Blackhawks want more traffic in front of Smith

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Blackhawks want more traffic in front of Smith

GLENDALE, Ariz. Jonathan Toews gave his assessment after the Blackhawks 3-2 overtime loss to Phoenix on Thursday. They did a lot of good things, played their game for the most part. Just a few little tweaks needed to be done.

Two of them include eradicating those turnovers and making life a lot harder on Phoenix goaltender Mike Smith.

The Blackhawks had a rough second period in which they struggled to move and turned the puck over. That, and lack of hard-to-see shots against Smith were costly in their loss. So the Blackhawks talked on Friday about shoring up a few things.

The second period we had the puck on our stick; it wasnt like they had to make any indirect plays, said coach Joel Quenneville, who added that there could be some changes for Game 2. We have to be more effective, efficient in that area. The onus is on the puck carrier to be responsible.

The Blackhawks had particular trouble midway through the second period, when clearing the puck from their zone became an ordeal. The Coyotes tied the game on that prolonged possession, which had a tired group of Blackhawks on the ice.

Marian Hossa said the team may have gotten too particular on its passing.

It felt like the first period was really good and the second started turning pucks over. Maybe we tried to make big plays too much instead of keeping it simple in the neutral zone. Maybe chip it in and go for it instead of always finding tape-to-tape passes.

Once they get that taken care of they can get back to attacking Smith. Yes, the Blackhawks fired plenty of shots at him in Game 1; 45 to be exact. But the big, mobile Smith could see most of them en route to stopping 43. Meanwhile, it was the Coyotes getting those deflected, traffic-bred goals, and the Blackhawks know they need more of those in their game.

Hes a good goaltender, and hes going to see a lot of pucks. Traffic is probably the biggest thing, Patrick Kane said. We have to get traffic around the net, try to squeak some by him. Hes going to stop the ones he sees.

The Game 1 loss wasnt the end of the world, but it was a wake-up call. This is not going to be an easy series against a gritty, opportunistic team with a red-hot goaltender. The Blackhawks will make their tweaks and hopefully make a bigger statement come Game 2.

Its not fun to lose Game 1 but we have a long way to go. Well bounce back from this, Toews said. Well improve on certain details and well be just fine. Well be even tougher to play against. We want to steal one here tomorrow night and go home with a good feeling and not let that get away from us.

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Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Bruins tonight on CSN

Five Things to Watch: Blackhawks battle Bruins tonight on CSN

Watch as the Blackhawks take on the Boston Bruins tonight on CSN and streaming live on CSNChicago.com. Coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. with Blackhawks Pregame Live. Then stick around after the final buzzer to watch Blackhawks Postgame Live for highlights and analysis.

Click here to watch the game or download the NBC Sports App, your home for live streaming coverage of the Blackhawks.

Five Things to Watch:

1. Scott Darling gets the nod.

Joel Quenneville is giving a struggling Corey Crawford a breather tonight, electing to go with Darling in the final game of the father's road trip. Darling is 11-4-2 with a 2.34 goals against average, .924 save percentage and one shutout in 20 games this season. His numbers aren't as great on the road, where he is 4-2-1 with a 2.83 GAA and .901 save percentage compared to a 7-2-1 record with a 1.98 GAA and .928 save percentage at home, but he fared well against Boston last season. The Lemont native stopped 42 of 46 shots, good for a .913 save percentage, in a 6-4 win at the United Center last April.

2. The Panarin-Anisimov-Kane line.

The Blackhawks' trio of Artem Anisimov, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin had a rare zero points in Tuesday's 6-4 win over Colorado, but don't expect to see that again. In fact, it could be the opposite. In their last meeting against the Bruins, a 6-4 win on April 3 during the 2015-16 season, they combined for 11 points (five goals, six assists), highlighted by a Kane hat trick that put him at 100 points on the season for the first time in his career. 

3. How the rookies build off a monsterous game.

In arguably the most well-rounded victory of the season Tuesday in Colorado, the Blackhawks had three rookies that had multi-point efforts. Vinnie Hinostroza had two goals, including the game winner. Tanner Kero had two goals and one assist, while Nick Schmaltz also had a goal and an assist. It was the top-six that was doing the heavy lifting earlier in the season, now the bottom-six is slowly starting to contribute on a consistent basis. The Blackhawks will be in great shape if they can confidently roll four lines that have the potential to find the back of the net on any given shift.

4. Patrice Bergeron vs. Jonathan Toews.

Two of the best two-way centers in the league will go head-to-head, and it's always a fun matchup to watch. Bergeron leads the league with 597 faceoff wins, and is ranked fifth with a 58.4 percentage at the dot while Toews ranks eighth in wins with 473 — despite missing nine games with a back injury — and sits at sixth with a 57.5 percentage. Both of the perennial Selke Trophy candidates have struggled offensively this season, with Bergeron recording only 21 points in 45 games and Toews with 22 points in 38 contests. Bergeron has been heating up as of late, though, scoring three goals and six assists in his last eight games. Bergeron also leads the league in possession numbers, with the Bruins controlling 61.9 percent of the even-strength shot attempts when he's on the ice.

5. Brad Marchand.

In September, Marchand inked an eight-year, $49 million deal and it's already paying dividends for the Bruins. He has 14 points (seven goals, seven assists) in his last eight games, and 45 points total, which is by far the most on his team and tied for sixth in the NHL. He's 16 points away from tying his career high of 61 set last season, with a little less than half the year to go. He's also had great success against the Blackhawks. In his last six games against Chicago, dating back to the 2013-14 campaign, he has registered at least a point in all of them, scoring four goals and adding five assists. To make life more difficult, he's a player that enjoys getting under people's skin, so expect him to be a big factor tonight.

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