Cue Chelsea Dagger, Blackhawks' 2013 schedule has arrived


Cue Chelsea Dagger, Blackhawks' 2013 schedule has arrived

The lockout has come to its merciful end. And with the Memo of Understanding finally being completed and signed by the NHL and NHLPA, the focus finally shifts to training camps and regular-season schedules.

READ: Hawks hit the ice Sunday as training camp opens

The Chicago Blackhawks will play 10 of their first 12 games on the road before enjoying a seven-game homestand, as team schedules were finally released on Saturday. The schedules came out a few minutes after both sides agreed upon a Memo of Understanding regarding the new collective bargaining agreement. The league said it would wait until the MOU was complete and signed before releasing all the information.

PHOTOS:A look inside the Hawks' first 10 games

Now the fun begins. Training camps will open on Sunday, albeit later in the day because it took so long Saturday to complete the MOU. The Blackhawks will have a little less than six days to prepare for their season opener against the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, which will be a 2 p.m. start on Jan. 19.

RELATED: Pack your bags, Hawks hitting the road

Other highlights of the Blackhawks schedule include:

The home opener against the St. Louis Blues on Jan. 22 and their next home game against the Red Wings, on Jan. 27.

An early visit to play the Phoenix Coyotes, the team that eliminated the Blackhawks in the Western Conference quarterfinals, on Jan. 20. But this game will be without Phoenix forward Raffi Torres, who will still be serving his suspension for injuring Marian Hossa last April.

A six-game road trip -- with games at Minnesota, Vancouver and San Jose, among others -- while the Disney ice show is in the United Center.

A seven-game homestand immediately following that six-game road trip. The Blackhawks will play San Jose twice and host the hated Vancouver Canucks once on this stand.

With trying to squeeze 48 games into a condensed amount of time, the Blackhawks will face all Western Conference opponents.

DateOpponentTimeTVJANUARYSat, Jan. 19at Los Angeles2:00 p.m.NBCSun., Jan. 20at Phoenix9:00 p.m.NBCSNTue., Jan. 22St. Louis7:30 p.m.CSNThu., Jan. 24at Dallas7:30 p.m.Sat., Jan 26at Columbus6:00 p.mSun., Jan. 27Detroit6:00 p.m.Wed., Jan. 30at Minnesota7:00 p.m.NBCSNFEBRUARYFri., Feb. 1at Vancouver9:00 p.m.Sat., Feb. 2at Calgary9:00 p.m.Tue., Feb. 5at San Jose9:30 p.m.Thu., Feb. 7at Phoenix8:00 p.m.Sun, Feb. 10at Nashville7:00 p.m.Tue., Feb. 12Anaheim7:30 p.m.Fri., Feb. 15San Jose7:30 p.m.Sun., Feb. 17Los Angeles12:30 p.m.NBCTue., Feb. 19Vancouver7:30 p.m.Fri, Feb. 22San Jose7:30 p.m.Sun., Feb. 24Columbus6:00 p.m.Mon., Feb. 25Edmonton7:30 p.m.Thu., Feb. 28at St. Louis7:00 p.m.MARCHFri., March 1Columbus7:30 p.m.Sun., March 3at Detroit11:30 a.m.NBCTue., March 5Minnesota7:30 p.m.Wed. March 6Colorado7:00 p.m.NBCSNFri. March 8at Colorado8:00 p.m.Sun., March 10Edmonton6:00 p.m.Thu., March 14at Columbus6:00 p.m.Sat., March 16at Dallas7:00 p.m.Mon., March 18at Colorado8:00 p.m.Wed., March 20at Anaheim9:00 p.m.Mon., March 25Los Angeles7:00 p.m.NBCSNTue., March 26Calgary7:30 p.m.Fri., March 29Anaheim7:30 p.m.Sun., March 31at Detroit11:30 a.m.NBCAPRILMon., April 1Nashville7:30 p.m.Thu., April 4St. Louis7:30 p.m.Sat., April 6at Nashville2:00 p.m.Sun., April 7Nashville6:00 p.m.Tue., April 9at Minnesota7:00 p.m.NBCSNFri., April 12Detroit7:30 p.m.Sun., April 14at St. Louis11:30 a.m.NBCMon., April 15Dallas7:00 p.m.NBCSNFri., April 19Nashville7:30 p.m.Sat., April 20Phoenix7:30 p.m.Mon., April 22at Vancouver9:00 p.m.Wed., April 24at Edmonton8:30 p.m.Fri., April 26Calgary7:30 p.m.Sat., April 27at St. Louis7:00 p.m.All game times Central

Five Things from Blackhawks-Flames: Same old story on the penalty kill

Five Things from Blackhawks-Flames: Same old story on the penalty kill

Here we go again.

Listen, it’s been one of those nights for everyone, including the Blackhawks. So let’s just save ourselves some time and get to the Five Things to take from the Blackhawks’ 3-2 shootout loss to the Calgary Flames.

1. Good and bad about the penalty kill. OK, let’s start with the good. The Blackhawks’ penalty kill was successful on their last three penalties, including Tyler Motte’s double-minor high-sticking. The bad news is they allowed goals on their first two kills and have now given up 14 in seven games. So what worked on the three late penalty kills? "We just kept our feet moving. We were working. Our shifts were 20 to 30 seconds tops. When you go that short you have the energy to outwork the power play and make up for being down one man," captain Jonathan Toews said. "Yeah, I mean, I think that’s the key right there, and I think our systems fall into place when we’re all moving and we’re all skating the right way."

2. Puck possession. When the Blackhawks are playing at their best, they are dominant in this department. They looked discombobulated in this one from the start and had very little possession, especially early. "Our identity in the past was fast and having the puck. Now we don’t have quite the four-line rotation or the puck enough to get that precision we look for, that identity we’re accustomed to having," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We’re not playing as fast because we’re defending a lot more than we’re used to."

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3. Forsling hurt. Blackhawks rookie defenseman Gustav Forsling was injured in the second period and did not return. Forsling took a big hit from Lance Bouma along the glass between the two benches. Quenneville said Forsling is day-to-day with an upper-body injury. The Blackhawks have better depth at defense this season. Now, with Trevor van Riemsdyk out for a few weeks and Forsling potentially missing some time, they’ll need all of it.

4. Corey Crawford doing just fine. Yes, he’s part of the Blackhawks’ penalty kill that is not doing much of anything right now. But he’s also been stellar at 5-on-5, where he’s allowed just three goals this season. If not for Crawford tonight, the Blackhawks aren’t in striking distance when the third period begins and they probably don’t earn that overtime point.

5. Brian Elliott just a little better. Elliott stymied the Blackhawks in Game 7 of their first-round series last spring, and he aggravated them again on Monday night. Richard Panik nearly had the winner on Elliott until the Flames goaltender stopped his shot with his right skate. Elliott was also good in overtime (6-for-6), when the Blackhawks had a 4-on-3 power play. The Elliott of Monday night is the Elliott the Flames were hoping for when they traded for him this offseason.

Blackhawks get a point but Kris Versteeg wins it for Flames in shootout

Blackhawks get a point but Kris Versteeg wins it for Flames in shootout

When watching Blackhawks hockey over the last few years, several things stood out. Among them was their penalty kill and dominant puck possession.

Both of those things have been missing so far this season, and both have cost the Blackhawks.

Patrick Kane scored his second goal of the season but Kris Versteeg had the shootout winner as the Calgary Flames beat the Blackhawks 3-2 on Monday night. The Blackhawks are now 3-3-1 on the season as they keep trying to find more consistency in their game.

Gustav Forsling suffered an upper-body injury in the second period when he was hit by Lance Bouma on the glass between the team benches. Coach Joel Quenneville said the defenseman is day-to-day.

Corey Crawford stopped 29 of 31 shots in the loss. Despite the two power-play goals tonight, Crawford was good. He’s allowed just three 5-on-5 goals on the season.

But that penalty kill did hurt once again, as the Blackhawks allowed the Flames two power-play goals. While they killed the final three penalties they took, including a Tyler Motte double-minor high-sticking, the damage had been done. The Flames power play entering the game was just 1-for-25.

“It just seems no matter what it finds a way, a different way, every time,” Quenneville said. “We had a couple big kills in the second period and that was positive, built off it, had a good third period and found a way to get a point. Could have had two.”

The Blackhawks didn’t look great at the start of this one, something that’s becoming a trend with them. Couple that with that penalty kill – they gave up both power-play goals 39 seconds into each kill – and it was no surprise the Blackhawks were down 1-0 after the first.

“We’ve got to get that out of our game,” Jonathan Toews said of the slow first period. “As I’ve been saying, the penalty kill usually translates from our effort 5-on-5 and if we’re not starting games well, then we’re getting behind. Obviously [we’re] giving up power plays to begin with and we’re not killing the penalty kills that we’re on. Unfortunate to get behind again tonight.”

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Brian Campbell got his first goal of the season when his shot (or pass) went off Calgary defenseman TJ Brodie’s stick. Richard Panik nearly had the game winner in the waning seconds of regulation but Brian Elliott, who was also great tonight, knocked the puck off his right skate.

The Blackhawks also had a 4-on-3 power play in overtime on which they couldn’t capitalize.

“You can talk about the penalty kill tonight but we’ve had a couple 4-on-3 chances in overtime the past couple games where our power play needs to be better,” Kane said. “We need to capitalize in those situations.”The Blackhawks are struggling with parts of their game that used to be familiar and successful. There’s plenty of time left in the season but they need to find their well-rounded game again.

“We can be play better, collectively, as a group as far as dictating the pace of games and controlling the puck, getting pucks back. That's really the key with hockey is winning those battles, controlling the puck,” Kane said. “We're so used to playing a puck-possession game. That's really something we've been getting away from here. It's early on in the season, so it's something to build on.”