Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks hope early chemistry continues on Saturday against Columbus

by Emerald Gao / Digital Content Coordinator

Two days after dispatching the incumbent Stanley Cup winners in a historic 10-1 win, the Blackhawks will try to keep their (very) early momentum rolling when they face the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

Last season Columbus finished third in a stacked Metropolitan Division with 108 points, one of four clubs along with Chicago, Pittsburgh and Washington to reach 50 wins. A first-round exit at the hands of the eventual champions didn't dim the outlook for a team that features plenty of young talent and is anchored by a two-time Vezina Trophy winner in Sergei Bobrovsky.

Columbus opened their season on Friday night with a big win of their own, blanking the New York Islanders 5-0. Pittsburgh's team performance suffered on Thursday on the second night of a back-to-back, and the Blue Jackets will need to play with more structure and better execution to avoid a similar fate. Backup netminder Joonas Korpisalo is likely to see action after Bobrovsky made 29 saves on Friday, although the starter has not been confirmed yet.

View More

Buzz: No more margin for error for Blackhawks in Game 4

by Emerald Gao / Digital Content Coordinator

How does a team like the Blackhawks respond when their margin of error has shrunk down to nothing, when plans A, B and C have been swallowed up in a 3-0 series deficit to a Nashville team that not only has all the answers but has shown its work?

Game 4, which takes place Thursday evening inside a hostile Bridgestone Arena that will again be aggressively daubed with canary yellow, will provide an answer that could have long-term impact whether the Blackhawks win or lose.

Win, and the team goes back to Chicago with an opportunity to make things right with the home crowd, which was last seen expressing their displeasure throughout the last half of Game 2.

Lose, and the team goes back to Chicago to face another long summer.

"The pressure is on them" seems to be the prevailing attitude in the Blackhawks' locker room, but that's not to say there isn't also an enormous amount of pressure on the Western Conference's top seed entering a do-or-die Game 4.

If Wednesday's practice was any indication, Head Coach Joel Quenneville will most likely run the same forward groupings on Thursday, although he may make a change on the back end after Michal Kempny took veteran Johnny Oduya's spot in practice on Wednesday. If Kempny does make the lineup for Game 4, it would mark the 26-year-old's Stanley Cup Playoffs debut, one that comes with a heavy load given what's at stake.

Video: Coach Q on possibility of Kempny playing in Game 4

View More

Buzz: Blackhawks focus on creating traffic in Game 2

by Emerald Gao / Digital Content Coordinator

While the Blackhawks didn't get the start to the postseason that they wanted, the team has already turned their focus squarely to Game 2 on Saturday, when they'll try to even the score against the Predators. Thursday's series opener was a mixed bag, as Chicago got off to a fast start only to stall out in the middle of the first period after Nashville earned a power play and rode that momentum to an early -- and only -- goal by Viktor Arvidsson.

The Blackhawks didn't respond until the start of the second period, but for the last 40 minutes of the game they set up camp in Nashville's zone, outshooting the Preds 23-9. The visitors were "happy to check" for the rest of the game, according to Head Coach Joel Quenneville, and ultimately Pekka Rinne and the defense in front of him absorbed the pressure and held on for an important 1-0 win.

Quenneville will make changes to his forward lines for Game 2, specifically on the top unit and bottom six. His in-game adjustments on Thursday including double-shifting Patrick Kane whenever possible and subbing in Tanner Kero on the top line, where he added some energy and physicality, ending the night with three shots on goal and six hits, second only to Richard Panik's seven.

During Friday's skate, Ryan Hartman and John Hayden took turns skating with Jonathan Toews and Panik, and Nick Schmaltz moved down to the third line with Marcus Kruger and presumably Marian Hossa, who did not participate in practice. Meanwhile Dennis Rasmussen (who was scratched for Game 1) skated with Kero and Jordin Tootoo on the fourth line, although it's most likely that Hayden or Hartman would take one of the slots at wing on Saturday.

View More

Buzz: Anisimov's return gives Chicago edge on depth

by Emerald Gao / Digital Content Coordinator

In recent years, a date with Nashville in the first round of the playoffs has been a harbinger of Stanley Cup glory. In 2010, an unforgettable Game 5 ending at United Center helped set the stage for a young Chicago team to break a 49-year title drought. And in 2015, Scott Darling's heroics in net steadied the ship when the Blackhawks ran into problems against the speedy Preds. Both series went six games, with plenty of back-and-forth action.

Will the third postseason meeting between these teams follow the established pattern? It won't be easy for Chicago. The Predators have revamped their style considerably over the last two seasons, growing more confident in a puck-possession playing style with the additions of top-line center Ryan Johansen and defenseman P.K. Subban. The added offensive depth and mobility means Nashville now stacks up quite well against Chicago, despite a lopsided regular-season series in which the Blackhawks won four of five matchups.

Additionally, the Preds have put together one of the strongest runs in the NHL down the stretch, going 14-7-4 in their final 25 tilts and making what seemed to be a full recovery from a first half that was marred by injuries to key players and inconsistency in special teams. But the Blackhawks also experienced a second-half surge of their own when they strung together two point streaks of seven to overtake Minnesota for top seed in the west. Now they're in prime position, guaranteed home-ice advantage through the conference finals if they advance to that stage, and hoping for a long postseason run that will lead to the organization's fourth Stanley Cup in eight years.

View More

Blackhawks take on inconsistent Bruins on Friday

by Emerald Gao / Digital Content Coordinator

The Blackhawks will close out their annual Father-Son Road Trip in Boston on Friday, where the team will face the Bruins for the first time this season before returning home for a three-game homestand. Chicago is coming off a back-and-forth affair in Denver, a 6-4 win that featured a third-period comeback surge and some outstanding performances by the team's rookies.

Head Coach Joel Quenneville's new-look third line paid off dividends, as Vinnie Hinostroza, Tanner Kero and Marian Hossa combined for 4 of the Blackhawks' 6 goals, two each by the younger duo. Hinostroza recorded both the game-tying and game-winning goals in the third period on Tuesday with his fifth and sixth tallies of the season, and logged a game-high five shots on goal. Kero also scored twice, including an empty-netter to put the game out of reach, and added a helper to establish a career best. He now has five points over his last five games. Hossa, the veteran presence on that line, contributed three helpers to reach 600 for his career, becoming one of seven active skaters to hit the mark; he ranks sixth among them.

View More

Blackhawks face road test against Ovechkin, Capitals

by Emerald Gao / Digital Content Coordinator

After completing a four-game homestand sweep, the Blackhawks will try to take their winning ways on the road, with three of their next four contests away from the United Center. Their first test will be against the surging Washington Capitals, who have won seven consecutive outings, including a confident 5-2 result over division rival Pittsburgh on Wednesday to lift the team into second place in the Metropolitan, one point behind Columbus. With Washington and Chicago tied for second in the overall league rankings (the Capitals do have three games in hand), Friday's tilt should be a high-paced battle between heavyweights from opposing conferences.

The Blackhawks were last in action on Tuesday, when they outlasted the Detroit Red Wings in an end-to-end battle that ended 4-3 in overtime, in which every single skater logged at least one shot on goal. According to Elias Sports Bureau, it was the first time this has happened in a regular-season game since March 1997. The 43-36 shot count wasn't exactly flattering to the Blackhawks defense, and they'll need to tighten up against a Washington roster that boasts plenty of goal-scoring potential.

View More

Hossa returns as Chicago begins homestand vs. Buffalo

by Emerald Gao / Digital Content Coordinator

After ringing in the New Year on the road, the Blackhawks return to the United Center for a four-game homestand, which kicks off with a rare back-to-back over the next two nights. Thursday's opponent will be the Buffalo Sabres, who began 2017 with a 4-1 win over the New York Rangers on Tuesday, just the second win in their last eight outings. With 36 points in the standings, Buffalo shares the worst record in the Eastern Conference, and they're looking at a lottery draft pick for the fifth consecutive year, which wasn't the plan coming into this season.

The Blackhawks are looking to refocus after a 4-1 loss to St. Louis in the Winter Classic on Jan. 2, their fifth loss in six games, a trend that has allowed Minnesota to close the gap in the Central Division to just one point with four games in hand. Injuries to key players have limited Chicago's ability to execute their preferred puck possession style of play over this last stretch. They've scored just eight goals in the last five games, while often ending up on the wrong side of the shot differential.

While Corey Crawford has been strong in net since returning from injury, and special teams have been effective, the Blackhawks know they'll have to go back to generating scoring chances and applying pressure to opponents at even strength in order to hold off the likes of the Wild and the Blues in the back half of the season.

View More

Blackhawks look to tighten defense on road trip

by Emerald Gao / Digital Content Coordinator

Tuesday's 3-1 loss to Winnipeg closed out the Blackhawks' home slate for the 2016 calendar, and now the team will embark on a three-game road trip that culminates in the 2017 Winter Classic on Jan. 2 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.

The first stop on their road trip, however, is Nashville, where they'll take on a Predators team that has experienced some ups and downs in December, posting a 4-5-3 record this month. They've dropped their last two, including a 3-2 overtime defeat to Minnesota on Tuesday, and sit in sixth place in the Central Division, two points out of a wild card spot in the West.

The two teams have faced off twice this season, with the Blackhawks dropping a 3-2 result in Nashville on Oct. 14 before returning home the next night to win 5-3.

Head Coach Joel Quenneville made just one switch to his forward lines on Thursday, sliding rookie Tyler Motte to the top line to play alongside Jonathan Toews and Ryan Hartman, while Vinnie Hinostroza replaces him on the fourth unit. But it's the defensive pairs that will likely be shaken up on Thursday after allowing 34 shots by the Jets.

"Probably one of our weakest areas tonight, whether it was defending or getting involved in the attack or making plays that keep possession," Quenneville said. "It wasn't a great night across the board."

Tuesday marked the fourth consecutive game and sixth time in the last seventh games that the team has allowed 30 or more shots on goal. Overall, the Blackhawks have averaged 31.1 shots allowed this season, compared to 29.1 shots for, a trend that Chicago certainly would like to reverse as the season approaches its halfway point.

View More

Crawford returns to action for Blackhawks against Avs

by Emerald Gao / Digital Content Coordinator

The Blackhawks will contest their final game before a three-day holiday break on Friday against the Colorado Avalanche. Chicago had a five-game win streak snapped on Tuesday in a 4-3 loss to Ottawa. Artemi Panarin tallied his sixth power-play goal of the season to extend his point streak to six games, matching a career long, but the penalty kill allowed two goals and the team wasn't able to make late pressure count; Marcus Kruger failed to convert a third-period penalty shot earned on a shorthanded opportunity. The regulation loss was just the third the team has suffered this season, as they continue to share the conference lead with 13 victories at home.

Despite the loss, the Blackhawks got a boost after the game as Corey Crawford was activated from IR, and Head Coach Joel Quenneville confirmed on Thursday that he would get the start on Friday against the Avs.

Video: Coach Q on Crawford, Kero

Colorado entered their tilt against Toronto on Thursday on a four-game losing streak, and things went from bad to worse as the team with the fewest points in the league allowed three goals in the first period in an eventual 6-0 loss, dropping them to 11-20-1 on the season.

The Avs rank dead-last in team offense and defense, while also sitting in the bottom third of the NHL in special team play; they've scored just one power-play goal in the last five games, despite earning 23 chances. Plus, the long-term loss of defenseman Erik Johnson to a leg injury hasn't helped a defensive unit that has had problems keeping the puck out of their own end and thus their own net. Starting netminder Semyon Varlamov was yanked from Thursday's loss in the second period, meaning Head Coach Jared Bednar, who is in his first year as an NHL bench boss, could go back to him on Friday.

View More

Blackhawks seek sixth straight win against Senators

by Emerald Gao / Digital Content Coordinator

With a 4-1 win over San Jose on Sunday, the Blackhawks extended their win streak to five games, and with the next three games at home, they're hoping to put more space between them and their Central Division competitors. Their next opponents will be the Ottawa Senators, who haven't won at the United Center since 2001.

New Sens head coach Guy Boucher has his team solidly in a playoff position, albeit in an underwhelming Atlantic Division where only one team (Montreal) has a positive goal differential. Ottawa's 4-4-2 record over the last 10 games reflects some of the squad's inconsistencies, from an ugly 8-5 loss to Pittsburgh earlier this month to more convincing outings in their last two games, both wins. On Sunday, Ottawa got three-point efforts from forwards Mark Stone and Zack Smith in a 6-2 win over the Islanders; Stone now has six points (1G, 5A) over his last three games, second on the team.

The Senators will also get forward Mike Hoffman back from a two-game suspension on Tuesday; the 27-year-old led Ottawa with three points in two outings against the Blackhawks last season.

View More