Konroyd's Keys: Blackhawks need effort vs. Blue Jackets

Konroyd's Keys: Blackhawks need effort vs. Blue Jackets
March 6, 2014, 4:00 pm
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Steve Konroyd

1. Compete level needs to be higher. The Blackhawks are in the home stretch of a very long season. They can see the finish line. Problem is, so can everyone else, and with the standings as tight as they’ve been in a long time, points are important to everyone. Compete level means taking no shifts off and giving second and third efforts when needed. We did not see this against the Avalanche in their last game, and it was part of the reason they were chasing the game throughout.

[MORE: Five Things to Watch on CSN: Hawks vs. Blue Jackets]

2. Get pucks deep and force turnovers. Without Marian Hossa in the lineup, the Blackhawks are missing a fierce forechecker who strips pucks better than anyone in the NHL. The Blackhawks still have forwards capable of this, whether it’s Bryan Bickell, Brandon Saad, Patrick Sharp or Andrew Shaw. Dump pucks in and get them back with relentless speed and grumpiness. There’s a lot of inexperience on the back end for the Blue Jackets, so hurry their decisions and turn giveaways into scoring chances.

[RELATED: Shaw gets opportunity alongside Toews on Blackhawks' top line]

3. Our goalie has to be better than their goalie. Certainly not pointing the finger at Corey Crawford here, but he would be the first to tell you that he should have had a couple of more saves in that game against Colorado. The play is so close and tight throughout the entire NHL that one save is often the difference in games this time of year. Semyon Varlomov played better than Crawford, and Colorado wins a close game even though they were outshot and outchanced. The game before, Crawford plays better that Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury and the Blackhawks won. Corey needs to forget about last game and worry about making the next save.