earlier in the day. Hearing by phone means a suspension is five or fewer games while an in-person hearing could lead to six or more games.

Daniel Sedin hit Keith high in the first period on Wednesday night before Keith retaliated with an elbow to Sedins head. Asked about that first hit on Friday, Keith said, Im not going to get into everything about whats happened.

Coach Joel Quenneville said the Blackhawks will accept the leagues decision.

Well see how that plays out. Weve got a lot of respect for the way (the league) handles things, so well see what happens, said Quenneville of Keith, who has no previous suspensionsfines in the league. (Keiths) never done it before, theres no history there. Whether its the play or the emotions or the rivalry, a lot goes into it. Thats where its at.

Yes, there were a lot of emotions in that game, as there always is when the Blackhawks and Canucks meet. Corey Crawford said heading into that game that the Blackhawks had to be careful about getting too engaged in the Canucks style of play. Quenneville said Friday that being smart has to come first.

Every game weve seen, whether playoff game or a regular-season game, you have to control your emotions and make sure you think, he said. There are certain switches, youre just reactionary and in the moment of the game, theres just a reactionary move. Thats something well always focus on moving forward, whether its Vancouver or anybody. We need to be smart.

Thats for future games. For now, Keith and the Blackhawks will just have to wait and see what the NHL says.

I think Im a pretty stand-up player out on the ice, Keith said. Well see what happens.

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

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AP

Evaluating Blackhawks options after Anton Forsberg is placed on waivers

The Blackhawks have said all along that they don't plan on carrying three goaltenders, but wanted to do so during the three games in four days stretch just in case, with Corey Crawford coming back from a 10-month layoff because of a concussion.

After being encouraged by how Crawford has responded to his return, the Blackhawks placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers Monday morning. Teams have 24 hours to put in a claim for the 25-year-old goaltender and would have to keep him on their NHL roster for 10 games and/or 30 days before he's eligible to go through the waiver process again.

His chances of getting claimed by any of the other 30 teams essentially depends on which teams believe Forsberg would be an immediate upgrade over their current backup — or starter, for that matter — or whether there's an injury to one of the team's two goaltenders that requires a placeholder, like we saw the Carolina Hurricanes do by claiming Curtis McElhinney from the Toronto Maple Leafs after Scott Darling's injury in the preseason.

If Forsberg goes unclaimed, the Blackhawks can assign him to the American Hockey League with the Rockford IceHogs. With Collin Delia and Kevin Lankinen sharing the goaltending duties in Rockford, it's possible Lankinen gets sent to the Indy Fuel in the East Coast Hockey League to get consistent starts under his belt.

The third option, one that isn't very common but we've seen in the past as recently as last October with Maple Leafs goaltender Kasimir Kaskisuo, is that Forsberg can be loaned to any AHL team while still being a part of the Blackhawks organization. This would allow the Blackhawks to keep Delia and Lankinen in Rockford while Forsberg gets his starts in the AHL, too.

Forsberg was 10-16-4 with a 2.97 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 35 appearances last season but has not appeared in a game yet this year. He was acquired as part of the Brandon Saad package for Artemi Panarin in June 2017.

Blackhawks looking for defensive improvement from everyone, not just defensemen

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USA TODAY

Blackhawks looking for defensive improvement from everyone, not just defensemen

The Blackhawks were able to get away with their defensive lapses in the past solely because of Corey Crawford. When he went down with a concussion last December, those issues were magnified because he wasn't there to mask the flaws.

But it's reached the point where they can't rely on their goaltender to bail them out on a nightly basis, which is becoming another trend. Cam Ward allowed six goals to Tampa Bay on Sunday night, but made 49 saves — including 30 in the second period alone. He did everything he could to keep his team withing some sort of reaching distance and without his timely stops, the scoreboard could've looked much worse for the Blackhawks.

Something's got to change. 

When the Blackhawks talk about tightening things up defensively, they're not just putting it all on the defensemen. All five guys on the ice need to do their part and they're not doing it right now.

"I think we're trying to do too much and running around trying to do each other's job," Jonathan Toews said. "Sometimes we just need to simply and finish our checks and support each other."

No team has given up more even-strength high-danger chances through eight games than the Blackhawks at 110. That's 15.77 per 60 minutes. For reference, the New York Islanders finished worst in the league in that category last season and their number was at 12.96.

It didn't help that the Blackhawks spent nearly the entire second period in their own end on Sunday.

"We just couldn’t get it out of our zone, couldn’t get our stick on it, didn’t see pressure, didn’t feel pressure when we had it, were stripped," coach Joel Quenneville said. "Hence, we didn’t advance it. Kept looking like we were going up the ice and there were going to be some odd-man situations and then we’re the ones who were facing it."

That's one way to eliminate those high quality scoring chances, is getting the puck out of their own zone effectively or else it opens the door for Grade-A opportunities because of self-inflicted wounds. And it usually happens at the end of shifts when guys are tired, which often leads to goals.

"We have to learn how to play without the puck better and learn how to keep it," Quenneville said. "Whether it was our execution going up the ice, first pass poor and then we couldn’t change. A lot of things that happened yesterday were there tonight."

The Blackhawks weren't using three games in four nights as an excuse because Tampa Bay was in the same situation. It was an even playing field in that respect.

It's all about execution from everyone involved, forwards and defensemen. And the Blackhawks feel they're correctable issues.

"Of course," Toews said. "We've had some good periods this season so far. The first three, four, five games, everyone was excited and you guys are all talking to us much differently than you are right now. It's just getting back to playing that smart defensive game and playing with effort and letting our offense do the work. We know what's got to improve. It's right there in front of us."