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Posted On Friday, 05.01.2015 / 2:20 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Blackhawks preach patience against suffocating Wild

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks know they have to stay patient against the Minnesota Wild during their Western Conference Second Round series, but actually doing it might be tougher than it sounds.

Heading into Game 1 of the best-of-7 series at United Center on Friday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2), the Blackhawks know what happens against the Wild when they play too carefree. They lost their last two regular-season games against Minnesota by a combined score of 5-1 and couldn't beat the Wild at their own suffocating game.

How important is patience this time around?

"Probably the most important word we'll use on a regular basis [in this series]," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "Patience in games is going to be important, but you still need pace to that and you have to play the right way. You can't get frustrated either by not scoring, not generating a whole lot, knowing that's what you try to do to them as well. But [the Wild are] very effective in the way they play and I think the history we have with them, that's an important word."

Posted On Thursday, 04.30.2015 / 2:44 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Blackhawks-Wild series blog

Blackhawks forward Versteeg questionable for Game 1

CHICAGO -- Chicago Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg missed practice at United Center on Thursday because of a lower-body injury, leaving his status questionable for Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round against the Minnesota Wild on Friday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 2).

Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said Versteeg is day-to-day. He said the injury is not serious.

Versteeg, who played in all six games against the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference First Round, skated outside the top four lines during practices Monday and Wednesday.

Posted On Saturday, 04.25.2015 / 2:28 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators-Blackhawks series blog

Blackhawks put emphasis on improving penalty kill

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks were hoping to recharge their penalty kill in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but it hasn't happened in the first five games of a Western Conference First Round series against the Nashville Predators.

The Blackhawks, who lead 3-2 in the best-of-7 series, have allowed five power-play goals by the Predators in 19 times shorthanded. That's a 73.7-percent success rate, which ranks 12th among the 16 playoff teams and is roughly 16 percent lower than their success rate most of the season.

Heading into Game 6 at United Center on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; NBC, SN, TVA Sports 2), the Blackhawks know they can't keep allowing power-play goals at that rate and expect to make a deep postseason run.

"That's an area we have to get better," center Marcus Kruger said after the morning skate. "It's up to a guy like me [who needs] to be better in those areas and clean that up, because it's not good enough right now."

Posted On Friday, 04.24.2015 / 6:25 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators-Blackhawks series blog

Blackhawks being hurt by quick Predators goals

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks said Friday they have to do something about the Nashville Predators scoring goals in bunches or responding to goals they allow by quickly scoring one of their own.

"It seems like they've been scoring one or two goals in a matter of minutes," Blackhawks forward Bryan Bickell said. "We need to have better preparation after goals for [and] goals against, knowing how big that shift really is to carry the momentum or change the momentum. They've just been capitalizing on some minor mistakes on our behalf to get goals like that."

Posted On Thursday, 04.23.2015 / 3:34 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators-Blackhawks series blog

Blackhawks expect up-tempo game from Predators

NASHVILLE -- The Chicago Blackhawks have played their Western Conference First Round series against the Nashville Predators at a torrid pace, and they don't expect it to get any slower in Game 5 at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 3, CSN-CH, FS-TN).

Despite playing more than three full overtime periods in the first four games, winning Game 1 in double overtime and Game 4 in triple overtime, Chicago expects Nashville to push the pedal to the floor again with the Blackhawks leading the best-of-7 series 3-1.

"This team, in their home building, this might be the best starting team in the League," forward Kris Versteeg said after the Blackhawks optional morning skate Thursday. "They always find a way to come out blazing and somehow scoring a goal here or there and create energy. We're going to have to find ways to take the crowd out of it, especially early on, and weather a storm that's going to come."

Posted On Wednesday, 04.22.2015 / 7:07 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators-Blackhawks series blog

Blackhawks motivated to end series in Game 5

CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks are a little sore after winning Game 4 in triple overtime, but they boarded their flight to Tennessee on Wednesday knowing they're one win from advancing to the Western Conference Second Round.

The Blackhawks are ahead 3-1 in their best-of-7 first-round series against the Nashville Predators and get the first of three chances to eliminate their Central Division rival in Game 5 at Bridgestone Arena on Thursday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, TVA Sports 3, CSN-CH, FS-TN).

Chicago knows how to close out a series as well as any team in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Since the 2008-09 season, when coach Joel Quenneville took over, the Blackhawks are 11-3 when they can clinch a series. Two of those three losses came in overtime of a Game 7, including against the Los Angeles Kings in the 2014 Western Conference Final.

"As you go along in a series, deeper in a round, each game becomes that much tougher [and] that much more meaningful," Quenneville said. "You have to get better each game. You can't think how you played the last game is going to be good enough to be successful [in] the next one. That has to be our message."


Posted On Tuesday, 04.21.2015 / 2:52 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators-Blackhawks series blog

Blackhawks fourth line looks for repeat performance

CHICAGO – The Chicago Blackhawk are likely to use the same lineup in Game 4 against the Nashville Predators at United Center on Tuesday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA3, FS-TN, CSN-CH) as they used to win Game 3 for a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 Western Conference First Round series.

If so, forward Antoine Vermette will center the third line and forward Andrew Shaw will again move to right wing on the fourth line. Along with left wing Andrew Desjardins and center Marcus Kruger, the reconfigured fourth line was one of the Blackhawks’ most effective in Game 3.

Desjardins and Shaw aggressively forechecked, and their work forced some key turnovers in the Nashville end of the rink. Kruger, who looks to hop on turnovers, chipped in as well.

“You’ve got to take what’s given,” said Desjardins, who was scratched in the first two games of the series. “If that means chipping it in and going after it and creating turnovers, I think that’s the right play. When you’re on an odd-man rush, three-on-two, you’re going to try and do something with it off the rush, but besides that you’re trying to keep it simple and keep the puck going north. I think that leads to some success, especially with Shaw and [Kruger]. We’re all pretty good forecheckers, so I think that’s key.”

Posted On Monday, 04.20.2015 / 6:03 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators-Blackhawks series blog

Blackhawks' Carcillo could get cleared for Game 4

CHICAGO -- Injured Chicago Blackhawks forward Daniel Carcillo might get cleared medically to play in Game 4 of their Western Conference First Round series at United Center on Tuesday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports 3, FS-TN, CSN-CH).

Carcillo has been out with an upper-body injury. He missed the final nine games of the regular season and the first three games of the best-of-7 series against the Nashville Predators.

After skating Sunday and Monday, Carcillo said he's close to being ready to return.

Posted On Sunday, 04.19.2015 / 1:56 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators-Blackhawks series blog

Vermette to play for Blackhawks against Predators

CHICAGO – Forward Antoine Vermette will be in the lineup for the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center on Sunday against the Nashville Predators for Game 3 of their Western Conference First Round (3 p.m. ET; NBC, TVA Sports, SN).

Vermette, who was acquired from the Arizona Coyotes two days before the NHL Trade Deadline, was a healthy scratch in the first two games at Bridgestone Arena. Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville didn't say who is coming out of the lineup to make room for Vermette.

"He's worked hard here," said Quenneville, who met with reporters Sunday before the game. "I think he's practiced well and I think he's disappointed, obviously, [he didn't] get to start [in Nashville]. If you could prepare to get a chance to get in there, things change quickly in our business and we expect him to come in and play a strong game for us, and be excited about the chance to play."

Posted On Friday, 04.17.2015 / 3:23 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Predators-Blackhawks series blog

Blackhawks know they need to be better in Game 2

NASHVILLE -- The Chicago Blackhawks have a 1-0 lead in a best-of-7 series against the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference First Round, but left a lot of room for improvement heading into Game 2 at Bridgestone Arena on Friday (9:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, SN360, TVA Sports 3, CSN-CH, SPSO).

They're looking for a better start in front of goalie Corey Crawford, who was pulled after giving up three goals in the first period of Game 1, and they're hoping not to spend as much time in the penalty box.

Each team was whistled for six penalties in Game 1, and the Blackhawks know that's not a winning formula long-term.

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Hopefully [Jonathan] has a year that pushes us, that is the organization, to speak to him next summer and looking for [a long-term contract]. Because the thought process is trying to get a goaltender, and hopefully it's Jonathan, to be the stabilizer for this franchise.

— Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello on goaltender Jonathan Bernier