Blackhawks gear up for opener with team scrimmage


Blackhawks gear up for opener with team scrimmage

Call it a simulated game. Call it a dress rehearsal. The Blackhawks called it their best chance to have a game-type situation in this shortened training camp. And they didnt mind what they saw.

The Blackhawks played the, um, Blackhawks in front of youth hockey kids and their parents on Wednesday night, with Red beating White 3-2. For the Blackhawks, it was an opportunity to look at their new lines and new power play combinations. For the players, it was a chance to play as close to a game as some of these guys have done since last April.

And all things considered, the dress rehearsal wasnt too bad.

The first period was a definite wakeup call for me, said Daniel Carcillo, who got his first real game-like test on that surgically repaired knee since he was injured last January. The second felt better and so did the third. You just have to get rid of the bad habits and start playing. Its positioning and those start-and-stop battles. And even with those, youre hesitant to make a big hit; you have teammates out there. But as the game went on, I think everyone in this room felt a little better.

Patrick Sharp concurred.

I now I felt better every period, every shift, he said. Its good to know the legs and conditioning are there. We just have to tune up a few little things.

The Blackhawks did power-play work during their morning skate on Wednesday, and got two power-play goals in the evening practice (Marcus Kruger and Patrick Kane). Coach Joel Quenneville liked what he saw from both units.

I liked the power play, Quenneville said. We were shooting the puck more as the game went on. We missed some empty nets but I liked the overall emotion and movement we had. It seemed like the guys, off those levels, should get better.

Yes, it was something to simulate a game. It certainly wasnt the real thing; the Los Angeles Kings will provide that come Saturday afternoon. But everyones in the same boat this training camp, every teams just trying to get an idea of what theyve got entering the season. The Blackhawks were liking that dress rehearsal, and wishing they could get another one in before it all starts counting.

Plays on the boards and getting it into the middle on the forecheck, I thought (the timing) was good, Carcillo said. It wouldve been nice to get a couple of those (scrimmages in), to be honest. It was really good.


Steve Montador (concussion) is still out. Coach Joel Quenneville was uncertain when he would return.

Defenseman Sean ODonnell, who played last season with the Blackhawks, announced his retirement on Wednesday after 17 seasons in the NHL. ODonnell was part of the Anaheim Ducks Stanley Cup season in 2007.

The Blackhawks will have one more practice here tomorrow before heading to Los Angeles.

Five Things from Blackhawks-Maple Leafs: Richard Panik stays hot

Five Things from Blackhawks-Maple Leafs: Richard Panik stays hot

This Five Things was headed for a lot of negativity before the final three minutes of regulation. But thanks to the Blackhawks’ third-period comeback, this one won’t sting as much as Friday’s installment.

So while you all celebrate the Cubs going to a World Series, let’s look at Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 5-4 shootout victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

1. Waking up just in time. The Maple Leafs haven’t played their best hockey in third periods – entering Saturday’s game, they’d been outscored 6-1 in that frame. But for 17-plus minutes of the third it didn’t look like the Blackhawks were going to take advantage of that stat. But they would, salvaging a point out of nowhere with two goals within a minute (Artem Anisimov at 17:32 and Richard Panik at 18:32). Better late than never.

2. The Richard Panik show continues. The forward said he doesn’t think about Toronto anymore, that it’s all about the team he’s with now. But looking at his celebration on his game-tying goal late in the third period, there had to be a little motivation to score against the Leafs, right? The Blackhawks don’t care who the opponent is, and Panik now has six goals to start the season.

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

3. Power play fizzles. Ah, thought we were going to talk about the other special teams? In a second. The bigger problem on Saturday was the Blackhawks’ advantage, on which they went 0-for-6. It took until overtime, when their fifth power play was a 4-on-3 for them to really generate anything against the Leafs.

4. Late-period goals hurt. The Blackhawks looked set to enter first intermission with a 1-0 lead but Tyler Bozak scored with just 14 seconds remaining. They could’ve had a 2-2 tie entering the second intermission but James van Riemsdyk scored with 1:44 remaining in the second. Again, the Blackhawks overcame that. But coach Joel Quenneville talked about the loss of momentum in games, and here are two examples of it.

5. The Auston Matthews show. The Leafs phenom didn’t score a goal on Saturday but there’s no doubt he had his effect. His speed was especially on display on William Nylander’s goal; Matthews drew several Blackhawks and Nylander had a rather open net on the rebound.

Blackhawks rally to beat Maple Leafs in shootout

Blackhawks rally to beat Maple Leafs in shootout

As the clock ticked down to under three minutes remaining in regulation, the Blackhawks were looking at more negatives than positives.

Their power play wasn’t working. Their penalty kill was 1-for-2 and they were trailing 4-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. But just when it looked like the Blackhawks were headed for their second consecutive loss, they pulled out a comeback.

Richard Panik scored the game-tying goal against his former team and Artemi Panarin scored the shootout winner as the Blackhawks came back to beat the Leafs 5-4 on Saturday night.

Tyler Motte scored his second goal in as many nights and Artem Anisimov had two goals. Scott Darling stopped 30 of 34 shots through regulation and overtime. The victory didn’t erase some of the issues the Blackhawks still have, some of which showed in this one, too. But it brought some needed relief.

“It was a big win in a lot of different ways,” said Duncan Keith, who had two assists, including the primary one on Panik’s goal. “I know it’s still early but I think we were able to put some pressure on there. And anytime you get big goals like that late in the game when they’re needed, it’s a confidence boost and something we can build off.”

[SHOP: Gear up, Blackhawks fans!]

The end looked like it was going to be frustrating, especially after William Nylander’s second goal of the night gave the Leafs a 4-2 lead about five minutes into the third. But Anisimov scored his second goal of the evening with 2:28 remaining to pull the Blackhawks to within 4-3. Just one minute later, Panik scored his sixth of the season to tie it 4-4.

Panarin’s shot in round three of the shootout, coupled with Darling stopping Mitchell Marner’s wrist shot, sealed it.

“Obviously we were down 4-2 and came back against a great team. That helps our confidence,” Panik said. “Everybody’s pumped about a win so that’s a good sign.”

The Blackhawks will take it but they know they had their problems in this one. Their power play went 0-for-6. That included two 4-on-3 opportunities in overtime. They allowed another goal on their penalty kill, although they did snuff out another Toronto power-play opportunity in the third period.

“It’s one,” coach Joel Quenneville said. “We need several, several, several to get excited. But certainly that was, we’ll say, timely.”

The Blackhawks still have a long way to go this season. That penalty kill still needs work. They want more consistent play. But considering how this was looking with about three minutes remaining in regulation, they’ll take it.

“We’re certainly fortunate to come back in a game like that,” Quenneville said. “There have been a lot of comebacks in the league this year and we’ve given up some leads ourselves. That was a little different way of going about it. There are some positives but more so how we played in the third period. But we still lose a lot of momentum in the game. That’s what we’ve got to shore up.”