Strong finishes becoming Blackhawks signature

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Strong finishes becoming Blackhawks signature

CALGARY, Alberta Remember last season when the Blackhawks struggled in third periods, too often squandering one-goal leads and coming up empty?

Yeah, so do the Blackhawks. They werent too fond of losing slim leads and point opportunities. So this season, and especially in recent games, the Blackhawks have been turning up the offense in the third period.

The Blackhawks are playing more from start to finish this season, especially the finish part. Counting their three goals against Vancouver on Wednesday night, the Blackhawks have now outscored opponents 22-12 in third periods.

Not bad for a team that hung onto leads by their fingernails last season. So whats been the difference this season? The personnel changes? A more confident attitude?

I think its probably a combination of those things, defenseman Duncan Keith said. Weve got depth now, and it gets everybody into the game, everybodys playing. A (good) start to this season was important and something we stressed; and I just think were committed to winning and doing what it takes.

Depth, as well as a few recent line tweaks, has helped plenty. The Blackhawks arent just depending on one line to score for them. Several lines have scored, as have several defensemen.

And theres balance. The whole four-lines-rolling mantra that coach Joel Quenneville preaches has been put into practice a lot lately, which means everyones staying fresher through 60 minutes.

More energy in the third period means more finish.

The Blackhawks endings have also compensated for some slow beginnings. They werent thrilled with the way they came out against the Canucks, who had more jump than they did in the first period. But by the end it was no contest.

We always feel like we can play better, and we seem to be getting better as the game goes on and on. You saw that last night, too. They took it to us early, and we came back roaring after that, Patrick Kane said. It seems like we keep getting better.

Viktor Stalberg said veterans have also spoken up when they feel the Blackhawks have needed to close out strong.

There have been a few occasions where we may not have played the way we wanted to in first two periods and guys like Johnny (Toews) and Jamal (Mayers) say, We have a chance here, thats not all weve got. So lets go prove it to ourselves, Stalberg said. We want to keep getting better and we are and its a good sign for our hockey club.

The Blackhawks are taking advantage of their third periods this season. They know the dangers of just holding on or just doing enough late in games. They want to go into the later part of this season with a stronger playoff position. Their late-game production should help toward that cause.

When the games are on the line were doing the right things, Quenneville said. Were more predictable in our team play. Were thinking more on the defensive side of things, which usually enhances offensive side. If were committed to that, well find a way to get it done.

Central Division gets major shakeup as Predators acquire P.K. Subban

Central Division gets major shakeup as Predators acquire P.K. Subban

If you’re a hockey fan and were on Twitter around 3 p.m. Central time today, you probably looked skeptical as the trade news hit.

As first reported by Nick Kypreos, P.K. Subban is heading to Nashville and Shea Weber is going to Montreal.

We can imagine your reaction because we had it too. Eyes bulged. Mouths gaped. You checked the accounts of those venerable scribes tweeting the news because the accounts had to be fake, right?

Nope, it was true. And just like that, another Central Division team will have a very different look come the fall.

Sure, the Predators lost a great defenseman in Weber. He has a howitzer of a shot that has left those brave (read: crazy) enough to block it in plenty of pain. Jonathan Toews tweeted good luck to Weber, and “thanks for leaving our division.” Yeah, Weber left an impression. His shot left a bigger one, sometimes in the colors of black and blue, and Central foes won’t miss seeing it five or six games per season. But with Subban the Predators will do just fine. Subban is a great player and charismatic individual, possessing one of those personalities of which the NHL doesn’t have nearly enough.

Welcome to another Central change. St. Louis is facing some. The Blues already traded goaltender Brian Elliott. Per Post-Dispatch reporter Jeremy Rutherford, Kevin Shattenkirk expects the Blues to trade him. David Backes’ and Troy Brouwer’s status with the team is up in the air.

Minnesota hasn’t made any big changes player-wise (yet) but did at the top, hiring Bruce Boudreau in May. The Wild have gotten to the postseason regularly lately but haven’t gotten too far – they can thank the Blackhawks for three of those exits. Minnesota probably needed a new voice.

But does hiring Boudreau, a consistent regular-season coach who’s struggled to get the big postseason victories – again, see the Blackhawks two years ago – improve Minnesota’s chances?

The Blackhawks have gone through this makeover thing just about every year, and they’ve already done it again this offseason. Andrew Shaw’s trade to Montreal, that same Montreal that just sent Subban packing, means they’ll be missing a net-front presence that Shaw brought on a steadier basis than anyone else the past five seasons. It’s not the only void they need to fill. A veteran defenseman wouldn’t hurt. Neither would another forward with some experience. They have some cap space, but will there be enough to get both?

The Subban-Weber trade is one of those blockbusters we don’t see often anymore. It’s staggering. It’s eye-popping. There won’t be anything as big as this for a while but, with free agency opening on Friday, there will nevertheless be other changes in the NHL.

The Central is already looking a little different. Imagine what it’ll look like by September.

What's the next move for the Blackhawks?

What's the next move for the Blackhawks?

When the Blackhawks traded Andrew Shaw it meant the team gave up a key player, but also got essential breathing room under the NHL's hard salary cap.

While losing Shaw is a blow, the team netted draft picks and salary cap relief. The move came just after Bryan Bickell and Teuvo Teravainen were traded for a pair of draft picks.

CSN Chicago's Blackhawks Insider Tracey Myers went on SportsTalk Live to talk about the Blackhawks' recent moves and what's ahead in the video above.

The question now becomes what's next? The Blackhawks have holes to fill heading into the season and now do have some room under the salary cap.

Myers said adding a veteran defenseman is arguably the top priority and Brian Campbell and Andrew Ladd are mentioned as possibilities.

How the Blackhawks will replace Shaw specifically will be tough. Recently signed prospects Tyler Motte and Nick Schmaltz could help to add some depth, but it's hard to rely on those players right away.

Watch the video above to see the full discussion of what the Blackhawks can and should still do in the rest of the offseason.

Canadiens agree to six-year deal with former Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw

Canadiens agree to six-year deal with former Blackhawks forward Andrew Shaw

The Blackhawks probably would've liked to be the ones to sign Andrew Shaw to a long-term deal. Instead, it was the Montreal Canadiens.

The Habs announced Monday they agreed to terms on a six-year contract with Shaw, who according to reports will take home an annual average salary of $3.9 million.

"We are very pleased to have agreed to a long-term deal with Andrew Shaw," Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said in the announcement. "As I mentioned last Friday following his acquisition, we are adding a solid character player to our team, a reliable player who plays with grit and a two-time Stanley Cup champion with the Chicago Blackhawks over the past five seasons. Andrew will add more leadership to our team. I had the opportunity to discuss with him over the past few days, and I sense his determination and excitement in joining the Canadiens’ organization for many years to come."

The Blackhawks, in another salary-cap squeeze this offseason, traded Shaw to the Canadiens last week in exchange for a pair of draft picks.

In five seasons with the Blackhawks, Shaw totaled 137 points, scoring 70 goals and tallying 67 assists. He was a key member of a pair of Stanley Cup winners in 2013 and 2015. In 67 playoff games, he registered 35 points.