Blackhawks know what they need in Game 2 vs. Predators: 'Our intensity has to go up'

Blackhawks know what they need in Game 2 vs. Predators: 'Our intensity has to go up'

Being down 1-0 in a series isn't ideal, but the Blackhawks aren't sweating it. Still, if they want to grab a split heading to the Nashville portion of this series, the Blackhawks will have to play much better than they did on Thursday.

Dennis Rasmussen will make his NHL postseason debut and Ryan Hartman will be back on the top line as the Blackhawks host the Predators in Game 2 of their first-round series on Saturday night. The Blackhawks didn't mount much of a net-front attack in Game 1, a situation exacerbated by the Predators' strong defensive game – they blocked 26 shots.

"Our defensemen did a nice job of trying to tie up sticks or get stick on puck. That'll probably hold true the rest of the series: we'll have to play them tight defensively," Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said. "They're an offensive group that's dynamic and been together for a while – at least the core has – and they're capable of generating a lot of offense. That leads itself back to playing good defense. We did it well in Game 1 we're going to have to do it well tonight."

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The Blackhawks will have to fight to get past the Predators' defense, which stifled them in Game 1. Their overall game, however, needs to be better.

"I think just our level of intensity has to go up. Be harder on pucks," Brian Campbell said. "Obviously getting pucks to the net and creating traffic and havoc. those are the keys that come with desperation."

The Blackhawks have been here, done this before in series, although it's been a while since they've trailed 1-0 when starting a series at home. Going back to 2009, here's how the Blackhawks have fared in postseason series when losing Game 1:

Year   Opponent     Game 1          Series result
2016              @STL             L 1-0 (OT)    Lost series in 7
2015              @ANA            L 4-1              Won series in 7
2014              @STL             L 4-3 (3OT) Won series in 6
2012              @ARI             L 3-2 (OT)    Lost series in 6
2011              @VAN            L 2-0              Lost series in 7
2010              NSH                L 4-1              Won series in 6
2010              VAN                L 5-1              Won series in 6
2009              @VAN            L 5-3              Won series in 6
2009              @DET            L 5-2              Lost series in 5

Concern? Yes. Panic? No. But the Blackhawks will need veterans and postseason rookies alike to mesh.

"I feel we have a lot of great leaders who have been around a long time. It helps the young guys, me included, who haven't played a lot of playoff games," Rasmussen said. "We've had some talks here. We're still calm and know what to do out there. We have to bring some more traffic at the net, create more shots and better chances. Hopefully we can do that tonight."

Meanwhile on the injury front, Andrew Desjardins has not started skating yet but coach Joel Quenneville said the forward is "pretty close" to doing so.

BLACKHAWKS VS. NASHVILLE PREDATORS
7 p.m.
TV: NBC
Live Stream: NBC Sports app
Radio: WGN 720 AM

Chicago Blackhawks
Forward lines
Ryan Hartman-Jonathan Toews-Richard Panik
Artemi Panarin-Artem Anisimov-Patrick Kane
Nick Schmaltz-Marcus Kruger-Marian Hossa
Dennis Rasmussen-Tanner Kero-Jordin Tootoo

Defensive pairs 
Duncan Keith-Niklas Hjalmarsson
Johnny Oduya-Brent Seabrook
Brian Campbell-Trevor van Riemsdyk

Goaltender
Corey Crawford

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Michal Rozsival (facial fractures), Andrew Desjardins (lower body).

Nashville Predators
Forward lines (projected/Predators had optional skate)
Filip Forsberg-Ryan Johansen-Viktor Arvidsson
Kevin Fiala-Mike Fisher-James Neal
Pontus Aberg-Calle Jarnkrok-Craig Smith
Cody McLeod-Colton Sissons-Austin Watson

Defensive Pairs
Roman Josi-Ryan Ellis
Mattias Ekholm-P.K. Subban
Yannick Weber-Matt Irwin

Goaltender
Pekka Rinne

INJURIES/ILLNESS: Colin Wilson (lower body).
 

Blackhawks sign defenseman Michal Kempny to extension

Blackhawks sign defenseman Michal Kempny to extension

Michal Kempny was in and out of the Blackhawks lineup last season but he’ll likely get a bigger opportunity this coming season. On Saturday, he was assured of coming back to get that chance.

Kempny and the Blackhawks agreed to a one-year extension, the team announced on Saturday morning.

“Michal’s style of play is an asset to our defense,” general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “He is the type of player who will continue to improve now that he has transitioned to the National Hockey League. We look forward to his continued development on the ice for the Blackhawks.”

Kempny was part of a very crowded blue line last season — he was one of eight defensemen at the start of it — and played 50 regular-season games. He recorded two goals and six assists in those contests but did not play in the Blackhawks’ four postseason contests. With Johnny Oduya and Brian Campbell likely not returning, however, Kempny should get a bigger opportunity this season.

The 26-year-old Kempny also had two goals and an assist in eight games for the Czech Republic team at the 2017 World Championship.

Blackhawks announce plans for NHL Draft Fan Fest

Blackhawks announce plans for NHL Draft Fan Fest

With exactly a month to go until Chicago hosts the 2017 NHL Draft for the first time ever, the Blackhawks and league announced Wednesday their plans for Fan Fest held outside the United Center on June 23 and 24.

A handful of Blackhawks players and alumni will be in attendance and made available for photo opportunities, as will the Stanley Cup. Fans will also be able to explore the NHL Centennial Fan Arena, "a 53-foot museum truck with an innovative interior featuring more than 1,000 square feet of interactive digital displays, original video content, one-of-a-kind historical memorabilia, unique photo moments and a social media wall," according to the press release.

A full list of activities, special guest appearances and schedule will be posted at a later date.

Friday's events will run from 3 to 9 p.m. while Saturday's festivites will go from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Parking Lot C, north of the United Center.

Additional passes for the weekend will be made available to the public starting June 9. For more information, visit chicagoblackhawks.com/fanfest.